As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2017 in my IDP Projection Marking series.
The comments section should be fun here. Dolphins fans seem entirely convinced that the team is doing the right thing but to this writer, it seems the front office and coaching staff are making it up as they go along. In particular, the Robert Quinn and Minkah Fitzpatrick signings were total luxuries given the team’s weaknesses and lack of resources. At least I don’t have to write about the horrendous Ndamukong Suh contract anymore.
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With Suh out of town, there are a ton of snaps available at tackle. Suh led the league at the position last year with a huge 881 snaps. Nobody will step into that same workload (it’s ridiculous to expect any tackle to play that much) but all three of these players should be on the field more than in 2017.
Godchaux seemed to be the staff’s favorite option last year but doesn’t really have much pass-rushing upside. Jordan Phillips has been pretty disappointing his whole career so far. Given he had work rate worries coming into the NFL, that’s not a shock. Vincent Taylor is the most exciting from an interior rushing point of view but he was the least polished player last season and needs to show a big jump. Having said that, he has the best chance to exceed expectations.
The Quinn signing was so odd. He’s been absolutely fantastic at times (and was productive last year) but people seem to think going back to a DE designation makes him a star. It’s unlikely because the Dolphins are totally committed to a rotation at DE.
Last year, Andre Branch (40 snaps per week), Cameron Wake (38) and Charles Harris (31) and William Hayes (27) all played but none of them had enough workload to be really valuable. Wake came closest with his high efficiency, but this is a tough situation when picking weekly line-ups.
Adding Quinn to the group also means one player likely loses all value as the team has a pretty strict two-left and two-right rotation. Andre Branch is probably the least effective player but is also the team’s second-highest paid player on $10m this year. Dead cap prevents him from being cut. Hayes looks to be the odd man out.
The Raekwon McMillan selection was yet another wasteful decision by this front office a year ago. It looks much better now but that’s only because Lawrence Timmons was such a disaster. He’s currently at home getting paid $2.75m.
Kiko Alonso is also on a ridiculous deal and due $9.6m this season. It seems he and McMillan are locked into the starting jobs for 2018 at least. Jerome Baker is a talent but also a limited player. His coverage ability is exceptional but he needs more than that to be an every-down player. He could be used similarly to how Jayon Brown and Matt Milano were in 2017. Stephone Anthony is only ownable in leagues that are deeper than yours (unless you’re in The100). That impressive rookie season of his was a long time ago now.
It seems the Dolphins are pretty set at corner – more than they have been for a long time. Xavien Howard (1,021 snaps) and Cordrea Tankersley (641) were locked in as starters outside when fit, with Bobby McCain impressing in the slot
Defensive coordinator Matt Burke is very much of the two-deep safety school. Reshad Jones tends to record a lot of individual tackles but in 2017 this was a scheme that rotated safeties and played a lot of Cover Two. Both Jones and McDonald played at least 50% of their snaps last season as a deep safety,
This should continue in 2018. Jones is an extremely efficient (and good) player but sooner or later, he’s not going to be able to produce numbers from non-advantageous positions. Jones is absolutely still worth owning and holding but now is a bad time to try and trade for him.
Reshad Jones. The end is probably near for Jones. He’s in his 30s. He’s on a contract the team will likely find distasteful before too long and the scheme is really more of a two-deep one, which doesn’t fit Jones. But until he stops racking up huge tackle numbers, he’ll be a stud. Jones is one of the top safeties in IDP.
Minkah Fitzpatrick. We see every year that many football fans assume a highly drafted safety will rack up tackles. Just like Malik Hooker a year ago, Fitzpatrick just isn’t that sort of player. He’s not a specialist free safety – like Hooker is – but Fitzpatrick is not likely to put up stellar tackle numbers.
Kiko Alonso. Alonso was pretty bad in 2017. Certainly very bad compared to his big new contract. But he’s the best bet to play three downs on a poor team. The Dolphins are likely to play a lot of defensive downs and Alonso will, therefore, have a whole heap of tackle opportunities. A top-ten LB season is very possible.
A lot of this article will seem pretty negative. This is nothing to do with team bias and everything to do with frustration at Miami continually making poor decisions. There are good players on this defense but until the roster is built in a more sensible, sustainable fashion, this team is going to struggle.
Thanks for reading.
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