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We are less than a week away from the Miami Dolphins kicking off their 2018 season. With Las Vegas and most analysts predicting a rough road for the Dolphins this season we have to hope that Head Coach Adam Gase can conjure up some of that magic that propelled his 2016 team to the playoffs. Let's take a peek at was is in store for this season.

 

Firstly, here's what the guys at MyTopSportsbooks.com are saying about our Dolphins.

Coming off a 6-10 season, the Dolphins are 11/1 (+1100) to win the AFC East. That's a big number, but it's actually second in the division, behind heavily favored New England (1/8) and ahead of the rebuilding Bills (14/1) and Jets (15/1) according to some online sports betting web sites. A playoff team two years ago, Miami replaced veterans Jarvis Landry and Mike Pouncey with the likes of Danny Amendola, Frank Gore, and Josh Sitton on offense.

Meanwhile the defense loses Ndamukong Suh, but gains 2018 first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick plus 2017 first-rounder Raekwon McMillan, who lost his rookie season to an ACL injury. While beating out a healthy Tom Brady might not be in the cards, though the Dolphins let a few impact veterans walk as free agents, including Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry, and Mike Pouncey, it's clear they aren't entering rebuild-mode.  

Despite making the playoffs two years ago and getting Ryan Tannehill back under center, the . All told, the bad of the offseason outweighs the good: adding Danny Amendola, Frank Gore, and Josh Sitton doesn't make up for losing Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry, and Mike Pouncey. First-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick will boost the secondary, even as a rookie, but that's partly because there's a lot of room for improvement; Miami is coming off a 2017 season that saw its defense finish 28th in total DVOA, and 29th against the pass.

 

And here is what I think. Gase said he finally has "his team" and has rebuilt the locker room to have a more unified personality. Gone are Ndomakung Suh, Jarvis Landry and Mike Pouncey. Entering are Robert Quinn, Frank Gore, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, Dan Kilgore and Josh Sitton. Leadership and a team first attitude is what Gase is striving for in these acquisitions.

Ryan Tannehil Taking command of the offense is quarterback Ryan Tannehill who returns after major knee injuries derailed his last two seasons. Tannehill is still more of a stronger armed Alex Smith than a true franchise guy, but all reports this summer is that he looks very good. Better accuracy, faster decisions and an all around cleaner game is what we've been hearing from beat reporters covering every practice.

The offense will be run heavy with home run threat Kenyan Drake and the ageless Frank Gore leading the charge. Gore will steal plenty of snaps from Drake due to his consistency in finding holes where only dental floss can fit. But, make no mistake that Kenyan Drake should be the star of this offense. He is a big play waiting to happen on almost every snap. His rushing and receiving abilities should have him scoring double digit touchdowns. I expect plenty of run pass options to keep defenses guessing and setting up the play action pass.

Danny AmendolaSpeaking of the passing game, it should be more of a spread the wealth system this season. Gase wants up tempo and Tannehill has been given plenty of nice targets. Danny Amendola will be the new slot/security blanket but don't sleep on rookie tight end Mike Gesicki getting a healthy amount of looks from Tannehill. Gesicki becomes that big target that Devante Parker was supposed to be and should be an immediate Red Zone threat. Kenny Stills will resume his role as the intermediate and deep threat while Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson line up all over the field for gimmicks and gadgetry. I expect we will see a very efficient, chain moving unit. The question is can they turn field goals into touchdowns? They will need to be a top 15 scoring offense if Miami wants to play beyond December.

Cameron WakeThe defense should be excellent at rushing the quarterback and in coverage. Defensive End Robert Quinn has looked fantastic this summer and looks to be well worth the deal Miami made for him. The rotation of Quinn, Cameron Wake, Andre Branch and Charles Harris should give opposing quarterbacks fits and will force errant throws. This where the secondary will earn their keep. If Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke wants to play his most talented guys than he should use a base nickel defense. Prized rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick will occupy the slot while Bobby McCain kicks outside to pair up with potential shutdown corner Xavien Howard. I have very high hopes that these three will produce many turnovers. Pro Bowler Reshad Jones returns to center field while TJ McDonald plays in the box to lay the wood on opposing backs and receivers. All of these guys should be very fun to watch.

Jordan PhillipsNow for the negative. The run defense is one big question mark. The defensive tackles are either unproven or underwhelming. Defensive End William Hayes returns to set the edge and he should shine in that role. Defensive Tackles Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor enter year two and really need to overtake the middle of that line from Jordan Phillips and Akeem Spence. The linebacker group consists of essentially two rookies in Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker, and of course everyone's favorite whipping boy from last year, Kiko Alonso. I doubt Baker sees the field much in the early going but he does bring elite speed for the position. If this group cannot contain the run then they will get gassed early and leave the door open for blown leads or not being able to keep up in the fourth quarter. Cross your fingers.

A rookie kicker is never a comfort but Miami saw something they liked in Jason Sanders. I'm not even going to try and guess on him. Matt Haack returns to punt and has been good so far. I imagine return duties will be split between lightning bug Jakeem Grant and rookie Kalen Ballage. Both are dynamic playmakers and Gase will not want to risk Kenyan Drake or Danny Amendola getting injured on returns.

Adam GaseCount me in the glass half full category for the 2018 Miami Dolphins. The AFC East is pretty weak with even Patriots, who will still win it, not looking as mighty as last year. Tannehill should produce top 15 numbers at quarterback and the combinations of Drake and Gore should keep the offense on the field chewing up clock time. The defense will be a crap shoot but that pass rush should be a saving grace. I'm incredibly excited to see what Minkah Fitzpatrick becomes and he is the future leader of the defense.

I believe Miami is capable of 9 wins and should be fighting for the playoffs in December. Gase brought in some upgrades at position coaches and Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains should help keep him committed to the running game which of course will help all other departments. Bring on Tennessee and let's get the season started. No excuses, get it done!

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