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Miami Dolphins 2020 Outlook

The Miami Dolphins had a busy off-season to say the least. Some key players who departed were Charles Harris and Reshad Jones. Notable additions include Byron Jones, Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy, Jordan Howard, Matt Breida, and of course TUA!!!! This defense is going to look much different than last year, and lemme tell you, that’s a good thing. I will however, cut the defense some slack. I’ve said this before and will continue to stick by it; the Dolphins main problem over the last decade has been there offense not their defense. Some Dolfans would fight me on this one but here me out. Yes, the Dolphins defense has been statistically poor recently, but the reason they give up so many points is because the Dolphins offense can’t stay on the field. They haven’t had a good running game in ages and seem to go three-and-out every second drive. All this to say, I’m not too worried about the Dolphins D this year, but more so the offense. Drafting Tua and getting two solid backs is definitely a step in the right direction though. As I mentioned in a previous article, I’m proud they went with the riskier pick in drafting Tua rather than Hebert. We need a dawg leading this franchise, and Tua has that IT factor. Time to talk about Miami’s depth at various position groups.

Quarterbacks

Fitzpatrick is one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the league to me. The way he just accepts that he is a journeyman and won’t ever be a franchise QB, shows a ton of humility. I love his will to win, and especially the way he ended the second half of last season. He is a great QB for Tua to learn from. I expect Fitzpatrick to be the starter once the season begins. Speaking of Tua, I’d say he gets on the field no later than week 5. Fans want to see him play and Miami will likely struggle at the beginning of the season with Fitzpatrick at QB. Don’t forget Miami has the third toughest schedule in the entire league. I don’t like the idea of sitting Tua the entire year even with his history of injuries. Miami drafted him knowing who exactly they were drafting. If they were too concerned about his injuries they wouldn’t have drafted him. I expect Tua to have a fairly good rookie year, and hope he does eventually get onto the field. Josh who? Yeah I feel bad for Josh Rosen too. I was excited that we got him for virtually peanuts just last year. I think Miami will get rid of him before the end of the season, and have a feeling he will be mainly a backup for most of his career. I hope I’m wrong.

Running Backs

The most exciting and interesting storyline heading into the season for Miami…. accept Tua. The Fins brought in Jordan Howard in free agency and traded for Matt Breida during the draft. If you would have told me last year we got both of these guys, I would’ve been pumped. I still am excited, as I see these two as a thunder and lightning type duo. My gut feeling is that neither will truly be the “starting” running back and that they’ll both split carries this season. Howard really impressed me in his time with the Bears. He did not do too much with the Eagles which I guess is why they let him go. He was a pro bowler in 2016 and hopefully will show some of that ability in Miami. Breida is more of a home run threat type running back. I remember first hearing about him on Good Morning Football where Peter Schrager was going nuts over him. His touches significantly decreased last year with the rise of running back Raheem Mostert. Just like that, it was as if he was no longer that special of a running back. I think he’s set to play this season with a big chip on his shoulder. I like what he brings to the Dolphins, and his ability to turn every play into a touchdown. I expect both Howard and Breida to have solid years. Miami’s other notable running backs include Laird and Ballage. Ballage averaged less than 2 yards a carry last season! Not very good….I liked Laird’s game while watching him in preseason last year, but never really got anything going. I’d hope Miami would keep Laird over Ballage if they were to chose between the two.

Wide Receivers  

            I read an article recently that summarizes the Dolphins wide receiver group absolutely perfectly. It said they are incredibly boom or bust. Meaning they have all the potential in the world, but we’re not sure what we’ll get from them from one game to the next. I am incredibly proud and happy for DeVante Parker that he FINALLY had a breakout year. Us Dolphins fans were waiting for this since the day we drafted him. He is the true number 1 receiver for the Fins and needs to build off of last year where he made the most acrobatic catches look easy. He has great size, hands and has surely got the hops. So yes, I think he will make Michael Thomas eat his words…A lot of people seem to have forgotten about Preston Williams. This guy was having a great season up until he tore his achilles last season. He reminds me a lot of Parker, and I foresee them being a deadly one-two punch. He’s also only 23 years old, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him being a pro-bowler in the next few years. Albert Wilson is a tough guy for me to figure out. He’s got speed like nobody’s business and works perfectly in the slot. Injuries have slowed him down throughout the years and he hasn’t really had the chance to excel. He restructured his contract recently to stay in Miami and now has at least one more year in South Beach. I see him as a guy that needs to be used probably and can be the guy to move the chains on a third and short situation. Jakeem Grant is mainly used for special teams and he too has ridiculous speed. Miami needs to use him as a Tyreke Hill type player. Try to get the ball in his hands with space to work his magic. All in all, the success of the Dolphins will largely depend on Parker and Williams.

