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Miami Dolphins 2020 Team Preview

Miami Dolphins 2020 Team Preview: Tua Tagovailoa
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The 2019 Miami Dolphins were thought of as potentially the worst team the league had seen since the 2008 Detroit Lions. The front office was starting over from scratch behind General Manager, Chris Grier, and head coach, Brian Flores who wanted their types of players. Just a few weeks into the season, Kenyan Drake, Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil, and Minkah Fitzpatrick were all shipped off to different teams for high draft capital.

Miami started 0-7 and was outscored 238-77 during that span. The Dolphins finished the season 4-5 behind consecutive wins against the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots. With that end of season stretch, players seemed to buy into the approach that Flores had brought in.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team previews.

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Offseason Recap

Miami needed a complete roster overhaul and is in a rebuild that is going to last more than one offseason. The offense was abysmal last year and the leading rusher was Ryan Fitzpatrick, which speaks for itself. Grier added two running backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida to try and fix that rushing attack and brought in several offensive linemen to try fixing one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Unfortunately for fifth-overall pick, Tua Tagovailoa, the offensive line isn’t that good still. 

Ereck Flowers was brought in on a severe overpay and will likely start at left guard, as well as Ted Karras who was brought over from New England to compete at the center spot. A trio of rookies in Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, and Robert Hunt will try and help the offensive line for years to come.

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The front seven was completely remade, specifically at the edge and linebacker spots. Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Kyle Van Noy were all brought in to help a pass-rush unit that needed desperate help last year. The linebacking core has a lot more depth with players that fit what Flores wants. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Elandon Roberts were brought in after serving time with Flores in New England. Roberts will replace the recently traded Raekwon McMillan as the run-stuffing linebacker. 

Byron Jones was the biggest acquisition the team made during the free-agent period and will form a great duo with Xavien Howard. The team also spent another first-round selection on Noah Igbinoghene.

Offense 

With plenty of new faces, this year will likely be a learning year for many on the offense. There could be four new starters on the offensive line alone thanks to the plethora of middling additions. If Fitzpatrick starts at the beginning of the season, the team will be in a great position to be in contention in some early games. Once Tagovailoa takes over, whenever that may be, the team will endure more growing pains. The offensive line will have to adapt to a left-handed quarterback that loves to scramble. It will be a big change from the old man known as Fitzmagic.

The rushing attack needs to be much better than it was last year for the Dolphins to have anywhere near a winning record. Miami has a good amount of weapons on the perimeter for Fitzpatrick and/or Tagovailoa. There just isn’t much depth if one of the starters gets hurt.

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Defense 

The defense will have to shoulder the load this year. The secondary, led by four good cornerbacks, will be the group to watch. Flores has seen Belichick build his defenses starting with the secondary and he is trying his best to replicate that. The linebacking core is solid. They are a bunch of veteran leaders who are coming over to Miami to help the culture shift. The defensive line and pass rush units are both lackluster as the pass rush unit could be the worst in the league.

The defense could have some good weeks here and there but the secondary will have to hold up as the pass rush will likely not be able to blast through opposing offensive lines. It will take another year for both units to become average at best.

Predicting the 53 Man Roster

QB (3) – Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, Tua Tagovailoa 

Three quarterbacks make the roster before a potential Rosen trade. Fitzpatrick will likely begin as the starter before Tagovailoa is ready to potentially get smothered by an abysmal offensive line. Rosen is once again in a terrible situation. He is stuck on one of the worst teams in the league and his talents have gone to waste due to his supporting cast. It will be beneficial to get him out of Miami and to a team that could potentially develop him as a backup to a veteran.

RB (5) – Jordan Howard, Matt Breida, Myles Gaskin, Patrick Laird, Chandler Cox 

After Fitzpatrick was the leading rusher last year, this room needed a drastic overhaul. Both Howard and Breida were added during the offseason and will form a nice one-two punch. Gaskin and Laird were both on the roster last year. They played sparingly didn’t provide much of a spark. Cox will make the roster as the fullback. Breida’s receiving skills out of the backfield will be a great help to whoever is playing quarterback.

WR (6) – DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant, Malcolm Perry, Isaiah Ford, Kirk Merritt 

The trio of Parker, Williams, and Grant are locks to make the roster with Parker and Williams being the top two receivers and Grant being the speedy return man. Besides those three, the receiver room needs help. Isaiah Ford, Gary Jennings, and Mack Hollins were brought in to try and compete after being selected with high draft capital from their respective teams. Perry is the ultimate swiss-army knife for the offense while Merritt has been getting buzz during practices and beats out both Hollins and Jennings for the final spot.

