Miami Dolphins believe they’re rich with passing targets

The Dolphins are counting on Kenny Stills to be a homerun threat, but they have other weapons. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — Dolphins coach Adam Gase has said a few times that this roster is built the way he wants it, particularly when it comes to receivers, and he’s brimming with confidence about how the passing game will look this season.

With Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker staying on as starters, plus the addition of Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson, the receiver room has undergone significant change. The team is also intent on using running back Kenyan Drake as a pass-catching threat and has a potentially dynamic tight end in second-rounder Mike Gesicki.

Those are six quality options without mentioning the threat of Jakeem Grant, rookie running back Kalen Ballage and tight end A.J. Derby.

“I feel right now that we legitimately have two groups of receivers that can play at a high level for us,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said today. “So if we want to sub somebody out and keep fresh legs in there, or if someone goes down — whatever the case may be — I don’t feel like there’s really going to be much of a drop off (in) production or ability with the group that we have.

“We have a really deep room right now. They work really hard. You see them every day out there grinding. Nobody’s complaining. They’re trying to get better each and every day and that’s what we want.”

Last year, with Miami enduring trouble at quarterback and on the line of scrimmage, plus Parker struggling, Jarvis Landry was by far the most targeted receiver. Almost 27 percent of the Dolphins’ pass attempts went his way, and the trio of him, Stills and Parker accounted for 60.1 percent.

The distribution should be a little more widespread this season. Gase believes he has more maneuverability, too, and has been enjoying the chance to move Wilson all over the place in offseason practices.

He’s a multi-talented threat. Stills has versatility. Amendola is one of the most trusted slot receivers in the league. Drake is the fastest running back Miami’s had in a while. Gesicki is the highest-drafted tight end on this team since the 1970s. Parker, the No. 14 overall selection in 2015, likely still hasn’t peaked.

“If we stay healthy,” Gase said, “we should have a lot of guys that can make plays.”

The other benefit to Gase is that he believes he’s reshaped the receiver corps into a group that won’t be derailed by ego. If no one has a great year statistically, but most of them have a good year, he doesn’t see that being a problem.

That takes some pressure off Tannehill, too.

“They’re not complaining,” Tannehill said. “They’re not griping about not getting the ball.

“But when you do have talented guys, you want to get them the football. I think it’s a balancing act… trying to get guys involved, finding them rhythms in the game and help them be productive.”

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New WR Albert Wilson playing everywhere for Miami Dolphins

Albert Wilson offers the chance for a big play every snap. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — One thing Adam Gase and the Dolphins love about their reconstructed group of skill players is how pliable it is. The offense can move pieces wherever it wants them, opening up limitless creativity for Gase, and it’s likely no player embodies that more than new receiver Albert Wilson.

Wilson became a prime target for Miami in free agency primarily for his speed, and he’s expected to get a more prominent role in the offense than he ever had in Kansas City. He’s been all over the place during Organized Team Activities.

“He’s really done a nice job the past two weeks,” receivers coach Ben Johnson. “It’s really triggered us to say he’s not limited in the slot, he’s not limited outside. He can line up in the backfield. He can do so many different things for us. His versatility is really, really showing up.”

There were times last season when Gase felt somewhat constrained by having to keep DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry on the field without a ton of flexibility, but he seems intent on opening things up more this season. Stills can play inside or outside, running back Kenyan Drake can line up at receiver, he’s got a very promising tight end threat in Mike Gesicki and wide-ranging versatility with Wilson.

The most common way he’s likely to be used is on short passes, like bubble screens, that present opportunities for big yards after the catch. That won’t be it, though. At 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, Wilson is a shade on the small side, but he showed great athleticism down the field last year with the Chiefs.

“When we looked at Albert on film, we were intrigued, obviously with the speed,” Johnson said. “We were intrigued with the run-after-catch ability. I think all of that has been there. It’s been impressive to me to see him come in, pick up this system and learn these fundamentals (when) he wasn’t really doing the same thing in Kansas City.”

He posted career highs in Kansas City with 42 receptions, 554 yards (13.2 per catch) and three touchdowns. That tracked with the steady progress he’s made since breaking into the league as an undrafted free agent from Georgia State in 2014. He was a multi-talented threat there, too, after playing quarterback at Port St. Lucie High School.

