Adam Gase enters the 3rd year of his coaching tenue with seasons of 10-6 and 6-10 behind him. There have been plenty of questions asked regarding the play calling and execution on both sides of the ball, but in the wake of QB injuries is all this criticism a little overblown?
Reasons to be cheerful?
Ryan Tannehill is back under centre after missing the last 637 days. After initially being injured in December 2016 he missed the teams playoff appearance that year and was instead working his way back to fitness when a training camp drill last August went wrong and he re-damaged the same knee that had robbed him of post-season action. The Dolphins turned to ex-Gase QB (@ the Bears) Jay Cutler and experienced all the frustrations of a 19-14 TD-INT season. Tannehill has taken plenty of Flak for his supposed ineffectiveness (and the Teams failure to make inroads into the playoff picture) but his 3 seasons pre-injury saw a 70-36 TD-INT ratio with a completion percentage of 65% -above his average of 62% and a league average over the same span of 63%. Ryan Tannehill can be a huge contributor to future success if the ‘Fins choose to stand by their man and build around him.
One man who knows what its like to be successful in the AFC is Danny Amendola, lured away from the Patriots to replace Jarvis Landry as the go-to receiver when the chains need moving. 13 playoff games in 5 years at the Pats (with 6 TD catches) mean Amendola seemingly has little left to prove-other than the fact that he can be a winner away from the Belichick-Brady dream-duo. However, he has been outspoken on the Belichick regime and seems determined to build upon the Danny “playoff” Amendola moniker that he acquired. We’ve seen on “Hard Knocks” that Landry is clearly a leader in the locker room, Amendola is doubtless a far quieter personality but one that must gain instant respect in the Dolphins team meetings.
I like the addition of Robert Quinn to play alongside Cameron Wake on the D-line, this team needs to disrupt opposing QBs to be successful.
Also, keep an eye on the RB pairing of Kenyan Drake (600+ yards last season despite playing 2nd fiddle for 2/3rds of the year) and newly acquired ageless wonder Frank Gore. If the O-Line can be competent then these guys will notch 12-15 TDs between them.
Reasons to be fearful?
Miami finished last season with a -14 Turnover ratio, which of part can be attributed to Jay Cutler hurling INTs all over the show but in the main it came down to the team (mainly the Defensive backs) not snaring enough INTs of their own. Only the Raiders, Browns, Bears and Falcons finished with fewer picks that the ‘Fins 9. Of last years 12 playoff representatives 8 of them had 14 or more picks. The above-mention Quinn addition may help to force opposing QBs to throw earlier but inexperience at Linebacker and poor training camp showings from almost all of the teams cornerback contenders shake any confidence that may have been built by the D-Front.
Tannehill needs to be protected well, and im not sold on this O-Line. The QB doesn’t exactly scramble well and his ability to absorb hits may well be tested early. If he goes down then the reins are handed to…Brock Osweiler or David Fales… Christ, its going to be a long season for ‘Fins fans if that happens.
How does the season shape up?
The AFC East has one true king in the New England Patriots, but the Dolphins should be aiming to sweep the Jets and The Bills. If they do then they have the chance to stay in the wildcard hunt. A 3-0 start is possible as they face the Titans, Jets and Raiders early doors. However, games against the Bengals Bears, Texans, Jags and Vikings will all severally test the O-lIne and Tannehills resilience. Gase will have his defense stretched and his play-calling repeatedly questioned as the ‘fins lose many close games.
Playoffs? They’ll be in the W/C hunt but ultimately it looks as if they will come up short, and thats IF Tannehill stays upright…