It seems like wiping the slate clean and starting over was the right call for the Miami Dolphins. Last year’s team put together a respectable 7-9 record, but that mark came with a -114 point differential and an Expected Record that looked more like 5-11. Adam Gase left and wound up with the New York Jets, so new head coach Brian Flores and his personnel will still see Gase twice a year for the foreseeable future.
Flores knows this division rather well as the former linebackers coach for the New England Patriots. After going with the offensive “guru” in Gase, the Dolphins will shift gears and go with the defensive-minded guy. The 38-year-old Flores inherits a team that has a lot of individual pieces and parts, but not a whole lot of consistency or chemistry.
That will be one of many challenges. Another will be assimilating Josh Rosen into the offense. The most noteworthy move of the offseason for the Dolphins was a two-parter, as they traded Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee and then acquired Rosen for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick.
Expectations are low, but intrigue is high in South Florida this year.
Super Bowl Odds: +12500
Odds to Win the AFC: +6600
Odds to Win the AFC East: +2500
Season Win Total: 5
(lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
|8||@ Pittsburgh (Mon)||+10||.16|
|14||@ NY Jets||+6||.29|
|15||@ NY Giants||+3||.41|
|17||@ New England||+14.5 (est)||.05|
Total Expected Wins: 5.03
Lots of changes. Josh Rosen is now the guy behind center. Brian Flores is the new head coach, which obviously means a new coaching staff. The Dolphins also brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick, so maybe they won’t rush it with Rosen right away, but at least they have two competent QB options.
Dwayne Allen, Eric Rowe, and Chris Reed were the only other notable FA signings for the Dolphins. They were pretty quiet and in fact lost guys like Ja’Wuan James and Cameron Wake.
The Rosen deal is the big standout, as the Dolphins hope that they have found their franchise quarterback for pennies on the dollar after the Arizona Cardinals shifted gears and opted to spend a second straight first-round pick on a signal caller.
The Dolphins raised a lot of eyebrows with the pick of defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, a player that most pundits figured was going later in the first round. With no second-round pick from the Rosen deal, the Dolphins took some offensive line help in the third round and sixth round in Michael Deiter from Wisconsin and Isaiah Prince from Ohio State. The wild card pick was seventh-rounder Myles Gaskin, who put up great numbers at Washington.
The offense will look a lot different. Adam Gase eventually found a backfield with a timeshare between Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake. Gore signed with Buffalo and now Drake will battle it out with Kalen Ballage and Gaskin for carries.
But, this unit starts and ends with the QB position. Tannehill outshined Brock Osweiler last season, but neither guy was a standout. Tannehill had a 17/9 TD/INT ratio with a solid completion rate, but also took 35 sacks in 11 games. Whether the Dolphins let Rosen sit behind Fitzpatrick or roll with the UCLA product right away, better QB play is a must. It’s also not really a guarantee if Rosen is tabbed as the guy. He’s got weapons in Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, and Jakeem Grant, but leading receiver Danny Amendola went to Detroit.
The Dolphins were 31st in third-down conversion rate last season, 31st in total yards, and 25th in yards per play. You’d like to think that there’s only one way to go and that’s up with new offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea, who was formerly the Patriots quarterbacks coach.
You would think a defensive-minded guy like Flores can shore up this unit. Cameron Wake is a huge loss for this defense as its top pass rusher, though Robert Quinn held his own with 6.5 sacks. This is a really young back seven, as guys like Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker, and Davon Godchaux have been able to make mistakes while learning on the job. At least Flores, whose expertise is with linebackers, has a lot to work with here.
Depth is a huge problem. The Dolphins largely stayed healthy last season on this side of the ball and still struggled. Xavien Howard is a legitimate corner and Minkah Fitzpatrick has a ton of upside, but the second and third teamers are lacking.
Wake is gone and the Dolphins were 29th in sacks even with him. There will be a ton of pressure on these corners to perform.
Notes & Nuggets
The schedule isn’t overly daunting for the Dolphins, but they appear to be favored a maximum of four times this season. They won’t travel any farther west than Dallas, so that’s a nice boost as the season goes along, especially with a relatively early bye week.
This will be a group that has to learn and grow together. Even Flores is young at 38. There are a lot of new, fresh faces and some fresh-faced holdovers under the age of 25. Effort shouldn’t be a problem week in and week out. If Rosen shows promise, this team could be fun as a big underdog.
The Dolphins are really in for a long year, but that is by design. This is a growth year. Because of the turnover at the most important position on the field, we could even call it a rebuilding year. One saving grace for the Dolphins is that they definitely have the chance to be competitive in four of six division games, as neither the Jets nor Bills have fully separated themselves from the pack.
A 5-11 record seems just about right. The Dolphins are only favored in three games on look-ahead lines and a coin flip in a fourth, so I’d err on the side of caution and go under the total with them, but this isn’t a strong pick.