The Finsiders
2014 Memberships Single Game Tickets 3D Seat Views Chat W/ Rep
Andy Cohen In The Morning will appear every Monday through Friday until the end of the season, except for the bye week. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m.
By on September 1, 2014 at 5:55 am

140901_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

The first thing you need to know is that the situation remains fluid. Why, there were two moves on Sunday. More could come today. Changes are inevitable. It’s always that way for the back end of the roster. The Dolphins may be down to the regular season limit, but Dennis Hickey’s work with this roster is a process that never really stops.

Having said that, the 53-man roster at this precise moment is filled with some interesting storylines and some surprising developments. Let’s take a closer look at some of them:

• The center of attention: This was one of the toughest decisions of the summer. What do you do with Mike Pouncey? The Dolphins chose to keep the veteran center on the active roster instead of risking a six-game stint on the Physically Unable to Perform List (PUP). This is good news. It means that Pouncey is closer to returning than originally anticipated. It means the Dolphins believe he could be back in the first month of the season. That’s encouraging for a player who is so important to this offense.

• Youth prevails: As of Sunday afternoon, there were 12 rookies on this roster: Six drafted, six undrafted. The six drafted players are understandable; the six undrafted are a surprise. You usually see maybe two or three undrafted players, but six is not the norm. It further underlines two things in my mind: That the draft is an inexact science and that this regime does not care about pedigree. When Dennis Hickey told me early this summer that “once you come through our doors, it doesn’t matter how you got here” he obviously meant it. Still, it took some guts to be so bold.

• From four to five: A year ago, the Dolphins kept four wide receivers on their initial 53-man roster. This year they kept six and narrowed it to five on Sunday with the release of Damian Williams. This isn’t by design as much as it is just common sense. This is among the strengths of this team. You’ve got five players with clear, undeniable NFL talent. Why, I can remember a few years ago when the Dolphins didn’t have half that many quality receivers. No, there aren’t any five wide receiver formations as far as I know. But if they are five of the best athletes on your team – and they are – then it only increases your options to keep them all on the roster.

• A few words about Jordan Kovacs: I know, I shouldn’t be partial to some players over others. But I got to know Jordan Kovacs as an undrafted rookie out of Michigan a year ago. I so admired his story, how he literally begged his way on to the Wolverines football team, never slowed by a couple of knee injuries, and went on to become the team captain and leading tackler. Probably a few inches too short and a few tenths too slow, I knew it would be tough to make this team a second time because of the upgrades at safety. Why, he knew how tough it would be. But he never stopped battling, never stopped dreaming, until he was released late Saturday afternoon. Got to admire that young man.

• Toughest veteran decisions: Probably the two biggest names to be released were running Daniel Thomas and kick returner Marcus Thigpen. Both had been on this team for a while. Both had shown us some promising signs. But in Thomas’ case, he battled too many injuries and just never played to the level expected of a second-round pick. Thigpen gave us some thrills as a kick returner, but was simply not valuable enough in other areas. He also could not match the diversity and big-play potential of second-round pick Jarvis Landry.

• A new look for the running game: The Dolphins kept four running backs; two of them – Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwaweren’t drafted and have never carried the ball in an NFL game. That leaves Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller as the only experienced backs. Miller was the only back among this group who was even on the roster last season. Interesting thinking here. Is it risky? Sure it is. But I like both Williams and Darkwa. I like their speed. I’m impressed with their ability to return kicks. Each clearly showed enough in the preseason to justify being one of 53.

• Just for kicks: Despite a summer of uncertainty due to a groin injury, Caleb Sturgis is the only placekicker on the roster, which means he’s ready to go all out against the Patriots. Now healthy, his next challenge is showing us a little more consistency than he did as a rookie. This team will play a lot of close games; Sturgis therefore becomes a crucial part of the big picture.

• So what now? With suspended players Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones not counted on the 53 until their four-week punishment ends, that opened up two additional spots. But what happens when they return? The point here is that whether it’s upgrading the back end of the roster or figuring out who goes when Jordan and Jones returns, this is an ongoing process. In this league, the only real certainty is uncertainty.

