With the airing of HBO's Hard Knocks, the Miami Dolphins demonstrated what a difference a year makes. With last year carrying so much uncertainty and a feeling of being mislead by ownership, the Dolphins appear to be a stable ground. For a once proud and championship franchise, the expectations are high and Coach Philbin and his staff are there to welcome the challenge.
Hard Knocks presented a few compelling story lines. First, the quarterback race was presented as personal stories that tug at the heart strings seeing behind the scenes moments of Matt Moore feeding his young baby and David Garrard playing with his kids at the lake. When it comes down to it, one has to see these two quarterbacks as family men and NFL quarterbacks with a lot to prove. In competition without Ryan Tannehill, Garrard and Moore appear to take control of the offense and demonstrate leadership in the meeting room and on the field.
The second story includes Ryan Tannehill and his abscence was like a black cloud hovering over the head quarters in Davie. While Tannehill was working out his contract, the 89 players on the roster had gotten in two full days of practice and were about to work in pads on day 3. On day 2 of camp, a very telling conversation with Dawn Aponte, an executive who deals with contracts for the Dolphins, shared her negotiations with Coach Joe Philbin as coming to the point that it was either Tannehill took the deal or he would not ever play for the Dolphins. This exchange was captured beautifully on camera and revealed the softer side of Jeff Ireland when he says that he hopes Tannehill is here and wants him to get the best deal that he can and sign and be a Dolphin. One could tell that the contentious negotiations were wearing on him. Not to mention, it was interesting how much the conversation of the negotiations was shared with Coach Joe Philbin since he does not carry personnel power. Of course seeing Ryan Tannehill sign with a picture of Dan Marino in the background was a glimpse of what the cameras at HBO feel is true, that Tannehill is the future of this franchise.
Laslty, the story of Derek Dennis being cut will either make or break the Miami Dolphins in the area of line depth. Even though they cut young Derek Dennis to bring aboard Eric Steinbach, a veteran one year removed from play due to back surgery, Derek Dennis has much to prove after getting another chance with the archrival New England Patriots. Dennis is cut in the first part of the episode and all he does is pass his conditioning test. However, Dennis handled the setback of being cut in stride and demonstrated mental toughness.
The Miami Dolphins franchise remain on the hearts and minds of all Dolfans that were on twitter tonight that viewed this opportunity to see the Dolphins in action as a sneak peak at years to come...years of success or years of failure. However, this much is evident, Coach Philbin won't put up with any garbage that keeps a team from championships. Just ask Chad Johnson!
The long awaited first Miami Dolphins depth chart came out today and it came with its fair share of surprises. Before fans overreact however note that even coach Philbin said the depth chart is far from finalized and there are still positional battles that need to be worked out.
That being said this is the first black and white information that Dolphins fans can get their hands on to see where this roster is going.
The entire depth chart is posted in a photo below.
No big surprise on the QB end as the buzz has officially turned into real material as the Dolphins listed David Garrard as the starting QB with Moore behind him and Tannehill as the 3rd string.
The big shocker of the depth chart was CB and former first round pick Vontae Davis was listed as a backup behind Richard Marshall.
The Dolphins also didn’t list Brain Hartline as a starting WR, the top 5 WR’s based on the depth chart are: Naanee, Bess, Chad Johnson, Brian Hartline, Julius Pruitt. It’s a little surprising that Roberto Wallace isn’t there despite a very strong camp.
This list also doesn’t bode well for the two rookie WR’s who also so UDFA Jeff Fuller above them.
Steve Slaton was listed above Lamar Miller which also is a little curious considering Miller’s strong start to camp.
It’s still very early, there is more practices to go down and pre season games to played, but the early depth chart did provide a couple of question marks. I can’t imagine that this will end up being the opening day starting depth chart, expect changes they will happen.
Perhaps this is just my opinion but while I believe Garrard will start I do believe his main competition is Ryan Tannehill and NOT Matt Moore. Moore’s place on this team might be the biggest question mark heading into week 1.
It also seems Chad Johnson is all but a lock to make the roster at this point.
Now that the Miami Dolphins have locked up Ryan Tannehill and all their draft picks, they rewarded their punter Brandon Fields with a new 4 year extension.
Brandon Fields who dominated last year in punting with 78 punts and a 48.8 average for 3,810 yards. For punters, pinning back the opponent inside the 20 yard line is critical where Fields placed the ball in the 20 a whopping 32 times and 41.0% of his punts landed in the 20.
Fields comes off of a pro bowl caliber season, however he did not get selected this season. Undoubtedly on special teams, Fields serves a critical role as the holder on extra points and field goals where the Dolphins have had success over the years.
