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Miami Dolphins: Training Camp Checklist

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Dolphins Training Camp Checklist

With the announcement of the training camp days set, the Miami Dolphins inch closer to the 2016-2017 season. Miami spent yet another offseason acquiring a new head coach, offensive/defensive coordinators, and handfuls of free agents. Head coach Adam Gase is tasked with starting this franchise in the right direction. 2016 wasn’t too kind to the Dolphins, often times appearing stuck in neutral. Gase’s and his staff have plenty on their clipboards going into this season as well as a handful of tough decisions.

[ ] Quarterback A: Going into camp Miami has no doubt who their starter is going to be. Ryan Tannehill will again take the reins under center. In his first five years he has struggled with his consistency and ability to make plays. If Tannehill wants to turn the corner, footwork will be key. Ryan needs to be able to set his feet and hit his receivers in stride. Miami’s receivers have the breakaway speed to get open as long as the balls aren’t under thrown. It’s time to get the receivers the ball in the open field and let them do what they do best.

[ ] Quarterback B: With Matt Moore returns for his 6th season as a Miami Dolphins. Not too many have lasted much longer than that. Unfortunately for Moore, he might have over stayed his welcome. Miami drafted a quarterback late in this years draft in Brandon Doughty. If Adam Gase truly is the quarterback whisper, expect it to improve on Doughty’s ballooned stats towards the end of his college career. Even though veteran leadership is coveted in the NFL, if the Dolphins continue their win-before-rebuild attitude Moore could be let go for the younger/cheaper option.

[ ] Offensive Line: Who are the best five guys to start every week? Who can fill in incase the injury bug comes knocking? It’s pretty self-explanatory.

[ ] Running back: There isn’t a position on the field this season that will be looked at as closely as the running back position. Nothing says over playing your hand than letting the team’s leading rusher sign with another team. Miami is confident in Jay Ajayi as a replacement but there is cause for concern. While he’s shown some moves early on from the backfield, murmurs of his struggle to catch the ball is enough to raise a red flag. Mild concern as it may be, Gase prefers to often have multiple backs involved. Unless he can cut into Ajayi’s carries, putting second round pick Kenyan Drake in on pass plays would be a poor poker face. If Ajayi and Drake begin to gel fans won’t mind. If not, the Miami Dolphins could be walking around with Texans size egg on their face, and they say everything is bigger in Texas.

[ ] Wide Receiver: Miami has put themselves in an interesting position specifically at wide receiver. Most of the Dolphins receivers are under contract through their rookie deals making them one of the youngest units in the league. Unfortunately for them, it’s a good news/bad news situation. With plenty to prove this season and future contracts on the line, there may not be enough footballs to go around. Miami will almost certainly sign Jarvis Landry and Devante Parker at the end of their rookie deals. If newcomers Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo make any sort of impact, they will be around a few years after that. Unless a guy like Kenny Stills can blow up this season into a top 10 wide receiver, expect this season to be his last in Miami. Luckily for him it’s not a career ender.

[ ] Defense A: Advertised as the new and improved Miami Dolphins defense, fans were left shockingly disappointed. The best way to describe the often struggling defense is; imagine paying to see The Godfather and getting treated to Dude, Where’s My Car? It’s almost as if you could describe them both verbatim. The big men up front may have gotten older, but did Miami add enough depth to give their pass rushers rotation come late in the year. Will Cameron Wake recover and come back as strong as before? What Is the right combination on the opposite of Wake/Suh? Will another year of ignoring the linebacker unit drastically effect this team?

[ ] Defense B: To pay Rashaad Jones or not pay Rashad Jones, that is the question. One the Dolphins will be pondering all season. Production speaks louder than words and Jones has been metaphorically shouting. His play last season was one of the few bright spots the Dol-fans had to speak of even before his initial pro bowl snub. If Miami doesn’t work something out to eventually bring back one of their top players, fans may riot in the parking lot. Can the new additions and younger hold overs make an impact under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph? Will Byron Maxwell make fans forget about the sting of losing Brent Grimes? How much can they afford to pay Jones if the rest of the unit struggles? A lot of focus will be put on this years young unit, so expect huge amounts of physicality at the line, slowing receivers putting them off their game physically and mentally. Strength has been preached all offseason and this is a unit that could use it.

While last year left the impression that more work was to be done than could ever be listed here. The coaching staff feels they have a great core unit they can make the most out of. While issues may trickle in later throughout camp and into the season, Miami returning a large part of their offense will help. Built on the foundation of a stronger offensive line, fans might be cursing a little less when the offense takes the field. Adam Gase has the offensive pieces that most coaches would salivate over. He just has to put them in the right place at the right times. Defensively Vance Joseph will have his work cut out for him as well. Not only will he be new to the coordinator position, but he has to resurrect a few careers, train a few rookies to start, and get over the taste of failure left in mouths of last seasons hold overs. Miami may be facing an uphill battle this season as their schedule won’t do them any favors. However, last yer left plenty to improve upon.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com