Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer questions from readers.
Q: How real are these “partying instead of working” reports?? – David Gregg on X
This question, of course, comes in reaction to comments made by former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski to a Philadelphia-based radio program.
Jaworski was asked about how Dolphins defenders seemed to react favorably to ex-defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and the Dolphins mutually deciding to part ways, while famed agent Drew Rosenhaus noted to WSVN locally that there existed a disconnect between the 65-year-old Fangio and his players.
Fangio left Miami after a season with the Dolphins to become Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator last week.
Jaworski countered the notion by saying he hears it was more about Dolphins players wanting to party and not wanting to be coached.
Now, I’m not on top of everything players are doing in and out of team facilities and what they’re doing on their own time, but I never once all season suspected any partying problem within the team or even so much as overheard some conversation that indicated as much while hanging out in the team’s locker room during periods open to the media. The most I’ve overheard was players discussing where to take a trip on locker cleanout day with the team eliminated after the playoff loss to the Chiefs.
Let’s also take a look at which players we know had apparent issues with Fangio. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey made consistent remarks that he wants to be more involved and shadow opposing receivers. Safety Jevon Holland posted a video kicking rocks upon receiving the news. And rookie cornerback Cam Smith posted an emoji of an unlocked lock, symbolizing he is now free.
Ramsey’s work ethic certainly cannot come into question. He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, and his biggest complaint was that he wanted to do more — not that too much was asked of him.
Holland is a young, prominent player, but he’s also a captain two years running. Smith was not receiving playing time in his first professional season, so he’s the only one of those three that can maybe be questioned to this point, in terms of work ethic.
Jaworski played for the Eagles and Dolphins in his career, but he was beloved in Philadelphia and merely Dan Marino’s backup in Miami. He was certainly offering the Eagles’ perspective and even prefaced his comments by saying he has known Fangio for a long time, so this could easily be coming straight from Fangio.
Saying players in Miami like to party also came off as a bit of a lazy generalization, but it is an aspect of the city that cannot be undermined. The Dolphins often have to do their due diligence on players they bring into the organization for that reason.
Q: I think we’re all wondering how isn’t Danny Crossman fired? –Jesse James on X
This appears to be headed the same direction it did last offseason.
The team moved on from a defensive coordinator, some smaller assistants were relieved and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman remained on the coaching staff for weeks after many on the outside wondered if his run in Miami had come to an end.
A decent run for most of the season from Crossman’s unit was marred by a long kick return allowed in the Week 17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and then a crucial punt return touchdown surrendered to the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season finale. Those skew the season numbers significantly, but coach Mike McDaniel is likely looking at the season as a whole, which, overall, was better than 2022.
Q: If Campanile becomes DC, do you expect that he’d cook up similar Fangio meatballs for the defense, or would there be some new Campanile pasta recipes? (Yes, this is a scheme question as explained through Italian food)? –Jose Mata on X
Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile, one of seven known available candidates to interview for the defensive coordinator job upon Thursday’s news of Chris Shula getting a look, has been in Miami under Fangio’s system and the different schemes of former coach Brian Flores and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.
So, having different defensive styles among his coaching influences, I imagine his scheme could fall somewhere in between.
Fangio’s “meatballs” was a lot of off coverage, zone coverages — two-high safeties, quarters coverage, Cover 6, etc. Flores and Boyer loved to play press-man and blitz at a higher rate.
Q: Realistically.. do you think Wilkins gets picked up in FA or do you think we can work out a deal? If he does leave.. who fills that gap? —@Doll_Phan72 on X
The Dolphins have options regarding defensive tackle Christian Wilkins with the franchise tag, transition tag, signing him to an extension or just letting him test the market.
Wilkins may have priced himself right out of Miami, which is operating about $52 million over the cap before it makes a series of moves to get back into the green, after he produced nine sacks, proving he can provide that interior pass rush.
If the Dolphins want to keep the prime foundational piece to the rebuild, who was the top draft choice in 2019, they could sign him to an extension that’s affordable to start and then burdensome in future seasons. Or they can tag him on a franchise tender just north of $23 million against this year’s cap. That also affords them the option to trade him afterward.
Miami could be looking in the draft at Wilkins’ replacement if he isn’t on the roster for 2024, as the team needs to start building a core from the draft again after essentially punting on the past two drafts, outside of picking up running back De’Von Achane.
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