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Updates from Week 4
Depending on whom you talk to, the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback has been impressive! Not only has he been lighting up camp with highlight videos, but his pre-season action has been very smooth and efficient. Tagovailoa finished pre-season action going 12-of-15 (80%) for 179 yards and a touchdown pass. No pass seemed bigger than his first throw of the night against the Philadelphia Eagles. With the ball spotted at the 25-yard line, Tagovailoa completed a 51-yard bomb on the first play to Tyreek Hill. The ball traveled nearly 60 yards in the air, but some will be quick to point out that Hill had to turn in and adjust to the ball in the middle of the field. It seems like no matter what Tagovailoa does, he will have his extreme doubters and supporters. At the end of the day, what matters for fantasy football is how the numbers look and whether he can score points with the offense. Third-stringer Skylar Thompson should make the squad - he had probably the best preseason of any passer. Thompson finished 36-of-48 (75%) for 450 yards and 5 touchdown passes. Thompson didn’t throw any interceptions throughout his action on the field and has looked like a real pro. If Tagovailoa were to miss any time with an injury, the team might consider Thompson as the backup over Teddy Bridgewater.
We finally saw that explosive running game that everyone was expecting from a Mike McDaniel-led offense. In the final game of the preseason, Miami had five running backs average six or more yards per carry. The boring offense was out the window, and the runners were moving the ball with ease. It was particularly refreshing to see Raheem Mostert back on an NFL field. Mostert carried the ball twice for 29 yards, and the Dolphins' offensive staff had seen enough. Myles Gaskin may have done enough to warrant a roster spot, but he would be nothing more than the third or fourth running back on the depth chart. Sony Michel continued to look below average. Michel was the only runner not to reach the 6-yard per carry mark. In fact, he’s averaging just 1.4 yards per carry in the preseason. It’s possible that Michel still makes the roster, but he hasn’t shown much in camp or games and offers little in the receiving game. He could be a surprise cut by Miami.
The Cheetah finally got loose in Miami. Tyreek Hill caught two passes for 64 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in the final game of preseason action. Tua Tagovailoa uncorked a 51-yard-deep ball for Hill and immediately went back to him again on a play-action rollout for another 13-yard reception. One thing seems for certain; the Miami Dolphins want to use Tyreek Hill, and they will find creative ways to get him going early and often. Jaylen Waddle was absent from the game against the Eagles, as he’s been rehabbing and prepping for week 1. Impressive rookie, Erik Ezukanma had another nice outing with 2 catches for 24 yards as he has cemented his spot among the top-five WRs on the team.
Rumors swirled that Mike Gesicki would be traded, but head coach Mike McDaniel called those rumors “misleading”. Gesicki has kept his head down and continued to work throughout practice. He impressed in the joint practices and followed that week up with a nice 18-yard catch in his final pre-season action. If Gesicki stays in Miami, his fantasy value remains safe but capped by Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and an explosive run game. If Gesicki gets traded, his fantasy value could be extremely volatile. As for the players behind Gesicki, Hunter Long finally got some real playtime for the Dolphins and even came down with a touchdown reception. Long is a name to keep an eye on if Gesicki gets traded. The former third-round selection is essentially a younger, more affordable, but less athletic version of Gesicki.
The Dolphins have been without a lot of their starters on defense throughout the preseason. The front seven continues to bring pressure and look great in limited action. However, the secondary is still a major concern. If Xavien Howard and Byron Jones can return to action by Week 1 and remain healthy, the defense should be a top 15 unit in the league and be fantasy relevant.
The Dolphins have been cagey through August about who might field returns for them this year. There is no shortage of options between Jevon Holland, Noah Igbinoghene, and Myles Gaskin, who are likely to make the final 53-man roster.
Updates from Week 3
Tua Tagovailoa finally played football on an NFL field this preseason. He looked accurate, mobile, and confident despite being without starters: Left tackle Terron Armstead, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. In his two drives, Tagovailoa went 6-for-8 with 58 passing yards. The offense looked fluid and utilized a lot of play-action, misdirection, and pre-snap motion. He looked especially spry on a scramble where he rolled out to his left and hit running back Chase Edmonds in stride for a big gain and a first down. This performance was needed after Tagovailoa had his first, seemingly, bad practice last Tuesday, where he threw multiple interceptions and struggled against the Dolphins' secondary. Teddy Bridgewater looked satisfactory against the Raiders in preseason action. He went 10-of-20 for 119 yards but couldn’t lead a touchdown drive, despite multiple attempts. Third-string rookie, Skylar Thompson is quickly becoming a Miami folk-hero of sorts as he put in another stellar pre-season performance. Thompson went 9-of-10 for 129 yards and a touchdown. His preseason has been a smashing success as he’s totaled an impressive stat line thus far: 29-of-38 for 347 yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and 26 rushing yards. While Thompson likely won’t take over the backup job from Bridgewater, he’s certainly made a very compelling case to be kept on the 53-man roster.
