Season In Review – Miami Dolphins

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.

Ryan FitzMagicPatrick.

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.

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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.


Offseason Outlook


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.

Where Do They Go From Here; Dolphins

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Miami Dolphins.

Don’t forget to check out the AFC East podcast where we talked to a fan from every team in the division and got their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

The good – Starting 3-0 and beating New England at home once more.

The bad – Most of the season including Kenyan Drake’s usage.

The ugly – Adam Gase’s tenure and the depth on the roster.

2018 saw the Dolphins post their 3rd losing record in 4 seasons. Ranked bottom 7 in both offence and defence in terms of points and yards. 2nd season in a row with a points differential of triple figures in the red. That 3-0 start seemed like a long long time ago….

Housekeeping

The Dolphins own picks 13 (Round 1),48 (2) ,78 (3), 116 (4), 151(5), 233(7), 234(7).

Cap space. Lots. Currently $37m left for 2019, but the estimated rollover cap is around $100m. Dolphins are going to be busy over the next year or so.

Outgoings

Adam Gase era is no more after 3 seasons but fear not Miami fans, you’ll still see him twice a year. His “sidekick” on the field Ryan Tannehill also departs for Tennessee.

Leading receiver (Amendola) and leading rusher (Frank Gore) are no longer with the team nor are Cameron Wake (Tennessee), Robert Quinn (Dallas) and Josh Sitton (currently a Free Agent).

Incomings

Brian Flores comes over from rivals New England, but how much of a leash will he be given?

The Ryan Fitzmagic tour stops off in Miami, and with that he punches the third hole in his AFC East loyalty card. Apart from that, not too much to get excited about unfortunately.

Outlook for Next Year

The will they / wont they tanking narrative will rumble on all summer.

I think they’ll play honest football and when you have Ryan Fitzpatrick as the signal caller it’s the perfect way to pretend you aren’t hoping for a poor season. Like a rollercoaster that makes you sick. Enjoy the ride and know at the end what is coming.

The AFC East isn’t as weak anymore with Buffalo and the Jets strengthening greatly. The Dolphins will be the runt of the litter and get there a bit after the other AFC East teams. Whether that will be too late or not we will have to see.

Hard Rock stadium seemed to be a bit of an advantage for the Dolphins last year and were poor away from home. A trend I expect to continue.

Prediction

A 4th placed finished in the division beckons. It is the obvious position for the Dolphins, as is a top 5 pick in the 2020 draft . It should have it’s highs and lows with Fitzpatrick conducting the orchestra so at least the fans will have something to watch each week.

Judging by the last few seasons, there will be another game which is either postponed or delayed by 5 hours…. joys.

Fantasy Football

Ryan Fitzpatrick – undrafted – could be absolutely anything. But likely around a mid QB2 and should be a viable streamer.

Kenyan Drake – 4th/5th round – low RB2

Albert Wilson – Later rounds – mid WR3

Kenny Stills – Later rounds – low WR3/4

Mike Gesicki – undrafted – low TE2/TE3

 

 

Where Do They Go From Here; Buccaneers

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Don’t forget to check out the NFC North podcast where we talked to Murf from 5yardrush and Tom from Head On A Swivel podcasts and got their thoughts on the team!

How Did Last Season Go?

Last season had more ups and downs than the Big Dipper at Blackpool. Jameis Winston started the season with a 3 game ban due to being Uber silly (see what I did there?) so Ryan Fitzmagic lived once again. They stunned the Saints in week 1 and the Eagles in Week 2 and arguably could’ve been 3-0 with their late surge vs the Steelers not quite getting them over the line. After that it was like riding a horse at a fairground at the QB position with Winston and Fitzpatrick chopping and changing on a nearly weekly basis which starting in GW4 when getting blown out of the water by the Chicago Bears.

After beating Cleveland in OT and having a 3-3 record, the Bucs went 2-8 the rest of the way.

The Bucs finished with the most passing yards in the NFL (3rd in total yards) but also the worst defence in terms of points given up. Tampa Bay games last year were not boring.

At the skills positions, Mike Evans surpassed 1500 receiving yards, breaking some Tampa Bay and NFL records along the way. Career high in Yards, Yards per rec, yards per game, catch % saw Evans go to his 2nd Pro Bowl.

The backfield was the total opposite in terms of production with 2nd round pick Ronald Jones struggling to even get on the field.

Housekeeping

The Buccaneers have the number 5 pick in the 1st round of the 2019 draft along with picks 39 (round 2), 70 (3), 107(4), 145(5) and 215(7).

The Bucs are not wealthy in terms of salary cap at this precise moment being bottom of the pile with a smidge over $2m cap space.

Outgoings

Dirk Koetter has left after a puzzling season at the HC position.

Following him out the exit door is WR speedster DeSean Jackson who goes back home to Philly and one of the most reliable slot receivers in Adam Humphries snubbed New England for Tennessee.

On defence, Kwon Alexander has changed Tampa Bay for the Bay area and San Francisco and Vinny Curry didn’t work out.

Finally, Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be sprinkling his magic anymore as he goes to Miami.

Incomings

Bruce Arians replaces Dirk Koetter but not many other names of note to fill the holes.

Linebacker Shaquil Barrett, Safeties Kentrell Brice and Deone Bucannon along with unloved Cleveland and Baltimore cast-off WR Breshard Perriman.

Outlook for Next Year

Bruce Arians will ruffle the feathers in Tampa and raise the level of all the players there. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with the backfield as Peyton Barber and the aforementioned Ronald Jones do not strike fears into anyone’s eyes. Furthermore, Arians would’ve been used to a 3 down back like David Johnson so I expect moves to be made (not for David Johnson however).

The success of Tampa will hinge on how much Arians can get out of QB Jameis Winston who is in the final year of his contract. They will not be afforded the time to transition over into the Arians offence judging by how competitive the division is going to be.

Prediction

The Bucs had my money for a playoff push last year, they wont have it again this season. I think it’ll be a push to say they’ll have a winning record but if Arians works his magic, Winston steps up and the defence is not too porous then who knows. They haven’t got the toughest of schedules outside of their division, with the NFC South being paired with the NFC West, AFC South and the Lions and Giants.

They’ll get to around 7-9 in my opinion.

Fantasy Football

Jameis Winston – double digit round pick – potential QB1 – *SLEEPER ALERT*

Peyton Barber – 7th Round – high RB3/ low RB2

Ronald Jones – undrafted / waiver wire fodder

Mike Evans – 2nd Round pick – WR1

Chris Godwin – 6th Round pick – WR2 ceiling – *BREAKOUT CANDIDATE*

OJ Howard –  8th Round pick – Mid-Low TE1