Top News: Earning Reps Through Hard Work

Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores said Monday that his staff would make the corrections from Sunday's loss to Seattle, and make preliminary decisions on the game plan for the upcoming game in San Francisco.

Tuesday, the Dolphins announced the decision to start Ryan Fitzpatrick against the 49ers on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. Tuesday, Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey talked about what he's seen from Fitzpatrick through the first four games and took accountability for three red zone trips resulting in field goals vs. Seattle.

"I've been around (Fitzpatrick) for a long time and seen him play very well," Gailey said. "I'm a glass half full guy and I see great things coming in the future. It's easy to point fingers. If you want to point fingers, you ought to point them at me because I could've done a lot better job helping us in the red zone. If we did better down there, we wouldn't even be having this conversation."

The group in front of Fitzpatrick – the offensive line – replaced four starters this offseason. Two rookies and two free agents have helped stabilize the line to the tune of only six sacks allowed in four games. Only seven teams have allowed fewer quarterback sacks and the 1.5 sacks per game is down more than two sacks (3.6) from a year ago.

Quarterbacks Coach Robby Brown credits veteran leadership and communication between the line and Fitzpatrick for the improved pass protection.

"There's a lot of communication that goes on," Brown said. "It's very important that those guys are on the same page – center, quarterback, everybody talking about different things that are going to happen in the game. This player matchup up with this player, and so on, it has a major impact."

Communication is an important element of the game in all three phases. Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer says getting the correct calls communicated amid motion and pre-snap shifting is something the team has to improve, especially with Kyle Shanhan's 49ers offense on tap.

"We'll see an offense this week that motions as much as any in the league," Boyer said. "I wouldn't say all of the errors have been communication. Some of it is just basic stuff, a focus thing. For us to be consistent on a down-by-down basis, we have to get all of our calls right."

Dolphins defensive lineman Zach Sieler is earning more playing time and producing with the extended rep count. He played 20 snaps in the first two games combined and has nearly tripled that figure with 57 snaps in the last two vs. Jacksonville and Seattle.

Sieler contributed with five quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus, on 21 pass rush reps last week. The 23.8 percent pressure rate was the second-highest among a Dolphins defender in a game this season (Kyle Van Noy, 30 percent in Jacksonville).

A motor that runs hot and nonstop are big factors for Sieler's emergence. His physical skills should not be neglected, however. Since 2000, there are three players that measured taller than 6-foot-5 and heavier than 285 pounds with sub 4.85 40-yard dash times, 30 or more reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, 115-inch broad jumps and a 3-cone time under 7.15.

Those three players are J.J. Watt, Mario Williams and Zach Sieler.

Pair those rare physical measurements with a tireless work ethic and production comes as a result.

"One of the joys of this job is we have a lot of guys that put in a great day's work. (Sieler) embodies that," Boyer said. "When you watch Zach on the field, he plays with great effort. He's constantly in coaches' offices trying to get better, watching more film. Then he goes out and plays as hard as he can."

Sieler was a seventh-round draft pick by Baltimore in 2018 out of Farris State. He was claimed off waivers by Miami last December and played 79 snaps in three games. He totaled four pressures and six run stops over that snap.

Another seventh-round pick with a bit more college visibility at the University of Washington – Myles Gaskin – has earned his way into a significant workload through the same vein as Sieler, hard work.

Dolphins Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville was complimentary of the second-year back at his Tuesday press conference.

"A tremendous work ethic; that's what's given (Gaskin) the opportunity that he's in right now," Studesville said. Physically, I think you see his toughness, ability to get on the edge of tacklers and to finish on guys at the second level. Overall it's his work ethic that he brings every day. He's passionate about it."

On the other end of the draft, the Dolphins found a productive wide receiver in the first round back in 2015. DeVante Parker is tied with Stefon Diggs in receiving yards since Week 6 of 2019 with 1,280 – the most in the NFL.

Tuesday, Dolphins Wide Receivers Coach Josh Grizzard – who's Dolphins career began in 2017 – talked about Parker's maturation and development since he's been here.

"To get nicked and come back and have a great game, it's good to see from him because he's maturing into a leadership role," Grizzard said. "For those young guys to see that, it's a great example for the room; and not just the room but the whole offense in general."

Tomorrow, the Dolphins will be back on the practice field as preparations for the 49ers begin. We'll have the latest on Dolphins injuries and quotes from Coach Flores and players on the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield as well as MiamiDolphins.com.

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