More Ingram feedback. And Dolphins coaches dish on Tua, Armstead, Michel, tight end choice

·6 min read
Lenny Ignelzi/AP

A six-pack of Miami Dolphins notes, in advance of Tuesday’s first full-team offseason practice open to the media (but closed to fans):

Fans usually measure pass rushers, running backs and receivers by their statistics. But in the case of new Dolphins edge player Melvin Ingram, there’s a big disparity between what the stats say and advanced metrics suggest.

The stats say Ingram had two sacks and 25 tackles in 15 games for the Steelers (six) and Chiefs (nine) last season.

But the metrics paint a different story. Per Pro Football Focus’ Ryan Smith, Ingram produced 51 pressures on 460 pass rushing snaps last year, or one every nine snaps. That’s comparable to Emmanuel Ogbah’s 61 pressures in 524 pass rushing snaps, or one every 8.6 snaps.

And Smith tells us this, too: In PFF’s win percentage stat for pass rushers — a complicated formula which takes into account pressures and other things — Ingram was tied for 40th among 200 qualifiers (minimum 200 pass rushing snaps) at 16.2 percent.

PFF also gave him high marks against the run.

The website was so enamored of Ingram that it rated him 18th among all free agents this offseason, with this comment: “Injuries have started piling up for Ingram, but his power and technique make him effective against the run and as a pass rusher. He might not be an 800-plus snap player any longer, but he has plenty to offer in a complementary role. Ingram is still an effective all-around player, but he’s likely best as part of a rotation at this point in his career. He can play the run on the edge or rush from any alignment.”

After requesting a trade from Pittsburgh last season, he was dealt to Kansas City “and provided a boost to a defense that was struggling mightily, with eight quarterback pressures in his first three games,” as PFF noted.

“Perhaps most importantly, his arrival helped the Chiefs get star interior defender Chris Jones back on the interior where he thrives as a pass rusher. While Ingram is on the wrong side of 30 years old, he continued a streak of 70.0-plus pass rush grades that dates back to 2013.”

Ingram, 33, started all three of Kansas City’s playoff games and had two sacks. But he has missed time during the past three seasons with hamstring, knee and groin injuries.

With the Dolphins, he will provide depth on the edge behind Ogbah, Jaelan Phillips and Andrew Van Ginkel. He could challenge the latter two for snaps if he’s at his best.

New Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith was New Orleans’ assistant offensive line coach in 2013, when Pro Bowl left tackle and new Dolphins addition Terron Armstead was a rookie for the Saints. And he has a unique way of describing Armstead.

“The biggest thing that attracted us to Terron as a rookie is he’s a hybrid athlete who’s a freak show,” Smith said. “[In a workout], he outran a running back!”

Smith, on his early observations of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa:

“One, getting to know him as a person has been awesome,” Smith said. “Just his sense of humor, how competitive he is, just the makeup, what he’s been able to get through to get to this point you’re like, wow, what a strong foundation as a person because that’s drastically important.

“And then, two, just his ability like at minicamp, and what he was able to do play in, play out, his communication skills, his command of the offense, have been all great so far. We’re really encouraged. And then you just see his ability to process and his accuracy.”

The Dolphins opened a proverbial can of worms by posting on Twitter — without context and oddly enough, in slow motion — video of Tagovailoa throwing a deep ball that Tyreek Hill needed to stop to catch.

The view here is that no conclusions should be drawn from the video, though NFL Network analyst Steve Smith criticized Tagovailoa’s arm strength on national television after watching it.

“I wouldn’t say that we’re limiting ourselves in anything,” Smith said, with regard to Tagovailoa’s arm. Quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell said last week that Tagovailoa can make every throw.

Two Dolphins coaches expressed excitement about what they’re getting in Sony Michel, who will battle for a backup job.

Smith called the Dolphins/Michel marriage “a perfect fit for what we’re trying to do,” noting he wanted to play in South Florida (where he grew up) and noting that Miami’s new offensive system “really features a running back’s skill set.”

Smith put it this way: “The greatest gift that we have is the resume of the system speaks for itself for running backs.”

Barring injuries, there won’t be enough room for all five veteran backs: Chase Edmonds, Michel, Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.

Gaskin and Ahmed appear most at risk.

“Having as many good players as you can in that position is not a bad thing at all,” Smith said.

New tight ends coach Jon Embree has the only unit on offense without a single new veteran addition.

The room returns intact, with Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Adam Shaheen, Hunter Long and H-back Cethan Carter.

Even though Embree’s new here — he coached 49ers tight ends last season — he indicated he’s glad the 2021 group was retained.

“All those guys have unique skill sets,” Embree said. “What I was really pleased, besides keeping them together, is how well those guys all get along. I took them all to Topgolf, maybe a month ago to hang out and get to know them. There’s a lot of competitiveness in that room but good friendships as well. Sometimes guys are like, ‘I want to do what he’s doing’ and there’s not that vibe or relationship. But they really do pull for each other.”

Gesicki is one of the league’s best receiving tight ends; last season, he was fifth among tight ends in receptions with 73 and eighth in yards with 790. But blocking has never been considered a strength, though Gesicki has worked to improve.

Consider that Gesicki was asked to pass block on just 11 of his 827 snaps last season. Among tight ends, only Baltimore’s Mark Andrews played more snaps (934) with fewer pass blocking assignments (nine).

Conversely, 49ers Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle — who worked with new Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel in San Francisco the past several years — pass blocked on 70 plays last season.

What’s more, Kittle had the second-most run blocking snaps among all tight ends last season, with 449. Gesicki ranked 34th with 234.

So Gesicki’s blocking will be worth monitoring in this offense, because it could impact his playing time to a degree. (He’s obviously still going to play a lot.)

Asked about Gesicki and blocking, Embree said: “There’s room for growth in all areas, not just blocking but as a pass catcher. I feel Mike and all those guys want to get better. The thing that has impressed me about Mike is how competitive he is. He doesn’t just settle. You can tell when guys are comfortable where they’re at. Nobody is comfortable being 1 or 2 or 3. They all keep pushing to have more success.”

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