I sat down with Brian Miller, editor of PhinPhanatic.com, to get an in-depth look at the Miami Dolphins heading into Thursday night’s game in Paul Brown Stadium against the Bengals.
SH: Miami got their first victory of the season last week against the Cleveland Browns, but it wasn’t pretty. What’s the feel around the Dolphins moving forward, did they snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?
PP: Wasn’t pretty? That was disgusting. I think the Browns gave the Dolphins a house warming gift considering the Dolphins opened their newly renovated stadium. They didn’t snatch anything from the Browns. The Browns handed it to them on a platter. Adam Gase is getting irritated and he isn’t afraid to bench starters to get players who want to play football on the field.
SH: After a week one loss to Seattle, Miami’s defense has struggled, giving up 893 total yards of offense to Jacoby Brisett, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Cody Kessler. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this defense that ranks 28th overall through three weeks?
PP: Heading into the season the Dolphins strength was supposed to be on the defensive line but Mario Williams has not made an impact and the Dolphins still can not stop the running game. While they get pressure on the QB in passing situations the loose coverage by an inexperienced (Xavien Howard and Brice McCain) and an overpaid veteran (Byron Maxwell), Miaimi’s secondary is making back-ups look like stars.
SH: Miami’s injury report is filling up pretty quick. Are the Dolphins confident that their backups can fill the void for injured starters?
PP: No. Fans shouldn’t be either. The Dolphins lack even average depth at most positions. It’s a problem that has plagued this team for more than ten seasons. Consider that Xavien Howard missed all but one pre-season game and all of training camp as a rookie and started week one of the season defines the quality of depth in the secondary and that can be said of many positions in Miami.
SH: The Dolphins have a conundrum at running back after Arian Foster went down with an injury. As of now, Ryan Tannehill is the team’s leading rusher. Who is going to see the bulk of the carries when they head to Paul Brown Stadium this Thursday?
PP: They had a conundrum with Arian Foster. The best running back they have had since Ricky Williams was Lamar Miller who averaged over 4 yards per carry and was really developing his pass catching skills but the Dolphins didn’t want to spend an extra $1.5 million to keep him on the roster and turned to injury prone Foster. Foster has played one mediocre game in week 1 and the got hurt on the first series in week 2. Jay Ajayi has an attitude issue and isn’t playing to his potential. It’s a committee of back-up quality players at this point.
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SH: DeVante Parker is a respectable number two wide out behind Jarvis Landry. What is his status for Thursday?
PP: Parker should play on Thursday. He is starting to develop a rapport with Ryan Tannehill and is adjusting to the offensive system run by Adam Gase. His biggest problem is himself. He needs to take better care of himself each day and that has led to hamstring issues. When he is healthy and on the field it gives Miami a nice trio of receivers that include Kenny Stills.
SH: The Dolphins made headlines this off season by acquiring Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso in a trade with the Eagles in early March. The sample size is a bit low, but has the trade paid dividends thus far?
PP: Not really. The best part of this deal was dropping back to 13 and still getting Laremy Tunsil who playing well at guard so far. Alonso is making plays but they are not at the line of scrimmage and his coverage is just average. Maxwell seems to be out of place quite a bit and that is troublesome given his contract. I would be surprised if Miami keeps him around next season. Alonso to for that matter.
SH: What is the Dolphins’ biggest concern going against the Bengals?
PP: The biggest concern is that Miami starts so slow. In fact they don’t really start playing until the 3rd quarter. They can play with the better teams and almost came back against New England and should have won their opener in Seattle. Miami should be 2-1 with the loss coming against Cleveland. They are very inconsistent and frankly you don’t know what team will show up or for that matter when they will show up.