The future is now for the Dolphins. And after Sunday’s 34-31 wild-card playoff loss at Buffalo, the long run appears promising.
That’s the opinion from outdoors the locker room — sure, the Dolphins made the playoffs, however they should make some main enhancements in the event that they plan on profitable their first playoff recreation for the reason that 2000 season.
The Dolphins had a profitable 2022 season.
They made the playoffs with a rookie head coach, Mike McDaniel, and a banged-up quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa.
Next 12 months each ought to be improved.
“Dolphins fans and the organization, we were very aware of the drought of winning a playoff game,” McDaniel stated, “however that’s one thing that since I bought the job that has been an enormous motivating issue for me and I actually needed to deliver [a playoff victory] to the group, the group and the fanbase, and we fell brief.
“But it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of determination or lack of intent. It’s because we didn’t get it done. We’re a young team and we had to learn from it and unfortunately we had to learn the hard way.”
But there’s lot of hope for subsequent 12 months.
The Dolphins want enchancment in lots of areas, and with a very good effort from the entrance workplace and scouting division they might get the assistance they want. No, they don’t have a first-round choose on this 12 months’s NFL draft. They have one second-round choose, two third-round picks, a sixth- and a seventh-round choose. They’re over the wage cap so that they’ll need to make some strikes earlier than buying any main assist.
But right here’s a quantity that ought to information the Dolphins this offseason: 24.
The Dolphins have been twenty fourth in third-down conversions offensively (36.2%) throughout the common season, and twenty fourth in third-down stops defensively (41.6%).
Third-down conversions are reflective of expertise and training/technique versus toughness or grit.
The third-down rankings on each side of the ball are a very good quantity to bear in mind throughout the offseason.
For the report, Tagovailoa’s future is the No. 1 concern for the offseason. McDaniel stated he’s rolling with Tagovailoa subsequent season regardless of the concussion considerations that saved him out of Sunday’s playoff recreation in addition to 4 different begins (New York Jets twice, Minnesota, and New England).
So that a lot is already settled, which suggests there doubtless gained’t be a Quarterback Watch that mentions names corresponding to Tom Brady (Tampa Bay), Derek Carr (Las Vegas) or Jimmy Garropolo (San Francisco).
That permits us to maneuver on to the remainder of the roster.
The Dolphins completed the common season second-to-last in dashing makes an attempt (twenty fifth in dashing yards), had a minus-5 turnover margin, and have been minus-2 in level differential.
The Dolphins should discover a working recreation within the offseason. Much of that may depend upon McDaniel enhancing as a play-caller. Again, he was a rookie head coach so issues corresponding to play-calling and clock administration may get away every so often.
But a lot of the working recreation enchancment can even depend upon the working backs and the offensive line.
Running backs Raheem Mostert, who missed the wild-card recreation with a damaged proper thumb, and Jeff Wilson Jr., acquired in a midseason commerce, ran laborious once they had their alternatives. But giving them extra alternatives would lead to a much less predictable offense (it devolved into forcing passes to vast receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle), extra assist for the quarterback and a solution to transfer the chains.
The Dolphins want offensive line enchancment. Left sort out Terron Armstead, one of the vital spectacular gamers on the group for his on-field work and locker room management, won’t be round for greater than 12 video games subsequent season. They’ll additionally want to find out whether or not proper sort out Austin Jackson, a 2020 first-round choose, is able to defending Tagovailoa’s blind aspect from a expertise standpoint and a well being standpoint.
And tight finish Mike Gesicki, who’s enjoying on a franchise tag, will doubtless depart which means the Dolphins want a brand new tight finish, doubtless a greater blocker though Gesicki’s receiving abilities can be missed.
Defensively, figuring out what ought to occur with cornerback Byron Jones is a high precedence, and if he should be changed, that’s the No. 1 defensive precedence. Remember, Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard confirmed indicators of slippage throughout the season however to be truthful he battle by means of accidents all through the season.
Also defensively, extra athleticism at inside linebacker would assist from the standpoint of move protection and maybe spying opposing quarterbacks who’re able to hurting you with their legs.
We’ll see what occurs within the offseason, nevertheless it must be an enormous one if the Dolphins are going to win their first playoff recreation for the reason that 2000 season.