2017 NFL Season Preview- Miami Dolphins
Miami performed much better than expected under a new head coach.
After a sluggish 1–4 start, the Dolphins would win their next six games, and finish the season on a 9–2 run. Miami made their first playoff appearance since 2008 but fell to Pittsburgh in the wildcard round 30-12.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill excelled in the new offense but missed the team's final four games with two sprained ligaments in his left knee. Matt Moore remains one of the more underrated backup quarterbacks in the league throwing eight touchdowns to just three interceptions and a 105.6 passer rating. Miami's backfield was surprisingly solid. Running back Jay Ajayi finished the year with 1,272 rushing yards and eight touchdowns and Damien Williams is a productive third down specialist. The wide receiver corps got better as the season went on. Kenny Stills is a dangerous deep threat, DeVante Parker finished the year strange and showed promise, and Jarvis Landry can do it all. The tight end position was a mess. Cameron Jordan has been a disappointment dealing with concussions since joint Miami. Dion Sims is a good blocker but isn't a threat as a receiver. When the offensive line is healthy, their good but when their not, they're very susceptible.
The defensive line generated great pass rush but was awful against the run. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips was inconsistent all year and Nick Williams only managed 13 tackles on the year. The linebackers were horrible against the run and pass. Kiko Alonso was the team's leading tackler but struggled in the middle at times and Misi played in just three games due to a neck injury. The secondary was probably the biggest surprise on defense. Safety Reshad Jones is a versatile defender but was limited to six games with a torn rotator cuff. Cornerback Tony Lippett developed better than expected for a former wide receiver and finished with four interceptions.
The Dolphins produced four Pro Bowlers on the year in running back Jay Ajayi, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, defensive end Cameron Wake, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Ajayi's back to back 200 yard rushing games helped spark the team's six game win streak. Landry mad his second Pro Bowl and finished with 94 receptions for 1,136 yards and four touchdowns. Wake and Suh formed a great pass rush tandem as Wake finished with 11.5 sacks and Suh had a career high 71 tackles and five sacks.
The rookie class has a lot of promise but also several issues to sew up. Guard Laremy Tunsil was outstanding on the year considering being moved from left tackle to left guard. Cornerback Xavien Howard has a bright future despite battling a knee injury. Running back Kenyon Drake is an exciting player who made plays on offense and special teams. Wide receiver Jakeem Grant had a 74 yard punt return touchdown but his hands were unreliable and mishandled several kicks.
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 26th
NFL Rank- 9th
NFL Rank- 15th
NFL Rank- 30th
NFL Rank- 24th
NFL Rank- 29th
Going 10-6 and making the playoffs in his first season, head coach Adam Gase has to continue to keep Ryan Tannehill moving in the right direction as well as reshape the defense around Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh.
After defensive coordinator Vance Joseph left to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos, the team promoted linebackers coach Matt Burke to the new defensive coordinator.
Notable Additions- TE Julius Thomas, TE Anthony Fasano, G Ted Larsen, OLB Lawrence Timmons, CB Alterraun Verner, S Nate Allen, S TJ McDonald
Notable Departures- QB TJ Yates, TE Dion Sims, TE Cameron Jordan, T Branden Albert, DE Dion Jordan, DE Mario Williams, OLB Jelani Jenkins, S Bacarri Rambo
Dolphins 2016 Highlights
2017 NFL Draft
Holding the 22nd overall pick leading up to the draft, Miami has to address issues at key positions in order to get back into the postseason. Most importantly at tight end, defensive tackle, and linebacker.
The team traded for Julius Thomas and resigned Anthony Fasano, but the team needs a young player who can stretch the field and make the game easier for the rest of the offense.
The defense was the third worst in the league against the run. With Jordan Phillips having a disappointing year, a run stopper in the middle is necessary.
Moving Kiko Alonso to the outside and signing Lawrence Timmons helps, but the defense needs an aggressive, athlete in the middle who can tackle and cover.
When it came time to pick, Miami selected Missouri defensive end Charles Harris with the 22nd pick. Harris has great speed for a defensive linemen but lacks the length and twitch to deal with top tier offensive tackles.
The Dolphins also notably drafted Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second round and Virginia Tech wide receiver Isaiah Ford in the seventh. McMillan looks the part of a physical linebacker but struggles to keep himself clean from blockers. Ford has an athletic frame built for speed but struggles with focus drops.
Charles Harris Highlights
What to Expect
A second year under Adam Gase will be good for the offense.
Assuming Ryan Tannehill recovers well from his injured knee, Gase will have him playing like he did in the team's six game win streak. Jay Ajayi is the workhorse of the offense and if Kenyon Drake and Damien Williams can constantly contribute, it will keep Ajayi's legs fresh and put less pressure on Tannehill. the corps of Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills have the potential to be great if they can keep a level head and produce week in and week out. Anthony Fasano is just a blocker at this point in his career and Julius Thomas has dealt with injuries the last two seasons. Moving Laremy Tunsil back to left tackle helps but the main issue with the offensive line is keeping the starting unit healthy.
The defensive line should improve from a run defense standpoint. Charles Harris looks to be a good complement to Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips has to prove 2016 was just a down year. With Raekwon McMillan manning the middle and Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons on the outside. The linebacker corps looks solidified. If Reshad Jones returns healthy, he will pair well with either Nate Allen and TJ McDonald. Byron Maxwell and Tony Lippett aren't elite corners but they play well together and Xavien Howard could be a productive nickel corner.
Given the additions the team made in the offseason, Miami looks to be the best suited AFC East team to compete with New England but I still think they're a year away from dethroning them.
Best record they can hope for: 10-6