Danny Amendola is latest Texas Tech tough guy to join Dolphins, following Zach Thomas and Wes Welker

Finally the Miami Dolphins have figured out a way to put the pinch on Tom Brady.

By signing Danny Amendola to a free-agent contract, the Dolphins deny Brady the use of one of his most reliable targets and a key member of the NFL’s top offensive unit.

Can’t call Amendola invaluable, of course. If Bill Belichick thought that term applied to

Former New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) makes a catch between Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Koa Misi (55) and Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on December 15, 2013. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

the slot receiver, New England would have outbid Miami for his services. Already, Amendola has taken some $10 million in paycuts the last three offseasons in order to stay with the Patriots.

Think, though, of the toughness Amendola brought to the Patriots’ huddle, and the leadership he will bring to Miami’s locker room. See if any of this fits the new “culture” that the Dolphins and coach Adam Gase want to build, albeit three years late.

Amendola signed with the Patriots just as Wes Welker was leaving them, a demonstration of his willingness to take on a big challenge.

He started only half of the Patriots’ 2017 games but had such a rapport with Brady that he was targeted more times (86) than anyone but Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski.

Amendola caught just two touchdown passes during the 2017 regular season, nothing dramatic, but then he caught two more in the fourth quarter of New England’s comeback win over Jacksonville in the AFC title game. Altogether, in 13 playoffs games with New England he caught six touchdown passes.

What’s more, according to the Boston Herald, Amendola kept on playing through a torn groin in 2013, knee and ankle injuries in 2015.

Not bad for a guy who went undrafted out of Texas Tech after playing there for Mike Leach, one of the most inventive coaches around.

Matter of fact, I’m going to suggest that the Dolphins look to Texas Tech more often in the talent searches of the draft and free agency.

That’s where linebacker Zach Thomas played his college ball on the way to a great Dolphins career that featured seven Pro Bowl selections.

And how about Welker, another Texas Tech star who the Dolphins didn’t really prize until he had left them and, in a New England uniform, transformed himself into the NFL’s leading receiver.

Jakeem Grant, 5-feet-7, is another little hardhead from Texas Tech. He and Amendola will be playing together now in Miami and maybe even sharing time in the slot position, unless Adam Gase decides he only needs one of them.

Will Brady be able to keep his offense moving without Amendola? Of course. He never slows down, no matter who is running the routes.

This addition of Amendola, however, will return to Ryan Tannehill some of the third-down certainty that was lost with the trade of Jarvis Landry to Cleveland for money reasons alone.

This may not work out so well if Amendola, 32, continues to have trouble with a bad knee that’s been bothering him the last few seasons. Can’t blame the Dolphins, though, for taking what Brady wants.

At least make the Patriots work a little harder on their way to the Super Bowl. At least make them do that.

[Not feeling confident about Gators, Canes and Noles in NCAA tourney]

[Justin Thomas’ climb to No. 2 in world gives Honda Classic another boost]

[Marlins’ inaugural spring training 25 years ago was a Space Coast blast]

 

Sour recipe for Dolphins’ offense is one part passing, one part rushing and one very big part holding

Is it impossible to win a game while getting flagged 11 times for 107 penalty yards, the way the Miami Dolphins were on Sunday night?

No, the Miami Dolphins edged Arizona 26-23 last year despite being called for 14 penalties.

All those lost yards and all that lost momentum just make it tougher, however, to get anything

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

done, and the Dolphins offense, last in the league going into Sunday’s 27-24 loss to Oakland, doesn’t need anything to make life harder. What they need is better play on the offensive line, and better coaching in that room on the fundamentals of knocking other people around without knocking your own team backwards.

Here, in order, is a listing of the offensive penalties from Sunday night and how they tore great holes in whatever Jay Cutler was trying to build on a 34-of-42 passing night.

Illegal formation charged to Ju’Wan James: Wiped out a 14-yard gain and a third-down conversion on a catch by Jarvis Landry.

Holding on Mike Pouncey: Declined by Raiders because Miami was about to punt anyway.

Holding on Jermon Bushrod: Turned a second-and-10 into a first-and-20.

Holding on Jesse Davis: Wiped out an 8-yard run by Damien Williams that would have put Miami in a manageable third-and-2 situation.

False start by Jesse Davis: Came on the very next snap, turning a second-and-20 into something even worse.

Holding on Jarvis Landry: Wiped out a 30-yard gain to the Oakland 21-yard line on a swing pass to Damien Williams.

Holding on Mike Pouncey: Wiped out a first-down gain of 4 yards on a Kenyan Drake run.

Holding on Jermon Bushrod: Wiped out a fourth-and-9 conversion pass of 14 yards to Julius Thomas.

 

There were two other defensive penalties and a Terrence Fede holding call on a Miami kickoff return but the major problems are on offense, which is Adam Gase’s specialty area.

He’s the head coach who wants to shift into a more fast-tempo mode in his playcalling but is still trying to get his guys to do the basic stuff first. Gase talked last week about changing the way Miami practices and meets and slogs through walk-through sessions. He talked about finding a new way of teaching and of learning.

It’s clearly not working when every starting offensive lineman but Laremy Tunsil gets penalized in a close game that required crisp execution from start to finish.

Difficult to see the Dolphins topping .500 or Gase’s offense ever finding its promised high gear when the offensive line, the foundation of it all, is festooned in yellow flags.

Maybe next year, when Miami finds an offensive line coach with the authority and the skill to demand more professionalism in his room. This problem won’t fix itself quickly, and there was no hope of it ever happening under Chris Foerster, whose own lack of personal discipline got him fired and into rehab.

