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Longer Term, Arrow Still Pointing Up For Fins

Despite Early Season Woes, Dolphins Appear To Be On The Right Path

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphin fans are understandably impatient.  After all, we've now endured seven consecutive nonwinning seasons, with an eighth a virtual certainty this year.  Unable to win division championships on the field, we've been instead relegated to trying to win them on the debate boards, like the nerdy kid in high school who wants to date the homecoming queen. If he can come up with enough reasons why he should be able to go out with her, he'll be surprised when it doesn't happen. There is nothing wrong with wanting, even expecting, your favorite team to have success. It's why we have favorite teams to begin with, so we'll have something to look forward to every Sunday.

During the first two weeks of the 2016 NFL season, no team in football had a more difficult assignment than the Miami Dolphins, and no team traveled farther than did the Dolphins. We don't necessarily believe this is a bad thing, and 2016 was never going to be Miami's year, anyway.  The team's roster still has too many holes, and as our esteemed colleague, the Oracle of Oviedo, has pointed out, it's going to take at least one, and maybe two, more offseasons, and drafts, for the Dolphins to contend.

That's the bad news. The good news is, this franchise has a lot of things going for it, starting with Adam Gase, the first real star the Dolphins have had coaching the team since Nick Saban bolted for Alabama ten years ago. Gase looks poised, and comfortable, on the sidelines, and has shown that the job, which also includes play calling duties, isn't too big for him. Perhaps most importantly, unlike many offensive minded coaches, he's taken a hands-on approach to the defensive side of the ball. Since that remains the area of greatest concern, we think this is a positive. Gase is the NFL's youngest head coach, and appears at this juncture unlikely to be fired anytime soon, so he figures to be with the team for many years, and should have them contending for a playoff berth in another season or two.

The Dolphins also have numerous good, young players to build around; their two most recent first-round picks, WR Devante Parker and offensive lineman, Laremy Tunsil, look like future Pro Bowlers. If you were only going to select defensive players twice in the first three rounds, over the course of three drafts, you could do a lot worse than DT Jordan Phillips and CB Xavien Howard. Howard, in particular, has played well despite missing most of this years training camp. Phillips, for his part, has looked much better this year, after appearing overweight and uninspiring as a rookie.  Fourth-year linebacker Kiko Alonso has been one of the highest rated inside/middle LB's, over the first two games, by Pro Football Focus.  Look for Miami to acquire a true middle linebacker in the offseason, and move Alonso to his more natural position, on the weak side.  The offensive line has also played well. Sunday, on the road, in a game the Dolphins never led, the line did not give up a single sack, despite our opponent knowing we had to throw the ball on almost every down.

The Dolphins return to South Florida for their season opener this week, and for the first time since the season began, they'll be favored to win. There is a reason why Miami's over/under win total for 2016, in Vegas, was 7.5, and the Las Vegas bookmakers are seldom wrong. While we make predictions, they make money. The Dolphins are a mediocre team right now, but they at least have some of the key building blocks in place to be a good team in the not too distant future. The weariness of losing aside, do you feel better about the Miami Dolphins' prospects today than you did in 2010, 2011 or a couple of years ago ?  In our opinion, you should.