Wilson has eight rushes in his career, and the Dolphins seem particularly drawn to that untapped part of his game.

“When you have the kind of athletic ability he does, the speed he does, the playmaking ability, you just try to find ways to get the ball in his hands and let him do his thing,” Gase said.

Wilson is also one of a few candidates to work at punt returner.

The Dolphins needed a slot receiver once they traded Landry to the Browns and they opted to replace him with Wilson and Danny Amendola. Landry would’ve cost about $16 million this season, and Wilson came in at half that price.

Miami picked him up on a three-year, $24 million deal with $14.5 million guaranteed. The team can get out of the contract after the 2019 season for a small dead cap hit of $1.3 million.

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Ryan Tannehill laments losing Jarvis Landry, likes new receivers

Tannehill might miss Landry more than he realizes. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — Jarvis Landry was Ryan Tannehill’s most popular target over the last few years, and seeing him go to Cleveland in the offseason couldn’t have been fun for the quarterback.

In four years with the Dolphins, all but last season being with Tannehill, Landry piled up 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns on 400 catches. No player in NFL history has caught that many passes in his first four seasons, and Landry was always Tannehill’s emergency option.

From 2014 through ’16, he was targeted a team-high 409 times, and last year’s quarterbacks threw 161 of their 602 attempts (27 percent) his way.

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“Losing Jarvis is tough,” Tannehill said today. “He’s a heck of a competitor. He’s one of the most competitive guys on the football field. He loves the game. He loves playing. He loves competing. He loves winning. I think everyone saw that.

“Obviously he’s not the easiest guy to replace and he’s tough to replace, but I’m really excited about the guys that we brought in. I think we’ve brought in veteran guys, guys that have played at high levels, guys that have played for championships and can really help us.”

While the Dolphins still have Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker, they’ve replaced Landry with the duo of up-and-comer Albert Wilson and veteran Danny Amendola. They combined to go for 103 receptions, 1,213 yards and five touchdowns last year with Kansas City and New England, respectively.

Tannehill referred to that receiver group as “stacked” and said he’s confident in the weapons around him.

Miami also has running back Kenyan Drake looking like he’s poised for a breakout season and some potential sparks in the draft class. Mike Gesicki, a second-rounder out of Penn State, presents the best threat the offense has had at tight end in years, and running back Kalen Ballage was electric in college.

Of the receivers, Tannehill’s gotten extensive work with Amendola this year. They did some passing workouts away from the facility in March, and Tannehill found that he lived up to his reputation as a worker.

“That’s the first thing that impressed me is just how hard he works day in and day out,” he said. “He’ll just keep going, keep going, keep going and he’ll never question, look tired or anything. He just keeps going. He’s been a lot of fun to play with so far and we just have to keep building that relationship and get fully on the same page.”

[Five new ideas from Dolphins OC Dowell Loggains]

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[Electric Dolphins rookie Kalen Ballage says he can do it all]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Can new Miami Dolphins OC Dowell Loggains make WR DeVante Parker a star?

DeVante Parker has yet to live up to his draft slot. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins are still waiting for a breakout season from former first-round pick DeVante Parker, and his coaches and teammates are always quick to defend him by pointing out how much injuries have held him back.

While there’s not much Parker can do about getting hurt, and there’s good reason to believe that’s his biggest problem, there are some things he can do better on the field. New offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is enamored by his talent and envisions him being an explosive threat this year, but he has a few aspects he wants to work on with him.

“Just consistency, just the fundamentals here and there that he hadn’t gotten to really master because he’s been limited,” Loggains said today. “It’s been impressive to see him fight through some of the stuff that he’s overcome — being banged up, being hurt and doing those things. Once he gets healthy and plays consistent with Ryan (Tannehill), I think that his production will go up and be the player we think he can be.”

This is a crucial year for Parker’s future with the organization. The Dolphins already exercised their $9.4 million option on him for the 2019 season, the last year of his rookie deal, but that can be rescinded as long as he’s not injured. He’ll have to prove he’s worth a raise that nearly triples what he’s going to make this year and possibly show he merits a long-term investment.

