Finally, football season is within smelling distance. After a long offseason, we can see the finish line with teams arriving at camp. Kickoff is almost here. Before that though I wanna take a look at Training camp for the Miami Dolphins and give you 5 things to be on lookout for.
Will the offensive line gel before Week 1?
The offensive line has been Miami’s biggest deficiency for the last four years or so. Bully-gate aside the unit has been dreadful. After free agent signings, half way decent drafting, and even a little bit of development, I think they’re ready to transition to be a force to reckon with. Armed with four former first rounder’s in Branden Albert, Juwan James, Mike Pouncy and recently drafted Laremy Tunsil the talent has to be molded.
As of now Albert and James will be the tackles, Tunsil will occupy the left guard spot while mini-camp should figure out who’s starting on the right. The former Gator, Pouncy will be the line’s leader at center. The progress of this unit is the factor that determines how far Miami goes this season. Tannehill also has a chance to show his true talents now that he finally has a line to protect him.
With camp and preseason, this unit should have plenty of time to get on the same level. If not, then their Week 1 match could be a disaster.
How will Tannehill fare with another new offense?
Another factor going into training camp is Ryan Tannehill’s progress learning a third offense in just his fourth season. That’s a tall order for anyone. New head coach and QB whisperer Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Clive Christiansen are the tag team for the job. Gase had a record-setting offense in Denver and even made Jay Cutler a legit franchise quarterback last season.
With an array of young weapons, a nice rotation at running back, and what should be a strong offensive front, Miami could light up the scoreboards this season. Tannehill has statistically gotten better every year and has two 4,000 yard seasons behind a patchwork line.
The deep ball is the question mark. He has gotten better every year statically. This could be the year Tannehill silences his critics and haters and gets Miami back to the playoffs. I expect to see Gase always within talking distance of Tannehill during the entire camp. Coach Gase, “You’re up”!
Is the defensive line still Miami’s deepest unit?
The defensive line is Miami’s most set unit in my opinion even with the loss of Oliver Vernon. Adding Mario Williams, who is coming off a down season by his standards, to a line of Ndamukong Suh, a healed and Healthy Cam Wake and Earl Mitchell will make a difference.
Williams, who was a cap casualty in Buffalo, was asked to play out of his natural game. Rotate in players like free agent Andre Branch, second-year player Jordan Phillips and this line is big, fast and lethal. They are going to control the flow of many games and set a tone. I’m looking to camp to see the blitz packages and rotations are going to be like.
Uncertainty at linebacker and the secondary
The rest of the defensive is a tad bit unknown. Kiko Alonzo is a top 10 linebacker as long as he’s healthy. His addition allows Koa Misi to move back outside defensively. Dion Jordan, who is returning from a season long suspension, should get a shot at that other linebacker spot. With Jordan moving to the outside as a longshot, Koa Misi will move back outside to his natural spot after flirting with middle linebacker last season.
Now who gets the third spot?
Jelani Jenkins has shown flashes but consistency he has not. Mike Hull was a fan favorite before but didn’t see much playing time last year. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has a lot of questions with his unit.
The secondary is a whole different issue. Safety Reshard Jones ended his brief holdout and has shown up to OTA’s, so that’s a sigh of relief. The other safety spot will most likely have Michael Thomas stationed.
At cornerback, there is newly acquired Byron Maxwell at one side, while rookie Xavier Howard and second-year player Tony Lippett battle for the other side. This defense has the potential but can Joseph play the chess board properly? Miami was once a top five defense year in year out. Is this the next version of that legacy?
How does Adam Gase perform as head coach?
Adam Gase was the hottest name on the coaching recruitment this off-season. He called the plays for Peyton Manning and a Broncos team that lead to the highest scoring offense in NFL history. He made Jay Cutler, who is average at best in my book and made him look like the franchise quarterback he was suppose to be when the Bears traded for him.
But really what does all that mean?
Joe Philbin got his coaching gig with Miami for having success with a real franchise quarterback.
Is Gase another version of this scenario? Can Gase succeed where Philbin couldn’t? Is Tannehill a coach killer?
Gase is a quarterback guru and Tannehill’s poential has yet to be unlocked. The defense has questions, but should play well. Owner Stephen Ross has the stadium upgraded and the buzz in Miami has people excited.
A .500 season will not be acceptable. This is what Gase was hired to into, but he accepted the job and he hit the ground running.
Can the youngest head coach in the NFL turn around a once storied franchise?