Best and Worst-Case Scenario: Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins

In 2016, the Dolphins made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. However, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a torn ACL before the postseason began, and Miami got trounced by Pittsburgh 30-12 in the Wild Card round. Tannehill’s injury held him out of the entire 2017 campaign, so the Dolphins grabbed former Bear Jay Cutler. The 34-year-old had a poor outing and the Dolphins didn’t get close to the playoffs.

After the season, Cutler retired, and the Dolphins replaced their offensive coordinator with Dowell Loggains, who was hired since he and Miami head coach Adam Gase both worked together as offensive coaches in Chicago. The most impactful addition for Miami for this season will be getting Tannehill back, however, their biggest loss this offseason was trading away his best target, Jarvis Landry. The three-time Pro-Bowler was let go for a fourth and seventh round pick. The Dolphins and Landry were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, so he was franchise tagged and traded.

Best Case:

Ryan Tannehill returns as he left off, a slightly above-average starting quarterback who, with the right pieces, can get Miami back to a winning record as he did in 2016.

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Behind Tannehill, halfback Kenyan Drake learns from Miami’s newly acquired backup running back, the 13-year veteran and potential Hall of Famer Frank Gore. Drake proves that trading away former halfback Jay Ajayi was the right choice last season. Drake did average more yards per-carry in 2017 (4.8 to Ajayi’s 4.2), and with Gore’s guidance he improves to be one of the top-10 running backs in the league in his third year.

At receiver, the additions of veterans Albert Wilson from Kansas City and Danny Amendola from New England give Miami new found depth at the receiver position. Fourth-year wide out and former first round pick DeVante Parker steps out of Landry’s shadow and becomes a capable top target for Tannehill.

To protect their quarterback, Miami added center Daniel Kilgore and guard Josh Sitton, who help protect Tannehill from big hits he took in the past. Over his last four years, Tannehill led the league in the dubious category of sacks once and led in sack yards lost twice. This year he gets the protection he needs to make higher quality throws and give his receivers time to get open.

On the other side of the ball, Miami gave up the fourth-most points in the NFL last season. But, 2018 11thoverall pick Minkah Fitzpatrick from Alabama makes a big difference in the secondary. He intercepted three passes and was second on the National Champion Crimson Tide in tackles last year. Adding lineman Robert Quinn proves to be an upgrade over Ndamukong Suh, who left for Los Angeles. For the Los Angeles Rams, Quinn did have four more sacks than Suh in 2017.

Miami takes advantage of their tame non-division schedule, playing just three playoff teams from 2017. They earn a winning record in their division rivals and finish above .500, which puts them in contention for the playoffs after a disappointing 6-10 2017 season.

Worst case:

The offense fails to get over the loss of their most dynamic playmaker, Landry. Danny Amendola’s numbers in 2014 and 2016 dipped considerably, and after a solid 2017, his even year blues return. None of Miami’s young targets emerge as a go-to number one, and Tannehill struggles without having a player who can make big plays like Landry.

New offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains fails to get this offense to play up to their talent level. He has three seasons of prior experience as an OC, and his teams are a terrible 15-33. Last season, his passing offense threw for the fewest yards in the league. His hiring will result in a more run-heavy offense, which in turn makes them one dimensional and opposing teams will load the box and stop Drake in his tracks.

Despite the struggling offense, defensively is where they will struggle the most. They gave up the third-most plays over 20 yards last year. The secondary doesn’t improve even with Fitzpatrick. They implode and give up more big plays down the field.

The division gives them trouble, especially since the Bills and Jets drafted quarterbacks early this year who have potential to be game changers. The schedule becomes more difficult than anticipated as Green Bay, Oakland and Houston all have bounce-back seasons. The Dolphins finish worse than 2017 with a 4-12 record.

Final prediction: 5-11

 

Draft Grades: AFC East

Buffalo Bills: C+

Round 1, Pick 7: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Round 1, Pick 16: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech download

Round 3: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford

Round 4: Taron Johnson, CB, Weber St

Round 5: Siran Neal, CB, Jacksonville State

Round 5: Wyatt Teller, G, Virginia Tech

Round 6: Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Clemson

Round 7: Austin Proehl, WR, North Carolina

Tyrod Taylor took the Bills to the Playoffs for the first time in 17 years, but nah, they threw him out and took a gigantic risk on Allen; the third best QB in the Mountain West. Edmunds was a steal at 16, and Buffalo’s best pick. It will be interesting to see how Ray-Ray McCloud plays out.

New England Patriots: B-

Round 1, Pick 23: Isaiah Wynn, T, Georgia DbwrzbGWsAARPRQ.jpg

Round 1, Pick 31: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

Round 2: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

Round 5: Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue

Round 6: Christian Sam, LB, Arizona St.

Round 6: Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami

Round 7: Danny Etling, QB, LSU

The Patriots own the greatest draft pick of all time, and will still be good in 2018, so none of this really matters. I love Michel at No. 31. He’s an upgrade from Dion Lewis and it might be beneficial for him to run behind his college teammate. Berrios provides a potential Danny Amendola replacement. Trading back a few times prevented New England from taking a more reliable linebacker.