Miami took him No. 14 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, and his rookie season was mostly a struggle. Parker played better in Year 2, his first with Adam Gase, and had 56 catches for 744 yards and four touchdowns.

After an overwhelming offseason and preseason, the already high expectations were heightened even more. However, the Dolphins lost Tannehill to a season-ending knee injury in training camp and Parker battled health issues of his own throughout the year.

His numbers dropped — 57 receptions, 670 yards and one touchdown — and he was the team’s No. 3 receiver behind Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. There were only five games in which he managed more than five catches.

What Loggains loves, though, are the things he does that are hard to coach. Parker’s natural ability, plus some finer points of the position that he’s mastered, were evident when he sat down to study his film.

“The one thing that’s really impressive about DeVante is for a (tall) guy, he can get in and out of breaks,” Loggains said. “To run those comebacks and be able to drop his hips, a lot of long-cut guys struggle with that. DeVante has the ability to do that.

“I had the advantage of seeing some of the OTAs and training camp cut-ups that we go through and the first cut-up I turned on was Day 1 of training camp and he’s playing above the rim and catching a red-area touchdown. We’ve got to make sure that we max out his potential because it’s there.”

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Miami Dolphins look for new punt returner to replace Jarvis Landry

Danny Amendola could be the “hands” guy on punt returns this year. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — The Dolphins never clearly stated how they divided up punt returns between Jarvis Landry and Jakeem Grant, but they appeared to lean toward Landry when they were backed up and Grant when there might be more room to run.

Grant is still here, but Landry’s departure to Cleveland means the team needs a new return man for punts that look like they’re going to be in high-traffic situations.

[Photos: Miami Dolphins rookies report to minicamp]

Veteran receiver Danny Amendola, who often returned punts for New England, seems like the most likely man to replace Landry in that role. Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said today he’s consider Amendola, receiver Albert Wilson and rookie running back Kalen Ballage on punt returns in addition to Grant.

“We’ve added a couple of guys onto the roster that have had return experience,” Rizzi said. “We all know Amendola did it with New England. Albert Wilson is a guy that did it in Kansas City. He just got buried behind a couple of really good returners, but he’s got returner experience.

“Then Kalen Ballage was a kick returner at Arizona State. He’s a big body that can run really well. He had some really productive kick returns. We’ve kind of added a couple of pieces there, as well.”

Rizzi said all four players will get reps as punt returners over the next several months. The Dolphins begin four weeks of offseason practices May 22 and start training camp in late July. There’s plenty of time to nail it down before the season opener.

Amendola returned 27 punts last year for an average of 8.6 yards, including a long of 40 yards. Between his time with the Patriots and Rams, he has returned 174 punts and 152 kicks.

Wilson has no punt returns on his record and returned three kicks in four years with the Chiefs, but he did work on return teams in practice.

Ballage, a fourth-round pick, was a running back and kick returner at Arizona State. In four seasons he returned 48 kickoffs for an average of 22.1 yards per return.

Last season, Grant was used on 36 of 51 punts. He returned 25 for 190 yards and called for a fair catch on 11. Landry handled the other 15, fair catching three and returning the other 12 for 81 yards.

Over the last two seasons, Grant was on the field for 59 punts compared to 46 by Landry.

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Dolphins go into 2018 with the roster Adam Gase wanted all along

Adam Gase has the roster he wants, but is it a winner? (AP)

DAVIE — Adam Gase probably wouldn’t call this the roster of his dreams, but the 2018 version of the Dolphins looks like the one he’s been wanting since he took the job two years ago.

For better or worse, and he absolutely believes it’s for the better, this is the group Gase wants. The team has unloaded players he found problematic in terms of attitude, inconsistency or disproportionate salary cap numbers, and he senses a change in the environment that he thinks will translate to on-field results.

“When I look at it — You kind of look at how does that group get along for that year?” he said. “How do they work together? Do they push each other? Are they all pulling in the same direction? Are guys going to quit on you? Are they going to push forward when things get hard?

“I feel like the way that we’re assembled right now and the way that our personnel department has put that locker room together, I like our makeup right now.”

[Photos: Miami Dolphins rookies report to minicamp]

Clearly some of the answers Gase was getting to those questions over the last two seasons were unsatisfactory. Among other issues, he’s expressed that he thinks some players basically quit on him late last season when the Dolphins were scrapping for a playoff berth.

