Barry Jackson

Miami Dolphins radio critic loses job. And two Fins players deal with change in role

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Wednesday:

Orlando Alzugaray, a longtime South Florida radio host who spoke often and critically about the Dolphins, was dismissed by WQAM-560 on Tuesday, according to multiple sources.

The station and Alzugaray declined to divulge the reason for his firing, but he was informed of the decision moments after leaving the air for the final time Tuesday.

The Dolphins had nothing to do with Alzugaray’s firing. They have never tried to force his ouster even as he repeatedly criticized management and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who he dubbed “Tannekill.”

Alzugaray, who has worked as a South Florida sports talk show for this entire century, fashioned himself as a draft expert and cultivated numerous sources in the NFL scouting community. For several years, he paid his own way to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, and NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

“Appreciate the love and concern,” Alzugaray tweeted. “Life is absolutely fantastic, I have an amazing family, great friends like all of you out there that have supported me through the years. Trust me I will bounce back, I always do.”

Alzugaray also tweeted that he will be on radio again at some point. But it won’t be on 790 The Ticket, which — like WQAM — is owned by Entercom.

WQAM did not name a replacement for Alzugaray on his 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. show.

Whereas Reshad Jones refused to go back in the Jets game after losing playing time to Minkah Fitzpatrick, two other Dolphins players affected — T.J. McDonald and Bobby McCain — have responded professionally, and without complaint, when they were told they would also lose some snaps to Fitzpatrick.

Asked how he dealt with the news, McDonald said: “It’s tough. We all want to be out there. But you have to do what’s best for the team.”

McCain’s thoughts on losing some boundary cornerback snaps to Fitzpatrick: “I’m cool with whatever. You have to do your job. Everybody wants to be out there every play. We have a damn good player in Minkah, and we can be reasonable here. We need to have the five best on the field.”

Kudos to both for handling this like pros.

McCain played 54 of 66 snaps against the Jets and left briefly because of a suspected concussion; tests showed he didn’t have a concussion that day.

He then played 33 of 57 snaps against Green Bay, leaving for good in the second half with a suspected concussion; he began the bye week in concussion protocol.

McDonald, who had been playing every down, played 62 of 65 snaps against the Jets, though he likely would have played less if Jones hadn’t refused to come back in the game.

McDonald played all 57 defensive snaps against Green Bay, partly because Jones was benched for the first quarter and partly because McCain left with concussion symptoms.

Though it’s difficult to find playing time for three running backs, the Dolphins have begun to incorporate Kalen Ballage more in recent weeks. He played four and six snaps on offense the past two games and was used on two Wildcat plays.

For the season, he has four carries for eight yards and three receptions for 23 yards. He also has played well on special teams.

Ballage, who ran the Wildcat 70 times the past two seasons at Arizona State, grew up a fan of Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, who ran the Wildcat effectively beginning in 2008.

“Ronnie was extremely good at it,” said Ballage, who has never met Brown. “Coach [Adam] Gase puts us in good situations to run that play.”

He said he’s not “upset” about not playing more. “I’ve gotten to learn a lot from Frank Gore,” he said.

Speaking of Gore, according to Pro Football Focus, he “continues to be a bright spot on an otherwise dreadful offense, as he was the team’s highest-graded offensive player for the third straight week (84.1).’’

And this is impressive: Per PFF, “71 of Gore’s 90 rushing yards [against Green Bay] came after contact and his seven forced missed tackles led all running backs for the week despite carrying the ball just 13 times. Gore is our fourth-rated running back in the league through 10 weeks at 84.2 overall.”

Gore’s success breaking tackles for the Colts last season was one reason Miami signed him.

How did the Dolphins’ fill-in offensive tackles do against Green Bay?

Per PFF, Sam Young “was solid in his first appearance since Week 5 filling in for the injured Ja’Wuan James. Although he struggled run-blocking (44.0 grade), Young was strong in pass-protection, not allowing a single quarterback pressure in 46 pass-blocking snaps for the game. Zach Sterup started in place of Laremy Tunsil on the other side of the line and struggled in pass-protection, allowing four total pressures (one sack).”

But Gase praised Sterup’s play against Green Bay.

One other PFF observation from the game, on Kiko Alonso: “Alonso was picked on in coverage once again, allowing all three targets thrown his way to be caught for 67 yards. Alonso has made some very big impact plays this season but he continues to struggle in coverage, as his 418 yards allowed for the season is the fifth-most for all linebackers through 10 weeks and his four touchdowns is tied for the second-most. In 2017, Alonso led the league with 810 yards allowed in coverage, 208 more than the next closest player.”

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