DAVIE — Isaiah Ford has added a bit of weight and strength and he knows a lot more about the Dolphins’ offense than he did at this time last year. But having recovered from a torn meniscus in his knee, Ford is still confident in his abilities.
“I think I’m a competitor, first and foremost,” Ford said Wednesday. “I want to win at everything that I do. And I think that starts with my mindset on how I approach everything. I’m a versatile player. I can play inside and out. I can make those contested catches. And I’m a technician. That’s something that I pride myself on, is being really good in and out of my breaks. And running really good routes and things like that.”
Ford has shined at times this spring, one year after Miami made him a seventh-round selection from Virginia Tech. Ford’s path to the Dolphins’ roster is through versatility and consistent production.
“I’ve spent a bunch of time inside,” Ford said. “A bunch of time outside as well. Just being ready for wherever they decide to put me. I’m comfortable playing both, which is good… I think in the slot you have a little more freedom. A little more wiggle room in terms of your releases.”
Ford was injured running a routine slant last summer, against Tony Lippett. Rehabilitating his knee alongside Ryan Tannehill and Raekwon McMillan was a rewarding and competitive experience.
“That helped us push through the dark days,” Ford said. “Where we didn’t really feel like rehabbing or we were down on ourselves. And to have Ryan there as a leader to kind of help us push through was really huge for both of us.”
Ford said the three of them would see who could bike the farthest in 10 minutes while hooked up to a blood flow restrictor.
“Then our trainer stopped it because he got a little scared,” Ford said. “Whoever was up next had to beat it. I think Raekwon was the last to go so he had the record. So nobody else got to go.”
Ford said he appreciates the game more now and realizes how much he missed it. He has a better understanding of the terminology of the offense and what coaches are expecting. He says he’s confident.
“Just be available whenever my number is called,” Ford said. “My job is to compete. To execute. To know my job. To know where I’m supposed to be. And where I’m supposed to be, be there.”
INDIANAPOLIS — Even if the Miami Dolphins don’t select a quarterback in the first round, it seems to make total sense that they’ll draft one at some point in this year’s draft.
And it sounds like coach Adam Gase is a fan of that philosophy, one legendary general manager Ron Wolf made famous.
“I’d love to draft a quarterback every year,” Gase said Wednesday, at the NFL Scouting Combine. “It doesn’t always work out that way. We’ll see how the board falls for us. That first year, we felt like Brandon (Doughty) was a guy that there was a lot of us were very interested to see what we could do with him, and he had a lot of success in college. We’re still working through things to try to help him get better and we’ll see how this year goes. It’s hard to predict.”
Though starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is returning from a season-ending knee injury, backup Matt Moore seems unlikely to return. Doughty and David Fales are still in a developmental phase.
And it should not be ruled out that the Dolphins may choose a long-term quarterback in the first round.
If Gase has a special connection and special belief in a player like Josh Rosen or Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, and he pushes for that player to be chosen, it could certainly happen.
If so, how does Gase think Ryan Tannehill would react?
“Ryan would never shy away from anybody coming in at that position,” Gase said. “Ryan is going to be our starting quarterback. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. And I think that when we get back out there in spring and get going, I just know it’s going to be really good to have him back.”
The Dolphins did not draft a quarterback last season. It is also possible Miami could select a player such as Mike White, Luke Falk or Mason Rudolph in the second round, if they were to impress Gase, Dan Marino and Chris Grier here at the Scouting Combine.
Cam Wake turned 36 on Tuesday and we can pretty much guarantee he did not celebrate with a birthday shot or even a slice of cake.
Wake is a aberration, because of how he takes care of himself and his body.
“He’s a physical freak, just the way he takes care of his body, the way he eats, the way he sleeps,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said during the 2017 season. “Everything he does is all about this, and anything else is irrelevant to him. He sells out 100 percent. He’s put himself in position to do what he’s doing and that’s why age is really irrelevant to him right now.”
But for how long can it remain irrelevant?
Wake is in the final season of his contract, scheduled to count $8.6 million against the cap. That Wake is the ninth-highest cap hit as of now for the 2018 Dolphins is extremely reasonable.
Consider that Ndamukong Suh is scheduled to count $26.1 million against the cap next season. And defensive end Andre Branch is scheduled to count $10 million against the cap, a reward for a strong 2016 season.
Wake notched more than 10 sacks in consecutive seasons for the first time in 2016-17. And in an ideal situation, he would yield some of the work load to Charles Harris in 2018. Not that he’ll do so willingly.
