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The Dolphins in 2020: What Does the Season Hold – The D-Line (Part Two)

By Kevin Hood

Welcome to Party two. We will be Continuing in the trenches, let’s take a look at the Defensive line.

The Dolphins ran a hybrid defensive front last year, running both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts. I expect that trend to continue this year but lean more toward a primarily 3-4 due to the addition of better edge defenders via free agency and late-round draft picks.

The Defensive holdovers on the line are last year’s 1st round pick Christian Wilkins, 2017 5th round over achiever Davon Godchaux, and late-season waiver claim gem Zach Sieler.

With the lack of production from the Dolphins secondary in 2019, it is hard to put much weight in the stat line for our holdovers. I fully expect these numbers to improve with the injection of talent over the offseason in Byron Jones and returning Xavien Howard. At the same time, Bobby McCain gets another offseason to adjust to safety.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Davon Godchaux:  

713 SNAPS, 445 4-3 DT, 162 3-4 NT, 95 3-4 END

64.1 OVR GRADE, 67.5 RUN GRADE, 54.2 PASS RUSH GRADE

2 SCK, 5 QB HITS, 11 HURRIES, 1 BAT, 52 TKL, 15 AST, 9 MISS TKL,

Davon Godchaux, like all Dolphins down linemen, moved around to keep the offense guessing. He played more snaps at the 3-4 NT position than his Dolphins teammates, and I expect that trend to continue. He led all DT in tackles for 2019, and with the addition of Raekwon Davis to the team, I believe the sky’s the limit for his 2020 campaign.

I would hate to predict a lock to start the year, but it would be a crime to bench someone with that kind of production and leadership. That said, The nine missed tackles leave plenty of room for improvement.

Christian Wilkins:

729 SNAPS, 457 4-3 DT, 81 3-4 NT, 141 3-4 END

64.4 OVR GRADE, 66.6 RUN GRADE, 58.6 PASS RUSH GRADE

2 SCK, 2 QB HIT, 26 HURRIES, 1 BAT, 35 TKL, 21 AST, 2 MISS TKL,

29 STOPS

Christian Wilkins also moved around the line. Unlike Godchaux, his limited snaps at NT suggest the Dolphins see him more as a gap penetrator than double team space eater. The selection of Raekwon Davis in round 2 of the draft this year does point to the coaching staff wanting their defensive linemen to be interchangeable, so nothing is definite.

I expect big things from Wilkins this year. The improved secondary and edge defenders should also improve his pass rush; his 26 hurries suggest he is capable of more than two sacks. I expect Wilkins to compete and ultimately win a starting job this season.

Zach Sieler:

79 SNAPS, 74 4-3 DT, 15 3-4 NT, 24 3-4 END

74.7 OVR GRADE, 75.3 RUN GRADE, 69.8 PASS RUSH GRADE

1 SCK, 0 QB HIT, 3 HURRIES, 2 BAT, 5 TKL, 1 AST, 0 MISS TKL, 6 STOPS

As a late waiver claim from Baltimore, Zach Sieler made an impact on the last three games of the season. His best game of the season was against Cincinnati, where he logged his lone sack and two hurries. Also logging some time at NT, he showed he is versatile enough to play in the Dolphins scheme. I expect Sieler to be given every opportunity to earn snaps this year. He should be a rotational player who should give starters a good breather.

Raekwon Davis (2019, Ala.):

83.2 OVERALL GRADE, 87.9 RUN GRADE, 71.2 PASS RUSH GRADE

1 SCK, 4 QB HIT, 21 HURRIES, 0 BAT, 47 TKL, 29 AST, 20 STOPS

Raekwon Davis, Miami’s 2nd round pick from Alabama, is run a stuffer. His three years of elite run grade suggests he will excel in the NFL stopping the run. At 6’6″ 313 LBS, he is a towering figure on any defensive line. That said, don’t be surprised if this coaching staff can get Davis to improve his pass rush, as Davis did log 8.5 sacks his sophomore year at Alabama in 2017. With John Jenkins now a member of the Bears, I believe Davis will be given every chance to cover the 478 snaps John Jenkins logged for the Dolphins in 2019.

