The Miami Dolphins future looks to be one of divisional championships, playoff games, and perhaps even a Super Bowl win. Cast aside as a rebuild during training camp, Miami has actually had a surprisingly productive and overachieving year. This is very similar to last year, considering the talent level of the team. There are quite a few things that can be attributed to their success. Today we are going to analyze these factors to determine, are the Dolphins on the verge of becoming the next great dynasty in the NFL?
Analyzing the Miami Dolphins Future
The Dolphins have clearly struck gold with their underrated hire of Brian Flores. It has become clear to NFL watchers, players, and coaches around the league that he is one of the top coaches in the league. A clear candidate for coach of the year and one of the runner ups from last year, he has shown he brings the best out of players. The team is often over-achieving simply due to his coaching style and ability to motivate the team. He hasn’t made any big hires for coordinators on the staff; however, the whole team seems to be following suit by consistently playing at a high level.
Chann Gailey (offensive coordinator) is not going to be getting a head coaching job anytime soon simply due to previous stints in the league as well as being closer to retirement at 68 years old. With that being said, his simplistic play-calling style has helped bring along the rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa with modest stats and minimal turnovers (10-2 touchdown interception ratio and 65% completion percentage per ESPN).
Obviously, the team is taking an innovative approach at QB by letting Ryan Fitzpatrick come in and close games when they are tight, but this could actually benefit Tua in the long run since he is able to sit back and watch how he needs to adjust in these situations. There is also zero chance that Fitzpatrick takes the starting job full-time at any point moving forward for this team.
Josh Boyer (defensive coordinator) is the play-caller for the Dolphins’ 2nd ranked defense in the league. It is not entirely unrealistic to think he could get some HC consideration over the next few seasons. With that being said, Miami still had a competitive defense the previous season under different leadership, so it is safe to assume Flores is able to evaluate and groom coaching to bring in the right folks.
The players on this team, on paper at least, should not be competing for a playoff spot; yet the team has been able to stay in almost every game and come up with a few surprise wins. When it comes down to it, there are a few teams outside of the current playoff pictures that most would be able to look at and stack up against this roster and would appear to be better. The Falcons, Vikings, and I would even say the Chargers are good examples of more talented teams not achieving this level of success.
Offensively, the team is young and much less talented than the defensive side; however, they seem to do just enough week to week to stay competitive. They are lead by rookie signal-caller, Tagovailoa, who is a smaller framed pinpoint accurate QB.
The backfield is one of the least talented in the league but seems to do enough to stay on the field and chew clock. The RB position has seen many injuries and currently, the most talented player at the position is un-drafted RB Salvon Ahmed who has been the back with the most juice as of late with almost 300 rush yards per Pro Football Reference.
Defensively, the team is extremely versatile. The defensive back group is among the best in the league. The linebacking corps is average to above-average lead by two talented players in Kyle Van Noy and Jerome Baker. A defensive line is a young group that has vastly overachieved. The Dolphins future at this group looks very bright.
The special teams group in Miami is underrated as is typically the case with top-notch franchises around the league. Jakeem Grant has been his usual self always helping put the offense in a good position as a return specialist. The team often doesn’t make mistakes in this department and is innovative and aggressive when they are on the field.
There really is not enough that can be said about culture in this league. The teams with the highest level of culture just seem to play better than teams with no direction (see the New York Jets). This Miami team seems to play with an attitude and aggressiveness that we just don’t often see from teams this young. Flores seems to have instilled a culture of competing, working hard, and not giving up in this team.
A few weeks ago there was an altercation on the field and rather than trying to bring players back to the sidelines and cool down, Flores lead the charge into the field to protect his guys.
Had a coach like Bill O’Brien done something like this, we would have been able to tell it was fake just by his players’ reactions and emotions. This was real and you could feel it even watching it on TV. Culture is one of the more difficult things these days to do right as a head coach. We have seen many Bellichek knock-offs fail because they tried to instill a “tough love and hard work” culture when that didn’t fit their personality. (See Matt Patricia, Josh Mcdaniels and O’Brien).
The team definitely has some holes in the roster despite their success this year. The team has 2 first-round picks and 2 second-round picks in this upcoming draft. They have around $18 million in cap space in 2021 based on the current projected salary cap, but then $85 million in 2022. There is obviously a lot that they can do with those assets.
A couple of obvious needs they have right now are both for playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. They need a receiver who is able to create separation to create some easy throws for Tua. It would also surely benefit the team to have a high-level talent at RB.
Defensively, albeit an elite defense, there is still surely room for talent upgrades. The line has played past their potential and you can never count on playing past potential long term, so investments here can only stand to benefit the team. The linebacking corps could also stand to add a body or two. If the team is able to get 2-3 more impact players in these two phases, you can guarantee they will be competing with the Bills to win the division next year.
Dolphins Mini Mock Draft
For the Miami Dolphins future draft haul, I would love to see this team go as follows for the first two rounds: (based on current draft order)
1.3 | Gregory Rousseau | Edge | Miami
1.23 | Travis Etienne | RB | Clemson
2.3 | Alex Leatherwood | OT | Alabama
2.23 | Rondale Moore | WR | Purdue
This would bring in a lot of young promising talent that is more close to pro-ready than project prospects based on where they are picked. It isn’t very likely that these are the exact picks the team goes with, and to be entirely transparent, I would love to see the team trade out of the number six spot to secure multiple dart throws at the WR position.
This is an extremely deep class at WR, but no prospect is ever guaranteed to succeed. There have also been whispers this year about possibly moving on from Tua if they like a prospect more than him. I think it is safe to say at this point that he is playing well enough that they will want to surround him with talent rather than move on from him.
What does this mean for the Miami Dolphins Future?
Circling back, could the Dolphins be on the verge of becoming the next great dynasty in the NFL? There probably isn’t a team in this league (except for the Chiefs just because of Patrick Mahomes) that the fans could feel better about their trajectory over the next few years. The team has come a long way just over the past two seasons with Flores changing almost every possible thing about the team. Not to mention, the team is in a really nice spot as far as both cap space and draft picks the next few years.
As long as the team is able to nail 2-3 picks in the 2021 draft to be contributors and bring in more talent in free agency, it is likely the team could be a super bowl contender next year. Of course, that is also assuming Tua continues to improve and at-least become a top-15 QB. From my perspective, it would not be very far fetched for this team, based on coaching and the raising level of talent, to become a dynasty over the next 5-10 years.
Thanks for reading my article on the Miami Dolphins future. Follow me on Twitter @cdlance0903.