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Are the Miami Dolphins a 2018 playoff team?

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NFL: Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the Miami Dolphins, with divergent opinions about what the team is doing. Are they in a rebuild, shedding players like Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey, and Jay Ajayi over the past few months? Are they a win now team adding players like Robert Quinn, Frank Gore, Danny Amendola, and Josh Sitton? Are they a team looking to aggressively move up in the Draft to select a quarterback? Are they a team willing to wait at the number 11 position in the selection process and see who is still on their draft board when they are on the clock?

Are any of those descriptions correct?

Yes.

Are all of them correct?

Yes.

The 2017 edition of the Dolphins finished 6-10, disappointing many after a 10-6 season in 2016. The 2017 edition of the Dolphins did not feel, at least to head coach Adam Gase, as Adam Gase’s team. There were too many players who needed to lead, but did not, and there were at least some players who thought leading simply meant yelling at the other players. This offseason, Gase is looking to change the dynamics of the team, in the locker room and on the field.

Is he getting exactly what he wants? Not always - as seeing running back Damien Williams sign with the Kansas City Chiefs demonstrates. But it does seem like he is trying to turn the 6-10 2017 Dolphins back into a 10-6 team for 2018.

The Dolphins could look to move up to grab a quarterback early in the Draft if they feel the trade is value, and they like the player available. Even if they do that, however, look for number 17 to be under center this season. Ryan Tannehill, who is returning from a twice injured ACL that has kept him off the field since December 2016, is the starting quarterback for the Dolphins.

“We look at everything in a positive light because we’ve got our starting quarterback back,” Gase said this week at the NFL Owner’s Meeting in Orlando.

“I really believe in Ryan, probably like nobody else,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said at the same meetings. “I think he can be outstanding and I think you haven’t seen the best of Ryan Tannehill yet.”

“We feel like we’re going in the right direction,” Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum added. “We’re going to be getting our starting quarterback back and we have a draft to look forward to. Our vision remains the same.”

But are the Dolphins a playoff team in 2018? They seem to think they are - especially with Tannehill back on the field. They are positioning themselves to be a playoff team, even as they reform the roster into the image Gase wants. They are moving forward to be a playoff team, signing key veterans who can bolster the roster, even as media questions what they are doing. (Really, ESPN? Dead last in the power rankings because they allowed Suh, Pouncey, Landry, Jermon Bushrod, Julius Thomas, and Lawrence Timmons to leave?)

Gase has retooled the coaching staff as well, with a lot of turnover this offseason. One of the top moves was reassigning former offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen to be the team’s Director of Football and Player Development, while former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains moves into the same role with the Dolphins. Gase was Loggains offensive coordinator with the Bears in 2015, with Loggains serving as the quarterbacks coach.

Gase is looking to Loggains to take a more hands-on approach to the offense than the role Christensen had the last two years. Gase used Christensen as an advisor, rather than a true coordinator, but realized last year he was getting too focused on the offense and he needs someone to help him shift back to being a true head coach - albeit one who will still call the offensive plays. “We have a very easy-working relationship to where he knows me well enough to where he was doing a lot of the things that I needed him to do,” Gase said of Loggains. “I don’t really have to say anything. He just goes and he does it. He knows how to organize and he knows how to manage the staff. It’s a very smooth transition.”

Gase targeted areas where he thought the team could improve - whether it was players or coaches - and he is working to make it happen. The Dolphins see themselves as a playoff contender this year, in large part because Tannehill is back, and they are working to make sure the rest of the pieces are there. The offensive line has been addressed. The slot receiver position has been addressed. The team is said to be looking for a tight end to upgrade that unit. They added veteran depth behind Kenyan Drake at the running back spot. They added more pass rush ability. They are relying on young players at defensive tackle, but they are also said to be considering a move there as well. The linebacker group could use an upgrade, but the secondary seems to be fairly well set with the young players they have, especially as Tony Lippett returns from injury.

Miami sees themselves as a playoff team. They actually could be right, no matter what anyone else tells you.

Poll

Are the 2018 Miami Dolphins playoff contenders?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Yes
    (859 votes)
  • 26%
    No
    (594 votes)
  • 36%
    They need a good draft
    (827 votes)
2280 votes total Vote Now