(On Tuesday, AC in the AM takes a look at Joe Philbin and something he takes great pride in).

##############

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 29, 2014 at 5:55 am

140829_AC_AM2Andy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

Let the countdown truly begin.

With the preseason coming to an official halt Thursday night at Sun Life Stadium, the Dolphins can now turn their undivided attention to the many challenges posed by the New England Patriots.

Granted, there are some important decisions to make over the next few days. Who stays? Who goes? Which areas still require an influx of talent? The Dolphins must settle on a 53-man roster by 4 p.m. Saturday. That’s important stuff, no denying it. But it is the big picture that must come into focus now and that journey starts with the Patriots, an opener that could prove to be as telling as any I can remember.

In truth, the Dolphins have been working on the Patriots for a while. Wouldn’t be surprised if most of the game plan is already in place. But that had to stay in the background while preseason games were played and roster decisions were made. Now, everything is right in front of us. The game. The challenges. The implications. Think what a 1-0 start would mean to this team? Think what it would mean coming against the Patriots? If that’s not enough of a backdrop for this season opener, what is?

As for Thursday night, this was about last chances. It was about one final look. It was about carving a spot on the most talented roster Joe Philbin has had in his three seasons here. The starters did not play, a smart move considering the importance of showing up on Sept. 7 with a healthy, well-rested, energized team.

Now the pace will pick up dramatically in practice. Now you’ll see game faces where smiles once resided. Now you’ll see a team focused on a singular purpose, getting ready for a home game against the team that has dominated their division for far too long.

Thursday night was an ending. Today is a beginning. The calendar says the Dolphins have 10 days to get ready. Those days will pass quickly. “We have a great opportunity,” says quarterback Ryan Tannehill. “We all understand that.”

But before then, before we start thinking about a man named Brady, let’s take one last look at the preseason and how it culminated on Thursday night against the Rams.

• So the Dolphins get a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Seth Lobato to  rookie Matt Hazel to beat the Rams 14-13 and finish the preseason with a 3-1 record. Winning is always good, even on the last Thursday in August when nobody is going to remember the score in a couple of weeks.

• The best way to gauge a successful preseason? How you perform in September.

• Defensive end Dion Jordan and safety Reshad Jones both started the game, the last time they will play for a while because of four-game suspensions to start the season. How unfortunate for both players and, really, for the entire defense.

• Tannehill had a good preseason numbers-wise, but the fact that he only produced one touchdown is a disappointment and obviously must be corrected in a hurry. Still, he completed over 68 percent of his passes and had a decent 86.5 quarterback rating. I just wish there was at least one long distance connection included in those numbers.

• That Knowshon Moreno did not play against the Rams tells me that Philbin saw enough against the Cowboys to convince him he was ready. That’s encouraging.

• Nice to see Caleb Sturgis kicking again. And nice to see Daniel Thomas get in the end zone again.

• Some tough roster decisions remain, especially at wide receiver and on the defensive line. Not sure whether Thursday night provided some clarity.

• The players return to practice on Sunday with 22 less teammates and the Patriots foremost on their minds. Finally, the regular season is just about here.

(On Monday, AC in the AM takes a look at the 53-man roster).

##############

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 28, 2014 at 5:45 am

140828_AC_AM2Andy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

This is the time, I would imagine, that coaches dread the most. The Dolphins enter tonight’s game against St. Louis with 75 players on their roster. By late afternoon Saturday they must be down to the regular season limit of 53.

That’s 22 players whose dreams must be put on hold. That’s 22 mostly gut-wrenching decisions for Joe Philbin and his staff. If you make it this far, you clearly have ability and potential. But are you the right fit? Are you at a position where the team already has an abundance of talent? Are you valuable on special teams?

So many factors go into this and that’s why tonight’s game can be so important. Leave the right lasting impression, make enough plays to change some opinions, and this can truly be a springboard game.

“Absolutely,” came Philbin’s response when asked if spots on this roster remain open heading into tonight’s game.

