DT Davon Godchaux sold Dolphins on himself in NFL Combine interview

Davon Godchaux was a great selection with the 178th pick. (AP)

DAVIE—There were good reasons why many NFL scouting departments were hesitant about LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. The Dolphins shared some of those reservations as they evaluated the possibility of drafting him.

There was an arrest for a complicated domestic incident last year that resulted in him being briefly kicked off his college team (charges were dropped, and he was reinstated), he made what many thought was an odd decision to leave school after his junior season and, quite frankly, he’s got a goofy personality.

But any skepticism the Dolphins had about whether he was serious about football vanished quickly when they sat down with him at the NFL Combine. General manager Chris Grier, coach Adam Gase and defensive line coach Terrell Williams were instantly convinced that Godchaux was the type of player they coveted.

It’s the only Combine interview Gase can recall in detail.

“I remember being shocked,” Gase said. “We were showing him tape and we weren’t even hitting play yet and he says, ‘Here’s what happened.’ He’d go through everything. ‘I screwed up here. I should’ve been (doing this)’

“I just remember Terrell saying, ‘How do you know what play this is?’ He was like. ‘This is all I do.’ I just remember being floored by that because he was so football—That’s all it was. That’s all he was about.”

That proved to be an accurate glimpse, and the Dolphins set their minds on pulling off a draft steal. As they saw him slide into the fifth round, they began to feel like they were the one of the few who knew what he was. They felt confident enough about being able to get him that they bypassed him with their first fifth-round pick, No. 164 overall, and jumped on him with the 178th selection.

Going into Sunday’s game against Denver, it’s clear he was the best value of anyone they chose. He might even be their best rookie, period, regardless of draft slot.

“I think it’s just the consistency that he’s had and the fact that he always does everything you ask and he does it right,” Gase said. “There’s not many guys that can challenge him with the energy he plays with. Every down he’s on the field, he gives you everything he has.”

Godchaux immediately jumped ahead of third-year defensive tackle Jordan Phillips on the depth chart, and they battled throughout training camp. Both have played well alongside Ndamukong Suh when healthy this season.

Godchaux has played all 11 games, including five starts, and been on the field for 52.5 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps. He played slightly more than Phillips the last two weeks.

He is tied with Suh for most tackles on the defensive line with 31 and he’s got a forced fumble and a pass breakup to go with it. Pro Football Focus ranks him the No. 73 defensive tackle in the league this season.

“Godchaux is probably one of the best on the team at holding double teams,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. “He’s just a squared off safe. He’s like an old-school safe. He just holds in there and hangs and doesn’t get moved.

Beyond the way he’s played, the staff has been impressed by how he prepares. He’s taken after Suh’s no-nonsense approach and seems to have learned how to carry himself as a pro. It helps that he’s also in the same corner of the locker room as Cameron Wake, Andre Branch and William Hayes.

“He’s been exactly what you want a guy to be, especially for a young guy,” said Gase, who sent Godchaux out as one of the game captains against New England last week.

“I know Suh spends a lot of time with him. It started in the spring. I just think that’s kind of how he is built. (Suh) has just kind of got that natural leadership about him to where those young guys all kind of follow him.”

Following Suh around is never a bad plan, and that’s a strong starting point for Godchaux as he blossoms into a long-term piece for Miami.

[Dolphins coach Adam Gase takes a big risk with his running backs]

[Broncos, Dolphins have deep roots in each other’s sidelines]

[A conversation with The Jupiter Juggernaut]

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Truth comes out: Some Miami Dolphins don’t love game as much as organization thought

 

Dolphins coach Adam Gase speaks after the 40-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

DAVIE — In the spring of 2016, new Dolphins general manager Chris Grier held one of those pre-draft news conferences designed to reveal as little as possible about the upcoming selections.

“Really, you just want guys that are competitive, that love football, have passion for the game, are football smart and are driven to succeed,” Grier said. “Coaches can’t always push guys. You want guys who are going to push themselves and basically just love to compete. It’s what we’ve talked about from Day 1, just bringing competitive players (in that) we love, that love football.”

That’s a whole lotta “love.” A week later, when the Dolphins took offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil in the first round, the reasoning was predictable.

“He loves football,” Grier said.

On and on it went, in both last year’s draft and this year’s: Receiver Leonte Carroo “loves football,” guard Isaac Asiata has “a love for football” and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley is another of those who “love the game.”

Today, we know better.

That’s not to say any of the aforementioned players don’t love the game. Maybe they do.

But what we now know is a significant number of Dolphins don’t love the game.

We know this because the Dolphins said so.

