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AC in the AM: Answering Your Questions

Posted Aug 16, 2017

With training camp now officially over, with just over three weeks before the season opener and with so many issues still unresolved, let’s see what Dolphins’ fans have on their minds these days. I promise no back-pedaling and no false starts.

Q.

AC: Most definitely. This is the most stable management situation I have seen with this franchise in a long, long time. First of all, the football hierarchy of Executive VP Mike Tannenbaum, GM Chris Grier and Coach Adam Gase truly like, respect and work well with one another. I can’t tell you how much that means to the day-to-day operation. Then you’ve got to factor in team President Tom Garfinkel who has eliminated the gap between the football and business operations and works so well with Tannenbaum, Grier and Gase. This is now a team in every sense of the word and I truthfully couldn’t always say that. The culture has changed and the results were evident in last year’s 10-6 record.

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Q.

AC: From everything I see and hear, it has been very positive. There is a real trust among these players when it comes to Adam Gase and the decisions he makes. Signing a veteran like Cutler sends a clear message about expectations. To Cutler’s credit, he has done well to fit in and has been quick to turn to his teammates, including Matt Moore, for advice. Yes, Moore is well liked and very popular in the locker room. But Moore understands the situation and so do his teammates.

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Q.

AC: Hey SH! I definitely think Ryan Tannehill will be here next year. First of all, there are examples all over the NFL of quarterbacks returning from an ACL surgery and playing extremely well, in some cases better than they played before the injury. Heard of Tom Brady? Tannehill will be 30 years old next season and he’s got several years left on his contract. I would be truly surprised if he isn’t in a Dolphins’ uniform in 2018.

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Q.

AC: I understand where you are coming from. The Dolphins are loaded at wide receiver and short on linebackers with the loss of both Koa Misi and Raekwon McMillan to injuries. But it takes two to tango and I don’t see many teams rushing to give up a quality linebacker in the middle of August. Now, if the Dolphins can find a team in need of a young wide receiver, then it’s certainly possible. But it doesn’t make sense for the Dolphins to consider trading one of their top receivers and there probably isn’t much trade value for some of the young, undrafted receivers who have looked so promising in training camp.

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Q.

AC: The roster is never set. I expect this to be an ongoing process, perhaps even through the season. Certainly when rosters are trimmed from 90 to 53 on Sept. 2, over 1,000 players will be hitting the open market and there figures to be plenty of movement all around the league. While I don’t anticipate a trade (see question above), I do expect the waiver wire to offer some enticing options with so many players available at the same time. The next three preseason games will help determine where those needs exist.

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Q.

AC: Mike Hull has been working with the first team since McMillan went out and I expect that to continue. Another possibility is Neville Hewitt, who is out right now with an injury. Keep in mind that the Dolphins play a nickel defense more than 50 percent of the time and that means only two linebackers in the game in that alignment. McMillan was probably going to be the odd man out in that situation with veterans Kiko Alonzo and Lawrence Timmons more experienced and versatile. Depth at linebacker is my major concern at this point.

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Q.

AC: How can you not go with fifth-round draft pick Davon Godchaux? Few expected him to challenge for a starting job so early, but just about every time I look at the first team defense at practice, there is Godchaux playing next to Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle. I originally thought he was playing first team to hopefully push third-year tackle Jordan Phillips toward better things. But this is more about Godchaux than anything else. His effort. His production. The manner in which he carries himself. It’s all very impressive. We thought he had a chance to be good. We just didn’t think it would happen this soon.

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Q.

AC: I truthfully wouldn’t expect anything less. The fact that the Dolphins moved so quickly to get Jay Cutler only underlines the fact that this organization is all about winning now. You don’t make the playoffs one season and throw in the towel the next because of a couple of injuries. This team is too talented and too deep for that.

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Q.

AC: It’s still way too early. I believe strongly that Thomas will be a major part of this offense. What a veteran like Thomas does in August is truthfully not important. We’ve seen what he can do when he’s healthy. We’ve seen how he can flourish in Gase’s offense. Ask Gase about Thomas and his eyes open wide. It is clear he has some big plans for him, some specific plays in mind. It has been far too long since this team has had a game-breaking tight end. There is every reason to believe that Thomas can be that player.

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Q.

AC: Don’t get many questions about MarQueis Gray. Actually, I think he’s a good player with a nice upside and someone who could certainly be the third tight end on this team. From what I hear, he had a solid camp and his versatility as both a blocker and receiver has impressed the coaches. As I said earlier, I wouldn’t be too concerned about Thomas.

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Q.

AC: Great question. First of all, I have never treated this like a job. I enjoy it too much, absolutely love football and cherish the friendships that I’ve made over the years. Yes, some of those friendships are with players, others with coaches. Most of those friendships, though, have come following their careers. But the seeds were definitely planted while they are playing. Yes, you get attached to players. It’s nearly impossible not to when you are dealing with class acts on and off the field like Mike Pouncey and Cam Wake just to name a couple. You have to remain professional. You’ve got to always maintain your journalistic ethics. But when you follow a team every day, when you see how these players handle so many different situations, when you discover what they are like under the helmet, you learn to embrace some of the relationships you form.
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