The starters figure to get little more than a cameo appearance against the Rams. Some won’t even play at all. That clears a path for so many other players. Which ones make the most of it? Which ones use this opportunity to cement their spot on the 53-man roster? That’s what tonight is all about. That’s why for some players, hanging on by a proverbial thread, it is their Super Bowl.

These decisions become even more difficult when a player has done everything asked of him, but the numbers simply do not fall in his favor. “It’s never easy to do,” says Philbin. “Certainly there will be some quality individuals that you have to let go.

I’ve never been a believer in predicting roster cuts in my column. It’s insensitive and, as a member of the media, there are so many variables we truly don’t know about. But what I can do is offer some insight into five decisions that I’m glad I don’t have to make.

• What do you do at wide receiver? The Dolphins kept four in last season’s cut down to 53. I can’t imagine keeping so few again, certainly when you consider that this is the deepest area of the team. Do they keep five? Do they keep six?  And if you keep that many, which positions are adversely affected? Some receiver, I believe, is going to win a roster spot tonight. Another receiver, I believe, will lose one. That’s how high the stakes are.

• What now for Mike Pouncey? This is a tough one. The Dolphins have two viable options. Keep Pouncey on the active roster and hope he becomes available earlier than expected or place him on PUP (physically unable to perform) which would make him ineligible through the first six weeks of the season. Pouncey is telling people he wants no part of PUP. But if you keep him active, another player has to go. Pouncey has been showing steady improvement in his off-to-the-side workouts. This will probably come down to a gut feeling.

• Who is going to step forward as the third tight end? It is generally believed that Charles Clay and Dion Sims are locked into the roster as the top two tight ends. But a third tight end is important and often serves as a key member of special teams. Draft pick Arthur Lynch has been put on injured reserve. That leaves Kyle Miller and Gator Hoskins as the two candidates. To this point, neither has really separated himself from the other. Will tonight change that?

• Which undrafted rookie(s) make this team? Of the 75 players currently on the roster, 11 were undrafted rookies signed immediately following the draft. This is one of those areas I focus on every summer because a least one undrafted rookie always seems to make it. We hear good things about some of these players. But do we really know what the coaches are thinking? So here’s the list to ponder: running backs Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa, defensive tackles Anthony Johnson, Kamal Johnson and Garrison Smith, linebackers Chris McCain and Andrew Wilson, guard Evan Finkenberg, defensive end Tevin Mims, cornerback Kevin Fogg and tight end Harold Hoskins. Somebody is going to surprise us. The only question: Who?

• What do you do after Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller at running back? It has been a frustrating preseason for incumbent backs Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee. Both have been hurt. Gillislee has been put on injured reserve. This has created opportunities for young backs like Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa, who both did some good things against Dallas. Thomas figures to get his first playing time of the preseason tonight. Williams and Darkwa should play a lot. How does this play out? Once again, tonight could be the deciding factor.

(On Friday, AC in the AM gives his take on what happened against St. Louis.)

##############

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 27, 2014 at 5:55 am

1acam_FansAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

Q. What will it take for Tannehill and Wallace to get on the same page? @coach5xchamp

AC: One big play. One special moment. One perfectly executed long pass. They have come so close, I believe if they get it right one time, that’s all they need to gain a measure of confidence and trust. I’ve seen them do it on the practice field. I see Ryan Tannehill find other receivers in stride. I know Mike Wallace is faster than those other receivers. But it’s all about timing and it’s time that they get this fixed.

##############

Q. Any concern over Ryan Tannehill’s slight regression during the preseason? @jrn26

AC: First of all, I don’t believe he has regressed. I have seen improvement. I have seen him doing a better job taking ownership of this offense. Are there concerns? Sure there are. As mentioned earlier, the deep throws to Wallace must improve. The interception he threw against Dallas was an ill-advised throw and Tannehill needs to, for the most part, rid himself of those. But his accuracy has improved and so has his decision making. I’m really anticipating a solid season from Tannehill. It’s important, though, that he come up with a strong performance against the Patriots.