Tight Ends   

            Mike Gesicki quietly had a very good year last year. He had 51 catches for 570 yards while adding 5 TDs. I see him having the most potential of any Dolphins player. Not only is he big, 6 foot 6, but he has a great ability of making contested catches. He needs to be the main target in the redzone. And oh ya, he’s never dropped a pass in the NFL… In Madden he’s always my number one target. For every game I play, he probably averaged 80 yards and just over one touchdown. Just thought I’d throw that in there. He needs to be big for Miami this year if they want to have a chance to squeak into the playoffs. I say this season he has more catches, yards, and touchdowns then he did last year. Durham Smythe is not a bad tight end, but as long as Gesicki is a Dolphin, Smythe will be used more in the blocking game.

Defensive Ends

            I’m gonna start with Christian Wilkins. Don’t know if any Dolphins fans would agree with me, but doesn’t it feel like this guy’s been a Dolphin for like five years? Anyways, Wilkins who is going into sophomore year needs to step it up. If I’m being completely honest, I expected more of him in his rookie year. I know he was only a rookie, but the hype surrounding him was pretty high and Miami needs someone who can slow down opponents’ rushing attack. I’m not exactly sure why, but I love the addition of Shaq Lawson. I hated that Miami had to play him twice a year when he was with the Bills, and I’m grateful he is now playing in South Beach. He’s a fun player. I wouldn’t call him a run stuffer per se. I think he’s more versatile than that. He brings much needed swag to this defense. Finally, I’m gonna talk about the rookie Raekwon Davis. Contrarily to some Dolfans, I think Davis was a great pick and maybe even a steal. He way game wrecker at Bama and he’s a big boy. I think he’s gonna be asked to play a bigger role than originally expected for the Dolphins this year. 

Linebackers

            I’d say the Dolphins now have a solid linebacker group. Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker being the two that standout out to me, and now of course, Kyle Van Noy. McMillan and Baker aren’t guys who are gonna blow you away with their athleticism or technique, but they’re both hard workers. They are both decent in coverage and can get after the quarterback. The thing that impresses me the most about Van Noy is his IQ. Some don’t realize the importance of having a high football IQ, but this guy’s got one. With New England he always seemed to make the right play. He wouldn’t miss tackles, blow an assignment and was almost always at the right place at the right time. I’m not sure how Flores is going to manage having these three at the same time, but I think Van Noy needs to be a captain or co-captain on the defense. Look for Vince Biegel to take a step forward this year. I like his energy and he went a little under the radar last season.

Secondary

Oh baby! Ain’t no wide receivers gonna be swimming in our end zone this year! Sorry for that poor attempt to be funny and creative… But I never thought I could get this excited about our secondary. Maybe my excitement is a little premature, but this is definitely Miami’s strongest position group. Crazy to think that Miami has the 2 highest paid cornerbacks in the league on their roster. I love Xavien Howard. My first memory of him was his 2 interception game against the Patriots a few years ago. I don’t think this guy gets the credit he deserves. In 2018 he was tied for the most interceptions with 7, while missing 4 games due to injury. That Miami got Byron Jones was a shocker to me. I had no idea he was even talking to Miami or that Miami would be willing to pay him that much money. The knock on him is that he hasn’t had many interceptions throughout his career, which is fair. However, he’s more of a guy that takes away an entire side of the field for an opposing offense. He doesn’t get tested too much, but when he does he’s usually batting balls down or glued on a receiver. The Howard-Jones duo should be scary. Then you have guys like Nik Needham and Bobby McCain. I was impressed with Needham in several games this past year and hope Miami is able to keep him. I’ve always liked Bobby McCain. If you’re not a Dolphins fan you may not know him, but he’s a competitor. I’ve heard reports that Miami may need to move on from him, but hope we do what we can to keep him. Then you got the two rookies in Brandon Jones and Noah Igbinoghene. Miami has no shortage of cornerbacks now. I’m interested to see how the starting defense will look like. I’m guessing Eric Rowe will be the starting safety for the Fins this year, and Brandon Jones may get some reps in as the season progresses. 

