It’s obvious that the focus of this offseason has been the offense. We traded for one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the NFL in Tyreek Hill. We brought in hands down the best LT available in free agency in Terron Armstead. We signed free agent RB’s Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, as well as tendering Salvon Ahmed. We signed FA WR Cedrick Wilson formerly of the Dallas Cowboys. The huge contracts and majority of trades and signings happened on the offensive side of the ball, but we very quietly brought back our entire starting 11 on defense, as well as most of the depth players behind them. You can ask “Was our defense that great last year that we stand pat?” Yes, and no would be my answer. I think we have a great mix of young and veteran players, and most of our veteran players are still young.
Our RDE Christian Wilkins had an elite year, and there’s no reason to think he won’t either play as well or better this season. We have some young players that just started to show how good they can be such as SLB/DE Jaelan Phillips and safeties Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones. Raekwon Davis came off an early injury and wasn’t 100% last year and I expect bigger things from our young NT. Our veteran CB duo is still among the best CB tandems in the NFL if not the best. While X is the big playmaker, whether it’s an INT, a forced fumble or fumble recovery, he’s always around the football making plays. Byron Jones is a very underated cover corner. A lot of teams just avoid X and throw at Jones, and Jones is a top 10 rated CB on PFF, if you care about such things. Jones isn’t a WR playing CB, he’s a CB who just blankets his guy. Zero INT’s, but he rarely gets beat bad. Our two young safeties Holland and Jones looked better as the season went on and Eric Rowe is also a fine player. Jerome Baker is another underrated player, he plays every down and and does it all, from making the routine tackles to blitzing, to covering RB’s and TE’s, #55 is there. CB Nik Needham is one of my favorites and just a guy who steps in and gets it done. AVG hasn’t really busted out, and he may never do it, but he’s a guy that gets a lot of pressure, in fact he had the second most QB hits on the defense with 20 behind Emmanuel Ogbah, who we re-signed to a big contract. He’s worth every penny.
One thing that is easy to skip past is that the huge investment in the offense will help the defense. If we can keep the chains moving and score more than we did last year, which I believe is nearly certain, then the defense will be on the field less, and won’t be forced to carry the team as often as it did. If we can jump on some teams and take some leads for a change, that puts the pressure on the opposing offense and makes them more one dimensional, and will play right into our strength, better pass rush and lockdown, playmaking secondary. We were 22nd in points scored and 16th in points allowed. Say we go up to midpack or better in scoring points, to 16th or better, I’m almost going to guarantee you that our points allowed will drop into the top 10.
This team should be a lot of fun to watch. The speed on the offense with Mostert, Hill, Waddle and Gesicki is going to be fun. All of a sudden, that left side of the line with Armstead and Williams will be plowing spaces for the run game, the screen game, and add in FB Alec Ingold, you just have to expect a better result running the football. We brought back blocking TE Durham Smythe, Michael Deiter is our C, and our best OL from last season, RG Robert Hunt should stay right there. There should be a fierce battle for the RT spot, between Austin Jackson, Liam Eichenberg, Larnell Coleman and Robert Jones, and potentially another player who is not yet on the roster, either a draftee or post June cut. I understand we have a new system but I feel we’re in good hands with Mike McDaniel. I don’t expect him to struggle implementing his system. The players like him, listen to him. he r-e-l-a-t-e-s to them. They get him. He’s charismatic. Our team will be all in, and we will be much better on offense, we have so much more talent. Talent wins. So while the offense will be much better, don’t overlook the Dolphins defense!