##############

Q. Andy, what do you believe has changed about the Dolphins during the preseason coming into the 2014 regular season? @dwarrior586

AC: The biggest change is the new-look offense. The Dolphins will be a far more versatile team this season and we saw that in the preseason. What we didn’t see is most of the new plays Bill Lazor has incorporated into this offense. Why give away your hand so early? With all the movement, all the formations, all the creativity, I believe this offense is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season. But the bottom line is scoring points and that’s how this offense will be judged.

##############

Q. What is the usual time for a groin injury recovery a la Caleb Sturgis? @scottfkenward

AC: There is no usual time. Groin injuries are like hamstrings; they heal on their own terms. The one thing you don’t want to do is come back too soon and re-aggravate the injury. Unfortunately, we’ll just have to be patient..

##############

Q. Do you think Jarvis Landry will play a big role in this offense this season? @Truckyaopioion

AC: A huge role. Landry is one of those players who fits perfectly into Bill Lazor’s system. You will see him line up all over the field. And while the Dolphins are loaded at wide receiver, there really isn’t another player who possesses the same skill set as Landry. He has moves you simply can’t teach.

##############

Q. Andy, do you see Lamar Miller getting first and second team reps while Knowshon Moreno gets the third down reps? @PhishingwPhil

AC: I believe Moreno is too talented and too important to just play on third downs. After his showing against Dallas, it is hard to see a scenario where Moreno doesn’t play a majority of the snaps. I’ve seen formations where Moreno and Miller are in the backfield together. Right now, I believe Miller still has more to prove than Moreno.

##############

Q. So Andy, how comfortable are you that the Dolphins have improved enough to pose a serious challenge to New England? @pablor323

AC: Relatively comfortable. The defense, for the most part, appears ready. The offense still has a ways to go, but there have been some encouraging signs in the preseason, especially the performance by Knowshon Moreno against Dallas. Still, as always, it all starts with quarterback Ryan Tannehill..

##############

Q. Your thoughts on the offensive line? @wendynelson22

AC: If this group can stay healthy, it should be OK. I’m not expecting many overpowering performances. But I am expecting to see consistency and few glaring mistakes. Early indications are that right tackle Ja’Wuan James was well worth a No. 1 pick. Branden Albert, at left tackle, is as good as advertised. The Dolphins were fortunate to be able to sign Samson Satele until Mike Pouncey returns. Left guard seems fine with Daryn Colledge, but the big question is at right guard where Shelley Smith still must prove he deserves to be there. Like so many other parts of this team, we’ll know a lot more after facing the Patriots.

##############

Q. Andy, how certain are you that Joe Philbin has a firm grip on the positives and negatives of this team? @actionman494

AC: Very certain. Joe Philbin gets it. He is as thorough and organized as any coach I have ever covered. He has an excellent feel for his players and what they can and can’t do. Now we’ll see how that translates into wins and losses.

##############

Q. Andy, Philip Wheeler played awful against Dallas. Do you think we have a starter to replace Wheeler in either Jordan Tripp, Jelani Jenkins or Jason Trusnik? @jinkagi

AC: I agree Wheeler did not play well against Dallas and must improve his tackling in particular. I like Jordan Tripp. Like him a lot. I think he has a chance to be a quality starter. Whether it’s this season is too early to tell. Jenkins and Trusnik both have had good camps; though right now they appear to be more role players than anything else. That, of course, can change in a hurry, especially if Wheeler doesn’t step up.

##############

Q.  Is anyone primed for a Charles Clay-like breakout season? @Dan0933

AC: Glad you mentioned Charles Clay because I believe what he accomplished last season was only the beginning. He has a chance to be really special this season. As for who else might break out, I’d keep an eye on Brandon Gibson. He is healthy now and playing with a level of confidence that I haven’t seen from him before this.

##############

Q. How much pace-of-play are they holding back for the regular season or is this another intention that will not happen? @supermotardhuck

AC: No, this will happen. The Dolphins practice this way all the time. I see no-huddles. I see hurry-ups. I see quick counts followed by long counts. Keep in mind, though, this only works if you make first downs. If you put together three-and-outs all you are doing is rushing your defense back on the field, which isn’t good.