Benito Jones (2019, Ole Miss):

68.2 OVER GRADE, 64.1 RUN GRADE, 71.6 PASS

RUSH GRADE, 5 SCK, 4 QB HIT, 19 HURRIES, 0 BAT, 30 TKL, 11 AST,

16 STOPS

Jones was an Undrafted Free Agent in 2020. His five sacks and 16 stops at Ole Miss in 2019 make him an intriguing player to watch this camp. With the right combination of coaching and conditioning, Jones could be a key contributor as a rotational lineman.

Ray Lima (2019, Iowa State):

 .5 SCK, 28 TKL, 19 AST

Lima is another Undrafted lineman for 2020. I expect him to come in to compete for a reserve role or a practice squad spot.

In closing, This year’s defensive line should be much improved. Better backfield play, along with continued growth, should make any Dolphins fan giddy. The growth of Sieler and addition on Jones and Davis will more than cover the loss of John Jenkins. This line can carry the expectation that all Dolphins fans feel in the now Bradyless AFC East.

The Dolphins in 2020: What Does the Season Hold? (Part One)

By Kevin Hood

Welcome to an 11-part series devoted to finding out what the 2020 Miami Dolphins Season could hold. Football is the coordination of different parts moving as one, a body moving its components in a coordinated effort to accomplish a common goal, winning the Lombardi trophy. With this series, I will be breaking down what we can expect from the Dolphins this year.

Taking an in-depth look at what information is available, taking into account player rankings, what position the team lists players drafted our free-agent additions, and forecasting who might line up where. I have broken drown the articles in 11 parts Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Running Backs / Fullback, Tight Ends, Centers / Guards, Tackles, Corners, Safeties, Line Backers, Defensive Line, and Edge Rushers.

I start this series exactly where the Dolphins prioritized this Off-Season. In the trenches, specifically with Offensive Tackles. I start my in-depth look at our Offensive Line by understanding what we already know with returning players.

We started 2019 by trading Pro-Bowl LT Laremy Tunsil to Houston for a fantastic haul of picks and Julie’n Davenport. Davenport injured for most of the year, but when he did see the field, he received 56.5 Overall grade by PFF, making him the 68thrated Tackle out of 81. His 61.5 Pass Block grade by PFF was not acceptable, and his even worse grade of 41.3Run block grade was part of the Dolphins rushing woes. I expect Davenport to compete for the team’s starting left tackle position.

Next up is Fan Favorite Jesse Davis. Davis has moved from between both guard and tackle spots as needed by the coaching staff his entire Dolphins tenure. His improvement in PFF grade is proof his coaches see he can grow, for 2019 Davis registered 58.9 Overall PFF grade, with 59.6 and 53.6 Pass Blocking and Run Blocking PFF grade, respectively. I expect Davis to compete for his starting right tackle position.

The last holdover at the tackle position from the previous year is week 16 and 17 surprise snap earner, Adam Pankey. With 12 snaps during 2019, Pankey graded out decently.

Twelve snaps are hardly a barometer of success, but grading any offensive lineman from 2019 with a 72.9 pass block grade from PFF is a surprise. Pankey’s 63.1 overall grade is dragged down by his 59.3 run block grade. But I can see Pankey fighting for a reserve role as a backup tackle at either spot.

Here is where the optimism comes in—new blood. The Dolphins picked up 4 Rookie Tackles. 2 during the 2020 Draft and two as Undrafted Free Agents. Robert Hunt seems to be written by most analysts as a Guard, BUT on the team’s official website, listed at Tackle.

When you start to look at his college rankings, you begin to understand why. Listed at 6-6 323 on the Dolphins official website he has tackle size, then you look at his college ranking from the 2019 season where Hunt played right Tackle, and you start to believe the Dolphins got an excellent steal for this young man in round 2.

