With just six games left in the season, with so much to decipher on both sides of the ball and with the Browns up next in Cleveland, it’s time for your Dolphins’ questions and I promise no unnecessary roughness on any of my responses.
Q. In (Brian) Flores, do we finally have a coach who can make chicken salad no matter what ingredients he is presented with? — Andrew Walker
AC: I think what you’re trying to ask is whether what Flores has done with this team makes him a good head coach and the answer is a resounding yes. To take a team with so many moving parts, to overcome trades that sent some of your biggest names packing, and to somehow keep this team on a course of improvement, speaks volumes for Flores and the staff he has put together.
Q. The Kiko Alonso trade for Vince Biegel looked like a poor trade-off at first but has since proven to be a great move! What did they see in Biegel to convince them? — Dennis Morelli
AC: I know they saw an outstanding special teams player, which he is, but I’m not sure they had a good grasp for his pass rushing skills until he arrived since he had limited work there with the Saints. Give this coaching staff credit for recognizing that talent and building on it. I liked a lot of things about Alonso. But I think the Dolphins got the better of this deal.
Q. Hey Andy, I was wondering if our GM, HC and company used our available resources (whatever it takes?) to build a dominating offensive line for the 2020 season. Would we have a chance of having a winning season and possibly get into the playoffs? A penny for your thoughts? — Greg Cromer
AC: Hey Greg: It is clear that restocking the offensive line needs to be one of the big priorities moving forward. But you can’t just focus on one area when the needs are many. There are some good pieces already in place. The most glaring need to me has to be at left tackle, finding someone to replace Laremy Tunsil. Now, about that penny...
Q. Sir, would you care to suggest 3-4 players (outside the obvious ones) that are likely to make it to the regular season next year? As you said in an earlier column, P. Williams, the DL stalwarts and Howard are shoo-ins to make the team. Your thoughts? — Fred Walton
AC: Sir, the list keep growing, which is a good sign: After what we saw against the Bills, I would certainly include wide receiver DeVante Parker, kick return specialist Jakeem Grant and placekicker Jason Sanders on that list. Want a fourth name? Defensive back Eric Rowe has clearly raised his stock over the past month or so.
Q. Andy, why is Rosen not even in the conversation for our QB next year? I’ve seen nothing that would detour wanting to see him develop. He certainly has the arm and with a good line don’t you think he deserves a real chance? — Randell Neel
AC: You can certainly make the argument that he has already received a real chance in his early season starts. Rosen has a lot of growing to do before he becomes the answer to anyone’s quarterback problems. Don’t get me wrong. I like some of the things he has shown. But his pocket presence and decision-making clearly need refining. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got another start sometime in December.
Q. Have these coaches impressed you this season? @mmurphychampion
AC: Most definitely. I resisted forming any conclusions until having a chance to watch how this team has improved over the course of the season. Granted, the loss to the Bills was a step back, but after what we witnessed over the first month of the season, for this team to reach such a competitive level has plenty to do with this coaching staff. Nobody, though, has impressed me more than Flores and his leadership qualities.
Q. Hey Andy! Seeing that we will have a lot of cap space next year, which key free agents would you like to be on our roster next season? I’m really excited about what’s coming. Has been exhausting seeing this team never reach its potential. I think we are just around the corner! Cheers from Mexico. — Robert Rubio
AC: Hey Robert! It’s way too early to start thinking about next season’s free agents. But suffice it to say the Dolphins will be active players. General Manager Chris Grier made that clear earlier this season when he told the media: “We’re not going to sit on this money.” There is a plan to restock this roster both in free agency and the draft. But we won’t see clear signs of that plan until the offseason is underway.
Q. Please do an article on one of the best versatile players ever to wear a Dolphins uniform, Jim Jensen. I am a life long Dolphins fan who now lives in South Georgia. I get on Dolphins.com daily. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed on the Dolphins. — Pete Harrell
AC: I too have fond memories of Jim Jensen, affectionately known as “Crash” because of the manner in which he played the game. He was one of those players who added so much value to the team in so many different areas. Throw the ball. Run the ball. Catch the ball. Play on every special teams unit. Jensen did it all. I’ll try to reach out to him this offseason and give you an update.
Q. In the coming offseason, don’t you think it’s more important for this team to find five rock star offensive linemen (between draft and free agency) rather than trying to find the next great QB or flashy skill player? I know the media and fans love the skill players, but you will never build long-term success without a top five offensive line. Get a solid line, and some depth, and worry about skill players for 2021. Thoughts on that? — Gary Maida
AC: I agree and I disagree. I agree they need a top five offensive line. I disagree they should use most of their resources for that and ignore other areas. If the right skill players are there for the taking, they need to recognize that and aggressively go after them. You rebuild this thing piece by piece not necessarily unit by unit.
Q. I know a lot of people are worried about our draft position, but I would rather win more games. Doesn’t winning games prove that we have the right coaching staff for long-term success? And isn’t that what we truly want? — Mark Crossman
AC: I guess I’m old-fashioned. I like to win games too. The other things I’ll worry about in the offseason. And yes, as stated earlier, winning games with such an inexperienced roster says a lot about this coaching staff today and for the long-term.
Q. Andy, I believe the first three rounds of next year’s draft is extremely important for the future of the team in bringing in good strong core players to build on for years to come. Do you agree? — Ken Rasmussen
AC: Couldn’t agree more.
Q. Hi, Andy. Love your regular column. This has been a pretty unusual season, eh? We are all having conversations that we don’t normally have until February (the draft). With the Dolphins likely to get a top 5 or 10 pick, who do you think they should go after? Most people are begging for a QB, but there are so many I wish they would grab a great edge rusher (Chase Young) and grab a QB with the second pick. A great edge threat can affect a team immediately while a QB may or may not. Thoughts? — Raffi Derderian
AC: It all depends on when they pick and who’s available. A great edge rusher is certainly an alternative worth pursuing and I’m told Young may be the type of player that only comes along once every five or six years. But in my humble opinion nothing compares to finding the right quarterback and when you’re sure you have found him, do everything you can – I mean everything – to secure his services.
Q. Is Tua now Tua hip for the Dolphins? @EJFootball
AC: Very cute. But it is way Tua early to project exactly how this injury affects his draft status or how the Dolphins now view him.