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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
Now that it has been a few days since McDaniel got hired, here is what I am noticing.
1. I have watched videos of him in coaching meetings and talking to players. He is very specific in his feedback and his thoughts. Pays attention to detail. Explains to players why they do things a certain way. How does it affect the other team? For example, why they run a route a certain way in a play to do what to the corner and the safety. To make the defense make a decision and at that point, the quarterback makes a decision on where to go with the ball. Letting the wide receiver know how his specific route influences the play. When talking to other coaches in meetings, he talks a lot about how to connect with players. So he has the Xs and Os and the player relationship philosophy in place.
2. He comes off as a guy to underestimate. His voice is a little wobbly, almost like a teenager at times. But when you listen to what he is saying, it makes a ton of sense. He's a common-sense guy and thinks about things in very clear, succinct ways. Obviously, we know he has a sense of humor and we'll have some entertaining press conferences.
3. The biggest thing I have noticed is how decisive he has been in hiring assistants. It almost seems like he already had a plan in place before getting hired and he is executing it with vicious efficiency. And clearly, all of the hires on the offensive side of the ball are geared towards bringing in teachers to teach offensive line play and to design an impactful running game. There is a clear theme. A far cry from having co-offensive coordinators and some third guy sometimes also calling plays. Hopefully, this means we won't see Tua dropping back 42 times in bad weather when a running back has a 7 ypc average gain.
4. With the amount of cap room we have after a 9-8 season, this could be a very quick retool. Two of McDaniel's offensive linemen at San Fran will be hitting the market and they are both good players. It would only make sense to throw some money at the offensive line for a quick turnaround with good players that already know the scheme. I'd be disappointed if we don't acquire at least one of them.
5. McDaniel talks a lot about YAC. That means that while there is clearly a place on the team for Waddle and probably Gaskin catching passes out of the backfield, there will be changes to the wide receivers as we seem to have a couple of jump ball guys who can't gain separation. You need a guy like that for red zone and back-shoulder throws, but you need someone that can create some quick separation and make a move or two to get YAC. So expect some changes at WR.
And then in 2023, we have two first-round picks to make moves if necessary. Hopefully, at that point we are "close" and we will have that flexibility to get the player we want.
Duke Johnson has been quite a find for the Dolphins. 117 yards on the ground and a touchdown. The Dolphins running game was very productive gaining 195 yards on the ground (38 of these gained by Tua).
Xavien Howard ends the season with a bang, picking off a Mac Jones pass for a touchdown.
The offensive line was so bad in pass protection, that on obvious passing downs there was almost no hope that the offense would be able to convert.
The passing game started off well, but once Bellicheck figured out how to stop the short, quick passes, it went downhill. Obviously this is mostly a byproduct of the Dolphins offensive line being unable to consistently pass protect. It was clear on obvious passing plays (for example, plays with empty backfield) that the Dolphins offensive line would not be able to hold up. Conversely, you often (not always) saw Mac Jones get enough time to throw on obvious passing situations once the Patriots figured out how to counter the Dolphins pressure.
Two winning seasons in a row, but two season where we miss the playoffs. It is clear to me that the highest priority on this team is the offensive line. It doesn't have to be an elite offensive line, just an effective one. This offensive line is ranked 32nd in pass protection and 31st in run blocking (surprising there is one worse than the Dolphins at run blocking). Four out of the five players are replaceable. At one point in the season, the top three worst players in pressures allowed were Dolphins offensive linemen (Eich, Jackson, Davis). I'm not sure if that is still the case, but I am sure those guys are still near the top of the list.
If the Dolphins could field even an average offensive line, I believe the entire offense would be significantly more productive. The lack of pass protection severely limits the Dolphins passing game. Everything is based on RPO and short quick passes. At some point, to win a game, an offense must be able to run pro pass sets in obvious passing situations. The offensive line must be able to afford the quarterback a clean pocket from which to throw to in order to convert obvious passing third downs. The offensive line must open holes for running backs in obvious running situations as well. The RPO affords an effective but limited option to mask offensive line deficiencies. At the end of the day, a team needs to be able to block to win.
Unfortunately, all of the chatter points to the Dolphins going after a quarterback facing a significant number of sexual assault allegations (Deshaun Watson). As a back-up plan, there are rumors that they could go after a 34-year old stat-padder (Kirk Cousins). Instead of effectively addressing an issue that has plagued the Dolphins for over a decade, they will most likely throw money and picks at a high risk player that might not even suit up. I hope that turns out not to be the case. I would rather see Tua get an opportunity with better surrounding talent and draft competition for him.
Until next season....