Tag Archives: Jerome Baker

Patriots 2019 Opponents, First Impressions of the Dolphins

Steve Balestrieri
September 11, 2019 at 9:07 am ET

The Miami Dolphins cleaned house this past spring and brought in a new coach, GM and cut their ties with several players. The new head coach Brian Flores spent many years in New England and played a big part in their Super Bowl championship over the Rams in February. 

So Miami came calling, feeling that they were heading nowhere with Adam Gase at the helm, where he was tied to QB Ryan Tannehill who, despite getting paid like a franchise QB, never produced on the field like one. 

If things didn’t seem bad enough, where many NFL analysts had the Dolphins finishing among the worst teams in the NFL in 2019, right before the regular season worse news hit. The front office traded left tackle Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills to the Texans.

Their first game was a nightmare with the Raven annihilating Miami 59-10. Baltimore rolled up an incredible 643 yards of offense, 378 through the air and 265 more rushing. Lamar Jackson threw five touchdown passes completing 17-20. Miami could only muster 200 yards of offense of their own. Fans were leaving in droves long before the game ended. 

So, here are our first impressions of the Dolphins of 2019:

Brian Flores and His Staff Have a Lot of Work to Do:

Flores, known affectionately as B-Flo by the players here knew that the Dolphins needed to clean house when he over the team this past winter. But perhaps maybe he didn’t realize how far they had to go. He brought several coaches from New England with him, including former Patriots WR coach Chad O’Shea, who is now the offensive coordinator. After coaching a team that was always in the running for a Super Bowl, Flores and his staff went about trying to change the culture in South Beach.

Management’s decision to jettison both Tunsil and Stills was a sign that the front office is intent on tanking the season, possibly with the hope of landing Tua Tagovailoa, the QB from Alabama despite the fact that they brought in Josh Rosen, a top 10 pick from just a year ago from the Cardinals. 

Last Sunday, the Dolphins had 14 players on the opening week roster that weren’t with the team during the preseason. And it showed on the field. With his former boss Bill Belichick and the Patriots coming to town this week, the Dolphins have a lot of issues to correct, in all three phases of the game. 

Several Dolphins Players Reportedly Already Want Out:

Following the 59-10 debacle in South Beach last week, there were reports that several players are wanting to jump ship. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that  “multiple Dolphins players contacted their agents after Sunday’s season-opening blowout loss and directed them to attempt to engineer trades elsewhere.”

Florio added that the players in question believe that some of the coaching staff, “aren’t serious about competing and winning and, by all appearances, have bought into the notion that the Dolphins will take their lumps now in the hopes of laying the foundation via high draft picks for building a successful team later.” Ouch.

Flores has denied this stating, “I can’t really speak to the accuracy of that one,” he said on Monday. “We haven’t received any information like that.” But the players know that the front office has decided to tank this season to gain a more advantageous draft position in 2020. 

The Dolphins are basically holding a fire sale. And one player who several teams covet, cornerback Xavien Howard may soon be traded away as by GM Chris Grier. As for this week, Flores has announced that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will once again get the start against the Patriots.  

Baker and Eguavoen Were the Ironmen for the  Defense:

The Dolphins didn’t have many bright spots in the 59 -10 thumping they took last week from the Ravens, but Flores and the coaching staff have to be pleased with the efforts of linebackers Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen who showcased their skills and conditioning, especially in the South Florida heat by answering the bell all day long.

Baker led the way by playing in 84 snaps, including 12 on special teams, while Eguavoen logged 83 of his own. And despite the way the game unfolded, Baker, who was a 3rd round draft pick of the Dolphins in the 2018 NFL Draft [73rd overall], remained upbeat about his teammates. 

On his Twitter account, Baker posted “I’ll go to war with this team every day!” which he tweeted with the hashtag PhinsUp and a dolphin emoji. He was asked about it after the game on Monday and he doubled down.

“It’s just a part of the game,” Baker said. “I don’t want anybody to question that we’ll all stick together. It’s just one loss. We’ve got to bounce back and ultimately stick together.”

Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham is keeping an open mind and an open door for his players to help turn things around, being open to suggestions that will help the team find some answers. 

 “I think we’re all doing this job together,” Graham said. “There’s definitely a leadership role. It starts with our head coach. It trickles down to me and then to the players and then the leadership within the player group as well, but my door is always open. I’m always open to hear and listen and get communication from the players and input because we are doing this thing together. We spend so much time with one another.”

Fitzpatrick Hoping to Capture Some “Fitzmagic” This Week:

With the Dolphins in full rebuild mode, many fans expected that the team would start second-year QB Josh Rosen to see what they had in the young QB who was saddled with arguably the worst supporting cast in the NFL last year. But the team instead opted for journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick finished the game just 14-29 for 185 yards with one TD and one INT. He gave way to Rosen who mopped up in the loss. Rosen completed one of three passes for five yards with an interception. Fitzpatrick set two records on Sunday, one of them was of the dubious quality. With his touchdown pass, he became the first QB to throw a TD pass for his eighth different team. And of course, his interception also meant that he has now thrown interceptions for eight different teams, also a record.

Fitzpatrick has faced the Patriots 11 times in his career and has a 2-9 record against them, seven of those as a member of the Bills [1-6] and four as a member of the Jets [1-3]. He has completed 238 of 388 passes [61.3 percent], for 3035 yards with 20 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. His passer rating is 82.6 in those 11 games. He’s also been sacked 20 times. 

If the Dolphins expect another “Miami Miracle” this Sunday, they’re going to need a lot more Fitzmagic and less of the Fitzpatrick that has faced the Patriots for much of his career. 

