It’s never too early or late for 2020 Miami Dolphins predictions.
The Miami Dolphins play football in less than two weeks. Here are some bold predictions for what might happen to this team in the 2020 season.
Football season is almost upon us, and so is Miami Dolphins football. A season that once looked threatened by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, looks more likely as the league keeps reporting about their very encouraging testing results. There was a brief scare with a surge of false positives, but as of now, things are moving in the right direction. Obviously, there may be some positive cases once players return to everyday life and begin traveling for games, much like in the MLB. However, the MLB seems to have done this well enough to survive a season so far.
Going into 2020, the Miami Dolphins are one of the more interesting teams in the NFL. They are the most improved team in the league on paper by far, and seem to have found an excellent head coach. They also added a young man by the name of Tua Tagovailoa, one of the most prolific passers in the history of college football. Along with him comes one of the biggest rookie classes in the NFL. So, what might happen in South Florida during this completely unprecedented 2020 season?
Top 15 pass defense
The Dolphins spent a big chunk of their resources on adding to their pass defense in the 2020 off-season. First, they moved on from defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who was previously a linebacker coach,to Josh Boyer, who has worked with defensive backs. In free agency, even though they already had Xavien Howard paid like a top corner in the NFL, the team signed Byron Jones to a massive contract. Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy were added to the pass rush unit.
Miami could have been content with Jones, Howard, and rookie surprise Nik Needham going into 2020. However, Brian Flores is never opposed to adding more talent in the defensive backfield. Rookie defensive backs Noah Igbinoghene and Brandon Jones are expected to play a good amount as rookies. Two draft selections added to the unit make it even deeper than before. Miami also shipped out Raekwon McMillan, who was routinely picked on in the passing game. They will either replace his snaps with another linebacker who can actually defend the pass, or choose to run even more dime package looks and play a defensive back like Jones or Eric Rowe (who was excellent in man coverage against tight ends) in the box. The added talent and depth should lead to Miami’s pass defense being in the top half of the league, at the minimum.
Improvement not reflected in win totals
With so many additions happening this off-season, the Dolphins are expected to be a much better team in 2020, and they will be. That improvement may not be reflected in the number of games they win. It is without question that they’ll be a better football team this season. The way they closed out 2019, combined with the dramatic increase in talent is too much to overlook. Miami will be a legitimately competitive team in 2020. You won’t see this team lose games 59-10 or 43-0 this season. However, the improvement will be reflected on the field, not so much in the win column.
Two things can be true: The Dolphins can be a drastically better team in 2020 but only see a win increase of one or two games. That’s just the way the schedule worked out for them. Playing the AFC and NFC West is not a favorable schedule for anyone, especially a young team. Miami will be better, but will still lose to championship-contending teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. Where the improvement will really show is against playoff teams like the Seattle Seahawks. That is a great early season test for Miami.
Mike Gesicki breaks out
The Miami Dolphins selected tight end Mike Gesicki in the second round of the 2018 draft. The pick has been met with some scrutiny because the Dolphins passed on Dallas Goedert, who has been considerably better than Gesicki through two years. However, towards the second half of 2019, he began to show all of the promises that he had when he came out of Penn State in 2018. His game against the Goedert and the Eagles in week 13 really turned some heads.
When Chan Gailey was hired as Miami’s offensive coordinator, it was met with speculation about Gesicki’s future. Gailey does not have a great history in developing high-level tight end results outside of one season with Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez in 2008. However, a deeper dive into what type of players have produced in the Gailey offense should actually leave people encouraged for. Bigger, physical, possession type of players tend to shine.
With Gonzalez, 2008 was tied for the second-most touchdowns he ever had and the third most yards. It was also the most amount of touchdowns he had in the final ten years of his career. For three years with Gailey in Buffalo, Stevie Johnson, a 6-2, 210-pound possession type of guy was one of the best receivers in the NFL. Once Gailey was fired, Johnson’s career essentially ended and he was out of the league within three years. In New York with the Jets, it was Brandon Marshall and Erik Decker who became one of the best duos in the NFL that year. Contested catch ability is something that Gailey covets, and Gesicki has no problem with that. In the red zone, expect a heavy target percentage to go to Miami’s young tight end.