Under Adam Gase, the Dolphins are set to turn things around and not look back on past failures. There appears to be a new regime underway in Miami.
It seems as if every other year it’s the same story: according to multiple NFL analysts, fans, and media outlets, the Dolphins are one of a few NFL teams destined to jump over the hurdle of mediocrity and into the playoffs. Except, not this year.
Whew, that’s a relief.
Whether it’s a busy offseason in which the Dolphins make their traditional splash into free agency, signing—or attempting to sign—the biggest names available, appointing a new head coach, or implementing a new system, the Dolphins certainly know how to remain in the conversation of becoming the next “Cinderella story.”
However, this year feels a little different. The same analysts, fans, and media outlets that pick the Miami Dolphins to overachieve each season—giving everyone in South Florida unrealistic expectations—have flipped script and are now going in the completely opposite direction. No one is expecting anything from this year’s Miami Dolphins.
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And maybe, just maybe, that’s what this organization needs.
Of course, in sports, winning is the name of the game. If you don’t win, no one is happy. However, for far too long, the Dolphins have had a massive amount of pressure to win. But the truth is, the Dolphins haven’t been a good football team for quite some time.
We can make excuses until we’re blue in the face. Yes, they’ve had bad coaching, questionable drafts and player acquisitions, and an owner who seems to enjoy the thought of hosting a Super Bowl more than the idea of playing in one. But in the end, in order for an NFL team to be successful, you must have the right coaches, players, and management in place—and on the same page.
I’m excited for this new regime in Miami. I like the plan new head coach Adam Gase seems to have put in place; he’s doing things to which Dolphins fans aren’t accustomed. Gase is building a team of players who fit his offense and new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s defense. When’s the last time the Dolphins put their players in a position to succeed? Remember the Joe Philbin and Kevin Coyle mess?
Before the Dolphins decided to press the reset button, this organization did things the wrong way; they always believed they were only one or two players away from being a contender. But in reality, they were far from that.
Adam Gase has recognized this and is trying to build the Dolphins from the ground up. The Dolphins have started all over; they’ve wiped their hands clean of players demanding big money and have replaced them with cheaper and older players who fit more systematically within their plan.
On the defensive side of the ball, free-agents Byron Maxwell, Mario Williams, Jason Jones, and Isa Abdul-Quddus, along with draft picks Xavien Howard and Jordan Lucas, provide the Dolphins with the size, aggressiveness, and athleticism to replicate the defense that the Bengals’ Vance Joseph help put together the last two seasons in Cincinnati.
If the young, free agent linebacker Kiko Alonso can stay healthy and prove to be a smidgen of what he was during his rookie season in Buffalo, the Dolphins potentially added another valuable piece to a defense in desperate need of repair.
In Joseph’s two seasons as the Bengals defensive back coach, the Bengals pass defense ranked 13th in the NFL in both 2014 and 2015. More impressively, Joseph’s secondary remained consistent at causing turnovers, ranking third in interceptions in both 2014 (20) and 2015 (21).
If the Dolphins can absorb a molecule of the success that the Bengals have achieved the past two seasons under Joseph, the Dolphins defense is heading in the right direction.
The Dolphins’ identity on offense under Ryan Tannehill, however, remains murky. Entering his fifth year in the league, Tannehill has steadily progressed each year in the league. However, last year, Tannehill’s play fell off a little from his third and most successful season.
It’s still unclear if this is a cause for concern for the Dolphins, but considering the praise from new head coach Adam “the quarterback whisperer” Gase, Tannehill could be destined to repeat, or perhaps even surpass, his third season performance.
Per ESPN’s James Walker, new offensive coordinator Clyde Christiansen marveled at Tannehill’s work ethic. “I love the way he works,” Christensen said. “I love the way he’s attacking it.”
If Adam Gase and Clyde Christensen can help Tannehill progress to the next level—the same way Gase did with future hall-of-famer Peyton Manning and veteran Jay Cutler—the Dolphins, along with an upgraded offensive line and good receiving corps, should be able to produce more than 20 points a game (a feat the Dolphins only accomplished three times last year).
No one is expecting much from the Miami Dolphins this season. With a team full of new faces dawning the aqua and orange, along with several new coaches, it seems wise to dampen expectations. However, with the limelight finally of this struggling franchise, maybe, just maybe, this is what this organization needs: to be the underdog.
Everyone likes an underdog story. And the fans of the Miami Dolphins are desperate for one.