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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
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.
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.
Speaking 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.
The 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.
Now 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.
Count 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!
In our previous blog, we took a look at five of the reasons why many fans and national media are pretty pessimistic about the Dolphins' chances this year. Now, let's flip the script and talk about 5 reasons why some of us more stubbornly hopeful types find reasons to expect good things in the upcoming season. Maybe even surprisingly really good things.
1. The Running Game. Kenyan Drake appears to be the real deal. He's good enough as a blocker in pass protection to be an every down back, and has the burst and breakaway speed to be able to score on any play. Frank Gore's presence in camp has been a great influence on Drake and the other young backs as he oozes professionalism and experience. Beyond that, he has consistently wowed onlookers with his toughness, shiftiness and smart running. He looks, according to coach Adam Gase, like he did in college. That may be coach-speak hyperbole, but the fact is that he has not looked like a washed up 35 year old running back at all. Assuming he stays healthy, this could be the best 1 - 2 punch we've had in miami for a very long time. Behind them, Sinorise Perry and rookie Kalen Ballage provide outstanding depth.
2. Ryan Tannehill. Yes, I know he made the other list as well. That's pretty representative of how polarizing a figure Ryan is to Dolphin fans. But here's the thing. The last part of 2016 (prior to his initial knee injury) Tannehill was putting up exceptional numbers and seemed to have gotten a firm grasp of Gase's offense. It was really clicking for him, and as a result he helped guide the team to the playoffs, even if he had to miss the game because of his injury. So far in camp this year, he has exuded confidence, stepped up as a leader and been much cleaner and efficient in practice than ever before, as even some of his biggest critics in the media have noted. It's not unrealistic to predict that he will have a 95 QB rating, which should be good enough to earn 3 or 4 more wins than last year.
3. Wide Receivers. Even with the loss of Jarvis Landry, this group is talented and very deep. Bringing in consumate pro Danny Amendola and up and coming Albert Wilson really helped the depth at the position. Add in returning vets Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant and Devante Parker and there are a lot of interchangable parts and opportunities for creative pass calling. One thing this group has a lot of is speed, with Stills, Wilson and Grant each possessing the speed to score on any play. Another key factor here is that there promise to be fewer miscommunications and route mistakes this year. (And more in Cleveland...) Depth is very good, and there will be some tough decisions on cut down day.
4. Secondary. While it's true that we are struggling to identify another starting cornerback opposite Xavien Howard, it's also true that between Howard, Reshad Jones and rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick we have 3 borderline probowl caliber players in our backfield. TJ McDonald is also a very talented player. If any of the young CBs develop more this year, this should be a team strength.
5. Robert Quinn. The last time the Dolphins had a consistent pass rushing threat opposite Cam Wake was Olivier Vernon in 2015. Quinn comes with a history of being a dominant pass rusher but comes off of a stastically unimpressive year in 2017. The truth is, they weren't using him to his strengths last year, and he didn't really fit the system the new coaching regime was trying to put in. With Wake, Quinn, Andre Branch, last year's top pick Charles Harris and William Hayes, the Dolphins should be able to keep all of the players fresh and get after the opposing QBs throughout the season.
When you consider all these factors and throw in the additions of rookies like TE Mike Gesicki and LB Jerome Baker and it's difficult to see the team winning fewer than 2 or 3 wins more than last year's debacle. And that would be enough to at least be in the discussion for a playoff spot. Fins up!