2016 Season Previews: Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are an odd team, they have a ton of talent, have a lot of moving pieces, but for some reason the only thing anyone talks about is Ryan Tannehill. Of course, when you average a 20 TD/13 Picks with a 85.2 passer rating for the last 4 years, and last year score under 20 points a game, your QB is going to come under fire. The Dolphins should be better than they are, and unless Tannehill improves, they won’t be in the playoffs, and the Dolphins will be looking at moving on.

QuarterbackRyan Tannehill

The last 2 years have not been kind to Tannehill. I wonder if the rest of the NFL has figured out his weaknesses and he’s not adding anything to his skillset. Ryan is 29-35 as a starter, so he has a track record that’s out there. I’m not sure what the Dolphins do here. It’s not like Tannehill has been awful, or great. The only excuse Tannehill has is the fact he’s been sacked more than any QB in the NFL since coming into the NFL. Possibly making a habit of standing upright might help more than I think. Adam Case got a 5 year deal to take over this team, so if they do move on from Tannehill, he has time to find his own QB. I’ve been a fan of Matt Moore, but he’s not the answer and there are three other young players that won’t make a difference.

Running Back

At least the Dolphins think they have a salvageable situation at QB, a little coaching, a little scheme change and off we go. Jay Ajayi is supposed to be the first guy up, and he did play well before getting hurt, but he was a 5th rounder coming in. Next man up is Kenyan Drake, a third rounder from Alabama. Oh, there are NFL starters that would back up Henry, but Drake also has an injury history. There are a cluster of other bodies in camp, so who knows who is going to crack 500 yards in this group. Lamar Miller wasn’t exactly a star, but he will be missed.

Wide ReceiversJarvis Landry

Mike Wallace, bust, gone, Greg Jennings, bust, gone, Griff Whalen? He’s the only FA WR brought in. Maybe this means the Dolphins finally gave up in bringing in outside talent and are happy with what they have, and with good reason. Jarvis Landry is a pro-bowler but needs to find the endzone more often, DeVante Parker was coming along as a rookie before getting hurt, and Lenny Stills is yet another ex-Saint WR that is missing Drew Brees. The Dolphins also burned 3rd, 6th and 7th round picks in this department, but that may be more for special teams than here. Cameron Jordan finally got the hell out of Cleveland, but couldn’t get the stink off him in a disappointing year. 35 catches and 3 TDs is not close to what is expected from him.

Offensive LineLaremy Tunsil

Laremy Tunsil is the new addition here, and he’s going to play somewhere. The good thing is the NCAA no longer has any power here, the great thing is the Dolphins got what should have been a top 3 pick ten spots later than he should have gone and possibly that will motivate him. The bad thing? Broke people who do dumb things without money might end up really stupid with stupid money. Brandon Albert is the incumbent left tackle and he’s not going anywhere soon. Right tackle Ja’Wuan James is solid as well on the other side. I think Tunsil starts beside Albert to learn the position, and possibly slides over to right tackle if James has trouble pushing this year. Center Mike Pouncey is one of the best in the league, if everyone is healthy, that only leaves one guard position without some serious talent. Jermon Bushrod should get the first shot here, and he’s a former left tackle in New Orleans, so this could be one of the bigger lines in the NFL. It’s going to be interesting to see how the line jells with the new bodies, but if it does come together, could be something. Tunsil will be the backup at Tackle, and last years guards Dallas Thomas(16 games) and Billy Turner(13 games) are still there as well.

Defense

I thought Suh was supposed to fix things? 6 sacks, good for third on the team is not what was expected. The last time someone in this division overpaid a star to come in and not do a ton was when Buffalo brought in Mario Williams. In other news, the Dolphins have brought in Mario Williams. 25th in yards allowed and 19th in points allowed just will not cut it with all the money and talent the Dolphins have invested on that side of the ball. The defensive line was the best group here, and they were 28th vs the run, need I say more?

Defensive LineSuh

Suh, Super Mario and Cam Wake. Holy Sheepdip that’s a start right there in name recognition. The hard part is getting the results to match the paycheck. If this group can get 15 sacks I could play in the 4th spot. Earl Mitchell should keep his spot at defensive tackle, but keeping this group fresh and picking the right spots should be a challenge for this coaching staff. Olivier Miller leaving for the Giants is going to hurt, as he would make the job a lot easier. Andre Branch should be the first man off the bench and compete to take over as the older players move to the other half of the rotation. If the Dolphins can’t get a passrush, or they start getting hurt, then good luck to anyone trying to stop Brady or even Geno.

Linebackers

Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins are back, and both are decent starters, but not a ton behind them. The newcomer is Kiko Alonso, who is the Dolphins get BuffaloKiko, then this group could be above average, if they get PhillyKiko, then this group is going to be far below average. Heaven help the Dolphins if Misi declines or gets hurt, or everyone is going to grab every QB that plays the Fins in fantasy.

SecondaryByron Maxwell

Bryon Maxwell is the top corner, and he can be a very good corner, and is young enough to be a long time leader, the other side is a problem, Bobby McCain might start off, but he’s better at nickel, Tony Lippett will be in the discussion as well, and then there is second rounder Xavien Howard who should be starting by Halloween. The last line of defense is much more stable, with Reshad Jones a Pro-Bowler in his prime and FS Isa Abdul-Quddus a solid, if not spectacular starter. Shamiel Gary is the backup, and could slide into either spot. The Dolphons have decent depth, and this could be the foundation of the defense, if they get any kind of pass rush.

Special Teams

K- Andrew Franks wasn’t the best kicker in the NFL, missing 3 XPs, but the Dolphins were happy enough with his work to not give him any competition.
P- Matt Darr is one of the better punters in the NFL, but gets way too much game action.

With all the new bodies on the team, I would expect the special teams to suck in the beginning of the year, but solidify later in the year. Jarvis Landry should lose the return job, but again, there are plenty of options.

Draft

Laremy Tunsil was a must pick. No way do I let him slide past me, no matter who I have on the roster. The problem is, the Dolphins also picked a CB in the second round, for a team that had a very good line if all were healthy and a good secondary, that’s where they went with their picks. The biggest need was RB, and they picked a college backup with injury problems, and that’s it. Next biggest need is at Linebacker, and they didn’t pick any. The Dolphins picked up 3 wideouts on another group that didn’t need that kind of draft support. True, I’m sure they will be helpful on special teams, but a good MLB prospect is going to play more than a top special teamer.

Final ResultTannehill

The Fins always end up splitting with the Pats, and playing them with Big Jimmy might continue the trend. I have them splitting the Bills and Jets as well. They get the AFC North, and I’ll give them a possible win there, most likely Cleveland or Cincy on a short turnaround, the NFC West is more of the same, and I’ll give them 2 wins here, as they get San Fran at home. Bonus games vs the Chargers and Tennessee should be a split as well, so that gives them a game improvement at 7-9, they could be a better team, but a harder schedule. I’m going with an official 6-10 though, I just can’t see an improvement over last year record-wise. Will it be enough to give Tannehill another prove it year? Give them a decent running game and might get 2 more wins here.

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