Will the Dolphins Tank return immediate rewards in 2020?
In this series we will be looking at teams who had meaningful off seasons and have improved the their roster enough to have a chance of performing significantly better in the 2020 season than they did in 2019. We will take a look at who they have cut, traded or let leave as well as who they added in free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft. The third part of the series looks at the Miami Dolphins, who are looking to bounce back in 2020 after their tank in 2019?
In these uncertain times, franchises have been unable to fully utilise their resources as they normally would, both in free agency and pre-draft. After 3 immense days in the commissioner’s man cave, the general managers and head coaches have pretty much completed their rosters for the immediate future. This closed season period has offered up some major shocks and surprises. Some top NFL stars are yet to find a new home, Franchise tags have been put in place on players that teams can’t live without and we have seen some blockbuster trades along the way.
A team trying to tank
The Miami Dolphins started 2019 as poorly as you possibly could, going 0-7 with all the talk being around how they were tanking the season in their search for a quarterback. However, veteran signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick managed to find some Fitzmagic, winning 3 games in December after going into the last month 2-9. Things are looking up for the franchise in 2020, with Brian Flores having demonstrated though the second-half of the season how he had managed to build a culture of belief in his locker room..
Heading into free agency the Dolphins had ample cap space and were not afraid to use it. The marquee signing of Byron Jones to pair with Xavien Howard forms a strong corner tandem. Linebacker Kyle van Noy and defensive end Shaq Lawson will also add strength on defense, ensuring that the pass rush will live up to the talent in the secondary.
Offensively, Ereck Flowers (OG) and Ted Karras (C) are considered starters on the offensive line, both of whom should be an upgrade on last year. Former Pro Bowl RB Jordan Howard is a formidable addition with back-to-back 1000 yard seasons in Chicago and over 500 yards in only 10 games (4 starts) for the Eagles last year.
In too deep?
After a positive free agency period, Flores and Chris Grier went to the draft with one guy in mind and then a plan of how to work round him. With the fifth overall pick, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, they selected Tua Tagovailoa, the Hawaiian QB coming out of Alabama. There is concerns around Tagovailoa’s injury history, including missing the end of last season, but the talent is undeniable. It is still unclear at this time who will start 2020 for the Dolphins but one things for sure, Miami have their franchise QB for the future.
Fill the trenches
As mentioned above, with the fifth pick Miami took Tagovailoa and then proceeded to build a wall in front of him. Austin Jackson out of USC is a supremely strong and athletic tackle who has the ability to start on Day 1. Robert Hunt is another giant offensive lineman as is Solomon Kindley, and both have the talent to start at some point in Year 1.
They also added depth at corner, safety, defensive tackle, two edge rushers, as well as a round 7 swiss army knife in Malcolm Perry and long snapper Blake Ferguson. The coaches, staff and fans in Florida should be ecstatic after 3 days of good drafting and the monumental free agency period beforehand.
It won’t be the glory days quite yet in the AFC East for Miami as it’s still a tough division. The New England Patriots have kept a vice like hold over the Dolphins, Jets and Bills for some years and Belichick won’t want that to change. The Bills also had a good off season and are regarded as the #1 team in the division by many. Truth is this franchise is a work in progress and while they should more competitive in 2020, they still have some steps to take. An 8-8 season seems the I the right range with the way Fitzmagic ended last year and the addition of talent and depth. The other additions, as well as the potential of their new franchise QB stepping in during the season could well see the Miami Dolphins claim a wildcard spot come the end of the regular season.
A FATHER OF FOUR, SPORT FANATIC LEWIS HAS BEEN FOLLOWING THE NFL FOR THREE YEARS AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL FOR THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS. HE HAS REPRESENTED ENGLAND AT DARTS AND IS A FORMER PDC U21 WORLD CUP SEMI-FINALIST. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @LVENES1.
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