New York Jets: B+

Round 1, Pick 3: Sam Darnold, QB, USC DSqAJwHVQAE3bLb

Round 3: Nathan Shepherd, DE, Fort Hayes State

Round 4: Chris Herndon, WR, Miami

Round 6: Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

Round 6: Foley Fatukasi, DT, UCONN

Round 6: Trenton Cannon, RB/KR, Virginia St.

New York’s B+ grade is propelled by Sam Darnold. It was the right pick to make after he ended up being available. The Jets also made the necessary moves to begin replenishing their defensive line, which took a hit with the departure of Muhammad Wilkerson.

Miami Dolphins: A-

Round 1, Pick 11: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama COxAQDAa_400x400.jpg

Round 2: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn St.

Round 3: Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio St.

Round 4: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame

Round 4: Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona St.

Round 6: Cornell Armstrong, CB, Southern Miss

Round 7: Quentin Poling, LB, Ohio

Round 7: Jason Sanders, K, New Mexico

Yeah, it’s kinda suspect that I gave my favorite team the best grade in their division. Get over it.

The Dolphins had one of the best drafts when it came to addressing their needs. They added two linebackers (by far their weakest position) and two tight ends — one who can catch and one who can block. The combination of Fitzpatrick and Reshad Jones at safety is good one.

 

 

Get Baker Mayfield to Miami

The last time the Miami Dolphins did anything of note in the NFL Draft, I was a freshman in high school. I remember it fondly. My dad and I went out to get wings and watch it. I was having some pretty painful back spasms, so I asked if we could go home. As we were sitting in the parking lot, Roger Goodell announced that the Dolphins had traded up to the third pick.

They took Dion Jordan.

Jordan went on to record 39 tackles and three sacks in his four-year stint with the Dolphins. He didn’t see action in two of those years.

Exciting, am I right?

Fast forward five years, and the Dolphins are in rebuilding mode. They traded away top  Jay Ajayi during the season, Jarvis Landry after the season (both for fourth round picks) and released Ndamukong Suh to free up cap space. The previous model didn’t work. It’s time to try something else.

How about drafting an intriguing and controversial, yet talented and electrifying quarterback named Baker Mayfield?

Mayfield commented #GetMeToMiami on fellow Sooner Kenny Stills’ Instagram live video.

Coach Adam Gase traded and released Suh and traded Landry seeking a culture change. Mayfield could be thrown in with those two when it comes to being a hothead, but there’s something different about him.

He loves the attention and knows he’s good, but unlike others with the same personality, Mayfield comes to play for his team and win for his team. The intensity of which he wants to win is matched by few things, except his work ethic.

He walked on at Texas Tech and started as a true freshman, earning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

He walked again at Oklahoma and took the Sooners to the College Football Playoff in his first season.

His coach was fired and a new one was brought in. Despite this, Oklahoma was back in the CFP.

He’s also the first walk-on to win the Heisman Trophy.

The 2017 Heisman winner has had his fair share of issues when it comes to his temperament, but no more than the average NFL player. We’re just not used to seeing it from a quarterback. He’s drawn comparisons to fellow Heisman winner Johnny Manziel for his eccentricity, but again, Mayfield is different. If you want evidence, go back and read the part about his work ethic.

With the future of Ryan Tannehill uncertain, it makes sense for the Dolphins to draft a quarterback. He’ll have some time to learn the game with Tannehill as the starter in 2018 and can take over the following year.

But what about Tannehill’s contract? He’s signed through 2021. Will Mayfield wait that long?

He might not have to. Because the Dolphins freed up cap space by releasing Suh and a slew of other players, they can afford to take the hit if they choose to release Tannehill next year.

Gase has his eye on Mayfield. They met twice before the Scouting Combine and again for dinner on Tuesday night. Known as a quarterback whisperer, Mayfield could become his next project?

He made Jay Cutler good for a few years. Now imagine what could happen with someone who cares about football a tad bit more than Cutler.

Mayfield makes the team around him better, something a team treading in mediocrity for two decades needs desperately.

Miami holds the 11th pick in next month’s draft.

Let’s see what they do with it.

 

 

 

Danny Amendola expected to sign with Dolphins

Wide receiver Danny Amendola is expected to leave the New England Patriots and sign with the Miami Dolphins, according to reports.

The 31-year-old Amendola caught 61 passes for 659 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. His best game of the year was the Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, when he hauled in eight catches for 152 yards.

His signing comes just days after the Dolphins dealt Jarvis Landry to the Cleveland Browns.

 

 

Dolphins deal Landry to Cleveland

The Miami Dolphins have traded wide receiver Jarvis Landry to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a picks in the 2018 and 2019 NFL Drafts.

The trade was first reported by Ian Rapaport.

The picks will be in between the third and seventh rounds, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Miami designated Landry for the franchise tag last week, and after posting a rather confusing video saying he wouldn’t sign it, he ended up doing so. That allowed the Dolphins to trade him.

Landry departs Miami with the most catches by a receiver (400) in his first four seasons. He finished last year 12 yards shy of 1,000 after he was ejected late in the final game of the season. His exit saves the Dolphins the $16.2M they were set to pay him on the franchise tag, and the Browns are expected to sign him to a new deal.

Good riddance, Juice.