Miami Dolphins Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
It was Sir Isaac Newton's third law of motion that claimed that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and it's this law that's working at full effect when it comes to the Miami Dolphins.
With every move the Dolphins made over the offseason, there will soon be a corresponding move when it comes to the depth chart. That means there are a number of players currently on the roster that have been put on notice and will need to fight for their jobs over training camp.
Philip Wheeler, for example, is coming off an atrocious 2013 campaign and may be in trouble if he can't show his worth in training camp with rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp fighting to replace him in the starting lineup.
Let's take a look at the rest of the Dolphins players that have been put on notice and will need to put up or shut up if they want to maintain their spot on the team.
Michael Egnew has been a bust since being drafted in the third round in 2012 and will be fighting for his roster life during training camp after the Dolphins drafted Arthur Lynch this year.
Lynch will likely be stepping in behind Charles Clay as the No. 2 tight end on the depth chart, which leaves the third and final tight end position between Egnew and Dion Sims.
Among the two, Egnew appears to be the most likely to get cut thanks to his complete inability to block.
Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald looked into Egnew during the final weeks of his rookie season in 2012 and explained why he didn't step on the field in any of the first 14 games:
I asked (Egnew) why it is so many Missouri tight ends go to the NFL and have the reputation for not blocking.
"I think we're not asked to do a lot of it," Egnew said. "The offense we run doesn't call for the tight end to do a lot of it so that's not something you work on enough."
So to boil it down for you, Egnew arrived at the Dolphins not knowing how to block. He was picked in the third round of the NFL draft without a solid foundation of blocking.
Egnew apparently wasn't taught blocking in college—at least not at a level proficient enough to get him started in the NFL. The Dolphins have had to work from the ground up in this area.
If he can't do that over the next few months, then his time in Miami will likely come to an end.
Daniel Thomas' 2013 season was very similar to his past two seasons—consistently bad production combined with the fanbase constantly wondering why he is on the field.
While some may want to blame Thomas' lack of production in 2013 on the offensive line, that was simply not the case. Because believe it or not, Thomas actually improved a bit on his 2012 performance. His 3.7 yards-per-carry average in 2013 was the best of his three-year career, and his four rushing touchdowns also tied a career high.
However, these numbers are still incredibly pedestrian as Thomas still put up his third straight dreadful season.
In fact, according to Pro-Football Reference, Thomas has been one of the worst running backs in the league in terms of yards per attempt since getting drafted. Among players with at least 350 carries since 2011, he has averaged 3.59 yards per rush—second-worst behind just Trent Richardson.
With the Dolphins adding Knowshon Moreno in the offseason along with Lamar Miller and Mike Gillislee likely sticking around, Thomas' time in Miami appears to be quickly winding down.
According to Spotrac, cutting Thomas would save the Dolphins nearly $1 million of cap space, so unless he has transformed into a completely different player over the offseason, there isn't much of a reason to keep him on the team.
Prior to going down with a knee injury against the New England Patriots in Week 8 last season, Brandon Gibson proved to be a very dependable wide receiver for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Gibson hauled in 30 of his 43 targets (69.8 percent) for 326 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came in the two games before his injury. Gibson led the team in touchdowns and was second in both receptions and yards before tearing his patella tendon and being placed on injured reserve.
However, despite the solid production, the Dolphins still decided to try to upgrade at wide receiver in the draft by bringing in Jarvis Landry.
Landry proved to be an extremely reliable weapon for Zach Mettenberger at LSU, dropping just one pass during the entire 2013 season, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
The addition of Landry means that Gibson won't have any extra time to work his way back from injury if he wants to keep his job as the team's No. 3 receiver.
If Gibson is slowed in any way by his injury, you can expect Landry to step right into the No. 3 receiver role and never look back.
As one of the prized free-agent acquisition in 2013, Philip Wheeler's first season in Miami was a complete failure.
Wheeler ranked 35th among 35 outside linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and was graded worse in every category from where he was in 2012.
While he did record 93 solo tackles, he missed the fourth-most tackles in the league among outside linebackers and was rated as the second-worst against the run. He also was terrible in coverage, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 72.3 percent of passes thrown at him for three touchdowns and a 108.7 QB rating.
While the Dolphins hope that new linebacker coach Mark Duffner can help to fix what was wrong with both Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe this season, the team also brought in an insurance policy with Jordan Tripp.
Tripp is a versatile linebacker that is capable of playing both outside and inside. I wrote a full piece of how Tripp fits with the Dolphins after he was drafted.
Ellerbe's spot in the starting lineup is likely secure, whether he stays at middle linebacker or slides to the outside, which means Wheeler will be the one fighting for his job during training camp.
Unless Wheeler can show early on that his 2013 performance was a fluke and that he can return to his 2012 form, expect Tripp to take his spot in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
Even though the Dolphins didn't draft a quarterback early or bring in a veteran to seriously compete with Ryan Tannehill, the third-year player was put on notice in a much different way.
In 2012, Tannehill completed 58 percent of his passes, throwing for 3,294 yards, 12 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and a 76.1 quarterback rating in leading the team to a 7-9 record.
He did this with his top three receiving weapons being Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano.
In 2013, he improved on those numbers by raising his completion percentage by 2.1 percent, throwing for over 600 more yards and doubling his touchdown total while registering an 81.7 quarterback rating in leading the team to an 8-8 record.
He did this despite playing behind an offensive line that allowed 58 sacks—the most in the league—playing with running backs that ranked 26th in the league in yards per attempt and playing under an offensive coordinator in Mike Sherman that consistently hindered the offense's production.
However, things have changed quite a bit over the last two offseasons.
Suddenly Tannehill will be playing with a much better set of weapons with Mike Wallace, Hartline, Jarvis Landry, Charles Clay and Brandon Gibson.
His offensive line should be much more improved after the team added Branden Albert, Shelley Smith, Ja'Wuan James and Billy Turner.
The play of his running backs should also improve with Knowshon Moreno replacing Daniel Thomas and the offense itself should be more innovative and less predictable with Bill Lazor replacing Sherman as the offensive coordinator.
Put simply, there aren't any more excuses for Tannehill to fall back on.
So while he may not have to fight for his job in training camp, the 2014 season is put up or shut up time for Tannehill to step up and become the franchise quarterback that Dolphins fans hope he can be.
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