Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Where does the Dolphins Offense stand? A Mid Pre-Season Update.

Four weeks ago, to this very day, in fact, I published this article titled “State of the Dolphins heading into Training Camp.” Some 28 days and 2 pre-season games have passed and a lot has changed. Today, I’m going to take you through the state of the Dolphins offense, based on my opinion.

QB Battle – Fitzmagic or Chosen Rosen?

Let’s dive straight into the battle for the role of QB1 vs Baltimore on September 9th.

4 weeks ago, I labeled Ryan Fitzpatrick as a “likely starter”. And for the first two days of training camp, my prediction looked to be true. But Fitzmagic hit an average patch. For those two days in late-July, the veteran was looking dangerous, well better than Ryan Tannehill anyway! Point aside, his production started to drop off a little and began to look just below decent . In came Josh Rosen, who early on was struggling with the Dolphins’ new Pats’ style offense. And today, he still is, but he’s learning. Rosen finally got reps with the first team last week, in a joint practice with Bruce Arians’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

This battle is surprisingly still ongoing, Fitzpatrick is the better QB, and started week 1 of pre-season. Rosen week 2. Dolphins Coach, Brian Flores stated that Fitzpatrick will “probably start against Jacksonville”. Meaning that Rosen should start in the final pre-season game against New Orleans. Rosen has shown good pocket presence and to an extent has stopped throwing the easy read, so far in the pre-season, which is a good start.

It’s too close to call, it’ll probably be Fitzpatrick, and that’s still good. It gives Rosen time to learn more, but I’d say I’d like the Dolphins to have Rosen under center, come week 1.

Is the DeVante Parker tenure over?

Moving on to the Fins receivers now. Kenny Stills seems, as most would have assumed, to be the Dolphins’ WR1, although since writing this he is in this public argument around Jay-Z’s new NFL deal. Kenny is standing up for what he believes in. It looks like Flores and Owner Stephen Ross are winding up Stills. Maybe a trade is coming? UDFA Preston Williams shone in the Atlanta game, he looks likely to make the roster. Other than that, it just screams uncertainty.

Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant have both come off season-ending injuries and haven’t featured at all in the pre-season games. When on the top of their games last year, they were borderline unstoppable. However, both have also taken barely any snaps in training. These two should definitely be on the roster, and probably will be, but I have concerns. Will they be as explosive?

(UPDATE)

Well in Grant’s case, hopefully! Since writing this piece, he’s rumored to have signed a 4-year extension, keeping him a Miami Dolphin till 2023. It looks like he is impressing the new coaching staff.

News broke late Tuesday Night (via Adam Beasley, @AdamHBeasley on Twitter.)
Is it time to give up on DeVante Parker?
Credit:AP

Then falls DeVante Parker. What can I say?! The 2015 first-round pick out of Louisiana was proving to be ballin’ at an above-average level in camp, before coming down with yet another minor-injury. We’ve seen it all before. Maybe his contract extension was trade-bait?

I expect Miami to carry 6 wideouts on the roster, meaning one roster spot left for Allen Hurns, Brice Butler, and Isaiah Ford to contest the final spot. Many expect Hurns to make the roster, but he’s been way less than impressive since joining at the start of camp. Butler leads the way so far.

What is Kenyan Drake?

This upcoming season is a contract year for the former 3rd round pick. Something is clearly wrong in his game, otherwise, why has he never been a starting back? Stuck behind Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and later on Derrick Henry, he was never named a starter at Alabama.

Moving into the league, Drake was behind Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams. An Ajayi-trade and Williams injury later, he shone late in the 2017 season, when starting. With many projecting a strong year in 2018, his hopes were dampened by the acquisition of both Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage, last offseason in free agency and the draft respectively. This resulted in a share of touches again.

Who’s the better back?
Ballage (left) or Drake (right).
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Fast forward to 2019, the Dolphins running back is currently sidelined, walking in a boot, and might not be ready to start the season. This is a downside because Drake needs 16 strong games to show off his explosiveness, in order to convince Coach Flores and Chris Grier, that he’s worth an extension. Which also brings up an opportunity for Kalen Ballage to do what Drake did 2 seasons ago. As for the other backs, Mark Walton looks the best of the bunch, but he could face a suspension. Myles Gaskin and Patrick Laird haven’t had much chance so far.

Starting Tight End?

I believe 4 tight ends should make this roster. Mike Gesicki is doing exactly what he was drafted to do, catch passes. As demonstrated last year, he’s no blocker. Gesicki has been flexing out to the slot and playing outside this pre-season. He’s created separation in most of his snaps so far, proving he’s hard to handle. He’s definitely on for a better year, but let’s face it, that’s not hard.

How good is Gesicki?
(Photo by Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Nick O’Leary is a good blocker, and can also be used as a fullback. He’s also a decent pass catcher. O’Leary has good vision, and his blocks help in the run game.

Dwayne Allen hasn’t really featured, but knows the coaching staff well, from his time at Foxborough. The only problem is he’s been hurt throughout most of camp. We need to see more of him.

Durham Smythe is another second-year tight end. He’s improved a lot. And put in a nice block for a 22 yard rush against Tampa, last Friday.

All 4 could make the roster and will be used a lot, as there’s no clear starter. Clive Walford is also a good shout, he has an outside chance of making this roster.

How bad is this O-line?

Two words, very bad!

Pictured, Laremy Tunsil
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of Laremy Tunsil, who let’s face it, is elite, there’s nothing good at all. Michael Deiter and Shaq Calhoun are looking like the starting guards, which is saying something. One thing I do like is Jesse Davis’ move to the Right Tackle position. He played there in college, meaning this move makes sense.

Going back to the guards, how bad is Chris Reed? He got demoted to the second-team early into training camp and hasn’t returned since. Deiter and Calhoun are okay but are still very raw.

The O-line has no real depth, and is clearly the worst position group on this team!

Final Thoughts.

Overall, this side of the ball is just so meh! The rebuild is in full swing, as evident in the O-line and QB positions. The wideouts have been the same for a while now, so Preston Williams is an exciting addition. Mike Gesicki will almost definitely improve. Right now, outside of Big Laremy, the line is straight-up trash. But they will improve, I like the Deiter pick.

One quick thing, before I round this up. Go and check out Travis Wingfield, @WingfieldNFL on Twitter. He has great analyis, which helped me gain more information on this pre-season. He writes for Locked on Dolphins and also hosts the Locked On Dolphins podcast, check it out here.

So that’s it, I hope you enjoyed this piece, come back next week for my view on the Dolphins D.

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