Both Chris Grier and Mike McDaniel have done the preliminary work and have assembled the 53 man roster. The trade for one of the top WR’s in the NFL (Tyreek Hill) left the Dolphins quite short in the 2022 NFL Draft as we relinquished our 2022 1st RD, 2nd RD and 4th RD picks, as well as 2023 4th and 6th RD picks. The good news is that in addition to acquiring Tyreek Hill, 3rd RD pick LB Channing Tindall , 4th RD pick WR Erik Ezukanma and 7th RD pick QB Skylar Thompson have all made the 53, and 7th RD pick LB Cameron Goode was signed to the practice squad. There is a very different feel to this season, especially after seeing the offense erupt against the Eagle is PS game 3. Of course it’s just a preseason game, but it was the first glimpse of what can be accomplished with the talent we have and a scheme that can really open up this offense.
Now that I’ve commended both Grier and McDaniel, now the job rests firmly on the shoulders of Mike McDaniel. I can’t emphasize enough how important it was to bring back the entire defense intact, including the DC Josh Boyer, although I understand that many feel the defense was run by former HC Brian Flores. The significant point is that Boyer will continue with the same defensive scheme, with the same roster. One caveat is that CB Byron Jones will be absent for the first 4 games as he remains the PUP list, so CB Nik Needham will need to fill some big shoes for 4 games. Of course with Needham being thrust into the starting spot, the depth will move up as well, which means CB Noah Igbinoghene will be getting a lot more snaps, and will likely rotate with Needham inside and out. Iggy did not have a great preseason, but with injuries to Byron Jones and Trill Williams (IR), Iggy will have an opportunity to show his value. Igbinoghene, a former first RD pick is a very good athlete, but his cover skills haven’t really developed as the Dolphins have hoped. Iggy is still a young player, he’s 22 and was drafted as a raw talent at 20 years old, much like his draft mate LT Austin Jackson, who was also selected in the 1st RD of the 2020 draft.
While McDaniel assembled his staff, he brought in a lot of experienced coaches from around the NFL. His ego didn’t get in the way when he brought in former HC Darrell Bevell, and having continuity leaving the former DC Josh Boyer in place, allowing former OL coach Lemuel Jeanpierre, former RB coach Eric Studesville to continue in their jobs. Frank Smith our offensive coordinator has been an offensive coach for many years as an OC in college to OL Coach with the Saints and Tight Ends coach with the Bears and then holding Mike McDaniels post, running game coordinator with the Los Angeles Chargers in ’21. I really liked the way he put the staff together, and I also think Wes Welker is a great WR coach, as Welker spent his entire NFL career overachieving and learning the correct way, the best way to do things and perfecting them, and he can now impart this wisdom and attitude to all the talent we have at receiver. There are high expectations for this team, and Mike McDaniel as both architect and steward, will have a huge impact on how far this team goes.
With the 53 roster in place, let’s look at some surprises. If I told you 4 months ago the starting 5 WR’s on the Miami Dolphins would be Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Wadle, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Erik Ezunkanma and Trent Sherfield you’d probably laugh. Ezukanma, 4th RD draft pick this year showed he’s got the makeup of an NFL WR. He may not have the speed of Devante Parker, but he’s got the size and competitiveness that Parker has, and hopefully he’ll be a healthier, stouter version of Parker. Trent Sherfield is another bigger receiver who has not played as a receiver all that much, but is a ST’s guy who has played for the Niners in ’21 and the Arizona Cardinals for 3 seasons prior. The talent (and hopefully availability) of this WR corps should be considerable better than last year ( Waddle, Parker, Hollins Albert Wilson, Preston Williams and Jakeem Grant. Besides Waddle, you couldn’t on most of the other guys to play week in and week out with the exception of Mack Hollins, and then of course talent wise, it’s not close.
Will Mike McDaniel’s version of the Shanahan offense make our O-line into and average or better unit in ’22? That’s one of the biggest questions, and the answer may well determine how successful this team is this season. Terron Armstead is an excellent LT when healthy, top 5 in the NFL. LG Liam Eichenberg had his struggles last season, but I think he’s got the talent to get things right this season. Connor Williams from the Cowboys steps in at C and I think his presence and Armstead’s as well make Eichenberg a better player. Sometimes, your as good as the guy next to you. RG Robert Hunt returns and he was a bright spot on the O-line all season. Again, playing next to Williams will make him better, and then the line finishes with RT Austin Jackson. Some fans just hate this guy but he’s a young, raw, talented athlete. Like I previously mentioned, like CB Noah Igbinoghene, Jackson was a 20 YO draftee. This outside zone blocking scheme is a better fit for Jackson who is not a physical mauler. He has tons of athletic ability with good size and arm length and he should be a better player in this scheme.
On defense, the one concern I have is carrying only 5 trench guys, Ogbah, Wilkins, Davis, Sieler, and Jenkins. If everyone stays healthy, I like that Sieler gets more reps, he’s a heckuva player and could probably start on a bunch of other teams. We do have a lot of big LB’s that will move up on the line in speed rush packages like Melvin Ingram, Trey Flowers, Jalean Phillips, AVG etc. We’ll start the season with Baker and Roberts inside, and Phillips and either Ingram or AVG on the outside. I’m curious to see how ILB Channing Tindall progresses and if he can earn more playing time and steal some from both Roberts and Eguavoen. In addition to that, w/o Byron Jones, how will this secondary, which has long been a strength of this defense, handle the loss of Jones?Will Melvin Ingram and Trey Flowers, two new additions make an impact on this up and coming defense? The other big question for me are who are the returners? Is it Mostert, Waddle, Hill, Edmonds, and/or Igbinoghene? Most likely it will be combination of all of the above, using Hill in only certain circumstances to give the return game a jolt. We must keep Hill healthy because he’s such an important part of the offense.
I have to admit I’m surprised about the 4 RB’s on the roster. I was pretty sure either Sony Michel or ZaQuandre White would be in the RB stable, instead, 2 guys who just keep pushing are back, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. Let me say that neither of these guys make things w/o space, and neither guy runs over defenders. What they both do well is given a crease and some space get going quickly, and both catch the ball very well. We’ve seen both play behind a poor O-line, both can definitely succeed with better O-line performance. Raheem Mostert who has had trouble staying healthy may be the lead back, he’s just super fast and is a HR threat every time he touches the ball. Chase Edmonds is a bit heavier version of Gaskin and Ahmed, who both top out at about 195, where Edmonds is about 210. None of the backs in our RB corps are or have been lead backs that carry the load for an entire season and Raheem Mostert has the highest season yardage total (2019 SF 49ers) at 772 yards on 137 carries for a special 5.6 YPC, with ZERO game starts. So what we have brought in is the prototype for a running game by committee approach. All of these guys are capable players but none are a Derrick Henry type or Ezekiel Elliott type who require a high volume of carries each and every game. There are benefits to this, you’re not relying on any one guy, and you can plug in any of these guys at any time. It will be interesting to watch!