Former NFL GM Breaks Down Dolphins, Eagles: Says Tua Progressing, Hurts Could Be Replaced

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MIAMI GARDENS — Rick Spielman, the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings the past decade, is sitting adjacent to the field where the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles are about to spend the next couple of hours practicing. Spielman seems quite content with his view of the pending activities.

He’s not worried about a plague of cornerback injuries like the Dolphins are.

He’s not worried whether the safety position is stocked with sufficient talent like the Eagles are.

Spielman weighed multiple NFL front office opportunities after he was fired in Minnesota but decided to pass those up for this exact view as an analyst for CBSSports HQ.

And what the former GM sees from the Eagles and Dolphins is not exactly identical twins but two teams with lots in common.

Rick Spielman was the Vikings GM before being fired after the 2021 season. (Getty Images)

“They both had success,” Spielman says, noting both teams finished 9-8 last season. “They both started out slow then they both came on at the end. Miami didn’t make it, Philly got into the playoff although they were probably overmatched when they got blown out by Tampa.

“Last year mirrored in how their seasons went and this year it’s almost the same approach and the same questions. The GMs have done all this work to get all these playmakers and they have a sound defense but both of them have questions at quarterback about whether these are franchise guys or not.”

Quarterbacks Are The Question And Spielman Has Answers

Spielman knows everything — offense, defense, and special teams — matters but it’s the quarterback question that matters most. And he knows if Jalen Hurts doesn’t produce and prove himself this season, well, change is coming to Philadelphia.

“I think Hurts may have more pressure on him than Tua [Tagovailoa],” Spielman says.

Spielman notes the quarterback talent in next year’s draft is going to be very good and says, based on his conversations with Philly GM Howie Roseman, if Hurts doesn’t maximize his potential this year, “I think they will look for a future quarterback.”

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa. (Getty Images)

Spielman is not a card-carrying member of the TuAnon fan cult that demands unquestioned approval of all things Tagovailoa, but he’s got a growing appreciation for Miami’s quarterback after what was a good day of practice.

“I was able to come out here last week and watch practice and watched today and just in a week’s time I was able to see how much more comfortable he looks in the offense, how quickly he’s distributing the ball,” Spielman says. “I think Tua is going to have a big year for them.”

Most pundits believe both these teams are a franchise quarterback away from being not just playoff but Super Bowl contenders. Spielman definitely sees why that is.

Dolphins Have ‘A Very Good Defense’

“When you look at their roster and watching them the last couple of weeks and through the preseason, they’re going to have a very good defense,” Spielman says of the Dolphins. “I think they will be one of the better defenses in the league.”

But Spielman has more questions about the Miami offense than the defense. He acknowledges the team has great speed at receiver but he questions what Miami plans to do at tight end, especially with franchise tag player Mike Gesicki.

“How are they going to use Gesicki, because the question is does he fit into this scheme?” Spielman says. “[Dolphins coach] Mike McDaniel, in his scheme, the tight ends have to be able to block. Everyone knows the receiving skills that Gesicki has but watching initially he’s not the ideal blocker in this scheme.

“So does he get better at that or potentially, because he’s under the franchise tag and only here one year, is that a move where they trade him before the season?”

One more thing on the Dolphins:

“This offense, from when I was in Minnesota and playing against San Francisco numerous times, is predicated on the run,” Spielman says. “So will this offensive line and the running game be able to get going because they have struggled in the first two preseason games, at least in my opinion from what I’ve observed.

“I understand there’s not a lot of game-planning going on. So can this offensive line, especially with Terron Armstead coming back, have a strong running game because the stronger the running game is, the more effective I think Tua will be and open up big plays down the field. That’s when an explosive passing game will happen.”

Eagles Offensive Line ‘One Of The Best’

Even though Spielman believes Hurts is under tremendous pressure to perform at a high level he is bullish on the rest of the Eagles’ roster.

“I thought Howie also did a phenomenal job in the offseason,” Spielman says. “I didn’t expect, I don’t think anyone expected the big first-round trade to get A.J. Brown during the first round. And DeVonta Smith is another explosive receiver.

“They have a very good offensive line. I think they have one the best offensive lines in the league. It’s going to be like Miami because their defense is going to be solid with the pickup of [James] Bradberry and having him opposite of Darrius Slay. I know some people are questioning whether they have enough at the safety position. But I think they do.”

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Spielman calls the addition of first-round pick Jordan Davis and third-round pick Nakobe Dean “two potential impact players on defense” but it’s the second-rounder who has most caught his attention.

“The guy who really impressed me in the first preseason game was the guy they took from Nebraska, [Cameron] Jurgens, and how impressive he has fit into this scheme,” Spielman says.

All that doesn’t make the Eagles and Dolphins mirror images. But they sure have lots in common.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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