Miami Dolphins’ 2023 schedule offers a mixed bag.
A six-pack of Miami Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:
▪ The good news about the Dolphins’ 2023 schedule: They will get nine home games, compared with eight on the road.
The bad news: The road schedule looks pretty daunting, headlined by Kansas City and Philadelphia.
Here’s who the Dolphins will play at home next year: Buffalo, the Patriots and Jets, Denver, Las Vegas, Dallas, the New York Giants and an AFC South team and an NFC South team that finish in the same position in its division as the Dolphins do.
At the moment, those AFC South and NFC South games would be against Indianapolis and Carolina, but that easily could change Sunday. Regardless, neither game will be against anything close to a great team.
Here’s who the Dolphins will play on the road, besides the Bills, Patriots and Jets: at Kansas City, at the Los Angeles Chargers (for a second year in a row), at Washington, at Philadelphia and at the AFC North team that finishes in the same position in the standings. That would be Pittsburgh at the moment, but that could change.
The Dolphins have struggled against high-quality quarterbacks (as many teams do), and barring injuries, they will face some (but not an overwhelming amount) in 2023: Josh Allen twice, Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Herbert and Jalen Hurts.
▪ Though the Dolphins offense has played poorly in four of the games during this five-game losing streak, the Dolphins are still 10th in scoring at 24.1 points per game and sixth in yards at 368.4 per game.
And coach and play-caller Mike McDaniel is getting plenty of help. Offensive coordinator Frank Smith is the one who presents the game plan to the team on Wednesdays, the one who does most of the talking during that key meeting. It’s typical for an offensive coordinator to present the game plan to players.
“We go over it as an offense with Frank,” center Michael Deiter said. ‘Heck of a football mind, super sharp. He’s got a bunch of answers. He’s a jack of all trades as a coach.”
Here’s how Dolphins game planning works, per Smith:
On Monday, he meets with McDaniel and “you start off just trying to figure out who the defense is, what makes them work schematically, the history of them — who they are and how they play as far as the front end, the back end, coverage principles through situational football, all that.
“Then on Tuesday, it’s normally in the morning, we’re starting to come together with ideas for concepts, overriding principles that we like. And then really, at some point in the morning, we [Smith and McDaniel] get together and we start the process to build the game plan through pretty much the morning into dinnertime, maybe sometimes a little later depending on [how much] fun we’re having.”
McDaniel is OK with Smith suggesting plays during games if he feels so inclined.
“He’ll just walk over and he’s very tactful in terms of being aware of the different constraints,” McDaniel said. “And he knows how important it is for me to get, regardless of what decision is made, to get it to the players as fast as possible because nothing is worse for a quarterback or an offense when you’re getting close to the 15-second mark of the play clock and you have to rush a play call in. The play hasn’t started and you have a ton of anxiety. He allows me to do that and make sure to not get in the way.
“He’s absolutely invaluable to me. He’s a set of eyes. You can’t be in every place at once. We have a nice working relationship now where I do my best with abstract common denominators. He kind of understands me in that way so then he’ll be able to plant seeds for kind of overarching themes within the game plan. ‘Okay, we should be attacking this player, personnel, this area of the defense, this is where they’re vulnerable, this is where our matchup is good.’”
▪ Pro Football Focus said the Dolphins’ offensive line — without left tackle Terron Armstead on Sunday against the Patriots — “combined to allow an absurd 20 pressures on  pass-blocking snaps on the day. It’s a minor miracle that only two of them resulted in sacks.”
Per PFF, left guard Liam Eichenberg yielded seven pressures in his first game back after his Oct. 30 knee injury against Detroit. Center Connor Williams and right guard Robert Hunt relinquished one sack each.
Left tackle Kendall Lamm allowed no pressures in his 15 pass blocking snaps before leaving with an ankle injury; he’s unlikely to be available Sunday against the Jets, per McDaniel. His replacement, Greg Little, then permitted four pressures in 32 pass blocking snaps. Right tackle Brandon Shell permitted four pressures.
The Dolphins say the status of all the injured players, except for Lamm, is “up in the air” for Sunday against the Jets. That group includes Armstead.
▪ PFF had these Dolphins as the five-highest rated offensive players against the Patriots: running back Raheem Mostert, Smythe, Shell, Lamm and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. And Eichenberg was rated the worst.
▪ PFF had these Dolphins as the five-highest rated defensive players against the Patriots: linemen John Jenkins and Christian Wilkins, linebackers Jerome Baker and Elandon Roberts and defensive back Noah Igbinoghene. Cornerback Keion Crossen was rated the worst.
Incidentally, here were Dolphins cornerback numbers in coverage Sunday:
Crossen, playing all but one defensive snap in the game, permitted only one of four passes to be caught for 17 yards but also had a key pass interference penalty on New England’s game-sealing drive.
Kader Kohou allowed five completions in seven targets but for just 39 yards.
Igbonighene allowed 1 of 3 passes thrown against him to be caught for 7 yards, but that one was a touchdown.
Among safeties, PFF’s numbers were 2 for 2 for 28 yards against Jevon Holland, and 3 for 5 for 59 against Eric Rowe.
▪ Quick stuff: Wilkins not only leads all NFL defensive linemen with 92 defensive tackles, but that’s the most by any NFL defensive lineman since Anthony Spencer had 95 in 2012….
Jaylen Waddle leads the NFL in yards per reception (18.7). His 1,312 receiving yards are the fourth-most that a Dolphins player has ever had in a season, trailing Tyreek Hill’s ongoing season (1,687), Mark Clayton in 1984 (1,389) and Mark Duper in 1986 (1,313)…
Roberts leads the Dolphins in tackles with 103, 14 more than Holland, who’s No. 2 on the list. It’s the first time that Roberts has had 100 tackles in a season…
Though Mike Gesicki has just 28 catches for 316 yards, his five touchdowns are tied for sixth among NFL tight ends.
This story was originally published January 3, 2023 3:46 PM.