A day after the Dolphins were undressed by the Baltimore Ravens 40-0, they were stripped naked by coach Adam Gase, who began his news conference by saying the problems with his offense isn’t that players are having trouble retaining their assignments, but that they’re not bothering to study them in the first place.

Like antsy students waiting for that 3 p.m. bell, players are blowing off homework required to nail down details that can’t be absorbed strictly in meetings. And that includes the team’s best players.

Gase covered all that ground in the answer to the very first question. With each successive answer, he piled it on.


In an amazingly damning revelation, Gase said this lax attitude has been prevalent not for a month or two, but since he took over as Dolphins coach 1 1/2 years ago.


Gase said he has been harping on this to players “for a while” and he was “fed up with it.”

Gase said he would “get rid of” players who continue to slack off.

And — in an amazingly damning revelation — Gase said this lax attitude has been prevalent not for a month or two, but since he took over as Dolphins coach 1 1/2 years ago.

Where is the love?

It certainly can’t be found amid all the three-and-outs and pre-snap confusion and missed blitz pick-ups. It’s not in running backs getting dropped for losses and passes getting dropped for lack of concentration. It’s not on the stat sheet, where an offense coached by a quarterback whisperer ranks last in most any category that matters.

The ironic part is that the rest of the team has upheld its end. They haven’t lost that lovin’ feeling. Special teams? “We seem to be all right,” Gase said. Defense? First-year coordinator Matt Burke has transformed the former laughingstock into one of the most solid units in the league, one that deserves a better fate.

One of Burke’s favorite techniques is yanking players to the front of the meeting room and giving them pop quizzes before the group. Sounds like a good strategy for Gase and the offense to push those who need it until they can be weeded out in the offseason.

This isn’t to say what ails the Dolphins is the simply fault of Grier, head of football operations Mike Tannenbaum and the scouting department. One of the oldest cliches in the game is that you can’t measure heart. Most of the time you hear that, it’s referring to a classic overachiever in the mold of a Zach Thomas. But any NFL personnel man can attest it works both ways. You’d be amazed how great an actor even the laziest player can be when he’s coached up by an agent, with several million dollars dangling in front of him as the carrot (or is it karat?).

Likewise, it’s not hard to see this from a player’s perspective. High school football is pure fun, and it doesn’t exactly hurt you in the popularity department. College football offers the pageantry and a scholarship to offset the growing feeling that this game is more like work. Those lucky enough to reach the NFL either embrace the fact that their childhood passion is truly a business or they don’t.

They either continue to love the game anyway or they don’t.

They’re either professionals or they’re not.

The Tape Don’t Lie: Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens, a review

Why Miami Dolphins’ Ndamukong Suh put his hand on Ryan Mallett’s throat

Have you visited The Daily Dolphin Facebook Page? It’s really, really good

One year in, Dolphins clicking with Gase, Tannenbaum, Grier at top

Adam Gase is off to a strong start with the Dolphins. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MIAMI BEACH—Stephen Ross might’ve finally hit the right combination of football people to run the Miami Dolphins.

The trio of coach Adam Gase, vice president Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier is in its second offseason together and seems to be running smoothly. There have been few, if any, philosophical clashes to this point and no signs of dysfunction.
Continue reading “One year in, Dolphins clicking with Gase, Tannenbaum, Grier at top”

Dolphins’ biggest NFL Draft surprise? Charles Harris lasting to No. 22

The Dolphins thought Charles Harris (91) would go higher than No. 22. (Getty Images)

At the end of the NFL Draft, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier took a breath and ran through all seven selections in his mind. He was thinking about which one was the biggest surprise, and he went all the way back to Miami’s first pick.
Continue reading “Dolphins’ biggest NFL Draft surprise? Charles Harris lasting to No. 22”

No more trying to pull rabbits from the hat in Dolphins draft

General manager Chris Grier and the Miami Dolphins kept it simple during the 2017 NFL draft. Concentrate on needs. Take players who have proven capable of competing at a high level. Stay away from mining for gold in unexpected places.

It’s that last point that makes the most sense when it comes to establishing a basic standard.

Miami Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey walks off the field dejected late in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens during NFL action Dec 07, 2014, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. ( Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)

I like that Miami exclusively went with draftees from college football’s Power Five conference this time around. Doesn’t mean you can’t find top talent in other places, but the guys who played well in the big conferences did so against tougher competition on a more regular basis.

If they didn’t always break records, at least they were tested physically and mentally most weeks. There’s no accounting for the powder-puff games on every team’s schedule, of course, or the fact that having great talent around a certain player allows him to thrive in ways that might not have been possible on a lesser roster.

