Last year was a long, frustrating, and at times difficult to watch the Miami Dolphins. After a 10-6 season, I expected the Dolphins to take another step forward, but instead took a few steps back. It all started when the Dolphins lost their QB Ryan Tannehill for the season after re injuring his knee. Then other various injuries, a hurricane for the Dolphins to move their opening day game, and one of their starting LBs Lawrence Timmons goes AWOL the night before the season opener. All of these things happened before the season officially started. It just had the feel for a long season and sure enough it was as the Dolphins struggled to a 6-10 season.
Like everything else it starts with the QB and Tannehill’s injury was devastating. He was coming off a season in which he seemed to turn the corner under new coach Adam Gase, but also was injured toward the end of the season with a partially torn ACL. He ended up not having surgery and had a stem cell procedure done, but the ACL partial tear doesn’t heel on its own so Tannehill was a ticking time bomb. It easy to look back and say he should’ve had the surgery, but hind sight it 20-20. The Dolphins really should have had a better plan in case Tannehill couldn’t make it back, but instead the Dolphins scrambled in early August looking for a QB and signed Jay Cutler, who knew Gase and his offense, however the transition wasn’t as smooth as Gase felt it would be. The offense was stagnating at times and struggled all season long. The Dolphins obviously didn’t trust Matt Moore for a whole season so why not do after someone else earlier in the off season just in case Tannehill couldn’t make it back?
The offense was inconsistent at best. The offensive line struggled especially the first half of the season. Their LG position was a revolving door when Ted Larsen was out the first part of the season and Laremy Tunsil struggled at LT and didn’t make the smooth transition to the position as everyone felt and on top of that JuWaun James missed the whole second half of the season. Our skilled positions were a mess at times with no threat at TE because it was obvious that Julius Thomas wasn’t the answer at TE. DeVante Parker once again struggled to stay healthy. Jarvis Landry put up good numbers but would commit bone head personal foul penalties and things boiled over when he got thrown out of the season finale after scoring a touchdown starting a fight, which for all intents and purposes ended his tenure with the team. Jay Ajayi the teams work horse back that led them to the playoffs the year before clashed with Gase and was traded so term oil behind the scenes didn’t help matters. On the positive side, the last part of the season saw some young players step up, such as G Jesse Davis, RB Kenyan Drake, and WR Jakeem Grant.
The defense was another story. The defensive line didn’t generate the pass rush as expected and because of the lack of pass rush our secondary got exposed. Part of the reason was injuries Andre Branch and William Hayes had injuries that hurt the team. Tony Lippett came off a very good 2018 season at corner but tore his Achilles tendon in training camp. Rookie Raekwon McMillan was supposed to improve the LB position but tore his ACL in the first preseason game and Timmons went AWOL before the opener and was a disappointment. The team got better against the run but got totally exposed against the pass especially covering TEs. The defense was a mess at times.
After a disappointing season, the Dolphins had to shake things up. They first traded Landry, which was a smart move because he wanted 15 million a year and for all the numbers he put up the offense is only average at best. Plus, he’s not a true number one receiver. The Dolphins needed to add some speed and athleticism, so they added Albert Wilson and drafted TE Mike Gesicki in the 2nd round of the draft. The Dolphins have lacked weapons with speed and that’s what those two bring. The Dolphins haven’t had a consistent TE since Randy McMichael it was a nice approach to invest an early round pick in the position instead of over paying for a player past their prime like they did with Thomas and Jordan Cameron the last couple years. The Dolphins also added some veterans to help some of the younger guys in Frank Gore, Danny Amendola, and Josh Sitton. I think Sitton was the best signing because he’s a terrific LG and could help mentor Tunsil to help him step up his game. The Dolphins decided to cut Mike Pouncey and replaced him with Daniel Kilmore. This move is the most questionable because Pouncey was a pro bowler, but he has a lingering hip problem and his best days might be behind him and with his hip issue the Dolphins felt better to cut him a year early rather than too late. Kilmore solid player maybe not an all pro, but somebody that can get the job done. Plus, the offensive line has been criticized a lot in recent years and Pouncey is a part of that group and he didn’t even play the year they went to the playoffs. Time will tell if this was the right move.
The Dolphins had to shake things up on defense as well. The team parted way with Ndamukong Suh and his bloated salary. Look the Suh is a great player, but Miami should never have given him that contract. He played very well, but the defense never really improved with him on the team. That probably falls mostly on management for not getting better players around him, but Suh isn’t a great leader and freelances at times as well. The Dolphins traded a 4th round pick for Robert Quinn, which I think is a steal if he is over his back issue from 2 years ago and he’s back to playing in a 4-3 defense. It’s a case where the Dolphins didn’t give up much and don’t have anything to lose. The two players that are going to help the most came in the draft when they drafted Mincah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker. Fitzpatrick is a versatile defensive back will probably end up being a free safety, which the Dolphins need since TJ McDonald and Reshad Jones are strong safeties. Fitzpatrick can also cover in the slot and is a smart football player with great instincts. He started as a freshman for Nick Saban at Alabama and that is no small task.
Some say the Dolphins got the steal in the draft at 11 with Fitzpatrick. Baker is a fast LB who can cover TEs and he definitely helps in that regard as well as helping on special teams. Both players will help shore up the pass defense especially in the middle of the field.
I think the Dolphins had a productive off season. Did they lose some talent? Yes, they did, but with Suh, Landry, and Pouncey the Dolphins weren’t a contender and sometimes you need to shake things up. Plus, with the salary cap it was tough to keep them it was probably the correct move in that regard. I do like how the Dolphins added more speed on offense and players that are leaders & professionals to help some of our younger players. In the end, it comes down to whether Tannehill can stay healthy and get back to the player he was starting to become toward the end of 2016. The Dolphins made a strong commitment to shore up their pass defense especially players to cover the TE and RBs that is where they got burned. Overall the Dolphins aren’t as talented, but sometimes the best teams aren’t the most talented. Look at the Patriots they were such as flawed team last year and not as talented, but when you have a healthy QB you can overcome that. The AFC East besides New England has two teams in the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills who are rebuilding and drafted rookie QBs their teams aren’t as talented as the Dolphins. Heck the Bills got rid of their QB that took them to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years and replaced him with inexperienced guys.
I don’t read too much into OTAs because its football in shorts and t-shirts with no contact, so you can’t tell much. I don’t pay attention into who is having a great OTA or if the rookies aren’t doing well because in the end that will settle itself in training camp. Two years ago, everyone said Tunsil looked lost and Dallas Thomas was going to start at LG and when the pads were put on we found out who the better player was. So, for players like David Fales and Isaiah Ford, who from what I read had great showings in OTAs, I’m going to reserve my judgment until they get to camp and put the pads on with contact.
When I read Sports Illustrated pick the Dolphins to win 3 games this year, I really wanted to throw up because I don’t believe this is a 3-win team. Why so down because we aren’t as talented? Sometimes the most talented teams don’t have the best teams. Anybody remember the “Dream Team Eagles” in 2012? The Eagles spent a lot of money on players didn’t make the playoffs. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has spent lots of money on talented players in the past how did that workout? Look if you don’t like what the Dolphins did this off season that’s fine everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the fact is a lot of times “experts” make win-loss projections and are way off base especially expecting teams to win less than 5 games. The reality is they don’t know anything about this team. They just feel because everything went wrong last year and getting rid of some talented players the Dolphins don’t know what they are doing. I think with a healthy Tannehill and if the team stays healthy they can win 10 games this year. I really believe that. I don’t know why I feel that way, but I don’t feel this team is that bad.
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