 ##############

Q. Andy, given the coincidental timing, are we sure Dan Marino wasn’t hired to be the Turk this week? @EJfootball

AC: Don’t think so. I’ve seen Marino tell receivers how to cut; never seen him tell one he’s being cut. That’s one message I don’t think he wants to deliver.

(On Thursday, AC in the AM previews the final preseason game).

########

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 26, 2014 at 5:55 am

140828_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

You look at them and, in many ways, they appear to be the same person. Both stand 5-10. Both weigh about 190 pounds. Both play cornerback for the Miami Dolphins. Both have built careers filled with big plays and game-defining moments.

But if you look closer, if you really study each player, you will find that Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan have some clear, well-defined differences.

Grimes is finesse and instincts wrapped around remarkable athletic skills. Finnegan is more physical, less disciplined and, while Grimes is more likely to jump over you, Finnegan would probably just as soon run right through you.

“Yes,” says Finnegan, “we are different players.”

Says Grimes: “He’s effective, I’m effective, just in different ways.”

But the bottom line for both players is the same: They stop receivers. They carve out big plays. They bring a sense of confidence and calm to this Dolphins secondary. I’m not sure I can remember the last time the Dolphins had a pair of starting cornerbacks quite like these two. Little big men. That’s what they are.

You look at them, how unimposing they appear to be, and you quickly wonder how they manage to match up against big, physical receivers. You watch them play and then you begin to understand.

There is a tenacity about them, a hunger, a real sense of purpose. You talk to both players, you listen to their words, you look into their eyes, and you see how they have both built successful careers. There is no shortage of confidence, no half-steps for Grimes and Finnegan. It’s full go all the time.

Every year is a challenge for these two. But this year? Look at the schedule. Look at the quarterbacks they’ll be facing. Brady. Manning. Rodgers. Rivers. Flacco. “This is what you live for,” said Finnegan.

Added Grimes: “Cortland and I have a chance to do some special things.

For Grimes, it means more of the same. What an incredible season he enjoyed a year ago. All those big plays. All those key moments. A Pro Bowl invitation. He is a unique talent, a unique person.

That play a few weeks ago against Tampa Bay, when Grimes raced across the field to force a fumble at the goal line, showed us everything we need to know about this 8-year veteran. The determination. The perseverance. The relentlessness.

But it’s man-to-man coverage where Grimes excels most. A teammate of his recently told me that he’s never seen a player who can anticipate a receiver’s moves better than Grimes, a player who rarely even touches the player he’s covering.

“Yeah, I don’t know what it is,” Grimes said. “I’ve always had that ability. It’s an instinct I guess. Whatever it is, it works for me.”

Finnegan, unlike Grimes, has a lot to prove. As recently as 2011, he was one of the top cornerbacks in the league. But there was a leg injury in 2012 and a fractured orbital bone that limited him to just seven games last season. Some wondered whether he could ever return to that old form. But he had a strong training camp and there are clear indications now that he is real close to where he once was.

I’m not willing to proclaim anything at this point,” he said. “I have to keep proving I can play, keep proving it every practice and every game. I’m just so grateful I have the opportunity to play the game I love.”

So different, yet so much alike. Grimes and Finnegan. Or is it Finnegan and Grimes? Doesn’t really matter. The Dolphins are fortunate to have both.

(On Wednesday, AC in the AM answers fans questions).

##############

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 25, 2014 at 5:55 am

140825_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

There is one preseason game left, one more chance to form conclusions and finalize roster decisions. But it’s also now time to focus on what’s most important: Getting ready for the New England Patriots.

We are less than two weeks away from the season opener. There is a lot to prepare for. I’m guessing – just a hunch – that the vast majority of the game plan is already in place. Why, knowing Joe Philbin, he might have had a few assistants working on it about two hours after the schedule came out. Wouldn’t put it past him.

But the game plan is one thing; getting his players ready for a multitude of imposing challenges is another matter entirely. You think Tom Brady is already thinking about the Dolphins? You bet he is.

