With Levi Damien in London to cover the Oakland Raiders Sunday match-up against the Miami Dolphins it iss up to me to handle the Five Good Questions with our upcoming opponent. I was able to chat with The Phinsider's Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) about the team he covers, the Miami Dolphins. Here is the link to the 5 Questions that Kevin asked me.
1) What is going on with Ryan Tannehill? He seemed like he was on his way up after last season but now just 3 games into this year he is already almost benched? Seems strange.
The "almost benched" story was a bit overblown I think, as the team itself never changed anything, with Tannehill taking all of the first team snaps all week, and head coach Joe Philbin telling the team all week that Tannehill was the starter. The story came about because Philbin refused to say in public that Tannehill was the starter. It's something he has never done - he doesn't talk about injuries, missed practices, or the depth chart - but this week, it bit him as it became a national story that there was uncertainty about Tannehill.
Even though I think the story was overblown, Tannehill has definitely not been a dominating starter yet. Entering his third year, with an offense thought to perfectly fit his skill set and a ton of weapons surrounding him, this is supposed to be the year the 2012 first round pick steps up and into his role as a franchise quarterback. Through three games, that has not happened. He's been inaccurate with his throws - not so bad that it's sailing over a receiver's head for an interception, but just off enough that the receiver can't haul it in, or can't do it on the run. He also seems afraid to run, which is odd because he has good speed and athleticism.
The receivers have dropped way too many passes this year (at least 10 through three games), which brings Tannehill's stats down, but Tannehill is definitely struggling as well. Is it the new offense? The new footwork coaches tried to develop for him? Is it just that he is not the QB we all hoped he would be? We will find out this year - and we will only find out if he is playing.
2) What is your opinion of Joe Philbin as head coach? Do you think he will still be coaching there next season?
Philbin's job is on the line this year, and the only thing he can do to save it is win. That's what 2014 comes down to for the coach and the Dolphins. Miami needs to have a winning season for the first time since 2008, and they should be in the playoffs.
Philbin has had his struggles, and he has frustrated fans. He's not a demonstrative, get in your face type of coach, and a lot of fans want to see that from him. He is never too high, and he is never too low. He keeps himself even keel, and he does not deviate too from his norm - as the Tannehill story this week shows. I think he is a capable coach, and he can win with this team, but he now has to prove it.
Will he be here next year? I hope so, simply because that means the team is winning this year.
3) Who on offense and who on defense would you consider to be the most dangerous player that outsiders may not have heard of before?
Defense it's probably defensive end Olivier Vernon, who does not get a lot of notice, but had double digit sacks last year, with two already this year. He has had nine sacks in the last 10 games for Miami. He's a great compliment opposite Cameron Wake, and he will probably make at least one impact play at some point during the game.
Offense is a little harder. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Lamar Miller, and Charles Clay are all probably names at least familiar to football fans. Jarvis Landry, the rookie wide receiver out of LSU, was overshadowed by Odell Beckham, Jr. coming out of college, but he has been a great find for Miami, assuming he does not continue to be among the receivers dropping the ball this year. Undrafted free agent running back Damien Williams was impressive in the preseason, and could be a name to watch if he gets time spelling Miller. It's hard to find an impact offensive player who does not have a recognizable name for the Dolphins, given the team has the most expensive wide receiver corps in the game this year.
4) How come the Dolphins are not running more when Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno have both averaged over 5 yards a carry?
It's a question we asked a lot last year, when Miami appeared to completely give up on the running game. The move was likely a big part of why Mike Sherman is no longer the offensive coordinator for Miami. Bill Lazor was brought in this year to speed up the tempo, add explosive plays, and get Tannehill clicking.
Miami's run game has been impressive. Last week, Miller averaged over seven yards per carry on his way to a 100+ yardage day. It was great. Yet, there the Dolphins were on third-and-one late in the fourth quarter, down six, trying to pass the ball. They did come back and try to run it on fourth down, but Miller was stopped at the line of scrimmage.
The Dolphins can run the ball this year, which appears to be the strength of the offensive line in 2014. For some reason, they get away from the run, even when it is succeeding.
5) The Raiders and the Dolphins were involved in a draft day trade back in 2012 when the Dolphins traded up to #3 for Dion Jordan. Which team would you say got the better of that deal?
I think in terms of the trade itself, Miami got the better deal, simply because the Raiders could have asked for a lot more for the third overall pick. As for looking at Dion Jordan, until he gets on the field and actually contributes regularly, the advantage has to be to Oakland.
Jordan could not participate in the offseason workout program last year as a rookie, thanks to Oregon being on the quarters system and NFL rules saying a player must complete their current academic term when they are drafted before being allowed to report to the club. When he did arrive, the torn labrum he had to have surgically repaired in his shoulder was slow in healing, and he fell further behind the rest of the defense in terms of preparation.
He did see some playing time as a rookie, but not much.
This year, Jordan has been suspended throughout the first three games after testing positive (twice) for some substance. He's checked himself into a treatment facility, and will not be back for Miami until after Week 6. Hopefully, the potential he has shown prior to all of this drama will still be there and Jordan will have an impact. Until then, the Raiders have the advantage on this trade.
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