McDaniel on what makes Mostert unique. How Dolphins graded out. And the Apple question

David Santiago/

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:

The Dolphins have flirted with a bunch of neon name running backs this offseason. But they have never followed through in acquiring any of them — from Dalvin Cook to Jonathan Taylor to making any sort of trade offer for Josh Jacobs after an initial inquiry.

And that’s a testament to Raheem Mostert, who’s off to a very good start this season, with 28 carries for 158 yards (a 5.6 average) and three touchdowns.

“His game has progressed,” said Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, who coached Mostert for five seasons in San Francisco and now for one-plus seasons in Miami.

“He’s a unique individual that currently has either the first- or second-fastest ball-carrier time recorded since 2016 — 23-something [mph]. To look at him through the same lens as every other back I think would be a mistake.

“Just watching the nuances of his game, he’s developed confidence, conviction. His vision is better, he’s more decisive. As you guys could see [against New England], and it was very evident at the end of the season last year, he is a hard tackle. Pound-for-pound, he might be one of, if not the, strongest person on the team. He’s just unique in that way.”

It will be interesting to see if No. 4 cornerback Justin Bethel or Cam Smith, Parry Nickerson or Kelvin Joseph can wrest the No. 3 cornerback job from Eli Apple, who was targeted repeatedly by the Patriots.

Per Pro Football Focus, New England threw at Apple 10 times and completed seven of those passes for 76 yards. Apple also was penalized three times.

The Patriots threw only twice at Kader Kohou, and completed both passes but for just 13 yards.

They threw twice at Bethel and completed both, but for just 6 yards.

The Patriots threw nine times at Xavien Howard and completed six passes for 46 yards, but Howard had an interception on one of those passes.

Just three of seven passes against safeties Jevon Holland and DeShon Elliott were completed, and for only 23 yards (all coming against Holland).

Among the linebackers, Jerome Baker was targeted eight times and allowed all to be caught for 41 yards and a touchdown. New England was 10-for-10 passing against Miami’s starting inside linebackers, going 2 for 2 for 22 yards against David Long Jr.

Fullback Alec Ingold said he will appeal the NFL’s $14,333 fine for what the league called unnecessary roughness on one of his blocks during a Mostert run against the Chargers. He applied a physical hit to Chargers safety Derwin James’ torso on the play.

“I can’t imagine that play not happening hundreds of times every single Sunday,” Ingold said Monday. “I’m pretty upset about that... It’s that edge of setting the tone but doing your job and protecting the team. That’s a tough one to swallow.”

Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio blitzed Patriots quarterback Mac Jones selectively, just as he did with the Chargers’ Justin Herbert the previous week.

When the Dolphins blitzed Jones, they had five pressures and two sacks in his 14 dropbacks.

But when they didn’t blitz Jones, they had 12 pressures and two sacks in 33 dropbacks.

That marked a significant difference in non-blitz effectiveness from the Chargers game, when the Dolphins needed to blitz to get to Herbert.

Isaiah Wynn didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure in 34 pass blocking plays against New England. He’s excelling at left guard, a position he hadn’t played in six years.

“Isaiah is a really good player,” right guard Robert Hunt said. “The way he sets at guard looks like a tackle and it’s pretty efficient. He knows he’s good with his feet. He gets on them and he has awareness for them. I think him going to guard helps him… to move into space.”

Kendall Lamm, Connor Williams and Hunt each allowed only only one pressure and no sacks against the Patriots.

Quick stuff: PFF’s five highest-graded Dolphins on offense against New England: Salvon Ahmed, Williams, River Cracraft, Tua Tagovailoa and Mostert....

PFF’s five highest-graded Dolphins on defense against New England: Bradley Chubb, Andrew Van Ginkel, Christian Wilkins, Kohou and Long....

The Dolphins continue to adeptly handle opposing blitzes. Against New England, Tagovailoa was 9 for 13 for 94 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions when blitzed. The Patriots pressured him just twice — and didn’t sack him at all — on those 13 blitzes. New England’s only sack came without a blitz…

The Dolphins have won five of six against the Patriots for the first time since 2000-2001….

The Dolphins lead the NFL in yards per play at 7.3. It’s a full yard per play better than every other team in the league. San Francisco is second at 6.3. Miami averaged 6.1 yards per play last season, which was second in the league.


The Dolphins added an experienced defensive tackle for the second time in four days on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with veteran Byron Cowart on a practice squad deal.

Cowart, who is 6-3 and 300 pounds, has started 14 games, all for New England in 2020, and appeared in 36 games overall. He was a backup for the Colts last season, appearing in all 17 games and playing 227 defensive snaps (20 percent of Indianapolis’ defensive snaps) and finishing with 12 tackles.

His career numbers: 41 tackles, including five for loss, and a sack.

New England drafted him in the fifth round out of Auburn in 2019.