It’s approaching 6 AM in the greater northeast PA region, and I have two extra dogs running around that go along with my two studs. Maybe it was the break-neck pace they have been going at since 5:34 in the morning, or perhaps it was the very Shield-like 3 on 1 assault they laid down on my oldest and loudest dog. Whatever it was, it got me thinking, and the conclusion I came to is that I think, no check that, I love the depth of the Miami Dolphins heading into the 2021 campaign.
We know about Tua Tagovailoa. We’ve seen all the images of him looking like he’s on the same stuff that Captain America and the Winter Soldier are on. No need to go into those. Or...
Tua Tagovailoa showing the mobility pic.twitter.com/a9qcO6TQAE— Alabama Diehards (@AlabamaDieHards) May 19, 2021
Nothing to see here, just a transformation of the likes that haven't been seen before. Besides the physical differences in Tua, you have to think that there is no way that he plays as poorly as he did at times last year when he was a rookie working with a 70ish% healthy body while he was getting acclimated to his hip. Needless to say, the Dolphin's success this year sort of rides with how much of a leap Tua takes from year one to year two. No pressure. It’s May, so I’m sure I and everyone else will be adding more blogs/articles, whatever you want to call them, about how important Tua is this coming year. I hope you have a big appetite for it.
Jacoby Brissett backs up Tua, and I honestly don’t think you can have a better backup. Not only is Brissett very capable of coming in and getting the job done because he’s a pro’s pro, but he also is a quarterback that nobody is going to clamoring for if Tua has a bad game. We’ve seen Jacoby play, and I like what he does. But here’s the thing, we know he can’t do it for many games in a row. It’s very Fitzpatrick-like without the fanfare.
This, to me, is easily the weakest unit on the squad. The Dolphins passed on all the top running backs in the draft, again, and have decided to essentially run it back with the running backs they had last year, plus Malcolm Brown, who they signed in free agency, and Gerrid Doaks, who they actually drafted but did it in the 7th round.
Myles Gaskin is the man, and nothing is changing for now. I’m all for Gaskin being the guy who’s considered their #1 back. What he showed last year with another offseason to get his body in tip-top shape, I think he’s poised to have an excellent year. I think that he needs a bit more help than what they have behind him.
Malcolm Brown will be a better version of Jordan Howard mainly because he can’t possibly be worse, and Salvon Ahmed will add a gear that nobody else has at that position. Or, Ahmed never gets seen again. I don’t know why I have this feeling that it’s going to be week three, and we’re all going to be saying, “where’s Ahmed?” because he hasn’t gotten a carry yet, and there’s no reason why that would happen other than Flores saw him chew gum wrong or something like that. I’m sure I’ll be wrong about this, and I hope I am.
I think Patrick Laird will get released. Never forget that he caught Tua’s first pass.
I think the Dolphins will add another noteworthy back down the road. I'm not sure who it will be, but I feel that some older player or a guy who gets released will eventually end up in a Dolphin’s uniform.
UPDATE: The dogs have all decided that a cease-fire was the prudent move for now. All of them have lowered their guns and have hit the snooze button—the calm before the day-long storm.
The Offensive Line
The offensive line is where I truly start to get all tingly about the Dolphin’s depth. You could say that the Dolphin’s offensive line is one where you can put one of the Riddler’s big question marks on not in terms of who actually will be starting because I think we have a decent handle on that, but because we really don’t know how they’re going to perform.
Last year, the Dolphins sported an offensive line that at times had three rookies on it. A bold strategy that yielded predictable results, which were that the line was just alright. It wasn’t God-awful, but we all know it wasn’t where it needed to be to really have a competing offense in the biggest moments.
The offensive line that I think you’ll see on September 12, or at least what I hope to see, looks like this; LT-Austin Jackson, LG- Solomon Kindley, C Matt Skura, RG- Robert Hunt, RT- Liam Eichenberg. A couple of those could flip-flop, such as Deiter could end up being the opening day center, and I suppose it’s possible that DJ Fluker could edge out rookie tackle Liam Eichenberg. Personally, I think Eichenberg will ascend during camp, will win the job early, and will not relinquish that position for years to come.
Then you have either Deiter or Skura on the bench along with Fluker or Eichenberg, and you can’t forget easily the most forgotten man on the team, and that’s Jesse Davis. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see Jesse Davis as the starting RT on September 12. Davis is versatile, reliable, and does his job admirably. He’s a big reason why I love the depth within this unit.
