A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:
▪ Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has continued to progress splendidly in his recovery from major knee surgery in August and the expectation is that he will be ready for the team’s offseason program beginning in April.
Whether Tannehill will be doing everything by April and May practices remains to be seen. The Dolphins obviously won’t do anything foolish or premature.
But Tannehill is expected to be a participant in offseason work. He was seen running well late in the season and running up stairs at road games.
He has been throwing well (obviously, that shouldn’t be affected by his knee issues) and is walking without a limp.
Adam Gase has said that Tannehill will be Miami’s starting quarterback in 2018. He was 12th in the league in passer rating in 2016 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in Miami’s 13th game.
▪ The Dolphins so far have given no indication if they want to re-sign impending free agent defensive end William Hayes. Miami might try to sign him after free agency starts if they can get him back at a reduced rate.
Hayes, 32, was an asset when healthy, ranking 18th overall among defensive ends this season and fifth against the run, according to Pro Football Focus.
He was placed on injured reserve with a back injury on Nov. 27 and ended the season with 19 tackles and a sack in 10 games.
Hayes would have been under contact next season if Miami hadn’t agreed to his request to rip up the last year of his contract.
In return, Hayes’ salary for 2017 was lowered from $5.5 million to $4.7 million but Hayes received a $2 million signing bonus.
▪ Linebacker Koa Misi, on injured reserve all season, was permitted to spend the season on the West Coast. He becomes a free agent in March. It would be surprising if Misi plays again, but he hasn’t retired.
▪ Chase Allen was given good feedback from coaches after starting two of the final three games at middle linebacker and four overall during a season in which he had 40 tackles.
Stephone Anthony and Allen could be Miami’s fourth and fifth linebackers next season, but the Dolphins are expected to try to find a new starter to replace Lawrence Timmons opposite Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan.
▪ New Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was subjected to criticism from Chicago media last season, not surprising considering the Bears were 30th in total offense.
From a Nov. 15 column from David Baugh of The Chicago Tribune: “Offensive coordinators who let defenses dictate who plays end up losing more than football games. The best ones create mismatches that benefit their team. The worst ones appear miscast in their roles because they fear them. After 25 games on the job, Loggains looks more like the latter, overly cautious without being obviously creative. In sports, fearful athletes and coaches who believe that only bad things can happen to them usually are right. The tentative Bears offense is less threatening than a holiday invitation from in-laws.
“This game is about matchups and that’s the first thing we look at when we decide who’s going to be in the game,” Loggains explained, feebly.
It has been a tough week to be the Bears’ overmatched 37-year-old offensive coordinator. On Sunday, FOX analyst Chris Spielman, a former NFL linebacker, labeled the Bears offense predictable — “Run, run, pass,” Spielman said. On Wednesday [Nov. 14], ESPN.com released its ranking of the NFL’s 32 best play-callers — and Loggains finished 32nd.
While Loggains called the plays in Chicago, Gase is expected to continue to call plays for the Dolphins.
▪ How Jakeem Grant played late in the season made a case for the Dolphins using more four-receiver sets at times next season. And when I asked Gase about that possibility in late December, he seemed intrigued by that option.
“It’s an unusual thing for a defense to see when you do that,” Gase said. “Some teams, when we haven’t shown it and then when you throw it in there, they’re not really prepared for it; they’re not really sure what we’re going to do with it because we start moving guys all over the place and different guys in the backfield, different guys in different spots, the slot outside. I think when we have multiple guys that can play inside between Kenny [Stills], Jarvis [Landry] and Jakeem [Grant], that just causes issues where guys are. It’s hard to focus on one player and it’s fairly easy for our guys to move around when we’re in that package.”
Gase said Grant “causes a lot of problems for the defense because you can put him in the slot, you can put him outside, you can put him in the backfield. We’re not afraid to give him the ball as a running back. The speed obviously is his … something that really is a challenging thing for the defense. I don’t think guys realize how quick and how fast he can accelerate until they get in a game.”
Here’s Tuesday’s part 4 of my 5-part series on the plans of new Marlins owner Derek Jeter with details from top-secret Jeter and MLB documents shared with The Miami Herald. Included: why one rich businessman approached by Jeter said his plan will badly fail.