DAVIE — Dolphins players arrived back at work Monday morning to find a little surprise waiting in their locker.
Well, it wasn’t a total surprise. After the Dolphins rallied to stun the Atlanta Falcons a week ago, coach Adam Gase informed the team everyone was getting a game ball. Gase made good on his promise Monday, and he did it in style.
Waiting in each locker was a wrapped game ball with the date, site, score and opponent embossed on the ball — along with the corresponding player’s name in large lettering.
It didn’t take much imagination to picture many of those balls going under glass and becoming a conversation piece.
Defensive end Terrence Fede loved the concept.
“If we have a great game all together, it should always be like that, right?” he said. “It was a whole group effort.”
The Dolphins had to sense things were going their way with 12 minutes left in what would turn out to be a 20-17 victory over Atlanta.
With Matt Bosher in punt formation, long snapper Josh Harris unleashed a short snap Bosher’s way. So short, in fact, it rolled to Bosher, who was tackled by Michael Thomas after a 4-yard gain, turning the ball over to the Dolphins on their 48. Eight plays later, Cody Parkey hit a 49-yard field goal for a 17-17 tie.
After the game, Thomas admitted he needed to look at the film to figure out what happened. The official stat sheet said the ball hit the upback, but replays failed to show anything of the sort.
By Wednesday, Thomas had his theory: “Pretty much, Terrence Fede scares any long snapper in this league.”
As soon as Fede in turn credited Chase Allen, the bigger picture was becoming clear. Remember the opener, won when the Chargers missed a last-second field-goal try? They credited pressure off the edge by Bobby McCain. See the pattern?
“It’s a point of emphasis on this team,” Fede said.
Fede explained that the fortunate break was set up on Atlanta’s previous punt, when Allen applied heat on Harris.
“Chase, the previous play before that, had run the long snapper over, so I think he was pretty rattled about that,” Fede said. “And the next punt, I was lined up in the opposite ‘A’ gap and I guess he was feeling that pressure and was just thinking about blocking before he got the ball back and he happened to dribble the ball back. Mike set the edge, tackled the punter and then that was it.”
So it didn’t hit the upback?
“It didn’t hit anybody,” Fede said. “He just didn’t get the ball back there. I guess he was just nervous about blocking. But I mean, hey, we bring pressure all the time and we love it. We embrace it.”
Pressure is one thing. Blocked punts happen now and then. But long snaps that never leave the ground?
“You don’t see that too often,” Fede said. “I was surprised myself.”
Not often? Have Fede ever seen it?
“Nah, actually,” he said. “That was pretty crazy.”
(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2017.)
DE Terrence Fede
Height, weight: 6-4, 267
Experience: Entering fourth season, all with Dolphins
Acquired: Drafted in seventh round in 2014
Contract: Made $613,988 in 2016. Due $703,988 in 2017, final year of his contract
Pro Football Focus rank: Unranked
Stats: Appeared in nine games with zero starts. Had 14 tackles and one fumble recovery
Notable moments: Had four tackles and recovered a fumble against the Cardinals
Straight talk: As the first player from Marist to be drafted — and a seventh-rounder — Fede not only stuck around but played 15 games his second season.
It’s his third season, 2016, that represented a downward trend.
Fede was inactive for seven games last year and finished with just 14 tackles on a team that finished 30th against the run. He was in on only 15 percent of the defensive snaps.
The Dolphins did drop Mario Williams but added William Hayes to the mix at end. More significantly, they used their first-round draft pick to address the position, taking Missouri’s Charles Harris. Plus, with Cameron Wake and Andre Branch back, there’s not much hope Fede will see more snaps in 2017 without major improvement.
Prospects for 2017
Fede figures to compete with Julius Warmsley — a bit of a phenom in training camp last year — for a backup job at end. Interestingly enough, Fede was one of the players GM Chris Grier singled out when asked about his defensive ends, which can’t be a bad thing for him.
The Dolphins have major decisions to make with impending free agents and players who might be too costly to keep. Here’s a look at every player who finished the season on the 53-man roster (or injured reserve or the suspension list) with beat writer Andrew Abramson’s prediction for whether or not he will remain on the team in 2016.