John Clark previews the Dolphins’ upcoming NFL season by taking a look at their current roster and shares his predictions for Brian Flores’ men.
Most people considered the Miami Dolphins to be a cakewalk just one year ago but after a plethora of roster moves and draft picks, the team really believes that they can finally compete this year. The Dolphins were admittedly in rebuild mode last but managed to get it together towards the end of the year and finish with 5 wins. They went 5-4 in their final 9 games and ended the season right where they begin this one, in New England.
Brian Flores will coach the team for a second year and will look to improve on an impressive coaching effort in his first year. Let’s breakdown each position and see where the Dolphins are projected to finish the year.
There are few teams that have struggled with QB’s the way Miami has over the last decade plus. The Ryan Tannehill experiment seemingly failed before he had the best year of his career in Tennessee last year. Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought in to lead the team last year and was benched before eventually taking back over as the starter. Fitzpatrick currently remains as the projected starter for Miami.
Fitzpatrick is known for his bi-polar gameplay, going from an amazing streak of games to a lackluster losing streak. It will be interesting to see how he starts this year as he also helps Tua Tagovailoa learn the ropes of the NFL. Tua is projected to be a star in the NFL and after successfully recovering from a nasty hip injury, we will see how long it takes for Tua to see some in-game NFL action. He has appeared average in training camp and looks to begin the season as the main backup.
Josh Rosen also returns to the team, going from a starter in Arizona a few years ago to being a third string QB for the Dolphins. He had his chance to shine last year after being named the temporary starter and immediately flopped, losing all his starts and looking awful on the field.
The RB backfield saw a complete overhaul this offseason. Towards the end of last year, Miami was simply bringing in anyone they could to run the ball, namely Patrick Laird. He is back this year, although will likely be 3rd on the depth chart. A pair of fresh faces head into Miami as Jordan Howard and Matt Breida look to bring some firepower to the Dolphins. The pair will likely split playing time and should be a breath of fresh air for Fins fans after seeing Kenyan Drake leave the team and have instant success in Arizona like how Tannehill did in Tennessee.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends:
DeVante Parker was snubbed of a pro bowl spot last year and by far played the best he has in his career. Parker will lead the Dolphins WR unit this year that was blistered by a pair of players (Albert Wilson & Allen Hurns) opting to sit out the season due to COVID-19. The secret sauce of the WR core may be the undrafted Preston Williams. Williams was having a spectacular rookie season last year but saw his season end in week 9 after sustaining an injury. The short and speedy Jakeem Grant will also see significant playing time this year and should be considered a reliable threat.
When it comes to the TE’s, Mike Gesicki was lights out to end last season. He led the league in endzone targets and had multiple touchdowns over the course of the final few weeks, including the game winner against New England. Durham Smythe is also on the roster and should get significant minutes on the field. The Dolphins should feel confident about their TE core.
O-Line & D-Line:
Miami easily had the worst offensive line a year ago and due to that, we may have 4 new started on the line this year. Ereck Flowers may be the best offensive line player, coming over from Washington. Rookies Austin Jackson and Solomon Kindley will look to be productive in whatever way possible. They also signed a new Center as Ted Karras will join the squad.
Defensively, there are numerous new players that should help the Dolphins improve from allowing the most points out of any team in the league. Christian Wilkins returns from an impressive rookie campaign and is joined by Davon Godchaux and Raekwon Davis.
Jerome Baker is the team’s best linebacker and will return to the core with some new talent around him. Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson will be significant improvements to the team. Admittedly, Miami’s LB core looks like a lackluster unit, but a strong year of progression from players could lead to a shining future.
Cornerbacks & Safeties:
The Dolphins arguably have the best secondary in the NFL due to their strong skillset at the CB position. Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, and Noah Igbinoghene will lead the secondary with Jones and Howard easily being instant started on any other team in the league. Eric Rowe & Bobby McCain are trustworthy safeties that used to be CB’s. Overall, the Dolphins secondary should rank in the upper half of the league and help the defensive rank improve from a year ago.
Jason Sanders was an average kicker a year ago, making 23/30 FG’s and 29/30 PAT’s. Matt Haack is an above average punter who saw his fair share of kicking a year ago. Jakeem Grant will return the kicks again this year for Miami.
BETS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
This is an absolute longshot and Miami ranks 28 of 32 teams when it comes to SB odds. You would have to be crazy to bet significant money on this even if the payout would be amazing. The diehard Miami fan might throw a few bucks on this and hope to secure a large payout, but don’t expect Miami to make the big game.
Miami Dolphins to win AFC East (+800 at FanDuel)
More realistic than winning the super bowl but still risky. The Patriots are the big unknown in this division, and even if things fall through, Buffalo is still likely to head the division. At +800, it is reasonable to throw a few bucks on Miami winning the division, but don’t put your mortgage on it.
Things start to get interesting with this bet. With an extra playoff team in each division this year, it isn’t crazy to think winning 8-9 games could secure a playoff spot. The payout isn’t too great if you are thinking of throwing a few bucks on them making it in, so you need to be all or nothing on thinking Miami will make the playoffs. If you are confident that they will not make it, you will need to risk a high amount of money to see any significant reward.
Jacksonville, Arizona, NY Jets, New England, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, and Buffalo are 7 games that Miami could win to achieve the over here. They could possibly even take out LA Chargers and Denver to get as high up as 9. Miami is likely to finally get over 6 wins this year, so I would be confident in betting the over in this case.
Miami tanked last year and still won 5 games. Some people say they failed at tanking while some people say they exceeded expectations. Nevertheless, it is hard to see Miami doing any worse than they did last year. With many fresh faces and raised expectations, the Dolphins come into the season ready to make a splash.