DAVIE — The Miami Dolphins awarded Olympic Heights High School student Valicia Browne of Boca Raton a full scholarship to Florida State on Wednesday.
Browne is the first recipient of the Project Change Scholarship, part of a yearly fund for advocacy and social justice programs created by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Miami Dolphins players.
The Dolphins identify one high school student each year and will pay for their tuition to college over a four-year period. The goal of the scholarship is to target students to impact their lives, so they can make a change in their community.
“We are fortunate to have an owner in Stephen Ross and players that are committed to making these transformational changes,” Dolphins Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs Jason Jenkins said. “The work Valicia is doing and aspires to continue is a shining example of working to better humanity. We’re excited to share in this next chapter with her as she embarks on what will be a bright future in college.”
Valicia carries a 4.2 GPA and plays tennis. She has a goal to establish medical clinics to provide affordable health care in underserved communities and is looking forward to working with civil rights/social justice groups in Tallahassee throughout college.
“Growing up, I’m originally from Brooklyn, my parents and I would always go to homeless shelters and feed those in need,” Valicia said. “Just seeing their faces light up for a hot plate of food that they would not normally have really inspired me to continue to put smiles on people’s faces.”
You could say receiver Jarvis Landry doesn’t appear to be missing Miami much.
While praising Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor on Thursday, Landry took a swipe at his former QB with the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill.
But wait: That report was posted on NFL.com, which contained only excerpts of what Landry said. The full interview, posted on cleveland.com,includes other comments in which Landry credited Tannehill and even went so far as to say he “loves” Jay Cutler.
Landry, Miami’s leading receiver last year, was traded to Cleveland for a fourth-round pick and a seventh-rounder in 2019.
The Browns agreed to give Landry the kind of money Miami would not: $75 million over five years. The trade went down because the Dolphins originally placed the franchise tag on Landry to assure they’d get something in return.
“Honestly, I didn’t have any plans to play on the franchise tag,” Landry told cleveland.com reporter Dan Labbe. “I think that was part of the reason for the trade as well.” He added, “Long-term security is why we play this game.”
Getting back to Tannehill …
“I think Tannehill’s skill level and the way that he was playing the year we went to the playoffs before his injury was at a high level and he could have took us to a championship or whatever or whatnot, but it didn’t happen,” Landry said. “Things happen in the NFL and we moved past it and the next season we had Jay Cutler and I love Jay. I love Jay. I really do.”
Landry said the Browns’ skill players got together following the trade, had another gathering in Miami and planned a third activity this summer.
“I love it,” Landry said. “Again, I didn’t do that in Miami with the quarterbacks because they didn’t want to do it. I would say that the chemistry and the type of guys that I’m around here makes me that much more excited because I know I’m going to be pushed at all levels at all times.”
Some of Landry’s comments appeared to point a finger at Tannehill, but a secondary headline on NFL.com specified he was talking about the quarterbacks he played with in Miami “in 17,” which obviously did not include Tannehill, who was out with a knee injury. In that regard, Landry appeared to be talking about Cutler and Matt Moore.
In an odd way, Landry might be agreeing with the Dolphins. Coach Adam Gase cleaned house this offseason and repeatedly has praised the culture in the locker room, saying the players he now has are the kind he has longed for.
Some maintain that the Dolphins did the right thing, not wanting to overpay a slot receiver. Landry’s response: “Every receiver’s a slot receiver, depending on the offense. If you go back, I think I caught 60 balls in the slot this past year, but guys like Julio Jones, he catches at least 30, 40 balls from the slot.”
Landry later indicated that part of the perception regarding his accomplishments could be traced to where he played.
“What I’ve done, I feel like it goes under-appreciated because we’ve been losing and Miami’s not a great market, so I think it does get under-appreciated, but every receiver’s a slot receiver.”
Thursday, Landry was sizing up his 2018 season and how much he liked working with Taylor, first-round pick Baker Mayfield and Browns play-caller Todd Haley.
“I think Todd is going to give me the opportunities I need to … not show off my talents, but the things that I can do,” Landry said. “I believe that I’m a complete receiver all-around.”
Of course, Landry had his share of opportunities in his first four NFL seasons with the Dolphins. He was targeted 570 times and caught 400 passes for 4,038 yards. That includes a league-high 112 catches last season for 987 yards.
But he averaged 8.8 yards per catch last year, which he indicated was a product of the Dolphins’ offense. He said he was “more of a blanket” in Miami.
“I played in a system in Miami where it was high volume,” Landry said. “I caught a lot of balls. I had less efficiency than a lot of other guys just because of the types of plays that we were running.”
