The NFL season is upon us, with the first game of the year coming Thursday night. With the return of the NFL season, we also have a return of the oft-loved, oft-hated NFL Power Rankings. Each week, we tour around the web to see what people are saying about the Miami Dolphins, and where they see them stacking up compared to the rest of the league.
The first couple of weeks of the season each year is often volatile, with teams jumping up or down the board with no one really sure what a team is going to do this year. For the Dolphins, that is evident already, with a ranking as high as 12th this week, along with one as low as 23rd.
Below, you will find several rankings for the Dolphins, along with any comments the particular website has on the team. You will also find the start of our year-long tracking of the team’s rankings.
Week 1: 13
Comments: No comments
Week 1: 20
Comments: Jay Cutler could prove a more-than-capable fill-in for Ryan Tannehill. But there are no guarantees in handing the offense's reins to a QB who had been comfortably retired a month ago.
Week 1: 16
Comments: I feel better about The Jay Cutler Experience after he looked fairly sharp in the preseason, but it’s worth repeating: Cutler hasn’t made a Pro Bowl since he was with the Denver Broncos. Cutler was with the Broncos so long ago it doesn’t even seem like it really happened. I have a tough time believing that six months of retirement has turned Cutler into a much better quarterback.
Week 1: 12
Comments: The Adam Gase-Jay Cutler pairing will be an interesting one to watch, but one that will have success. Cutler has a lot of weapons to throw the football to outside.
Week 1: 15
Comments: Steady placing for the Dolphins since the preseason, although this could be a team primed for a postseason run again. That level of play simply wasn't present in the preseason. The defense struggled in Philadelphia, while the first-team offense barely performed together. The Jay Cutler acquisition no doubt can make Miami better, but he was out there for two drives against the Ravens and 18 plays versus the Eagles. Jay Ajayi received solid reviews, however. More consistency from him greases the skids for everybody else -- including the defense.
Week 1: 21
Comments: No comments.
Week 1: 21
Comments: Adam Gase got one productive season out of Jay Cutler in Chicago. Can Gase work his QB magic again with Cutler? Either way, it’s next to impossible to envision the Dolphins either overtaking the Patriots or falling below the Bills and Jets in the AFC East.
Week 1: 18
Comments: What to make of the Miami Dolphins? Miami is already on its second starting quarterback after Ryan Tannehill went down in training camp with a torn ACL. With Tannehill on the shelf, the Dolphins coaxed Jay Cutler out of retirement, stalling the broadcast career of the 34-year-old.
Cutler should have a productive season if the offensive line holds up. The front is a mixed bag, with Mike Pouncey, Ju’Wuan James and Laremy Tunsil all being quality pieces. However, the guard spots are underwhelming. At the skill positions, Miami is loaded with talent including running back Jay Ajayi and wide receivers Devante Parker, Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry. Offensively, this should be a playoff team.
The problem is defensively, where the talent level is significantly lower. Miami has a couple of stars in Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh on the line, but the back seven is weak. Reshad Jones is a rising star at safety, but he’s surrounded by Nate Allen, Xavien Howard and Byron Maxwell. Against any reputable passing game, that isn’t good enough. The linebackers are solid with Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons leading the charge, but neither is a game-changing force.
If there’s anything to point to with the Dolphins that will hold them back are the lack of upper-crust talents. Suh and Landry belong in that category, but who else? Miami has the benefit of playing the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets for a quarter of its schedule, but it also sees the AFC West and NFC South. It won’t be easy getting back to the postseason.
Week 1: 23
Comments: Best-case scenario: Coming into this fall, the Dolphins offense seemed like it’d rank among the most exciting units in the NFL. The trio of DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Kenny Stills stacks up to any receiving corps in football, and there was plenty to get excited about with a group featuring Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, Jay Ajayi at running back, and head coach Adam Gase calling the shots.
The scariest iteration of that offense was lost when Tannehill’s ACL injury cost him the 2017 season, but even with Jay Cutler running show, there’s a version of this unit that can still tear defenses apart. Gase helped engineer the best season of Cutler’s career as the Bears offensive coordinator in 2015, and he chose Cutler over backup quarterback Matt Moore after Miami learned about Tannehill’s fate. This team’s ceiling with the Cutler-Gase combination we saw in Chicago is that of a fringe playoff team, especially considering the defense has the talent to be formidable.
Worst-case scenario: Take it from me, a Bears fan who spent eight years rooting for Cutler: It always looks better on paper. The notion that Cutler isn’t a significant downgrade from Tannehill in this offense is laughable. Miami’s potential took a massive hit the moment that Tannehill was lost for the season, and I’d be willing to bet that plenty of Dolphins fans will bang their heads against the wall by year’s end after watching Cutler regularly toss the ball with no regard for where it lands.
Miami’s concerns on offense don’t end with a 34-year-old quarterback who came out of retirement in early August, though. Center Mike Pouncey is healthy now, but it’s been five years since he played 16 games. The interior of the Dolphins’ offensive line that includes converted tackle Jermon Bushrod is already a concern; if Pouncey is forced to miss any time, things would only get worse.
The Dolphins had a middle-of-the-road defense under coordinator (and current Broncos head coach) Vance Joseph last season, and aside from the front four, there’s no reason to assume they should have an above-average group in 2017. Cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Reshad Jones are nice pieces, but free safety Nate Allen is on his third team in three years for a reason. Miami has some stars up front, but this defense may need time to come into its own under new coordinator Matt Burke.
Stat of note: 31.4 percent. That’s Miami’s pressure rate last season, the fourth-best mark in the league, according to Football Outsiders. The Dolphins’ receiving corps is fun, but a defensive line that includes Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, William Hayes, and 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris is the clear strength of this roster.
Breakout player: Parker. It feels like I’ve been saying this for years, but this seems like the season that the 2015 first-round pick is going to emerge. Injuries and bad habits have hampered him to this point (and he continues to occasionally struggle with the finer points of the position), but he’s way too talented to be a nonfactor as long as he stays healthy.
Week 1: 20
Comments: The offense should be dynamic with Jay Cutler under center. But the defensive backfield is a trouble spot.
Week 1: 20
Comments: Signing Jay Cutler was the best thing the Dolphins could've done. Cutler had one of his best seasons ever under Adam Gase in 2015, so all hope isn't lost now that Ryan Tannehill is out for the year. Still, things aren't ideal, as the Dolphins have some major injury concerns on their offensive line.
The Dolphins signed players to some dubious contracts this offseason, including Andre Branch (3 years, $27 million) and Lawrence Timmons (2 years, $12 million). Doing so did not improve their roster at all. However, I liked their draft, so I think they can still compete for a playoff spot if their offensive line stays healthy, which did not happen last year.
· Week 1 Average: 18
· Week -- Average: --
· Change: --
· Highest Week 1 Ranking: 12 (CBS Sports)
· Lowest Week 1 Ranking: 23 (The Ringer)
· Highest Single Site Weekly Ranking: 12 - Week 1 (CBS Sports)
· Lowest Single Site Weekly Ranking: 23 - Week 1 (The Ringer)
· Highest Average Weekly Ranking: 18 - Week 1
· Lowest Average Weekly Ranking: 18 - Week 1