Free Agency, Trades Improved Dolphins this Offseason
The Miami Dolphins offseason focused on one thing: upgrading the offense. The team acquired three running backs, two wide receivers, and two offensive linemen through either trades or free agency. Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel, and Raheem Mostert all represent upgrades over the running backs Miami had last year. Michel comes off his best year with the LA Rams, and should receive the bulk of the carries at the start of the season. Mostert suffered a significant knee injury last year, but he believes he will be ready week one. Edmonds gives the Dolphins a solid receiving threat out of the backfield. He and Mostert also add an upgrade in speed at running back as well.
The Dolphins offseason plan also needed to include improvements at wide receiver. Trading for Tyreke Hill and picking up Cedrick Wilson in free agency gives the Dolphins a significant boost in speed at wide receiver. Along with Jaylen Waddle Hill and Wilson, who came from the Dallas Cowboys, can give Miami a receiver trio they have not had in many years. Yes, the Dolphins gave up five draft picks for Hill, but the team needs to know if Tua Tagovailoa is their quarterback past this season or not. Adding the weapons they did is one step towards finding out what they have in him.
Armstrong, Williams Were Needed Upgrades to Oline
The offensive line acquisitions represent another way to help Tua. Tackle Terron Armstrong and Connor Williams are significant upgrades from what the Dolphins had last year. Armstrong was an excellent, Pro Bowl level tackle for the New Orleans Saints. Williams ranked 17th out of 59 starting guards, according to Pro Football Focus, last year. There are concerns over both players health but both were needed to give Tua more time to look downfield for the trio of receivers he now has. Both fit Head Coach Mike Mcdaniel’s zone blocking scheme as well.
Few Losses, but did Miami do Enough to Fill Holes?
Wide receivers Devante Parker and Mack Hollins represent two big losses for the Dolphins. Parker played well, when healthy, and Hollins, as a third or fourth option made some plays for the team. Losing Parker to the New England Patriots and Hollins to the Las Vegas Raiders was not Miami’s biggest offseason issue.
The bigger problems for the team are that questions still remain at edge rusher, linebacker, and along the offensive line. Melvin Ingram, formerly with the Chiefs, helps the pass rush as a situational rusher. Channing Tindall, as a third round draft pick, helps as well at linebacker with his speed and coverage skills. Are they enough as the only two significant additions made to the defense?
So much of the offensive line that struggled last year remains on the roster. How much of that was coaching? Hiring Offensive Line Coach Matt Applebaum may prove McDaniel’s most important hire. McDaniel’s run to set up the pass offense needs a strong offensive line. If Applebaum can get more out of Austin Jackson, Liam Echenburg, and Robert Hunt his hire will have been worth it.
Predicting Dolphins Record not Easy, even with Improved Roster
The improvements to Miami’s roster are clear, particularly on offense. The offensive line may still have a chance to get better depthwise, given a number of linemen are cut in training camp every year. Finding edge rushers and linebackers may be more difficult. Jerome Baker’s growth at linebacker, along with Tindall contributing right away is key. A second year jump by Jaelan Phillips at defensive end is needed as well.
Even with an AFC as deep as it may have ever have been, there are still 10 winnable games on the schedule. The Dolphins schedule ranks 12th in the AFC and 21st overall in the league. The Patriots and Bills games matter more, for obvious reasons, but week 2 at the Baltimore Ravens may prove as important. Miami and Baltimore have often competed for a playoff spot, and this season feels no different. Winning at the Ravens could be important later in the season as a tiebreaker between the two teams. The pick here is Miami will be right in the race for the postseason until the end and finish at 10-7. Whether or not that will be enough remains to be seen with so many AFC teams having the rosters to finish at or near 10 wins. Stay tuned.
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