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The bad news for Miami Dolphins fans is that despite a solid offseason of positive changes by general manager Chris Grier – like a new head coach and starting quarterback – there are still enough holes in the roster right now to cause a lot of doubts for this team in 2019.
When Miami signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, many experts suspected the team might be planning to phone it in next season, but when they traded current and future draft picks to get former first rounder Josh Rosen under center, suddenly it looked like the Dolphins might want to win.
There’s a whole new group of coaches and players in Miami and it will be a miracle if they can pull it all together under new head coach Brian Flores’ rookie leadership, and we take a look at the offseason moves the team has made to improve, along with the odds and predictions of their 2019 season.
It was franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s first season back from the torn ACL that kept him from playing during all of 2017, and it did not go as planned, posting a 7-9 record and missing the playoffs for the second season in a row.
Tannehill only started in eleven games due to a nagging shoulder injury and subpar play, and for the first time in his NFL career he threw for under 2,000 total yards, with 17 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
The Dolphins offense was ranked 31st in the league, their defense ranked 29th, so by the end of the 2018 season general manager Chris Grier cleaned house and fired head coach Adam Gase and made plans to trade Tannehill.
Gase had been the head coach of the Dolphins for three seasons, and under his watch Miami went to the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons in 2016, but the injury to Tannehill seemed to take the wind out of the team’s sails and after two losing seasons Gase was let go.
The Dolphins’ head coaching job now goes to defensive guru Brian Flores, who was the defacto defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, whose defense stepped up at the end of the season and helped bring a sixth ring to Tom Brady and company.
It will be Flores’ job to begin the team rebuild, and to decide which of the new quarterbacks picked up in free agency will be under center.
When the Dolphins signed veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, the football world began to suspect that the plan for 2018 might be to tank on purpose in order to maneuver Miami into the first drafting spot next year.
But then when Grier traded the team’s second-round pick in the draft along with their fifth-round pick in next year’s draft for Josh Rosen, a top-ten pick last season, the speculation shifted to maybe the team is going to give it a go in 2019 after all.
Whether it’s going to be Fitzpatrick or Rosen starting under center this season is a decision that will most likely be made in training camp, when the two struggling leaders will compete with each other to see who gets to keep their quarterbacking career alive.
Whenever there’s a changing of the head coaching guard, the offensive and defensive coordinators of the old regime are normally let go, and that was the case with Dowell Loggains and Matt Burke.
Replacing Loggains as the offensive coordinator is Chad O’Shea, who’d been working with Flores in New England as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach.
Instead of Burke as the defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham has taken the job after spending last season as the Green Bay Packers linebackers coach and run game coordinator.
Tough to say, since for awhile it looked like the best case scenario of this Dolphins’ team was to go for the league’s worst record and snag the first overall pick next year, which will most likely be quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa, the big-armed scrambler from Alabama, just helped his team beat Georgia in the national championship and draws comparisons to the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson.
The Dolphins used this year’s draft to begin rebuilding their pitiful offensive line instead of selecting a quarterback, and some say that was because Grier was unhappy with the selection of quarterbacks in this particular class.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who took a one-year deal worth $2 million with the Tennessee Titans, with $1.5 million of that money guaranteed.
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who agreed to a four-year contract worth $51 million with the Denver Broncos, with $32 million of that guaranteed.
Defensive end Cameron Wake, who went to the Tennessee Titans with a three-year deal worth $23 million, with $10.75 million of that guaranteed.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who Miami signed for a two-year deal worth $11 million, with $7 million of that guaranteed.
Quarterback Josh Rosen, who had signed a 4-year rookie deal worth $17.6 million last year, with all of that money still guaranteed.
Cornerback Eric Rowe, who agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, with $500,000 of that guaranteed.
Tight end Dwayne Allen, who signed a two-year contract worth $6.5 million, with $1.25 million of that guaranteed.
Offense: Offensive tackle, guard, running back, quarterback
Defense: Defensive end, cornerback
The Dolphins ended up with 6 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and they were:
Over the last decade, the Miami Dolphins have been to the playoffs once, and that was in 2016 when Tannehill was healthy, though the team lost in the Wild Card round to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 12-30.
The last time before that was in 2008, when the Dolphins lost in the Wild Card round to the Baltimore Ravens, 9-27, and before that they hadn’t seen the postseason since 2001, which was the last of five postseasons in a row, with nine of the prior twelve seasons containing January Dolphins games.
Miami has been to the Super Bowl five times altogether (1971, ‘72, ’73, 1982 and ’84), with victories in Super Bowl VII over the Washington Redskins, 14-7, and in Super Bowl VIII when they beat the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7, and fullback Larry Csonka was the game’s MVP.
Looks like the odds makers are thinking it’s going to be three seasons in a row that the Dolphins won’t be seeing the post season, and the odds have it that they’ll land in fourth place of the AFC East for the first time since 2015.
Every other NFL team has better odds than the 2019 Miami Dolphins of winning the Super Bowl next season, and every other AFC team has the same or better odds of even getting to there.
If you believe in Fitzmagic or that Josh Rosen is now with the right team as opposed to the wrong team (i.e. the Arizona Cardinals), then put down some bucks, cross your fingers and wait to see whether everyone else in the entire football world has this one wrong.
Does Ryan Fitzpatrick have what it takes to lead a team the entire season, or will the same eventual fizzling out that happened in Tampa Bay happen again on the end side of Florida?
Will Josh Rosen suddenly shine more than he did during last season’s 3-13 disappointment in Arizona, or will he be even worse off now given the lesser talent on his new team?
Can a new head coach and his coordinators create a winning strategy their first season together, or will there be the inevitable growing pains that come with a turnaround?
Tough to bet on a team that you suspect might be purposely tanking it, but you never know, maybe the new guys have something special in store for the AFC East.
Miami Dolphins Postseason
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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