Look back, though, at Miami’s 2014 draft class. Former GM Dennis Hickey outsmarted himself in that one. Other than Ja’Wuan James (Tennessee) and Jarvis Landry (LSU), it was largely a case of trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Guard Billy Turner from North Dakota State. (Started some games for Dolphins but was released by Miami and then Baltimore and is trying to catch on with Denver).

Cornerback Walt Aikens from Liberty. (5 career starts and 1 career interception).

Tight end Arthur Lynch from Georgia (Exception to rule, never was healthy, never played a lick).

Linebacker Jordan Tripp from Montana (Special-teamer for Dolphins, now on his 3rd team since they cut him).

Wide receiver Matt Hazel from Coastal Carolina (Bouncing around league on practice squads).

Defensive end Terrence Fede from Marist (One epic punt block as rookie won’t keep him on roster much longer).

Taking the better players from programs in the SEC and the ACC and the Big Ten and the Pac 12 and the Big 12, that’s just common sense. They had to be great in high school to get there in the first place, and coachable in college in order to get playing time. So the Dolphins took draftees from Missouri and Ohio State and Clemson and Utah and LSU and Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech. Not a Marist in the bunch.

We’ll have to see if it works out, but the odds surely are better that a handful of players from that group will be up to NFL speed before long.

[Draft is latest confirmation of Adam Gase’s confidence in himself]

[Even at briefest glance, Trubisky looks like best QB in draft]

[Draft snub shows that Brad Kaaya left UM too soon]

There have been quite a few small-school heroes in Dolphins history, so there’s no pretending that it’s not possible to find one in the draft. I’ll list some here, but with the same basic conclusion, that I would rather try to build on players with the fewest variables at the best-known programs.

I would rather do it Chris Grier’s way than Dennis Hickey’s.

Small-school products who were major or at least important contributors for Dolphins:

Jason Taylor, Akron

Mercury Morris, West Texas State

Vern Den Herder, Central Iowa

Mark Duper, Northwest Louisiana State

Doug Betters, Nevada

Freddie Solomon, Tampa

Patrick Surtain, Southern Mississippi

William Judson, South Carolina State

Samson Satele, Hawaii

James Pruitt, Fullerton State

Jim Jensen, Boston University

Leroy Harris, Arkansas State

 

That’s just a quick scan and probably you can add a few names to that list. Just remember we’re talking about a half century of Dolphin drafts. It’s really not that many either way

 

 

Draft provides further proof of Adam Gase’s confidence in his own coaching

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase reacts to questions from the media following their loss to the Titans at Hard Rock Stadium on October 9, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Every time you turn around there’s another reason to feel good about Adam Gase as coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Here’s the latest.

The Dolphins’ offense is far from a finished product. Didn’t keep the Dolphins from making the playoffs, of course, which is a great thought to build on, but once they got to the postseason, the most Miami could do in a 30-12 loss at Pittsburgh was one late and ultimately meaningless touchdown.

Wait, you’re screaming, Ryan Tannehill was hurt and didn’t play in that game. OK, but Matt Moore did just fine as his replacement against lesser competition at the end of the regular season, throwing for a total of six touchdowns in a couple of wins over Buffalo and the New York Jets. The playoffs are where it counts, though, and it took no more than one first-round wild card game to show how much ground must be gained.

So what happened in the 2017 NFL draft? Did Gase, who got this job because of his abilities as an offensive playcaller, insist on loading up on offense to address the problems for which he is most directly responsible?

Nope, the Dolphins used their top three draft picks on defense instead, a franchise first.

On top of that, Miami went deeper into the draft than any other NFL team before choosing an offensive player, and even then it was a guard instead of a skill position.

Of course, Gase didn’t run the draft. General manager Chris Grier does that. If the head coach were 100 percent opposed to the team going in a particular direction, however, there would be more conflict that we’re seeing now.

Gase clearly has confidence he can win with the guys he has on offense, including some Miami has re-signed (like wide receiver Kenny Stills) and some added during the offseason (like tight ends Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano and offensive lineman Ted Larsen).

He understands that it is never a totally one-sided game. Last year, for instance, New Orleans was the second-highest scoring team in the league at nearly 30 points per game but the Saints missed the playoffs just the same at 7-9.

Gase is bright enough to understand that a strong defense makes his offense better, gives his quarterback more possessions, keeps his team from constantly having to struggle from behind.

Maybe he realizes, too, that the Dolphins did themselves no favors by going so strong on offense in the 2016 draft, Gase’s first as a head coach, even though it may have made him feel better at the time.

