DAVIE — Isaiah Ford has added a bit of weight and strength and he knows a lot more about the Dolphins’ offense than he did at this time last year. But having recovered from a torn meniscus in his knee, Ford is still confident in his abilities.
“I think I’m a competitor, first and foremost,” Ford said Wednesday. “I want to win at everything that I do. And I think that starts with my mindset on how I approach everything. I’m a versatile player. I can play inside and out. I can make those contested catches. And I’m a technician. That’s something that I pride myself on, is being really good in and out of my breaks. And running really good routes and things like that.”
Ford has shined at times this spring, one year after Miami made him a seventh-round selection from Virginia Tech. Ford’s path to the Dolphins’ roster is through versatility and consistent production.
“I’ve spent a bunch of time inside,” Ford said. “A bunch of time outside as well. Just being ready for wherever they decide to put me. I’m comfortable playing both, which is good… I think in the slot you have a little more freedom. A little more wiggle room in terms of your releases.”
Ford was injured running a routine slant last summer, against Tony Lippett. Rehabilitating his knee alongside Ryan Tannehill and Raekwon McMillan was a rewarding and competitive experience.
“That helped us push through the dark days,” Ford said. “Where we didn’t really feel like rehabbing or we were down on ourselves. And to have Ryan there as a leader to kind of help us push through was really huge for both of us.”
Ford said the three of them would see who could bike the farthest in 10 minutes while hooked up to a blood flow restrictor.
“Then our trainer stopped it because he got a little scared,” Ford said. “Whoever was up next had to beat it. I think Raekwon was the last to go so he had the record. So nobody else got to go.”
Ford said he appreciates the game more now and realizes how much he missed it. He has a better understanding of the terminology of the offense and what coaches are expecting. He says he’s confident.
“Just be available whenever my number is called,” Ford said. “My job is to compete. To execute. To know my job. To know where I’m supposed to be. And where I’m supposed to be, be there.”
INDIANAPOLIS — Even if the Miami Dolphins don’t select a quarterback in the first round, it seems to make total sense that they’ll draft one at some point in this year’s draft.
And it sounds like coach Adam Gase is a fan of that philosophy, one legendary general manager Ron Wolf made famous.
“I’d love to draft a quarterback every year,” Gase said Wednesday, at the NFL Scouting Combine. “It doesn’t always work out that way. We’ll see how the board falls for us. That first year, we felt like Brandon (Doughty) was a guy that there was a lot of us were very interested to see what we could do with him, and he had a lot of success in college. We’re still working through things to try to help him get better and we’ll see how this year goes. It’s hard to predict.”
Though starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is returning from a season-ending knee injury, backup Matt Moore seems unlikely to return. Doughty and David Fales are still in a developmental phase.
And it should not be ruled out that the Dolphins may choose a long-term quarterback in the first round.
If Gase has a special connection and special belief in a player like Josh Rosen or Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, and he pushes for that player to be chosen, it could certainly happen.
If so, how does Gase think Ryan Tannehill would react?
“Ryan would never shy away from anybody coming in at that position,” Gase said. “Ryan is going to be our starting quarterback. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. And I think that when we get back out there in spring and get going, I just know it’s going to be really good to have him back.”
The Dolphins did not draft a quarterback last season. It is also possible Miami could select a player such as Mike White, Luke Falk or Mason Rudolph in the second round, if they were to impress Gase, Dan Marino and Chris Grier here at the Scouting Combine.
If Adam Gase is ever in position to go for it on a red-zone fourth down at the Super Bowl, perhaps he’ll go to this play, a bold call that sparked Philadelphia’s upset of New England on Sunday night.
If Gase is ever in position to make a daring statement that the Miami Dolphins will not play afraid, perhaps he’ll go to the trick play that Eagles coach Doug Pederson chose. It was a play the Eagles actually borrowed from newly-hired Miami offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
The Eagles led the Patriots, 15-12, with less than a minute left in the first half and the ball at the Patriots’ 1-yard line. Instead of playing it safe, Pederson, the former Dolphins’ quarterback, called a play designed to end with quarterback Nick Foles catching a touchdown pass.
