Category Archives: Dolphins

AFC East Season Preview

Like the fall turning into winter and winter turning into spring season, it seems like a Patriots division title is a yearly occurrence. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick rule over the AFC East with no mercy. The team so many love to hate is consistent as the change of seasons. This year we may have the same result but it will be a lot more interesting.

The Patriots will win the division. They had a strong group of free agent signings that will make them stronger defensively. Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner will help the secondary. Will Smith is a very underrated signing that will help the defensive line. Last season New England managed to have a competent defense despite injury after injury. The 2014 Patriots have bigger goals than just competent performance from their defense. Last season Tom Brady showed how remarkable he really is. He led the Pats to an AFC Championship appearance with a pedestrian set of offensive weapons. Much with the Patriots offense is up to Rob Gronkowski staying healthy. When healthy, New England can have a special offense. When he is on the sideline its just good.

The Patriots may have more competition than they’ve had in recent years. The New York Jets hit a home run in free agency and had a remarkable draft. Michael Vick is not a great quarterback, but he gives the offense a sense of legitimacy that Geno Smith couldn’t provide. He also has small flashes of brilliance. Erik Decker is a very good and reliable receiver. The Jets also got a big matchup nightmare tight end of their own, when they drafted Jace Amaro. Amaro and Jeff Cumberland make one of the best tight end duos in the league; expect to see a lot of 12 personnel sets from the Jets. The Jets also signed veteran running back Chris Johnson. They focused heavily on offense this offseason. They went 9-7 last season with abysmal quarterback play. With the major improvements they have made they can possibly be a 10 win team if they just get serviceable play from Michael Vick.

The Dolphins are going to be competitive, but I predict they finish third in the AFC East. Once again the Dolphins were players in free agency. They signed two decent cornerbacks in Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes as well as Louis Delmas at free safety. Their biggest splash was getting Brandon Albert to be their left tackle. The Dolphins draft was mainly a head scratcher, but Jarvis Landry will be a productive receiver. They drafted two tackles in Ja’Waun James and Billy Turner and they are expected to start one of them at guard. Miami was an 8-8 team last year and I don’t think much has changed. They will be better on defense but the offense still has some question marks. I still am hesitant to say they’ve addressed their offensive line problems correctly. The Dolphins are in my eyes behind the Patriots and the Jets. With a tough schedule it will be hard for them to make the playoffs.

The Bills got better offensively drafting a superstar in Sammy Watkins. They also added former Buccaneer, Mike Williams. This should help bring along the young EJ Manuel under center. The Bills lost Jairus Byrd in free agency which was a blow to the defense. The moral of the story (long story short) is that Buffalo will be an exciting team to watch but they are not quite there yet.

While we will likely get the same result of a Patriots division title it will be more interesting than usual. The Jets will make a strong push and be in the mix for a wild card spot. It would not be a stretch to see Miami in the hunt as well. It should be a fun 2014 season in the AFC East.

Draft Grades AFC East

New England Patriots: D+

The New England Patriots did not have their typical solid draft. While the Patriots are not afraid to be unconventional, they were actually ineffective. They had a reach in round 1, taking Dominique Easly. Easly was far from the best defensive lineman available. I had a 3rd round grade on Easly in a deep defensive line crop. Then the Patriots drafted Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garappolo. While Brady is getting up there in age, this was a head scratcher. Garappolo impressed at the Senior Bowl, but there are concerns with his ability to make all the throws. New England took Bryon Stork in the fourth round. Stork has short arms, a red flag for centers. The Patriots reached & reached. They can say it was a “future” oriented draft, but it was not good.

Miami Dolphins: D-

The Dolphins wanted to rebuild their offensive line; and they forced it. They drafted two offensive tackles in the first three rounds after signing left tackle Brandon Albert in free agency. The 19th overall pick, Ju’Waun James, was the worst reach of the entire draft, I had him as a 5th round talent. Billy Turner was good value but it was odd to draft another tackle. The Dolphins forced drafting for need, and ended up with very little value. Their one good pick was LSU receiver Jarvis Landry.

Buffalo Bills: C-

The Bills traded next years first and fourth round picks and swapped spots with Cleveland at 4. The trade was too much. They did draft a great player in Sammy Watkins. They then traded veteran Stevie Johnson to San Francisco for a low value of a fourth round pick next year. Taking Cyrus Kuandjio in the second round was unforgivable, especially with Morgan Moses & Billy Turner still on the board. Kuandjio is huge but already has knee problems and has surprisingly little upper body strength for his size. They had a few questionable picks. They grabbed a couple of good picks in Ross Cockrell and Cyril Richardson. They had 3 good selections out of 7.

