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August 10, 2013

08/09/13 – Dolphins vs. Jaguars

by Max Strauss
PSD EXC phinsJAGS

Often times, the first preseason game, both teams go in “dry” or without a gameplan. This tactic really allows for coaches to find players who can “play football” and see who separates themselves from the entire pact of new members on the team. This is the Dolphins second game this week, and they started game-planning earlier in the week. However, after interviewing Jaguars players, they didn’t organize a game-plan. Before the beginning of the game, the Dolphins had the advantage, and the final score with Miami ahead, 27-3, reflected just that.

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Dolphins QB, Ryan Tannehill impressed last night. The offensive line failed to hold up on the first series, but later in the first quarter, he completed two passes for over twenty yards to Dolphins newest addition TE, Dustin Keller. On the other side, Jaguars QBs did not show much. Their offense was very vanilla and their stars, Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon, and Maurice Jones-Drew did not play.

Rookie K, Caleb Sturgis made 2/2 of his field goals in the night, including a bomb from 58 yards away.

Even though DB Nolan Carroll mentioned to me earlier this week, “I’m going to treat it like any other game. I don’t want to be caught up in this is me coming back.” (LINK) He led the Dolphins in tackles and had a great interception off a deflected pass. His mindset was the best way to treat any game. However, there were reports post-game about a scuffle on field between him and Jaguars WR, Justin Blackmon.

Th new additions of speedsters on the Jaguars offense, Dernard Robinson and Ace Sanders will help these quarterbacks over time. They often made the first tackler and second tackler miss, which is very important for players who expect to have the ball in their hands. Robinson carried the ball nine times for 32 yards, but didn’t break any loose.

Jaguars WR/PR, Ace Sanders often created separation on punt returns and on his routes, and I felt that on his two punt returns he was shifty and quick. He showed signs of promise. He made players miss, and his vision will only increase as he gets more playing experience at this level. He returned three punts for touchdowns in the last two years for South Carolina, in what is known as the fastest conference in college football, the SEC. His transition to the NFL will be smoother than most think.

Check out the interviews I conducted below post-game from pros on both teams.

Jacksonville Jaguars Interviews

Jaguars OL, Uche Nwaneri didn’t need to worry about much playing time, he is a veteran on a team full of mostly newcomers, but it is clear that he is serving as a mentor to the rookie offensive linemen, from undrafted rookie free agent, Roddy Tomlin and second overall pick, Luke Joeckel.

Jaguars OL, Roderick Tomlin Interview 

Strauss: How do you think you played today?

Roderick Tomlin: I don’t think I did that bad. I think it was a good game for me. Like every game will be right now, it is a learning experience. I think as I get more and more experience, I think I will become a better player.

Strauss: It’s your first time in the NFL, how do you plan to get better through Training Camp?

Roderick Tomlin: I take notes from a lot of the veterans. It helps having a fourteen-year veteran in Brad Meester here. Uche [Nwaneri] and Will [Rackley] are here helping as well. With the years they’ve been here, I am watching them as much as possible. I also am listening to Coach Yarno so I can learn from all of my mistakes.

Jaguars OL, Uche Nwaneri Interview 

Strauss: How did the first preseason game go?

Uche Nwaneri: Since it was the first preseason game, you don’t game plan for it. Obviously, we want to score more points. But at the same time, you got to realize what it is out there. We were working on things for us, and not necessarily game-planning for the Dolphins. I think overall, we some good things, but we’ll look at the film, and correct what we need to, but this is the first preseason game, which is basically a more organized and intense kind-of practice. It is good work for us, and it is good for the young guys to get in there and show what they can do.

Strauss: You have been on the team for a while now. Maurice Jones-Drew was just a second year player when you came into the league. You have this new look offense with a lot of speed. What’s it like to have this caliber offense?

Uche Nwaneri: We’ve never really had receivers like this before in Jacksonville. We’ve got Cecil and Justin who are obviously very, very talented. We have so many young players that have the skill, the speed, the athleticism like Ace Sanders. He is out there running at full-tilt all of the time. Then you have our tight ends, you have Marcedes Lewis who blocks very well, probably the best blocking tight end in the NFL, and he can receive the ball down the seam as well. 

It is really cool because we’re using a lot of different looks to get the hands in our playmakers down the field. As we get those guys back on the field, Cecil and down the line, Justin, we’ll be able to have a much better visual understanding of how explosive really is.

Strauss: Just after speaking with Roddy Tomlin, he mentioned your name as someone who he is learning from. How do you help the younger players?

Uche Nwaneri: I just talk to the guys about some of the things that I learned from some of the guys that came before me. Like how to play the position, what to look for as an offensive lineman, and just fundamental things that will help them along the way. 

Playing at this level of football coming up from college is a transition for offensive linemen because you are constantly playing against guys who are big and powerful and fast, and you have to know how to negate those advantages they may have as a defensive player. I try to stay in the guys ears about hand placement and leverage, and being able to look up at the defense when you’re in your stance. 

