Home Miami dolphins Miami Dolphins didn’t get enough immediate help in the 2021 offseason

Miami Dolphins didn’t get enough immediate help in the 2021 offseason


When the Dolphins were beaten by 30 points in Week 17 against Buffalo on Jan. 3, the message was painfully clear to anyone paying attention: Miami needed to upgrade their staff to become a playoff team.

Acquiring a few veteran and productive newbies at their peak certainly could have helped.

Instead, the Dolphins ended up subtracting more of these types of players than adding them. Relying mostly on bargain additions (aside from Will Fuller) and high draft picks, the Dolphins have generally not added players who have exceeded – or in some cases even matched – player contributions. sent to pack.

The problem isn’t necessarily getting rid of clear starters Bobby McCain, Kyle Van Noy, Ereck Flowers, and Ted Karras – and parting ways with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Shaq Lawson. Fitzpatrick wasn’t going to come back as a replacement, and none of the other four players was going to tell the difference between being a very good team and a mediocre one.

The biggest problem is that none of their replacements have been clearly better, even if they are so good.

And that, too, has been a problem: The Dolphins’ new additions haven’t done enough so far to make a significant difference.

Receiver Will Fuller is expected to be the exception. He caught three passes for just 20 yards on his debut for the Dolphins on Sunday, but secured the game-tying two-point conversion and shot what should have been a pass interference call into the end zone in extension. So based on his career work, Fuller has a good chance of justifying his one-year, $ 10.6 million contract.

As for Jacoby Brissett, credit is due for the tying training late in the game on Sunday and overtime training for a field placement. But his 67.8 passer rating – and barely 374 passing yards in over eight quarters – are both below par. And he wasn’t as good as Fitzpatrick was for the Dolphins last season, when he had 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions and a 95.6 passer rating.

Meanwhile, the other added veterans made modest contributions.

Cethan Carter, the Dolphins’ first free agent to sign, is essentially the fourth or fifth tight end.

Career replacement Malcolm Brown, the Dolphins’ answer to their lack of a running back, scored on a 24-yard touchdown run on Sunday but failed to score on two Wildcat plays on the goal line in the late match, failed to convert to another third and ran and incurred a costly penalty.

Brown’s career short-range numbers for the Rams were mediocre (27 conversions in 50 attempts), so it’s surprising the Dolphins fashioned him as the panacea for their back deficiencies.

Linebacker Benardrick McKinney, the most accomplished front-line player added, didn’t make the team and is out of the league. Matt Skura, Jermaine Eluemunor, and DJ Fluker – the three added veteran offensive linemen – were all released, and Eluemunor resurfaced with the Raiders, where he made a key block on a Las Vegas run that set up the winning goal in overtime.

Defensive lineman Adam Butler, the most prominent veteran of the first seven players acquired outside of McKinney, hasn’t had a sack in three games.

Then there’s cornerback Justin Coleman, who took some playing time away from Nik Needham but wasn’t as good as Needham a year ago.

Coleman was hit four times on Sunday and allowed four receptions for 94 yards. For the season, he has a passer rating of 118.6 in his coverage area. Needham was very good playing a lot in week 1; barely played in week 2; and allowed three of five targets to be caught for 52 yards on Sunday.

Safe Jason McCourty was adequate but not as good as McCain, who was cut after finishing second among all safes in the passer standings against last season.

So while Fuller is likely to be a major asset, there isn’t a single other factor that sets the free agent class apart, not the aforementioned veterans or John Jenkins or new linebackers Brennan Scarlett and Duke Riley.

The new offensive coordinators – George Godsey and Eric Studesville – presided over an offense that ranks 30th in points and 31st in yards, a unit that has had some hiccups with largely pedestrian play calls. (Godsey calls the pieces, according to opposing coaches Bill Belichick and Jon Gruden.)

On the side of the rookies who were high choices, Jaylen Waddle only managed 58 yards in 12 receptions Sunday (4.8 average). According to ESPN, he is the first NFL player with more than 12 receptions for less than 60 receiving yards since Brian Westbrook in 2006. According to Stathead, Waddle’s 58 yards were the least for non-runners in 12 catches or more in a single game since statistics began to be held in 1950.

While Waddle has one touchdown in the NFL, Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase – selected fifth after Miami lost No. 3 – has four touchdowns in three games. Offensive tackle Penei Sewell, bypassed by the Dolphins, did not give up any sack for Detroit.

Miami’s No.18 pick, linebacker Jaelan Phillips, had his longest playing time on Sunday (49 snaps) but produced just two pushes in 30 snaps as a passer. In 58 ground passing occasions this season, he has four presses and no sacks.

36th-selected Safety Jevon Holland forced a fumble in Game 1 and hasn’t been a big factor the past two weeks; Focus on professional football said he was the third worst among 21 dolphins who played defensive snaps on Sunday; Holland played 42.

Rookie right tackle Liam Eichenberg cleared his second sack in two NFL starts and four presses on the quarterback on Sunday. PFF says he was the worst among the 18 players who appeared in attack for the Dolphins.

Third-round pick Hunter Long is buried on the depth board at the Dolphins’ deepest position – the tight end – and has played sparingly since Game 1.

So the newcomers have yet to pay big dividends. What about young veterans? Several of them – notably Austin Jackson – are apparently no better, although that’s a story for another day.

Barry Jackson has been writing for the Miami Herald since 1986 and columnist for Florida Sports Buzz since 2002.