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Football NFL

NFL Team Previews: Miami Dolphins

So what do we have to look forward to in 2019 for this team? Well they're going to better even though that's not going to reflect in their record.

2018 Season Review: 7-9 (2nd in the AFC East)

Go and look at this teams 2018 roster. Go and look at their offensive statistics. Look at their defensive statistics. Name me one game changer on that 2018 team. No clue how this team won seven games (should have been five), and that speaks to the coaching job Adam Gase did with what he had.

Let’s be honest, the Dolphins managed to win seven games because they got to play the Jets twice, the Bills twice, the Raiders, and got one of the luckiest wins I’ve ever seen against the Patriots. The Dolphins started out 3-0, somehow, and then beat the Bears in Week 6 to move their record to 4-2 on the year. It’s remarkable that they won seven games with what they had.

Ryan Tannehill played in 11 games before he left for the year, and Brock Osweiler was their backup QB. Neither guy threw for over 2,000 yards, they threw a combined 23 TDs to 13 INTs. They got sacked 52 times, they fumbled the ball 17 times, this offense didn’t have a receiver with over 600 yards, and they didn’t have a rusher with over 800 yards. Somehow, with all of that, they won seven games while averaging 19.9 PPG (26th) and only 289.9 yard per game (31st).

The defense folks, wasn’t much better. They gave up 26.6 PPG (27th) and allowed 291.1 yard per game (29th). The only thing their defense did well was force turnovers, they had 21 INTS and 7 fumble recoveries. Their offense gave up 52 sacks, and their defense only managed 31 of them. Oh and Cameron Wake who had 6.0 of those sacks, is now gone, and that was good for second on the team only behind Robert Quinn who had .5 more sacks.

Overall, it’s pretty crazy this team won seven games after looking at who they had playing, and the stats this team put up. They beat some bad teams, got some good breaks against New England, and let’s not forget that like 8 hour game Week 1 against Tennessee that they somehow won.

Key Off Season Acquisitions

Head Coach Brian Flores

Courtesy of the Miami Dolphins

Flores comes from New England where he has been for his whole career. He started in New England in 2004 as a scouting assistant and worked all the way up to a Defensive Coordinator. He’s also helped coach on each side of the ball up in New England being a Special Teams Assistant in 08-09, Assistant Offensive coach in ’10, and then on defense since then.

He led the Patriots and their defense to a Super Bowl this year where they held one of the best offenses in the NFL to only 3 points, and shut out a great Kansas City Chiefs offense – for at least a half in the AFC Championship Game.

Flores, like all Belichick guys, is straight forward, wants discipline from his team, and was sought after because he does come from learning under Belichick. However, coach coming from the Belichick tree that try to bring that Patriots culture and attitude haven’t done so well in the NFL. Nick Saban didn’t last long in the NFL, Eric Mangini went 23-25 with the Jets and 10-22 with the Browns, although Bill O’Brien has made the playoff with the Texans multiple times he’s been under scrutiny and this could be a make or break year for him, Josh McDaniels didn’t last long in Denver and went 1–17, Romeo Crennel went 24-40 in Cleveland and 4-15 in Kansas City, and Matt Patricia just went 6-10 with Detroit in his first year. The jury is still out on Patrica but Flores hopes to be the first coach under Belichick that is overwhelmingly talked about as a success.

Miami is going to give him the time to be a success too. Flores and the team understand the rebuilding of this team they have to do to turn the Dolphins back into winners. This isn’t a one year rebuild, this is going to take multiple years and the Dolphins went for a guy who is tough, disciplined, patient, and demands excellence from his players.

I think the mistake many of Belichicks previous assistants have made, is trying to copy him and copy what he’s built in New England. Flores has to take what he’s learned from Belichick but make it his own. You don’t have the same owner, you don’t have Tom Brady as your QB, you don’t have 15+ years of winning experience in Miami. Flores needs to find that middle ground between the New England way, and his own way to build Miami back into a playoff team.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (2 years, $11 million)

Fitzpatrick has played for St. Louis, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tennessee, Houston, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, and now the Miami Dolphins. What a career. Fitzpatrick was brought in to be a starter for at least a year until Miami got their guy in the draft. Fitzpatrick has had season where he’s played very well, and he’s fun to watch cause he is a gunslinger. He will start the season right away, but this team is not very good and unless Flores pulls some miracle out of his ass, Josh Rosen is going to play this year. Sadly, Fitz lands in another spot where he’s just viewed as a backup and nothing more. This could also be his last stop too, as he is 36 years old and will turn 37 this season.

QB Josh Rosen (via trade with the Arizona Cardinals)

Rosen comes over in a trade after being booted out of Arizona for Kyler Murray. He started 13 games for Arizona last year, and well it didn’t go so well. The first thing to note is he had no help. He’s offensive line was fucking atrocious in AZ, the offensive play calling might have been worse, and because of those two things his two play makers (Fitzgerald & David Johnson) were only able to give Rosen minimal help. Rosen threw for only 11 TDs and 14 INTS last year, and sadly he’s going to have less talent around him in Miami than he did in AZ. He will play this year because the Dolphins need to know if he is their guy, and if he’s not they will be atop the draft where college QBs like Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jake Fromm will be available.