Landry added, “The quarterback play is so important, which has got me that much more excited about Tyrod and (Mayfield) and the way that they’re throwing the ball out here, it makes me that much more excited.”
DAVIE — The Miami Dolphins chose Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, using a pick obtained from the Philadelphia Eagles in the trade of Jay Ajayi.
Ballage, 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, ran a 40-yard dash of 4.46 seconds, brings power and speed and can return kicks and play all areas of special teams. Ballage once scored eight touchdowns in a game against Texas Tech.
“In my opinion there are not 130 better players and definitely not 11 better running backs,” Ballage said Saturday, after the pick. “It’s fuel to the fire and motivation for me and I’m just excited about the opportunity.”
Ballage said he considers himself “raw” because of he’s had four running backs coaches and three offensive coordinators. Ballage compared his skill set to Cardinals running back David Johnson.
According to scouting reports, Ballage is very strong and has good hands, but runs upright and needs to improve his decisiveness.
Ballage provides some insurance behind emerging Kenyan Drake and veteran Frank Gore.
After taking safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round, the Dolphins have addressed pure needs since — tight end, linebacker and running back.
ORLANDO — The Los Angeles Rams, who already have the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, added former Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to an already impressive line that includes Aaron Donald.
The Rams signed Suh to a one-year, $14 million contract Monday.
Suh, 31, was the highest-profile free agent on the market after being waived by the Dolphins two weeks ago. The Dolphins avoided having to pay Suh $17 million out of a six-year, $114 million contract that coaxed him to Miami after starting his career with the Detroit Lions.
Together with Michael Brockers, the Rams are stacked at defensive tackle but not so at defensive end, where they traded Michael Quinn to the Dolphins this offseason.
The signing is a bit of a relief for the Dolphins, because at one point, it appeared Suh was closing in on a contract with the AFC East rival New York Jets, but that organization pulled its offer, clearing the way for the Rams.
Suh still will cost the Dolphins a salary cap hit of $22.2 million over the next two seasons.
Among Grier’s seven draft picks last year, none proved to be a better value than fifth-round defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. The Dolphins saw a premium talent despite some red flags and, after thorough investigation, found a starting-caliber player with the 178th overall choice. Not only did he play well, he adapted well to the team’s expectations of professionalism
“He’s been exactly what you want a guy to be,” coach Adam Gase said.
Godchaux wasn’t the only good pick in the Dolphins’ 2017 draft class, which produced starting cornerback Cordrea Tankersley in the third round and a promising defensive end in Charles Harris with the No. 22 overall selection. Vincent Taylor, a defensive tackle they took in the sixth round, also was a contributor.
Among the three rookies who didn’t do much on the field this year, linebacker Raekwon McMillan (second round) and wide receiver Isaiah Ford (seventh) were on Injured Reserve the entire season. Fifth-round pick Isaac Asiata, a guard, took what the staff described as “a red-shirt year” because he needed significant work to get ready to play.
On top of those selections, the Dolphins found six undrafted free agents who can hack it in the NFL. Linebacker Chase Allen, from Southern Illinois, was the best of them and appeared in all 16 games with four of those being starts.
Cornerback Torry McTyer, safety Maurice Smith and punter Matt Haack also showed long-term potential. Haack was eighth in the NFL in punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line this year.
Any look at Grier’s draft from last year—in the Dolphins’ power structure, he spearheads that operation—must begin with Harris. While defensive end might not have been the greatest need at the time, he was the top player on their board and looks like he’s going to be very good.
Very good? With only two sacks and limited playing time stuck behind Cameron Wake and Andre Branch?
Yes, very good. Harris’ advanced numbers give a fuller picture of how well he played as a rookie. He was among the Dolphins’ best defensive linemen when it came to causing opponents to commit holding penalties, hurrying the quarterback and knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage. He did that despite playing just 47.5 percent of the snaps, including four games of 38 percent or fewer.
“His disruption numbers have been trending positively for us, so I think that those are blocks to build on and to move forward with,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said.
McMillan and Tankersley are already marked down as 2018 starters, and Harris will get a chance to compete against Branch.
McMillan would’ve almost certainly been Miami’s starting middle linebacker in the opener had he not torn his ACL in the first game of the preseason. Tankersley took a much different track, coming on slowly in the preseason before coming on to take Byron Maxwell’s job in Week 4.
Tankersley had been inactive the first two games, but issues with Maxwell’s performance prompted the Dolphins to thrust him into the starting lineup against Drew Brees for his pro debut. He held his own and became a full-time starter.
If Tankersley can grow into an unquestionable starter, that gives Miami optimism about its secondary going forward with him, Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain all 24 years old.