Fields stands to make more than most punters, but 5th most among all punters. He will earn 13.3 million with about 3.3 million guaranteed.
Now that the Dolphins have locked up Brandon Fields, is it time to look at other extension candidates? Is Jake Long Next???
Another exciting day at the Davie today as SI’s Peter King was around as well as the always entertaining Chad Johnson spoke to the media for the first time.
First off here are a couple of tweets that King put out after practice.
DAVIE, Fla.--Mia thoughts 1: Philbin working Fins at fastest pace I've seen on trip. Tells me he wants to see max snaps for 3 competing QBs.
Mia thoughts 2: Will see only 1 practice, but Garrard was by far the best QB today. Moving well, throwing downfield accurately, knows the O.
Mia thoughts 3: Tannehill had some good throws ... Davone Bess having top camp of WRs. Upstart 6-4 SD St FA Roberto Wallace terrific today.
Mia thoughts 4: Wake adjusting from 3-4 to 4-3 olb. Says he's okay with it ... Great to see one of my favorites, Al Harris, loving coaching. Mia correction: Meant Wake going from 3-4 olb to 4-3 DE. Put on 10 pounds to fight through traffic and play the run.
Mia thoughts 5: Harris is a minority coaching intern ... Hard Knocks doesn't seem oppressive ... Chad Johnson working hard. Philbin likes.
Worth taking note that King was not the only one impressed with Wallace as he seems to be turning heads all camp. Wallace seems like a lock to make the roster with his impressive play to date; while rookie BJ Cunningham might be one of the odd WR’s left out. Clyde Gates also could be given the door with his lack of success last year, and inability to hit the field and make an impression yet.
Ben Voiln of the PBP put out a recap of 85’s interviews with some of the questions and answers below.
How’s camp going?
What do you make of Hard Knocks?
“I’m really not paying the cameras any attention. I’m just going. I don’t care to indulge with them, I don’t pay attention, but whatever they catch, they catch.”
How much humbler are you now after what happened last season?
“Nothing’s changed. I’ve always been humble. But when it’s time to play the game, I’ve got to be me. I’m not a bad guy at all. I have fun. I give you guys things to write about, and I will do the same this year also. I got to make up for a year’s worth of work, so you guys are going to be working double time.”
Are you just as fast as you were before?
“Are you watching? Have you been out there? I’m fast as shit.”
The rest of the Q & A can be seen on the attached link. You can see Ocho or Johnson certainly hasn’t lost his unique personality.
While the rest of the media is focused on the emergence of Ryan Tannehill early in camp and how the defense looks, one has to look beyond the training camp battles and look at the man running the show: Head Coach Philbin.
One thing is for sure that Coach Philbin is a brilliant mind that brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. He has never been a head coach, but he has been around long enough to acquire knowledge based on a multitude of experiences.
His way of addressing players is first evident when Chad Johnson complained he was open and did not get enough touches.
What did he do? Did he reprimand Chad? No. He went to David Garrard and said he did agree with Chad on some of the throws and to be aware that Chad was open. That's it. His calm demeanor shows that he can work with players.
He reminds me of many coaches over the years. He reminds me of Don Shula.
The comparison can be lofty, but Philbin will be great for Miami. Win or lose this season, he's going to put his stamp on this team.
Win or lose, Philbin's brilliance is defined by a practice regimen that might seem uncommon for the pro game. Where 7 on 7 drills are typically conducted one team at a time with players watching, Philbin has first and second teamers on both sides of the field so he can evaluate both first and second team units. Every player touches the practice field and is constantly moving. It must be mass chaos from afar, but amidst the chaos comes beauty of a team gelling together and finding it's niche.
Win or lose, Philbin brings a positive energy to the meeting rooms by hiring the best staff to get the Dolphins to the next step. Sure Mike Sherman was hired for the offense, but it's not the offense that will be the focal point of this team. It's the defense and how Kevin Koyle is going to make the newly established 4-3 a force to be reckoned with. Philbin earns respect immediately for his ability to delegate the duties to his coaches, place trust in them, but he still has his finger on the pulse and attends meetings for offense and defense.
Is Philbin coaching from the sidelines by calling plays? No. Coach Mike Sherman is going to call all plays down to the field. This is brilliant.
See, Philbin has changed the way things have been done in Miami in the past. Coaches that have called plays, coaches that were hesitant to challenge a call, go for it on fourth down.
Coach Philbin brings smart, tough, football to Miami and a lot of the team's success will be because of his knowledge and experience.
(Photo Credit: South Florida Sun-Sentinel)