“He’s extremely important,” Gase said. “One, being a guy that’s been around for a long time, he has a veteran presence. Obviously he’s really the heart and soul of what we’re about as an organization. He’s a guy that we want to basically retire here. He shows up every day and comes to work and does his job at the highest level, whether it be out at practice or on game day, whether it’s a meeting or walk through. You wish you had a whole bunch of guys like him. He’s a rare guy.”
Is Cam Wake a future Hall of Famer?
Here’s a infographic for him, that includes some of the most interesting stats I found on him.
During last season, Suh said he believes Wake can make an impact for a few more seasons.
“I definitely think so,” Suh said. “I think definitely Cam can play at a high level for the next two, three years or however long he chooses to continue to play. I think he got a little bit of a late start due to some circumstances that were out of his control, and the way he takes care of his body, the way he’s mentally focused in the game, I think he definitely can play as long he wants to.”
But how realistic is it for Wake to dominate at 36?
Well, let’s look at the NFL’s Top 10 career sack leaders to get a sense.
Among those men, in their age 36 season, the average was 8 sacks.
Is 8 sacks feasible for Wake next season? Sure, why not. He’s averaged 8 over the past 4 seasons.
Among those men, the average final NFL season was age 37.
Are 2 more seasons feasible for Wake? Sure, why not. We’d say maybe even 3 more seasons, if he felt like it.
If you’re wondering, Wake is 42nd on the all-time sack leader list, even though he didn’t begin his NFL career until age 27.
If Wake were to average 8 sacks over 3 more seasons, he’d end up with 116, good for 22nd in league history.
Here’s what the best sackers in NFL history did in their age 36 seasons: Bruce Smith (7), Reggie White (11), Kevin Greene (15), Julius Peppers (7.5), Chris Doleman (12), Michael Strahan (9), Jason Taylor (5), DeMarcus Ware (4), Richard Dent (6.5), John Randle (5.5).
Wake has talked repeatedly about how taking care of his body puts him at an advantage.
“I know what this game takes away from you, physically,” Wake said near the end of last season. “When you sign up, you kind of have to write some body parts off knowing that they’re going to the cause. You look around and you see a lot of these young pups, they really don’t know what they’re getting themselves into probably; but the older guys who do and they’re still doing it and still doing it well, my hat’s off to them.”
DAVIE — Cameron Wake doesn’t love the idea that there are Thursday night NFL games.
But if there is one advantage to Miami playing last Thursday in Baltimore (yes, the Dolphins lost, 40-0) it’s that they had extra rest because of a mini-bye created by coach Adam Gase.
“I think guys were refreshed,” Wake said of practice this week. “I’d like to think guys have time to do whatever, whether it was get away from the game, whether it was get some extra treatment. Whatever thing you needed to get you through the rest of the seasons. It was a good week of practice.”
Wake refuted the notion that the Dolphins will play harder because Sunday night’s game is before a national television audience, or because the Raiders are a quality opponent, or because the game may end up as a playoff must-win.
Wake’s lengthy answer to that thought gives a good insight into how he approaches the game.
“I don’t like spikes,” Wake said. “I don’t like roller-coasters. I’m not a fan of ‘extra’ like for instance, Sunday night, we’re going to play harder. So then what were you doing Sunday night at 1 o’clock? What were you doing Thursday night? If there is an extra, and I would say this to any football player, then you’ve been withholding something that you should have been giving. It should be a maxed out effort, week in and week out, no matter what time the game is, no matter who you are playing, no matter if you lost 10 straight of lost 10 straight, you’re going against an All-Pro, you’re going against a rookie who’s never played. There is no let up. You’re 100 mile an hour fastball, every pitch, until your arm falls off. That’s the only way you can play this game. And if you’re out there throwing lobs because it’s not a great hitter, and then you’re waiting for another hitter to come up, then you’re wasting an opportunity. Me, I’m swinging for the fences every single play. I don’t care who’s pitching.”
Wake also explained that the defensive line has the responsibility to limit deep pass plays from Derek Carr to Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree. Why?
“A corner couldn’t cover me for 10 seconds in this league,” Wake said. “If you throw a 70-yard pass, that’s my fault.”
CARSON, Calif. — Six or seven Miami Dolphins offensive linemen were at Yard House, a high-end sports bar in Oxnard, California, on Monday night.
Their season-opener against Tampa Bay had been postponed, but this was a glorious opportunity to do some Monday Night Football scouting of their next opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers.
They noticed what you noticed, which is what anyone watching noticed.
Joey Bosa, number 99, the second-year defensive end.
