The Miami Dolphins can be described with just one word. Mediocrity. Since 2000, Miami has only five seasons with double-digit wins. During that stretch, the team has gone through nine different head coaches as well as 19 different starting quarterbacks. 2018 was another mediocre season, finishing 7-9 and ultimately firing Adam Gase. As they head into their 50th season in […]
The Miami Dolphins can be described with just one word. Mediocrity. Since 2000, Miami has only five seasons with double-digit wins. During that stretch, the team has gone through nine different head coaches as well as 19 different starting quarterbacks. 2018 was another mediocre season, finishing 7-9 and ultimately firing Adam Gase.
As they head into their 50th season in the NFL, there is another new era in South Beach. The Dolphins hired former New England Patriots Linebacker Coach Brian Flores, bringing his championship experience down south. The team also traded away Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans, who was the starting quarterback since 2012. They also let longtime pass rusher Cameron Wake walk in free agency to sign with the Titans as well.
Miami right now has a lot of questions but also have a few potential bright spots. Here is what the roster looks like now, along with my projected 53-man roster.
- Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Backup: Josh Rosen
- Preseason Cuts: Jake Rudock
Fitzpatrick was signed this offseason and looks to be the likely Week 1 starter for now. Given the journeyman inconsistency, I expect Rosen to get a lot of playing time. Rosen was a former first-round pick for the Arizona Cardinals who was traded away after one season with the team.
He has the talent and it’ll be interesting to see how Rosen does in a new system. If all else fails, they’ll likely use their early first-round pick in 2020 for a potential franchise quarterback.
- Starter: Kenyan Drake
- Backups: Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, Chandler Cox
- Preseason Cuts: Mark Walton, Kenneth Farrow, Patrick Laird
Drake has been a consistent starter for the team and will likely start in Week 1. Ballage, later in the 2018 season, started to show that he is a quality back in the league and also impressed the coaching staff this preseason. Don’t be surprised if the second-year back takes away carries from Drake and eventually becomes the full-time featured back.
Gaskins was drafted in the seventh-round in this past year’s draft and was very productive during his time at Washington. He is a smaller back and could fit the role of the team’s third-down pass-catching back. Cox was also drafted in the seventh-round and fits the role as the team’s fullback when needed. Second-year back Walton has been impressive this preseason and could sneak his way onto the roster or the practice squad if anything.
- Starters: Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson
- Backups: Jakeem Grant, Allen Hurns, Preston Williams
- Preseason Cuts: Isaiah Ford, Brice Butler, Reece Horn, Trenton Irwin, T.J. Rahming
- Out for the Year: Saeed Blacknall, Ricardo Lewis
Miami’s wide receiving core has a lot of questions. Stills is a vertical threat that’ll get plenty of targets but at times has struggled to stay consistent. Parker is a former 14th overall selection in 2015 and has always been looked at as someone who is on the verge of having a breakout season. He has had over 800 yards in the last two seasons but has never broken the 1,000-yard mark, something you wish you’d get out of your first-round pick. Wilson was actually productive last season but a hip injury during the season ended his momentum.
Grant was also solid last season and was a huge factor in the kick/punt return game. Hurns has yet to improve upon his 1,086 and 10 touchdown season in 2015 and looks to make an impact on his third team in three years. I have the undrafted rookie in Williams making the roster as the last receiver. He had 96 receptions for 1,345 yards and 14 touchdowns for Colorado State last season and has the chance to make a huge impact on the roster and could possibly see more playing time early.
- Starter: Mike Gesicki
- Backups: Dwayne Allen, Clive Walford
- Preseason Cuts: Durham Smythe, Nick O’Leary, Chris Myrick
Gesicki is a big, athletic tight end that only had 202 yards during his rookie season. I think he can be a guy that’ll make a huge jump in year two. Allen is a veteran that is also a solid blocker while Walford is another athletic pass-cathing tight end. I would not be surprised if the fullback Cox gets some snaps in at the tight end spot as well.
- Starters: Laremy Tunsil, Michael Deiter, Daniel Kilgore, Kyle Fuller, Jordan Mills
- Backups: Chris Reed, Will Holden, Isaiah Prince, Shaq Calhoun
- Preseason Cuts: Jesse Davis, Jared Jones-Smith, Tony Adams, Michael Dunn, Aaron Monterio, Zach Sterup
Tunsil has developed nicely since entering the league in 2016 and looks to be one of the best young left tackles in the league right now. Deiter, a third-round pick, has good potential at left guard as a rookie while Kilgore is a solid veteran at the center spot.
