Quick Slant: Day Three of Miami Dolphins’ 2015 Training Camp

The Miami Dolphins donned pads for the first time in 2015 this morning, and we got a better look at the team that Mike Tannenbaum and Dennis Hickey have assembled over the last 6 months. There is nothing more beautiful than the sound of football on a Saturday morning. Whistles, air horns, snapping pads, and colliding helmets. But enough with my strange affinity for audio interpretation. Here’s how the Dolphins looked in their first real padded practice of the season.

Standout Offensive Performance: Damien Williams and Jarvis Landry

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Both Williams and Landry made their mark today, wanting to prove that their solid play thus far isn’t accredited only to the lack of contact. Fans of Jay Ajayi may have to wait a while to see the rookie take reps with the first team, as Williams has a secure hold on the number two running back job. Even behind the team’s mediocre offensive line, Williams was able to slash through for some good gains (especially on outside moves). On one particular play, Williams shot through the B gap (between the tackle and guard) completely outgunning Vernon and Earl Mitchell. He also made big plays out of the backfield, displaying improvement in his hands from last season.

St.Louis Rams vs Miami Dolphins pre-season NFL game

Jarvis Landry wins the “Oohs and Ahs” award for today. On the first play of scrimmage Landry broke multiple defenders’ ankles on his way to a big gain up the right sideline. Every pass seemed to go his way in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. Landry was also involved in multiple end around and option plays. On one occasion Tannehill was able to fake out the defense and slip the ball to Juice for a huge play. It’s good to see the team getting more creative with their usage of a player as dynamic as Jarvis Landry, especially in option and end-around plays.

Standout Defensive Performance: The Defensive Line

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It’s hard to tell if the Dolphins’ defensive line is just this good, or if the team’s offensive line is that bad. Tannehill did not have a clean pocket all day, and was constantly under pressure. Even completed passes would have been sacks in a real game. Earl Mitchell and Jordan Phillips both owned Dallas Thomas today, leaving him in the dirt multiple times. In 1-on-1 drills Phillips actually used a swim move and completely blew by Thomas with no resistance. Olivier Vernon also had pressure the entire day, as did Wake and Suh. There were multiple plays in which two or three offensive linemen were all on the ground by the time Tannehill released the ball.

While it’s entirely possible that our defensive line is incredible (which they will be), the offensive line needs something. There were no more than two or three plays that I would call a success from a blocking standpoint. I don’t know if it’s Branden Albert’s absence, or if they need to sign Mathis, but something has to give.

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What Jumped Out:

  • The team continues to use Kenny Stills in the short game. That’s big progress for Miami, given the effectiveness of quick passes in the Bill Lazor offense. I expect Kenny Stills to make some noise with his short area quickness, making people miss on slants, screens, and quick hitch routes. If he is involved there he could be a lethal weapon for the Dolphins’ offense.
  • Joe Philbin spent time today watching 1-on-1 drills for the offensive and defensive line, which is progress given his background as an offensive line coach. Meanwhile, he left Tannehill and the receivers working against defensive backs on the west field. It’s a good sign that Philbin is spending more time working with the position he has the most experience coaching.
  • On the topic of coach expertise- Kevin Coyle was with the defensive backs today, actually throwing passes in a high-point drill.Kevin Coyle
  • Jamar Taylor had a good day, performing well in scrimmages against Landry and Jennings. His physical method of coverage definitely disrupts receivers, and is well suited for outside play. Hopefully Coyle keeps him there, as Taylor wouldn’t work well in the nickel. That isn’t where he fits best, or where we need him the most.
  • In the nickel and dime packages, the defensive line was (right to left) Vernon, Mitchell, Suh, and Wake. Loading up on the right side is a scary thing for opposing teams, with Suh and Wake coming at the quarterback from the same direction.
  • Michael Preston showed up again. No huge plays, but he performed well in special teams drills and didn’t drop any easy catches. He has to shine with Darren Rizzi as a gunner and blocker if he wants to make the team. The kid reminds me of Marlon Moore.
  • Fans finally got a look at Tony Lippett with the second-team defense today, but if he wants to make the 53-man roster, much like Preston it will have to be on special teams.060115-lippett660
  • Will Davis was out of commission, and was seem with an ice bag on his right knee. Jamar Taylor had his hamstring stretched out, which is worth noting just due to his injury history with that specific muscle.
  • The hair game on this team is strong. Seriously, Jordan Phillips’ flattop and Kenny Stills’ flow are spectacular additions.

Overall:

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The offensive line is going to be a major problem if Branden Albert is not ready for week one. Based on what I saw today, it is time for the team to really consider making a push for Evan Mathis or another veteran in an attempt to save Tannehill from another season under duress. Despite the constant pressure, Tannehill looked sharp today. His rhythm was good, and he was executing the system with confidence. The backup defensive backs had a big day, picking off McLeod Bethel Thompson and Matt Moore multiple times.

It’s hard to really gauge a team this early in camp, but the Dolphins seem like they are ready to play big. I said it yesterday, and I will say it until they prove otherwise: there is something different about this year’s team. Despite the offensive line, the team appears confident heading into 2015. Whatever it is, Dolphins fans have to exercise patience, and wait to see how the team really looks when the preseason kicks off against Chicago in less than two weeks. Real football really needs to come faster.

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