The Miami Dolphins are in dire need of a solid 2018 campaign after taking a step back last season in Adam Gase’s second year at the club.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL before the start of the term after previously missing the end of the 2016 season due to the same injury. Jay Cutler was signed as a temporary replacement and was uninspiring in the role, guiding the club to a 6-10 campaign – well off the pace of the playoffs.
The Dolphins will have no idea whether Tannehill is the man to take them forward after his two injuries given the affect it will have on his play. Tannehill was inconsistent to say the least before suffering the issues, which will greatly impact his ability to rush the ball in future.
Miami made solid additions to their receiving corps with the signings of Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson after deciding to trade away Jarvis Landry. The selection of Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round to bolster their secondary could well be the steal of the 2018 Draft.
The Dolphins need playmakers to emerge on offense in light of Landry’s departure. There is pressure on Gase to produce results, although the odds are stacked against him due to the quality of the roster.
The Dolphins struggled on offense last season with Cutler at quarterback. Cutler was poised to join the broadcast booth before Tannehill tore his ACL. Miami convinced him at the last second to come out of retirement. The decision did not pan out well for Gase as his team limped to a 6-10 record. Tannehill will return for the 2018 campaign, but after suffering two torn ACLs, they will not know what to expect from the 30-year-old.
His statistics proved to be deceiving before his injury, throwing an average of 25 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. Miami would have expected more from him after selecting Tannehill in the first round of the 2012 Draft. He faces a make-or-break season for the Dolphins. Should they fall to one of the worst records in the NFL it may convince the club’s hierarchy to move on from him at the end of the term.
Tannehill will have to perform without his most trusted wide receiver. The Dolphins decided that they were not going to pay Landry like an elite wideout. Therefore the club traded him to the Browns, who did give Landy his long-term contract. Landy recorded 400 receptions in his four years with Miami.
It’s a lot of production to replace, putting the onus on Amendola and Wilson to find their form. Amendola is a proven performer, having excelled at the New England Patriots, although his injury history is well noted.DeVante Parker has not developed into the player that convinced Miami to part with a first-round pick in 2015. As a result, Kenny Stills and Wilson are going to have to play extremely well for Gase along with rookie tight end Mike Gesicki.
Kenyan Drake flashed his potential last season with back-to-back 100-yard games. Whether he can produce over the course of a campaign is another matter. If Miami boast an elite running game it will alleviate the pressure on Tannehill to carry the offense on his return to action.
In his second season as defensive coordinator Matt Burke will be an eyeing an improvement after being ranked middle of the pack in 2017 in terms of yards, although the Dolphins gave up the third-most points in the NFL. Cameron Wake has been the star of Miami’s defense since the 2009 campaign. Even at the age of 36 he notched 10.5 sacks last season. The Dolphins cannot keep relying on the defensive end for the bulk of their pass-rush.
Charles Harris was solid in his rookie term after being selected in the first round of the 2017 Draft. He has to take a step forward in his development to take the strain off the veteran. Robert Quinn was acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in a trade deal. He has been one of the elite pass-rushers in the NFL since entering the league, although his production has tailed over the last couple of seasons. There’s talent on the defensive line for Burke to work with.
Raekwon McMillan missed his rookie season due to injury. Draft pundits hailed the selection of the linebacker by the Dolphins. He will have a chance to prove them right by starring in the middle of the defense. Kiko Alonso and Stephane Anthony will provide the veteran presence, although the linebacking corps lacks depth and quality, which could be a concern against the pass and run.
The secondary could be the strength of the defense. It has the potential for three elite players. Reshad Jones is already one of the best safeties in the NFL. Xavien Howard produced a breakout term in 2017 as a lockdown corner and has shown signs in pre-season of maintaining that standard. Adding Fitzpatrick into the mix will give Miami three Pro Bowl calibre players in the secondary, which will cover a lot of flaws on their defense. However, there are concerns over the two cornerback positions alongside Howard.
The Dolphins do not have the quality to reach the playoffs with their current roster. Tannehill is too much of an unknown commodity of his injury, while the defense is not good enough to limit opposing offenses. Take Miami to miss the playoffs at -800 and win under six matches at +115 with 888Sport. Back the club to be the lowest scoring offense in the NFL for value at +1200 and to have the NFL’s worst record at +1200 with BetOnline.
Back them to finish second in the AFC East at +125 , but only due to the deficiencies of the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets below them. All three teams are interchangeable in their positions. Gase is one of the leading candidates to be fired first should the Dolphins struggle. Take him at odds of +750 with BetOnline to be the first coach fired.
Fitzpatrick has the talent make an impact in his first season in the NFL. He will play every down therefore take him to win defensive rookie of the year at odds of +800 with BetOnline. Wake could be a decent outside shout to lead the NFL in sacks at +2500 with 888Sport.
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