Friday, September 23, 2016

Week 3 Preview: Cleveland Browns @ Miami Dolphins

Cleveland Browns @ Miami Dolphins (-9.5)
Hard Rock Stadium
Kickoff 1PM

Announcers: Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots

With the rough start to the schedule now complete, the Miami Dolphins finally come home in 2016, to their home opener at Hard Rock Stadium.  The newly renovated stadium that cost north of $500M is set to host the Cleveland Browns. 

While the Dolphins (0-2) had two tough defeats against perennial Super Bowl contenders, the Browns (0-2) have dealt with their own heart break in the first two weeks.  After signing Robert Griffin III, he injured his shoulder in week 1 against the Eagles.  In week 2 against the Ravens, Josh McCown was injured which leaves rookie quarterback Cody Kessler from USC to take the helm.  This seems like an extreme match up problem for Cleveland, but Miami's defense hasn't looked the part.  The Dolphins struggled (that is an understatement) against Jimmy Garapolo and Jacoby Brisett last week, allowing a season high 485 yards of offense, almost 300 in the first half.  The same issues that has occurred last season, continues through two weeks.  To win this game, Miami needs to FINALLY put a full game together, offense, defense and special teams.  What better week to start than now, against an overmatched team on paper.  Here are the keys to an extremely important Dolphins win:

1.  Get off the blocks, for once:  If you read back to my first 2 previews, I specifically wrote about establishing their identity.  Unfortunately they have, which is inconsistency on offense, with 13 three and outs in the first half in the first 2 games.  Instead of electing to defer if they win the toss, Miami needs to take the ball and get some points up right away.  This will allow the front 4 to tee off on a young, inexperienced quarterback, allowing this 9-wide approach to finally show some worth.  Get the ground game going on the opening drive, run nothing but no huddle and get this team breathing heavy on the sideline in the South Florida Heat.

2.  Let Tannehill do his thing-  The offense goes when Tannehill is in hurry up mode.  This should be the base offense every week at home.  There is no better advantage than that 90 degree heat, specifically in a stadium designed to have that sun beating on the opposing sideline.  Tannehill was extremely efficient in the second half with proper adjustements.  That offense needs to attack as it did against NE, versus a Browns defense that is having its own struggles.

3.  Sack the QB-  Nothing will rattle a rookie QB more than getting hit.  Suh is great at this.  Even if he doesn't hit the QB, he will put a hand on him after the ball is thrown to get them thinking.  And for goodness sakes, get Cameron Wake on the field more than 16 snaps.  The lack of pressure continues to be concerning.  Dial up exotic blitz' and force Kessler to make poor decisions.

4.  Be loud-  It's the home opener, in a brand new stadium.  The Dolphins fans need to come in droves, be loud while the defense is on the field and keep up the energy until the final whistle.  With 4 home games in the next 5, this is a time to get the record back to .500, if not better, with some favorable match ups. 

This game has the making of a big win for the Dolphins.  Call me skeptical, but I see this being closer than what most believe.  This is absolutely, 110% a must win and a game to get some confidence building.  If you recall, the Dolphins fired Philbin, opened their next game off the bye week against the Titans and laid them to waste.  The following week destroyed the Houston Texans at home.  This is the type of game Miami needs before a short week against the Bengals.  Give me the Dolphins at home.

Miami 27  Cleveland 20

Season record 1-1


FACE OFF: Should Kenyan Drake Be the #1 RB on the Miami Dolphins Right Now


Opening Shot (Tom)-  So I put out an article regarding the running back situation earlier this week  and to no surprise, here comes Mike knocking my idea down as usual.  First off, let me start off by saying anything that Mike has to offer in this conversation should end up on Comedy Central.  What we will be reading will be flat out LAUGHABLE.  Let me guess Mike, you are sitting in your chair, salivating over the idea of Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams or even Isiah Pead starting this week for the often injured Arian Foster.  Those three guys bring what to the table?  Ajayi has flat out been awful and will never live up to his potential.  Speaking of potential, Damien Williams was supposed to be the back up last year to Lamar Miller and he went into a black hole himself, with inconsistent play that has now earned him a third string spot.  Pead isn't even healthy, so where does that leave us?  That's right, Kenyan Drake.  Why not hand him the keys while Foster is down and out?  He can't be any worse than ANY of these backs, and by the way, RYAN FREAKIN TANNEHILL IS THE LEADING RUSHER.  Stop living with mediocrity and give someone else a chance, the hell with the depth chart!