And it worked. And it set a tone for the rest of the game.
Foles lined up in the shotgun and walked up to the line of scrimmage to fake a protection call. The ball was then snapped to running back Corey Clement, who quickly pitched to tight end Trey Burton, the former Florida Gator and and a free agent who should interest the Dolphins.
Burton, who played some quarterback in Gainesville, then calmly passed to Foles, who had snuck out in the right flat untouched.
“I trust my players, I trust my coaches and I trust my instincts,” Pederson said. “I trust everything I’m doing, and I want to maintain that aggressiveness. In games like this, against a great opponent, you have to make those tough decisions that way and keep yourself aggressive.”
I was looking through Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl history and noticed that, yes, Pro Bowlers come and go.
In 2011, Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall made the Pro Bowl.
After the season, Miami shipped him to the Chicago Bears, for two third-round picks.
According to published reports at the time, Marshall’s strong personality was a concern for the Dolphins.
Marshall was a Pro Bowler the next two seasons, but representing the NFC.
In 2012, Dolphins guard Richie Ingognito made the Pro Bowl (and earned the team’s Good Guy Award).
But the next season, he was suspended (and then gone) in the wake of a Jonathan Martin bullying scandal.
Incognito is a recurring Pro Bowler now, but as a Buffalo Bill.
In 2013, Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes made the Pro Bowl.
He would make two more Pro Bowls as a Dolphin, and was even rewarded a long-term contract, before he was cut, after refusing to restructure his contract. I wasn’t covering the Dolphins then, but I’ve heard and read about some concerning “distractions.”
In 2016, Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi made the Pro Bowl.
As we know, he was jettisoned to Philadelphia during the next season (this season) and is preparing to play in a Super Bowl in Minnesota on Sunday.
Sure, Ajayi’s knees were a long-term concern, but really, this was more of a non-football decision, the organization believing they are better off without him and the personality dynamics he presented.
Which brings us to Landry.
Do the Dolphins really believe they are better off without Landry?
Because if it’s just about the difference between say, $13 million a year, and $14 million a year, work it out.
If it’s a bit about that and a bit about wondering if Landry’s potentially combustible personality may not be best for a long-term relationship, in my opinion, it is best to work it out.
Landry wants desperately to stay in Miami. And he should be rewarded. Not just for all those catches. Not just for the fact that he is most popular player on the Miami Dolphins.
But because any headaches he occasionally presents for coaches and or staffers and or his teammates are worth managing. They are worth sorting through. They are work working with.
Because Miami talks about keeping their own and who is more a Dolphin than Landry?
There is a lot of posturing going on, as can be the case during these negotiations. Which is more likely: the Dolphins and Landry miss each other, and regret not extending their relationship — or, in a few years, Miami is praised for their foresight in moving on?
You can guess where I would land in that poll.
Landry is competitive and determined and committed and is a threat, so much of a threat that Bill Belichick of the Patriots, who knows more than any of us, begins and ends his Dolphins game days talking about the importance of stopping Landry.
Landry plays the slot. So what. A weapon is a weapon is a weapon.
And Miami needs to lock up their weapons, not chase them out of town.
Landry is a legitimate Pro Bowler. He’s been a Pro Bowler three times and he’s just turned 25 years old.
There are 32 NFL teams, and about 64 NFL starting wide receivers, and the last time I checked, only one wide receiver — Landry — led the entire league with 112 catches. Nobody. Had. More.
That’s exactly the type of player Miami needs to be paying. And no offense to Jay Cutler, Julius Thomas, Andre Branch, Lawrence Timmons, Ted Larsen, T.J. McDonald, Nate Allen, or anyone else who’s recently cashed a check from the Miami Dolphins, but Landry deserves his big check.
Why wouldn’t he?
We don’t think Landry is going to end up requiring an Antonio Brown-type contract ($17 million a season) or A.J. Green-type contract ($15 million a season).
But it seems to us that in comparing Landry’s potential deal to T.Y. Hilton ($13 million a season, and signed in 2015), Landry deserves a bit more. The salary cap is increasing. Time has passed.