Hunts 87.1 Overall grade with only one sack 0 QB hits and 1 Hurry allowed during his impressive 2019 season with Ragin’ Cajuns. He ranked 14th out of 398 college tackles. I expect Hunt to compete for the teams starting right tackle position with Jesse Davis.

Less controversial when it comes to a position is Austin Jackson, the USC starting left Tackle had a good career at a power five school the University of Southern California—posting a 73.9 overall PFF grade for the 2019 season. His four sacks, 1 QB hit, and nine hurries allowed are coachable flaws that can be corrected.

Jackson is young at only 20 and has increased his size and improved strength during the draft process leading me to believe he can already have improved from last year. I expect Jackson to compete for the Dolphins starting left tackle position with Davenport.

Also added, this offseason is free-agent addition, Ereck Flowers. He makes a list due to the Dolphins listing him on their official website as OL. So m I reading too far into a small detail, or are the Dolphins admitting they have other plans then left guard where he started and was above average for the Washington redskins last year.

His 64.2 Overall grade is propped up by his 69.0 pass block grade. But 60.1 run block grade is nothing to be disappointed. Flowers graded out as the 30 Guard out of 81 qualifying guards. Looking at that alone, you start to think he is only going to put at that spot for the Dolphins But digging into his previous stats; you see his 69.4 overall grade in 2016 ranking him as the 42 tackle out of 76 qualifying tackles.

Coaching is something the Dolphins seem to think they are better than most with their ability to coach a young team full of cast-offs and undrafted guys to 5 wins down the stretch in 2019. So do they think he will be given a shot to receive their coaching into rebirth at either tackle spot? Maybe.

Given his position listing. I expect Flowers to compete for the starting left guard position, BUT if the Dolphins do not like what they see at left Tackle, I fully anticipate this veteran on the rise to be given a shot to fix the issue.

Also added after the Draft is Nick Kalmayer and Jonathan Hubbard. Both are undrafted free agents, not on the PFF draft guide of the top 250 draftees. I expect them to come in and compete for reserve roles or practice squad spots.

New Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa’s Jersey at the Top of All Jersey Sales Since Draft

Dolphins rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa is the leading jersey seller in the NFL, Nick Shook of NFL.com reports.

This according to NFL Shop jersey sales tracked by Fanatics, which powers the league’s merchandising site. Tagovailoa’s aqua No. 1 jersey is selling faster than any other in the NFL, and the white version of that jersey ranks second — ahead of Tom Brady’s new shirts, which come in places 3-5 (with the pewter alternate leading the trio!).

Our friends at Fanatics have a number of Tua Tagovailoa jerseys to choose from, so make sure you grab one before they sell out!

Like many high draft picks, with Tagovailoa comes the renewed hopes and dreams of an entire fanbase. Miami hasn’t had legitimate reason for true excitement at quarterback since the days of Dan Marino (and the brief moment in which a rejuvenated Chad Pennington lifted the Fins to a division title). The Dolphins faithful is all in on Tagovailoa.

The jersey of No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow isn’t selling as quickly, with Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb outselling Burrow as of Tuesday morning. With the sheer size of the Cowboys’ passionate fanbase considered, the popularity of Lamb’s No. 88 isn’t all that stunning, but it is interesting.

Dolphins 2020 Schedule Released; Opener in New England Against Patriots

The 2020 Dolphins slate is officially out, and the team will start the year with an interesting game, as they wil play in New England against the Tom Brady-less Pats.

The home opener will be the next week at home against the Bills. Here’s the complete schedule.

