There are some Miami Dolphin fans who were disappointed with their performance last season. But the fact is, they should have been very pleased with their club, considering they played with a shortage of quality personnel and did so within the context of building something for the NFL future bets.
And those CentSports customers who were looking closely would have noticed that this team was stockpiling an unusual array of draft picks, and creating huge amounts of salary cap space.
Well, a team that lost its first seven games rebounded by winning five of its last nine, and that included wins over the previous two Super Bowl champions (Philadelphia and New England). And they could have easily won a couple of other games, as they went for a two-point conversion instead of kicking an extra point to force overtime against Washington, and arguably got jobbed by the officials in a game-defining moment against the Jets.
These guys played hard for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who demonstrated the kind of leadership quality that Josh Rosen didn’t seem to possess. A number of fans were clamoring for Rosen to get more playing time, but what they didn’t understand was that the staff had been watching him every day in practice and in meetings, and it’s safe to say they didn’t see him as a “quarterback of the future.”
Both Fitzpatrick and Rosen will be back this season, but they won’t likely be the focus. From the start of the 2019 campaign, and perhaps even before that, the consensus was that Dolphins management was tanking to be in the position to select Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa with the #1 overall draft pick. Evidently he was a player they really liked, and because of his hip injury – in fact, an injury problem in general – he dropped to the #5 spot, where he was still available for Miami.
Tua is just six feet tall, and remember that with the Crimson Tide he had a lot of superior talent around him, often going against inferior foes. At the same time, he’s the same guy who came off the bench and delivered in a national championship game as a freshman. So this southpaw may indeed have something special. Clearly he’s the guy the Dolphins want to win the starting job, although that may not happen right away.
Miami would like to get themselves on an upward path, and as mentioned, much credit has to go to head coach Brian Flores and staff. But he has changed both coordinators. Josh Boyer takes over the defense, and the new offensive coordinator is Chan Gailey, an old hand.
CentSports has Miami at the bottom of the pile as far as their odds to win the AFC East:
NFL Future Bets
New England Patriots +130
Buffalo Bills +135
New York Jets +825
Miami Dolphins +900
To go down the laundry list of all the things this team didn’t do well last year would take too long. But GM Chris Grier did just fine. It can be argued that every area of real need was addressed with player acquisitions.
The Dolphins felt as if they had some depth at the wide receiver spot; even though there aren’t any superstars, they have a lot of people who can catch the ball. They just had injuries, but maybe the likes of Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant, Isaiah Ford and Albert Wilson will all be on hand for the whole season to join DeVante Parker, who had 1202 receiving yards.
No team was as bad on the ground as the Dolphins; Fitzpatrick, a 37-year-old quarterback, led the squad in rushing. Jordan Howard, a two-time Pro Bowler, comes aboard, as does Matt Breida, who has blazing speed but somehow wound up the odd man out in San Francisco.
The offensive line has been almost completely rebuilt, with the possibility of new people at four spots. Austin Jackson, the first-rounder (USC), has a chance to be the left tackle, and second-round draftee Robert Hunt, who helped to power an explosive rushing attack at Louisiana-Lafayette, could start at guard, along with Erick Flowers, who washed out at tackle before a rebirth at guard. Center Ted Karras is a free agent who came over from New England.
All areas of the defensive unit have received an upgrade. There was no pass rush, so the Dolphins went out and got Shaq Lawson and Emannuel Ogbah, which doesn’t necessarily guarantee great results, but improves things. Kyle Van Noy, a free agent linebacker from the Patriots, has a chance to become the outright leader. The secondary may rely a great deal on youth, as corner Noah Igbinoghene (first round) and safety Brandon Jones (third round) have a chance for a lot of playing time. Xavien Howard missed eleven games last season, but if he comes back healthy, he and Byron Jones, a free agent from Dallas who holds the world record in the standing broad jump, have a shot to become one of the elite corner tandems in the NFL Future bets.
We know that the Dolphins are not going to win the division; so the +900 is out of play unless Tua turns out to be a true rookie sensation.
But CentSports obviously posts season win totals as well. So what kind of threshold does Miami have to pass through? Well, this is what we are looking at when we pull up the 6.5-win mark:
Under 6.5 wins -134
Over 6.5 wins +114
When the team had Fitzpatrick playing quarterback, they responded. Tua is said to have that same kind of fiery attitude, and that would be good news. We mentioned earlier in this piece that this could have been a six-win and maybe even a seven-win team last year, with a talent level that was rated below all others by metrics sites like Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders.
The non-division schedule is stronger this year; the Dolphins have to play Philadelphia again, along with Seattle, Kansas City and the L.A. Rams at home, with New Orleans and San Francisco on the road. Over 6.5 wins might be a stretch, but is there value with -180 for the “under” at 5.5?
You would have to agree that the talent has been upgraded significantly, so it’s not such a huge leap to imagine them beating out the Jets, and the price of +223 to finish in third place in the division isn’t bad.