Counter Argument (Mike)- So Tom you aren't totally off base with wanting to put some young blood in at running back, I like that idea. You are just going about it all wrong as usual. Kenyan Drake should get some more work at RB but he shouldn't be the #1 Running Back, the lead Running Back, the Bell Cow back, and the workhorse running back for the Dolphins. Kenyan Drake wasn't even a starting running back at his college, Alabama, and now you want him to be a starting running back on one of the 32 NFL teams only 2 games into his NFL career? Are you nuts? Kenyan Drake has a long history of injuries and hell, before he stepped foot into an NFL mini-camp this year he was injured and missed 99% of camp and the first 3 preseason games. Drake cannot hold up to the pounding of being an every down lead running back in the NFL. Hell, I'm not sure he can hold up being a 3rd down back who plays 30% of the time or so in specialty down and distance situations. Drake is a nice role player and in a year or two when he gets bigger and puts on more muscle he might be a guy who can do a 50/50 backfield with where he shares the workload. But as of today in September 2016 he is far from that type of player. If you make Drake the every down lead #1 running back then keep his spot on IR warm because he will be there by Columbus Day!

Rebuttal (Tom)- How short your memory is.  Miami took a chance in 2005 on some back that was second fiddle in college and had a pretty decent career with Miami.  Remember Ronnie Brown?  Second fiddle to Cadillac Williams before his injury cost him spots in the draft (still top 10 if I remember correct, could've been #1 overall if he wasn't injured).  Ronnie Brown went on and produced 1,128 carries (even with injuries), 4,815 yards and 36(!) rushing touchdowns.  Just because Drake played behind some solid RB in college, doesn't mean he can't produce.  He has never been given the chance.  He also isn't a between the tackles back which is what this team needs!  They need a running back who can make plays in space, be solid in passing game and create opportunities for the WR by causing major match up problems.  Who is going to do that?  Mr. Fumblitis Ajayi?  Damien Williams who hasn't amounted to anything?  Come on man.  If Drake continues to sit on the pine or be used sparingly, we may as well rehire Joe Philbin and Dan Campbell since they let Parker rot on the bench last season even when he was healthy!  Drake can be our CJ Anderson in this offense, let him go do it!

Cross Examination (Mike)- Oh Tom, the NFL is like Dog Years. 2005 is like 35 years ago in the NFL world. And Ronnie Brown was a marginal RB at best, a nice RB, not elite. He was very average and he is only known for the "wildcat" and little else (but that is another debate for another day on Mr. Brown.) And just an FYI, Kenyan Drake isn't even Ronnie Brown, not even close when it comes to talent level.  The reason Drake has never been given the chance is because he is a fragile piece of fine china. His college coaches and now his NFL coaches know if you use him too much he will get hurt and break down. There are workhorses and there are show horses, Kenyan Drake is a show horse that you can't overwork. The other reason why Drake isn't ready to be the #1 back right now is because he can't pass block to save his life. Like it or not Ryan Tannehill is this Dolphins team. And we finally got an offensive line who can pass block so Tannehill isn't getting beaten up each week, we should not, we can not, we won't risk Tannehill's health by giving an increase work load to a rookie RB who has never carried a full time workload in his life and struggles pass blocking. It is a recipe for disaster and you are putting Tannehill's health at risk. I like Kenyan Drake, I like him a lot and in this modern era of NFL where its a wide open offense you need to create mismatches. And Drake is a mismatch nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. But that's all he is at this point in time. Throw to him out of the backfield, put him in motion to get a LB on him in coverage, use him here and there on sweeps and running plays. But if you think Drake as of today is a guy you can hand off to 20+ times a game and have him running between the tackles then you have lost your god for saken mind. He would be injured in less than a half if Gase and Co. tried that. Maybe in time after an offseason or two if Drake bulks up some and can stay healthy he could be an every down #1 RB someday, but not now. If you over work this kid now and he gets hurt you will ruin his whole NFL career.

