The Miami Dolphins are primed to be one of football’s breakout teams this season. And while a lot was made about the signing of Ndamukong Suh, it’s the team’s offense that has seemingly taken center stage in South Beach.
It wouldn’t surprise many to see Ryan Tannehill take his place amongst the quarterback elite at the conclusion of the 2015 season. The former first round pick recorded his first 4,000 yard season a year ago. It’s quite the accomplishment considering his leading receiver only accumulated 862 receiving yards.
As a result, Miami went on an off season signing spree. It was necessary to give Tannehill the optimal pieces to succeed. The additions of Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, and Greg Jennings were without doubt three of the more under the radar acquisitions of the free agency period, and could be considered as impactful to the team as the signing of Suh.
Miami also made its presence known when they drafted Louisville standout, DeVante Parker with the 14th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. And while Parker will assuredly be relied on greatly in Miami, the Dolphins are banking heavily on Jarvis Landry having a breakout sophomore season.
Landry was a key member of the Miami Dolphins last year. But, with one year of NFL experience in the books, we could bear witness to a much improved player. The second-year receiver from LSU recorded 84 catches for the Dolphins last season, only six behind Dolphins single-season reception leader, O.J. McDuffie. Landry’s stock will undoubtedly rise to new heights with the new look Dolphins offensive game plan, making him one of football’s fastest rising players.
Another player to take notice of in Miami is running back, Lamar Miller. The fourth-year starter out of “The U” put up his first 1,000 yard rushing season in 2014. In addition, Miller contributed nine total touchdowns for the Dolphins.
Yet, despite Miller’s impressive season statistics, the team invested a fifth-round pick in Boise State standout, Jay Ajayi. If all goes right, Miami could rely heavily on Miller, but also use Ajayi’s unique skill set to keep defenses on their toes.
Dolphins offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, has high hopes for his second season with the team, but he knows the offense relies on Tannehill and Center, Mike Pouncey, whom he believes hold the keys to the team’s success.
“We got an awful lot of skill players that weren’t here last year — Greg Jennings, Jordan Cameron, Kenny Stills. We got a lot of players — DeVante Parker, when he’s back out there. So for them it’s still year one. But we’re gonna go as fast, really as Ryan Tannehill and Mike Pouncey can go. The other guys gotta keep up.”
It’s not as much a question of whether Miami’s skill players can keep up with the high octane offense, as it is if opposing defenses can defend them.
And based on the possible four-game suspension of long-time arch-nemesis Tom Brady, the 6-10 week loss of New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith and the uncertainty at quarterback in Buffalo, the Dolphins have a window of opportunity to seize control of the AFC East early. Will they do it remains to be seen, but for such a team loaded with talent on both offense and defense, the moment is there for Miami.
It’s not the perfect team, but can they make the playoffs? Absolutely.