You have to look at the defense and understand where you may be getting blitzes from, where the defensive linemen may be stunting to. I just try to keep them alert on those types of things, so that once you’re able to diagnose it, you can anticipate and defeat the scheme by attacking them before they attack you. Those guys are getting it, they’re young right now, but as time goes on, they’ll start to see it, rather than seeing bullets flying around the field. But, it’s all a process.

One of the newest Jaguars LB, Geno Hayes continued to impress. He appears very familiar with the system in place. One of the newest Jaguars, Jeremiah Green, the rookie out of Nevada and brother to Broncos TE, Virgil Green, played in his first NFL game last night as well.

Jaguars LB, Jeremiah Green Interview 

Strauss: What does it mean to be a part of this Jaguars team?

Jeremiah Green: It is a great opportunity for me. It has been my dream to join an NFL roster coming out of college, and I definitely appreciate the coaches for bringing me here.

Jaguars LB, Geno Hayes Interview

Strauss: What’s it like to be a part of this Jaguars’ organization?

Geno Hayes: It’s a great excitement! It’s a great opportunity for everybody here right now. There is a new scheme with a new coaching staff.  There is a great chance for everyone to do everything right. It is a pretty much new organization from top to bottom. 

It feels great to be around guys like Coach Bradley and Coach Babich who I’ve worked with before, and know personally. It is also great to know that these guys have a scheme that does work and it has proven itself. When guys buy into it, it is going to be a great thing, and it will take our organization to the next level.

Strauss: I also wanted to note that you have the most decorated locker room. You have balloons in it. Why is that?

Geno Hayes: My birthday is tomorrow. [NOW TODAY] My sister sent me for my first game as a Jaguar and also for my birthday tomorrow.

Miami Dolphins Interviews

Dolphins newest rookie, Dion Jordan had a quiet night. He is doing his best watching and learning. He is taking advantage of having seasoned veteran Pro Bowler, Cameron Wake available for questions.

Dolphins DE/OLB, Dion Jordan Interview 

Strauss: You have shown flashes of greatness… Everyone wants to a be a consistently great player. How do you plan to be a consistently great player?

Dion Jordan: I try and take care of business throughout the week whether its practice or taking care of my body, so I’ll be ready to go when its time to get out there.

Strauss: What’s the most important thing for you to work on during Training Camp?

Dion Jordan: Honestly, its probably the play speed. Being able to play at a certain speed. I have to be able to comprehending what’s going on as far as defense, and also understand and know what’s going on, on offense.

Strauss: Cameron Wake has established himself as a Pro Bowler in this league. What have you learned form him?

Dion Jordan: The way he takes care of himself on and off of the field. He’s a pro. There are a bunch of guys on the defensive side who have been around for a long time, so I just try to watch and learn.

Strauss: What do you think is the strongest part of your game right now? 

Dion Jordan: I got a lot of work to do, but I play fast. Probably that.

The Dolphins defensive backfield is a very crowded situation. They added two rookies through the NFL Draft. They also have players who are returning from last year’s 27th ranked pass defense. It will be interesting to see how many DBs make the roster this upcoming season.

Dolphins DB, De’Andre Presley Interview

Strauss: How do you plan to get better with game experience and throughout training camp?

De’Andre Presley: I take it one day at a time. Every day, I focus on something to get better at. We watch a lot of film, so I pick out something each day to get better at it. And I work 1000 miles per hour a day to get better at it.

Strauss: What are you working at specifically?

De’Andre Presley: I am developing my technique. I’m still very young at the position, so every day, I’m trying to develop on my technique to get better at it. I’m working on things the coaches are telling me, motoring out, shooting the hands opposite the release, and having great eye discipline.

New acquisition, Dustin Keller continues to excel in this offense, and looks to continue building a relationship with the young gunslinger, Tannehill. He combined for 46 yards and a touchdown on two catches last night.

Dolphins TE, Dustin Keller Interview 

Strauss: You finally connected with Tannehill on a touchdown. How do you feel about the relationship you’re developing with Tannehill?

Dustin Keller: I like him. This is my new team. There are a bunch of new guys, so it is a work in progress, but I think at this point, it has been really good.

The young tight ends, Dion Sims and Michael Egnew had a significant amount of playing time last night, and as rookie Sims shined, Egnew continued showing signs of inconsistency.

Dolphins TE, Michael Egnew Interview

Strauss: Being a younger tight end… What have you learned from a guy like Dustin Keller so far?

Michael Egnew: He’s a really consistent player. That is what I am striving to be. I want to be really consistent. 

Strauss: How do you plan to get better?

Michael Egnew: My major thing is to be consistent. I have shown some flashes of some really great plays, and sometimes, I have my bad blocking plays. My idea is to level it out, and to be good at both.

It was interesting to see the Dolphins offensive line, and focus on in-game action. They are built to pass block, and they are built to move in space. The depth barely can fight off the defensive linemen, and often times Dolphins ball-carriers yardage is limited. The Jaguars continued to show that their in a re-build mode, but with a talented offense, it is really up to their quarterback, whoever that may be come Week One. Time will tell how their defense will do, but Gus Bradley and Bob Babich are in put in a position to build this defense, so it is successful throughout the long haul.

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