Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Dolphins might want kicker competition in camp
Senior Bowl might have possibility at the position
MOBILE, Ala. — Maryland kicker Chad Ryland is one of two kickers at the Senior Bowl, and his leg strength is tough to miss. Keep an eye on him in Saturday’s game. Ryland’s leg strength is something that could interest the Dolphins, among other teams.
There’s been speculation the Dolphins might bring in training camp competition for kicker Jason Sanders, and Ryland, who transferred to Maryland after spending four years at Eastern Michigan, might fit the bill.
Ryland has hit at least one 50-yard field goal every year, including a 55-yarder in 2021 at Eastern Michigan and a 53-yarder last season at Maryland.
Hitting from distance was an issue with Sanders, who had a decent year overall by going 26 of 32 on field goals (81.3%), but was a troubling 2 of 6 on attempts of 50 or more yards.
“I need to hit from 50 in every condition,” Ryland said. “Rain, sleet, snow, 2 degrees, 70 degrees.
“That’s what I pride myself on is I can hit a 50-yard ball in whatever you want.”
Ryland hit field goals of 53 and 52 yards in front of more than 100,000 fans in a 34-27 loss at Michigan last season.
Ryland tied a Big Ten record with 24 consecutive field goals between last season and this season (he hit 17 consecutive at Eastern Michigan and his first seven at Maryland).
He was 19 of 23 (82.6%) last season, including 3 of 6 on attempts of 50 yards or more, and 7 of 8 on field goal attempts between 40 and 49 yards, and 19 of 22 (86.4%) in 2021.
Of course, Sanders, an All Pro in 2020, would be costly to cut. He’s due to cost $3.7 million against the salary cap in 2023, and cutting him would result in $3.6 million of dead money before June 1, and $2.8 million after June 1, according to overthecap.com.
Still, there’s a chance the Dolphins bring in competition, which they didn’t do in last year’s training camp.
As far as mental toughness, Ryland has displayed it in a big way. He started his fourth year at Eastern Michigan 1 of 4 and finished the season hitting 17 consecutive field goals.
“There’s really nothing I haven’t faced as a kicker in terms of adversity,” he said. “I think that’s something not everyone has gone through, but I can proudly say that I’ve been in the lowest of lows and have shown that I come out high and I don’t stay down for very long.”
Personnel or system
Vic Fangio, who will reportedly be named the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator after the Super Bowl to replace the fired Josh Boyer, might want to change the way the Dolphins play defense. In the last couple of years, the Dolphins’ style started with lockdown cornerbacks Xavien Howard, who will participate in Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, and Byron Jones.
But under Fangio that style could change to a system that starts with the front seven.
Senior Bowl National team coach Patrick Graham, the former Dolphins defensive coordinator and current Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator, was asked during Senior Bowl media day whether it’s more important to adjust your talent to fit your system, or adjust your system to fit your talent.
“To me it’s all about adjusting to what you have on your roster,” said Graham, who was with the Dolphins in the 2019 season. “You’ve got to do that. The fundamentals and the core principles that you believe in, that are directed by the head coach and also tie-in with the general manager and the ownership, what they want there [are constants].
“But really the idea is to make sure you’re able to adjust because you can be one injury away if you’re trying to fit everything based on people.
“But certain principles you have in terms of setting the edge in the run game, tackling in space and in-line, defending the deep part of the field, that’s core principles. Schematically, you’ve got to be able to adjust based on who you have.”