If the Dolphins intended to pit Godchaux and Taylor against each other to battle it out for a job, Godchaux has the clear lead after Year 1. He had 40 tackles and a forced fumble, working his way onto the field for 47.8 percent of the defensive snaps.
But Taylor looks like a quality piece as well.
“We gained a lot this season from seeing Vincent do all of the things we asked him to do,” Gase said. “He was one of our high-energy guys. He practiced hard every day and he gave us value on special teams, which is great to get from a defensive linemen. I do think he’s a guy that we’re looking forward to keep developing and seeing how far we can help him grow as a football player.”
Even at this stage, with Godchaux and Taylor still trying to prove themselves, it looks like Grier has once again made good use of the late rounds. His best find was Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones in the fifth round in 2010, and in the last few years he found talent in Jakeem Grant (sixth round) and Jay Ajayi (fifth).
And if three or four players from this class are already full-time starters by the beginning of their second season, that’s another strong year for Grier.
DAVIE — It was the kind of question NFL coaches love: Hypothetically speaking, if Ryan Tannehill had been healthy, what would the 2017 season have looked like for the Dolphins?
The Dolphins went 6-10 this year after placing an emergency call to the retired Jay Cutler and sprinkling in Matt Moore and David Fales along the way. But with Tannehill, they were 10-6 a year ago. That was Tannehill’s first season under Adam Gase, and the expectation was things would be that much better in Year 2.
So during the Dolphins end-of-season news conference, Adam Gase was asked the what-if question.
“I’m pretty sure you already know my answer to this,” he said. (He was pretty much right, but hey.)
“Hypothetical, it didn’t happen,” Gase said. “It is what it is. We just know we get him back next year, so we’ll have a full slate with spring, training camp and preseason. There was nothing we could do once he got injured. We made the adjustments we had to make to try to put together the season we were hoping to have.”
Tannehill or no Tannehill, there’s little doubt it wouldn’t have mattered on several days the Dolphins didn’t show up, namely the nationally televised games against the Saints (20-0), Ravens (40-0) and Panthers (45-21). You can also toss out the game in one of the NFL’s toughest venues, Foxborough, where the Patriots won 35-17.
But could Tannehill have produced a repeat of 10-6, which would have put Miami in the playoffs? It’s possible. Take a look:
• Bucs 30, Dolphins 20: Cutler threw three interceptions before suffering a concussion and getting booed by the home crowd. Moore came in went 17-of-28 for 282 yards and a touchdown to tie it at 20-20 in the fourth quarter. The defense then caved, allowing a 58-drive for a field goal and the winning points. But without the early 20-7 hole, this could have gone either way.
• Bills 24, Dolphins 16: This was Bad Jay at his worst. He threw three interceptions. That has happened to Tannehill only once in the past 1 1/2 seasons played.
• Chiefs 29, Dolphins 13: A bit of a longshot, given how hard it is to play at Arrowhead, especially when it’s cold. But keep in mind the Dolphins were within 20-13 at the half and couldn’t get anything done in the second half.
• Bills 22, Dolphins 16: Fales did admirably, throwing for 265 yards with one TD, but it was his one interception in the final two minutes that sealed the sweep for the Bills.
DAVIE — The shake-up of Adam Gase’s coaching staff on the Dolphins continues.
Dave DeGuglielmo, who joined the staff in October in the wake of the embarrassing departure of offensive line coach Chris Foerster, will not return for the 2018 season, sources told The Post on Thursday.
The move follows the hiring of Dowell Loggains, former offensive coordinator of the Bears and Titans, in the same role with Miami. Clyde Christensen, offensive coordinator the past two seasons, is expected to remain with the Dolphins in an undisclosed role.
Additional moves will follow in the upcoming days and weeks. That was to be expected, not only for a team that finished 6-10, but also after Gase publicly revealed his displeasure with the staff in October.
Following a 40-0 debacle against the Baltimore Ravens on national TV, Gase unloaded on players for not studying the playbook but also made a reference to his assistants.
“Guys need to get their heads right,” Gase said at the time. “Coaching staff needs to do a better job because obviously our players not knowing is a direct reflection on them.”
Foerster resigned after video surfaced online showing him snorting a white powder. Although DeGuglielmo was brought aboard, neither he nor Chris Kuper was given the title of offensive line coach. They both were involved in coaching the linemen.
Like much of the team, the offensive line endured a turbulent year. Laremy Tunsil, moved to left tackle for his second NFL season, had an up-and-down year. Injuries and inconsistency triggered lineup changes until later in the year, when the Dolphins used Sam Young and Jesse Davis for the right side of their line. A bright spot: Center Mike Pouncey played all 16 games for the first time since 2012.