While the roster overhaul certainly had financial factors and helps the team smooth out its salary cap situation for 2019 and beyond, there’s no thought from Gase that this is a throwaway year. The Dolphins might very well end up picking high in the draft next spring, but that’s not their intention.

The biggest names gone are Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and franchise mainstay Mike Pouncey. Those three are now with the Browns, Rams and Chargers, respectively, and their collective 2018 cap hit is $35.8 million.

Gase has been raving about his new wide receiver room in particular. Kenny Stills, possibly his favorite player on the entire team, is the leader of that group. It also includes newly added 10th-year veteran Danny Amendola, who at 32 is the oldest, most experienced receiver the team has had during Gase’s run with Miami.

“I think when you’ve got a guy that’s been in a lot of big games, has won a lot of games, made plays in big games and the professionalism, you just see it,” Gase said. “The way he walks around, there’s just something about him that guys kind of gravitate to.

“I think between him and Kenny… those guys lead that group and have an effect on the other guys in the locker room in a positive way. That’s a big thing for us.”

The Dolphins did something similar at running back by bringing on Frank Gore, who will be a mentor to Kenyan Drake and rookie Kalen Ballage.

Overall, they almost certainly haven’t had a 1-to-1 replacement of the talent that’s exited, and that’s what will make this year so interesting.

While many point to the departures and call this offseason a net loss for the Dolphins, Gase is defiantly saying the opposite. He’s either going to crash and burn with a roster full of guys that are good in the locker room but just OK on the field, which could put his future in jeopardy, or he’ll look brilliant as he proves everyone wrong.

“I think we wanted to create the roster of what was the right fit for this locker room and for this team,” he said. “Sometimes you get put in a position where you have to make a decision, whether it be free agency or you feel like you’re in a situation where a number might be too high for you — or where you’ve got an opportunity to have a player that makes less money but you feel like the talent isn’t that big of a swing.

“That’s where we’re at right now. We like the makeup of our roster. I like our players. I like where our locker room is right now. I like watching these guys work. I’m excited to see these guys compete in OTAs and get this thing going in training camp and then see how we grow as the year goes on.”

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WR Kenny Stills is Miami Dolphins’ ‘homerun’ threat for 2018 season

Stills is the most accomplished receiver on the Dolphins’ roster. (AP)

DAVIE — Adam Gase won’t say it and he doesn’t have to. Everyone knows Kenny Stills is the Dolphins’ best receiver.

As the team progresses toward the upcoming season without Jarvis Landry and without certainty of what DeVante Parker will become, Stills is the offense’s best chance when it comes to big plays. And, fresh off his 26th birthday, it’s very possible he’s still on the rise as a player.

“I never get into the whole No. 1 receiver thing,” Gase said this afternoon. “I’m all for guys getting open and catching the ball and creating explosive plays and getting first downs.

“Do I think he’s the leader of that room? Yes. He’s one of those guys that guys look up to. They watch what he does and they watch how he goes about his business and they follow his lead. When he speaks in that room and tells guys what he thinks, and he’s very open and doesn’t sugarcoat anything, I think guys respect him and respect what he says.”

Stills and Gase have proven to be a perfect match with Miami, and as Gase designs his offense for 2018, Stills will factor into it prominently. He’s already made a habit of using him inside and outside — Gase believes Stills has been one of the best players out of the slot in the entire league the last two seasons — and has more impetus than ever to feature him.

After two seasons of not fitting in with the Saints and a rough first year here under the previous staff, everything clicked for Stills in 2016. In his first encounter with Gase, he expressed that all he cared about from that point forward was doing everything the right way. That’s a great thing for a new coach to hear.

That conversation stuck with Gase, who has described Stills as indispensable throughout his time coaching the Dolphins. When Stills was an unrestricted free agent last spring, Gase didn’t hesitate to openly campaign for the team to re-sign him.

By every account, Stills has been the ideal player. He’s been highly productive on the field, a steadying influence on a very young receiver corps, a model worker in the weight room and in practice and won the team’s community service award two years in a row.

