Barry Jackson

These interesting numbers help justify one of the Dolphins’ big decisions this preseason

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Monday night:

The Dolphins made a sensible move shifting cornerback Bobby McCain from the slot to the boundary and injecting Minkah Fitzpatrick as the team’s nickel corner, and here are some numbers to support that decision:

Fitzpatrick, according to the good folks at Pro Football Focus, has been targeted seven times in preseason and allowed just three receptions for 14 yards.

Safety T.J. McDonald, meanwhile, has been targeted three times this preseason, with one catch for seven yards.

McCain wasn’t targeted at all Saturday after allowing two catches on two targets, for 25 yards, against Carolina in the second preseason game.

If that McCain/Fitzpatrick lineup decision hadn’t happened, then either cornerback Cordrea Tankersley or Torry McTyer would be playing with the first team.

Tankersley’s preseason coverage stats are frightful: 12 targets, 11 completions and 172 yards in receptions.

McTyer has been targeted seven times, with four completions for 40 yards. He’s Miami’s fourth best cornerback at the moment (behind Xavien Howard, McCain and safety/corner Fitzpatrick), and the Dolphins seem to know it.

Adam Gase said Monday “we all feel really good about” McCain playing outside “because if Bobby ever makes a mistake, that’s it. You’re not going to see that same mistake again. He is a very quick learner and he’s a competitor.

“A lot of times at that position, who are the guys that will compete for 60 minutes and who are the guys that can forget about the bad thing that happened to you? If you play corner in this league, you will get beat. The best ones can recover. They go out the next one, jump right into a guy’s face and say, ‘Try to do it again.’ That’s what we want.”

Pass coverage by linebackers remains a work in progress. Per PFF, Chase Allen had allowed four completions in four targets for 29 yards this preseason, Raekwon McMillan has allowed four completions in six targets for 33, Kiko Alonso 6 for 6 for 63 yards and Jerome Baker 7 for 7, but for only 34 yards and had several good tackles after completions (including one for a three-yard loss against Tampa Bay).

Allen has played well enough to seize the No. 4 linebacker job.

David Fales’ 42.8 passer rating in preseason is 54th among 56 NFL quarterbacks. But Fales believes his play has been better than that.

“Statistically, you look at it and say it’s not that good,” he told me Monday. “But you go back and watch the film, I don’t feel too horrible about it. A couple plays go the other way and it’s a whole different feeling. Last week, if we get a touchdown when we get down in the red zone, we feel different about everything. It’s not as bad [as it looks] statistically I think.”

Fales is 14 for 27 for 184 yards, but the two interceptions – including a great play by a Baltimore cornerback for one of them - drag down the passer rating, as does the fact he hasn’t thrown a touchdown.

Regarding the competition with Brock Osweiler for the backup job, he said: “I haven’t thought too much about it because they don’t tell us anything. You can’t put all that pressure on one game [Thursday at Atlanta]. It’s a group of games. I’m approaching it the same way I did the last three weeks.”

Gase loves how the starting offensive line is coming together.

“I just look at the fact that [the opposing] quarterback doesn’t get touched a whole bunch” in three preseason games. “[Ryan Tannehill] is back there and he has an opportunity to go through a progression and you don’t see free runners going through.

“I do think there has been growth since we’ve started. I really think the left side – between Josh (Sitton) and Laremy (Tunsil) – there’s a real great comfort level there. I think we had a couple ups and downs early in training camp with Jesse (Davis) and Ja’Wuan (James). I think that’s getting better. I think those two guys are doing a good job of working through any kind of issues they’ve had with whether it be pressures or stunts.

“I think [center] Dan (Kilgore) is doing a good job of running the show up there. I feel comfortable with those guys. I feel like they do a great job in the run game. I really do think that’s going to be something that’s going to be a strength of ours this year. When we get in third down, there’s not going to be any hesitation by me to say, ‘If it’s those five guys and they have to protect and we have to hold onto the ball, we’re going to be alright.”

▪ Interesting that the two Dolphins defensive tackles who have made the most “flash” plays in preseason - Jordan Phillips and Vincent Taylor – remain with the second team at defensive tackle, behind Akeem Spence and Davon Godchaux.

Of Phillips’ play on Saturday, Gase said: “I think he made some impact plays. There were a couple things that we need to clean up. After we watched that, a couple things on special teams he was involved in, we’d like to actually do a little better. I do think that it was good to see him in the right spot.”

▪ Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso ending up on Baltimore’s sideline during Saturday’s game: “He’s just standing there like he belonged there. Some of our guys think he did it on purpose. I don’t think so. He seemed a little out of it. It was pretty funny.”

Here’s my Monday afternoon piece with an explanation for why Leonte Carroo has struggled here and battles for offensive roster spots.

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