Dolphins Sunday Mailbag: Tua, Holland, Howard, and More

Which players are poised for comeback seasons? Was depth on the roster a problem last season and how does it look right now? We tackle those and other Miami Dolphins issues.
Jevon Holland returned an interception for a 100-yard TD in the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Black Friday.
Jevon Holland returned an interception for a 100-yard TD in the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Black Friday. / Chris Pedota / USA TODAY NETWORK
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From Earlwithan_E (@Earlewithan_E):

It's early, but who do you think will be comeback players of the year on defense and offense for the Fins?

Hey Earle, I don’t see many players who underperformed last season, so we would be talking about players coming back from injury, so with that in mind the logical candidates to me would be Erik Ezukanma on offense and maybe Jevon Holland on defense considering he missed most of the second half of the season with those knee issues.

From Jeff (via email):

Hello Alain, Tua sounded a bit more mature in his press conference and my intuition tells me that his home life, being a father, and growing in that role has really had a positive impact on his focus and effort as a leader of the team (also based on what the WR group has been saying). Do you think he has matured in some regard during the offseason or does it feel like the same Tua you've heard from many times before?

Hey Jeff, did Tua sound different in that media session, but to me it wasn’t so much more mature as it was more serious. This is a totally different for Tua because he’s looking for that big contract extension and it’s not getting done as quickly as he’d like, so he’s annoyed by it and wasn’t going to be the happy-go-lucky Tua that we normally see. Not sure it’s got anything to do with maturity. He clearly is more mature than he was when he first arrived, but that’s kind of the normal growth process and getting married and having children.

From David Nastali (@DNastali):

Props to peeps who have questions about anything with all the content available nowadays … I appreciate some time away from football personally … though I still listen to your podcasts/YT … despite that Expos hat.

Hey David, yes, there is a lot of content available nowadays, but the questions (which I appreciate and hope keep coming) often deal with getting a different viewpoint or perspective from somebody who’s around the team and also has been covering it for a long time. And thanks for your support of the All Dolphins Podcast (despite the Expos hate, which is not going anywhere LOL).

From Fil (@FilKillin):

What would Grier going “scorched earth” during the offseason look like? No specific scenario. But what could him going all in or all out look like? Nothing is off the table, I’m talking extremes.

Hey Fil, well, going scorched earth, under that definition, could only mean trading away one or more of the high-profile players on the team (and we know who they are). Or in the other scenario, trading for another star like Tyreek Hill or Jalen Ramsey. It's not happening this year, but I wouldn't dismiss it entirely depending on how the season plays out.

THE DOLPHINS DEPTH AND THE DEFENSE

From Roger Dodger (@RogerDolfan):

We saw huge drop-off in play after injuries last season. Probably cost team AFC East championship and playoff win. Did Grier fix this problem or will this be problematic again this season?

Hey Roger, there is not one team in the entire NFL that has starter-level backups all over the roster. That’s just fiction. So this notion but bad backups cost the Dolphins last season doesn’t wash for me. Injuries definitely were a factor in the late-season issues, but it’s too simplistic to blame them solely as the reason the team fell short. The Dolphins have very good depth at certain positions and they're lacking at others, just like practically every other team in the NFL.

From FinsUpMass (@paulbdotcom):

Is the defensive scheme any different? If so, did Wilkins not fit it or was it just money?

Hey Paul, Wilkins is a good enough player that he could have produced in just about any scheme and the Dolphins’ willingness to let him leave basically was about positional value, simply not wanting to pay that much for his position. As for the scheme, the media is not allowed to report what we see in practices not open to the public, but looking at what Baltimore did last season would be a good starting point. That means a little bit of zone, a lot of three-safety looks, heavy rotation up front, some zone blitzing.

From Larry Chapman (@LarryCh57302147):

Which UDFA makes the roster this year, and why? It seems like Miami always has 1 UDFA who surprises everyone and makes the 53 roster.

Hey Larry, based on the needs of the team and credentials of the UDFAs the Dolphins signed, I’d say the two players I would watch are safety Mark Perry and edge defender Grayson Murphy. And it’s Murphy who was the most noticeable of the rookie free agents during the offseason practices open to the media. Tackle Bayron Matos probably won’t make the 53-man roster, but he will be on the practice squad (as an International Pathway Player, he won’t count against the 16-player limit).

From Ed Helinski (@MrEd315):

What’s going to get more interest next month, Dolphins training camp or Paris Olympics?

Hey Ed, that depends where you are. In South Florida, I’d say I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s going to be all about the Dolphins among serious sports fans, though the Olympics will be watched by casual fans and even non-sports fans.

From tttrickyyy (@tttrickyyy):

Did Howard's off-the-field issues factor into his release? ANY possibility of Howard re-signing?

Only the Dolphins know for sure all the factors went into the decision, but from here it should be clear that the factors included Howard’s salary-cap number, his injury issues of the past couple of seasons and his age. The off-the-field issues certainly couldn’t have helped, but whether or how much they played a role, not sure. And I wouldn’t expect Howard being back with the Dolphins, though we never say never, right?

From Eugenio Tallone (@Ertallone):

Hi Alain, would you use some of the cap space to reinforce the roster or consider that it is better to keep it for unforeseen events of the season or directly for next season? If you choose to use it, what position or player would you look for? Thanks.

Hey Eugenio, I certainly don’t think the Dolphins are going to go on a shopping spree and not keep some cap space. And they also have to take care of signing their top two draft picks, Chop Robinson and Patrick Paul. If they do add a veteran, I would look at a defensive back, guard or maybe edge defender.

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Alain Poupart

ALAIN POUPART

Alain Poupart is the publisher/editor of AllDolphins.com and co-host of the All Dolphins Podcast. Alain has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989 for various publications and media outlets, including Dolphin Digest, The Associated Press, the Dolphins team website, and the Fan Nation Network (part of Sports Illustrated). In addition to being a credentialed member of the Miami Dolphins press corps, Alain has covered three Super Bowls (for NFL.com, Football News and the Montreal Gazette), the annual NFL draft, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL Scouting Combine. During his almost 40 years in journalism, which began at the now-defunct Miami News, Alain has covered practically every sport at one time or another, from tennis to golf, baseball, basketball and everything in between. The career also included time as a copy editor, including work on several books such as "Still Perfect," an inside look at the Miami Dolphins' 1972 perfect season. A native of Montreal, Canada, whose first language is French, Alain grew up a huge hockey fan but soon developed a love for all sports, including NFL football. He has lived in South Florida since the 1980s.