A six-pack of Miami Dolphins notes on a Thursday:
▪ Former Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn, one of many skilled veterans jettisoned by the Dolphins this offseason, told Dallas reporters this week that “it’s kind of crazy what’s going on” with Miami.
But while Kiko Alonso and Minkah Fitzpatrick asked to be traded, others have said they are content here, despite the team’s poor roster.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker said he has given no consideration to asking out, nor would he. Why?
“It’s a great organization,” he said. “I want to put the team back and get it back on track where we used to be.”
Have the trades been dispiriting?
“No,” Parker said. “You may feel like that at one point, but you still have plenty of games left and opportunities each week.”
Veteran receiver Allen Hurns, who signed with Miami on the second day of training camp, said he did not expect the level of dismantling to reach this point, with Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills and Fitzpatrick jettisoned since he arrived.
But he grew up in South Florida, has a lot of family here and said he has not asked to be moved.
“I’ve never been one to ask for a trade during a season,” Hurns said. “Once I’m committed to something, I’m committed to it. I thought signing here I would play with a lot of those guys [Tunsil, Stills, Fitzpatrick]. Unfortunately they’re not here. But nobody wants to hear those excuses.”
Has it been distressing to experience lopsided losses?
“It’s difficult,” he said. “You’re competitive. But you have faith. It’s still early in the season. You’ve got to find your peace and joy and be thankful you’re playing this game. Just count your blessings. You’re living a dream.”
▪ There’s an NBA-like trend happening in football, with a few young players asking for trades recently, including Fitzpatrick (who was dealt to Pittsburgh) and Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
And Flores doesn’t like it.
“It’s not disheartening; but as a guy who has built his career on building relationships, you hate to see that,” Flores said Thursday. “That’s kind of how I felt about the Minkah situation.”
Flores, to this point, hasn’t had success getting two players to change their minds: Fitzpatrick and earlier, Jadaveon Clowney, who entered his clandestine meeting with Flores not wanting to play for a rebuilding team and didn’t change his mind after meeting with Flores.
There’s no indication that Miami tried to get Alonso to change his mind after his trade request. He was unhappy with the Dolphins and as a player said, the Dolphins were unhappy with how Alonso was performing in practice.
So Flores was asked what he’s learned about cultivating relationships with players who have asked for trades.
“I’m just always going to be myself,” he said. “I’m always going to be honest, transparent, tell them the truth. I think that’s been the case. I want that to be something that’s reciprocal. I think that’s the best way to build trust. Ultimately in this game, you need trust from coaches to players to the different groups. When you have that, it’s a really good thing and it’ll help you win. We need to continue to build that.”
Flores is in a tough spot, because it would be difficult to tell his players that the franchise’s general focus is on 2020 and beyond.
▪ I asked Flores this on Thursday: “Last year, Minkah Fitzpatrick, when he was in the slot, the passer rating against him in his coverage area was 49. On the boundary, 80 passer rating against. One number is exceptional. One number is good. Why not just allow him to play one of those or both of those spots and relent to his request to do that and move forward with the player?”
Flores declined to respond, but said: “I wish it could’ve been different.”
So I asked a follow up, just so we all understand this moving forward: “If a player asks you to play a certain position — if he expresses a preference — is your opinion that the coach always should be the one to make that decision and the coach should never acquiesce to the player about how he wants to be used? Not Minkah Fitzpatrick specifically, — a general philosophy question.”
Flores’ answer: “I would say, I think there are multiple answers to that. Yes, as a coach, you want to put a player in a position he feels comfortable in, as well as a position that we feel is best for that particular player and for the team. I think the player – in our building – most players feel the same way. I think we’re always trying to put guys in the best position to help the team. That will never change. Sometimes, players are in positions where they aren’t as comfortable, but they’re doing it and for the team, so that’s kind of my thought there.”
Bottom line: Flores wanted Fitzpatrick to do what he thought was best for the team, not for Fitzpatrick. I can understand that, though I would have relented to his request because ultimately, I believe playing him exclusively at cornerback (slot and boundary) would have been better for the team than trading him for a draft pick, which could be a high pick but comes with uncertainty.
▪ The Dolphins are pleased with tight end Mike Gesicki’s improvement, especially in the passing game, where he’s getting open more.
“I think he’s really done a much better job in a lot of areas — blocking, catching the football, route-running,” Flores said. “There were a couple of plays last week where he’s getting open and we just don’t have enough time to get him the ball. We’ll get it protected, we’ll have more time and we’ll try to find him in the pass game.
“He’s done a better job in the run game. Physically, this guy is big, fast, athletic. I don’t want to say mentally, but you have to learn how to play this game at this level at that position. That takes a little bit of time. This being his second year, I think he’s showing a lot of improvement. I think we’re starting to see some of that in flashes and then obviously we always have to be more consistent.”
Pro Football Focus said Gesicki’s pass blocking grades were atrocious last week. But beyond that, there has been clear progress.
▪ A revelation during the offseason program and preseason, former CFL linebacker Sam Eguavoen has had mixed results so far.
He’s playing a lot (68 of 77 snaps against Baltimore, 64 of 71 against New England) and has nine tackles and half a sack. But PFF ranks him 57th among 77 qualifying among linebackers. He has allowed all three passes thrown against him to be caught for 39 yards.
“I think he’s done a good job,” Flores said. “We’ve got a good player there.”
▪ Most evaluators believe Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — who could end up in Miami next season — is a very good prospect. But as one former GM said, it makes it more difficult to evaluate him because he’s surrounded by so much elite talent on offense.
Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo noted on Twitter that Tua “has had 72 percent of his yards come after the catch, highest percentage in the nation. Against South Carolina, 82 percent of his yards came after the catch.”
In his defense, his accuracy on short to intermediate crossing patterns is consistently excellent. But his receivers are often turning those shorter gains into touchdowns.
As for the current team’s QB situation, one Dolphins veteran said Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen shared snaps alongside the starters at Thursday’s practice, which is a change from last week, when Fitzpatrick took all those snaps.
UPDATE: Rosen is starting Sunday, according to a league source. See more on this in our story on the Herald’s sports home page.