DeGuglielmo coached the Dolphins’ offensive line from 2009-11 and also has been with the Giants, Jets and Patriots.
DAVIE — Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano, who will turn 34 in April, is undecided if he will return for a 13th season in the NFL, saying how he feels physically will enter into his decision.
Ultimately, however, the decision could be made for him.
Fasano said he has suffered concussions in his career and said one factor in his decision will be a diagnosis into the potential risks of extending his career.
“I think it would go into my evaluation of how I feel physically,” Fasano said Monday. “And if anything was lingering, I would get it checked out and just make sure I have all the facts and information about myself before I make that decision.”
Fasano estimated he has had “something like” five, six or seven concussions but couldn’t say how many were of the more serious nature.
“Who knows what’s serious and not serious? Minor?” he said.
The Dolphins have been through this before. They lost tight end Jordan Cameron last year because of repeated concussions and increasing awareness of the CTE issue in football.
Although coaches haven’t given Fasano an indication of whether they’d welcome him back, they were pleasantly surprised by his performance after rejoining the team as a free agent. An effective blocking tight end, Fasano saw more action as the year went on, playing in all 16 games and starting six. He also caught 11 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown and could be a valuable asset if the team parts with disappointing veteran Julius Thomas.
“I’m going to take some time, adjust, rest, reflect,” Fasano said. “I’ll be around and in communication with the coaches, so we’ll see how it plays out.”
DAVIE — Matt Moore has spent the last seven years of his career as a Miami Dolphin quarterback.
But Moore is going to turn 34 years old in August and he’s also an unrestricted free agent.
Would Moore like to return to the Dolphins in 2018?
“Yeah,” Moore said Wednesday. “It’s one of those things. The league, you never know what happens in this league. All those questions will be answered later.”
Moore was 0-2 as a starter as Miami lost 40-0 at Baltimore and 35-17 at New England.
But Moore also came off the bench to lead Miami to a 31-28 comeback defeat of the Jets at Hard Rock Stadium.
How would he describe his season?
“I don’t know,” Moore said. “I would probably need some time to reflect to answer that question. Just like any other year there were some good things and there were some things that didn’t go how you wanted them to go. But we’re still in it (the season). So I haven’t really thought about it that much.”
Moore trails only Chad Pennington, Ryan Tannehill and Dan Marino in all-time Dolphins career passer rating.
Moore has been inactive the last four weeks with a foot injury. However, Wednesday marked the third straight week he practiced in a least a limited basis.
“I mean it is what it is,” Moore said. “Injuries are a part of the game. You never want to be on the shelf but some things just take time. And this is one of those deals.”
It’s possible coach Adam Gase could dress David Fales and use him in a mop-up role if Jay Cutler does not finish on Sunday against the Bills. How likely does Moore think it is that he’ll be active Sunday?
“You’ll have to talk to coach Gase on that one,” Moore said.
DAVIE — Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler indicated Wednesday he is unlikely to continue his NFL career next season if he is not a starter.
“Yeah, I think so,” Cutler said. “I wouldn’t want to move again or go somewhere just to back up.”
Cutler came out of retirement and delayed his broadcasting career to help friend and Dolphins coach Adam Gase after Ryan Tannehill’s injury.
Was it a good decision?
“I think so,” Cutler said. “It was a great experience. It’s a really good locker room. Really good coaches. Great organization. Great owner. I had a really good time.”
If Cutler was to continue his career, it would be because it’s difficult to see a window close forever.
“I love playing football,” Cutler said. “You can only do it for so long. That everyone has a point at some point in their career, to where they can’t play any more. Whether it’s your decision, or somebody else’s decision, it happens. And you guys can write and type for a long time, we can only play football for so long.”
If Cutler were to decide to pack it in, the reasons are not surprising.
“I mean, being away from my family,” Cutler said. “If someone doesn’t want me to play any more. A lot of these decisions are out of players’ control.”
Cutler has lived out of a hotel room all season.
“It was cool at first,” Cutler said. “Maid service every day. That’s kind of nice. The movie. We get on demand movies. But they don’t change as often as you would like. It’s kind of a monthly thing. You have to wait a little while. It was fine. I wasn’t there that much. I did get the points. That will pay off somewhere down the line.”
Cutler had an interesting perspective on the ups and downs of an NFL season.
“Winning and losing in this league is an extreme high and low,” he said. “I think whenever you win, no matter how you really win, all is right with the world. You can cover up a lot of problems and things just seem right. And whenever you lose, it’s the opposite end of that spectrum.”