Sorry, Miami masochists: We’re not going to rehash what went wrong in last Saturday’s scrimmage.
There has been more than enough hang-wringing around here since then, and little ground left to cover.
Except for this: If the Dolphins’ offense comes out as flat in Friday’s preseason opener against the New York Giants, it’s a sure thing that next week will sound a lot like this past one in these parts.
It’s a simple matter of time and math.
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The Dolphins’ first string got just two possessions (totaling some 10 plays) in the scrimmage.
The starters probably won’t get much more than that against the Giants. While coach Adam Gase suggested Wednesday that the Dolphins’ offense will get more work than their defense Friday, the first string is almost always gone well before halftime in first preseason games.
The risk — a season-wrecking injury to an indispensable player — is far greater than any small reward.
Don’t believe us? Then believe Jarvis Landry, who was asked about the offense’s goals for Friday:
“Have a great first drive — have a great first play, honestly — test their defense. And then from there, watch the young guys go a little bit.”
At least Landry will get to see the field. Several other key veterans, including running back Arian Foster and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, will not. Mitchell has been dealing with a calf injury. Foster won’t play out of caution over his reconstructed Achilles tendon. Both have been ruled out already. Based on Gase’s cautious approach, they won’t be alone on the sidelines.
Five other Dolphins will not play: cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, running back Kenyan Drake, tight end MarQuis Gray, defensive lineman Farrington Huguenin and tackle Vinston Painter.
Meanwhile, wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) and Cameron Wake (Achilles) are questions marks.
Those kinds of decisions are new for Gase. He has never been a head coach at any level. So, for the first time, everyone will be looking to him Friday — his players, his assistants, the officials, and a fan base trying to figure out who he is.
Since taking the job in January, Gase has been repeatedly asked if he’s nervous about facing the greatest challenge of his career. Each time, the answer has been no.
“I don’t know; it feels comfortable to me,” Gase said Wednesday.
Granted, that could change with his first regular-season losing streak. But for now, Gase — who will call offensive plays — is the only undefeated coach in the franchise’s rich history.
And on paper, he caught a bit of a break with the preseason schedule. The Giants have as many questions on defense as the Dolphins do on offense, if not more.
New York’s defensive rankings in 2015: last in yards (420.3 per game), last in third-down conversions (47 percent), 31st in yards per play allowed (6.1), 31st in opponent first downs (22.9 per game) and 30th in scoring (27.6 points per game).
Enter Olivier Vernon, the ex-Dolphins (and Hurricanes) pass-rusher who signed a megadeal with New York this offseason. The Giants also added corner Janoris Jenkins and defensive tackle Damon Harrison in free agency, plus used their first-round pick on Ohio State corner Eli Apple.
The quality of talent has improved, no doubt. But like the Dolphins’ offense, the Giants’ defense might need a few weeks before finding its new identity.
Which brings us back to Saturday’s scrimmage, hopefully for the last time. The Dolphins’ front, in the words of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, was dominated in the scrimmage. Don’t think Vernon wouldn’t like to do some dominating of his own against the team that let him walk.
“I just want energy,” Gase said. “I want energy and I want guys flying around. If guys screw up, oh well. Just go 100 miles per hour. I know with what we’ve done out [on the practice field], that should take over. We’ve been practicing in some tough conditions. [Practice Wednesday] wasn’t easy. The guys battled. Nobody said anything. Just grinded it out. If we come out with that kind of mentality and enjoy what we’re doing, we should play fast.”