The Miami Dolphins are coming off a successful season under new head coach Adam Gase. The Dolphins made the playoffs for the first time since 2008, though they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round. The interesting thing to note about the Dolphins’ season is the reinvigorated sense of passion and drive amongst the players. The players have taken a strong liking to Coach Gase and will look to repeat the same success of last season.
This offseason is as pivotal as ever if the Dolphins want to make the playoffs again. The biggest needs for the team fall on the defensive end. This year’s Dolphins defense set a franchise record for most yards allowed overall, a huge red flag for any team. Former Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph opted for a job as the new head coach of the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins decided to promote from within and appoint former linebacker coach Matt Burke to the position. Burke’s first task is to redesign the defense to allow less yards per game. The Dolphins already have some key defensive players in N’damukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Mario Williams, but they’ll need to add some talent in the offseason if they’re serious about upgrading the defense. There’s potential for trades and signings in the offseason, but most analysts expect the Dolphins to make their defensive moves with their draft picks.
There are a few defensive studs up for grabs in the NFL Draft this year. Linebacker Jarrad Davis out of the University of Florida is a possible option, while another is Wisconsin linebacker T. J. Watt, the younger brother of Houston Texan J. J. Watt. If the younger brother is anything like the older, then he will have a successful career as a linebacker in the NFL. Another interesting homegrown player would be DeMarcus Walker out of Florida State University. Walker was a key part of FSU’s defense this year and had a phenomenal Orange Bowl performance against Michigan. Whatever Coach Gase and the front office decide to do, it’s vital they make some moves on draft day.
As far as offense goes, the top priority is retaining WR Jarvis Landry. Landry has put up great numbers and is in his last year of his rookie contract. It’s expected that the Dolphins will offer him a lucrative contract so he’ll stay in Miami—and he’s worth every penny. Landry looks to be on the rise and the 2017-2018 season should see his numbers only get better. The Dolphins have other WR options in DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, but they may be looking to add another quality WR in the offseason. Jay Ajayi had a good season as the primary RB. Ajayi rushed for a total of 1,272 yards and 8 TDs. He also had 27 receptions for 151 yards.
QB Ryan Tannehill was lost at the end of the season to a torn ACL, but he’s expected to be back at the start of next season. Tannehill is still a question mark for some, but he’s put up decent numbers over the years. 2016 was actually one of his quieter seasons, throwing for just under 3,000 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He still had an overall rating of 93.5 and this is due to the fact that his completion to attempt ratio was the best it’s been so far. Tannehill had 261 completions through 389 attempts.
Coach Gase has the players and fans rallied behind him. With the right additions, the same drive and a new defensive strategy, the Dolphins can surely make another postseason push and become true AFC contenders. This is good news for those who enjoy sports gambling in Florida as the Dolphins could be a very good team next year.