Miami Dolphins QB David Fales eyes career-changing opportunity

David Fales appears to be the favorite to win Miami’s backup quarterback job. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — Journeyman quarterback David Fales has gone into every season believing he had a chance to make a team’s roster, but he’s never been as well set up for it as he is now.

This is his third year with Dolphins coach Adam Gase and he’s been part of the team without much interruption since early in 2017. Unlike last year, when Matt Moore was clearly entrenched as Miami’s backup quarterback, the job is completely open.

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“Throughout my five years, it’s definitely the best situation I’ve been in going into an offseason and training camp,” Fales said. “I’m just excited to get more of an opportunity in practice. That’s the big difference going into this one: more opportunity for me.”

Fales and Brock Osweiler worked with the second and third teams during today’s opening practice. Gase will almost certainly choose one of them as the No. 2 quarterback after saying firmly he wouldn’t be putting out any calls to veteran free agents like he did with Jay Cutler a year ago.

Bryce Petty is also in camp, but is clearly behind Osweiler and Fales. Gase hasn’t declared a clear leader for the job, but his comments throughout the last seven months have hinted toward Fales being the favorite.

The Dolphins cut him at the end of last preseason in favor of going with Cutler, Moore and practice squad signee Brandon Doughty. Fales was not eligible for the practice squad.

Miami brought him back in October when Cutler went down with broken ribs, and he remained on the roster the rest of the season as the second- or third-string quarterback. While Gase typically prefers to keep two quarterbacks on the active roster, he said in March he is considering carrying three this year.

Fales appeared in two games for the Dolphins last year and got extended playing time in the finale against Buffalo. He completed 29 of 43 passes for 265 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

At 28, not only have many of the external factors lined up for him to finally get his big break as an NFL backup, he’s also in excellent shape.

“I’ve been doing Pilates,” he said. “I’m stronger. I think it’s my third year in the offense. I played a significant amount in a game last year, so that’s confidence. Everything’s kinda coming together. Pilates is huge. Game-changer. It gave me core strength, mobility in my hips and shoulders. That’s been a big change for me this year.”

“It’s my third year in basically the same system from Chicago to last year to here, and you get more familiar with the receivers. For the most part, we’ve got a lot of the same guys. It’s familiarity all around and being able to play fast.”

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Dolphins coach Adam Gase high on QB David Fales, but remains undecided

David Fales still has quite a fight ahead of him to win the backup quarterback job. (AP)

DAVIE — The way everything has lined up for quarterback David Fales this offseason, it’ll be a surprise if anyone else claims the Dolphins’ backup quarterback job.

It’s a pivotal career opportunity for Fales after bouncing around the last four years. Miami coach Adam Gase is adamant that he’s going to pick from among Fales, Brock Osweiler and Bryce Petty rather than call a free agent veteran like he did with Jay Cutler a year ago.

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Part of the reason he’s been so confident about moving forward with this group is what he’s seen from Fales over the past several months.

“I think after that last game, I was feeling good,” Gase said Thursday, referring to Fales’ passable performance in the season finale against Buffalo.

When he brought in offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who coached Fales in Chicago, he confirmed what Gase thought. Fales looked like a much more polished quarterback than he’d been earlier in his career and appeared ready to be Ryan Tannehill’s backup.

Gase was encouraged enough by what he’d seen and what Loggains thought that he didn’t think it was necessary for the Dolphins to make any bold moves with quarterbacks in the recent free agency period.

“We felt like (keeping Fales) was a good first step for us and really we wanted to see how everything played out, because between free agency and the draft, you just never know how things are going to shake out,” Gase said. “By adding Brock and then Bryce, I think it’s been a good competition.

“That’s really what we’re going to be doing going into training camp. We’re just going to let those guys compete and see who wins out.”

As solid as Fales was last year and as well he’s performed in offseason practices, Gase isn’t installing him as the backup after the end of Organized Team Activities. He plans to keep the position battle open well into August.

“Right now I don’t even want to go in that direction yet because I don’t have a great answer for it,” Gase said. “I want to see guys play in preseason games. I want to see kind of how training camp goes. That’s a lot of time there and there’s a lot of football to be played. I want those guys all competing. I’m hoping those guys all have the same mentality that they’re the guy to beat.”