He’s done all of that on an extremely reasonable contract, making him arguably the single best personnel move vice president Mike Tannenbaum has made. The Dolphins got him for a third-round pick and injured linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, then locked up what should be his prime seasons on a four-year deal worth $32 million through 2020.

In his first season with Gase, Stills had a respectable 42 catches for 726 yards (that averaged out to 17.3 per reception, third-best in the league that year) and a team-high nine touchdowns. Equally important, his playing time leaped from 58 percent of the snaps in 2015 to 84 percent.

Stills followed up by catching 58 balls for 847 yards and six touchdowns last year, which couldn’t have been easy considering Miami’s quarterback woes.

There’s good reason to think he might exceed that production this season, and Gase said he sees “plenty of room for improvement” in Stills’ game.

Landry leaves a void of 161 targets, and while some of that will be filled in by Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola, Stills is the most trustworthy receiver on this roster. And if Ryan Tannehill proves better than last year’s combination of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore, which shouldn’t be hard, there’s a big opportunity here.

“He’s a guy that creates explosive plays and he gets us touchdowns,” Gase said. “We hit the homerun when we throw the ball to him.”

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Who are the most expensive Miami Dolphins players in 2018?

Ryan Tannehill is seventh on the Dolphins in salary cap hit this year. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

The Dolphins have their roster mostly in place for the offseason, though they will explore some options after June 1, and it’s clear which positions they’re prioritizing based on the money they’re spending.

For a look a which position groups have the biggest salary cap commitments, click here.

As far as individuals go, new defensive end Robert Quinn will be the most expensive player on the team this year. That honor would’ve gone to Ndamukong Suh if Miami had kept him and his scheduled $26.1 million cap hit.

Jarvis Landry would’ve been around $16 million after signing the franchise tag had Miami not shipped him to Cleveland for draft picks.

Quinn, who came over in a trade with the Rams, will carry a team-high cap hit of $11.4 million this season and $12.9 million next year according to Spotrac. His 2019 cap number is currently third behind Ryan Tannehill ($26.6 million) and safety Reshad Jones ($17.1 million).

Fellow defensive end Andre Branch is next at $10 million, which could put him in a precarious position as Miami proceeds with Quinn and Cameron Wake as its starting defensive ends. Branch was strong in 2016 and earned a three-year, $24 million extension, but had to fight through injuries for much of last year.

Kenny Stills will have the biggest cap number on offense at $9.8 million, and linebacker Kiko Alonso ($9.7 million) and Wake ($9.6 million) round out the top five.

Tannehill will be seventh at a dirt cheap (for quarterbacks) cap hit of $8.7 million. That’s 24th in the NFL at his position, and the team ranks 27th in quarterback spending with him, Brock Osweiler and David Fales.

Tannehill was originally set to get $60.4 million fairly evenly spread out over the 2018-20 seasons, but restructured this offseason for upcoming cap hits of $8.7 this year, $26.6 million next season and $25.1 in 2020.

Among the great values on this year’s roster are starting defensive tackle Davon Godchaux with a cap hit of about $605,484 and running back Kenyan Drake at $910,315.

[Dolphins’ NFL Draft week a success with smart picks, restraint on trade calls]

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[Parkland-Douglas football team makes Miami Dolphins draft announcements]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Ex-Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry to get $75.5 million deal from Browns

Things are looking up for Jarvis Landry (and his accountant). (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

The Dolphins’ decision to part with Jarvis Landry is resulting in a savings of $1.1 million per year for the next several seasons.

Landry and the Cleveland Browns are completing a five-year, $75.5 million extension, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday morning.

Landry will receive $47 million in guaranteed money, which is far more than what the Dolphins are guaranteeing for his replacements, Danny Amendola ($5.95 million guaranteed) and Albert Wilson ($14.45 million).

But viewed on a per-year basis for the next few years, the money is much closer.

Landry’s contract averages out to $15.1 million per year, should he remain with the Browns for the duration of his contract.

Amendola’s contract averages out to $6 million per year (two years, $12 million), and Wilson’s is $8 million (three years, $24 million), for a combined $14 million per.

Keep in mind, however, that much revolves around how much the Browns are back-loading Landry’s contract with the idea that they could always cut him before paying some of that monster money.

Given all that, which team do you think is taking the better route: the Browns and Landry at $15.1M or the Dolphins with Amendola and Wilson for $14M?

