During the 2021 NFL season, not much has been predictable. Of the 14 2020 – 2021 playoff teams, five teams are below .500. The Indianapolis Colts most could predict they would take a step back after Phillip Rivers retired. Still, many thought the Washington Football Team, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburg Steelers, and especially the Kansas City Chiefs made drastic improvements during the offseason. So their slide at the beginning of the year has left many wondering if they will start purging older proven talent before the 2021 NFL trade deadline?
This surprising trend of teams who looked to be on the rise falling behind in the standings this early in the season is nothing new to explain to Miami Dolphins fans. A 10-win season a year ago, with a near-miss of the playoffs and the major draft haul of Jaylen Waddle, Jaelan Phillips, Jevon Holland, and Liam Eichenberg, most fans expected a team destined for the playoffs.
But with the return of starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the easiest remaining strength of schedule in the National Football League, now is the time to invest in filling significant holes on the roster that have made the beginning of the season hard to compete.
Miami has fewer holes and depth problems on their current 2021 roster than years past, but the remaining holes are at crucial positions on both sides of the ball. Miami is within the bottom 3 in the league at almost every offensive and defensive category. They have talent, but the lack of players at the following vital positions have made it impossible to compete in today’s NFL.
Between the tackles running back. Miami has become very easy to get off the field during drives. Their lack of push on the right side of the offensive line is partly to blame, but their lack of downhill between the tackles runner has made it impossible to convert during 3rd downs, as it is typically third and long.
Coverage linebacker. Miami has paid Jerome Baker to be their space linebacker, but he has allowed most targets to be caught while in coverage. His small size has also been a liability in the run game, as he is almost always out of position. Most replays show Baker getting sucked up into the wrong gaps during run plays, typically blocked by his player to have the ability to change gaps to make a run stop. So this newly signed linebacker is mostly a liability while on the field, allowing opposing quarterbacks to carve up the middle of the field and granting large runs in the middle of the field.
Right tackle. Miami lacks a blindside protector on Tua’s right side. Jesse Davis is a liability in pass blocking. He is more of a 6th lineman than a regular starter along the line at a single position. He is serviceable enough at every position along the line but will never be a pro-bowl level player at any of them.
Also, shipping out known names from our deepest positions will make room for improving young talent not being used. Some improvements along the team are allowing those who are performing the playing time needed to succeed, like finally placing Liam Eichenberg at his natural left tackle position and allowing Myles Gaskin to be featured out of the backfield.
I feel like a broken record; every week, I get the pleasure of going over why drive stalls out to evaluate how the 2021 Miami Dolphins can improve before the November 2nd NFL trade deadline. There are only ever three things. Mental mistakes, which coaching is already in place to correct this over the season, or poor pass blocking and lack of first-down yards gained on the ground.
The 2021 Miami Dolphins have not found success on the ground. The left side of the line should be much improved for run blocking after the move of Austin Jackson to left guard and Liam Eichenberg to left tackle.
The improved run blocking should help spring Myles Gaskin for more yards starting this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Miami could have run more against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Still, the Miami Dolphins offensive coaching staff intelligently didn’t try the best run defense to ever play in the National Football League.
But Myles Gaskin is not a pound-the-rock kind of runner. He is quick in space, and his above-average receiving skills would be an elite 3rd down back. But Miami struggles to get many yards on first and second downs. He is setting up consistent third and longs, making it hard for a poor pass blocking team to win on third downs.
Looking at teams with veteran players below .500 and may want to trade aging stars for draft capital, help could be on the way before the November 2nds trade deadline. San Francesco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, and this week’s opposite Jacksonville Jaguars make the most sense.
Every team listed either has a young signal-caller behind center or an aging star that may look to be traded/leave the team in 2022.