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Latest on the progress of Miami Dolphins’ backup quarterbacks

David Fales is the favorite to win the backup quarterback job. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins still have ample time to sort out their quarterback situation, but it continues to look like David Fales is the man to beat for job of being Ryan Tannehill’s backup.

Fales, who was with the team last offseason and the back half of the regular season, is getting significant snaps with the second-string offense, with Brock Osweiler and Bryce Petty behind him.

“We’re just going to keep, really, just pushing those guys and keep opening up the offense to do as many things as possible,” coach Adam Gase said this week. “They’re trying to get used to the guys that they’re practicing with. I know even for David it’s a different group than he was last year.”

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Fales took third-string reps last offseason behind Tannehill and Matt Moore, but Gase said he’s spent more time second unit this year. He’s had a lot of plays with Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant, both of whom are borderline starters.

“Those guys are really good receivers and they challenge those DBs.,” Gase said. “It’s been good for both David and Brock and Bryce to get to work with a lot of the guys they’re working with right now.”

Fales, Osweiler and Petty have not been available to the media this offseason.

Tannehill is the clear starter and takes the majority of his reps with DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola.

Gase is out to back up his claim that he has a dependable No. 2 quarterback on the roster and won’t need to call a veteran free agent if Tannehill gets hurt again. Fales and Petty have limited playing experience, and Osweiler hasn’t been viable since 2015.

The advantage for Fales and Osweiler is their experience with Gase prior to this year. That’s especially true for Fales after playing in the offense last season and impressing Gase with extended playing time in the season finale. Dating back to January, Gase has repeatedly indicated Fales is a strong candidate to be Tannehill’s backup.

“Last year we felt really good about how David was coming along,” Gase said three months ago. “Letting him move on (to another team) was not going to be an option for us.”

Gase also said at that time he would “probably” keep three quarterbacks on the active roster in 2018, compared to two each of the past two seasons, though that was factoring in the possibility that the Dolphins would draft one. It’s unclear whether he still intends to go that route, and he doesn’t have to decide until the cut from 90 to 53 players at the end of the preseason.

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Dolphins see strides from backup quarterbacks David Fales, Brock Osweiler, Bryce Petty

David Fales is on the rise. (AP)

DAVIE — Ryan Tannehill is the man for the Dolphins, but finding a dependable backup is imperative for the team this spring considering his injury history. And coach Adam Gase is insistent that he has the right guy already in camp.

That means Miami will be choosing from among Brock Osweiler, David Fales and Bryce Petty. Each of them has struggled over the past few years, but the Dolphins have a host of quarterback gurus working with them and have seen progress.

Petty, the Jets’ fourth-round pick in 2015, is an unknown after playing just 10 games over three years in New York. Miami picked him up on a waiver claim this offseason.

“Bryce is a guy that is extremely talented,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “He’s got talent. We’ve got to coach him hard and get that stuff out of him. He’s got some things in his footwork and those things. We’re working really hard to get consistent and create more accuracy for him.

“Every Monday when he’s off and every Friday when he’s off and on the weekends, he needs to keep working on his drops and the consistency in his footwork, because if he gets that part of it all right, he has enough talent in his upper body to play.”

Petty is the newcomer. Osweiler and Fales have both worked with this coaching staff before. Fales was in Chicago with Loggains and overlapped there with Gase as well, and Osweiler played under Gase and quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree in Denver.

Osweiler was serviceable for the Broncos in 2014, but has been a wreck ever since. Still, there’s a lot the Dolphins like about his mental makeup.

“What Brock has is unbelievable command of the offense,” Loggains said. “He was in it (in Denver). He got to learn from (Peyton Manning), and when you watch his huddle etiquette, his line of scrimmage procedure etiquette, he does an outstanding job there.”

Fales is widely thought to be the front runner for the No. 2 job and had it temporarily last year thanks to injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Moore (plus Tannehill, obviously).

He was with the team all offseason last year and got cut on the final day of the preseason. After a couple months of going unsigned, Gase brought him back when Cutler broke his ribs.

In his one extended opportunity, Fales completed 29 of 42 passes for 265 yards and had one touchdown and one interception in the season finale against the Bills.

“David has been consistent,” Loggains said. “He’s played within the system. David is a guy that if you say, ‘Hey, this is a progression, but this is an alert. If you get it versus quarters, you can take it,’ he’s taking it. He’s going to be aggressive in the timing of plays.

