By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303
We are a few weeks shy of the start of the 2020 NFL season. The Miami Dolphins are spending these weeks finalizing their offense and their defense.
Since league rosters were preset to only 80 players rather than the maximum 90 players due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dolphins coaches have had to use this time carefully evaluating players.
With the mandatory cut down day looming September 5th, all NFL teams must have rosters set at 53, leaving teams with extra talent to make decisions based on the extended training camps.
The League did recognize they needed to make a few changes, so they set forth a COVID -19 expanded practice squad, going from 12 to 16 players. The added spots are to aid in the event of positive COVID-19 tests throughout the season that may keep a starter off the field for an extended amount of time.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores at the beginning of camp spoke about new coaches and schedules.
(This year is obviously unique but just generally speaking, do your training camp scripts differ year-to-year based on things like coaching and personnel changes?)
“Yeah, I think every year, it’s different. To set a script in one year and think that you’re just going to copy and paste it into the next year, that’s – because of different players, different coaches, just different things that you’re doing as a team. I think on a daily basis, you’ve got to be able to change, adapt and be flexible the same way you’re going to want your team to be able to adapt and be flexible within the game; so yeah, they change. The scripts change. The daily practice schedules change and obviously this year, everything is a little bit different, so anyone who’s setting a specific training camp schedule or practice, this year is definitely different, so we’re all going to have to adapt.”
Adapt they have. The Dolphins faced two opt-out situations due to the Covid-19. When early training camp was starting, it was announced wide receivers Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns were leaving the team. That left a once believed stacked receivers room now searching for replacements.
The Dolphins held their first scrimmage of camp Saturday the 29th. During the scrimmage, news broke of the Dolphins sending linebacker Raekwon McMillan to the Las Vegas Raiders for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Many observed a noticeably distraught quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, leaving the field with Coach Flores’s arm around him. It was later revealed that Fitzpatrick had lost his mother that morning.
(Obviously, we don’t have the view that you guys have or the film to look at, but seemed like it was a rougher day for the quarterbacks as a whole. I don’t know if that’s what you saw, how could you grade maybe how QB Tua Tagovailoa did in his first game action since the injury and QB Josh Rosen, as well?)
“I think it’s hard to really — every game is a little bit different. So I think if you don’t see a bunch of touchdowns scored, you feel like the quarterback is not playing well. That’s not necessarily the case – my view, as well. Although, not in my – not in my opinion, I should say. So I have to go back and look at the film. I saw some good throws. I saw some good decisions to – could have thrown it in some tighter windows. Potential turnovers that guys didn’t make the throw; but I’ve got to go watch the film, to be honest with you.”
“Honestly, I thought those guys – I thought there was good communication. I thought we were in and out of the huddle. You know, turnovers were down; so those are the things that are important – give us a chance to keep the game tight. But I’ve got to watch the film.”
Flores thoughts over-all and what he expects the rest of training camp.
“Good fundamentals, good technique, good communication. We’ll have the officials there, so we’ll get a good look as far as playing the right way, no holding offensively or defensively, getting up to the line of scrimmage quickly to get the ball snapped, just overall improvement in every area – throwing, catching, blocking, defeating blocks, tackling, breaking tackles – all those fundamentals and basic, basic football. Basic football. Basic overall football.”
“I’m looking for just improvement from that standpoint. Again we’re a young team, so we’re just kind of trying to build the continuity. A lot of these guys haven’t played together. We’re still in the beginning stages from that standpoint, so we’ve got a long way to go. It’s a young team and it’s an inexperienced team, so we’re just taking this one day at a time.”
Follow Lisa on Twitter @LJ1303
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