2019 NFL Draft

Round 1 Pick #13: DT Christian Wilkins

Pick #13 was the only one of the Dolphins had in the first two rounds and they decided to go DT. The Dolphins need to build their team from scratch basically and Flores is a Patriots guy that knows you win games in the trenches. Well, they decided to bolster the DL first and get a very athletic DT that can stuff the run and rush the passer. Wilkins will start from day 1 for the Dolphins.

Key Off Season Departures

QB Ryan Tannehill (via trade to the Tennessee Titans)

Tannehill played good enough for the Dolphins, but he was too inconsistent and could never stay healthy long enough for the Dolphins to make a run with him. He was a punching bag for a lot of fans about the Dolphins failures, but it wasn’t all his fault. The team around him was not every good. Tannehill will backup Mariota in Tennessee.

RB Frank Gore (via free agency to the Buffalo Bills)

Gore was the leading rusher last year for the Dolphins and even though he is an older player, this loss will be felt in the RBs room. This moves leaves things open for Kenyan Drake to become the main man in backfield.

OT Ja’Waun James (via free agency to the Denver Broncos)

Also a big loss for the running game here, the Dolphins just didn’t want to pay James what he got from Denver. James played well enough for the Dolphins but not up to their expectation for a first round pick.

DE Cameron Wake (via free agency to the Tennessee Titans)

Wake was another older player like Gore who just got more money elsewhere. Wake has been the face of the Miami defense for awhile but he’s taking his pass rushing skills to Tennessee and that leaves a big gap for the Dolphins in their front seven.

2019 Preview

The Dolphins are a lot like the Cincinnati Bengals. 2019 is going to be an evaluation year for the players on their squad, especially Josh Rosen.

Even though Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to start the season for the Dolphins, eventually Rosen is going to play and the Dolphins need to decide if they want to develop Rosen or move on and take a QB early because they are going to have a high draft next year.

Rosen is the most important player they’ll have to evaluate but they also have other key offensive players Flores needs to decide if they fit on his team: Davante Parker and Kenyan Drake. Drake flashed last year but never go the ball enough. Parker meanwhile was a high pick and has had some good games here and there, but Miami fans have been waiting for this guy to take over as a true #1 WR. If Parker doesn’t prove he can be that guy this year, Miami will let him go.

So what do we have to look forward to in 2019 for this team? Well they’re going to better even though that’s not going to reflect in their record. Flores is going to bring a new attitude this team that I think they’ll get on board with. Adam Gase all but lost the locker room last year, and that’s not going to happen to Flores.

They may also be fun to watch early on, especially when Fitzpatrick is slinging the ball around. Flores brought in Jim Caldwell to help out on the offensive side of the ball and Chad O’Shea will be his Offensive Coordinator. O’Shea hasn’t called plays before but with Caldwell there to help, a gunslinger like Fitzpatrick, and a few play makers (maybe) like Kenyan Drake, Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, and Davante Parker. Also, Preston Williams has been a hyped up guy in the off season for the Dolphins.

Schedule

The AFC East plays the NFC East and AFC North this year. The Dolphins got second in their division so they also play the Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts.

So first off, for a warm weather team the end of this schedule fucking sucks for the Dolphins. Starting in Week 14 they go to New York in back to back weeks to play the Jets, then Giants. Then they get to play the Bengals at home, and then head back up to New England in Week 17. Not only that, but they do have to play in Cleveland during Week 12 on November 24th. So this warm weather team, could play in four games in which the temperature is under 32 degrees.

The reason they have so many games late on the road? The first six weeks of the season, the Dolphins have four home games and bye week. A good start, but a brutal ending for a team that is going to be bad.

The Dolphins only get one prime time game in an interesting match-up at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football during week 8. Not that them playing the Steelers is interesting, but with how bad the Dolphins are supposed to be I’m surprised its not an earlier divisional match-up.

Their division games are pretty spread out, and like all the teams from the AFC and NFC East this year they are going to play a majority of their games in the same time zone. The only game outside of the Eastern Time Zone for the Dolphins is Week 3 at the Cowboys.

Fantasy Player You Want

I think the only guy you want from this team is Kenyan Drake. He’s shown flashes of being special and a good fantasy player, it’s all about if he’ll get the ball enough.

Fantasy Player to Avoid

Everybody but Keenyan Drake. I wouldn’t take another Dolphins player until the last 3 rounds of my draft as a flyer. I want no part of Kenny Stills, Davante Parker, any QB, any other RB, or any TE this team has to offer until then.

Ceiling

4 wins. No way in hell this team wins more than that barring some more miracles, like the one they pulled out of their ass against the Pats last year.

Floor

So this is going to be a bad team. They have virtually no difference makers on defense, or offense. They have a tough schedule and usually the Jets and Bills are bad with them, but both those teams should be much better. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them get swept in their division. I can see this team winning only 2 games. I just don’t know where you find a win? They surprise Baltimore early? Steal a division game at home against the Jets or Bills. The Bengals game in Week 16 could be for the #1 pick so who knows.

Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
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