The Miami Dolphins did not play well last season, and they did not have to tank for their first-round draft choice Tua Tagovailoa.
Call it a lose-win situation.
Growing hope was kept alive leading into this season from last season. The five victories for Miami, last season, came in the final nine weeks of the season and included an inspiring 27-24 come-from-behind shocker at Gillette Stadium in the finale that dismantled the New England Patriots of the second seed in the AFC playoffs.
The Dolphins had a very industrious offseason with a massive roster overhaul that brought in improvements at nearly every position; the Miami Dolphins will head into the 2020 season with a realistic chance to play well, make the playoffs? I will answer in a moment.
TB12 is in Florida also but a different conference. Is the AFC East wide open? No.
Brian Flores begins his second season. Five wins in his first is an accomplishment, especially a win in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Flores will have to build on that immediately with the season opener on the road against the Patriots, who acquired Cam Newton to replace the legend of Tom Brady.
Offensively the Aston Martin parked in the garage, for now, is Tua. I doubt it will be driven until the fourth game of the season. That’s if it gets bad. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the guy. There is some “Fitz magic” left in the tank.
The Miami offensive line is still going to be a drawback. The blocking was seldom there last season, and it’s not going to be an issue unless the adjustments are shown.
First-round draft selection offensive tackle Austin Jackson will earn his stripes early. There is excitement regarding a deep addition of running backs to at least form a well-mannered rotation with Matt Brieda making an impact.
Flores was the defensive coordinator before leaving New England. The defense is the most exciting side of the ball for Miami. The checkbook was out for two of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL after Byron Jones was signed as a free agent in the offseason to join fellow 2018 Pro Bowl selection Xavien Howard. The addition of Noah Igbinoghene with the 30th overall selection in the draft is wholesome insurance.
The Dolphins need consistent and big plays contributions from defensive linemen Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins, their 2019 first-round pick from Clemson. The time is now.
I have faith in the defense, but not clear yet on what threat Miami is offensively. There are skilled players on that side of the ball, but it is however, to be seen if they can get Miami with Fitzpatrick leading the way to the playoffs. Tua may play by the 4th game of the season, but I hope not. Best case scenario, he remains sidelined for the season and learn the playbook.
Here is my prediction.
Josh Boyer will be in his first year as an NFL defensive coordinator after being promoted from defensive pass game coordinator. He will lead a talented core.
The talent meter went up for the Dolphins from last season. They are heading in the right direction. This is not the year they make the playoffs. Give Miami one more year. I predict 7-9 losses. New England and Buffalo ahead of them but leaping over New York for third place.