“Great athlete,” Dolphins right tackle Ja’Wuan James said. “His size? You can’t teach that. Also he’s a guy that seems to be relentless on film.”
Melvin Ingram, number 54, the sixth-year edge rusher.
“Great athlete,” James said. “He has a good motor, too. He’s going to go all the way throughout the game. They are different in size. Melvin is shorter but stouter. He can get under your pads. He has leverage. Bosa is a lankier guy. He uses his length.”
If the Dolphins are to upset the Chargers in their belated first game of the season (Sunday, 4:05 pm. on CBS), they’ll need to limit one of the best pass-rush tandems in the NFL.
Those Dolphins offensive lineman must give Jay Cutler, making his Miami debut, a fighting chance. As in, a chance to stay upright for most of the game.
“You always want to keep your quarterback clean,” James said. “But (Cutler’s) a guy that’s shown us — if you give him some time, give him an opportunity, he’s going to make a big play.”
When Cutler takes the field at StubHub Center, he will have been a Dolphin for six weeks. This may be longer than it seems, but it is long enough for Cutler to read and react to pressure the best way?
Coach Adam Gase, who cajoled (it wasn’t really that difficult) Cutler out of pseudo-retirement when Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season, conceded mauling linemen are really the only thing that may have given Cutler pause.
“It’s really the pass rush,” Gase said. “You’ve really got to get used to being in that pocket again (and get) the feel of where to slide, when to take off, when to stand in there; but it seems like what he has to go up against in our defense every day, he got caught up pretty quick.”
Cutler took too many sacks, threw too many interceptions and allowed too many sack-fumbles as a Bear.
In his last eight starts as a Bear, Cutler was sacked 27 times (3.4 per game), tossed 9 interceptions (1.1 per game) and fumbled 7 times (0.9 per game).
But Gase believes he helped Cutler in those areas in 2015.
“The year that I was with him, he had a pretty good feel for things when things started collapsing of either getting out, getting rid of the ball or taking a sack if it’s just one of those situations where you have nowhere to go,” Gase said.
Gase said joint practices in Philadelphia last month helped but he and Cutler at ease.
“We had a couple of situations,” Gase said. “One, I figured it would have been really hard for anybody to really feel the guy come around the edge as fast as he did, and it’s a little bit of a learning, kind of getting reacquainted with how we need to play, when you do want to take a sack, when you can throw it away, things like that. I do feel good where we’re at right now. A lot of practice time and then he played enough in preseason to know the right thing to do.”
Bosa and Ingram are in a new defensive scheme, where they will alternate tackles they line up over.
“It’ll be all hands on deck for those two outside guys,” Miami offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “We’ve got to know where they are, what they’re doing… Those two guys, they can wreck a game.”
One way Miami hopes to neutralize the Chargers defense is with no-huddle, up-tempo offense.
The Dolphins are coming off a bye (as crazy as that sounds) and the Chargers aren’t. Also, the Dolphins were last in the NFL with 57 offensive plays per game last year and Gase wants that to change.
One key for the Dolphins on Sunday will be limiting negative plays on first and second down.
Another key will be for sophomore left tackle Laremy Tunsil to get over any nerves he may have had in the preseason, when he didn’t seem as sharp at times as would be expected.
“I’m getting used to it,” Tunsil said. “I’m getting back used to being home. I was at left guard, so I had to get used to that for a year or two; but like I said, it feels good to be back out on an island. I’m happy.”
Last year, the Dolphins beat the Chargers and only Ingram posted a sack. Miami would sign up for that right now.
“Normally, you have to prepare for one elite linemen,” James said. “But the Chargers have two.”
CARSON, Calif. — Of course Alterraun Verner needed more than 20 tickets for family and friends at the Miami Dolphins season opener at the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Verner was raised in this diverse, multicultural city featuring a college campus as well as a mix of industry and residential. Carson borders Compton and Long Beach, and the Dolphins will play the Chargers at the StubHub Center, a soccer stadium that holds 27,000 fans.
“When I was growing up and they first built the stadium, our high school football championships were there,” Verner said. “I never made it to the championship but I’ve been to the games and it was a good experience. But that was high school at the time. So it’s going to be interesting to see how they do it for the pro team.”
The Dolphins haven’t played a regular-season game in 258 days and with Hurricane Irma postponing the opener and so many off-field storylines — injuries to Ryan Tannehill and Raekwon McMillan as well as an unresolved contract situation with Jarvis Landry — the Dolphins have seemed bottled up all week.
“You see all the other people playing and you want to go,” Verner said. “You’ve been putting in all the work since training camp and you know this team had a playoff loss, has a lot of things probably on their mind. So you want to get ready to thump somebody.”