Questions Abound About the Offensive Line:

The trade of left tackle Laremy Tunsil was expected to necessitate change for the Miami offensive line in 2019, but nobody foresaw what ensued in Week 1. The coaches moved RT Jesse Davis to the left side, and then started two players, Julien Davenport at right tackle and Danny Isidora at right guard who had been on the team less than a week, the starting nod while benching Shalique Calhoun. 

The only two constants from the preseason were center Daniel Kilgore and left guard Michael Dieter. The results would speak for themselves. Miami could only manage 200 yards of offense and just 21 yards on the ground.

Both new players on the right side struggled mightily as the Ravens attacked that side and consistently won the one-on-one matchups. Expect the Patriots to do the same until the new players to get up to speed with the playbook, the offense and improve the communication. 

Both Davenport and Isadora struggle with pass blocking. As a member of the Texans last year, Davenport allowed 12 sacks, 65 QB hurries and committed 16 penalties. Expect the Patriots to be very aggressive on the Dolphins’ right side.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

New England Patriots, Mock Draft 1.0, Post Free Agency

Steve Balestrieri
March 30, 2018 at 8:30 am ET

 

Where will the Patriots look to first in 2018?

With Free Agency now over a few weeks old, it is time take an early crack at looking at the draft from a Patriots perspective. There are still moves that can be and will be made in free agency and there is always the possibility of a trade that may affect the way the team looks at the draft. But with the initial free agency period winding down it is time to move to the draft.

We have been using the draft tool that the folks at Fanspeak.com that we’ve been touting for awhile and it is really good and highly recommended.

In their “On the Clock” simulator, you are the GM for any NFL team. You can choose how many rounds you’d like to draft for (1-7), and pick one of several big boards to choose from. The boards are normally updated every Tuesday.

The big boards for each site differ and the site has a random selection process that picks for the other 31 teams based upon the best player available and team needs that are constantly updated until it is your time to pick.

For this opening mock draft (3-30), I used the big board of Matt Miller, Bleacher Report.

Here is our first mock draft attempt this year: Mock 1.0

Round 1, Pick #31 Edge Sam Hubbard, Ohio State:

Maybe it is an omen, I finished uploading a draft profile on Hubbard into our database and started doing our first draft and all the best linebackers slipped off the board between 25-28 which we expected but getting Hubbard was a nice pickup.

He gives that needed depth on the edge, can step in and play at a high level on Day 1, can play either side so he’s versatile and can do a bit of everything.

To see our draft profile on him click here:

Round 2, Pick #43 TE, Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State:

The Patriots pick up a long-term replacement for Rob Gronkowski. Is this raw kid a Gronk clone? No, but he’s arguably the most complete tight end in the draft. And once a guy starts talking about retirement…

Good size and moves very well for a guy at 6’5, 255-pounds. He’s a guy that can be moved around at different spots and levels. Excellent hands adjusts well to the ball in the air. He’s a good blocker when playing in-line. He has good quickness and has excelled at getting free at the line of scrimmage and beating the jam. 

He’s a strong runner after the catch and can play the traditional “Y” or in-line tight end or the flex or “move” tight end outside. This kid will have a year or so to learn from Gronkowski and should be an immediate impact player.

Round 2, Pick #63 LB, Jerome Baker, Ohio State:

Baker is one of those “new breed” of linebackers at 6’1, 229 that are smaller but with speed and athleticism and he has plenty of that. Baker is a good tackler and very good in coverage due to his excellent speed and athleticism.

Baker doesn’t have a lot of size and his toughness, especially in the running game could be a question mark. But that is the price you pay when you go faster and more athletic at times. Not a great instinctive player but could be a very good third down linebacker, something the Patriots were lacking last year, especially in coverage.

Round 3, Pick #95 QB, Kyle Lauletta, Richmond:

Lauletta has been widely mocked to the Patriots all spring…which usually means that he won’t be coming. But by Round 3, the majority of the highly sought after quarterbacks were taken. Lauletta has the skill set to do very well with the Patriots.

He throws a nice ball and leads his receivers well, he won’t throw them into big hits. Lauletta has a quick release, very good footwork, moves well in the pocket and was a team leader. Doesn’t have a cannon for an arm but is very tough, physically, and mentally. Learning from Brady for a year or two may be just what the doctor ordered.

Lauletta’s draft profile by us can be seen here:

Round 4, Pick #136 CB, Taron Johnson, Weber State:

Johnson wasn’t a highly sought after recruit but parlayed that into a very positive career and a Senior Bowl invite. He’s not a big guy at 5’11, 192 which could push into the nickel or slot corner role and that would work just fine for the Patriots.

Johnson is a scrappy, aggressive corner with good coverage skills and broke up 42 passes in 45 career games. He’s also a good tackler, something the Patriots insist on with their corners, especially in the running game.

Round 6, Pick #210 RB, Justin Jackson, Northwestern:

Jackson is a 5’11, 193-pound running back who isn’t the biggest guy but has great vision and anticipation of where the holes are going to open up. He and Ron Dayne are the only Big Ten RBs that rushed for 1000+ yards in all four college seasons.

While not a power runner, he keeps his legs moving and has been a workhorse while catching 44 passes out of the backfield in his senior year. With the Patriots always going with a running back by committee approach, Jackson could be a very nice pickup, he’s a guy not afraid to run between the tackles and is good in the passing game.

Round 7, Pick #219 LB, Christian Sam, Arizona State:

Sam is a linebacker whose draft stock is all over the place. Some have him as a 2nd rounder, and we’ve seen him mocked all the way to where we found him in Round 7. He’s a steal here.

Sam is a 6’2, 237-pound linebacker who can play with speed, quickness, and change in direction. He’s a three-down linebacker with very good coverage skills. He’s got the potential to be a starter inside on Day 1 if he picks up the pro game quickly.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.