[Even at briefest glance, Trubisky looks like best QB in this draft class]

[NFL draft is proof that Brad Kaaya left UM too soon]

[If you think Dolphins have gone too long between titles, check this]

These are all good signs of an organization that is building comprehensively for the long run and is in agreement on how to get there.

Contrast that to the Bills, who fired their GM and his scouting staff on the day after the draft. Looks like everything is up to new head coach Sean McDermott now.

And there, come to think of it, is yet another reason to feel good about Gase driving the Dolphins through the AFC East on the eventual climb to catch New England.

2017 NFL Draft: Dolphins comfortable with Davon Godchaux’s character

Davon Godchaux (57) was one of the top talents in the country, but there was a major off-field red flag. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—None of the Dolphins’ 2017 NFL Draft picks came with a bigger off-field red flag than fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux.

Godchaux, a defensive tackle from LSU, was briefly kicked off the team in September after being arrested on charges of domestic abuse battery with child endangerment and false imprisonment. His girlfriend, the alleged victim, was also arrested.
Continue reading “2017 NFL Draft: Dolphins comfortable with Davon Godchaux’s character”

2017 NFL Draft: Dolphins hid interest in DE Charles Harris

Charles Harris (91) is the newest Miami Dolphin. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—The Miami Dolphins went out of their way to keep secret their interest in Missouri defensive end Charles Harris, even though they zeroed in on him about a month ago. They selected him at No. 22 overall tonight, adding him to a rotation that features Cameron Wake and Andre Branch.

In order to keep other teams from figuring out their plans, Miami canceled the workout and interview it had scheduled with Harris in Davie.
Continue reading “2017 NFL Draft: Dolphins hid interest in DE Charles Harris”

What’s a little F-bomb as Miami Dolphins’ brass debates merits of draft prospects?

Dolphins coach Adam Gase and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum with first-round draft pick Laremy Tunsil at the team’s training facilty in Davie on April 29, 2016. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

 

Dysfunction is out.

Harmony is in.

Unless it comes to putting together the Dolphins’ draft board.

General Manager Chris Grier offered a peak into the organization’s draft preparations, and while he and football operations chief Mike Tannenbaum agreed that cooler heads ultimately prevail, reaching that point can require some heated debate.

“An F-bomb will be dropped,” Grier said. “But it is healthy debate.”

It shouldn’t be surprising. Well-paying jobs are won, lost or kept this time of year. Just ask Jeff Ireland and any number of past Dolphins personnel leaders.

“We’re always going to do what’s best for the organization,” Grier told reporters. “Truly, it’s egoless. I think most of you know the three of us, but we have a lot of debates and we are not afraid to tell each other no and that’s wrong and disagree. I think that’s what makes it work.”

It works because so many decisions are made pre-draft, the idea being that once the Dolphins are on the clock, it should be a matter of matching the talent available with the team’s big-board rankings. Currently, the board is 140 players deep, Tannenbaum said.

“Last week probably, we had a lot of healthy debate with the coaches, the personnel department, where we were in there and you go at it pretty good, but it’s all very respectful,” Grier said. “At the end of the day, all everyone kept saying is it was a great process. We love that we can have our voice from the coaching side and the personnel side.”

Last year, Grier’s first as GM, he “insisted” (Tannenbaum’s word) that the Dolphins do their homework on Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. He was projected to be long gone by the time Miami would make the 13th pick, but a bizarre set of circumstances plopped him in the Dolphins’ lap.

“That process gave us a lot of confidence that here he is at 13 and it was an easy decision for us,” Tannenbaum said.

Tannenbaum said “tweaking” will continue on the board as information is received, whether it’s from security personnel, scouts or coaches.

“There won’t be any real major jumps,” Tannenbaum said. “We’ve had coaches calling us still. For the college coaches this time of year, they become available, so through our connections, we all know people. We’ll get on a conference call and we’ll talk about the player.”

Come the time when the Dolphins are approaching a pick or actually on the clock, the biggest wrinkle is the telephone. Teams will call with trade offers.

“Typically you get calls both ways – maybe three in front of you and three behind you,” Tannenbaum said.

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NFL Draft: Dolphins evaluate character issues case-by-case, no automatic decisions

The Dolphins pick 22nd in this year’s NFL Draft. (Getty Images)

DAVIE–The Dolphins don’t have a strict policy on ruling out players with certain character issues, at least not that they’re willing to reveal publicly, but scrutinize each prospect’s history individually.
Continue reading “NFL Draft: Dolphins evaluate character issues case-by-case, no automatic decisions”