Verner wasn’t a part of Miami’s playoff loss to Pittsburgh last season. But he was brought in to add cornerback depth. And Verner has played so well in practice and the preseason he was actually competing for a starting position this week.
Opposite sophomore riser Xavien Howard on Sunday will be either Verner or Byron Maxwell.
As of post-practice on Friday, Verner said he didn’t know if was starting.
“We’ve been competing all week,” Verner said of he and Maxwell. “You know, I think I have put myself in a position to start. But ultimately it’s going to be their call. And I’m going to be OK with whatever decision they make because I put in my all.”
The Dolphins have said the starting cornerback could be determined on a matchup basis. For example, against a bigger, more physical receiver, Maxwell could be an ideal matchup.
Against a smaller, quicker, more slippery receiver, Verner could be an ideal matchup.
Also to be resolved is if the Dolphins will ask Howard to shadow the opponents’ top receiver, or if the team will use a traditional left-right cornerback setup, with Maxwell or Verner on the left and Howard on the right.
Again, this could be determined on a week-to-week basis.
Same goes for man or zone. Miami intended to play a lot of man coverage last season, but ended up playing a lot of zone.
“I always prefer man because it’s easier for us assignment-wise,” Verner said. “Just guard this guy. It’s harder but it’s easier from an assignment perspective. But you know we always go game in and game out just seeing what’s best for the team that week.”
Verner said this will be the fifth time he’s faced Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
“Disguise him,” Verner said. “And get pressure on him. If it’s just four people he’s so good at playing the game and he’s seen everything. Just try to do your best to try to fool him. But it’s hard. He makes some really good passes. But when he does do something you can take advantage of it, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Verner wants to start. He would love it to be in the town where he hosts an annual football and cheer camp for youth. But whether he starts against the Chargers or not, he figures to play a lot this season.
“At the end of the day (the coaches are) trying to win,” Verner said. “They’re going to put the people out there that give them the best chance to win.”
As a savvy fantasy player, you’re no doubt aware that Week 1 saw several largely unknown wideouts post huge fantasy numbers: your Kenny Golladays of the Lions, your Cooper Kupps of the Rams, and your Bennie Fowler IIIs of the Broncos.
Parker is far more established than any of those three, having been a first-round pick (14th overall) of the Fins in 2015 — none of the aforementioned three were drafted before the third round — and posting 56 catches last season for 744 yards and four touchdowns. Solid numbers.
So what’s been the issue his first two seasons as a pro? Injuries, largely, and an offense focused on the run game.
What’s different this time around? Several key factors.
First, quarterback Ryan Tannehill will miss the entire season, so who steps in under center? Gunslinging veteran Jay Cutler. That alone is reason for Parker owners to rejoice.
Cutler has been quick to praise the 24-year-old Louisville native since joining the club, saying at one point that Parker is a “faster Alshon [Jeffrey]. He’s got a lot of range…. He’s got great hands. Then, he can burn you up if you’re flat-footed.”
In limited time during the preseason, they’ve proven their compatibility with a jump-ball toss from Cutler that Parker turned into a 72-yard reception against the Eagles.
My esteemed colleague Joe Schad pointed out back in June that “Parker is 6-feet-3, 212 pounds, and he can run and he can jump and he can make all the catches and is a threat to score at any time, at any of three levels.”
With that size, it’s not unfair to guess that Parker could become Miami’s primary red-zone threat, too.
When asked during OTAs what made him think Parker was ready for a step up, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said, “It’d be consistency. He’s run fast every day, where last year it was kind of up and down. One day you’d think you had a Hall of Famer and the next you weren’t sure if he was going to make it to the game. Just his health and staying consistent. I think his routine and how fast he’s played has been really, really different from last year.”
Head coach Adam Gase told the Post he sees a “hungry” Parker this season.
And what do you feed to hungry wide receivers? Targets.
As Schad pointed out in a later story, Parker — at least thus far in his career — hasn’t gotten nearly as many targets per game (6) as, say, Jarvis Landry (8.5). But on the flip side, Parker averages far more yards per catch (15.1) than Landry (10.6).
Parker may be more of a fantasy risk than Landry, but he also has more upside. And in a fast-moving, no-huddle Dolphins offense that may well try to outscore many opponents this season, that upside looks pretty appealing.
OXNARD, Calif. — Davon Godchaux either doesn’t know or wasn’t saying if he’s starting at defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s season opener at the Los Angeles Chargers.
