It’s a lot easier for fans and experts to predict who the next breakout player will be, rather than which player will regress. After all, a majority of people -including myself- foresaw what Kenny Stills was about to do in Gase’s offense. The writing was on the wall based on OTAs and the repertoire he developed with Tannehill during preseason. His breakout was imminent and thankfully for the Dolphins, it happened. However, instead of doing a list about which players will breakout in 2017 (this will happen in the future) let’s take a look at what players could regress this season. No, this doesn’t mean the player will suck and be sent to the team’s practice squad, it simply means their 2017 season may not live up to the success they had a season ago.
Here are five players that could regress in 2017.
In 2016, Kenny Stills caught 42 passes for 726 yards and 9 touchdowns. He had an important role in Gase’s offense and proved to be a favorite target of both quarterbacks throughout the year. As stated above, regressing doesn’t necessarily mean “suck” and I don’t see Stills’ role in the offense changing. However, repeating his touchdown production will be hard with so many mouths to feed offensively. I can see Stills having similar yards and receptions, but TDs is where I see him regressing in 2017.
Branch had an impressive first year with the Dolphins that led to him getting rewarded handsomely with a new contract. He managed to thrive opposite of Wake and with Suh in the middle, it opened things up for Branch to get to the quarterback. As we all know, Miami drafted a defensive end in the first round and he’s likely to see significant time, primarily in passing situations. This could take snaps away from Branch, resulting in a decline in production. Miami’s coaching staff like Branch but until he can put things together consistently, the verdict is still out on the 27-year old defensive end.
This is probably the hardest for me to type, as everyone know’s Jay Ajayi is my favorite player on the roster. Like Stills, Ajayi broke out in 2017, and put up career numbers. He finished among the league’s best with 1,272 yards and 8 touchdowns. Though this seems unlikely given Gase has said he plans on giving Jay Ajayi 300+ carries this season, teams will be scheming to stop the Pro Bowl running back. There’s a chance he regresses, putting more on the plate of Tannehill as Miami looks to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
I’m aware at this point you guys probably don’t like me very much. This article is very doom and gloom and as a fan, it hurts to even suggest Cameron Wake could begin to regress in 2017. He’s been a monster since joining the Dolphins and at 34-years of age, he recorded 11.5 sacks last season. His role shouldn’t change much this season, and his sack production probably won’t change a ton. However, at some point father time is bound to catch up to Wake, let’s just hope he retires before that time comes.
The Miami Dolphins
The biggest thing for me is understanding that the Dolphins overachieved in 2016. Adam Gase’s first year was a success and although the team is significantly better on paper, it will be much harder for Miami to make the playoffs this season. Miami could actually be a better team and finish with two or three less wins this upcoming season. Then again, they could kick major ass like we all expect, and be a real contender this season. It is anyone’s guess, and I can’t wait to watch the 2017 Miami Dolphins.
Which players do you think will regress in 2017?