2017 Season Previews: Miami Dolphins

Offense: Second Year under Coach Adam Case, who had a solid rookie season, coaxing a team to a 10-6 record.
Ryan Tannehill was under fire, and has been for years, but he’s an expensive cut, and people still think in Miami he can be serviceable. Problem is, in Miami, they spend more time looking down at Buffalo instead of up at New England from a QB perpective. Tanny goes down, so after looking around, Case went with old QB buddy, Jay Cutler, in the NFLRT, we were asked if that was a good idea.

I think it’s a great move here. Cutler had his best year under Case, and the Dolphins need to find out if Tanny is the problem with that offense, if Cutler wins 9 games and has a positive TD/INT ratio, then the Fins know they have to move on.

If, Cutler bombs, and Moore is a winner (and I like Moore) then they have to go all-in on Kirk next offseason.

If, Cutler and Moore stink, then they know that Tanny isn’t the issue, it’s a personnel/system issue.

So yeah, I think it’s a solid move.
All this means something is Jay Ajayi is able to be consistent, as Ajayi not only killed Dolphins fans but every fantasy team as he could go for 200 or 2 yards no matter who he was playing. Kenyan Drake is a solid backup who sould mature a bit. Cutler has some some solid targets, as Jarvis Landry had 94 catches but needs to end more endzone targets, and DeVonte Parker has all the talent in the world but gets dinged up easily and takes plays off. Julius Thomas comes over from Denver, with hopes the reunion with Cutler and Case bodes well for him.
Upfront the Line is solid, but in flux. Mike Pouncy played 5 games, Brandon Albert wasn’t worth all the trouble and is gone, and Laremy Tunsil didn’t exactly blow everyone away, but was pretty good, but is learning a new position. Last year the line was above average, and I think will improve.

Defense: Suh and Wake up front, Alonzo behind them. That’s 3/7 of a great front 7. Around them are a first round pick and four second round picks, some good free agents and a whole lot of question marks. Miami should be able to find 4 guys from FSU and Miami to put with those three and do better than 29th in the NFL. Playing the Patriots twice is no excuse when you also get the Jets twice.  Lawrence Timmons coming over from Pittsburgh is going to be a big improvement in the middle, but won’t help much against the pass, the real weakspot of the defense.

The secondary needs a leader, and needs a true number one guy who can take the other teams top threat and eliminate him. What the Dolphins have is a solid depth with guys that would be great with Nickel and Dime packages but no real solid starters. TJ McDonald should be one guy when he comes back from suspension, and if Rashad Jones is healthy, can be another one. I like Cordrea Tankersley, who should play on running plays pretty early.

Special Teams: The Return game can be spectacular with Jakeem Grant and Kenyan Drake, who are both feast or famine, but the kickers both had down years.

Overall: The Dolphins are expected to start the season with almost everyone back in the starting lineup, but Cutler and Thomas are the fun ones. Case hasn’t seen Cutler in a long time. If they can recapture the magic this could be a good year.
The wins are going to be harder to come by, with 3 wins in the divison, (watch that Dec 11 Monday night game at home with the Pats), 2 wins vs the NFC South,  as they get Tampa early and the Saints in London, I’ll only go 1 win against he AFC West, as they have to travel to the Chargers early, and the bonus games are Tenn at home and Balt on the road. I think those are both winnable games, but I’m going to split them.

7-9 won’t make anyone happy, but playing such a harder schedule will give them hope for next year, and a closing stretch after NE of Buff, KC and Buff could give them a lot of confidence coming into next season.

Three Questions

1. Has time run out on Tannehill?

David: I think so. Tanny has been given a good line, a load of talent in his receiving corps, and a offensively minded head coach. So far? Not impressed. I have to think if you put Kirk Cousins in this offense, and Jay Ajayi gives you 80 yards a game minimum and this is a playoff team no matter the schedule. If Tanny comes back, it will be at a discount.

Dan: No, I don’t think so and a heavy reason why was because of the injury he sustained. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t the team’s fault. It was nobody’s fault. It just happened. And I think the Dolphins definitely give him more time.

Joe: Tannehill has suffered an injury to the same knee he initially hurt last December when he suffered a partially torn ACL.  He had been wearing a brace on the knee but it was said that the knee was a non-issue and that it hadn’t affected his mobility. On August 3rd, on a non-contact play, Tannehill crumbled to the ground while scrambling in practice. It was ultimately determined he had torn the ACL. Tannehill and the Dolphins decided surgery would be the best option for his torn ACL.

Tannehill’s $17.98 million salary for this year is fully guaranteed, but only $5.53 million of his $17.48 million salary for 2018 is guaranteed against injury. He has no guarantees other than that, which means the Dolphins could move on from Tannehill after this year with little financial commitment.

If, I’m the Dolphins? I would move on. Unless he is willing to sign for a ridiculously low  non-guaranteed contract. Otherwise… time to move on and see what can be found on the open market long term for the QB position.

So, yeah, time has run out on Tannehill.

2. Why didn’t the Dolphins do more in Free Agency?

David: I don’t know. As I said there is some solid pieces, but nothing around them, and maybe they were saving money for later on, as this is a salary cap game. How they have not just grabbed older vets on the cheap just to provide some leadership, if not a few plays a game, I don’t know.

Dan: I think the Dolphins are comfortable with where they are at right now.  They flew under the radar because nobody really talked about them and that’s actually not a bad thing. Also, there really wasn’t anybody out on the market who would have turned Miami into a Super Bowl contender. So they stayed put.

Joe: The Dolphins didn’t do anything splashy or go after any ritzy players who could be labelled as instantaneous dominance people at any of their positions of need.  They did draft solid players with the potential to develop into rocksteady get-the-job-done players or possibly even into players who can be dominant at what they do.

Overall, they did what they had to do.

3. Do you trust Jay Ajayi if you were the Dolphins?

David: Not yet. When Pouncy went down, he really went erratic, I have to think this is a problem with him not trusting his line and/or choosing his hole and when to bounce outside. GREAT runners, like Barry Sanders can be Hall of Famers and never get over that problem. Other runners, Defensive coaches can run out of the league.

Dan: Yes, I do. He showed a lot of ability last year and he wasn’t bad in years past when he played. I trust him for this season and believe he’ll expand on the season he had last season and improve.

Joe: I run his ass out there and hope he can be the dominant runner he has shown he can be imn the past…  only the 4th player in history to have back-to-back 200-yard games. The first three were O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.

Hell, yeah, I trust him. Until he proves to me I can’t trust him.

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