There would seem to be little reason that sweet spot of $13.5-$14 million a season can’t feel right for all involved.
All these numbers give me a headache.
Landry hauled in a 49-yard pass from Alex Smith in the first half of Sunday’s Pro Bowl, proving, I guess, that yes, he can haul in deep passes. If Alex Smith can make that pass, Ryan Tannehill sure can next year.
Pro Bowlers come and go, I guess.
But I was looking at the list of Miami Dolphins Pro Bowlers and it seems to me, Landry doesn’t really belong on a list with Brandon Marshall, Richie Incognito, Brent Grimes and Jay Ajayi.
Jarvis Landry belongs on a list with Dolphins Pro Bowlers like Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas.
He’s a Dolphin today. He should be a Dolphin next season, and at least three seasons after that.
Free agency’s had ups and downs for the Dolphins, and their most recent batch of deals didn’t work out particularly well in 2017.
Vice president Mike Tannenbaum didn’t want to get into specifics at the team’s season ending press conference, but it was clear he didn’t feel great about at least a couple of those acquisitions.
“We were 6-10; we’ve got to look at everything,” he said. “The decisions we made, did they live up to the value of what we paid? Why or why not? … As we sat here a year ago and talked about the guys we wanted to keep… we all felt that that was the right message to send to the locker room coming off of the season we did, how hard they worked, how much they were pushed by the coaches and how they responded.
“Building a long-term program, that was a key building block for us, to try to reward our own as much as possible and then move forward from there. With that said, not every decision maybe worked out perfectly, and we’re going to look at that, but we’re always going to try to lean towards taking care of our own before we look outward.”
Sometimes free agency is as much about players a team bypasses as the ones it signs, and the Dolphins let some problematic players leave last year. They also headed off some future contract concerns by extending Kiko Alonso and Reshad Jones early.
As far as players who were on the open market, here’s a look at how each deal went in Year 1:
WR Kenny Stills
Stills is one of the best bullet points on Tannenbaum’s time with the Dolphins. He got him cheap from New Orleans and re-signed him to a fair four-year, $32 million deal. Stills was second on the team with 58 catches, 847 yards and six touchdowns, and he goes into next season at 26. This one looks smart.
DE Andre Branch
Branch believed he found a home with the Dolphins, and a season of 5.5 sacks and 49 tackles got him a three-year, $24 million contract. He had a tough year due to injuries, but this one’s still a prudent deal for Miami. He had a $5 million cap hit this year and will count for $10 million next season. If he rebounds, the Dolphins have him for $9 million in 2019. If not, they can get out of it for $2 million.
LB Lawrence Timmons Bad, bad, bad. Miami thought Timmons was a solution to its linebacker problem and locked him up for two years, $12 million ($11 million guaranteed). He was OK. The season started terribly with him going AWOL before the opener, but now that actually looks good for the Dolphins because it enabled them to make the second year of his deal nonguaranteed. They’ll escape this mistake by good luck.
QB Jay Cutler The Cutler signing is unique because the Dolphins, and the rest of the league, passed on him when he was available in March. He went off to retirement and a broadcasting job and likely would’ve remained in that mode if not for a frantic phone call from Adam Gase when Ryan Tannehill went down for the year. This was a logical move at the time, but it didn’t prove profitable. The $10 million payment for what Cutler did this year wasn’t worth it.
G Ted Larsen The verdict on Larsen will wait another year because it seems highly unfair to judge his play in 2017 when he missed the first half of the year with a torn biceps and likely wasn’t ever back to full strength. He’s bounced around to four teams in his nine seasons, but the Dolphins saw him as a building block and secured him with a three-year, $5.7 million contract. They can get out of that for less than $1 million this offseason, but Larsen looks like he’s part of the 2018 plan.
S Nate Allen There weren’t huge expectations for Allen considering T.J. McDonald was penciled in to take over once his eight-game suspension ended, but Miami got just seven games, 20 tackles and one pass breakup from Allen for $3.4 million. That’s not a jarring number by any means, but it’s still one of the top 15 salary cap hits on the team.
