Last year was a disappointing year for our offense. We only managed to score 19.4 points per game, and averaged only 331.7 yards per game. Both of those are too low to be anywhere near playoff contention. So let’s take a look at what we’ve done to improve our offense this season.
On February 8th, we made our first and wisest move of the offseason, terminating the contract of OT Jason Fox. On March 7th, we terminated the contract of veteran WR Greg Jennings. March 11th, we made our first effort to shore up the offensive line, signing OL Jermon Bushrod, along with OL Sam Young. Bushrod is a quality veteran OT, who played for HC Adam Gase with the Bears last year, while Sam Young was a swing tackle for the Jaguars. Both moves to improve the depth at OT, and in Bushrod’s case, maybe add in another challenger at the OG position. On March 16th, we re-signed backup QB Matt Moore.
We then signed WR Griff Whalen, formerly with the Colts, and the next day, signed OG Kraig Urbik, who started a lot of games early in his career for the Buffalo Bills, but in the last 2 years, has been a depth player, but still saw action in every game, but only starting 13 out 32 games. On 3/29, we signed TE Jake Stoneburner, and 2 days later, signed OT Ulrick John, formerly of the Colts. On April Fools Day, no kidding, we signed RB Daniel Thomas (now truly DT3, as this is his 3rd time with the team), RB Isaiah Pead, and also signed TE MarQueis Gray, formerly of the Browns, Vikes and Bills. Our last move for the offense was signing ERFA WR Matt Hazel.
It was pretty clear, this organization was not happy with our offense, and made plenty of moves to ensure the OL shortcomings of years past would not occur on their watch. Even before the draft, you have to admit we truly improved the depth on the offensive line, and would not leave our 2 tackles spots undermanned. Then came the draft . . .
Not since the dramatic fall of QB Dan Marino in the 1983 draft have the Dolphins received such a gift with a first RD pick. OT Laremy Tunsil was almost unanimously rated as the best player in the draft, although some had CB/S Jalen Ramsey rated equally or higher. Regardless, when you’re making your selection at #13 in the first round, you’re not expecting in the least to have the best prospect waiting for you to select them, but due to a social media snafu, Laremy Tunsil is ours. This was huge, not only for this season, but possibly the next decade or more. Make no mistake, despite hearing nonsensical assassinations of this kids personality, along with rumors of pre arthritic ankles, we got the best OL in this draft, hands down!
It didn’t end there though, the Dolphins were determined to improve this offensive unit, and in the 3rd RD, we selected Alabama RB Kenyan Drake. Not the workhorse of that Alabama team, that was Derrick Henry, but Drake is a very talented RB who is a shifty runner, and a good receiver out of the backfield, who also brings us special teams value, as he was the gunner on kickoffs. We then traded back into the 3rd RD, and in order to get back into the 3rd RD, we traded away TWO 2017 picks, a 3rd RD and 4th RD. The 3rd RD pick will be our normal 3rd RD pick, but the 4th is conditional, so if we are granted a 4th RD compensatory pick, that will be the pick that we give away. Either way, a steep price to pay, but I LOVE the player we got with that selection. With pick #86, the Dolphins selected Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo. Carroo is physical receiver, who compares himself to Anquan Boldin (but faster!). He has strong hands, and he scores TD’s, and was a big play machine for Rutgers. As excited as I am about getting Laremy Tunsil, I’m excited to see what Carroo can do for you, despite the fact that we have no picks next year. (j/k)
OK, so we probably went defense with the rest of our picks, right? NO! Gase was not in a daze, and his mandate to fix this offense was ringing clear in the Miami war room, as our next selection in RD 6, was diminutive WR Jakeem Grant, from Zach Thomas’ Texas Tech. Grant really is a small NFL player at 5’6″ 165, but this kid is ELECTRIC! Grant has reportedly, though not officially, run a sub 4.2 40 yard dash. The fact that he’s so low to the ground allows him to make unbelievable stops and cuts, his highlight reel is something to see.
So that’s it for the offense. NO! No it isn’t! We did draft a defensive player in the 6th RD, but never mind, we’re all about that Gase, bout that Gase, no defense . . . With our first of two 7th RD picks, we nabbed Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty. This kid lit it up last season, and no, not with a gas mask, on the field! Doughty completed 72% of his passes, with a high 9.4 YPA, over 5000 yards, 5,055 to be exact, along with 48 TD’s and only 7 INT’s. That’s a fabulous season in any conference, although we all understand that Conference USA is not the SEC. He has been compared to Chad Pennington, so hopefully the kid can stay healthy, unlike the great Chad Pennington. At worst, we’ve drafted Matt Moore’s replacement as Tannehill’s backup, and if the kid shows he’s an NFL caliber starter, it’s a great problem to have having 2 quality NFL QB’s.
With our final pick, our last but not least, we took UCLA TE Thomas Duarte. Another exciting addition to the Dolphins offense. I’m ready to personally guarantee that this kid not only makes the 53, but that he makes a little impact. He’s essentially a large, slightly bulked up WR who will be difficult for a LB or safety to cover. I expect he will be used as a 2nd TE or even in the slot. Duarte has reliable hands, and that alone should have him making the roster.
Overall, it was a pretty impressive haul for the offense, both in FA, and the Draft. We were very careful not to allow the O-line to be our undoing this season, as opposed to seasons past. We found many different types of weapons for our QB Ryan Tannehill, from the fast, shifty RB Kenyan Drake, to the alpha receiver Leonte Carroooooooo, to the electrifying Jakeem Grant and the sure handed TE Thomas Duarte. We’ve come a long way Dolphins fans, and of course, we need to reap the fruit of the moves we made, but I have to admit, I’m very much looking forward to see what we can be this season. I’m a little unsure if we did enough on the defensive side, but I do think the offense playing at a high level takes a lot of pressure off the defense, and now, with a veteran defense with some youth sprinkled in, maybe we’ll have a stronger backbone and resolve to not break like we did last season. All I know is, the season can’t start fast enough for me, I WANT SOME FOOTBALL NOW!!!!
I expect us to run the ball more than we have the last few seasons, and really, the run will game will be a full time participant in our offense, not just a first act. I don’t think we’ll be running the ball 40 times a game, but if it can be done to close out a game with a win, maybe it happens now and again. I know Tannehill has his doubters, but I think with adequate protection, which I expect him to get this season, we’ll see some real positive strides from our still young QB. With better protection, Ajayi and Drake running the football, Parker, Landry, Carroo, Stills, Cameron, and yes, even Duarte, I think there will be plenty of targets, and lots of success this season from this offense.
Here’s to the 2016 Adam Gase led Dolphins turning this franchise around, having a successful season, and more of those to come.
GO MIAMI DOLPHINS!