Friday Miami Dolphins Mailbag: Gesicki, Phillips, Running Game, and More
Part 2 of the latest SI Fan Nation All Dolphins postbag, focusing on the season opener against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium:
From Anthony Berardo (@berardo_anthony):
Is Noah 1st man on the edge if Needham goes inside with nickel packets? And should we be worried?
Hey Anthony, I’ve had that question for a bit this week and, yeah, I expect Noah Igbinoghene to get the call as the starting outside cornerback against Xavien Howard. Concern? Yes, that’s fair considering Igbinoghene’s first two seasons in the NFL, but it’s also a great opportunity to see if he can take that step to become a reliable cornerback at this level. And if we’re going to take the position that the starting quarterback hasn’t been placed in ideal circumstances and deserves full support heading into his third season, why shouldn’t the same be true for a cornerback who was a first-round pick at age 20. years old (very young) and whose first playing action came when he was asked to cover Stefon Diggs (only one of the best road runners in the league) one-on-one after Byron Jones’ injury in this September 2020 game?
From Phinaholic (@dana_buice):
Jaelan Phillips had a good season last year. He looks set for a better this year. However, the Dolphins have brought a lot of players this year with similar strengths to the same position he plays. How does his role and shot count change or stay the same?
Hey Dana, that’s an interesting question in light of the acquisitions of Melvin Ingram and Trey Flowers, though I suspect we could see Flowers working on the defensive line as well as a linebacker. The bottom line here is that Phillips’ snap count will likely only go up in line with his potential, although he will need to improve to stop the run.
RELATED: PHILLIPS READY TO RELEASE NEW TRICKS
From Chris Bustin (@ChrisBustin13):
Hi Alan. My question this week comes from reading your article titled “Dolphins Offense Preview: What Is the Ceiling?” I was wondering if you would make two predictions for us: 1) How many points per game will the Dolphins average? 2) Where will this number rank the team? Thanks!
Hey Chris, let me start by saying that although I love you, I hate predictions (if I knew ahead of time I would move to Vegas, gamble a lot for a year, then retire ). But since you asked, I’m going to go on and say the Dolphins are averaging 25.2 points in 2022 and that number ranks 15th in the NFL. For comparison, the Dolphins averaged 20.1 points in 2021, good for 22nd in the league.
From PEPE TSUCHIYA (PPDOLPHINS):
I enjoy your articles every day. I’m a little worried about the defense because I’ve heard beat writers say Coach Flo really transformed the defense last season. Which defense do you think will appear on Sunday, first half or second half of last season? Thanks!
Hey Pepe yeah what to expect from the defense in 2022 is a legit question because of the Flo angle and also because the Dolphins faced some really bad quarterbacks when they started their run late in the last season. As we head into 2022, it helps that every starter is back plus Ingram and Flowers, but it certainly doesn’t help that Byron Jones has to start the season on Reserve/PUP. So I would expect a defense that is somewhere between the unit that struggled at the start of the season and the one that dominated at the end of the season.
From Eric Gafford (@gteric):
What wrinkles do you think Belicheat will throw at Tua? 0 blitzes?
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Hey Eric, I just finished giving HCMMD the answer to this question (LOL) and it’s pretty simple: expect the Patriots to throw different things at Tua to try and make him guess. I’m not sure I’m expecting a ton of zero blitzes, because if the Pats don’t get to Tua quickly when they do, it probably means trouble and a long end to Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle.
From the NFL Update (@NFLTalkUpdate):
What is the Dolphins’ biggest positional weakness that would cause them to miss the playoffs? Line O, secondary, etc. ?
Hmm, that’s a very good question. I think the obvious answer at this point would be the offensive line because we just don’t know how well it will perform, although expectations are certainly that it will be better than last season. I’m not sure I would approach the season calling it a weakness, but more of a question mark.
From J Trey (@JTrey65):
During 49ers games I remember announcers saying that a number of run plays was a goal communicated by Kyle S. Do you think McDaniel will have a weekly run play goal and if so at what level ?
The timing of your question is perfect because McDaniel addressed this issue on Friday, and he said that ideally he would like to have around “between 20 and 30” in every game, adding that the circumstances of the game sometimes make that impossible to achieve. For reference, the Dolphins averaged 26 rushing attempts per game in 2021, a figure that ranked 18th in the NFL. Tennessee led the league with 32.4 per game, while McDaniel’s former team (the 49ers) was sixth with 29.4.
From FlGuy (@WilliamCebula):
Thank you for this great work Alain! We keep hearing McDaniel say he’s confident Waddle will play on Sunday. However, last year we heard that Will Fuller was “close” to returning and never did. More coach rotation?
Hey William, only McDaniel knows for sure, although the fact that Waddle was listed as a full participant in Thursday’s practice report was good news. More generally, McDaniel has already shown that he is going to be very discreet when it comes to discussing injuries with the media, while some NFL coaches do not treat this information as a national secret.
From Stevieg123 (@Stevieg1233):
Can you please compare Tua to Drew Brees especially arm strength, 15 yard outings, anticipation etc.
Hey Steve, that’s a good question because the NFL roster for Tua was often indeed Brees, but it was always in terms of the cap. At this point, it’s not unfair to say that Brees was better in just about every category, some more than others (especially anticipation).
From Fins2Fast4Ya (@phinsup088):
Do you think HCMMD is refusing to prioritize Gesicki to be more of a “traditional/old fashioned” online TE this year? It’s like trying to get blood from a stone at this point.
Hi, that’s a really good question and yes, I think at some point (if he hasn’t already) McDaniel will realize that Gesicki’s value to the team is as as receiver and that is how it should be used. That said, the Dolphins would be wise if they get to that point to throw in a wrinkle once in a while and have Gesicki’s run blocked so opponents don’t automatically know it’s a passing play every time he does. is in the game. Of course, the most ideal scenario would be for Gesicki to become a proficient blocker who could be used in any situation, but we’re clearly not there yet.