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Phinsider Mailbag: Lynn Bowden, offensive line, defense stats lead Dolphins questions

NFL: JUN 01 Miami Dolphins Minicamp Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins open their 2022 training camp this week with the rookies reporting on Monday. The veterans are scheduled to head back to the team facilities in another week, with the first public practice scheduled to be held July 30. The team’s first preseason game is on August 13.

As the team is getting ready to open camp, it seemed like a great time to open the Phinsider Mailbag and answer some of your questions about the team. Friday and Saturday we asked for your submission on Twitter, Facebook, and here on the site. I collected those questions this morning and here are my answers.

If you ever want to submit a question for a future Phinsider Mailbag, hit us up on Twitter using #AskPhinsider. We will also ask for questions on Facebook and in an article here on the site, so make sure you are looking out for those.

On to your questions...

No. This is Mike McDaniel’s team now and in the future. The only way making a change next year makes any sense is if the team completely falls apart - on and off the field.

Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers led the league with 55 sacks; they also led the league in 2020 with 56 and in 2019 with 54. Those seem like big numbers, but the Dolphins were sixth in 2021 at 48, so the jump to the mid-50s in sacks does not seem to be overwhelming.

First, Emmanuel Ogbah likely needs to get into double-digit sacks after recording nine each of the last three seasons. Jaelan Phillips should see an increase from his 8.5 sacks last year as he is given more opportunities, especially early in this season compared to his rookie season where he grew into his playing time. Andrew Van Ginkel may be the player who needs to see the biggest increase if the Dolphins are going to lead the league in sacks, increasing his four sacks from last year. Miami could also look to get Jerome Baker back into a role as a blitzing linebacker, looking to up his 5.5 sacks from last year.

Up the middle, Zach Sieler and Christian Wilkins will continue to create opportunities for each other, while having a healthy Raekwon Davis will be a big benefit in the middle of the defensive line. Both safeties, Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones, have also shown pass rush abilities on blitzes. The defense definitely has the pieces to be able to get after opposing quarterbacks this year.

With the sacks should come quarterback hits. As long as the Dolphins do not get stuck in the trap of getting to the quarterback a second after he releases the ball, tallying a ton of hits but no sacks.

I feel like forced fumbles are a little more random. Do you happen to play several running backs who carry the ball out in front of them rather than tucked away? Last year, the San Francisco 49ers led the league with 22 forced fumbles. The Dolphins were 11th with 14. It would be nice to be higher on the list, and there are obviously things Miami can do to take advantage of situations.

Finally, I do not know how much to expect from Channing Tindall this year. He could have a role, but I think Baker, Van Ginkel, Phillips, and Elandon Roberts are the starting four linebackers, meaning Tindall is at best a rotational player. Hopefully he can have an impact, but I would not expect him to be a huge contributor to the sack totals this year.

Liam Eichenberg makes a lot of sense in that spot, unless he beats out Austin Jackson for the right tackle position. I think Solomon Kindley will compete for the spot, but he will have to prove he is more than a straight-ahead mauler and can move around in this line scheme. Those are probably the top two in consideration for the position, though Robert Jones could factor into the competition as well. I also think Michael Deiter has a role on this team, though it might be as a utility backup on game day. If I had to pick the line today, I would probably go with Eichenberg.

I’m not. Even if Josh Allen were to be the league MVP and set every single-season NFL record this year, the Dolphins still only face him and the Bills twice. There is another 88 percent of the season that Allen does nothing to the Dolphins. Do I hate seeing him tear apart the Dolphins? Of course. But I am not scared of him or the Bills. I want to see the Dolphins beat them soundly, but at the end of the day, two game out of 17 are not enough to make me scared.

I think the defense is definitely going to bring back that swagger and be aggressive. Almost the entire coaching staff and the players from last year are back, so there should not be much of a learning curve there. They can just get back to attacking opposing offenses. The defense knows they are the strength of the team and they know they will likely have to carry the team early in the year as the offense finds itself, so I would expect the defense to come out looking to make an immediate impact.

On offense, like I said, I would expect a little of a learning curve. They have to get used to a completely new system, and there are a lot of new faces in key positions. Training camp and the preseason will be a good start, but I would expect there to still be growing pains heading into the early portion of the regular season. The good news is Tagovailoa already has familiarity with Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki, so as he works to get used to Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson, Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, and Sony Michel, he has familiar options upon which he can fall back. I think the offense is going to eventually find that swagger, but I would expect to see it from the defense first.

Who invented liquid soap, and why? - darrel.owen

There are multiple ways to go with this question. Is Professor Taub reading Gib’s essay? Are we going for a joke? Or are you looking for William Shepphard, who received a patent for liquid soap in 1865 (according to the New York Times). It points out that Shepphard’s patent was for “improved” liquid soap, but there is no record of liquid soap before that. Liquid soap did not really take off as a home product until the 1970-1980s, though. That is when Softsoap was mass-produced and took over the market.

Can someone confirm Trent Sherfiled’s contract status? There is a write who keeps saying Sherfield is a lock to make the team because he signed a three year contract, but I thought he signed a one year contract. I think he has a decent chance to make the roster, but is far from a lock. [sic] - Thomas23059

The Dolphins signed Sherfield to a one-year, $1.2 million contract on March 18. He would account for about $500,000 in dead money should he be cut.

Cedrick Wilson signed a three-year contract, so that could be the confusion. That is just a guess, though,

Why does packing to move suck so much? - James McKinney

Sounds right. Always amazing just how much stuff you have collected.

