The 2022 offseason was certainly not one that many Miami Dolphins fans will forget. After the shocking firing (and subsequent controversy) of head coach Brian Flores, questions surfaced about the future of the team. Some rumors thought Tom Brady and Sean Payton would both un-retire to join the Dolphins while others simply predicted massive regression for the team in 2022. The offseason worked out quite fine for Miami, which hired an exciting, young head coach in Mike McDaniel before acquiring superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill out of nowhere.
With a new-look coaching regime and a high-octane group of players, let’s dive into some bold predictions for the Dolphins ahead of the upcoming season.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Bold Predictions.
Sony Michel leads the team in rushing yards
The Dolphins brought in a smorgasbord of running backs to help solve the backfield problems that have plagued the team for years. Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert were among Miami’s notable transactions this past winter, but it was actually the signing of a third NFC West running back that carries the most excitement. Sony Michel joins the team after a year in Los Angeles. Although he opened the year as Darrell Henderson‘s backup, he stepped up in a big way when Henderson was sidelined. Through seven starts in 2021 (including each of the final six contests), the former first-round pick posted 607 rushing yards, 78 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.
Michel should lead the backfield in rushing yards for two reasons. First, he’s a good runner. He had no trouble serving as the Patriots’ lead running back for multiple seasons. In fact, Bill Belichick’s rotating backfield was the only reason Michel lost his job. Michel lacks receiving upside, but he should assert himself as Miami’s preferred early-down back as soon as training camp begins.
Second, Michel doesn’t have much competition. Myles Gaskin played inconsistent in 2021 and doesn’t have any ties to the new coaching staff. Raheem Mostert knows McDaniel from their time in San Francisco, but he continues to age and has been plagued by injuries every season. The injury factor alone puts him at a disadvantage. Finally, Edmonds was Miami’s biggest running back signing, but he works best as a receiving back. He can certainly run the ball from time to time, but Miami should operate much like Edmonds’ 2021 Cardinals did. Michel deserves snaps on rushing downs (like James Conner in Arizona) and Edmonds will work passing downs. If the Dolphins use this approach, it should be easy for Michel to lead the team in rushing yards.
Jaylen Waddle leads the team in receiving yards
If the rookie class hadn’t been as strong as it was last season, Waddle would have been a favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year. After all, he set the rookie reception record. Heading into 2022, Hill will eat into Waddle’s production. With that said, Waddle has proven that he deserves targets. He wasn’t just Miami’s WR1 last year because he had no competition. Rather, he served as their WR1 because of his electric playing style and ability to make big plays happen whenever the football was thrown his way.
While Waddle has asserted himself as someone who can get down the field and catch the football, Hill is trending in the other direction. Although he is still blazing fast, he has lost some of his deep-threat flair and might fit best as a short route-runner. Think the role of Deebo Samuel in McDaniel’s 49ers offense. If the aging Hill occupies a more intermediate role in the Dolphins’ offense and Waddle builds on his already-strong rapport with Tua Tagovailoa, it will be Waddle who leads the team in receiving yards (and possibly scrimmage yards) this coming season.
Tua Tagovailoa posts the best completion percentage of his career
Heading into his third season, Tagovailoa has all the tools in place to break out. The Alabama product posted a 67.8 percent completion rate last year. That number was up from 64.1 percent as a rookie, and Waddle is a large reason why. Now, with Tyreek Hill in tow, Waddle adding an extra year of development, and Mike Gesicki back for another season, Tagovailoa has all the resources he needs to succeed. Don’t forget the addition of tackle Terron Armstead; his role as an anchor in the trenches will give Tagovailoa extra time to make his throws. Plus, Hill already labeled Tagovailoa as the most accurate passer he’s played with. That’s a lot of praise coming from a wideout who spent several years catching passes from Patrick Mahomes. All signs point to Tagovailoa taking a crucial step forward in 2022, which includes setting a career-best in completion percentage.
Miami makes the playoffs under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel
Team chemistry is a very real factor when it comes to a team’s success. While Brian Flores brought impressive football knowledge and defensive poise with him to Miami, reports following his firing indicated that Flores was responsible for a toxic environment inside the organization, whether it be the internal power struggle involving coaches and front office members or curse-filled tirades against players. We may never know the full story of how Flores behaved. However, new head coach Mike McDaniel has clearly already made an impact with the players.
McDaniel brings to Miami his laid-back style (he literally played “kiss, marry, kill” with a reporter), phenomenal football knowledge, and understanding of individual players. Most notably, McDaniel recently explained that he wears multiple layers of clothes in the Miami heat so that he can try to understand what his players are feeling with their pads and equipment. This has to be well-received by the players, and when a coach and his players can be on the same page and support each other, good things happen. Plus, Miami’s roster has talent all around. The team should lock up a Wild Card spot with ease.
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