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AC In The AM: Opening The Mailbag

Posted Mar 15, 2017

With six new Dolphins already acquired in free agency and through trades, with the draft now about six weeks away and with so much more work left to do this offseason, it’s time to answer your questions – and we promise no sidestepping or backpedaling.

(Andy Cohen In the Morning – AC in the AM – will appear on Dolphins.com during the offseason as events warrant. You can also follow AC in the AM by twitter at @acohenfins).

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Q. OK, Andy, free agency is about a week old. Tell it like it is: How have the Dolphins done? @pablogomez29

AC: Very well, indeed. They have addressed most of their pressing needs and have brought in a group of players with a track record of success not to mention signing/extending some of their own impending free agents. I can’t remember the last time the Dolphins were this productive so quickly. The offseason is clearly off to a very promising start.

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Q. Tell me the one area this team has improved the most in free agency? @robertbingam11

AC: I’m tempted to say tight end because I really like the two players that were brought in. But I’d have to give the edge to the run defense because of the additions of defensive end William Hayes and linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Both of these veterans are smart, physical players whose ability to stop the run is clearly their strength. It won’t solve all the problems from a year ago, but it’s certainly a big step in the right direction.

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Q. What do you make of Steve Ross having a bunch of players come to New York to learn about business? It’s a good thing, right? @laceylou02

AC: It’s an excellent thing. To have an owner willing to share some of his business expertise with his players is a huge value and something that will undoubtedly prepare these players for life after football. I know if I were a player, I would sign up for it every year. The Dolphins were the first to do it. I would imagine other teams, when applicable, would be smart to follow suit.

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Q. Andy, the Dolphins really went at it hard early in free agency. What do you think was their mindset? @bobbyr27

AC: They clearly put together a game plan and followed it in an almost a methodical manner. You acquire six players in slightly more than 24 hours – we’re not talking about marginal players either – and it screams of a well-coordinated effort designed to maximize results in a short period of time. They didn’t overspend. They didn’t overthink. They simply put together a coordinated effort that produced team-improving results.

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Q. Where does all of this free agency activity leave the Dolphins heading into the draft? What’s your thought on the No. 22 overall pick? @randyrodgers777

AC: With so many needs already taken care of in free agency, the Dolphins now have some flexibility in the first round and could go in all sorts of directions. I expect them to stay with defense and I imagine they’ll take the best defender on their draft board. If it were up to me, it would be a linebacker, then a safety.

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Q. Give us the lowdown on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Has he recovered from the knee injury? @cynthiafinfan

AC: Based on everything I hear, Tannehill is healthy and in the midst of his normal offseason routine. He will wear a brace this season for extra protection, but the knee, I’m told, is sound and strong. That he was able to recuperate without needing surgery is a huge plus.

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Q. What is on the horizon for the offensive guard position? @xstortion

AC: One spot appears to be set with the free agent signing of Ted Larson. The other spot is uncertain right now. Free agency is still young and the Dolphins figure to take at least one guard in the draft. There is also the possibility that veteran Jermon Bushrod could return or that a veteran, such as Kraig Urbik could get an extended look in training camp.

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Q. Andy, last season the Fins overcome a tough opening schedule to finish 10-7. How key do you believe the schedule will be to success? @Owlizee

AC: Sure, the schedule is always a factor, certainly when you open up at Seattle and New England as the Dolphins did last season. But there are so many factors that come into play, like injuries and weather, that it’s impossible to gauge the impact of a schedule until it is right in front of you. Wouldn’t mind, though, seeing the Dolphins finish the season again at home against New England. You always like to save the best for last.

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Q. Give me the name of one young player who needs to really step up next season both for the sake of his career and his team? @reneerogers999

AC: Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. With the departure of Earl Mitchell, Phillips should get a lot more playing time. He has done some good things in his first two seasons, but the consistency hasn’t been there. This season would the perfect time to change that.

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Q. What makes more sense, targeting the offensive line or a linebacker/defensive end in the first round? @rosspb

AC: Last year showed us that the most pressing needs are on defense and I expect that to be the focal point, certainly early in the draft.

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Q. Is cornerback still an area to improve? @delacruz_Tony

AC: Cornerback is always an area that needs offseason attention. We saw plenty of promise last year from young players like Tony Lippett and Xavien Howard while veteran Byron Maxwell played well after starting slowly. But this will always be one of the most important positions on the team. You can never have enough quality cornerbacks and I know the Dolphins subscribe to that theory.

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Q. What should we expect from the Dolphins during the rest of free agency? @andrewplume33

AC: I don’t think by any stretch they are done. There are a lot of bargains out there and, as the days go by, the price tags will likely go down. The Dolphins are in a good position with so much already accomplished. They don’t need to force anything, though I anticipate at least two or three more signings.

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Q. Andy, now that Kenny Stills has been taken care of, when will see a new contract for Jarvis Landry? @raulroddy88

AC: I have no doubt the Dolphins will take care of Landry. He has shown over his first three seasons to be one of the most productive receivers in the league. The brain trust of this team has set a goal of taking care of their own. We have already seen that happen early in the offseason and I expect to see it happen with Landry as well.

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Q. I sleep so much better now that Coach Gase is OUR COACH. Do you sleep better knowing this? @dontapley

AC: It truthfully hasn’t affected my sleep one way or another, but it has made my waking hours much more enjoyable, especially Sundays in the fall.

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by our columnists and bloggers represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.