“He does have the advantage of being here last year and understanding those things. He’s playing at the highest level I have ever seen him play. It’s a credit to him, because he’s done a lot of stuff in the summer, in the offseason with the strength training stuff. He’s worked really hard to get stronger and be a more accurate passer with more power.”

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Miami Dolphins retooling QB Brock Osweiler’s mechanics in offseason work

Brock Osweiler’s mechanics are getting a makeover this offseason. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins didn’t bring beleaguered quarterback Brock Osweiler on as a favor, or to be merely a “camp arm.” There is belief in the organization that they can salvage a player who’s been discarded by Houston, Cleveland and Denver in the last two years, and they’re already seeing some strides.

Osweiler is just 27 and has made 25 starts, leaving room to be optimistic that he’s not fully formed as a quarterback yet. The first step for Miami has been to rework his form.

“We’re doing some things mechanically with him to kind of make everything consistent, which he’s doing a really good job,” quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree said. “I think he’s throwing the ball really well and he’s really fun to be around. It’s a good that we have right now, that we’re working with this offseason.”

If the Dolphins can turn him into a viable backup, it’ll be an impressive accomplishment.

Osweiler overlapped with coach Adam Gase in Denver from 2012 through ’14 and filled in extensively for Peyton Manning in the 2015 season. He posted an 86.4 passer rating and had 10 touchdowns against six interceptions, and it didn’t hurt that the Broncos went 5-2 in his starts.

That run earned him a four-year, $72 million contract with the Texans, but he was a disaster in his lone season with them. After watching Osweiler through more interceptions than touchdowns, complete under 60 percent of his passes and put up a passer rating in the low 70s (even 2017 Jay Cutler cracked 80, for comparison), Houston gave up a second-round pick just to get Cleveland to take the contract.

The Browns hoped Osweiler would give them something as a backup, but ultimately cut him before the season began. He returned to Denver and had five touchdowns, five interceptions and a 72.5 passer rating in six games (four starts).

He lingered on the free agent market long enough for the Dolphins to consider adding him to a quarterback corps headlined by Ryan Tannehill and featuring David Fales as the likely backup.

To Osweiler’s credit, he’s shown humility and been realistic about where he’s at in his career at this point. Battling Fales for the backup job wasn’t beneath him.

“I probably took longer than everybody else,” Gase said. “When we started the free agency process, guys were talking about the fact that, ‘He’s 27-years-old. He’s played for you before and you were part of the guys that drafted him. You know him well. He wants to be here.’ They were almost selling me. I really had to go through things and just make sure that he was good getting back with me and understanding the situation we were in and kind of what he was going to be competing for.

“Hearing him and where he was mentally and what he wanted to accomplish and how he kind of wanted to get his career rolling again, after we had that conversation and we got him in the building, everybody really liked him. I felt good about it. We ended up making that move and ever since then, I’m seeing the same guy that I saw in his younger years.”

Hardegree worked with Osweiler in Denver, too. He was an offensive quality control assistant when Gase was there in 2014, went on to the Bears as one of Gase’s assistants in 2015 and got hired as the Dolphins quarterbacks coach in 2016.

What he’s seen right away from Osweiler is a good grasp of Gase’s offense and, equally important, an ability to make sure everyone else knows how the plays are supposed to work.

“He’s really strong with it,” Hardegree said. “He understands what we’re looking for. He gets the ball out of his hands and he’s a good communicator as far as for a coach too. He’ll come right back to you and say, ‘I should’ve done this,’ or ‘What do you think about this?’ He wants to learn on every play and you love that as a coach.”

Tannehill is the unquestioned starter, and the Dolphins did not draft a quarterback this year. Fales, whose history with Gase goes back to Chicago, played some due to injuries last season. Gase’s comments about him have hinted that he’s the man to beat for the No. 2 job.

Osweiler will get his shot, but also must compete with New York Jets castoff Bryce Petty. Petty was a fourth-round pick in 2015 and has 10 career NFL appearances. He struggled tremendously for the Jets (53.1 percent completions, four touchdowns, 10 interceptions) and was waived after they drafted Sam Darnold.

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Miami Dolphins formulating plan for QB Ryan Tannehill in OTAs

No issue is bigger for the Dolphins this year than Ryan Tannehill’s return. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins are planning on quarterback Ryan Tannehill returning to the practice field this month for the first time since a major knee injury last summer, but they’re still finalizing a plan for his workload.

