The Miami Dolphins are entering a new era. 2016 is a fresh start for them as they look to find success in the league. Check out five ways they win the AFC East in 2016.
It starts with Adam Gase
Everything written about Adam Gase this offseason is all about how he’s a football mind. However, up until camp there was no telling what kind of head coach he would be. Reports of trash talking during camp, his energetic press introduction, his confidence in calling his own plays never really put emphasis on his style.
Fast forward to his press conference after day 2 of camp. Someone in the room fishing for criticism to which Gase simply replies “They’re doing better than what you.. how negative you want to be about it, they’re doing good!” Not only did he quickly shut down a perceived concern, but he also did so with a smile on his face. At that moment, two things happened. One, he instantly backed up his players and put faith in them. Two, with that cocky smile he almost seems to know something others don’t. It’s a far cry from “I’m just here, so I don’t get fined.” but it did quickly shut down negative feedback. Miami hasn’t had a coach who’s not afraid to step up for his guys since the days of Shula. Gase just may be that same tough, no nonsense, football mind the Dolphins have been looking for.
Depth and flexibility
One of the key stumbling blocks for the Dolphins has been their depth. Injuries are a part of football and Miami seems as if they have no plan for them. Many people may not agree that Miami has found the depth they need. However going into camp there seems to be plenty. Offseason additions of veteran lineman, drafting more wide receivers, picking up a free agent running backs, and trading for the linebacker position. Is there a position that hasn’t added depth? With so many players being brought it, it not only adds depth but sends a message to the team. Either you play to the level of your potential, or the next guy will.
With the addition of Arian Foster, Miami’s offense has no shortage of playmakers. Even with Arian Foster on the roster, the unit is one of the youngest in the league. This could both help and hurt the Dolphins. From an offensive standpoint, not only does the depth create competition, but it also allows them to keep their guys fresh. Doing so will set up a wide variety of packages designed for each skill set of the players on the field. Keeping defenses guessing with package and personnel will add a new fold to Miami’s struggling offense. Gase has been known for getting the best out of each players skill set allowing Miami to attack to their liking. Look for Miami to have an up-tempo offense to expose mismatches in their favor.
The run game:
Miami may have hit a home run with signing Arian Foster. Fans grumbled at the often-injured former Texan. Oh, how wrong they may be. Foster’s addition adds a fold to the offense they weren’t solid at. Sure Ajayi could carry the ball the way they expected, but struggling catching the ball was a big red flag. With that being said, Miami now has two starting running backs with injury concerns. Luckily for them, they’re both capable of making plays. Between Ajayi and Foster, Miami can now run the ball 25-30 times a game without putting too much strain on either running back. Having a solid run game that won’t over expose your backs will add the dimension to the passing game.
Utilize every level in the passing game:
On the offensive side of the ball Miami seemed to sputter out. While Ryan Tannehill may have thrown for over 4,000 yards again, the offense never seemed to flashy. Look for that to change this year. While it’s true the Dolphins returned the same starters at receiver as they had the year before, there’s a new element to this season. Finding and using a players skill set seems to be Gase’s forte.
Look for him to revive the fading careers of Jordan Cameron and Kenny Stills this season. Two players who were grossly underutilized last year should rebound this season. If Miami wants to open up the playbook, Stills and Cameron can’t be decoys. With defenses having to account for Devante Parker, Stills will have to open up the opposite side of the deep field. When defenders are taken deep, if Cameron can draw some attention to his side of the field, it will leave plenty of room for playmakers like Jarvis Landry.
Should Gase re-establish those two as threats, expect the running backs to have a bit more room in the flats to excel in the open field. Miami has too much talent to not use the entire football field to throw off defenders. Teams shouldn’t be able to cheat the line allowing Miami the freedom to pass down field.
Miami may have been terrible the better part of two decades now. However, on paper, there’s enough talent both on the field and in the booths success should come easy. On offense, they have enough young talent ready to make a household name for themselves. Defensively, they have some of the biggest names across their front line. They have the young, up-and-coming coaches everyone coveted. This has to be their year! Right?