One of the biggest questions surrounding the Miami Dolphins last season was “Is this team for real?”. Strength of schedule favored the Dolphins and in many circles, their 10 win playoff birth was a fluke. The Dolphins have the talent to continue that success this season, but many are still reluctant to see them as contenders. Has Adam Gase really changed the culture in Miami and how do they continue their winning ways?
On offense, the Miami Dolphins added two essential pieces that will change the way they play. Needing an instant fix at tight end they added talent and depth in Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano. While most Dol-fans will be anxious to see which Thomas they’re getting, many are overlooking a golden opportunity in Fasano. The veteran tight end will soon become close friends with his new teammate Jay Ajayi. After a slow start and missed game last season, Ajayi rushed his way into 4th in the league in rushing yards. Known to be one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, if Fasano gets out in front of Ajayi he might get to the next level before the defense even has time to react.
A couple of other under-the-radars move was signing of safety T.J.McDonald Nate Allen. The Dolphins signed McDonald to a 1-year deal due to his 8 game suspension, but with their need for depth in the secondary, he’ll be welcomed back quickly. The duo will have to push each other for playing time and force the coaches hand. McDonald is the big physical defender the Dolphins are looking for and Allen can be a game-changer in the secondary if pushed hard enough. It will all come down to which of the two wants it more, a clear win-win for Miami. Paired with a healthy Reshad Jones, either one should provide plenty of help to their cornerback play. The toss up won’t come down to just who covers better but who can consistently stop the run.
The biggest determining factor of the Miami Dolphins season, however, isn’t who they went and got, but who they brought back. For the first time in Ryan Tannehill’s career, he’s working with the same running backs and wide receivers in the same offense. Struggling throughout his career with consistency, he won’t have to build chemistry all over again. Even Fasano spent time working with Tannehill in his rookie season back in 2012. If the offensive line can gel the way Gase wants it to, the only player Tannehill has to grow with is Thomas who should already know the system after already working with Gase.
Facing the gauntlet down the stretch, their schedule does them no favors. Miami has one of the toughest schedules in 2017, so the team had better be up for the challenge. If they can get off to a hot start it should be smooth sailing to 10 wins. However, stumble too much out of the gate and it will quickly turn into a struggle for 8-8. Looking over their schedule, 10-6 isn’t out of the question but it won’t be easy. There might not be a lot of blowout wins, but they should be able to pull off a 10 win season and get back to the playoffs. True!