Chase Edmonds has a clear stranglehold on this backfield. Edmonds didn’t do anything overly impressive on the ground this week against the Raiders. Still, he was in on nearly every single offensive snap with Tua Tagovailoa and caught both of his targets for 21 yards. Overall, the running game was uninspiring. Sony Michel looked rough in limited action, carrying the ball twice for no gain and contributing nothing in the receiving game. Michel has 4 carries for -2 yards in the preseason. It would not be a surprise to see the former Ram and Patriot running back left off the 53-man roster in favor of some younger talent. The team has yet to deploy Raheem Mostert in preseason action, but his job as a rotational backup still appears safe at this point. Dolphins’ vets Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed have looked good, not great – they’ve yet to insert themselves into the starting rotation, despite their familiarity with Tagovailoa and the absence of Mostert. Gaskin's costly fumble against the Raiders halted a potential touchdown drive from Teddy Bridgewater and company. Undrafted rookie ZaQuandre White made some noise this week by catching a 19-yard touchdown pass from fellow rookie Skylar Thompson.
The battle for the final roster spots is heating up. It’s assumed that Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Cedrick Wilson are all locks to make the roster. After those three, there’s a slew of familiar veteran names like Preston Williams, Trent Sherfield, and Mohamed Sanu. Meanwhile, there’s a group of unproven youngsters like Lynn Bowden Jr, Erik Ezukanma, and Braylon Sanders that are looking to make an immediate impact. Sherfield spent time with head coach Mike McDaniel in San Francisco, so he’s familiar with a lot of the same concepts that the first-time coach head coach has brought to Miami. Sherfield started out the week as the offensive player of the day and got to wear the legendary orange jersey, signifying the MVP of the previous practice day. Sherfield followed up his excellent practice with another outstanding performance where he reeled in a ton of catches and at least 4 touchdowns on the day. With these types of performances, it's becoming clearer that Sherfield has earned a spot on the 53-man roster and may, in fact, take over the fourth-receiver spot on the depth chart. The other name of note is Ezukanma. He had an impressive performance against the Raiders, catching 6 passes for 114 yards. The athletic rookie has certainly made a case to be utilized as the fifth wide receiver and another potential deep threat for the Dolphins' passing game.
Frustration is mounting for Mike Gesicki. He struggled in all facets of the game. He dropped passes, missed a block that led to a safety, and struggled to break tackles from smaller defensive backs. At one point, Tagovailoa had Gesicki on a seam route (albe6it with a tight window). Gesicki never got his head turned around, so the Dolphins were forced to punt. He will continue to be a work in progress. This season is truly a make-or-break year for the fifth-year veteran. Gesicki was seen playing into the third quarter of Miami’s preseason game against the Raiders. This is likely to get him used to playing in-line more. Despite being classified as a tight end for his entire career, Gesicki says: “I’m learning a new position, obviously, so it’s been good. It’s been exciting. And I think there’s been a lot of progress, but obviously, a lot more to go.”
The defensive line continues to make headlines as they racked up four sacks against the Raiders and have now totaled six sacks in two games. Interior defensive lineman Zach Seiler continues to show his value as a run-stopper and pass-rusher. At this point, it’s almost become an ongoing joke that Noah Igbinoghene is a double agent for the opposing team. Igbinoghene has had his struggles in practice and has yet to truly make an impact in a preseason game. The former first-round pick would be in danger of losing his roster spot if it wasn’t for the mounting injuries in the secondary. Miami has placed defensive back Trill Williams on IR, while also suffering injuries to: Nik Needham, Mackensie Alexander, and Kevin Crossen. Byron Jones is still recovering from an ankle injury and is “trying to get back for Week 1” according to head coach Mike McDaniel.
After the coaches revamped their starting lineup, there is now cause for optimism in Miami. Left tackle Terron Armstead remains one of the best pass protectors when healthy. Center Connor Williams arrived from Dallas, and aside from a few errant snaps this preseason, he has looked better than Michael Deiter. Right tackle Austin Jackson is playing well, and the former first-rounder appears to have found his groove. This group starts the season below average but will likely rise.
Updates from Week 2
The deep ball show continued for Tua Tagovailoa in Week 2. Tagovailoa connected with Tyreek HIl on a few throws of 40+ yards in one-on-ones. The crowd really got into it at camp as the chants for “Tua! Tua!” became a regular occurrence with each completion. In joint practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the dolphins appeared to dial it back just a little bit on the deep throws, but Tagovailoa still finished with ‘at least 4 TD passes’ vs. the Tampa defense on Day 2. Rookie, third-stringer Skylar Thompson had an impressive outing in his first preseason action going to 20-for-28 and 218 in a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Raheem Mostert returned to full-contact practices and is no longer wearing a red jersey following his knee surgery in 2021. Mostert should be competing for touches in the backfield with fellow free agent additions Chase Edmonds and Sony Michel.
