By Dave Moore (@davieremixed)
Time for everyone’s preseason favourite tankers, the Miami Dolphins. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but did the Dolphins do themselves any harm? Depends if your a tank half full or a tank half empty kind of person…
Entering The Season
After two losing seasons under Adam Gase, the Dolphins made a move for Brian Flores from the Patriots to further extend the Belichick coaching tree.
However this was not to be with a view to a galvanisation of the team to lead to a wildcard spot. Quite the opposite. The Dolphins front office put Flores and the team well and truly in the tank.
Laremy Tunsil was sent off to the Texans for a haul of picks including two first rounders and Ryan Tannehill was sent to the Titans for a 2020 4th rounder.
The writing was on the wall. If they could get valuable picks for you and you were playing well, Miami were packing your bags and driving you to the nearest airport.
Were we about to see another 0-16 season in the NFL? Could the Dolphins be historically bad?
During The Season
Week 1: Baltimore Ravens 59. Miami Dolphins 10.
This could be a long season.
Time for a get right game, right? Wrong. The Dolphins got royally spanked 43-0 with two pick sixes and more punting yards than total offense. The season couldn’t have started much worse for the team whilst the front office were rubbing their hands at the prospect of that first round pick.
Things really didn’t improve for Miami until Week 6 when they started to put touchdowns on the board in a 17-16 loss to the Redskins. Both teams were winless and in what some might have termed a cynical move to lose the game, the Dolphins opted to go for an end-of-game 2 point conversion instead of kicking the XP to tie the game. The defeat took the Redskins to 1-5 and sank Miami to 0-5.
0-5 became 0-6, which became 0-7, which became 0-Hold The Phone It’s An Adam Gase Revenge Game!
That’s right! The 1-6 Jets against the 0-7 Dolphins. A divisional matchup for the ages. Step forward the only man for the job.
The bearded genius threw 3 touchdowns as the Dolphins secured their first win of the season against an equally hapless Gang Green. This result was reward for Flores and his team after becoming increasingly competitive with a poor roster over the prior month.
Flores and his charges would get further reward a week later with back-to-back wins, beating the understaffed-at-under-centre Indianapolis Colts 16-12.
Two straight defeats to Buffalo and Cleveland preceded a stunning third win against a Philadelphia Eagles team who were looking to win their division. Miami overturned a 21-14 deficit at the half to win 37-31 to go 3-9. The best part of this game? The trick play with the punter Matt Haack throwing a one-yard shovel to kicker Jason Sanders with an utterly bizarre lineup from the Dolphins. If you haven’t seen it, get yourselves to YouTube ASAP.
Much like the Colts game, however, after a surprising win against a team chasing the playoffs, two defeats followed. This time on back-to-back weeks in East Rutherford against Gang Green and the G-Men to leave Miami at 3-11 and eyeing a top 3 pick or maybe even #1 if, IF, they conspired to lose to the hopless Bengals in Week 16.
What we got in the BurrowBowl/TankForTuaBowl was one of the most entertaining games of the season.
Heading into the 4th quarter the Dolphins lead 35-12 in what was turning into a blowout with FitzMagicPatrick throwing 4 touchdown passes including one to rookie DE Christian Wilkins (more on him shortly).
With 30 seconds left on the clock the Dolphins led 35-19.
The Bengals scored two touchdowns AND two 2 point conversions in thirty seconds! Sixteen points! Merry Christmas!
As you’d expect with these two, overtime went the distance. We had dropped passes, terrible route running, third down sacks and even some great defensive play in there but finally, finally as time expired Jason Sanders hit a 37 yarder to end the game and reward the handful of fans left in Hard Rock Stadium.
If you’re going to give up the #1 pick you may as well do it in the most entertaining way possible and the ‘Fins did not disappoint. Bravo.
As an addendum, Christian Wilkins not only made a name for himself with that touchdown pass but also for the funniest mic’d up moment of the season. Enjoy.
Now for the encore. A trip to New England to close the season out. The Patriots needed to win to secure a first round bye and with the Miami Miracle only twelve months prior surely they weren’t going to let their divisional rivals land another scalp…Surely?
The much vaunted Patriots defense of September gave up 320 passing yards to Wonderlic’s FitzMagicPatrick and even ran in a pick six. Ryan FMP also ran a touchdown in. What is this fresh madness? Miami cost New England a first round bye with their first win in Gillette Stadium since 2008!
I’d even stretch as far as saying that this result contributed greatly to Kansas’ Super Bowl appearance.
A 5-11 finish for a team that wanted the #1 pick will disappoint some but in the second half of the season, Miami were one of the most enjoyable teams to watch. There was a freedom to their play and under Brian Flores I think there are foundations – assuming their draft choices are sound – for a bright future in Florida.
It’s all about the draft. With Tua seemingly recovered from a severe hip injury the thinking is that Miami expect him to fall to #5 if the first four picks go according to plan but with Detroit and New York above them and quarterback hungry teams below, there is a danger a team could usurp them.
Miami have the most selections (12) which include three first rounders and two second rounders. Add on the estimated $93 million in cap space and the room that Miami have this offseason is terrific.
There won’t need to be any trickery with the salary cap, just start rebuilding and maybe even make a big play or two in free agency for a true WR1. Just do one thing for us, Miami. Keep Ryan Fitzpatrick around. The league is better for it.
Next season brings matchups against the NFC West and the AFC West as well as a rematch that will be as hotly anticipated as Wilder v Fury III. That’s right. It’s Bengals v Dolphins back at Hard Rock! Make it primetime, schedulers, Burrow vs Tua? Yes please.