After finishing last in the AFC East with a 6-10 record in 2015, the Miami Dolphins are looking to have a bounce-back year.
The team finished 26th in total offense and 25th in total defense despite bringing in free agent big fish Ndamukong Suh—although it is important to note that Suh himself had a very good season, according to Pro Football Focus. The secondary took a big hit when cornerback Brent Grimes signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To fill the void, the team signed cornerback Byron Maxwell. Maxwell spent the first four years of his NFL career with Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary before signing with the Eagles and then eventually going to the Dolphins.
"I'm ready to play. I'm ready to go." https://t.co/SCKIEIlusy
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 6, 2016
This will be Head Coach Adam Gase’s first year with the team. It’s also his first time ever being an NFL head coach. The Dolphins have not made the playoffs since 2008 and only won one game in the AFC East last year, losing five divisional games by an average margin of 35-14.
Last season, Gase was the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. He was credited with helping quarterback Jay Cutler experience a resurgence as Cutler threw for the fewest interceptions of his career when throwing for at least 20 touchdowns. In addition, Cutler had a 92.3 passer rating, the first time he had a passer rating of at least 90 in his professional career. In Miami, Gase gets to work with one of the best young quarterback talents in Ryan Tannehill. The Texas A&M alum has been the team’s starter since his rookie year in 2012, throwing for 15,460 yards, 87 touchdowns and 54 interceptions while completing 62% of his passes.
One unit on the Dolphins that especially needs work is the offensive line. Tannehill has taken a beating as the team’s starting quarterback, getting sacked at least 35 times every year since his rookie season. In the 2016 NFL Draft, Miami hit the jackpot when it selected offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil from Ole Miss, who surprisingly dropped out of the top 10 when a video of him smoking from a bong through a gas mask surfaced.
According to Pro Football Focus, Tunsil’s pass protection in the preseason has been exceptional but his run blocking needs a lot of work. That sounds concerning for a team that finished 23rd in rushing offense in 2015, but Tunsil does have a lot of upside and the team obviously saw enough of him in preseason to name him a first-team offensive lineman.
Looking at Miami’s 2016 schedule, they could be staring at a 0-2 hole as their first two opponents are the Seahawks and the Patriots. The Seahawks are always in the hunt and although the Patriots will be without starting quarterback Tom Brady during that time, head coach Bill Belichick is very resourceful. Miami has a handful of talented players, but sorely lacks depth and that could be the team’s downfall this season. Potentially, this team could finish last in the AFC East again. It will be up to Ryan Tannehill and company to prove their worth.