TE (3) – Mike Gesicki, Adam Shaheen, Durham Smythe 

Gesicki is finally poised for a breakout campaign after showing strides towards the end of last year. Shaheen and Smythe are completely different than Gesicki as they are more in-line tight ends than Gesicki’s slot-type. This position seems set unless an injury were to occur.

OL (9) – Austin Jackson, Ereck Flowers, Ted Karras, Solomon Kindley, Jesse Davis, Julien Davenport, Michael Deiter, Robert Hunt, Danny Isidora 

Jackson is starting at left tackle while Kindley and Hunt will be battling for starting spots at right guard and right tackle. Flowers was a high-priced free agent signing who was maybe somewhat of an overpay. Karras was brought over from New England while Davis, Davenport, Deiter, and Isidora are all holdovers from last year. Miami’s front office could’ve done a better job at shoring up the offensive line. They had a ton of cap space and five selections in the first two rounds.

DL (4) – Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis, Davon Godchaux, Zach Sieler 

This group seems all but set as well. Wilkins had a solid rookie campaign and will look to have a better sophomore season. Godchaux and Davis will likely start opposite of him with Sieler rotating in when needed. It would be helpful if there was more depth behind the starting three, but Miami’s rebuild isn’t just going to take one offseason.

EDGE (4) – Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Kyle Van Noy, Jason Stowbridge 

Once again, the rebuild isn’t just going to take one year and the pass rush unit is one, if not the worst in the league. All four of these players, acquired during the offseason, will try to make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable. There is no star in this group and both Lawson and Ogbah are better against the run than they are as pass rushers. Van Noy fills that Belichikian scheme of edge-rush/linebacker hybrids. Stowbridge could fit on the edge as well as the interior.

LB (5) – Jerome Baker, Elandon Roberts, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Andrew Van Ginkel, Sam Eguavoen 

This group took a bit of a hit with the injury to Vince Biegel and trade of Raekwon McMillan which was highlighted here. Baker is the complete linebacker of the group and will be on the field at all times, while Roberts is the run-stuffer that will replace McMillan. Grugier-Hill, Van Ginkel, and Eguavoen are also in the mold of the edge-rusher/linebacker hybrid that Flores has implemented here.

CB (6) – Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, Noah Igbinoghene, Nik Needham, Jamal Perry, Tae Hayes

Flores is taking Belichick’s approach of building his defense from the backend to the front. Jones and Howard will form a formidable outside duo. Both Igbinoghene and Needham will help form one of the deepest cornerback rooms in the league and will likely battle for the nickel spot in those packages. The coaching staff seems to like Perry and Hayes will battle with Ken Webster for the final spot.

SAF (5) – Bobby McCain, Eric Rowe, Brandon Jones, Kavon Frazier, Clayton Fejedelem 

McCain and Rowe will begin the season as the starters with Frazier and Fejedelem factoring in on depth packages. McCain would likely find himself as a nickel corner if the coaching staff felt comfortable enough in letting Jones get some starting snaps. The selection of Jones in the third round was excellent. He could very well find himself in a starting role at the beginning of next year.

ST (3) – Jason Sanders, Matt Haack, Blake Ferguson 

Sanders and Haack return as starters from last year. Sanders needs to be more consistent as he missed four attempts between 40 and 49 yards after only missing two in 2018. Ferguson was selected in the sixth round meaning the Dolphins immediately project him as their long-term long snapper.

COVID (2) – Allen Hurns, Albert Wilson 

2020 Outlook 

Ultimately, the Dolphins are starting their rebuild in earnest. They brought in several veterans to play stop-gap roles this year and maybe for the next few while the front office tries to build through the draft. There is little to no chance that Miami makes the postseason this year. They could start 1-5 with games against New England, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver in the first six weeks of the season. At this point, it might be time to look at what Tagovailoa can do. At least Tua could develop some chemistry with the other starters. From there, it doesn’t get much easier as there are games against the Chargers, Rams, and Cardinals before two straight games against the Jets and then Cincinnati. The final four games include three against Kansas City, New England, and Buffalo. This rebuild is just getting started Dolphins fans, enjoy the ride.

Season Prediction: 4-12, this season is about developing key young players. 

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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images

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