Listen up. I’m making my annual foray into fantasy by fixing the Miami Dolphins offseason once more in 10 easy steps.
Forget I stated two years in the past to maintain the younger offensive line intact and watch it develop. Remember I stated to exchange as many as potential final yr.
Forget I stated to chase quarterback Nick Foles in 2019. Remember I stated to get Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson in earlier years.
The straightforward groundwork has been finished this offseason with the Dolphins creating cap area, writing huge checks and making gamers joyful. That’s the simple half. Now comes the tougher selections what to do with that cap area and how one can enhance this workforce. Let’s go:
1. Let Vic Fangio decide two inside linebackers. People ask if the Dolphins will land a whale in free company. They have already got. Fangio is a star. Change is coming, too. The Dolphins have been a 4-3, huge blitzing and massive press-coverage protection the previous 4 years. Fangio’s 3-4 system doesn’t blitz a lot and performs extra zone than man-to-man. What’s wanted? A few inside linebackers for starters. He had stars like Patrick Willis in San Francisco and Roquan Smith in Chicago. Smaller names like Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson have been his inside linebackers in Denver. But contemplate: Jewell ranked fifth and Johnson ninth amongst linebackers, in response to Pro Football Focus, when Denver had the third-best scoring protection in 2021. Free company is filled with comparatively cheap linebackers. Cincinnati’s Germaine Pratt and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Drue Tanquill match that invoice. But Fangio is aware of what he desires. Let him decide them.
2. Buy a proper sort out to compete and the very best swing sort out obtainable. Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion considerations add to the consequence of this resolution. You can hope proper sort out Austin Jackson improves quite a bit. You can’t belief it. You can hope star left sort out Terron Armstead performs greater than the two-thirds of the snaps of final yr. You can’t belief he’ll contemplating he’s missed extra snaps in 4 of the earlier seven seasons. The straightforward out is saying to purchase San Francisco’s Mike McGlinchey or Atlanta’s Kaley McGary for $16 million a yr. But even fantasy cash has limits. An NFL scout pointed to low-paid veterans who grade out effectively like Las Vegas’s Jermaine Eleumunor or Arizona’s Kevin Beacham. Eleumunor additionally has been a profession swing sort out, as has Denver’s Cameron Fleming. There are some good, budget-conscious solutions. That doesn’t clear up left guard. Liam Eichenberg, yr three, is the hope.
3. Get the appropriate backup quarterback since he’s the second-most vital participant on the roster. Teddy Bridgewater had some odd accidents final yr however there won’t be a greater expertise for this position. Andy Dalton? Gardner Minshew? Former Dolphin Jacoby Brissett had a great yr in Cleveland. This is coach Mike McDaniel’s name, and like final yr it’s a call that might resolve the season.
4. Spend pennies on working backs. The Shananan/McDaniel System doesn’t demand you spend huge right here — effectively, it didn’t till San Francisco traded for Christian McCaffery final season. There’s actually no purpose to spend huge after Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard and Saquon Barkley got franchise tags from their groups. Bringing again Raheem Mostert is smart contemplating he was productive final yr (891 yards, 4.9 yards a carry in 2022) and gained’t break the financial institution. You want another person and there’s James Robinson, who can run and was a great receiving again in 2020 and 2021 for Jacksonville earlier than being traded to the New York Jets final yr.
5. How to repair the tight finish? Maybe you don’t. Maybe McDaniel confirmed what the considered the place final yr. That suits extra within the San Francisco concept, the place a expertise like George Kittle isn’t featured like Kansas City’s Travis Kelce. The prime tight finish on the free-agent market, Dalton Schultz, is much like Kittle as a great receiver and 14th-ranked run blocker on the place final yr, in response to PFF (Kittle was eleventh). But does McDaniel worth the place on the $15 million wage Daulton will get? Maybe the choice is pairing an above-average blocker and below-average receiver in Durham Smythe with an above-average receiver and below-average blocker like Cincinnati free-agent Hayden Hurst.
6. Help the poor particular groups. They had a return-man rotation nobody defined final yr. Do you clear up that with free agent Braxton Berrios, the previous New York Jet and Miami Hurricane, to return punts and kickoffs? Jason Sanders is one other query. His contract has a straightforward out for the workforce this offseason. He has an 82.9 p.c field-goal common for his profession and is 17-26 on area targets over 50 yards. Three free-agent kickers revamped 90 p.c final yr. Matt Gay made 93.3 p.c final yr in Los Angeles. Brett Maher made 90.6 in Dallas and 9 of 11 over 50 yards. You’d need to issue the stadiums in gauging all this, nevertheless it appears time to maneuver on.
7. To maintain or commerce draft picks? I’d maintain them free, contemplating the Dolphins are all-in this yr. But let’s be sensible, too. The Los Angeles Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey is out there. Philadelphia’s Darius Slay is procuring round for a brand new deal and set the marketplace for a potential Eagles re-signing. Cornerback is a deep place this draft. Does Fangio worth such huge man-to-man covers? Doesn’t appear to be it. Also, do you get a younger participant and use the saved cash elsewhere or get a high-priced veteran? Much of it is determined by what Fangio values.
8. More passes to the post-game household space! The Dolphins, as I’ve written for years, are top quality in every single place however on the sector. A gamers’ union ballot of workforce providers agreed. The Dolphins ranked second within the league within the survey of all the pieces from meals providers to coaching services. The solely semi-blip was a C-plus grade within the remedy of households as a result of, “they only give a limited number of passes to the postgame area, which players with lager families feel is very restrictive.”
9. Now that Tua is studying to fall higher by way of jiu-jitsu (and, sure, that’s vital), instruct him on taking fewer hits. People cheered when he lowered his head into Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush final season after coming back from his first concussion hiatus. The franchise has an excessive amount of invested him to play like that. A quarterback controls how he’s hit (or not) out of the pocket for essentially the most half. In the pocket, there’s extra studying to do. He tends to carry onto the ball in hopes of creating a play fairly than throwing it away and residing for an additional down. That’s a problem Nick Saban talked about at Alabama.
10. Throw Dolphins followers a bone and have one other recreation sporting throwback jerseys. I don’t care about this. I’m not 14. And look how I gown. But for as a lot as they’ve put up with the previous 20 years, give the followers this a lot. Please.