Miami Dolphins Season Preview 2021 – by Miguel S.
Welcome Miami Dolphins’ fans to the 2021 season! A season for renewed optimism and hope. If you’ve come for hope, then maybe I’m not your guy. Since the playoffs in 1999, I’ve been more guarded with my aqua and orange heart. Those of you who were not around for it, the 62-7 loss to the Jaguars in the 2nd round was devastating. It was Dan Marino’s last game and we’ve been searching for a quarterback ever since.
Fast forward two decades later and in steps Tua Tagovailoa. The excitement of draft night, seeing if he would slide to the Dolphins. “Finally” – said by every Dolphan (well, most of us!).
We had our hope again. Since then, a year later, amidst whispers of trading for a certain Houston QB, some of that hope has faded (at least on my end). I like to call myself a realist. And so I like to go off of statistics and data. This year I’ll be tracking some areas I believe are important for success and hopefully you’ll follow along too.
The whole offense will come down to Tua’s success. Will he take that next step? Having trade rumors out there before the season doesn’t exactly sound like an endorsement from the organization.
I think he tends to throw flat footed at times, which concerns me. His accuracy has been good during preseason, lets see if that continues into the regular season.
Wide Receiver and Tight End are both solid position groups for the Phins. If the injury bug doesn’t hit them, it should be one of the best pass-catching units the league. Gesicki could turn into one of the best tight ends in the league (think Darren Waller). Lets see if he reaches that level.
Two big areas of concern are running back and offensive line. Both areas are needed for a young quarterback to succeed. Gaskin was just okay last year and Brown is just more of the same. Maybe Ahmed can earn more carries this year and provide the speedy threat needed in the play action game.
The running game normally keeps the defense honest and limits them teeing off on the QB. If that’s not an option then more pressure will be placed on an offensive line that seems to be improved, albeit unproven. I’m not going to pretend to be an O-Line expert. However, if I don’t notice you during the game, then you’ve done your job. Hopefully we don’t talk about them much.
- More TDs than FGs in the red zone
- 7.5 or higher yard per pass attempt (Tua)
This will be the shortest and easiest part of the preview. The Phins defense has probably the best secondary in the league. It’s deep and talented. This should allow press coverage and more exotic blitzing that Brian Flores likes to dial up. It should also allow for consistent wins in the turnover battle (see last year).
In my opinion, Nik Needham and Sam Eguavoen had great preseasons…..And they are backups! I’m very old school in thinking that defense wins championships. This is definitely a playoff worthy defensive team.
- Hold teams to under 100 yards rushing
- 3rd down holds (can they limit long drives)
Win the turnover battle. Period.
Kickers are a dime a dozen now in the NFL. If you’re not good, you’re replaced. Sanders has been excellent for years now. I’d expect more of the same from him.
Returners – The Dolphins have few different guys that can handle the duties. Two things you want from returners, no turnovers and smart decisions on fair catches. An added bonus is Waddle this year. I’m not sure how much they’ll put him back there but if he’s anything like a Tyreek Hill, that’s a game changer.
Now for the season expectation. We’ll go with 538 NFL Prediction page: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2021-nfl-predictions/
They have 9-8 as the predicted record. That seems about right, given Tua’s mystery. I think the floor is somewhere around there (7-10 maybe) but the ceiling is much higher (say 12 or 13 wins) if Tua has a great season. Going against Belichick in the first game should be a good test for Tua. I’ll be interested to see how he makes his reads and responds. 538 has the Patriots with a 57% chance to win.
The Dolphins have me as intrigued as I’ve been in years. There’s excitement, hope, and dare I say optimism. Lets start off small, the first 3 games: @ NE, vs. Buffalo, and @ LV. If the Dolphins come back 2-1 after those 3 games, there’s more reason for hope.
If they are 3-0 after those games, then you can count me in! Until then, my aqua and orange heart remains protected.