White shows he is a running back that we can not risk waiving and trying to get on the practice squad. Who is gone ? Gaskin has trade value, but also a valuable piece in case of injury to one of the others. Ahmed , not a power back but speed and a good receiver. They even gave him guaranteed money to sign. With a fullback good chance two of the backs at least are gone. Who is the question! [sic] - Dolfanjoe

I do not think ZaQuandre White suddenly jumps up the depth chart that far - he was undrafted for a reason. But, we will say he makes a impact this summer and he has to stay on the roster. Given Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Sony Michel were all signed to revamp the running backs group this year, it seems likely they will all make the roster. Salary cap-wise, only Edmonds would be negative in cap savings, but we will assume Miami will keep all three. That makes four halfbacks, plus Alec Ingold at fullback. Is there room for Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, or Gerrid Doaks?

Looking at cap numbers, Ahmed’s $895,000 is not guaranteed, while Doaks would have $25,000 in dead money with $705,000 in savings. Gaskin is in the last year of his contract, with just $21,777 in guarantee remaining, while $2.5 million would be cap savings.

In this case, I think Gaskin would be cut, while Ahmed and Doaks are headed to the practice squad.

However, I think Gaskin makes the team.

Who will be the X receiver? Neither Hill nor Waddle have an extensive history lining up right at the line of scrimmage. Last year Parker was the X receiver when he played. Who will be the X this season? - Gllmiaspr

I think you are going to see all of the receivers, including tight end Mike Gesicki, move around, a lot. If you want to pin down a defined x-receiver, it likely will be Jaylen Waddle. That makes Tyreek Hill the z-receiver and Cedrick Wilson the slot-receiver. That said, Hill and Waddle will likely see plenty of time in the slot, with Gesicki there and out wide as well. That seems like the way it makes the most sense.

Will the offensive line be better???? If not it doesn’t matter who our quarterback, wide receivers or running backs are. Or our defense because they will be on the field too long. [sic] - krammm

Yes. Adding Terron Armstead and Connor Williams immediately upgrades the line. Growth of the younger players like Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson should continue to upgrade the unit. Robert Hunt settled at right guard should see his play get better. Having Michael Deiter as utility backup provides emergency depth for game day should he be needed. I do not think this is a top unit in the league, but I do expect it to be better than last year and no longer the worst unit in the league.

How much do you expect the defense to change with Flores’ departure? - dwanathan

I do not see a lot of changes to the unit. Josh Boyer returning as the defensive coordinator should give the defense the stability it needs. Mike McDaniel came into this team knowing the defense was the strength of the unit and I do not think he is going to do anything that hampers their ability to get after the quarterback and shutdown the passing game. There will be tweaks, and obviously not having Brian Flores to bounce things around with Boyer will have some impact, but I think the whole point of keeping the defensive coaching staff largely intact was to make sure they come out firing this year.

In order to protect Hill and Waddle to some extent, who else will see kick/punt return duties? Any signs/showings of Hunter Long so far in the preseason? - TheRoo1

Jevon Holland will also be involved in the return duties, but that still puts a starter out on the special teams unit, which negates the point of the question. Noah Igbinoghene could see some return work. I know a lot of fans have issues with Igbinoghene given he is a first-round pick who has struggled - but he is still only 22 years old and is the sixth-youngest player on the team. As he enters his third year, there is still plenty of time for him to grow into his role with the club. While the top cornerback positions appear to be set with Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, and Nik Needham, Igbinoghene could challenge Needham while also taking over as a returner.

If not Igbingohene, you are probably looking at one of the running backs - Sony Michel or Raheem Mostert - to serve in that role. Wide receiver Lynn Bowden, Jr., could also be a consideration.

It will be interesting to watch Long this summer. He is stuck behind Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe on the depth chart, competing with Adam Shaheen for the third spot in the group. The potential is there. Now it just needs to come together. Nothing has jumped out early, but once camp and the preseason start, he will be someone to watch.

With the McDaniel offense and his use of multiple Tes can you see him keeping five tight ends while using gesicki as a wide receiver thu’s just keeping five wide receivers to go with the five tight ends? Also with hill, waddle, wilson, and Eric as shoe ins to make the roster do you see the fifth guy as being Bowden considering his potential fit in a McDaniel offense? [sic] - Blaze453

This continues with the last question, so we will start with Bowden. I do think he makes the team. He could be a practice squad player, but that would open him to either a waiver claim or a team poaching him from the practice squad. That seems dangerous and he has talent and potential, especially in a Mike McDaniel offense.

I will assume Erik Ezukanma, Miami’s fourth-round pick this year, makes the team, but I do not think that he is a lock to make the roster yet. That gives Miami Jaylen Waddle, Tyreek Hill, Cedric Wilson, Jr., Ezukanma, and Bowden at wide receiver. At tight end, Mike Gesicki, Durhma Smythe, Adam Sheen, and Hunter Long should be on the roster, with Cethan Carter a bubble player. There is probably an additional wide receiver slot, but I think Miami could have to make a tough cut at wide receiver or running back this year.

I do think Gesicki is moved around a lot this year, playing in all wide receiver spots along with work as a tight end. There is potential that he is essentially a wide-out, as you suggested, but I do not know that would force Miami to keep an additional tight end.

Thanks for all the questions. I think I pulled in all of them that I received. We will bring back the mailbag next week, so be looking for our article requesting your questions.