I know I didn’t talk about Miami’s Oline, and in all honesty, I don’t know what to make of them. The Oline’s success will depend heavily on how rookies Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt turn out to be.

Let’s get to some predictions!!! Here’s my take on how the Dolphins season will pan out in 2020:

Week 1 @ Patriots – Win: What a way for Miami to start off the season. A game versus the now Bradyless Pats. This is actually a game I’m hoping to attend with one of my buddies who’s a Pats fan. NFL, please let fans attend games!!! Miami closed last season out with an win in Foxborough and does the same to start this year.

Week 2 VS Bills. Loss: In my mind the Bills are now the favourites in the AFC East. Allen had a pretty good year last year and this is an even more important year for him. The addition of Stefon Diggs makes a 10 win team from last year even better.

Week 3 @ Jaguars. Win: A primetime game for Miami!!! But their only one of the year… The Jags are a mess and I see them being one of the worst teams in the NFL this year. Miami wins this one and improves to 2-0 on the road.

Week 4 VS Seahawks. Loss: The Seahawks will always be a solid team with Russell Wilson at QB. Curious to see how/if the Dolphins can slow down the Seahawks rushing attack. I see this game being a lowering scoring game with the Seahawks coming out on top.

Week 5 @ 49ers. Loss: The 49ers defense is scary and I see Miami struggling to put up points in this one. Garoppolo will “manage” the game well and lean on their running game and defense to come out on top.

Week 6 @ Broncos. Loss. My prediction of when Tua makes his first career start! The Broncos are my most intriguing team coming into this year. Drew Lock went 4-1 as starter last season and now has two shiny new toys to play with in Jeudy and Hamler. I think the Broncos will surprise some people this year.

Week 7 VS Chargers. Win: Do we get to see a Tua VS Hebert matchup here? I think so. I say this is around the time of year Hebert takes over the starting job from Tyrod Taylor. Miami ends there losing streak and beats the Chargers and shows why they took Tua over Hebert.   

Week 8 VS Rams. Win: This was a tough one for me to pick. The Rams are a really tough team to figure out. Who’s there leader now with Gurley gone? Cooks is gone too. This is the year Goff needs to show why the Rams drafted him number one overall in 2016. Dolphins even up their record at 4-4 with a tight win over the Rams.

Week 9 @ Cardinals. Loss: As I mentioned in a previous article, I am pumped for the Cardinals. Can’t wait to see what Hopkins is able to do in that offense. The Cardinals defense has flown under the radar recently and I think they have a good game here.

Week 10 VS Jets. Win: Some have the Jets as being better than the Dolphins going into this year… I’m just not buying it. I don’t see how this team is going to consistently put up enough points to win. Le’Veon Bell needs to be big-time for them this year and even then, they’ll struggle. Tua has his best game yet and the Dolphins head into their bye week at 5-5.   

Week 11 Bye Week

Week 12 @ Jets. Win: First time in my life I’m gonna see my Dolphins play the same team back-to-back… pretty cool. Miami beats the Jets again, but this game will be a little closer than the last one. Have the feeling this one may even go into overtime. Dolphins jump to one game over .500.

Week 13 VS Bengals. Win: Burrow VS Tua!! Let’s get it!! Hope you have this one circled on your calendar folks because this is much watch TV. I think Burrow will have a good year and the Bengals will win their fair share of games. Not this one though, Tua beats Hebert and now Burrow and makes the case he should have been the number one overall draft pick… Yes, I said it. Dolphins improve to 7-5 with 4 games left.

Week 14 VS Chiefs. Loss: The defending Super Bowl champs come into Miami red hot and beat the Dolphins. I wouldn’t be surprised if KC only had 2 losses up to this point. Dolphins defense will keep them in it early, but there’s only so much you can do to slow down Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Week 15 VS Patriots. Loss: I was tempted to go with a win here for Miami, but am not ready to count out the Pats just yet. By this point, I’d say both teams have similar records and the Pats ride Stidham on their way to a close one in South Beach.

Week 16 @ Raiders. Win: Will Derek Carr still be the QB for the Raiders at week 16? I think so. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Mariota start a few games for them but then Gruden deciding to go back with Carr. I think Miami’s defense gets the better of Carr in this one and picks him off at least twice.

Week 17 @ Bills. Loss: Miami has always struggled in Buffalo and I expect the trend to continue here. Bills win this one and clinch the AFC East for the first time since 1995. Miami finishes the season off at .500.

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