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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What big-money guard Josh Sitton is bringing to Miami Dolphins

Dolphins guard Josh Sitton can apparently kick field goals, too. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Josh Sitton had an idea at a recent Miami Dolphins organized team activity practice.

Sitton decided the offensive lineman should participate in a pass-punt-kick competition.

“He’s very competitive, a very competitive guy,” Dolphins offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn said. “He’s just a natural athlete.”

Anyone who’s been around a Dolphins practice has seen how well offensive tackles Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James can throw a football. For such big men, they really are nimble, all-around athletes.

“Yes,” Washburn said. “I have seen them throw it and I’m just going to tell you right now, I’ve got video evidence that they both lost to (Josh Sitton), so absolutely. They have to work on their field-goal kicking in the offseason.”

The biggest reason Miami’s offensive line is expected to be better this season is the addition of a guard. Now, historically, Miami hasn’t really felt doling out much dough to a guard is the best way to spend.

But for Sitton, the Dolphins ponied up a 2-year, $13.5 million deal. It’s because he’s tough, physical and proven.

“He’s very competitive but he’s got a really calm demeanor, which is great for an offensive lineman, particularly an interior lineman,” Washburn said.

Sitton is a four-time Pro Bowler, including three of the past four seasons.

“He’s just a really good guard,” Washburn said. “He’s really productive in what he does. I was in Detroit for seven years so we watched him non-stop. He was kind of our guy in that room, as well, as just a guy that was really good in the zone game. He’s a natural pass blocker and he’s just a smart football player and a good guy to have in your room. All of those qualities made it pretty easy for us.”

Guard Jesse Davis said he had studied Sitton even before he signed with the Dolphins.

“We watched a lot of Chicago film with (coach Adam) Gase, so seeing him and his game reps from previous years, he’s a great athlete,” Davis said. “You wouldn’t expect it as a big guy, but he’s a hell of an athlete. He can move. He can do it all. You kind of want to take some of his aspects of games and say, ‘Maybe I can use this on a certain play,’ or if you’re struggling or something, because he has a lot of good things and good qualities.”

Gase said Sitton’s knowledge of the game is as important as his strength.

“He brings confidence with that group,” Gase said. “He’s got something about him that’s probably different than a lot of guys I’ve been around. He’s very confident, very knowledgeable.”

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Brock Osweiler impressing Miami Dolphins early in OTA’s

Miami Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler at OTA’s. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Brock Osweiler has had two consecutive poor seasons, with more interceptions than touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos.

But the Dolphins felt it was worth giving him a look in the backup competition. And he’s off to a decent start.

“We’re just working on a few things to tweak a few things mechanically,” coach Adam Gase said Wednesday. “Nothing big. We’re just trying to get him back in rhythm to where we were three or four years ago, however long it’s been. It’s coming back to him really fast.”

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Gase worked with Osweiler when they were in Denver from 2012-2014.

Osweiler broke out in Denver in 2015 and was rewarded with a big contract he failed to live up to.

But with lower expectations in Miami, Osweiler seems comfortable reuniting with Gase. In a practice open to the media on Wednesday, Osweiler showed off a strong arm. He also seemed to have command of the offense and poise in the huddle.

Osweiler has worked under Peyton Manning, so he has tried to mimic him in a past life.

“It’s not too far off from the last time he was really in this system,” Gase said. “He’s been good. It’s been good to be around him again. He’s got a great energy level. I think he’s enjoying kind of being with that group and working with the receivers he’s been working with.”

It’s fair to say David Fales may have a slight edge entering the backup quarterback competition. But the Fales-Osweiler battle will be worth monitoring this spring and into the summer.

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Happy Birthday Cam Wake! (Now, how many years do you have left?)

 

Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake is still shredding. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

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.”

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.”

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Miami Dolphins: Was DeVante Parker at fault on two Sunday interceptions?

Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker pulls in a pass defended by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler threw two interceptions in the first half of Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay while targeting wide receiver DeVante Parker.

Miami’s first drive was spoiled when Cutler was intercepted while throwing into the end zone for Parker on a 3rd-and-7 from the Bucs’ 9-yard line. Defensive back Justin Evans undercut the route and it appeared Parker may have gotten his feet tangled.

So, is that interception on Cutler or Parker?

“I wish (Parker’s) route was a little bit cleaner on the one in the end zone,” Miami coach Adam Gase said Monday. “But I think it’s kind of like one of those things where I wish Jay (Cutler) could have thrown it a little bit sooner. Probably the look we got in practice wasn’t exactly like that. But it was pretty close. We had the look we wanted. We’ve got to hook up on that. And both those guys can be a little better on that.”

Earlier in the week, The Daily Dolphin called for Parker to receive nine targets on Sunday, and moving forward, because that’s what Larry Fitzgerald and Demaryius Thomas have averaged in their careers.

Well, Parker got nine targets on Sunday, but was only able to haul in a surprisingly-low total of four catches for 26 yards.

In the second quarter, Cutler threw his third interception of the game and second while intended for Parker. On a 2nd-and-18 at Miami’s 17, Cutler hit Parker on a short route but the ball went off Parker’s hands, and into the air, where it was grabbed by the Bucs’ Robert McClain.

“You know, usually, DeVante has been pretty reliable and when the ball hits him in the hands as far as catching it,” Gase said. “That was kind of how things were going for us at that moment where it hits him in the hands and pops up and of course they have someone right there. I thought our defense responded fairly well to being thrown into some of those short fields. We have done a better job. After the Tennessee game we talked about it a lot. We weren’t catching the catchable balls. We were worst in the league. And we really cut that thing in half. We’ve moved down to 18 or 17. And you know we’ve been pretty good catching the ball both in practice and in games. We just wish we would have caught that one.”

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