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Why I’m excited about the Dolphins this season

Arizona Cardinals v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The 2018 version of the Miami Dolphins is still under construction, with two preseason games remaining before the games start counting for playoff positioning. There are a lot of worrisome things about the team through the first two preseason games - lack of touchdowns, run defense struggling, penalties and more penalties, cornerback - but this is still the preseason, meaning the team is not game planning, are working on specific things in the games regardless of down-and-distance thoughts, and they are purposely not showing their hand when it comes to situations like the redzone and how they may use certain players (I’m looking at you, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Mike Gesicki).

Even with about just three weeks until the team is on the field for the opening weekend, there is still plenty of time for the Dolphins to find solutions to these issues. It also should not damper the excitement you have for this season. The Dolphins should be better than most of the national media and Las Vegas think. I am excited, really for one big reason:

Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins lost Tannehill last year in training camp, a loss that then spiraled the team into a 6-10 season, with one of the strangest series of unfortunate events since Lemony Snicket. A linebacker disappearing the night before the team’s season opener, a season opener which was in Week 2 because the team was forced to use their bye week in Week 1 when a hurricane evacuated South Florida. A coach videoing himself snorting stuff off his desk and sending it to an entertainer in Las Vegas. And we have not even touched on the injuries that accompanied Tannehill during the year and made the injured reserve list read like a starting lineup.

For some reason, wins are used to tear down a quarterback. Sure, Tannehill has never played in a playoff game, but did he not get the team in position to make the playoffs in 2016 before his knee injury? If you want to say wins are a quarterback stat - they aren’t - then you have to also acknowledge that the Dolphins were a much better team in 2016 than the Jay Cutler / Matt Moore team from last year. How much better?

Tannehill has to be two to three wins better than that, right? For some reason, people seem to think the Dolphins are a first-overall-pick team this year, but they are getting back their starting quarterback, who is better than the backups who played last year, and they are coming into the season with a solidified (hopefully read that as “better”) offensive line, with Kenyan Drake looking like he will be fine as the team’s feature back, and with a tight end who should be able to develop into the pass-catching player the team has been trying to find.

If Tannehill and the offense can be two to three wins better than last year’s offense, that would push the team from 6-10 to around 9-7. That should put them in playoff contention.

The Dolphins will need a few things to go their way this season, including limiting injuries and executing better. They will need to see Raekwon McMillan, also returning from an injury that kept him out for all of his rookie season, solidify the middle of the defense. They will need to see the rotation of defensive tackles step up to replace Ndamukong Suh. They will need to see the rotation of receivers step up to replace Jarvis Landry. There are a lot of things that have to happen for Miami, but this should be a team for which you are excited.

This may not be the greatest season the Miami Dolphins have ever had, but it should be a lot better than what is being predicted for them, and it should be better than what we saw last year. This team is poised to surprise a lot of people in 2018, and a large part of that is the return of Tannehill.