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Miami Dolphins Late August Scouting Report
Jimmy The Finger

The 3rd Pre-Season game – the fabled "dress rehearsal" – is in the books. The Miami Dolphins once again find themselves in a Good News, Bad News situation. The Good News is they should score a lot of points. The Bad News is they’re going to need it. The Fins D hasn’t stopped anyone and any time. Baltimore ran up and down the field on them, and the Eagles rang up 38 points. Déjà vu all over again. Dan Marino probably averaged 24-28 points per game, won around 60% of the time. You see stuff about how Marino never won the Super Bowl. I answer that in 2 words – Tom Olivadotti. Don Shula may be a legend, but he never fired a Defensive Coordinator. The good ones kept getting hired away from him. Eventually, they wound up with Olivadotti, that nobody ever wanted. Should’ve been the first clue.


But alas, I digress. Fantasy Footballers love teams that score lots of points, so who gives a crap? Fins Fans are used to starting each Season with premonitions of impending doom, but Fantasy Footballers just want to score points.


The big winner in all this might be WR DeVante Parker, who made the play of the game, leaping high to bring down a long pass from Jay Cutler, then sprinting another 30 yards before getting hauled down from behind at the 2, setting up RB Jay Ajayi for a short dive into the End Zone. One thing we all know about QB Jay Cutler is his tunnel vision toward one receiver. It’s looking like Parker may be it. It is the projected emergence of DeVante Parker which has the Fins Front office holding off on giving a boat load of cash to WR Jarvis Landry, and Cutler at Quarterback may be the deciding factor. When Miami drafted Parker the scouting report said he was a big, fast receiver who could jump, catch the ball at its highest point. That play was a perfect example.


RB Jay Ajayi is scheduled to be the Dolphins workhorse, should rack up yards and TDs as long as he stays healthy. He’s been in the NFL concussion protocol once already, and that is a bit concerning, giving his bruising running style. Concussions are often like hamstrings, have a habit of popping back up. In an earlier dispatch I suggested taking a late round flyer on RB Kenyan Drake. Then he went into concussion protocol as well. Still think he might be worth stashing on your roster if Ajayi goes down.


Harder to get a read on Cutler’s impact to the Fantasy Value of Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. Stills figures to remain the deep threat, but it’s tough to see him repeating his career year from last Season when he caught 9 TDs. Wouldn’t rule it out completely, however, since Cutler’s a gunslinger with a strong arm. I’d figure some risk factor into where you draft him. On the other hand, the Fantasy Value of WR Jarvis Landry definitely gets a downgrade given the switch from Ryan Tannehill to Jay Cutler.


Even so, this is still Pre-Season. Cutler seems like he’s looking at DeVante Parker A LOT. But he’s only been on the team a couple weeks. This might be a silly phase he’s going through. Once the Season starts he might develop better chemistry with Stills or Landry. So these guys might be worth rolling the dice.


I do feel it was significant, however, to see Miami go to TE Julius Thomas in the Red Zone on a designed play. Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen was quoted earlier this year saying Thomas could be good for 10-12 TDs. I’d take that seriously. Even if Thomas only gets 8-9 TDs, that could still make him a Top-5 Tight End.


It’s not looking like the Fins D will have much Fantasy relevance over and above surrendering a lot of points, which could be good news when you’ve got players on your roster facing them, keep the Miami Offense playing catch-up. Depends how much your League awards for Sacks. DE Cameron Wake should record 8-10 at least, and the Fins 1st Rounder, Charles Harris, might have some ability, though how much of that we may see in his Rookie Year is difficult to say.


Much depends on how good Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke turns out to be. Might be a learning curve at work. Or the guy could just suck. Too soon to tell. I still think Denver did Miami a bit of a favor hiring Vance Joseph away, but that’s assuming the Fins come up with somebody better. Adam Gase has gotten a lot of positive press for the job he did last year, but everybody seems to overlook how badly the team SUCKED early in the year. Shula, at least, for his aforementioned shortcomings in this regard, did manage to hire a couple of good Defensive Coordinators. Gase is 0 for 1 at this point in my opinion, and the jury’s still out on Number Two.


One of the main problems with the Dolphin Defense over the last couple years has seemed to be conditioning, frankly. The NFLPA collective bargaining agreement limits how much practicing the coaches can ask these players to do, and the Fins simply have not looked fit lately. Late in the game the Defense wears down, and when the game is on the line they haven’t been able to stop anybody.


Of course, it doesn’t help on those warm fall days when the Dolphins are at home, and they win the toss, elect to defer, put the Defense on the field first. If you looked at these games, historically, the team whose D is on the field the most during the First Half probably loses about 90% of the time. For all the positive press this guy has gotten, Adam Gase hasn’t seemed to figure this out. It’s only a Dolphin Legacy, after all.


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