1 Sept. 13 at Patriots 1 p.m. CBS
2 Sept. 20 vs. Bills 1 p.m. CBS
3 Sept. 24 at Jaguars 8:20 p.m. NFLN
4 Oct. 4 vs. Seahawks 1 p.m. Fox
5 Oct. 11 at 49ers 4:05 p.m. Fox
6 Oct. 18 at Broncos 4:05 p.m. CBS
7 Oct. 25 vs. Chargers 1 p.m. CBS
8 Nov. 1 vs. Rams 1 p.m. Fox
9 Nov. 8 at Cardinals 4:25 p.m. CBS
10 Nov. 15 vs. Jets 4:05 p.m. CBS
11 BYE – – –
12 Nov. 29 at Jets 1 p.m. CBS
13 Dec. 6 vs. Bengals 1 p.m. CBS
14 Dec. 13 vs. Chiefs 1 p.m. CBS
15 Dec. 20 vs. Patriots 1 p.m. CBS
16 Dec. 26 or 27 at Raiders TBD TBD
17 Jan. 3 at Bills 1 p.m. CBS

What Are the Odds on the Dolphins Winning Double Digit Games in 2020?

The 2020 NFL schedule for the Dolphins and the rest of the league will come out on Thursday, and while we know who the Fins will play, we don’t know when.

The site BetOnline (www.BetOnline.ag, Twitter: @betonline_ag) has come out with exact win totals for each team in the league, as well as odds for that team.

Here are the total for the Fins, with their highest odds being to win between 5/9 games in 2020.

5-9 1/2
0-4 11/4
10-14 7/2
15-16 125/1

WR Albert Wilson Accepts a Huge Pay Cut to Stay With Dolphins

The Dolphins restructured the contract of veteran receiver Albert Wilson on Tuesday, doing their part to ensure that the Port St. Lucie native will be part of the team in 2020, Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Wilson was scheduled to earn $9.5 million in base salary and a workout bonus, and had a cap hit of more than $10.8 million. But none of that money was guaranteed, so the Dolphins could have cut him at any time to create $9.5 million in cap space.

According to a league source, Wilson will now earn $3 million in base salary, and $1 million of that is guaranteed. He also has the potential to earn $1 million in incentives tied to playing time.

His new contract makes him the second-highest paid receiver on the team, behind only DeVante Parker. Wilson had previously been the fourth-highest paid player on the team when it came to base salary.

Family of Late Dolphins Coach Don Shula Asks for Contributions to Go To the Don Shula Fund

Miami Dolphins fans continue to mourn the Monday passing of legendary coach Don Shula, who died at his home at the age of 90.

The Dolphins today sent out a tweet imploring fans not to send flowers, and for contributions be sent to The Don Shula Fund for Breast Cancer Research.

Don Shula Passes Away at the Age of 90

He will go down as the greatest coach in Miami Dolphins history, and his legacy as the current winningest coach in the NFL is cemented.

For Don Shula, he died Monday morning peacefully and with family by his side, the perfect way for the family man to slip into eternity.

“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” the statement said.

“He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike.”

Shula won a staggering NFL-record 347 games, which includes wins in the postseason.

He was on the sidelines for the only undefeated season in NFL history in 1972 as the Dolphins went 17-0, beating the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII.

The Dolphins repeated as champions the next season, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII, the third straight title game Miami had played in; the Dolphins lost 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.

Overall Shula led Miami to five Super Bowls, going 2-3 total, his last coming in 1985 as the Dolphins fell to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49’ers 38-16 in Stanford.

“Today is a sad day,” Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said in a statement.

“Coach Shula was the rare man who exemplified true greatness in every aspect of his life. He will be so missed by so many but his legacy of character and excellence will endure. All my best to Mary Anne and the Shula family.”

By the time he resigned as Dolphins coach after the 1995 season, Shula had been an NFL head coach for 33 seasons, 26 with Miami. Only two of his Dolphins teams finished below .500 during those 26 seasons.

He finished with an overall coaching record of 347-173-6 (73-26-4 with Baltimore).

Shula was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. He, George Halas and Bill Belichick are the only coaches in NFL history to win more than 300 games.

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Coach Shula. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Mary Anne and their entire family.

The Hall of Fame flag will fly at half staff and we will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations,” Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a statement.

John Madden remains as the only great coach of the 1970’s that is still alive. Shula watched as some of his fellow coaches have passed on including Chuck Noll (Pittsburgh), George Allen (Washington), and Tom Landry (Dallas).