So, in my humble opinion, everything that happens from here on out – the practices, the meetings, the tape studies, the brainstorming sessions – will all have the Patriots in mind. Up until now, it’s been about finding answers, evaluating 90 players and introducing a new offensive system. Now, we take things to another level. Now, there is one singular undeniable purpose: Preparing for 1 p.m. on Sept. 7th.

So in light of what happened Saturday night against Dallas, in light of the roster decisions being made as I write this column and in light of the urgency of preparing for New England, I offer you an assortment of Monday morning opinions.

• No announcement has been made on the starting offensive line. But I like what the starting five did against Dallas and, in my mind, it appears likely now that this is the group we’ll see against the Patriots.

• If the Dolphins don’t have the league’s best back-up quarterback in Matt Moore, he is certainly in the conversation.

• The deep ball problems between Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace remain a legitimate concern. Tannehill absolutely must improve that part of his game. The missed long ball connection against Dallas serves as yet another example.

• Whether you are talking about Damian Williams with an “a” or Damien Williams with an “e” they both have surprised a lot of people this summer. Does one D.W. make it? Does both? Some difficult decisions await.

• I’m not convinced yet that the Dolphins will have a consistently good running game, but I do feel a lot better after watching Knowshon Moreno break tackles and find small creases against the Cowboys.

Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon can be scary good together.

• Too many special teams problems surfaced against the Cowboys. Needless to say special teams coach Darren Rizzi has a busy few weeks ahead of him.

• I’ve seen enough of second-year cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis to know this: Both are vastly improved and both will contribute a lot this season behind starters Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan.

• Like I’ve been saying all summer, cutting down this deep group of receivers will be one of Joe Philbin’s most agonizing challenges.

• Will a healthy kicker please step forward? And soon!

• So the preseason ends Thursday against the Rams. And then all thoughts can turn to New England, a season opener that will tell us so much about this football team.

(On Tuesday, AC in the AM takes a close look at cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan).

##############

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 24, 2014 at 7:19 pm

140824_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

The hiring of Dan Marino as a special advisor to the team makes sense in so many different ways. I was fortunate enough to cover every game in Marino’s Hall of Fame career. I saw him mature. I admired both his knowledge of the game and the impact he had on others.

It’s a natural fit. He is not only a bridge to the past, but a bridge to the future as well. He loves this franchise, cherishes all of those wonderful seasons and understands where he resides in the hearts of the fans.

First we need to state the obvious: Don’t even think about it, he no longer has his fastball. It’s more like a change-up now. But he does have plenty to bring to this franchise.

Foremost, he will serve as excellent sounding board for owner Stephen Ross and CEO Tom Garfinkel and can certainly help with a wide variety of team related business interests from Season Ticket Member to corporate sponsors to stadium issues.

He will also create a buzz in the community. You find a Dolphins fan, you’ll find a Marino fan. The two go hand-in-hand. There is a reason you still see so many No. 13 jerseys at Dolphins games. Just having Marino back in an official capacity will inspire fan interest. In some ways, for those who know Marino well, it even provides a sense of comfort.

I don’t expect him to have much of a direct involvement in the football operation, certainly not in any official capacity. But Joe Philbin has welcomed him at practice and I know he and Dennis Hickey value Marino’s accomplishments, his expertise and his opinions.

Bottom Line: This is a win-win for everyone involved.

Wonder on sick days if Don Strock is going to back him up? You know, just like old times.

##############

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

082414-StrongertogetherSeptember is fast approaching as the Miami Dolphins have just one more preseason game left until their first regular season action of 2014. This Saturday night, the team participated in its third preseason game, which served as a dress rehersal for the real thing on September 7th when the New England Patriots come to Sun Life Stadium. It was a successful outing for the Dolphins in game #3, as they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 25-20 in front of the home fans. That and more happened this week, and Dolphins.com has all your Fins’ coverage from the past week.

