Five Questions with @5ReasonsSports: What we learned through 3 Dolphins games
It's all done but the cutting.
We're three games into the Dolphins preseason, and much of the essential stuff has been settled. Bobby McCain, not Cordrea Tankersley, will be the starting boundary cornerback. The offensive line is settling in. Kenyan Drake looks like a star. And linebacker may still be a mess.
On the flagship Five Reasons sports podcast, Five Reasons Sports Network co-founders Ethan and Chris identify five things we've learned so far.
Here are some highlights:
1. The quarterbacks....
Ethan: "(Ryan Tannehill) came out of it healthy. And that is the most important thing. If you go back a few months, and you say, what is the critical thing for the Dolphins this season, regardless of whether you think he's an elite quarterback or not, was the fact that they would have better quarterback than they had last year. I think we're guaranteed that as long as Ryan Tannehill is healthy."
Chris: "The thing about Tannehill that is most encouraging going forward is that I think you kind of watch him play, and play in a manner that looks similar to when we last saw him. You watch him, and I don't think of the injury anymore. I don't think of a guy that looks like he's coming off major knee reconstruction that looks like a different player. To me, he looks like exactly the same player. So I leave with that bit of confidence. And I've also seen Ryan Tannehill kept upright."
Ethan: "(On the backups) I don't know whose fault this is. I don't know if it's (Adam) Gase, I don't know if it's (Chris) Grier, I don't know if it's (Mike) Tannenbaum, I don't know if it's Steve Ross simply because he wouldn't sign (Colin) Kaepernick last year, they'd have a perfectly good backup on this roster.... But Gase is known as a quarterback whisperer. This is the position he has to get right. This is the reason he's here."
Chris: (on David Fales) "His upside is you survive an NFL game with him as your quarterback. That's his upside. He might not win it, but you can survive and it not be a disaster. And even then, he's gone against the backups the last two games, and it's been really bad."
2. Have we given up on DeVante Parker being a top receiver for the Dolphins?
Ethan: "Yeah, I think we're out on the idea.... Broken finger is not his fault, there were signs he was working harder this year. But I think even the fans have moved on from DeVante Parker. I haven't even noticed over the past couple of weeks much consternation about his lack of availability. It's just like, 'OK, we just assume we've not going to have DeVante Parker.' Anything they get out of him right now is a bonus. It's not that they don't need what DeVante Parker can offer, but they're probably not going to get it. So might as well move on."
Chris: "This to me most justifies what they did in the offseason. I think a lot of people when they signed (Danny) Amendola and (Albert) Wilson on the same day, and it was like, 'What are they doing?'".... It was most about bringing in a tight end and bringing in two receivers who could be pass-catchers so that DeVante Parker did not need to be relied upon to be healthy for 16 games and be a real contributor for the Dolphins. They built a plan at receiver that didn't include DeVante Parker."
3. Which veteran newcomer has been the most impressive?
Ethan: "Robert Quinn, by far. And it looks like they got a steal there. I liked the trade at the time. Because he's not that far away from being a double-digit sack player.... Pass rushers can be very effective deep into their 30s (Quinn is 28). Look at Cameron Wake..... Defensive linemen, edge pass rushers, they kind of get better as they age. Because they perfect a couple of moves, and they can keep going to them when they need them. To me, you can never have enough pass rushers."
Chris: "I would actually go with a tandem of guys. And that's the additions of (Daniel) Kilgore and (Josh) Sitton. And I mentioned it earlier in the quarterback section, but they kept Ryan Tannehill upright a lot in this preseason. And even when he got sacked, those seemed to be the anomalies. It wasn't like there was constant pressure. And they went up against some pretty good defensive lines and front sevens. I do the pregame show with Channing Crowder and he was saying that Carolina's front seven might be the best in football."
4. Which rookies stood out?
Chris: "What Minkah Fitzpatrick showed this preseason is this dude is a professional. Not just in terms of him playing professional football, but he is at the level that you would expect a Nick Saban prepared player to be at."
Ethan: "I put it out there on Twitter (@5ReasonsSports), I think he'll be a Pro Bowler within three years. When you look at the instincts, the way he carries himself, even the way he carries himself with the media, which is going to get frustrating for the media because he doesn't say anything. But he's so polished. And the work ethic, the being there early, the leadership role... They hit on this pick."
5. What's the issue not enough people are talking about?
Chris: "Mine is the kicking game. Jason Sanders and Greg Joseph, they were actually pretty good, particularly in the last two games. But regardless to me of who starts the season, I don't think you have that sense of confidence that when you are sending your kicker out there, that he's going to make it. And that is a real concern for me when you look at the way that some seasons were derailed around the NFL. You look at the Los Angeles Chargers last season."
Ethan: "Well, actually that was mine too. It is a big deal, because things are going to have to break right for the Dolphins to compete for a wild card.... But I'm going to go to another one now. And I'm going to mention the defensive coordinator, Matt Burke. I don't know if he's any good. If they get run on this year, people are going to say it's because Ndamukong Suh is not there, but they weren't that good against the run with Suh, at times. So it's not just about him. It's the players, but it's also the scheme that the players are playing. And if Adam Gase is not going to get blamed, there's going to need to be a sacrificial lamb here."
The Five Reasons Sports podcast posts three times per week, with episodes on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Podbean and several other platforms. It is a mix of nostalgia and analysis on Miami sports.