It sounds like Arian Foster won't be out long, but IF he were out for an extended period, Isiah Pead and Jay Ajai are built to run between the tackles, they can take that pounding, have done it in the past whether in college or prior to this season. Those are the guys you use. Drake has a special role with this team and a bright future, he just cannot be the every down #1 RB for the Miami Dolphins in 2016. I will give you the last word.

The Last Word (Tom)- Mike while I agree with most of what you said, I still believe that the team needs a change of pace.  Ajayi cannot be trusted and Pead is as fragile as any running back on the roster, hence being inactive for the first 2 games.  If the Dolphins will loosen up (remember, Philbin is no longer here) and do some out of the box thinking, we may have this explosive offense.  I am not asking Drake to do anything between the tackles, rather be on the field for outside runs, screens and wheel routes.  He causes a defense more headaches then any of the other backs not named Foster.  A glimpse is what we need, and we will get that Sunday. 

Every Ryan Tannehill Dropback from Week 2 vs New England

Thursday, September 22, 2016


It was the tale of two days last weekend. A perfect 3-0 with the college picks with 3 very easy wins. Bringing up my year to date total with the college picks to 5-1. If you aren't listening to my college picks and making money; SHAME ON YOU! Now if you are ignoring my NFL picks then you are brilliant as I have been bad with my pro picks through 2 weeks. In a bit of a slump with the pro's but I will look to bounce back this week.

Let's get right to this weeks picks.


Clemson -10 over GEORGIA TECH
Clemson has been sleep walking a bit this year up until last week when they played a horrible team and just destroyed them. This is their last game before they get Louisville so Clemson will want to play well here and beat a good team. GT looked horrible the first game of the year vs Boston College and while they won easily last week over Vandy....Clemson ain't Vandy. Clemson with a big statement win here on Thursday night vs GT. I like Clemson big.

Florida St -5 over SOUTH FLORIDA
This might be the lock of the year. You have Florida St coming off an embarrassing loss to Louisville and you have South Florida who is coming off a nice win vs Syracuse but was also down 17-0 to Syracuse and had a slow start. If South Florida has a slow start here they will lose 60-0 and won't be climbing back into this game like they did last week. Take Florida St and lay the 5.

VIRGINIA TECH -12.5 over East Carolina
The number is big here but VT was very good to me last week. A TD favorite that won 49-0, so I am gonna ride the hot hand. East Carolina is a decent team, just not sure if they can hang within two touchdowns on the road vs a good ACC school. Give me VT.



CINCINNATI -3.5 over Denver
The Bengals opened up with road games against the Jets and Steelers. That is no easy task and they looked good in both games. Denver is 2-0 but I want to see Trevor Siemian do something on the road and play a road game. I don't trust him yet. The Bengals are without Demarcus Ware and they have a young QB in his first real road test. The Bengals are a legit defense and a solid NFL team. I don't expect a lot of points to be scored in this game and if it comes down to a field goal I am screwed as I am giving up the hook, but I am taking my chances and taking the Bengals in their home opener.

New York Jets +3 over KANSAS CITY
I haven't been overly impressed with KC this year. They got lucky week 1 and then lost week 2. The Jets almost beat Cincy week 1 then destroyed Buffalo last week and have the mini-bye with the extra days rest. The Jets have the better offense (by far) and the better defense (by far). The wrong team is favored here, I think the Jets win outright so the +3 is a gift.

DALLAS -7 over Chicago
The Bears suck. Like really really suck and now they have a back-up QB to boot. Dallas will run right, run left, run up the middle....and repeat. They will run up and down the field on a horrible Bears defense and win this game easily. 7 points is too low a point spread. Take the boys at home.

