What the Dolphins new defensive coordinator wants in his players
The Dolphins began reshaping defensive end on Friday, signing veteran Tank Carradine. And that will be the first of a bunch of expected moves at that position.
Carradine, 28, played four seasons (2014-17) with San Francisco and one (2018) with Oakland and has appeared in 45 career games with eight starts. He has 77 tackles (55 solo), 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble in his career.
During his NFL career, he has played defensive end in both a 4-3 and 3-4 and also worked for a year as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Carradine, who is 6-4 and 270 pounds, originally entered the NFL as a second-round pick (40th overall) by San Francisco in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played at FSU, where he earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2012.
He appeared in only one game in the league last season, a Sept. 16 game for the Raiders, when he had one tackle against Denver. Unhappy about lack of playing time, he requested and was granted his release by the Raiders on Oct. 6 and never caught on with another team. Carradine had started training camp as the first-team base defensive end, but was surpassed by veteran Frostee Rucker.
Last April, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of Carradine: “He’s healthy for the first time. Not only has he played multiple positions but had some injuries coming out of Florida State. Had a tough start to his career. But he’s a high draft choice. I got a lot of respect for [former 49ers GM] Trent Baalke. This is a good football player. We like him as a six-technique particularly, head up on the tight end. Very hard-nose run defender with some pass-rush ability. He’s done a nice job for us.”
But the Raiders lost interest by the start of the season.
He played in eight games and started seven for the 49ers the previous season but missed eight games with a high ankle sprain.The 49ers used Carradine as both a pass-rushing defensive end and a run-stuffer at defensive tackle, and former coach Chip Kelly tried him at outside linebacker one year.
“Tank’s a physical player,” Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said last spring. “Over the tight ends, tough to block for a tight end. He’s smart.”
The Dolphins’ defensive end position is expected to have considerable turnover. Robert Quinn and Andre Branch are potential cap casualties and Cameron Wake is a free agent. Charles Harris is expected to return barring a trade.
▪ The Dolphins also signed cornerback Jomal Wiltz, a 5-10 undrafted player who spent the entire 2018 season and all but one week of the 2017 season on New England’s practice squad, where new Dolphins coach Brian Flores became familiar with him. He signed with the Eagles out of Iowa State in May 2017 but was released that September and then joined the Patriots.
Wiltz had two interceptions in two seasons at Iowa State and was seventh in the Big 12 with 11 pass breakups as a senior in 2016, earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors.
Minkah Fitzpatrick told The Miami Herald in December that he would like the Dolphins to tell him by February whether he will play safety or cornerback this season so he would know whether to gain or lose weight.
But new defensive pass game coordinator/cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer said that decision hasn’t been made. “We’re in the infancy stages of figuring that out,” Boyer said.
Safeties coach Tony Oden, one of only three incumbent Dolphins assistant coaches retained by Flores, declined to answer directly when asked if he agrees with former coach Adam Gase that Fizpatrick has more value at safety than cornerback.
“He can help a whole bunch of different positions,” Oden said. “Where he’s going to fit on our team I don’t know.”
▪ New offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea was asked to discuss Ryan Tannehill, which was awkward considering the Dolphins are prepared to move on from him. He likes how Ryan “can extend plays. There are some traits he has that are unique that maybe the next guy doesn’t have.”
O’Shea then added: “The intangibles are most important to us in our quarterback moving forward here, whoever that is. He has to be your greatest ambassador on your football team. He carries the message you want to have offensively. There are a lot of things you want in a quarterback, one of which is accuracy.”
▪ O’Shea previously worked with Danny Amendola in his role as Patriots receivers coach and holds him in high regard. But O’Shea declined to say when asked if the Dolphins want to keep him as part of their rebuild.
Amendola could be at risk as the team moves to a younger roster. Amendola’s $5.9 million salary and $6 million cap hit would both be eliminated if he’s traded or released.
“Danny has been a tremendous player for us in the past,” he said. “He means a lot to a lot of people on this team and the organization and one we hold in very high regard. But we’re still in the process of evaluating the entire roster and seeing what’s best for the Dolphins.”