G Jermon Bushrod It’d be interesting to hear Bushrod give an honest answer about whether he regrets delaying retirement to play for the Dolphins this season. The $3 million he earned might make him feel a little better about how things went. Even if he’d made it back from the foot injury that ultimately ended his season, it’s unlikely he would’ve supplanted Jesse Davis or Larsen in the starting lineup.
TE Julius Thomas* This one gets an asterisk because it technically wasn’t a free agent deal, but realistically that’s how the Dolphins got Thomas. They were going to cut Branden Albert, and the Jaguars were going to cut Thomas after two nondescript seasons, and the teams decided to work out a pair of trades to swap them. Thomas played for $5.6 million last season and turned in 41 catches, 388 yards and three touchdowns. Miami needs to spend a high draft pick on a tight end.
TE Anthony Fasano Picking up Fasano for $2.8 million as a contingency for Thomas proved wise. He’s a very good run blocker and would be worth bringing back if he’ll come cheaply. Fasano said at the end of the season he didn’t know whether he would continue playing.
LB Rey Maualuga This was fun until it wasn’t. Everybody laughed when Maualuga talked about trying to lose a bunch of weight to get himself back in shape and wanting to play offense, but the jokes became less funny as he tested the organization’s patience. He was cut the day before a game after an altercation at a nightclub. He came aboard for a little under $1 million.
S T.J. McDonald This was an excellent signing and an example of the Dolphins doing a good job mining the free agent class for undervalued talent. They got him on a one-year, $2.3 million deal, then after months of taking of stock of who he is as a player and a person, extended him through 2021. McDonald and Jones look like a good safety tandem for the next few seasons.
CB Alterraun Verner Verner had a cap hit of $695,000 and played well enough in training camp to put himself in contention with Byron Maxwell for a starting job going into the opener. Ultimately, Verner proved to be more of a special teams asset than anything else and played just 14.9 percent of the defensive snaps. It’d be surprising if he’s back next season.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.–The Dolphins are getting two starters back for tonight’s game against Carolina. Safety T.J. McDonald is back from an eight-game suspension, and left guard Ted Larsen is also making his Miami debut after making it back from a torn biceps.
On the flip side, there was a long list of injury concerns coming into this game. Most importantly for the Dolphins, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (knee), running back Damien Williams (illness) and defensive lineman William Hayes (hamstring) are good to go. Safety and core special teams player Michael Thomas was also in question with a knee injury and is dressed for the game.
Here are the Dolphins’ inactives tonight:
G Isaac Asiata
QB David Fales
WR Rashawn Scott
CB Jordan Lucas
CB Tory McTyer
LB Stephone Anthony
OT Zach Sterup
Some other notes on tonight’s lineup:
–Williams starts at running back for the second straight week. He’ll share with Kenyan Drake.
–The Dolphins will go with a new offensive line now that Larsen is playing. Laremy Tunsil stays at left tackle next to Larsen, center Mike Pouncey and right guard Jermon Bushrod start for the ninth straight game and backup guard Jesse Davis is in at right tackle. Ja’Wuan James was placed on Injured Reserve on Saturday.
–Jordan Phillips is listed as the starter at defensive tackle ahead of Davon Godchaux. Godchaux played more snaps out of the two in every game they’ve both been active.
DAVIE—Dolphins safety Michael Thomas threw himself to the forefront of a national controversy, one that grew to the point that it preoccupied the White House, and it has been worth it. While there is more he hopes to accomplish, he is celebrating the victory of sending one South Florida kid to college on full scholarship thanks to a new partnership with owner Stephen Ross.
Ross has often shown an interest in this type of work, but it’s likely this never would have come about if Thomas and other players around the NFL—including Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas, Arian Foster and Jelani Jenkins from the Dolphins—hadn’t made their statement by kneeling during the national anthem before games.
“I’d definitely say something positive came up out of it,” Thomas said. “He’s had a great heart from the jump. It should be contagious. If they see what we’re doing here, other teams can do it. And not just NFL. Other sporting teams, maybe other businesses, can see what’s been done here and they can take it.