While that side of the line seems to be locked in the right guard and tackle spots seem to up for grabs. Mills, Holden, and Prince will battle for the right tackle spot. Fuller, Reed, and Calhoun will battle for the other guard spot. I have Fuller and Mills are the starters for now but that can change as we get closer to Week 1.
- Starters: Charles Harris, Christian Wilkins, Davon Godchaux, Tank Carradine
- Backups: Jonathan Ledbetter, Akeem Spence, Vincent Taylor, Adolphus Washington, Robert Nkemdiche
- Preseason Cuts: Nate Orchard, Joey Mbu, Dewayne Hendrix, Jamiyus Pittman, Cory Thomas
- Out for the Year: Jonathan Woodard
Harris is a former 2017 first-round pick that’ll look to finally make a nice jump in year three. The other defensive end spot seems to be an open competition but I have Carradine getting the nod here. Godchaux and 2019 first-round pick Wilkins will start at the defensive tackle spots, forming a nice young starting duo.
Spence, Taylor, and Washington will provide veteran presence as well as solid depth. Nkemdiche is a former 2016 first round that has yet to live up the hype as he struggled on the field as well as injuries keeping him off the field. There is no doubt he has the talent and he recent release for the Arizona Cardinals gives him a fresh start down in Miami.
- Starters: Kiko Alonso, Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker
- Backups: Andrew van Ginkel, Tre’ Watson, Terrill Hanks
- Preseason Cuts: Nick DeLuca, Chase Allen, Samuel Eguavoen, Tyrone Holmes, Quentin Poling, Terrance Smith
- Out for the Year: Mike Hull
McMillan and Baker are both young athletic linebackers as well as former teammates at Ohio State. They look to be rising star linebackers in the NFL you should keep your eye on. Alonso is a solid veteran linebacker that is a tackling machine.
Watson, van Ginkel, and Hanks have to the chance to get on the field but will likely stay in the Special Teams department when the starters are healthy.
- Starters: Xavien Howard, Eric Rowe
- Backups: Codrea Tankerslay, Cornell Armstrong, Walt Aikins, Tyler Patmon
- Preseason Cuts: Jalen Davis, Chris Lammons, Torry McTyer, Nik Needham, Davis Rivers, Maurice Smith, Jomal Wiltz
Howard really turned things around in 2018, co-leading the NFL in interceptions while also earning his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl appearance. He signed a five-year, $76.5 million contract this past offseason, so he is here to stay. Rowe has championship experience that’ll likely start opposite of Howard.
Tankersley is a young, physical corner that can be plugged into the nickel spot now and eventually start opposite of Howard. Aikins is a veteran that’ll provide depth as well as Armstrong and Patmon, with the latter two being a factor on Special Teams.
- Starters: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Reshad Jones
- Backups: Bobby McCain, T.J. McDonald, Montre Hartage
- Preseason Cuts: None
I am looking forward to seeing what Fitzpatrick can do under Coach Flores due to being more a defensive-minded coach. He is a talented safety that can play all over the field if necessary. If he can do that, he will be a huge star on that defense. Jones is a former two-time Pro Bowler that has been with the team since 2010. He is a hard-hitting safety that brings a veteran presence to the team.
McDonald is also a veteran that’ll get a lot of playing time as well. McCain can play both safety and cornerback, so his versatility will make him another huge factor in 2019. Hartage is an undrafted rookie that has been impressive in the preseason so far and will likely be a factor on Special Teams.
- Kicker: Jason Sanders
- Punter: Matt Haack
- Long Snapper: John Denney
- Preseason Cuts: Wesley Farnsworth
Haack and Sanders are both early in their NFL careers and look to be the kicking/punting duo of the future. Denney has been with the team since 2005, making him the longest-tenured player in franchise history.
The Miami Dolphins are looking to embrace the rebuild. Head Coach Flores has a lot of championship experience and learning from Bill Belichick only helps. The defense has a lot of bright spots; including Fitzpatrick, Howard, Wilkins, and McMillan to just name a few. They may struggle at times but they are are young and will only improve.
The offense is more a question, particularly at the quarterback spot. I think Rosen is the more talented QB out of the group and Miami should play him right away to see if they need to find another QB in the 2020 NFL Draft. As far as the skill positions, Drake and Ballage form a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield while Gesicki I believe will take a huge leap forward in year two. The wide receiving core has a lot of questions with guys like Stills and Parker showing signs inconsistency. Still, with the solid offensive line they have, it’ll give Rosen/Fitzpatrick time to throw.
The Miami Dolphins are not making a playoff run this season. Expect a full rebuild with this team. With a new era in Flores and staff, let’s hope the rebuild goes by sooner rather than later.