Barry Jackson

Las Vegas and betting public remain down on Dolphins. But here’s something encouraging

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

Not only do the Dolphins (and Bengals) have the longest odds to win the Super Bowl (80 to 1) at the MGM Grand and nine other Las Vegas casinos according to an MGM spokesperson, but the betting public remains entirely unimpressed with Miami.

Miami’s over/under for wins has been set at seven and large amounts of money have been bet on the under. More professional bettors are gambling that Miami will win fewer than seven than more than seven, according to an MGM official.

The Dolphins initially opened with 75 to 1 odds to win the Super Bowl, but those odds were dropped to 80 to 1.

Even the Cleveland Browns, who went winless last season, have shorter odds to win the Super Bowl, at 60 to 1.

But here’s some good news: Pro Football Focus studied every play of every preseason game and said safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has graded out the best of any first-round pick.

Says PFF’s Mark Chichester: “Through three games, Fitzpatrick is our highest-graded first-round rookie and he has already made a tremendous impact for the Dolphins secondary. He’s played 66 snaps in three preseason games and has been mightily impressive when lined up in coverage in the slot, where he’s allowed two receptions from four targets, for just two yards and an average of 0.08 yards per slot coverage snap.”

Two weeks ago, Isaiah Ford was the clear front-runner for Miami’s No. 6 receiver job if the Dolphins kept that many. Now, that’s not so clear.

Ford hasn’t caught a pass the past two weeks, though in his defense, he hasn’t been thrown a catchable ball, either.

Were there any plays where he was the target and couldn’t get separation from a cornerback?

“There have been times you feel you can be better,” he answered.

He said he still “feels good” about his chances of sticking. “I am trying to put out the best Isaiah I have,” he said.

He has added value because he can play both the slot – where he has logged the majority of his work in practices and games – and also the boundary.

As our Armando Salguero noted, the Dolphins want Tony Lippett to play well Thursday so he can be on the team. They are hesitant to give up on a 26-year-old player who had four interceptions was an ascending player in 2016 before his 2017 season was wiped out by a torn Achilles’.

If Thursday doesn’t go well for him, the Dolphins potentially could explore whether any cornerback upgrade becomes available on waivers this weekend.

But the Dolphins knew it would take time for Lippett to round into form after the Achilles’ injury. They’ve invested a lot of time in him – remember, he played receiver his final three years at Michigan State – and they’re trying to be patient.

“We’ll try to give him as many snaps as possible” Thursday at Atlanta, coach Adam Gase said. “I know in practice we’re trying to do the same thing and just keep encouraging him to challenge receivers, use his length, do all the things that he’s done in the past.

“Really, this game will be a great test for him… to play as many snaps as we can get him in there. Hopefully it’s a high number so when we get out of this game we have a really good sense where he’s at.

“We know that injury is one of the worst kinds of injuries you can have for that position because it’s going to affect change of direction, speed, just confidence sometimes.”

If you’re looking for potential mismatches to exploit this season, here would be two: Lining up tight end Mike Gesicki at receiver. And lining up running back Kenyan Drake at receiver.

“My versatility is a weapon for me, so catching the ball out of the back field, lining up in a wing set, in the slot or out wide against linebackers or safeties, I feel like I have an advantage,” Drake said.

Drake’s 36-yard reception against Baltimore was the seventh-longest for an NFL running back in preseason.

Drake led NFL running backs in rushing yards over the final five games last season (444) and overall was sixth in per carry average for the season at 4.8. This preseason, he has the fifth-highest per carry average of any running back with at least 10 carries (6.8).

Some are wondering why Vincent Taylor isn’t getting first team snaps when he has made more impact plays than any Dolphins defensive tackle, with Jordan Phillips right behind him.

Miami feels confidence in Akeem Spence – who played for defensive line coach Kris Kocurek in Detroit –and Davon Godchaux, and Dolphins people downplay the issue of who’s starting because they play to rotate defensive linemen.

“As soon as you put pads on, he seems to show up,” Gase said of Taylor. “He’s the kind of guy that he’s an old-school football player. He does a great job. When it gets physical, I think he enjoys that. He’s got a knack for getting his hands on kicks [as he did in blocking a field goal last Saturday]. There’s a lot of value in that. To me, that’s a turnover for you, because you’re getting great field position, you’re preventing points. That’s something that can help us.”

Here are announcer assignments for the first four Dolphins games:

Sam Rosen and Cris Carter – who aren’t one of Fox’s regular announcing teams – work the Sept. 9 Titans-at-Dolphins opener, which was cross-flexed from CBS to Fox.

Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon, CBS’ excellent No. 4 team, call the Sept. 16 Dolphins-at-Jets game and the Sept. 30 Dolphins-at-Patriots game.

Greg Gumbel, Trent Green and Bruce Arians – CBS’ No. 3 team – work the Oakland-at-Dolphins game Sept. 23. Arians, the former Colts and Arizona coach, is new to that group.

I did an historical analysis of first-round defensive ends who produce sack numbers similar to Charles Harris. What can we expect from him moving forward? Please check out my piece here.

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