New York Jets A

While it was surprising they took Calvin Pryor over Clinton-Dix; the Jets got a good safety and the one they preferred.
Jace Amaro in round 2 was a great value and a great pick. Maryland cornerback, Dexter McDoogle was an awesome pick; if it were not for McDoogle’s injury he’d be a first rounder. Jalen Saunders was the only reach with the 104th overall selection. Dakota Dozier was great value in round 4.

Team Needs AFC North, AFC East

Chris Schisler

AFC North
1.) Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have two major needs. They need a free safety to pair with last years first pick Matt Elam. Baltimore also needs a right tackle. Right tackle is not typically a position drafted. Don’t be surprised if the Ravens try to find the long term solution at wide receiver. With the uncertainty around Ray Rice Baltimore will probably use one of their third round picks on a running back.

2.) Cleveland Browns: The Browns have a good team, they really do. To show the world this they will need a franchise quarterback. They also need a receiver to pair with Josh Gordon. Running back is also a need.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have a handful of needs. They need a free safety and should also look for the aging number 43 as well. The Steelers need a receiver and a cornerback.

4.) Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals biggest need is defensive end. A guy like Kony Ealy would make a lot of sense.

AFC East

1.) New England Patriots: The Patriots need weapons for Tom Brady. I expect them to draft a wide receiver. They could also use help on the defensive line.

2.) Miami Dolphins: I don’t think the dolphins are satisfied at wide receiver. Their biggest need however is help on the offensive line.

3.) New York Jets: With Eric Decker signed in free agency the Jets are less receiver needy. I could still see them drafting one though. I think their biggest need however is cornerback.

4.) Buffalo Bills: The Bills need more explosion offensively. This would be a common sense landing spot for tight end Eric Ebron. The Bills will also look for help at right tackle and in the secondary.

Is Jonathan Martin An Option For Ravens?

By Chris Schisler

Jonathan Martin is eyeing a return to football following his controversial departure from the Miami Dolphins. It does not look like Martin could or would want to return to Miami. However he is still under his 4 year rookie contract that was inked in 2012. One way or another it looks like Martin could play for another team next season. The Ravens are desperate for offensive tackles. The question remains is Martin an option for the Ravens?

Martin’s contract would be affordable for the Ravens to take on. Martin would fill a gaping whole on the Ravens roster; assuming Michael Oher is not resigned to play right tackle. If Martin is allowed to pursue other NFL employment I would think he would be appealing to Baltimore.

Martin would come with some pretty heavy baggage. Many people question if Martin will ever be truly accepted in an NFL locker room. Martin who felt bullied by Richie Incognito and others in Miami, removed himself from the situation. Some see this as a man doing what he had to do to take care of himself. I would think the majority of NFL players thought Martin abandoned his team and caused trouble.

This is something I think the Ravens are built to deal with. John Harbaugh is a players coach. There is no situation he will shy away from- that is just not in the Harbaugh DNA. If players did not want to embrace Martin, Harbaugh would ease the situation. If Martin was an actual cause of problems Harbaugh would not tolerate it. The Ravens have had strong chemistry in the Harbaugh era. It is also worth noting that the Ravens are a model organization and the Dolphins have not been one for a long time.

I think Martin is misunderstood and troubled. I believe the relationships in the Dolphins team crossed the line. Martin felt uncomfortable and he removed himself from the problem. If Jonathan Martin did not feel safe going to work or was dealing with crisis, who are we to judge how he dealt with it?

I don’t believe this was a money grab. This situation is going to cause him problems on some level anywhere he goes. The good career move would have been to handle the bullying in house and play well. Jonathan Martin did not feel like he could manage that. Martin needed help and did not trust the organization to give it to him.

Bullying is something I believe can happen in any environment. We tend to think of it as something that goes extinct after we leave the middle school playground; forgetting that it can affect people of all ages. If I have learned anything in my short 23 years it is that the human condition is very fragile. The emotions associated with bullying can have dramatic impacts on health and can lead to depression and suicide.

I have no clue what happened. None of us really do. If Martin was bullied his actions made sense. He snapped after a long and constant exposure to being bullied. He felt isolated and trapped and he did not see any solution to his problem; depression tends to blind people to proper perspective. If he was in fact bullied his actions are not that hard to understand.

No matter what you believe happened you should be willing to give Martin a return into the NFL. The Ravens have always been willing to give second chances. The organization stood by Ray Lewis and Jamal Lewis through legal issues. When they believe in a player the Ravens have no problem giving him a second chance. If general manager Ozzie Newsome values Martin he will not hesitate to get him in purple, at the right price.

