Friday Miami Dolphins Mailbag: Tua, Noah, Austin Jackson, Crossen, and More

Friday Miami Dolphins Mailbag: Tua, Noah, Austin Jackson, Crossen, and More thumbnail

Part 1 of the latest SI Fan Nation All Dolphins mailbag following the joint practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

From Bojack Duttsman (@Dutton_saucycat):

Hi Alain, long-time reader, first-time asker from Alberta, Canada. I love the depth on this Dolphins team. My biggest question mark outside of the dead horse (the O-line) is our linebacker corps. Are they good enough?

Hey Bojack, welcome! Always love first-time askers! Here’s an important point that needs to be made regarding your question, and that’s whether we’re counting edge defenders Melvin Ingram, Jaelan Phillips and Andrew Van Ginkel as linebackers, which is how they’re listed on the roster. Including those players, along with starting “off-the-ball” linebackers Jerome Baker and Elandon Roberts, yes, that group is good enough. Could the Dolphins use a stud at inside linebacker who could make an impact right away? Sure. But this group — and notice I didn’t include Channing Tindall because I’m thinking it’ll be mostly special teams for him as a rookie — is good enough.

From Reza Hariri (@Therealrezpect1):

Do you see Crossen & Thrill CB 4/5. After watching joint practice, where can Miami upgrade. Any of the depth LB standing out ?

Hey Reza, it’s never too early to make roster projections, amirite? Well, since you’re asking, I absolutely could see Crossen and Williams as the third and fourth cornerbacks, though I don’t want to count out Noah Igbinoghene just yet. Where can the Dolphins upgrade? Well, what jumps out at me is cornerback, offensive line and inside linebacker, but that said, there’s no glaring hole on this team. As for the linebacker depth, Duke Riley has really caught my eye all camp. I mean, big time. Sam Eguavoen also has had some good moments.

From Dave (@angryvet59):

Darrell Bevell has coached in rainy cold weather in Seattle & frozen tundra of Green Bay. Think he can help that portion of Tua’s game, which IMO is his Achilles’ heel?

Hey Dave, I’m afraid you’re not going to like the answer here. The problem with Tua throwing in bad weather (cold, wind, rain) has little to do with mechanics and pretty much everything to do with arm strength, which is where it comes into play — not on deep passes as the really annoying narrative became. And I’ve maintained all along that Tua’s arm strength is perfectly fine in reasonable weather or when he can set his feet, but it becomes an issue when the opposite is true. And nothing has happened yet to change my mind.

From Murph (@murph244):

With the run game guru McDaniel, can Miami control the clock to help their D against the Bills? Seems as if in years past the D is gassed due to lack of traction on offense.

Hey Murph, there’s absolutely no question that being able to control the ball with the running game would be a major help to the defense — not only against Buffalo but against every other team. And I would point to the game at Buffalo last year to support your argument about the offense not helping the defense because, remember, that game was tied 3-3 at halftime before the defense faltered in the second half.

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From Bretty White (@B_Lillz):

Thoughts on Austin Jackson?

Hey Bretty, well, AustinJackson is a really likable young dude that I really hope becomes a success for the Dolphins. Gonna guess, though, you’d rather want to hear about his progress. It’s too early to tell exactly what kind of season he’s going to have, but I think it’s pretty clear he looks better at this stage than he did at this time last year. There’s no question this scheme is beneficial to him and there’s reason to be optimistic he can take a big jump in 2022.

From Sal Cano (@SalCano73561477):

Noah isn’t going to help on defense, so why not have him field kickoffs and punts? Way too risky to have Tyreek, Waddle or Mostert handling that all season.

Hey Sal, I don’t disagree with your second point, though I do see the value in having Hill returning punts late in a half or if the Dolphins need a spark because he can do that in a hurry. Igbinoghene has kickoff return experience in the NFL, but not as a punt returner and it’s not quite as simple as just putting someone back there. I do think the Dolphins will have other options if they decide against using one of the three players you mentioned.

From Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly):

What can save Noah Igbinoghene’s career?

Always love getting questions from Omar, with whom I always had great conversations during his time on the beat (which sadly is coming to an end). And this is a good one coming in light of a tough couple of practices for Igbinoghene against Tampa Bay. From where I sit, there’s no major issue with Igbinoghene’s physical traits or the work ethic, he’s just lacking in terms of feel and instincts when it comes to playing cornerback. That shows up when the ball is in the air or when he bites on a double move. The reality is that I saw good things from Igbinoghene in camp before the Tampa Bay trip (usually on quick patterns where the play stays in front of him) and still think something clicks the more reps he gets. But at some point, the Dolphins should consider the idea of moving him to safety where he’s not on an island. We’re not there yet, in my estimation, but we’re getting there.

From Alex Szabo (@AlexSzabo23):

Will the center position be good by start of Week 1?

Hey Alex, barring a major change in the next month or so, this means Connor Williams, who’s playing center for the first time in his NFL career. Wish I had a crystal ball and could answer your question definitively, but since you asked, you expect an answer. I expect Williams to be fine at center, but being that it’s his first year at the position, I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to be Mike Pouncey, either.

From Dan Giunta (@Dan_B_Phin_Phan):

Alain, many thanks as always for being so in touch with the Dolphins fan base! Do you believe the current OL in place will help solidify enough protection for Tua to take his game to the next level?

Hey Dan, first off, thanks, but unpopular answer coming up: It’s up to Tua, and not the offensive line, to take his game to the next level. For some reason, there’s this notion out there that Tua was running for his life every single, solitary time he dropped back to pass last season, and that just wasn’t the case. Was the line’s performance less than ideal? Absolutely. Was it the disaster that so many have tried to portray? Absolutely not. Yes, it was ranked near or at the bottom of the league according to certain metrics, but according to others the Dolphins allowed pressure the 10th-most times in the league based on percentages. Having said all that, obviously the better the offensive line is, the easier it is for a quarterback to succeed. And since the line definitely should be improved, that should make it easier on Tua.

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