The Phinsider Mailbag made its 2018 debut yesterday, asking you for your questions. You did not disappoint as the bag got full fairly quickly. We have nine questions below to discuss, so let’s get to them fairly quickly.
Before we do, however, watch for the next Phinsider Mailbag question request next Wednesday. We will then answer your questions on Thursday. You can also hit us up at any time on Twitter, just use #AskPhinsider.
What happened to the pass rush against Tennessee? - jonman
I think it was a combination of things. First, the Titans were clearly trying to get rid of the ball extremely fast, especially Blaine Gabbert who was second in the league in Week 1 with a 2.34 second time to throw (only quarterback who was faster? Ryan Tannehill at 2.33 seconds). Marcus Mariota was ninth in that stat. In other words, the Titans quarterbacks were trying to neutralize the Dolphins’ pass rush by simply getting rid of the ball.
The other thing was the design of the defense. Miami was looking to stop the scrambling ability of Mariota and force him to stay in the pocket. The defensive ends were not rushing straight toward the quarterback on Sunday. Instead, at least how I saw it, it looked more like they were making sure to be outside, almost in run-defense to seal the edge, before they were attacking. It is a smart game plan to keep a quarterback from hurting you with his legs, but combine that with short time to throw marks, and the pass rush seemed to be a beat behind.
Why didn’t the Dolphins use more Gore and Drake in the field at the same time? Worked for a first down in the first play. - Gllmiaspr
Miami used the two-running back look four times during the game, and it did look like it gave them an edge as both Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore could become the ball carrier, a blocker, or a target out of the backfield. But it was just four times. I think part of that is 11 players on the field, six immediately from five offensive linemen and one quarterback, leaves five “skill” player positions. Kenny Stills, Kenyan Drake, Mike Gesicki, Danny Amendola, Frank Gore, Jakeem Grant, A.J. Derby, Durham Smythe, Albert Wilson - and throw in DeVante Parker and possibly Kalen Ballage - and now you have multiple players who should be on the field, but simply not enough spots to get them all out there.
Plus, I think the Dolphins just want to make sure they have a fresh running back at all times. If Ballage is active, maybe we see that set more often, because the rookie can also rotate into the backfield, but why wear out both Drake and Gore at the same time?
How do you think our two young linebackers did against Tennessee? - PittsburghPhinsfan420
I think they were young linebackers. There were times where things worked well, and there were times where someone was out of position or confused on the coverage. That is going to happen and we have to expect it. Hopefully, we only see the mistake once though, as the coaches and the linebackers realize the mistake and fix it.
What happened with the two short kick offs. Planned, or poor execution? - jonman
I have to believe those were planned, because Jason Sanders has a leg on him. It will be something to watch this weekend, though.
How long do you think it will be until Minkah gets the start at safety instead of McDonald? If that were to ever happen this year? - NMPhinfan29
I do not think it will happen. I know people want to say T.J. McDonald struggled - and at times he probably did - but he is a solid player who does the right thing more often than not and lets Reshad Jones be Reshad Jones. That is a perfect complimentary player for the Dolphins’ secondary. He did lead the team in tackles on the day, so he is doing something right.
Minkah Fitzpatrick will play safety this year, but I do not think he is going to push McDonald out, simply because the team likes him at the nickel cornerback position right now. Until someone else proves they can beat him out for that position - or beat our Bobby McCain on the outside allowing McCain to move back inside - why take Fitzpatrick out of that role? Why fix something if it is not broken?
Are they planning on starting Charles Harris this year? If so, any idea when? - MassPhinsPhan
I do not think they need to, nor should they want to, start Harris right now. Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn are your starters. Harris and Andre Branch will see plenty of snaps rotating in behind them. If Harris gets a start, either Wake or Quinn are injured.
Why isn’t Vincent Taylor getting more snaps? He’s been our best interior lineman by a mile but hardly gets snaps (18 in the last game compared to the rest which were 36, 31 and 29 respectively). - ElPasoPhinFan
I do not think he is the best defensive tackle. He is good, but I think Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, and Akeem Spence are all ahead of him - and William Hayes may be as well. Right now, Taylor is a really good depth player who will rotate into the game plenty and will make an impact on special teams. He is a 2017 sixth-round pick who is showing he has a ton of talent. That should be enough this year.
What was the impact of not having DeVante? - Vaanx
DeVante Parker’s absence has probably more impact than fans realize. Parker, if healthy - and that is a big if - gives Miami the big-bodied number one receiver the offense is lacking. Mike Gesicki could end up in that role if he develops and Parker cannot get healthy - think of how the Patriots use Rob Gronkowski as their primary receiver, then compliment with the rest of the receiver group - but he still needs some time to adjust to the NFL. Right now, Miami has a ton of speed that is working basically in the short and deep levels, using slants or deep patterns to exploit that speed. Parker comes in and gives you someone who can work at the intermediate levels. Miami’s offense is going to be able to work around Parker’s absence if needed, but having him adds a layer to the offense that we are not seeing otherwise.
What does the offense need to do to be better on third down? - wellwhoopddamndo
I am not ready to say the offense has an issue on third down, but 2-for-10 feels way too much like last year to totally ignore as well. Part of it is the intermediate targets that Parker should be. Part of it is also penalties turning a 3rd-an-5 type of play into 3rd-and-15. Get those under control, get Parker back, and see Gesicki develop into a reliable receiver, and I think the third-down conversion rate goes up.
I mean, it really cannot go down much.