The Phinsider Mailbag opens up this morning, and we empty out a bunch of your questions. There is a lot on the minds of Miami Dolphins fans right now, as can be seen from the span of our questions this week. We will take a look at Bobby McCain's role on the team, what needs to happen to start the Miami ground game and stop opponents' rushing attack, Jarvis Landry in the return game, and more.
Let's get right to it:
@thephinsider thoughts on Bobby Mccain's chances of seeing much of the field this year?— Robby Skinner (@RobbySkinner) August 15, 2015
I think Bobby McCain will find his biggest role on special teams throughout most of the year. He played nine snaps on special teams in the team's win over the Washington Redskins, but did not make an appearance on defense. If injuries happen, he will have to step up, but I think he is pretty much a special teams player right now.
@thephinsider who's going to be returning kicks for us? With LaMike struggling a bit there and not risking Juice— Ricky (@IAMGETSOE) September 6, 2015
Some of these questions this week obviously came in before the roster moves Miami made after the Redskins game, including the release of James. It is still a valid question, though, because even with James on the roster, figuring out who will serve as the returner - and whether or not it is Jarvis Landry - is a question that has to be answered this week. I think the Dolphins will stick with Landry as the punt returner, while, potentially, Damien Williams could move to kick returner. The addition of Raheem Mostert this week, signed off the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad, in interesting and he could factor into this somehow.
@thephinsider do teams steal players from other teams to steal plays, signs or formations?— Chris Koester (@chriskjksc) September 6, 2015
Absolutely. The league has rules in place for practice squad players, with teams not able to sign a player within six days of a game against an opponent, or 10 days if it is over a Bye Week. The idea is to prevent a player form being involved in game planning, then being poached. This will happen a lot, especially with players being waived. A divisional opponent will claim the player, keep him for a week, then waive him themselves.
@thephinsider Who will be back-up to Miller for the first half (at least) of the season then?— Pablo Eagle (@PabloEagle) September 7, 2015
Damien Williams appears to be settled into the second string position. My guess for the second half of the season will be a split between Williams and rookie Jay Ajayi.
@thephinsider Why is our run game nonexistent? They didn't show much promise in preseason or week 1. What has changed from last year?— Daniel Simmons (@Elite_PW) September 15, 2015
Stephen Cooper (@Coopaaloop) September 15, 2015
@thephinsider Miami waived Jonas Gray and have no FB. Why can't they carry a goalline power guys as a short yard option? Thx— Sir Madridisimo (@SirMadridismo) September 15, 2015
Grouped three questions together here, because they all hit on the running game. I'm really not that worried about the run game right now, because the Redskins actually have a strong front seven. Stopping the run is what they are designed to do. If they are still not finding a running game after Week 2, I'll start to worry.
That said, they have to commit to the running game more, especially committing to giving the ball to Miller more. The Miami starting running back only had 13 attempts on Sunday, which continues the streak of not giving him 20 carries - a mark he never reached in 2014. That is probably the biggest change Miami can make. Just feed Miller the ball and see what happens.
And, finally, as for the short yardage back, I don't think Miami feels like they need to keep that one player designed to pick up the one-yard by pushing the pile forward. Miller should be able to get the yard, or Williams. I was surprised they released Gray, who probably could have a role with the team, but I don't think they have to fixate on the need for a "short yardage" back.
@thephinsider do we have interest in jake long— Richard (@daddy_morrow) September 15, 2015
Another question that came in before a roster move. Long was signed by the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday, but I wanted to keep this question in place for a couple of reasons. The first is that I would have, if I were Miami, at least considered Long as an option. He could have been a backup option, someone able to step in if needed. Trusting Long to be your starting left tackle every game is probably dangerous at this point in his career, when injuries continue to mount, but keeping him healthy on the bench in a "break glass in case of emergency" could have been a decent option.
That said, I am not going to worry about "losing" Long, either. My second reason for having this question in here is simple. I really hope Long plays well this year and is able to stay healthy. Long gave everything he had every single week for four years for the Dolphins, and would have kept doing it if his body didn't start breaking down. It would be nice if he were able to stay healthy and show that talent again.
@thephinsider Will Jordan Phillips keep up his strong play?— Joseph High (@jhigh5109) September 15, 2015
If you picked Phillips to record the first sack of the year for Miami, you probably should have used your future-telling for picking lottery numbers or something. I think he will, though it will likely be in small doses. The Dolphins have talented defensive tackles in front of him on the depth chart, players who will get the majority of the snaps, but that does not mean Phillips will not rotate into the game and get his opportunities. We are about to talk about their team's run defense, which is where I think rotating Phillips into the game on running downs makes a ton of sense.
Like the rushing offense, I would not worry right now, but it is something I would plan on watching closely this weekend. One week is hard to say for sure that there is a problem. Bad teams play well in Week 1, good teams play poorly, and all kinds of craziness happens. Things will start to settle down this week, and hopefully that means the Miami run defense finds its way. The Redskins did a great job of cutting Ndamukong Suh on nearly every running play, and constantly ran away from him. Adding Phillips, who could be a great run stuffing defensive tackle, on running downs could help. The linebackers also need to get into the holes and stay disciplined. Again, do not start worrying yet, but if the same things are happening this week, then you can start to worry.
@thephinsider what is going on with sims— Whisky Pete (@dbranch1965) September 15, 2015
He is in the league's concussion protocol right now. There is no telling as to when he will be cleared to return to the team. Some concussions clearly quickly, some take weeks. There really is no way to put a timetable on it. The Dolphins promoted Jake Stoneburner from the practice squad because of the Sims injury.
@thephinsider Will Devante Parker make his debut next game, and if so, will he make significant impact?— Alpha6Phinsider (@Alpha6Phinsider) September 15, 2015
Parker actually did make his debut against the Redskins, but it was so brief, most of us probably missed it. He played one snap on the day. Miami has to want to see that number increase, and see Parker become part of the offense. He could be a red zone option for the team, though Jordan Cameron should probably be a red zone target as well. What we have seen thus far of the Miami offense is Ryan Tannehill is most comfortable getting the ball to Jarvis Landry, and is starting to trust Cameron on deeper routes. Rishard Matthews seems to be the third option, followed by Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills. Where Parker fits into that is yet to be seen, but at some point, Tannehill is going to start turning his direction, and, if the rookie is able to respond, he will look like his college playing days.
My guess is we will see a little more of Parker this week against the Jaguars, though it will probably be as a third option rather than a concerted effort to force the ball to him.
Thank you to everyone who submitted questions. You can add your own question by hitting us up on Twitter (@ThePhinsider). Use the hashtag #PhinsiderMailbag.