Martin is a decent tackle, and would be a good tackle to play opposite of left tackle Eugene Monroe. He won’t break the bank. Why wouldn’t the Ravens at least be interested in Jonathan Martin? He would fill a void on the roster. For now it’s just an interesting option to consider.

Quick Thoughts On Football: Situation in Miami

There has been much talk about the Miami Dolphins this week, sadly none of it has been about football. Instead we are talking about bullying in the locker room and two broken men. Richie Incognito is the culprit in the spotlight behind the breakdown of Jonathan Martin.

Martin left the team, afraid to come to work. Incognito has been suspended indefinitely and his career in Miami may be over. As the story continues to unfold it does not look promising that it will get less messy.

There is much we do not know. There is also a lot of misinformation that is coming from both sides. That’s okay the big picture is what is important here.

I think we have a lot of misperceptions of bullying. Bullying is not limited to middle school, or the sandbox and it is not a child limited experience. Bullying is not just a physical thing,(at least in my experience) nothing is more dangerous than verbal abuse. Bullying is probably the worst word to use, because of the misperceptions that come with it. Though regardless of what you call it, it happened. It is not acceptable for this to happen inside a football team. This is a professional environment and people must act accordingly.

The problem with bullying is that the victim is often considered the problem. I can speak personally to this as I was hounded by a bully throughout the 7th grade. I would have emotional outbursts, I would tell teachers, and I became the problem they had to deal with. The victim usually has very few people on his side in the first place. It should not take someone who has been bullied to realize that bystanders are essentially condoning it.

Not surprisingly the Bully, Richie Incognito, has the support of the Miami Dolphins locker room. The players have spoken. You can’t turn on ESPN or NFL Network or any sports radio station without hearing the quotes from Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline. I won’t bore you with what you can’t avoid and already know; but know that this is not atypical of a bullying situation.

For those who take Richie Incognito’s side do so with caution. There is a reason he has bounced from several teams and accrued a nasty reputation. This is what we have come to expect from Incognito and what the Dolphins unfortunately seem to like.

For those who say Jonathon Martin is suing for money: please just go away. Has anyone forgotten that Martin plays football professionally. If he was looking for a pay day he would still be playing football. Last time I checked the average NFL tackle makes pretty good money. This is not a money grab by Martin and he is not doing this just to do it. This damages his career and reputation as unfair as that is.

The moral of this still developing story is that bullying exists in many different forms and is poorly understood. Everyone seemingly has an opinion. The majority believe that Martin should punch Incognito in the face. This approach is as naïve as it gets. This can only worsen the situation. The Dolphins need to handle this issue so I can talk about how their running game has developed over the last three weeks or how they create A Gap pressure so effectively against midline quarterbacks. I don’t want to talk about bullying, but that is what is pressing at the moment. It is a serious issue and the big picture (how we change our understanding of bullying) is the most important thing.

Big Time Win

The Baltimore Ravens traveled to Miami desperate for a win; they did not leave disappointed. In a roller coaster of a game the Ravens were victorious. The 26-23 win was a huge building block for a team without a road win in 2013.

The Ravens had a lot of good, and a lot if bad on display during the win. It was not a completely pretty performance.

The offensive line had its troubles. Bryant McKinnie was lazy and played an uninspired game; which should not surprise anyone. AQ Shipley came in and played adequately . The pass protection was lousy especially in the A gaps.

The Ravens were shorthanded in the receiving core, with only 3 active WR. Torrey Smith had a huge day and Tandon Doss had a big game. Ed Dickson finally had a good performance.

The Ravens were much more committed to the running game. The running game was still not great but showed signs on life. Ray Rice was involved in the passing game. The Ravens were much improved offensively but still have a ton of work to do.

The defense was very good. They gave up a few big plays but held the Dolphins to mostly field goals. The pass rush was dominant. If Terrell Suggs is not the defensive player of the year, I don’t know who is. Sizzle plays great week in and week out. The secondary had a pretty good day overall against a team with many weapons.

This was a big win for the Ravens. At 3-2, all their goals are in front of them. The Ravens biggest problem was the embarrassing play of Bryant McKinnie. He won’t play next week. The Ravens win on the road will act as a foundation for bigger & better things to come.

Ravens Gameplan Week 5 | Chris Schisler

Ravens Gameplan Week 5 | Chris Schisler

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Every week Common Sense Football brings you a comprehensive scouting report and game plan to get you ready for every Ravens Sunday. This week the Ravens take their talents to South beach as they face the Miami Dolphins. Through our film study at common sense football we try to get you ready like the pros.