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Adam Gase: Miami Dolphins’ housecleaning triggered by loafing in Buffalo

Adam Gase says, ‘We just did not have enough guys’ giving all they had in Buffalo last season. (Getty Images)

It’s one thing to criticize poor play in the NFL, quite another to rip a team for effort.

Thursday morning, coach Adam Gase went after effort, blasting some of his players for going through the motions in a 24-16 loss at Buffalo that essentially ended the slim hopes this team had of turning around its season.

The Dolphins were coming off a resounding 27-20 upset of New England when they traveled to upstate New York and were flattened by the Bills, triggering a three-game losing streak as a 6-10 season ground to a halt.

“That game at Buffalo just seemed like a 20-hour game,” Gase said on Joe Rose’s show on WQAM-560AM. “I was just waiting for us to turn the corner and really get going and nothing was working for us. There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see. It wasn’t everybody. You turn on that tape, there are guys that stand out noticeably as far as their effort and their play that was extremely high, and they were giving everything they had. We just did not have enough guys doing that.

“That’s why we felt like we needed to change some things around.”

It was a stinging swipe by Gase, the likes of which we hadn’t heard since he blasted players’ study habits following the 40-0 shellacking at Baltimore in October.

Since Gase did not mention names, it’s natural to wonder whom he was criticizing.

The ironic part? Several of the departed were the team’s statistical leaders that day.


‘There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see.’ — Adam Gase, on some of his players’ lack of effort in Buffalo last season


Jarvis Landry, for example, was targeted 13 times and made 10 catches for a season-high 99 yards. Cody Parkey kicked field goals of 28, 41 and 26 yards and accounted for 10 of the 16 points. Ndamukong Suh had seven total tackles, including three for loss.

Other performances of note: Jay Cutler was 28 of 49 for 274 yards, was sacked three times, threw three interceptions, fumbled four times and had a passer rating of 47.5.

Among players still on the Dolphins, Kenyan Drake had 16 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, DeVante Parker was targeted 12 times and had six receptions for 89 yards and Kenny Stills was targeted six times, finishing with one catch for 8 yards. Jakeem Grant had a 16.5 average on two punt returns. The other top tacklers were Kiko Alonso (10) and Reshad Jones (seven).

The game got away from the Dolphins immediately, which ought to sound familiar. Buffalo drove 81 yards in 10 plays to open the game, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy. By halftime, it was 21-6, Bills.

In the grades I issue after every game, I ripped quarterback play (Grade: F) and manufactured the phrase “confoundingly erratic” to describe Cutler. I also took it out on linebackers, giving them a D, which, coincidentally, was the same grade I gave the coaching staff, saying it was “short on answers” after Buffalo took the lead. I said coaches exercised poor clock management late.

Pro Football Focus gave highest marks to Dolphins scheduled to return: T Sam Young (85.3), T Laremy Tunsil (81.9), DE Charles Harris (78.5), Parker (77.7), Drake (76.6) and LB Chase Allen (75.9). All are 25 or younger except Young, who is 30.

For amateur sleuths trying to sort culprits from innocents, there are scores of players no longer with the Dolphins who can’t be blamed because they were out injured that day, including Damien Williams, Jermon Bushrod, Michael Thomas and Nate Allen.

Mike Pouncey and Julius Thomas (two catches, 15 yards) started the game, Terrence Fede (two tackles) saw limited duty and Neville Hewitt saw spot duty. Matt Moore was inactive. Lawrence Timmons was in on 44 plays, 70 percent of the time, and finished with four tackles.

“We had a lot of good guys in that locker room that gave it everything they had and no matter what happened they never wavered and they just kept plugging away and we feel like we added good pieces to that group,” Gase said.

Here’s the bottom line: Next year at this time, neither Gase nor GM Chris Grier nor football operations chief Mike Tannenbaum will have any excuses. No one will care about “yeah, but” narratives. They’ve reshaped the roster as they wish. They’ve jettisoned some, put stock in others. Ditto for Gase’s assistants.

No, nobody should expect miracles following a 6-10 season, given the amount of talent lost. But if there aren’t tangible reasons for optimism on April 5, 2019, that’s a problem.

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