But either way, the youngest member of Miami’s projected starting defense is going to play a lot.
Godchaux, a 22-year-old rookie from LSU, knows what his first, second and third responsibilities will be.
“Melvin Gordon,” Godchaux (pronounced GOD-chaw) said after Friday’s practice. “He’s a physical back. He likes to run between the tackles. (The Chargers) like to run the ball. Last year we had a problem stopping the run. So this game we really want to come out and show we can stop the run.”
Godchaux has been first-team defensive tackle opposite Ndamukong Suh for most of the preseason, but Jordan Phillips has closed the gap a bit lately.
“We’re going to play the best guys for that week for those matchups,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said this week. “Tackle particularly, I mean they’re all going to play. We wave guys in there. We want to keep guys fresh. We feel good about the progress that Jordan (Phillips) and (Davon) Godchaux have made. I mean those guys are all going to play up front and like I said, we’ll just work our matchups in situations that we feel good about where we’re playing those guys. I have some clarity.”
Godchaux has proven to be a relentless worker with a commitment to fulfilling his potential.
“Just grind,” Godchaux said. “There are going to be tough times and adversity, but you have to overcome those obstacles. Just go after each and every moment that you’re in there. Whatever works for the defense. I’m here to do first team or second team. Whatever. I’m going to go in there and play my heart out. First or second team, it really doesn’t matter to me.”
In the preseason, Godchaux had seven tackles. Phillips had two tackles and one interception.
“I’m very ready,” Godchaux said. “I waited through a hurricane. So now we actually get to play. I want to see how it is. I want to play. I want to play fast. I want to get out there with Jordan Phillips, Ndamukong Suh, Cam Wake, William Hayes, Andre Branch, to get out there with those guys. I want to play fast. I want to enjoy it.”
OXNARD, Calif. — The Miami Dolphins will put the oldest defense in the NFL on the field this Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, according to ESPN.
The average age of a Dolphins’ starting defensive player is 28.18, tying Carolina and just ahead of Arizona, Seattle and Baltimore.
Cam Wake is Miami’s oldest starter, at 35.
Davon Godchaux is projected as Miami’s youngest starter, at 22.
The Dolphins are loaded with talented youngsters on offense, where the average age is 26.82.
Some of the older players on Miami’s defense are: Wake (35), Williams Hayes (32), Lawrence Timmons (31), Rey Maualuga (30), Ndamukong Suh (30), Nate Allen (29), Reshad Jones (29) and Byron Maxwell (29).
The Dolphins will need youngsters like Charles Harris (22), Raekwon McMillan (21), Xavien Howard (24) and Cordrea Tankersley (23) and Jordan Phillips (24) to emerge as impact players over the next three to four seasons.
The Dolphins have spent a lot of time and money on the sports science aspects of the game.
Coach Adam Gase has shown a willingness to listen to the experts as it relates to rest time both in games as well as in practice during the week.
Miami is scheduled to play 16 consecutive games, which could mean a few extra “veterans rest days” in-season for the veterans listed above.
OXNARD, Calif. — Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase named five captains on Thursday, but when asked to name a few emerging leaders on the team, he called out a few additional players.
Gase cited captains Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, Michael Thomas, Kenny Stills and Mike Pouncey.
Three players that were not named captains but cited by Gase as emerging leaders were interesting:
• Jay Cutler, quarterback
• Lawrence Timmons, linebacker
• Reshad Jones, safety
This is actually Cutler’s sixth week as a Dolphin, though it doesn’t seem like he’s been around that long.
“I hadn’t been around Jay much,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “I think probably the thing that surprised me is how natural he is with the no-huddle stuff. He’s an even-kneeled guy. He picked up things so quickly. I thought it would take a little bit of a while just to get back in rhythm; but again, it just shows he has done it for so long, and he’s a veteran guy.”
Players and coaches have privately and publicly mentioned several times since Timmons’ arrival as a free agent that he possesses leadership traits.
“I look at a guy like Lawrence Timmons,” Gase said. “When you watch him practice and you watch how he plays in preseason games, you would think this is his first or second year in the league. He doesn’t say a whole bunch but the way he operates and the way he goes about his business, I think guys respect that and understand why he’s been in the league so long and why he’s been so successful. That’s the great thing about the NFL. Each year is so different.”
Gase stated that Jones, who is not at all boisterous in the locker room, is becoming a more vocal leader.
“Last year, we were looking for guys to step up and be leaders and this year, Reshad Jones is a very vocal leader for us,” Gase said. “Just to see how these guys have taken over this program and it’s their locker room, it’s been fun to watch.”