Scouting Report

The Miami Dolphins offense can be both highly productive and highly dysfunctional. The Dolphins are 3-1. After an impressive 3-0 start in which they beat Cleveland, Indianapolis and Atlanta the Dolphins got manhandled in New Orleans. Tannehill turned the ball over, the Dolphins pass protection was non-existent and Miami was helpless against the Drew Brees led onslaught.

The Miami offense is all about their tempo. They favor going no huddle and the way they do it makes them predictable and simplistic. Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline stay on their respective sides for the majority of offensive snaps. Really the only difference in their formations is where tight end Charles Clay aligns and where the runningback aligns. The Dolphins do use other personnel packages but the Dolphins only seem comfortable with 11 personnel. Tannehill alternates from shotgun to pistol mostly but also plays under center.

The play calling is simplistic but often effective. They love the zone read, and Tannehill is a great running threat. The offense is all about the short passing game, and they have a bevy of different screens. The go to guy is not the highly paid Mike Wallace but Brian Hartline. Wallace is used frequently as a deep threat/ decoy to open up Hartline and Brandon Gibson. The offensive line is adequate. Their tackles struggle in both pass protection and run blocking. Guard Richard Incognito and center Mike Pouncey are the leaders of the offensive line. The Dolphins have failed to show any consistency when it comes to their zone run blocking.

The strength of the Dolphins defense is the front seven. They have very fast interior linebackers in former Raven Dannell Ellerbee and Phillip Wheeler. They love to send pressure up the middle because of their speed. The linebacking core is very instinctual in run defense and is very aggressive. The defensive line is very stout especially when trying to run inside. Obviously when you talk Dolphins defense Cameron Wake is your major concern. He has been recovering from a knee injury and may or may not play. The secondary is aggressive and their corners love to play man to man coverage. The Dolphins give up huge yardage to running backs in the passing game, and Darren Sproles burned them all day. Miami’s defense is not dominant but it is no push over either.

Game plan Offense:

New Orleans Saints v Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have to protect Joe Flacco. This is priority 1 especially because the Dolphins have a stout run defense and can pressure the passer. The Ravens have a conundrum in this matchup. They need to get Ray Rice involved as a receiving threat, but they will need a back in pass protection. My answer is a heavy dose of fullback Vonta Leach. I want the base offense to be 20 personnel meaning 2 backs 0 tight ends and 3 wide receivers. Out of the shotgun have Rice on one side and Vonta Leach on the other side of Flacco. Rice’s job will be to run and catch the ball, Leach’s job will be pass protection.

The Dolphins do two things well that have given the 2013 Ravens fit. The first is sending fast linebackers up the middle, which we addressed with Vonta Leach. The second is playing man aggressive man coverage. The Ravens have to find the sweet match ups and milk them for all they’re worth. Many times that will be Ray Rice on a safety or a linebacker. I want to see some Texas routes, some flat and ups, wheel routes, screens and good old fashioned swing routes from Ray Rice on Sunday. The Ravens probably won’t be able to get the running game magically solved in a week, but they need to get Rice 25 touches regardless. Ray Rice will be the difference maker in this game at least he should be.

Gameplan Defense:

terrell-suggs

Two things will win the Ravens this football game, sacks and turnovers. Tannehill is a quarterback slot machine; which is a good reason the Dolphins are -1 in the turnover category. The Ravens need Terrell Suggs to be dominant. They need to stay disciplined against the zone read. A good way to defend this is what is called gap exchange. In this you crash the defensive end, the quarterback reads keep it and a linebacker blows him up. Another good defense for the zone read is to slant the defensive tackle to the play side, which helps the defensive end. The Dolphins are not a great running team. They are dependent on the zone read to give them some cheap yards, the Ravens cannot allow this.

The Ravens corners must be aggressive with Miami’s receivers at the line. The Saints were able to get turnovers and sacks by breaking up the timing of the play. Tannehill loves to throw quick almost immediate passes inside; the corners need to be able to jump the routes. Aggressive safety play means both of your safeties must play well. Wallace is the only one who is a great deep threat. The safeties cannot allow the deep pass. Playing our safeties deep may make us more susceptible to the run, but that really is not the dolphins MO.

The defense must be aggressive and relentless at all three levels. I want turnovers. I want sacks. The only way to free up the front seven to do crazy stunts and blitzes is being able to man up on their receivers. If the Ravens do not get to Tannehill it will be a bad day. Sacks, quarterback hurries and turnovers are what the Ravens need. Remember Tannehill runs with the ball loose, put your helmet on the football and pop that bad boy out.

LET’S GO GET IT!

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