……and the Miami Dolphins
The weekend is here which means the rest of preseason football for week 1 is here. The Jets and Patriots already got their scrimmage out of the way on Thursday which means that the other two teams still get to play on Friday and Saturday. Now we get the Fins and Bills of Buffalo to wrap up the week.
Gase It Up Dolphins Style
The Dolphins start their new era of getting stronger together against the only NFC team that has beaten Tom Brady. This will be the beginning of the Adam Gase era so this will give us an idea of what the team will look like week 1.
A) The New Offense
The Dolphins will be running their 3rd offense in 5 years as Gase will run an offense that is different than what Sherman and Lazor ran before. While it will mainly be a base offense with not a whole lot of stuff that will be used week 1, it will give us a clear picture of what the offense will be in the regular season. The person everyone will be watching is Ryan Tannehill who seems to be the scapegoat for all the problems of the Miami Dolphins since Marino retired. His comfort level in running the base offense will be crucial in determining if he returns to his 2014 form. It will also be interesting to see about the RB situation now that they finally got rid of Lamar Miller. I expect them to run a lot who the go to guy will be is still something to be determined and this will be a big first step for Jay Ajayi to hopefully seize that role.
B) The Worst CB Group in the NFL
The Dolphins have one of the top safeties in the NFL in Reshad Jones. However their corner back position is probably one of the worst. They let go of Brent Grimes for issues that were out of his control and replaced him with Byron Maxwell who only fits in a Cover Three defense. They also drafted Xavier Howard who is from the Brandon Browner school of cornerback play. The cornerback play will be something to definitely watch as their new defensive coordinator was the defensive backs coach with the Bengals (just like his predecessor Kevin Coyle). Who steps up at cornerback will be big as unless they want to rely on winning shootouts like they did in 2014, they need better play on defense this year.
The Team Of Destiny…….hopefully
The Buffalo Bills are back and Rexier than ever with Rob Ryan joining the Bills. They start off preseason against the Colts and the important players (Watkins, McCoy) not playing. The starters will play the first quarter but like all preseason games, this will be more about the rotational players and who earns the backup roles that are expected to play at least 50% of the snaps this season.
A) The Flash
This is a weird year as for the first time in what seems like a long time, every starter on offense is returning from last year. The top 2 WRs, OL, TE, QB and RB are all returning from last year which has made the competition on offense not as interesting as before. However there are two important positions that are still being sorted out which this preseason game will focus on. The #3 WR and backup RB are still up in the air as Los Williams will be facing a suspension and the Bills losing their #3 last year in Chris Hogan. The early standout in training camp for the #3 WR is Flash Goodwin who has made plays in his young career but just gets the unluckiest injuries. He is currently the frontrunner and should be playing at least the first half. The other competitor is Dez Lewis who is the big guy on offense and has also made plays. He suffered a nasty collision yesterday so his status is up in the air but if he plays, expect to see him be used a lot in the redzone. For the backup RB position it is also up in the air. James Wilder, Jonathan Williams and Mike Gillislee are all battling for the change of pace role whenever Shady takes a breather or is injured. Gillislee has the most production in actual NFL games which makes him the early frontrunner. However James Wilder Jr has been playing the best of them all and is nearly impossible to bring down. Jonathan Williams was the draft pick this year however seems to be in the doghouse ever since his arrest for driving while intoxicated. All three should be used a lot as Shady won’t be playing and Reggie Bush won’t be used much either.
B) The Kicking Competition and Other Stuff
Dan Carpenter had a rough year last year missing a couple of XPs and FGs and ended up in the Rex doghouse. The Bills didn’t really go out of their way to get competition, only signing a kicker who wasn’t any good who they quickly cut. No his only competition is kickoff specialist Jordan Gay. Gay has been ok as a FG kicker which with his ability to actually do kickoffs might give him the leg up on Dan Carpenter who is a liability on kickoffs. Both should be used in kickoffs and FGs this game and hopefully the Bills don’t keep the stupid kickoff specialist this year.
Other than that there isn’t much to look at. On defense should hope no more LBs get hurt and the only real battle might be for the 4-6 CBs on the depth chart. There is a couple names to watch though who might win rotational roles on the defensive line and edge. Undrafted Free Agent Justin Zimmer is a physical freak and has made a lot of plays in training camp. He looks to be able to be the backup to Kyle Williams and Adolphous Washington. Eric Striker is another player to watch. Undersized, Striker went undrafted because he doesn’t fit any specific position. The Bills have been moving him around to edge rusher, box safety and even a little ILB. He has done a really good job in rushing the passer as his quickness has let him get past the RT a lot of times. I would like to see him do that against starters but that might be something for next week. Those two guys are who I will be watching on defense as both are sleepers to making a big contribution this year. Those two guys and seeing Cardale Jones try to throw it over the mountain will be the things we will be seeing a lot of this game.
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