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99 stories and the Dolphins are just one: ESPN’s top stories for 2018

Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

ESPN has released a listing of the top stories they see for the 2018 NFL season. Dan Graziano, Mike Sando, and Kevin Seifert put together “The 99 NFL players, coaches and themes that will define 2018,” with the Miami Dolphins making the list...once. Yep, the Miami Dolphins are going to be one storyline for this season.

It is not in the “Veteran stars returning from injury” section, where Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, Andrew Luck, Marshal Yanda, Julian Edelman, Eric Berry, and Richard Sherman find themselves. Nor are they listed in the “Rising stars returning from injury” section, where Carson Wentz, DeShaun Watson, David Johnson, and Dalvin Cook are listed. The Dolphins have no “Free-agent acquisitions who will make big impacts” nor a “Young quarterbacks who could make a jump.” The Dolphins are also not in the “Players who could break out” and “Rookies with the most fantasy potential” sections.

Miami finally makes an appearance in the “Quarterbacks on the hot seat” portion, as written by Sando. The 39th story for the year, it should come as no surprise that ESPN is taking a shot at Ryan Tannehill’s return, relying on the “he has been injured a lot” storyline that seems to be a favorite among the national media this offseason.

Sando writes of Tannehill’s being on the hotseat, “Tannehill has not played in a game since Dec. 11, 2016. He needs to stay on the field and perform decently for Miami to stay the course beyond this season.”

(On a funny sidenote, in the next section, “Backup quarterbacks who could make a difference,” Chad Henne, former Dolphins quarterback, is listed for the Kansas City Chiefs. Graziano writes of Henne, “They’re excited about Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City, and they should be. He’s nothing if not exciting. But he’s also 22 years old and has one NFL game under his belt. There’s a nonzero chance he ends up not being ready, and if that’s the case, Henne is the veteran backup who could help win a game or two.”)

Obviously, something strange could happen with Tannehill, and, yes, the Dolphins would have to figure out what to do next year. But, is that not true of any team? Tannehill is returning from an ACL tear, so he is on the hot seat. Watson and Wentz are returning from ACL tears and they are rising stars returning from injury. Watt is coming back from a tibial plateau fracture which was preceded by a back injury that held him out most of 2016 - he has played in eight games since January 2016 - all facts that the ESPN article includes - but he is a veteran star returning form injury. Luck is also a returning star, but he is not even fully throwing yet and missed all of last season with the shoulder injury that seems to continue to be an issue.

Maybe Tannehill does not meet the “star” piece, but does he deserve “hot seat” status as well based on his injury history - but the other quarterbacks are not?