Check out the week that was with the Miami Dolphins from August 18th to August 23rd:

Monday, 8/18

Pouncey Looking To Return Soon

  • Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is hoping to get off the PUP list before the regular season begins. (More…)

Miami Makes Roster Move

  • The team waived running back Cameron Marshall and signed defensive end Rakim Cox. (More…)

Thomas Making Plays

  • Safety Michael Thomas spoke to the media on Monday, and talked about his playmaking ability and how it’ll help him earn a roster spot. (More…)

Tuesday, 8/19

Philbin Earning Rave Reviews From Players

  • In a recent interview with Greg Likens of The Finsiders, safety Louis Delmas raved about Coach Joe Philbin‘s ability to communicate with players. (More…)

Gibson Coming Back Strong

  • Wide receiver Brandon Gibson joined The Finsiders show on Tuesday to talk about how his return from injury has progressed, and the impact on coaching intern and Finisders analyst Chris Chambers has had on the receiving group. (More…)

A Feisty Pair

  • After practice on Tuesday, cornerback Brent Grimes talked to the media about fellow starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan. (More…)

Wednesday, 8/20

Prisco Praises Wallace, Dolphins Offense

  • CBS Sports Senior NFL Columnist Pete Prisco joined The Finsiders show to talk about the development of wide receiver Mike Wallace and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. (More…)

10 Questions

  • Finsiders Columinst Andy Cohen played 10 questions with rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp. (More…)

McCain Looking To Settle Down In Miami

  • Dolphins.com’s Alain Poupart profiled linebacker Chris McCain‘s journey to the Dolphins, and where he might make an impact on the team. (More…)

Thursday, 8/21

Offensive Line Leading The Way

  • Offensive tackle Branden Albert is leading the way for this offensive line and free agent class. (More…)
  • Rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James talked to The Finsiders and explained how playing against Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon every day in practice is making him better. (More…)

Shelby Flying Under The Radar

  • With all the publicity surrounding the Dolphins loaded defensive line, there’s one player that likely isn’t getting enough of it. (More…)

Finnegan Finding His Rhythm

  • Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan joined The Finsiders to discuss his mindset as he prepares for the upcoming season in the new-look Dolphins secondary. Plus, learn about the new dance craze that is taking the locker room by storm. (More…)

Friday, 8/22

Starters In Spotlight

  • Andy Cohen wrote about how the spotlight of the preseason shifted to the starters before the Dolphins’ 3rd preseason game. (More…)
  • Bob Griese, the Hall of Fame QB and Dolphins preseason TV analyst, joined The Finsiders to share his analysis on Bill Lazor, Ryan Tannehill, and more. (More…)

Fins Make Roster Moves

  • The team made several roster moves on Friday. (More…)

Saturday, 8/23

Dolphins Beat Cowboys, 25-20

  • Here’s a recap of the Dolphins’ 25-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Sun Life Stadium. (More…)
  • John Congemi evaluated Miami’s win against the Cowboys. (More…)
  • Andy Cohen gave his quick hit from Saturday’s game. (More…)
  • Here’s complete highlights of Miami’s win over Dallas, including a recap of Knowshon Moreno‘s big first day as a Dolphin. (More…)
  • Coach Philbin looked back on the Dolphins’ win in his postgame press conference. (More…)

TOP VIDEOS

TOP PHOTO GALLERIES


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 23, 2014 at 10:22 pm

140823_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season. Occasionally, like today, Andy will also provide some quick hits.). Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

• The feel good story of this night was clearly the debut of running back Knowshon Moreno. He got 19 on his first carry. He broke tackles. He ran with conviction. He blocked well. This is exactly what the Dolphins needed to see.

Charles Clay also looked sharp in a brief appearance, his first of the preseason. Had a nice catch for 18 yards. Clay and his versatility are so important to this offense.

• As for Ryan Tannehill, he wasn’t as sharp as he was in the first two preseason games — had one interception, overthrew Mike Wallace on a bomb and did not produce a touchdown. Now he has a couple of weeks to regain his mojo on the practice field.

• I like what I saw from the starting offensive line and right guard Shelley Smith appeared to do nothing to hurt his chances of cementing a spot with the first team.

• How about the offensive set with Moreno and Lamar Miller in the backfield together? Plenty of options there.

