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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
Well, I'm awakening from my slumber and finally paying attention again. If you had asked me back in early May (post-draft), I probably would have sounded mighty skeptical of Miami - new coach, new scheme, front office drama, and a QB who still seems more average than anything. Fast forward three months and I like what I am seeing and reading. I'm not bathing in all of the media hype and thinking Miami is suddenly the 1999 Rams, but I think they are closer to a playoff team than an underachiever.
Mike McDaniel has come across as a breath of fresh air compared to Bellichick wannabe Brian Flores. However, we say this about every coach before we see them in a situation of adversity. I have yet to see McDaniel look angry or frustrated with poor performance so a lot can change, and quickly. But so far so good, and the team seems to respond positively to him. If the offensive line stays healthy, I can see the offense looking electric by early October (after a few natural growing pains).
We've all seen the highlights of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle catching darts from Tua, but in my mind, the running game could pay the most dividends this year. Let's start with Chase Edmonds. I do not recall a running back looking better in 11 vs 11's during training camp in quite some time. It is awesome to see someone both decisive and explosive. Add to that two backups, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel, who can spot start and have made significant plays during their previous stints. I don't see a workhorse in any of them (yet), but it will be a big step up from trying to make chicken salad from chicken poo that the previous regime attempted.
As long as they stay healthy this will be the best offensive line Miami has seen since 2016 when they trotted out Branden Albert, Mike Pouncey, Laremy Tunsil, JaWuan James and Jermon Bushrod. Connor Williams will get over the snapping issues and it looks like Austin Jackson finally has the lightbulb going off as an athletic right tackle. The biggest sigh of relief I have is Liam Eichenberg at left guard. When I read that he won the practice jersey and that he was not beaten once by the interior defensive line (despite a slew of tactics to do so) I felt that Miami finally answered what has been a massive hole for years. He doesn't have to be a Pro Bowler, just a reliable guy whose name you never hear (that is always a good thing for a lineman). Terron Armstead and Robert Hunt should continue to be high-level performers.
If I have a current area of concern it is with the linebackers, and cornerback depth. Jaelan Phillips and Andrew Van Ginkel are hybrid types and more associated with the pass rush and/or setting the edge. My concerns are the guys outside of Jerome Baker. Elandon Roberts, Brennan Scarlett, and Duke Riley are fine players, but they can disappear. Maybe Channing Tindall blossoms quickly, but you never want to rely on a 3rd Round rookie to carry the day. With Roquan Smith requesting a trade out of Chicago it may not be a bad idea to pursue a difference maker on defense. As for the corners, I would be concerned if either Xavien Howard or Byron Jones misses any time. Nik Needham is solid, and yes it appears Noah Igbinoghene may salvage something of his career, but do you really trust any of them to scare opposing offenses? No team is perfect, so these concerns aren't really keeping me up at night. There may be some talent upgrades after final cuts.
Ok, now on to Mr. Tagovailoa. The highlight videos look great. The stories of his practices are wonderful. The arm looks fine. Let's just see how it plays out. He has everything he needs to mount a top 15 QB campaign. Teddy Bridgewater has done nothing to suggest there is a QB battle. McDaniel is clearly in Tua's corner. The GM just lost a massive trade asset from Ross's buffoonery, so we don't have to hear whispers about Miami trading up for a QB in 2023. Be better than an average QB and you'll keep your job for 2023.
10 wins may not sound like an awesome season, but I would consider it a success for Miami. Last year's win streak (and record) took advantage of a lot of cupcake opponents. That will not be the case this year. If they rip off 10 wins it will have to include beating some quality teams and will be an indicator of whether this team is set up for sustained success. I believe they can do it and will build towards higher achievement in the near future.
Phins Freaking Up!
40 years. 40 seasons of hopes, of surprises, of disappointments. 40 times we fired up the championship bus only to see the wheels fall off at some point in the season. Sometimes in a playoff loss, others much earlier in the season. But in each season there were memorable moments; some good, some otherwise. The following is a description of one game from each decade that is etched in this fan’s heart and mind as a core memory. Yours are different, no doubt; there is no right or wrong with this. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.
1983-1992: 1984 Conference Championship vs Pittsburgh Steelers 45-28 (W)
This was very hard to choose, because there were so many obvious great choices. Ultimately I had to go with the 1984 conference championship win against the Pittsburgh Steelers that earned the Dolphins the right to represent the AFC in the Superbowl, where they ultimately lost to the buzz saw that was Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.
1993-2002: 1999 Divisional Playoff vs Jacksonville Jaguars 62-7 (L)
On the opposite end of the spectrum from why the previous game was memorable. The 62-7 shellacking at the hands of the Jags ushered Jimmy Johnson into retirement and placed the very talented roster in the hands of Dave Wannstedt, who actually led the team to a better record in his rookie season as the Dolphins head coach (11-5) than Jimmy had managed. In any case, this game was a pivot point in the Dolphins history and still one that I cringe when I think of.
2003-2012: 2008 Week 3 against the New England Patriots: the “Wildcat” Game 38-13 (W)
I went with this over the Cam Cameron “led” week 15 win over the Ravens in 2007 which prevented a “perfect” losing season. In the Patriot game, Bill Belichick had no answer for Ronnie Brown as he executed the “Wildcat” offense to perfection. The Dolphins rolled up over 200 yards on the ground, with Brown running for 4 touchdowns and throwing another to TE Anthony Fasano.
2013-2022: 2019 Week 17 against the New England Patriots: the “Miracle in Miami” 27-24 (W)
Short of a playoff win, no game could possibly beat out this one for being the most memorable in this decade. The drama, the unlikelihood of it all and the iconic “Gronkowski doesn’t have the angle!” (he still doesn’t!) makes this hands down the most memorable game in recent history for me. Have there been more important games? Perhaps… but memorable? This one takes the prize in a landslide for me.
Obviously there are other strong contenders from each decade listed, but these are the highlights (or lowlights, in some cases) for me.