BONUS PICK: That's right I'm in a slump with my NFL picks so a special bonus 4th NFL game this week to bust the slump. I said week one that you bet against Belichick at your own risk. I did, I lost, I got burned. I said last week I would never do it again. And I wouldn't, but then their QB went down and they are on their 3rd string QB vs a great defense. In order for me to bust this slump I need to go big. Give me Houston EVEN over NEW ENGLAND


Points spread curtesy of the Wynn Casino and Sportsbook

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Future is Now- Running Back edition

Image result for kenyan drake

After an 0-2 start, in arguably the two toughest stadiums for a young team to start at, the Miami Dolphins return home this week to play the Browns.  This is like every other game in the NFL.  It doesn't matter how much better you are talent wise, any given Sunday you can lose.  But after the first 2 games, one thing needs to happen.  Kenyan Drake needs to be the Dolphins starting tailback.

Now before you jump at me, hear me out on this:  Drake is a dynamic player if used properly.  The struggles of the first two weeks on offense can be pointed to one thing, no running game.  When your Quarterback is your leading rusher, you have a problem.  Miami has gone three and out consistently in the first half for both games.  Establishing a ground game is key to success.  It begins this week.  I implore Adam Gase and his staff to shove Ajayi to the side, skip Damien Williams and give the show to Drake. 

Drake can provide the spark to this offense.  He showed flashes in the final preseason game with a 50 yard catch, lined up as a receiver.  He had 2 carries on Sunday, one for 5 yards and the other a 7 yard touchdown run.  Things need to change and the opponent coming in is a perfect test for Drake.  Foster is on the sideline (surprise) with an injury, Ajayi continues to fall apart and Williams has become an after thought. 

Drake can be dynamic with the first string offense, the question:  Is Adam Gase ready to take a chance to get his offense going quicker?  Let me know your thoughts!  Tweet me @ternisse13 and @dolphinstalk

Monday, September 19, 2016

Step off the Ledge Dolphins Fans

Xavien Howard will be a future star
I know, I know, it's painful at times to be a fan of this team. The first two weeks have been very painful to watch. Week 1 Miami had Seattle beaten and of course they let Seattle score the winning touchdown with seconds left and the Fins grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. Then this past Sunday the Fins let a virtual unknown QB who has 1 real game under his belt go up and down the field and look like Joe Montana in his prime. If that wasn't bad enough the Dolphins come crawling back into this game to make it a one score game with the ball and under a minute to go to only fall short of tying the game in the final seconds. Kicked in the gut once again.

Now, I know many Dolphins fans are (for lack of a better word) pissed off. They are pissed off from the last 15 years, they are pissed off from how the team lost Week 1, and they at really pissed off from how the Fins looked in the first half of the game this past weekend. I get it, and nothing I say here is going to make that anger go away. But a couple things to remember; 1) If anybody expected Miami to start the year 2-0 with road games vs Seattle and New England you were living in fantasy land to begin with. 2) If you thought this team was going to make the playoffs this year, again you were living in a fantasy world.

Everyone needs to take a step back and take a big deep breath and put things into perspective. The Dolphins are at 0-2 where many level headed fans thought they would be. And honestly the Fins have looked good for 6 out of the 8 quarters they have played this year. This team is very young in many key spots and that youth shows up at times. The Dolphins secondary is very young with a first year CB and a 2nd year CB as the nickel back. With Arian Foster out the Dolphins are very young and inexperienced at running back. At defensive tackle with no Earl Mitchell the Fins are rotating in and giving Jordan Phillips and Julius Warmsley significant snaps. These aren't excuses these are facts. This team is playing a lot of young players in key positions.

Every couple games this year I am going to take a "snapshot" as to where we are in time as a team and make a couple observations. Here are a few things that stand out after the first two games of the year.

-Xavien Howard is going to be a stud CB. This kid missed all of training camp and played only a few plays in the final meaningless preseason game. And through two games he has looked outstanding. If this kid continues to grow as a player and keeps this level of play up he is going to be a solid CB in the NFL for many years to come and come January I wouldn't be shocked if he is this teams #1 CB heading into 2017.

-On the flip side; Bobby McCain can't play in this league. He is too small and overmatched. I'm sure he is a nice person and a good guy, but much like Tony Lippett; McCain just can't play. A lot of the Dolphins problems in the secondary come from teams are able to spread us out and take advantage of our lackluster corners. Howard is playing well, Maxwell is playing ok too....after that the Fins don't have a CB on their roster who can cover anyone.