• Or the four wide out set that had Clay lined up at receiver? For Bill Lazor, it’s all about creating mismatches.

• The Dolphins No. 1 defense looked solid against a very good Cowboys offense.

• Meanwhile, the kickoff coverage team needs some work.

• And linebacker Philip Wheeler seems to be missing too many tackles.

• And, oh yes, the Dolphins need to get healthy at placekicker.

• Then you’ve got defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake looking ready for Tom Brady in two weeks. Wake had two sacks; Vernon had one. Impressive stuff.

• If the Dolphins can continue to get pressure like this from their front four, everything becomes so much easier for the rest of the defense.

• It was also a good night for guys named D. Williams. Damian caught a beautiful bomb from Matt Moore and then Damien got the touchdown and two-point conversation, both on second effort runs.

• So now starts a week of roster decisions where the Dolphins have to get down to 53 players. What happened against the Cowboys only made some of those decisions that much more difficult.

##############

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print
By on August 22, 2014 at 5:55 am

140822_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

##############

This is the preseason game that matters most. Not as much for the young players trying to carve a spot on this roster, but for the starters who understand the importance of September and know, deep down, that anything less than their best will not cut it against the New England Patriots.

Indeed, Saturday night against Dallas is about fine-tuning, about consistency, about working out all the blemishes and about gaining a measure of confidence that will carry these players into the season.

We got a brief look at the starters in the first preseason game. We saw a little bit more in the second game. But Saturday we will get a large dose. The starters figure to play the entire first half against the Cowboys and, after some halftime adjustments, we may see them into the third quarter.

It isn’t the final score that matters; it’s more about setting a tone, about  finishing the night with an upbeat feeling. Will they be smooth or sloppy, cohesive or confused, sharp or struggling? That’s what Joe Philbin wants to see. That’s what Saturday night is really all about.

Some things are clear at this point: The passing offense looks ready. The pass rush appears solid. The secondary has more playmakers than at any time in Philbin’s three seasons. These are the things the Dolphins clearly feel good about.

But I ask you this: Will any of that really matter if the Dolphins don’t have some semblance of a rushing attack?

This was my biggest concern heading into the summer and it remains my biggest concern. Is it the offensive line losing the battle of penetration or are the running backs not breaking tackles? So far, I’ve unfortunately seen a combination of both.

It is no great secret that this has to change. Dallas has had issues on defense and you have to figure that Saturday night affords the Dolphins an excellent opportunity to build some continuity with the ground game. The hope is that veteran Knowshon Moreno will see his first action of the preseason and I’m anxious to see if that will make a difference.

But it has to start upfront and right now the Dolphins have yet to settle on five starting offensive linemen. Hopefully the events of Saturday night will change that and, as a result, produce a more effective rushing attack. Something, I believe, needs to happen to take some of the pressure off Ryan Tannehill and his talented group of receivers.

Joe Philbin says he ideally is hoping to average around 4 yards per carry this season. So far this preseason, the Dolphins have averaged about half that. You run the ball and it has a positive affect on every area of the team. This must be the primary emphasis on Saturday night.

With the running game the No. 1 priority, here’s a quick checklist of 10 other questions worth focusing on against the Cowboys:

1. Can Tannehill make it three straight positive performances?

2. Will we see a clearer picture emerge on the offensive line, specifically at the two guard positions?

3. Will anyone step forward as the clear choice behind Charles Clay as the No. 2 tight end?

4. Will we see better tackling from the defense in general and more plays from the linebackers in particular?

5. Will we see another “wow” moment from Jarvis Landry?

6. Can Matt Moore continue what he started against Tampa Bay?

7. Who’s going to step forward as the nickel back, a crucial area against a team like the Patriots and a quarterback like Tom Brady?

8. Will either one of two rookie linebackers, Jordan Tripp or Chris McCain, continue their push for valuable playing time?

9. What’s going to happen at kicker?

10. And most importantly: Will the Dolphins walk off the field Saturday feeling like they are ready for the Patriots?

(On Monday, AC in the AM evaluates the game against Dallas and looks ahead to the remaining challenges.)

##############

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Print