He’s looked strong throughout the rehabilitation process, including some workouts in public view last season while Jay Cutler played quarterback, and coach Adam Gase has been encouraged by what Tannehill’s been doing recently.

“I’ve seen a guy that’s very confident,” he said. “I know he’s excited to get back out there. I know us as coaches, we’re excited to have him out there. He’s just really smooth with the operation that we’ve been able to do as far as what we’re doing in practice or those throwing sessions. It just feels smooth.”

Tannehill has not spoken to the media since the injury, but is expected to do so during Organized Team Activities, which start May 22.

While he might appear to be back to normal, the Dolphins are being careful about their plan for him and are seeking ongoing input from medical personnel.

“He looks good to me, but at the same time, he still has to go through all of those steps with the doctors and with our trainers,” Gase said. “We’re just going through the process of it all right now. I know nobody wants to hear that, but that’s just what it is.”

Tannehill was playing the best football of his career in Gase’s first season before going down with a left knee injury in December.

Over the final eight games of 2016, the last time he played, he completed 69.1 percent of his passes, had 13 touchdowns against five interceptions, averaged 215 yards per game and posted a 100.1 passer rating.

He elected to rehab that injury, which was diagnosed as a Grade-2 sprain to his MCL and a sprained ACL, rather than have surgery. He made it through all of the offseason program, but his knee gave out in training camp and ended his season. He had surgery last year, and the Dolphins turned to Cutler and Moore.

This season, they have Brock Osweiler and David Fales as the primary competitors for the backup job, and Bryce Petty is getting a shot as well. Gase was adamant today that he will be content to go forward with Osweiler or Fales as the No. 2 quarterback and won’t be making any desperate phone calls to veterans if Tannehill goes down again.

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Matt Ryan contract underscores how reasonable Ryan Tannehill’s deal is

Ryan Tannehill is a great value this year because of his low salary cap number.(Allen Eyestone/The Post)

The Dolphins are one of the lowest-spending teams in the NFL when it comes to quarterbacks this season, and one reason they’re able to do that is a Ryan Tannehill contract that looks increasingly reasonable with every new deal that’s signed.

The team gave him a $96 million extension in the 2015 offseason that runs through the end of 2020, then restructured this offseason to create some badly needed cap space. The remainder of Tannehill’s contract will pay him about $60.3 million over three years.

The average salary of his original deal — the total money coming his way has stayed the same — at remains $19.3 million, which ranks 18th in the league each of the next two seasons and 10th in 2020. In the 2015 and ’16 seasons, he ranked 21st and 12th in passer rating, respectively, so the money lands right around what his production has been.

There’s a huge gap between that average pay, which was seen as enormous at the time, and what the top quarterbacks are getting now. San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo, who has seven career starts, got a five-year, $137.5 million contract this season; Kirk Cousins managed a 93.9 passer rating last year and signed for three years, $84 million (fully guaranteed) with Minnesota; Soon-to-be-33-year-old Matt Ryan just cashed in on a five-year, $150 million extension in Atlanta.

Because of the restructure, Tannehill’s remaining $60.3 million is allocated in salary cap hits of $8.7 million this year, $26.6 million in 2019 and $25.1 million in 2020.

The $8.7 million he counts for this year is the 24th-biggest cap hit among NFL quarterbacks this season. His hit jumps to fifth next year and seventh the year after, though that will likely drop in the rankings once new deals are awarded to guys like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.

In total, the Dolphins are allocating $10.1 million in 2018 cap space to quarterbacks. Beyond Tannehill’s number, David Fales and Brock Osweiler each count for $720,000, and newly signed Bryce Petty has a $705,000 hit.

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Miami Dolphins make Ryan Tannehill risk even bigger with no safety net

Everything’s riding on Ryan Tannehill this year. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

The Dolphins are making a sizable gamble on Ryan Tannehill with the hope that he not only produces a nice comeback story after a major knee injury, but also immediately start playing the best football of his life at 30.

And while that’s living a little more dangerously than some might be able to stomach, their logic is reasonable given how well he played last time he was on the field.

What doesn’t make sense, though, is that they’ve heightened the risk by going forward with the smallest possible safety net. With no addition in the draft and no proven free agent coming aboard, they’ve made this as difficult on themselves as possible.

The lesson they said they learned from last season’s debacle — David Fales, Matt Moore and $10 million man Jay Cutler combined for some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL — doesn’t seem to have stuck.

