Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was the “star” acquisition for the team in the offseason prior to the 2016 season. But after leading the team to the playoffs in his first year, Gase and the Dolphins took a sizable step back last year. Prognosticators aren’t too favorable about Miami’s outlook for 2018, and a lot of that has to do with the shortage of proven players at key offensive positions.

 

Quarterback: For better or for worse, and at least for now, Ryan Tannehill remains the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. While that might sound like a bad thing, Tannehill was the quarterback when the Dolphins broke their seven-year playoff drought in 2016. But Tannehill was on his way to the second-lowest passing yards per game (230.4) and touchdowns (23) that season, and considering he’ll have to shake off a full year of rust, the outlook isn’t so bright for him. And it’s not like Miami has anything reliable on the bench, either, considering Tannehill’s backups are Brock Osweiler (dumped by two different teams in two seasons) and David Fales. The quarterback position for the Dolphins is a big reason why Vegas oddsmakers believe they’ll be a losing team this year.

 

Running Back: If there’s a true position of intrigue on the Dolphins offense, it would definitely have to be running back. Running back Kenyan Drake took over as the team’s lead runner after Miami traded away Jay Ajayi, and finished with a team-high 644 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Drake also had three straight games with more than 100 yards combined (rushing and receiving), showing he’s a capable pass catcher. But Miami brought in the seemingly ageless Frank Gore to not only play as a change-of-pace runner to Drake, but maybe to push him for carries as well.  However, take note of the fact that Gore is already 35 years old, and coming off his lowest yardage total, yards per carry, and rushing touchdowns in seven years. The real wildcard in this scenario might be rookie running back Kalen Ballage, the team’s fourth round pick out of Arizona State University. Ballage was among the more athletic running backs in this year’s draft crop, and could compete for carries if Gore doesn’t have anything left in the tank.

 

Wide Receiver: The group of wideouts the Dolphins have assembled don’t appear ready to make Ryan Tannehill’s life easier. After balking at the contract demands of Jarvis Landry, Miami is now without it’s team leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns from 2017. So the Dolphins will now be relying upon vertical threat Kenny Stills (coming off a career-high 58 catches for 847 yards), and enigmatic former first round pick DeVante Parker to replace most of Landry’s production. Stills is the guy who can take the top off the defense, but Parker might finally be the one who’s ready to shine for Miami. Parker had 21 catches for 256 yards over the last four games of the season, which hopefully could be a sign of greater things to come this year. In the slot, Miami will (try to) rely upon Albert Wilson, and former New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, who has been most famous for not being able to stay healthy (he hasn’t played in all 16 games in any of the past three seasons.)

 

Tight End: After releasing Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano in the offseason, Miami did a total reboot at the tight end position, drafting Mike Gesicki from Penn State and Durham Smythe from Notre Dame in the 2018 NFL Draft. Gesicki is more of the modern “move” tight end that can create mismatches in the secondary, whereas Smythe is more of the classic power tight end. However, both face a steep learning curve as they transition to the NFL, and might not emerge as consistent threats until late in the 2018 season at the earliest.