While significant changes were made to the defense, the same could be said for the offense as well. Gone is the sometime misfiring spark plug #14 WR Jarvis Landry. Also gone via retirement is TE Anthony Fasano. Oh, also gone, thankfully, is #6 Jay Cutler, who was kind enough to play for Adam Gase one more time to the tune of $10M. In addition to Cutler evacuating the QB spot, long time Dolphins backup Matt Moore finally made his exit after 7 seasons. Former pro bowl center Mike Pouncey was released after 7 seasons and 3 pro bowls. So those are the departees, let’s now take a look at all the players who have joined the Miami Dolphins offense.
Maybe the largest acquisition, both in size and importance was signing LG Josh Sitton in FA. The 4 time pro bowler should really solidify the left side of the line, and his presence alone should make our young LT Laremy Tunsil a better player. Tunsil will learn from Sitton, as well as benefit from better play aside him. Sitton is an excellent pass blocker, and will open holes for the run game as well. After the release of C Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins wasted no time in trading for SF 49ers starting C Daniel Kilgore. Whether Kilgore is an upgrade over Pouncey remains to be seen, but we do know he will be practicing with his linemates from OTA’s all the way to the preseason, which is a good thing. Kilgore may actually be a better run blocker than Pouncey, so that should help our run game. We picked up the 5th YR option on RT Ja’Wuan James, so that just leaves the RG spot up for grabs between veteran Ted Larsen, up and comer Jesse Davis and last year’s 5th RD pick Isaac Asiata.
The Dolphins decided to fill the WR corps with a couple of veterans, one a long time veteran in WR Danny Amendola, the other a younger and ascending player in WR Albert Wilson. Amendola, a 9 year veteran who played his last 5 seasons with the Patriots is well known to Dolphins fans. One of those irritating smaller, quicker WR’s who we can never seem to cover well, Amendola is also a very clutch big game performer. Amendola really shined in the playoff spotlight, so we can only hope he can help us if we should reach that high. Albert Wilson is on the rise, albeit a low grade rise, but Wilson had his best season last year for the Chiefs. Another smaller, speedy WR who like Amendola, will play more in the slot, his YPR are at 12.5, which is 2.5YPR higher than Jarvis Landry. Wilson has 4.4 speed, so he will add some speed to the middle of the field, and give safeties and LBs fits.
At the RB position, we signed long time veteran RB Frank Gore, who spent his last 3 season with the Indianapolis Colts, after spending 10 years, no typo, with the 49ers. Gore has a lot of wear on his treads, but those reconstructed knees just keep going, and his wish was to finish his career in Miami, where it all started for him at the U of M. Gore joins last year’s standout RB Kenyan Drake, and in the draft in RD 4, we added even more firepower, drafting big back Kalen Ballage out of Arizona St. This big back moves very well, running a 4.46 and has very reliable hands and catches the ball extremely well. That basically gives us a stable of backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield, which is precisely what HC Adam Gase wants.
Saving the best for last, the Miami Dolphins finally addressed the TE position! I’ll say it again, it felt so good, the Dolphins finally addressed the TE position, doubling down in the draft. In RD 2, the Dolphins selected the most athletic TE in the draft, Penn State TE Mike Gesicki (JERSEY STRONG!). In RD 4, the Dolphins selected Notre Dame standout Durham Smythe. This gives the Dolphins just what they have missed for far too long. Gesicki, a super fast athletic receiving TE who can sky for the ball, a vertical leap over 41″ to be that seam busting TE and a nightmare to cover in the red zone. Durham Smythe is a fine receiving TE as well, but he’s also a dependable in line blocking TE, who will replace Anthony Fasano. I can’t wait to see this duo out on the field, terrorizing opposing defenses like our defense always has been.
OK, maybe I didn’t really save the best for last, but I’m very pleased that #17, Ryan Tannehill will be back this season. He’s worked very hard to get back in the game, rehabbing for nearly 2 years. As HC Adam Gase stated, Tannehill has remained right on top of things, learning every nuance of the offense, understanding better the offense, and he will get his hands back on the reins of this offense this season. I know he has detractors, but I’m a fan, and I really hope he can begin this season playing at the level he left off at in 2016. I think he was playing his best football, and the TD numbers were down due to the extremely slow start the team had in the first 5 games. Tannehill was balling, and if he could pick up where he left off, I like our chances for the playoffs with this newly constructed roster.
There’s an awful lot to be optimistic about this season, despite what the Vegas oddsmakers say. Robert Quinn, Cam Wake, Charles Harris and Andre Branch getting after the QB. Finally, a trio of competent LB’s with Raekwon McMillan manning the middle, surrounded by Kiko Alonso and Stephone Anthony, and mix in Jerome Baker on passing downs. A legit deep safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, who can cover anywhere and everywhere on the field, which allows thumper and robber Reshad Jones to make plays closer to the LOS. A big safety who can come up and cover on passing downs, T.J. McDonald, and tackle like a LB, even if they don’t call him one. A defensive line rotation with 8 competent guys who will be rotating much more frequently to keep everyone fresher. Some good young corners, Cornell Armstrong and Jalen Davis to enter the mix, with our own CB/WR returning from injury, Tony Lippett, along with starters Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley.
Just imagine if Devante Parker ever decides to be the WR we all hoped like hell he would be for the Dolphins. Add in Amendola, Wilson, Gesicki, Smythe and the trio of RB’s, and this offense could take off. I really believe there is something to look forward to this season, something way beyond 4 wins. It’s time for Tannehill to step up to that elusive next level, but I think we have the pieces in place to help him get there. A better O-line, a much less predictable offense that won’t be reliant on one player, and so many different personnel formations to run with confidence, 2 TE’s, 3 WR’s, a RB in the slot, 4 WR’s, whatever, we can do it all. Be optimistic, but cautiously optimistic. I don’t want anyone to go off the deep end. GO DOLPHINS!!!