-This offensive line needs Billy Turner. As I mentioned prior to the season, the Fins o-line can pass block with the best of them. Tannehill isn't getting hit as often as years past. But this unit can't run block to save their life. Billy Turner, who can run block but is so-so in pass protection, needs to see the field when Pouncey gets back. I am hesitant to make this move now because I don't want Turner and Steen next to each other in meaningful games. But when Pouncey gets back Turner has to start and Bushrod needs to find the pine. The Dolphins running game needs a boost and Turner can provide it.

-Jay Ajai can just go away. He is fumbling away the ball a lot, he can't pass block to save his life, he is a bit injury prone, and oh yeah after he was told he wasn't the starter he pouted and was left behind for Week 1. Enough.....just enough. Even with Foster out I don't want to see Jay Ajai anymore. Damien Williams needs to be the starter, Kenyan Drake you use in certain packages, and if Pead is healthy he is the 3rd RB until Foster returns. The Jay Ajai era is over before it started in Miami. He must go!

-DeVante Parker can be a superstar. Like top 3 WR's in the game level superstar. But he needs to take care of himself and ensure he is on the field each week. Parker was magnificent vs New England this past week and he ended last year on fire as well. IF Parker can stay healthy (huge IF with him) he and Landry at as good a 1-2 WR punch as there is in this league.

-Everyone needs to get off Ryan Tannehill for like 5 minutes and just let the season play out. I know the Tannehill haters get some sick joy out of just bashing him endlessly day after day and week after week. Hell there is one simple minded beat reporter for the Dolphins who get's his jolly's off bashing the kid for some reason.  I get it, many of you don't like him. Your voices have been heard, the rest of us who either support him or don't have a strong feeling either way on him get it. We hear you.

With that said, I could make a list of problems on this Dolphins roster right now and Tannehill wouldn't crack the Top 10. Ryan Tannehill has played 2 games for Adam Gase under this new offense, both on the road vs teams that have won Super Bowls in the last 3 years. Let Tannehill play 1 full season under Gase. Let him have some games to get his feet wet in this offense that are at home vs non Super Bowl caliber teams to see if he is making progress. And come the final whistle of Week 17 and the 2016 season if there is regression or not enough improvement, then fine maybe it is time to move on. But this constant never ending bashing of the kid is old and tired.

We get it, no matter what Tannehill does some of you, a large group of you will never like him....EVER!  Fine, you don't have too and you are entitled to hold that opinion. But give this kid a chance behind an o-line that is somewhat competent (something he has never had till now,) with a full group of healthy and talented WR's (something he has never had till now,) and a head coach who has a clue about modern football (again, something he has never had till now.)  Just give him 14 more games without the constant bitching and moaning each week about every little thing he does. Some of you fans want perfection, hate to break it to ya, no QB is perfect and you are not going to replace Tannehill with a perfect QB. Tannehill is good. He doesn't suck but he isn't great. Some of you think "good" sucks and want perfection. Just because you don't have "perfection" you want to throw "good" to the curb.  If after this season plays out Tannehill doesn't get better or isn't playing good enough...then spread your hate loud and proud for the world to hear. Until then, sit down and shut up!

So those are some observations I have 2 games into the season. This week Miami should have a win vs Cleveland and their 3rd string QB. Won't get too excited over that but also its a game the team should win easily. Then it's a short week to Cincinnati and that will be no easy task. The Fins first part of the schedule is tough, we knew that in April. The team isn't quitting and they are playing hard for Gase which is a good sign. They just now need to translate that into some wins. Podcast for September 19th w/Former Dolphins Safety Shawn Wooden

A tough loss to the Patriots this week and the boys are back with a full re-cap of the game. They also have a game preview of the upcoming match-up vs Cleveland. And we have a special interview with former Dolphins safety Shawn Wooden.

All of that and so much more in this weeks Podcast.

Make sure you Like, Subscribe and come back next week as we do a weekly Miami Dolphins podcast. Please contact us at @rjclifestyle @ternisse13 and @dolphinstalk and use the hashtag #dolphinstalk