The first week of training camp is in the books, and the Mike McDaniel era of the Miami Dolphins franchise started off as smoothly as it could possibly have.
The offense showed itself against the vanilla-look defense in Saturday’s practiceWhich was open to the public, and that’s exactly what fans needed to watch this season to spark some hope.
Here are some more facts from the first week of Dolphins’ training camp:
Tyrek Hill has a rare, game-changing pace
I’ve never seen anyone with a combination of Hill’s speed and quickness in all my years. He’s the fastest player on the football field I’ve ever seen – and it’s not even close. This explains why he has been a pro bowler in the league (six) every year, and points out that his $30 million-a-year contract, and the treasure chest of the draft Miami, helped Kansas City get him. Given he deserved it because there is no player in the NFL who can turn him down for 50 snaps in a game. At some point Hill is going to be 30 yards wide downfield—plays a couple of games.
Tailback is Miami’s deepest position
Miami’s backfield is so deep that the offseason adding Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostart and Sonny Mitchell, starter Miles Gaskins for the past two years, may not make it to the 53-man regular-season roster. We’ll know more when the pads arrive, and Miami begins their joint practice, but the Dolphins have a talented back that each brings something different to the table. Collectively, they can attack the top-10 faster if the rebuilt offensive line can do its job.
Tua Tagovailoa can throw the ball deep
Tagovailoa doesn’t have an arm cannon, but it has enough juice for a third-year starter to throw the football with accuracy from 40 to 50-yard distances. The threat of a deep ball coupled with receiver speed in Miami has the potential to open up the field to everyone at every down base.
Mike McDaniel’s offensive is creative
I’m a big fan of the West Coast, play-action-based offense McDaniel grew up in, and helps walk everyone to one of his NFL stops. Seeing some of these installations, and the creativity they have displayed early on with movement and change, has encouraged me that Miami may indeed be a top-15 unit when it comes to aggressive production.
Jaylen Waddle is driving a better route
One of the most head-scratching decisions from 2021 was to switch Waddell to a slot receiver. While that innings helped him set a rookie record for receptions in one season, it negates his pace. He’s working more as flanker these days, and running more routes downfield. It is clear that this offense is better suited to his skill set, and so his yards-per-catch average should increase.
Depth deals on cornerbacks
Nik Nedham, Noah Igbinoghene, and Trill Williams don’t have the pace to cover Hill or Waddle. Some players in the NFL do, but it’s not a good sign that they’re losing so many reps on a daily basis. What will happen to Miami’s secondary if Xavian Howard or Byron Jones are forced to miss a game this season? Who is the backup nickel cornerback if the Dolphins are forced to play Needham at the boundary? The Dolphins need to address the depth of the trouble at the corner before the season begins.
The struggling linemen are settling
With Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson settling into their new spots at left guard and right tackle, the Dolphins offensive line is shaping up. But it’s hard to evaluate the unit without the pad, which first arrives on Tuesday. Next week’s joint practice against Casey Rodgers’ Tampa Bay defensive line will tell us even more.
Tight loops make a quiet start to camp
This may have been an overreaction because Miami could use the first week of camp to work on specific material, but the tight end situation has remained invisible. Aside from a handful of catches per day, Mike Gesicki and company haven’t done much. Maybe the defense did a good job from a coverage standpoint. And maybe things change when the Dolphins start working on red-zone and goal-line plays. But it’s definitely something to monitor going forward.
deals with depth
Either Jalen Phillips is going to be a beast in its second season, or the Dolphins need to find some better reserve tackle. With Terron Armstead on a veteran rest program in which his practice reps are limited, the former UM standout is regularly beating Greg Little and Larnell Coleman. At this point, if Armstead is forced to sit out a game or two Miami will be forced to transfer the second starter to a left tackle.
Veterans Rest Program is a Wise Approach
McDaniel comes from a tree of coaches that honor veteran players, ensuring they keep their bodies safe for the game. That’s why Howard, Emmanuel Ogba, Alandon Roberts and others, who are not recovering from injury, regularly limit their snap counts during daily exercises. And that is why players recovering from injuries like Armstead, Mostart and Melvin Ingram are practicing every other day. The goal is to keep them healthy for the season, when it matters.