“It’s not that complicated. They can copy and paste it in their business or their league. There’s a lot of work still to be done, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
The endeavor with Ross, titled the Project Change Scholarship, begins Dec. 1 and choose one Miami area high school student per year to receive fully paid tuition for four years of college.
Thomas will be on the selection committee, which requires students to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and 40 or more hours of community service per semester in social justice programs. Applicants also must submit an essay explaining what kind of change they want to see in their community and how the scholarship will help them achieve it.
The goal for Thomas is to sponsor kids who will return to South Florida as leaders after they graduate.
“We’re trying to make improvements in our community and see real change,” Thomas said. “One of the things I’ve been harping on for a while is trying to get some type of academic scholarship for the underprivileged youth here in Miami. That’s something the Dolphins could definitely do.
“It’s not just a one-year thing, but every single year moving forward we’d like to send at least one kid to college for free—absolutely free—and track them and have it where they actually come back and give back to the Miami community… Having that type of change and that type of impact in the community and knowing it came from the players taking their stance, that’s going to be something huge moving forward.”
OXNARD, Calif. — Davon Godchaux either doesn’t know or wasn’t saying if he’s starting at defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s season opener at the Los Angeles Chargers.
But either way, the youngest member of Miami’s projected starting defense is going to play a lot.
Godchaux, a 22-year-old rookie from LSU, knows what his first, second and third responsibilities will be.
“Melvin Gordon,” Godchaux (pronounced GOD-chaw) said after Friday’s practice. “He’s a physical back. He likes to run between the tackles. (The Chargers) like to run the ball. Last year we had a problem stopping the run. So this game we really want to come out and show we can stop the run.”
Godchaux has been first-team defensive tackle opposite Ndamukong Suh for most of the preseason, but Jordan Phillips has closed the gap a bit lately.
“We’re going to play the best guys for that week for those matchups,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said this week. “Tackle particularly, I mean they’re all going to play. We wave guys in there. We want to keep guys fresh. We feel good about the progress that Jordan (Phillips) and (Davon) Godchaux have made. I mean those guys are all going to play up front and like I said, we’ll just work our matchups in situations that we feel good about where we’re playing those guys. I have some clarity.”
Godchaux has proven to be a relentless worker with a commitment to fulfilling his potential.
“Just grind,” Godchaux said. “There are going to be tough times and adversity, but you have to overcome those obstacles. Just go after each and every moment that you’re in there. Whatever works for the defense. I’m here to do first team or second team. Whatever. I’m going to go in there and play my heart out. First or second team, it really doesn’t matter to me.”
In the preseason, Godchaux had seven tackles. Phillips had two tackles and one interception.
“I’m very ready,” Godchaux said. “I waited through a hurricane. So now we actually get to play. I want to see how it is. I want to play. I want to play fast. I want to get out there with Jordan Phillips, Ndamukong Suh, Cam Wake, William Hayes, Andre Branch, to get out there with those guys. I want to play fast. I want to enjoy it.”
OXNARD, Calif. — The Miami Dolphins will put the oldest defense in the NFL on the field this Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, according to ESPN.
The average age of a Dolphins’ starting defensive player is 28.18, tying Carolina and just ahead of Arizona, Seattle and Baltimore.
Cam Wake is Miami’s oldest starter, at 35.
Davon Godchaux is projected as Miami’s youngest starter, at 22.
The Dolphins are loaded with talented youngsters on offense, where the average age is 26.82.
Some of the older players on Miami’s defense are: Wake (35), Williams Hayes (32), Lawrence Timmons (31), Rey Maualuga (30), Ndamukong Suh (30), Nate Allen (29), Reshad Jones (29) and Byron Maxwell (29).
The Dolphins will need youngsters like Charles Harris (22), Raekwon McMillan (21), Xavien Howard (24) and Cordrea Tankersley (23) and Jordan Phillips (24) to emerge as impact players over the next three to four seasons.
The Dolphins have spent a lot of time and money on the sports science aspects of the game.
Coach Adam Gase has shown a willingness to listen to the experts as it relates to rest time both in games as well as in practice during the week.
Miami is scheduled to play 16 consecutive games, which could mean a few extra “veterans rest days” in-season for the veterans listed above.