 

 

 

Anquan Boldin will have a strong influence on Buffalo, and that’s not good for Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins can’t be happy to have Anquan Boldin in the AFC East.

In his previous 14 NFL seasons the durable star from Pahokee and Florida State played in other divisions. Now, just two months from his 37th birthday, Boldin has signed a one-year deal with Buffalo for $2.75 million plus incentives.

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Newly acquired Buffalo Bills receiver Anquan Boldin makes a catch during passing drills at training camp ON Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. (Jaime Germano/Democrat & Chronicle via AP)

This is a man who does not need incentives beyond the opportunity to catch lots of passes and score lots of touchdowns and make other teams wish they had signed him instead.

Miami, for reasons I have never understood, has repeatedly passed on chances to sign Boldin. Maybe because he’s not the fastest player in the league. Maybe because he’s getting older. Maybe because he’s spent most of his career in the NFC, where his steady production and intense leadership skills haven’t hurt the Dolphins that much.

Well, now Boldin will be facing Miami twice a season. He won’t always be as good as he was in Arizona’s 31-10 blowout of the Dolphins in 2008, when Boldin caught six Kurt Warner passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns, but he always is a threat in the red zone, with those post-up basketball moves and those strong hands.

Last year Boldin caught eight touchdown passes for Detroit. Kenny Stills had nine for Miami but no other Dolphins receiver came close.

Last year Boldin caught 67 passes. Jarvis Landry was the only Dolphin with more.

Over his career Boldin has 82 touchdown catches and 1,076 yards in receptions.  Chalk it up to longevity if you like, but both of those numbers would be franchise records if he had played his entire career in Miami and not bouncing around from Arizona to Baltimore to San Francisco to Detroit.

Boldin will get a shot at being Tyrod Taylor’s No. 2 receiver in Buffalo opposite Sammy Watkins. I wouldn’t bet against him taking the role, just like I never bet against him on a 50-50 ball with a linebacker or a safety or even a nimble, young cornerback. Bills general manager Brandon Beane must feel the same way.

“I’ve been a big Anquan fan from afar,” said Beane, “so even if I had the likes of Jerry Rice and guys like that on this team, to get Anquan is an addition that has zero to do with where our receivers are.”

The Bills are better because of Boldin, and they weren’t that far behind Miami without him. The Dolphins’ two wins over Buffalo in 2016 were by a combined total of six points, and one of them was in overtime.

[Any legendary story you hear about Vince Wilfork is probably true]

[There’s a lot of Heisman history blocking Lamar Jackson from second trophy]

[No second-guessing Adam Gase on Jay Ajayi’s training camp concussion]

As August transactions go, Boldin’s signing doesn’t come close to the importance of Miami adding Jay Cutler.

The Dolphins can’t be happy about it, though. Boldin didn’t come to Tampa Bay or Oakland or Houston. He’s coming to the AFC East, and he’s coming, as always, with something to prove.

Here’s how that 69-yard punt return played out in Jarvis Landry’s mind

LANDOVER, Md. – Jarvis Landry’s first career punt return for a touchdown was a beauty Sunday, and the eventual game-winner in Miami’s 17-10 escape from Washington.

Watching it is one thing, however. Take a listen to what actually was going through Landry’s mind, step by step, as he cruised through, around and eventually past all those Redskins.

Miami Dolphins Jarvis Landry (14) returns a kick for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on September 13, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins Jarvis Landry (14) returns a kick for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on September 13, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

“Get vertical, right now,” Landry said when asked what his original thought was when receiving the ball. “It’s just one of the things that we’re taught, just get vertical, find a seam, stretch the coverage.

“Initially we study the punter and know that he’s always kicking to our left, his right. He’s left-footed, you know, and their best gunner was No. 34 (Trenton Robinson) and Zach Bowman and Walt Aikens did a great job on him all day. That allowed me to get, like, 15-20 yards of space when I caught the ball. As a punt returner, that’s what you love.

“That’s just kind of how it happened.”

Sounds easy, but even on a motor scooter most of us couldn’t do what Landry did. His longest punt return as a rookie, by the way, was 32 yards.

Landry’s pass-catching is far better than a second-year player should be, too. The former second-round draft pick from LSU has a string of 10 straight games with at least five receptions.

That’s only a Miami franchise record.

The only player to come close is O.J. McDuffie, who caught at least five passes in eight straight games in 1998.

[Chip Kelly apparently figures Tim Tebow scores all his TD’s by accident]

[I’ll say the Hurricanes finally win the ACC Coastal]

[Goodell skipped NFL Kickoff opener but for everyone else it was irresistable]

You’d think there would be more with a team that featured so many great Dan Marino years. It’s a tribute to what Landry has come to mean to Ryan Tannehill. Now if only Kenny Stills can make the same kind of connection. He had one catch for 12 yards in his Miami debut.

Stills could have had a touchdown, of course, if Tannehill had been able to keep a deep sideline pass on target while throwing on the run. The speedy former New Orleans Saint was all alone but the ball was so far off the mark that he couldn’t grab it and keep both feet in bounds.

Again, though, Landry saved the day for a Miami offense that couldn’t get unstuck.

“Went out there and made a few plays,” he said.

Oh, and one of them was a 14-yard run on a handoff. Reminds me of a young Nat Moore in that respect. Nat carried the ball 40 times on a variety of reverses and other plays during his long Dolphins career and averaged better than 6 yards per pop.