Barry Jackson

The book on the two Patriots-turned-Dolphins and what Belichick says about them

Part 2 of a two-part series with feedback on Dolphins’ free agent signings:

Depending on who is added the rest of the offseason, Eric Rowe actually might end up being the Dolphins’ best option to start opposite Xavien Howard, primarily because of lack of better alternatives.

Partly because of injury, Rowe barely played after then-Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores (now the Dolphins coach, of course) and coach Bill Belichick benched him, replacing him with Jason McCourty, after a poor first quarter covering Keelan Cole in Week 2 against Jacksonville.

Despite winning a starting job in training camp, Rowe ended up playing in only four games before going on injured reserve Oct. 31 with a groin injury....

He was targeted 13 times last season, allowing 8 completions for 106 yards and two touchdowns, equating to a bloated 126.9 rating in his passer area. And he permitted a poor 106 passer rating in his coverage area in 2017.....

But here’s the good news: The passer ratings in his coverage area were 80.3 as a rookie with Philadelphia in 2015 and 61.9 in his first year with the Patriots in 2016. His career passer rating allowed (85.2) isn’t bad.

In his career, 55.1 percent of the passes thrown against him have been caught — which would be better than average from a defensive perspective using last year’s cornerback snaps, and eight of those 102 completions went for touchdowns....

Also, Rowe can play in the slot and on the boundary and he also played safety his first two years at Utah. All of that made him valuable to the Patriots before both sides parted way in free agency....

Here’s what Patriots coach Bill Belichick said about him last August: “Eric’s a player with good versatility. He played safety in college, has played on the perimeter, he’s played inside, he’s played in some dime situations for us, rarely as a linebacker, obviously passing situations, but he has multiple skills. He’s a smart guy. He’s able to handle multiple assignments. Every team needs players like that on the roster.”

Belichick then named him a starting cornerback to start the season, a job he lost less than six quarters into the season....

And here’s a bit more bad news: Through his career, he has allowed 12.8 yards per reception, which is below average from a defensive standpoint using last year’s NFL stats as a gauge....

It’s also notable that when the Eagles traded him one year after drafting him in the second round, the Eagles told him he wasn’t an ideal fit in Jim Schwartz’s man-to-man defense. That’s not encouraging....

So unless the Dolphins add a high-quality cornerback in the rest of free agency (unlikely) or the draft (quite possible), you’re looking at a minimum of five contenders for the starting job opposite Xavien Howard: Rowe, Cordrea Tankersley (off a major knee injury), Torry McTyer (allowed 22 of 27 targets to be caught for 373 yards and two touchdowns and a 143.4 passer rating), Jalen Davis and Cornell Armstrong.

Bobby McCain can play the boundary but is clearly better in the slot.

The variable, of course, is whether the Dolphins keep Minkah Fitzpatrick at cornerback or move him to safety (which is their long-term preference).

Allen should give the Dolphins their best blocking tight end in years.

And that’s important, because it appears the new staff doesn’t want to use Mike Gesicki to block as much as the old staff did – a smart decision, considering blocking remains Gesicki’s shortcoming.

Gesicki pass-blocked on 13.5 percent of his offensive snaps last season (54 of 400), according to Pro Football Focus.

New Dolphins tight ends coach George Godsey has spoken of using his players more to their strengths.....

One thing that’s clear: Patriots coaches held Allen in high regard; he was released primarily because of his high cap number of $7.3 million.

“Dwayne’s done a tremendous job,”offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said during Allen’s two-year Patriots tenure. “His attitude has been tremendous. He’s a great teammate. He’s unselfish. His role each week is different, and we ask some things of him that maybe we don’t ask of some other people.

“He’s been tremendous about learning his role; he embraces it. He’s contributed in the kicking game and he plays a lot for us on offense — blocks, caught the ball, pass protection, run plays. Whatever it is, Dwayne’s unselfish and really just wants to do whatever’s best for the team.”

Belichick agreed, noting: “He does whatever we ask him to do. He works very hard at it, whatever his role is. He’s always prepared, tries to get it right. We all make mistakes. We all correct them and try to do them better the next time. He’s embraced that.”

Here was part 1 of the series with feedback on new Dolphins Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Reed.

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