For the first time in what seems like forever, the Miami Dolphins reached the playoffs. It did not come without struggles, however. Miami struggled to get out of the gate starting their season 1-4. Injury after injury-depleted the Dolphins depth and even thought they were winning, they struggled in key areas. Throughout the season the Dolphins had trouble consistently running the football. When they ran the ball well, they struggled to air the ball out. Even when both the run game and passing game was working, third down efficiency was okay at best. Even the most hardcore fan has to admit the Miami Dolphins were not a complete football team this year.
So how does Miami improve on a 10-6 season that had fans feeling like they were undefeated again? Adam Gase made the team relevant again now what pieces do they need to take over the division? Plenty of moves will be made this offseason but who stays and who goes?
Injuries were a factor for the Dolphins to start the season. Injuries plagued them at the end. Brandon Albert, Laremy Tunsil, and Mike Pouncey all missed time this year and the Dolphins’ offense struggled because of it. Miami did their best patchwork to keep the season moving but still could use some depth along the front line. You can never have too many good linemen. Miami has just 2 starters over the age of 30. However, as of next year, the Dolphins will at 2 more names to their backups over 30. Miami needs to go out and draft/develop eventual replacements so they’re not in the same position 2-3 years down the road. The lineman isn’t a top priority but still should be addressed.
It wouldn’t be an NFL offseason without talking about Miami’s need at linebacker. Every season the Dolphins seem to ignore this position in the draft. Miami had players like Kiko Alonso show up huge for them this season, but once injuries took over the team struggled to stop the run. Miami’s first offseason priority should be a run-stopping linebacker who also has above average coverage skills. Tight ends torched Miami in their blowout losses to Baltimore and New England. Hopefully, the Dolphins will be smart enough to work out a deal with Reshad Jones as one of the team’s best tacklers. Pairing him with a bruiser at linebacker who can close passing lanes will help improve the run defense that ranked 30th in the league.
One of the key fixes for the Dolphins has to be their defense overall. Vance Joseph had the Dolphins come in and look better, but yielded the same results. Too many big plays doomed the Dolphins season. Miami needs to beef up their secondary and push the playmakers. Xavien Howard and Tony Lippett showed they have tremendous upside, now Miami needs 1-2 more playmakers to complete the unit. “
Depth, depth, depth” should be the Dolphins motto in 2017. Even when players went down the “next man up” got the job done for a while. However, playoffs are a different beast. Miami just had too many injuries and not enough depth to win against the top tier of the league. Adam Gase will return next season with an offseason of tape to study. Miami had a season no one expected but is just barely on the outside looking in. A healthy Ryan Tannehill makes all the difference and Miami might spend to keep him healthy.
Rumors of Vance Joseph being a top coaching candidate might switch things up in Miami. However, an offseason focused on defense might not be a bad thing. Change is coming on the other side of the ball this year. If the Miami Dolphins can turn around the defense as quick as they did offense, it won’t be long before they break into a deep playoff contender. The 2017 season is long ways away, the offseason will tell exactly what direction this team is headed.