The Miami Dolphins entered the league new year with a new head coach, new offensive staff, and a plan in place to get better. They didn’t.
After free agency winds down a bit more, we will take a look at each position and see where exactly Miami improved because there is still a lot of room and time to make this team better. That being said, the Dolphins haven’t made much headway in the extremely competitive AFC.
On paper, the AFC looks to be stronger than the NFC as a whole. The Saints took a huge step backwards and while Tom Brady pulled out of retirement to save the Buccaneers, the Rams and Packers are both still strong. But Miami doesn’t play in the NFC. They are in the AFC and the AFC is going to knock each other out.
In the division, the Dolphins are still where they were last year. Behind the Bills looking up. After 20 years of watching the rear end of the Patriots in the standings, Miami is chasing the Bills. They are not close to taking the division yet. The Bills? They got better by making moves to fix their problems, namely stopping the run.
The Patriots are the Patriots and we can’t be sure what they will be like next year. They have taken some hits, specifically to the offensive line but the defense should still be strong even without J.C. Jackson.
Last year, the Dolphins were competing for a playoff spot against the Browns, the Raiders, the Broncos, and even the Chargers. Miami added their own free agents and a few others but the Raiders made big moves, the Broncos made a move for a top QB, the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson while maintaining much of their roster in the process. The Chargers went big on defense.
Those four teams who were on the cusp last year, like the Dolphins, made moves to chase down their division rivals. They made moves to try and advance in the post season. They entered the new year with less money than Miami but made it work. The Dolphins? They are betting an internal bet that they are still one more win away from a Wild Card birth, not one game from winning a division.
Maybe that is why they didn’t overspend. Maybe Chris Grier and the Dolphins know that Miami isn’t a division competitor yet. Maybe they realize that they are more than a few high profile quarterbacks and receivers and defenders away from being that competitive. Maybe.
Maybe the entire plan fell apart. We don’t know who the Dolphins have pursued, or talked to, or anything else. We don’t know if the Dolphins were denied by player X, Y, or Z. Maybe, the Dolphins tried to get Russell Wilson, maybe they made a call about Watson. Reports said Wilson wasn’t interested, maybe Watson wasn’t either.
Do we know that the issues earlier this calendar year with Brian Flores’ accusations didn’t hurt Miami? They may have. We won’t know unless a player opens his mouth and says that was a reason but that is highly unlikely.
The simple truth is we can only judge what we can see and so far, there isn’t much to see. Not yet. The plan is not fully in focus. There is still work to be done and players are available. Miami is the only one who knows what their plans are but so far, the Dolphins haven’t done much to give fans the hope of moving up in the AFC.