“Last year didn’t go, obviously, the way we hoped,” vice president Mike Tannenbaum said in January. “It gave us a chance to reflect on some things we could do better. Part of that is making sure that we have good depth at as many positions as possible, knowing that over the course of a 16-game season, they’re going to play. That’s what history shows us.”

Similarly, coach Adam Gase said it’s not prudent to go without contingency at quarterback, and owner Stephen Ross was so fed up by how poorly Tannehill’s fill-ins did last year that he dropped an f-bomb when assessing the season after the finale.

Yet here the Dolphins are, about two weeks away from the start of Organized Team Activities, and the fallbacks in case something goes wrong with Tannehill are Fales, Brock Osweiler and Bryce Petty. If Gase felt shaky proceeding with Moore as his starter last summer, imagine how unsettling it’ll be to march on with one of those three.

It’s hard to pick a frontrunner for the backup job, and that’s not good. The Miami secondary looks like it’ll be in for a fun spring of OTAs and minicamp as these guys try to separate themselves.

It’s very possible none of them would make an NFL roster other than the Dolphins’ this season.

Fales probably — maybe — has the inside track after performing well enough last year (mostly in practice) that he had Gase touting his potential this offseason and got re-signed. The Dolphins cut him at the end of the preseason last year, and he was out of the league until they called again when Cutler got hurt in October.

He’s played in three games since being drafted four years ago and in two appearances for the Dolphins last year, he completed 29 of 43 passes for a total of 265 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Likewise, Osweiler hasn’t been flush with suitors over the past year. In fact, teams have worked noticeably hard to get rid of him.

Houston gave up a second-round pick last March just to get Cleveland to take his contract in a trade. On the hook for the rest of his guaranteed money either way, the Browns decided they were better off paying him $16 million to leave than to stay.

His best season, the one that landed him a four-year, $72 million contract, was in 2015. He stepped in for Peyton Manning in Denver and completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns against six interceptions while posting a passer rating of 86.4.

That came after three years of being coached by Gase, who was with the Broncos when they drafted Osweiler at No. 57 overall in 2012 and left for Chicago in the 2015 offseason.

Petty, who was acquired on a waiver claim Friday, is the only one who has no history with Gase and he’s the least formed of the three. At 26, he’s a year younger than Fales and Osweiler.

The Jets drafted him in the fourth round in 2015, and he never broke through as a full-time starter. He stayed on the bench his entire first year, then appeared in 10 games over the next two. He completed 53.1 percent of his attempts, had four touchdown passes, threw 10 interceptions and mustered a 57.1 passer rating.

The best thing to be said of that trio is it’ll barely cost the Dolphins anything. The three of them combined — Miami will keep two, at most — are set to count $2.1 million against the salary cap this season. The rosiest view is that perhaps Gase, hired by this team in large part because of his reputation as a quarterback whisperer, can work his magic to turn at least one of them into a viable backup.

As good as Gase might be, that doesn’t look like a great hedge in case Tannehill can’t make it through the next seven months without interruption.

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Miami Dolphins add Jets QB Bryce Petty on waiver claim

Bryce Petty is the newest Miami Dolphin. (Getty Images)

With no quarterback in the draft, the Dolphins were searching to add one more before the start of Organized Team Activities this month and did so today by claiming Bryce Petty off waivers from the Jets.

Petty, who turns 27 soon, joins David Fales and Brock Osweiler in the competition to earn the backup job behind Ryan Tannehill.

The Jets drafted him in the fourth round in 2015, making him the fifth quarterback selected that year. He appeared in 10 games, including seven starts, and posted a passer rating of 57.7. He completed 53.1 percent of his attempts, averaged 135.3 yards per game and threw four touchdown passes against 10 interceptions. He was also sacked 21 times.

Petty became particularly expendable once New York drafted Sam Darnold at No. 3 overall last week.

In South Florida, Petty is best known for a play in 2016 when Dolphins defensive linemen Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh converged on him in the backfield for an incredibly violent sack. The Dolphins had a photo of that hit on the wall of their auditorium.

Here’s the play:

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VIDEO: Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh obliterate Bryce Petty

This ain't a guy you want to see. (Getty Images)
This ain’t a guy you want to see. (Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.–There are many bad situations you might encounter in this world. This is one of the worst.
Continue reading “VIDEO: Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh obliterate Bryce Petty”