Nobody can accuse the Miami Dolphins of not trying to surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the players necessary to succeed, with the additions of receiver Tyreek Hill and left tackle Terron Armstead leading the list of new offensive contributors.
The NFL lines aren’t making the Miami Dolphins as a leading Super Bowl contender just yet, but there is enough talent for Miami to make some noise in the AFC.
New coach Mike McDaniel has no previous head coaching experience and was hired after one season as the offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers. So, there are questions about how ready he will be to succeed in the AFC East, one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Most of the top tacklers return off a team that finished in the middle of the pack in total defense last season.
Three of the first four games of the regular season are against playoff teams so there will be some clarity early on about how much of a difference that the newcomers have made.
- 2021 record: 9-8 (third in AFC East)
- Playoff results: Did not qualify
- Season opener: vs New England, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. ET
- Playoff teams on 2022 schedule: HOME – Buffalo, Green Bay, New England, Pittsburgh; AWAY-Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, San Francisco
- Key newcomers: WR Tyreek Hill, OT Terron Armstead, LB Melvin Ingram, RB Sony Michel, RB Chase Edmonds, WR Cedrick Wilson, OL Connor Williams, DB Quincy Williams, LB Channing Tindall (third-round pick).
- Key losses: WR Devante Parker, DB Justin Coleman, OL Jesse Davis, DB Jason McCourty, QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Duke Johnson, WR Mack Hollins.
- Award candidates: Tyreek Hill, +4000 in NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Tua Tagovailoa, +5000 in NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Jaylen Waddle, +5000 in NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Xavien Howard, +6600 in NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Mike Gesicki, +8000 in NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Cedrick Wilson, +10000 in NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds
The Dolphins made quite the splash in the offseason trading away some prime draft picks to acquire game-breaking receiver Hill and then addressing the left tackle position by signing Armstead away from New Orleans. Cedrick Wilson was another receiver added to the Miami roster and Erik Ezukanma was picked in the draft.
Miami had one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL during the 2021 season. They added running backs Sony Michel and Chase Edmonds. If Miami ranks 29th in yards per rushing attempt again, that will be a sign that the issue is not with the quality of the players carrying the ball.
Connor Williams joins Armstead as new additions on the offensive line. If they can protect their young quarterback and open holes for their running backs, this could be a much improved offense in 2022. The roster changes will impact those who make the NFL predictions.
With all the attention paid to the new additions on offense, there wasn’t much done in the way of improving a mediocre defense.
Melvin Ingram did post two seasons with more than 10 sacks. However, he has two sacks in his last two seasons. Miami used six top-100 draft picks on defensive players from 2018-2020. Jaelen Phillips is a pass rusher with a ton of potential and safety Jevon Holland was another defensive rookie who was impressive last season.
Miami returns its top 14 tacklers from last season. With a relatively young nucleus, the hope is that the tough lessons from the 2021 campaign will translate into a much more productive defensive unit.
Signing star cornerback Xavien Howard to a five-year contract extension was a signal that the Dolphins are planning to leave nothing to chance in their quest for a championship run.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) June 1, 2022
The Dolphins opened the 2021 season with a one-point win over division rival New England, Miami lost its next seven games and three of the losses were by three points or less. Despite an impressive finish to the season, Miami missed the playoffs by one game. That also marked an end to Brian Flores’ time at Miami. With what transpired a season ago, getting off to a quick start will be crucial.
This should be a better team as Hill will team with Waddle to give Miami a dynamic 1-2 punch at receiver. Having a third-place schedule isn’t the worst thing, either.
It is pretty clear that missing the playoffs was not acceptable in the mind of those running this franchise. A first-year coach won’t be in danger of being fired if Miami misses the postseason again, but the firing of Flores showed that the time is now for the Dolphins to prove themselves as a title contender.