Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer questions from readers.
Q: Perk I know you’ve been high on this defense all season. How do you think we did vs the Browns and how do you think we’ll do this west coast trip we have in a few weeks? – @Prettieflyguy on Twitter
A: You’re right. I’ve been high on the defense and I’m still riding with them. The defense was strong against the Browns. Shutting down running back Nick Chubb (11 carries, 63 yards) was huge, plus they had three sacks and 14 quarterback hits, and they created a turnover with the fumble. I think they’ll do well on the West Coast trip if they continue to pressure the quarterback, and newly-acquired edge rusher Bradley Chubb should help in that regard. The pass-rushing trio of Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram showed lots of promise as a group last week. The defense can’t start on the back end as it did last year with cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones because Jones isn’t playing. They can still make plays on the back end (recall the fourth-quarter interceptions in the Pittsburgh game by safety Jevon Holland and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene) but the front end must initiate much of the action. And remember they have the Houston game after the bye, before going out west.
Q: In your opinion what undrafted free agents have had the biggest impacts to this team? – @ruvalu26 on Twitter
A: The undrafted rookie free agent who has made the biggest impact has been cornerback Kader Kohou. He has 39 tackles (sixth on the team), five passes defended and a forced fumble. He’s been a pleasant surprise and a much-needed addition considering Jones still hasn’t returned, and no one knows when/if he will return. Kohou has been confident and physical, both necessary traits. Beyond Kohou it’s been safety Verone McKinley III, who has seen his playing time increase since the injury to safety Brandon Jones. McKinley has sometimes played free safety while Holland has been down in the box. As for others, wide receiver Braylon Sanders and defensive tackle Ben Stille have both appeared in games. And tight end Tanner Conner has made contributions mainly on special teams but occasionally from scrimmage. Credit goes to the players above all, but give a nod to the Dolphins’ scouts and front office for finding these players, and the coaches for getting them ready to play.
Q: Sherfield look pretty good in the Browns game you think he could be a 3rd elite receiver for us I don’t know his speed but he’s a fast Is he fast – @Shoop4Ron on Twitter
A: Wide receiver Trent Sherfield (22 receptions, 247 yards, one touchdown) has been doing good things recently, including blocking, and he’s pretty much become the third wide receiver. His 14-yard toe-tapping touchdown reception against Cleveland, after which he announced the anticipated Jan. 6 birth of his child by rocking a baby in his arms during his touchdown celebration, should have been his second of the season. The Dolphins didn’t challenge what should have been a touchdown at Detroit when he was ruled down near the 1-yard line. But Sherfield, who played for coach Mike McDaniel in San Francisco, has unofficially overtaken Cedrick Wilson Jr. and rookie Erik Ezukanma for the third wide receiver spot behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. In the last four weeks, all victories Sherfield has had 12 receptions for 159 yards and a touchdown. But keep an eye on his blocking. He is really accomplished in that aspect of the game and it makes a difference for his fellow wide receivers and the running backs. Sherfield is a complete player.
Q: Any idea why the defense plays so much better at home than away? – @ JLinz13 on Twitter
A: Part of it is because of the road opponents — Baltimore (quarterback Lamar Jackson), Cincinnati (on a Thursday night), Detroit (they led the league in scoring for a brief period early in the season), New York Jets (running back Breece Hall was good that day, rushing for 97 yards), and Chicago (quarterback Justin Fields). Part of it is because of the Dolphins’ defensive injuries. And while it’s true every Dolphins road opponent has scored at least 27 points, consider the Dolphins are 3-2 on the road, so things aren’t at the crisis stage. Still, you’d like the defense to tighten up on the road. Clearly there’s a big three-game road swing ahead against quality opponents (49ers, Chargers, Bills) so you’d like to be able to clamp down a bit. Bradley Chubb should make a difference, and the Dolphins’ offense, with its recent knack for high-scoring games, should take some pressure off the defense. But there hasn’t been a specific pattern to the defense’s performance on the road such as cold weather or anything along those lines.
Q: Man, Jason Sanders…. I feel like it’ll bite in the playoffs. Thoughts?? – @chriscarr1981 on Twitter
A: Kicker Jason Sanders must get it together. He was an All Pro in 2020, but seems to have lost his way. McDaniel is keeping the faith. McDaniel mentioned a wind gust in Chicago as a reason for Sanders missing a 29-yard field goal attempt, which shows you he’s protecting his kicker. It’s the McDaniel way. He’s always positive. He’s done it with everyone, including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and it’s worked. McDaniel doesn’t publicly rip his players, he supports them and that’s what he’s done with Sanders. So far, it’s been a winning formula. We’ll see if the supportive attitude helps Sanders relax and get back to being himself. On a side note, McDaniel said there are no plans to audition kickers.
Q: How do you feel about your preseason prediction that Miami would go 8-9? – @MaximusGortimus on Twitter
A: Ha! Not good, obviously. I abandoned that a while ago. But thanks for bringing it up again.
Q: Hey Perk, some of those daunting games on the late schedule don’t seem so scary anymore (Packers/Chargers/Patriots) How many wins do you see the Dolphins finishing with and will it be enough for a home playoff game? – @Mamboslim on Twitter
A: I’m guessing the Dolphins are good for at least 10 wins and a playoff berth. I don’t have a final victory total. I don’t know if they’ll win the AFC East. But I don’t have any game on the schedule as a definite loss, including the game at Buffalo that concludes a tough three-game road stretch. This team has shown it can win games in a variety of ways, and I don’t expect that to change. By the way, I don’t think a cold-weather playoff game will significantly limit the Dolphins’ offense/passing game.
Q: Why don’t the dolphins have a bigger back 230 240, to wear down defenses? – @tscar22 on Twitter
A: It’s not necessary, especially with the recent addition of running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who brings a physical presence. The bigger key to wearing down defenses is with the offensive line and its ability to open holes. But this team’s offensive style leans more toward aggressive than physical, if that makes sense. They wear down defenses with speed, scheme, play-calling and execution more than physically driving them into the dirt. It’s an innovative offense and Tagovailoa has been brilliant as the guy running the show.
Have a question?
Email David Furones, or tag @ChrisPerk or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.
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