Tyreek Hill continues to stand out in practices - no matter who is throwing him the ball. On day 1 of joint practices, Hill ‘got open all day’ versus the Buccaneers secondary. On day 2, it was the Jaylen Waddle show. Waddle consistently beat the Buccaneers' defensive backs in one-on-one drills that often found him in the endzone at the end of the play.
Mike Gesicki is making progress but still has a long way to go in the blocking department. Earlier in the week, the Dolphins agreed to trade Adam Shaheen and a 2023 seventh-round pick to the Houston Texans in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round pick - that trade was voided after Shaheen failed a physical due to a pre-existing knee condition.
Jason Sanders was 4-for-4 with makes from 52 and 53 in his first game with new holder Thomas Morstead. He appeared confident and could return to the form that put him among the top kickers in the league with 144 points in 2020.
Emmanuel Ogbah is picking up where he left off last season. Ogbah has continued to make plays in the backfield while forcing many hurried passes for incompletions. On Day 10 of camp, Xavien Howard got the honor of the orange practice jersey after teammate Tyreek Hill praised Howard’s ability to ‘lock him down.’ In joint practices with the Buccaneers, the Dolphins' defensive front showed their ability to rush the passer, getting to Tom Brady multiple times.
Fans were surprised to see Tyreek Hill as the top punt returner on the first (unofficial) depth chart, while Raheem Mostert was the top name for kickoffs. Hill hasn't logged any punt return yardage since 2018, and Mostert goes back even further, not fielding a kickoff since 2017. It's important to remember that these preliminary depth charts are often created by staff members in the public relations department and not coaches, so we shouldn't read too much into these early placements. If anything, Jaylen Waddle (second-team returner on both kickoffs and punts) probably has a much better chance of seeing snaps on special teams once the regular season rolls around.
Updates from Week 1
It's been noted by many reporters that Mike McDaniel is calling plays that make Tua Tagovailoa comfortable, and confidence has been on display for Tagovailoa. He's been seen regularly hitting receivers in-stride on deep passes of 45+ yards - including a beautiful 65-yard pass in the air to Tyreek Hill during an 11-on-11 scrimmage. In the first week, Tagovailoa twice earned the coveted orange jersey that symbolizes the MVP of the previous practice. Skylar Thompson, a rookie seventh-round pick, has looked like he has a capable NFL arm and could be called upon if both Tagovialoa and Teddy Bridgewater cannot play for any reason.
Raheem Mostert has been in a red non-contact jersey for the first week of camp, while Sony Michel has also missed time for what the team calls “maintenance.” Chase Edmonds has been seen with a handful of nice outside runs while staying on the field often for passing downs as both a blocker and a receiver. Edmonds has easily been Miami's best runner so far, and that was reinforced on the team's first day of padded practice. Edmonds looked explosive and patient, all the qualities that should allow him to succeed in McDaniel's outside-zone run scheme.
Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill have been really good. So good, in fact, that both players have earned the coveted orange jersey. Rookies Erik Ezukanma and Braylon Sanders have been making noticeable plays in 7-on-7s, particularly in the deep passing game. Both youngsters could be battling for the fourth wide receiver spot behind Cedrick Wilson. Unfortunately, this group hasn't been sunshine and rainbows as veterans Preston Williams and Lynn Bowden Jr have struggled to separate themselves from the incoming rookie class.
Mike Gesicki has been focused on being a better blocker. On the surface, that doesn't seem to help for fantasy football, but it could. Gesicki should be able to keep himself on the field more often so that he can be used more from various positions, not just as a big slot. It took him some time, but Gesicki has started to adjust to his new role, and by Day 6, he was reportedly much more productive in the passing game. Second-year player, Hunter Long, has had some issues with drops in the first week. He's stayed after practice multiple times to work on catching with the quarterbacks and the Jugs machine.
Jevon Holland has been a superstar in camp. The second-year safety has been breaking up passes and forcing turnovers every chance he gets. The front seven have been dominating the offensive line. Raekwon Davis, Christian Wilkins, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Jaelan Phillips have been finding their way to the quarterback during scrimmages. Phillips had an especially impressive seventh day of camp where he recorded three sacks during the team sessions. Byron Jones has missed time with an injury, but fellow cornerback Xavien Howard has gotten some helpful reps against Hill and Waddle in scrimmages and 1-on-1s.