Former NFL executives share thoughts on Dolphins

Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile talks to his players during the NFL football team's organized team activities at Baptist Health Training Complex in Hard Rock Stadium on Tuesday, May 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida, in preparation for their 2022-23 NFL season.

Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile talks to his players during the NFL football team’s organized team activities at Baptist Health Training Complex in Hard Rock Stadium on Tuesday, May 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida, in preparation for their 2022-23 NFL season.

dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Some thoughts on the state of the Miami Dolphins from a few former top executives with their teams:

▪ Former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik said at the very least, they’re fringe playoff contenders.

“I would think so,” he told me on a Sirius XM conference call. “The reason I think they can possibly get in there is can they beat New England and the Jets [four combined times]? Yes!

“If you look at picking up a couple more wins, if you look at the other divisions, they will beat each other up pretty hard” — with the loaded AFC West a perfect example of that.

“Can we get into that wild card? I think they are a fringe playoff team, based on how Tua [Tagovailoa] plays because their schedule will allow that.”

Couple other observations from Dominik:

“They want a three-headed monster at running back,” he said. “I think Raheem Mostert has a chance to be the best of the group. Myles Gaskin has always been kind of fascinating to me. When they gave the ball to Myles 15 to 20 times or more, they had pretty good production. There is something that bothers them a little bit” about Gaskin, though.

(If the Dolphins were confident in Gaskin, they wouldn’t have signed Sony Michel on top of Chase Edmonds and Mostert.)

“Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, that o-line room now is pretty stacked,” Dominik said. “Austin Jackson is out there competing on the right side. If Jackson [the front-runner at right tackle] and Solomon Kindley are your backups, you’re feeling great. Robert Jones makes the team and that’s a really deep offensive line, which is impressive.”

▪ Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, now an NFL Network analyst: “They had a solid core of players before. A good enough team to beat the Patriots. They also added a head coach who is really going to make a difference. The fact of the unknown and how they’re going to be coached and what they’re going to do is going to be a bit of a factor.

“The new players all fit the system, scheme and culture that Mike McDaniel wants, the type of team he wants. This is the team that’s going to give the Bills a real run.”

Here’s another thing Pioli e-mailed me about: “I like their focus on the running game with good backs like Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert. Mike McDaniel knows what he wants specifically for his running game.

“I also like the players they re-signed… One of the most underrated elements of free agency is the re-signing of your own good players. So much attention is given to teams chasing something outside their own locker room that looks attractive. But no one should know your own players and their fit better than you!”

Pioli said: “Tua’s arm strength will be just fine. First five years of Tom Brady’s career, critics said over and over that he can’t throw the deep ball. It’s all dink and dunk. Brady was deadly accurate. He was being told to make high percentage throws, because that’s what he could do best at that time. As he got older, he got stronger.”

▪ Former Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum isn’t a big fan of Tagovailoa but loves what the Dolphins have done this offseason. On his web site, the 33rd Team, he said the Dolphins, Bengals and Raiders have the best offensive weapon groups in the NFL.

But…

“Of all the quarterbacks in the NFL, Tua has more pressure on him [than anyone] and Teddy Bridgewater is a very capable quarterback,” Tannenbaum said.

“It’s not unreasonable to think he could be playing sometime by midseason,… sooner than later if Tua hits any bump in the road given everything he has to work with. My concern is Tua was he was 23rd in the NFL last season in yards per pass attempt. He struggles to get the ball down the field consistently.

“Coach McDaniel will probably try to move the pocket, cut the field in half, have a lot of plays for Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill that are catch and runs that play to Tua’s strength and try to maximize Tua’s ability that way. They’re giving him everything a quarterback could want and then some.”

▪ Former Falcons and Raiders executive Ken Herock, who now prepares coaches for interviews and players for the NFL Draft, told me:

“They have enough to compete for a wild card. Tyreek Hill turns plays that are seven, eight yards [for many players] into 18, 20 yard plays. They improved the offensive line with the free agents.

“They have good flashy little backs; they can make plays and they’re good splitting time. I’m not sure Tua is a quick reactor. If he doesn’t get them the ball, it’s time to replace Tua. They brought him the weapons; let him produce. Those guys will make plays for them as long as they protect Tua.

“It’s a middle of the pack defense. The defense isn’t going to save them. It’s [a good defense] but not one that can carry you.” Herock acknowledged that a lot of the defense’s success came against mediocre quarterbacks last season, which creates doubt in his mind about how good this group is.

This story was originally published June 23, 2022 4:34 PM.

Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written the Florida Sports Buzz column since 2002.

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