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: Even tho Bradley Chubb isn’t getting sacks, how much is he contributing to the increased success of Phillips Wilkins and Seiler? @ImBoomBoomPow on Twitter
A: This question comes up frequently because Chubb’s statistics — 2.5 sacks and 12 tackles in six games — aren’t eye-popping. But, hey, this is a half-marathon (Chubb was acquired at the Nov. 1 trade deadline), not a sprint. I know football involves daily analysis, but let’s judge Chubb on an entire body of work. No, the big plays haven’t been there on a frequent basis but Chubb has made an impact. As for the pass rush trio of Chubb and linebackers Jaelan Phillips (7.0 sacks) and Melvin Ingram (6.0 sacks), yeah, you’d have liked to see them take charge of games such as the San Francisco 49ers or Los Angeles Chargers, when opposing quarterbacks pretty much had their way with the defense. But Phillips has come on late for the second consecutive season and Ingram has been good. Let’s see whether Chubb, and the pass rush trio, can make a statement this week against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Chubb was acquired to be a difference-maker, so at some point he’s expected to deliver on that expectation. By the way, absolutely love the avatar. “Sanford and Son” is my favorite all-time TV show. Nothing else comes close. If you could see my DVR you’d be shocked (and perhaps disappointed) by how many episodes I have saved because I still record/watch on TV One. I’ve seen every episode dozens of times but I still watch and laugh. And sadly, and predictably, I have a DVD box set from back in the day. Yeah, I’m old school.
Q: What is an area the team has exceeded your own expectations in at this point in the season? @Jrod_shaw on Twitter
A: Quarterback. Head coach. Offensive line. Depth. Those are the major areas. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been really good. His deep passes and decision-making have improved since last season and his accuracy hasn’t slipped one bit. Coach Mike McDaniel’s faith in Tagovailoa has been huge, and so has McDaniel’s offensive scheme and knack for being positive. The latter has had a huge effect on the team and the season. McDaniel has done very well as a rookie head coach. The offensive line was questioned by pretty much everybody entering the season, and they’ve done good work. They haven’t been perfect, but their one-year improvement has been impressive. Credit goes to the players, first and foremost, as always. It’s a player’s league. But let’s also credit offensive coordinator Frank Smith, a former center who works with the line, and offensive line coach Matt Applebaum. And the depth…very impressive. Rotational players and backups have been really good. That makes a good statement about the entire organization from players to coaches to scouts to front office.
Q: What do you think is the biggest obstacle between the Dolphins and the Playoffs?
@FinsWay on Twitter
A: Ha! Weather. I love it. More accurately, perhaps snowballs thrown from the stands? OK, in all seriousness it’s the first one, division opponents. New England (Jan. 1) and the New York Jets (Jan. 8) know the Dolphins well being fellow AFC East opponents. The Dolphins eased by the Patriots, 20-7, in the opener, and lost to the Jets, 40-17, in October. I’ve said recently I think the Dolphins will make the playoffs. But clearly health is a major issue. The defense has been crippled by missing personnel in the secondary. The offense was slowed for a while with quarterback and offensive line injury issues, mostly to left tackle Terron Armstead. However, they’ve found a way to be effective. The gameplan thing remains a small concern after the 49ers and Chargers losses. It didn’t seem to be an issue against Buffalo (although some have raised concerns about why the Dolphins didn’t stay with the running game). Strategy will be watched closely against the Patriots and Jets, two teams they’ve already played. If the offense could squeeze out a few more points per game that’d be a huge help, considering the defense’s overall issues, especially on the road. I think the defense is good enough to get the Dolphins to the playoffs but a little additional help from the side of the ball with more talent, the offense, could go a long way.
Q: Why are these opposing DBs getting away with so much clutching and grabbing on our receivers the last few weeks? Can Miami send a tape to the league to help going forward? @StevieSplash11 on Twitter
A: Let’s start with the second question. I’ve inquired with this coaching staff every now and then about things they might send to the league for clarification/explanation, and they’ve offered no clues as to their policy. I don’t know whether this staff is likely to send plays to the league about pass interference/grabbing, late hits, snowballs, anything. As for the defensive backs grabbing and clutching, I get it. What else are they going to do against Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle? Those guys are game-breakers. The defensive backs will do anything that doesn’t draw a penalty flag. To a large extent it’s up to the receivers to figure a way to thrive getting off the line of scrimmage. Hill has the raw strength to win such hand-fighting battles. Waddle doesn’t have Hill’s strength, but he has the shiftiness. But frequently getting off the line of strength relies more on technique than raw strength or shiftiness. As for being grabbed while in a pass pattern, well, that’s largely up to the referees to stop. Will that happen? Go back to the first part of this answer.
Q: Why do you think new coaching staff don’t want to get Gesicki involved in their game plan? And why didn’t they trade him before deadline? @rbernalcohen on Twitter
A: Tight end Mike Gesicki has attracted this question from fans frequently this season. He only played 12 snaps against Buffalo, a game in which the Dolphins committed to running the ball. Gesicki isn’t a run blocker, he’s a receiving tight end. So his lack of activity is understandable for the Bills game. As for other parts of the season, I still don’t know why Gesicki hasn’t had more targets. I understand targeting Hill and Waddle the vast majority of the time. They’re your best receivers so you want the ball in their hands. That’s an easy answer. The mystery is why Gesicki has just 25 receptions, one fewer than wide receiver Trent Sherfield and just seven more than running back Raheem Mostert. That’s not a knock against Sherfield in any way. He’s had a strong season and his skills as a receiver and blocker explain why he gets playing time and targets. It’s a question of why a talented player such as Gesicki can’t be more involved in the offense. As for the trade deadline, general manager Chris Grier said the Dolphins didn’t get any serious trade inquiries for Gesicki. Perhaps he’ll be a late-season (not-so) secret weapon.
Have a question?
Email David Furones, or tag @ChrisPerk or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.
How impactful can defensive front be?
Are Miami assistants in line for head coaching jobs at season’s end?
How will defense fare on West Coast trip?
Can struggling defense be fixed? Plus, Emmanuel Ogbah, Jason Sanders questions
Should Mike Gesicki have been shopped in trade talks? Why so many penalties?
Is 8-3 with a 5-game win streak in Miami’s future? Does Brandon Shell hold on to RT job?
Why not use Mike Gesicki as WR?
Why has defense taken a step back? Liam Eichenberg concerns? Talk trades with Panthers?
Should we be sold on this O-line; what’s up with Mike Gesicki?
Is Christian Wilkins next for multi-year extension?