Saturday edition of a bye-week-long supersized SI Fan Nation All Dolphins mailbag:
From Scott Eckenrode (@snake21104):
Are you buying into the theory that acquiring Bradley Chubb shows a shifting of defensive philosophy? Prioritizing elite pass rushers over elite cornerbacks? Our plan with Howard and Byron was always extremely fragile because it depended on both being healthy at the same time.
Hey Scott, I’m not sure it’s quite as complicated as that, as much as it was the opportunity to add an impact player to help an area that was struggling so far this season. I think the Dolphins just as easily would have jumped at the chance of acquiring a top-level cornerback had one been made available at the trade deadline.
From Mike Small (@realmikesmall):
My question is about Eric Rowe. Did you ever find out why he was a healthy scratch a couple of weeks ago and if they still view him as the TE stopper? I feel like he’s regressed…
Hey Mike, we specifically asked Josh Boyer the question the next time he spoke after that Detroit game and his answer was the obligatory deal that it had to do with game plan and matchups. My best guess is that the Dolphins expected the Lions to throw the ball a lot and maybe they liked Verone McKinley III better for that situation and then preferred Rowe’s better tackling ability against the Bears’ run-oriented offense the following week. As for covering tight ends, hmm, I’m not sure I buy that. I don’t recall a tight end really burning the Dolphins this year other than T.J. Hockenson on that long pass at Detroit, and it looked like that was Jevon Holland’s responsibility.
From Aaron Roberts (@AaronCRoberts):
Browns have one of the better O-lines in the NFL but the Dolphins D line made them look mediocre at best. Was that due to the addition of Chubb or something else?
The Dolphins were really good up front against the Browns, no question, but understand that the strength of the Cleveland line is the guards, Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. And Teller played only 11 snaps against the Dolphins because of injury issues. Then left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., who’s probably the third-best Browns O-lineman, missed six snaps. So it was a combination of both. But the Dolphins interior defensive line has been very good against the run all season, so what those guys did against Nick Chubb shouldn’t have been surprising.
From Olive Grove Jon (@Owlizee):
Alain. The difference of having a running game was clear to see as teams are now trying to take away the dual threat of Waddle and Hill. Have the Fins turned a corner with the run game?
Hey OGJ, I hate to use the term “turned a corner” after one breakout performance, but on the flip side, I do believe the addition of Jeff Wilson Jr. was absolutely huge and I would not be surprised one bit by other really good rushing games from the Dolphins (even if it’s not almost 200 yards like against Cleveland).
From Eugenio Tallone (@Ertallone):
Hi Alain, as always thanks for your answers and for your great work. If you have to compare the evolution of this team between week 1 and 10, which would be the 3 aspects you would highlight the most?
Hey Eugenio, hmm, that’s an interesting one and a very tough one. I think the passing game would stand out as one spot because it’s been really, really sharp the past three games. And that clearly starts with Tua, who’s been playing lights out since that Sunday night game against Pittsburgh. I think the run defense also has just gotten more and more solid, if you take away those occasional long runs. And then maybe I’d go with Mike McDaniel seemingly getting more and more aggressive in his decision-making, which to me is a sign he’s feeling more and more confident about the offense.
From Rich McQuillen (@rkmcquillen):
LG Robert Jones played pretty well against Cleveland. Do you think he has a chance at keeping this starting spot for the year? Pass-blocking PFF(Cleveland) LT Terron Armstead – 61.2 LG Robert Jones – 86.8 C Connor Williams – 72.2 RG Robert Hunt – 72.0 RT Brandon Shell – 56.7.
Hey Rich, I absolutely believe everything is on the table when it comes to the offensive line, other than the big three (72, 58, 68) moving or being replaced. If I’ve learned anything about McDaniel so far, I don’t think he’s about to mess with a winning formula and the O-line had a great game against Cleveland, so I’d be shocked if it didn’t stay the same against Houston.
From Craig M (@Dolfan2334):
How much do you think the Ogbah injury hurts? How do you think the team will try and offset this? If you were a betting man, do you think we’ll see Byron Jones this year?
Hey Craig, with all due respect to Ogbah, who I like as a guy and as a player, it’s not like he was giving the Dolphins a whole lot this year, so I don’t think the injury will hurt very much. I do see the Dolphins likely signing another defensive end to replace him because they’re light on big guys up front and they don’t need another D-tackle. I’m not a betting man (even though it’s fun), but I’m inclined to think we will see Byron Jones at some point this year. That’s just a guess, though, not based on actual information.
From Javier (@jboy1724):
Would getting Byron back propel the Dolphins to at minimum being the AFC champions? Any chance that Trey Flowers comes back and, if so, when would he come back realistically? Thanks as always! Love your work!
Thanks Javier, there absolutely is a chance that Trey Flowers could come back, though it won’t happen right away. As for Jones, no, I wouldn’t go as far as saying his return means an AFC title for the Dolphins. I’d say that if he does return and is back to the old Byron Jones, the Dolphins could challenge just about anybody in the AFC, though the Chiefs and Bills still would qualify as the favorites.
From mikethewreck (@mgcroteau):
Should the fact that Houston has been really bad at defending the run this year indicate that the next game might look a lot like the last game? Should the fact that Jacoby Brissett routinely ran for big chunks against the Dolphins be concerning since he is not the most mobile of QBs?
Hey Mike, yeah, that Houston game does set up like the Dolphins might rush for 250 yards, doesn’t it? The Texans have been that awful against the run. But it’s just like Mike McDaniel to go off script and go pass-heavy while the Texans focus their energy on stopping the run. As for Brissett, even though he’s no Lamar Jackson or Justin Fields, I think his scrambling ability actually is very underrated. But, yes, that’s been a major issue for the Dolphins and that’s going to be need to addressed before the Buffalo game for sure.
From Dixon Tam (@DixonTam):
Now that we're past the halfway point of the season, which three position areas do you believe the #Dolphins have to address next offseason? They fixed the offense and now they have to re-stock the defense. It's CB, LB and TE for me. Your thoughts?
Hey Dixon, sold! I accept your three choices. The TE choice would suggest you’re moving on from Mike Gesicki, which certainly wouldn’t be surprising. I can’t argue with anything you had there because you can never have enough stud corners and the linebacker corps could use an all-around talent.
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