Injuries are a part of the game, I hope you were sitting down for that revelation, and offensive linemen go down all the time. This unit, currently, isn’t one of the strongest units on the team. But overall, I feel that there isn’t a crazy difference between their top linemen and their 7th linemen. Now, that needs to change, but as of this moment, I think that’s the case. How nice is it that finally that as a fan, you don’t have to clutch your pearls praying that a guy doesn’t get hurt because you know the guy behind him can’t get it done? The answer is it’s really nice.
The Wide Receivers
Man alive, all this depth is really making me feel things. The whole idea of Flores and Grier bringing in competition couldn’t be any truer than the wide receiver room. Think back to the middle of last year and what sad receivers were out there trying to catch passes. Now, think about who the Dolphins have brought in. Now, fist pump wherever you’re at. Go ahead; it’s cool.
Here’s who the Dolphins have on staff at wide-receiver; Parker, Fuller, Waddle, Williams, Bowden Jr. Grant, Wilson, Hurns, Merrit, Perry, Hollins, and Locksley. I think we all know that not all of these guys will be dawning aqua and orange jerseys come September, but damn, Flores will have some big decisions to make about who will be on this team.
Somehow Jakeem Grant is still on the team. I’m still confident that he’ll be gone, eventually. I’m not even going to entertain the idea that Flores will keep him around solely for his return ability.
My May 22 projected top five receivers are; Parker, Waddle, Fuller, Bowden, and Williams. Williams could easily be the #2 receiver on the outside while Fuller and Waddle roam the slot. The 6th receiver I think the Dolphins will employ is Mack Hollins mainly because he’s a special teams stalwart who, as we saw a few times, can make the occasional big catch.
I think Perry, Merrit, and Locksley head to the practice squad, and Grant, Wilson, and Hurns get shown the door. It’s certainly, if not likely that I’ll be wrong about Wilson or Hurns. They’re not making wild money, so I can see a world where one of them stays on the team.
But this depth at this position should have everyone feeling wonderful about the receiver room. I know that on paper, everyone is looking at the Dolphin’s receivers and wondering how anyone will be able to guard all these talented receivers? They have the size with Parker and Williams if he’s healthy for a change, and then the burners with Waddle and Fuller taking the top off the defense Moss style. And don’t forget Bowden Jr and what he can do in space. My point is, believe it or not; defenses will have some games where they contain this offense. But my larger point is that this fleet of talent is something the Dolphins haven’t had in many moons, and I’m busting just thinking about what they can accomplish.
The Tight Ends
Who knew this would be a position that would dole up so many feelings a month ago? Not me. But when the Dolphins draft a pass-catching tight end in the 4th round in Hunter Long and sign a Hall of Famer's son who is a basketball player, and then everyone checks to see that Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe are free agents next year, well, everyone gets all antsy in their pantsy. Oh yeah, and Adam Mean Machine Shaheen is on the team as well and is good.
Miami had 11 TDs that came out of this position last year. So even though it’s being reported that the two-headed monster of Godsey and Studesville will be having a much different playbook than last year, which by the way, no duh, it’s going to be different due to the addition of Fuller and Waddle, the tight ends will be utilized a great deal especially and hopefully in the red-zone.
Gesicki is the man, and I love what he brings to the table. His catch radius is around 94ft, and his toughness level on a scale of 1-10 is somewhere around a 45. I don’t care that he’s not a stout run-blocker. He’s not here to do that, so get over that idea.
Gesicki is the #1 guy in this group, and it’s not even close. But the guys behind him are no slouches. Smythe and Shaheen can both catch the ball, get upfield, and lower the boom. Those two can block better than Gesicki, so there’s another feather in their cap.
The addition of rookie Hunter Long will be interesting to see unfold. Actually, it might not be interesting at all. Chances are we won’t see him get a catch until around week 6. I feel that’s how Flores works in guys like this.
Like the quarterbacks, offensive line, and receivers, it’s awesome to know that the backups are very capable of getting the job done, maybe not at the same caliber as the starters or in the same way but still in a productive way. Smythe and Shaheen can play, and that’s all that matters.
You have yourself a terrific weekend.
By the Way- When I wrote this, I planned to cover the whole team. Well, the pups cease-fire now ceases to exist, and it’s World War 14 up in here. So, I’m going to officiate that. I’ll do a defensive breakdown of all the depth, which I also love a great deal, at those respected positions somewhere in the future. It won’t be tomorrow. Big golf tournament tomorrow morning. You know how it is.
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