The Miami Dolphins are tanking the 2019 season. Everyone says so, so it must be true. Media members are developing plans for the Dolphins to be able to throw games later in the season to make sure they finish the season winless and able to claim the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Except, what if the Dolphins ruin the best laid plans of people not inside the building.
Stay with me, because my Twitter responses to this article are going to be hilarious. No one thinks the Dolphins can win three games this season, let alone three of the next four. But, the Dolphins’ schedule eases up some for this quarter of the season.
The Dolphins lost to the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Los Angeles Chargers in the first four weeks of the season. They have been outscored by 137 points this season, but it has been done by teams with a combined 13-7 record. Only the Chargers, at 2-3 on the year, have a below .500 record. It was a brutal start to the year.
Compare that to the 5-13 record for the Dolphins’ next four opponents, and there is a possibility that Miami could not only score a win, but they could get multiple victories over the next few weeks. Assume the Dolphins lose to the Buffalo Bills in Week 7 - an assumption I hate to make but one that seems pretty accurate right now. Buffalo is 4-1 on the year. That means the other three teams Miami will face over the next four weeks have a combined 1-12 record.
The Washington Redskins (0-5) just fired their head coach and do not know who their starting quarterback is or should be.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) have lost their starting quarterback for the season and could be without their backup after a nasty looking concussion last week.
The New York Jets (0-4) are...well, they are the Jets. They are a mess.
None of those three teams come close to the point differential Miami has thus far, with the Redskins being outscored by 78, the Jets by 62, and the Steelers by 15.
The five years with the lowest offensive yards per game this season? The Redskins (281.0), the Steelers (280.6), the Chicago Bears (266.0), the Dolphins (225.0), and the Jets (179.5). The Steelers are 25th in the league in passing offense (213.6 yards per game), the Redskins 26th (212.2), the Dolphins 31st (173.3), and the Jets 32nd (113.5). Rushing offense has the Redskins 27th (68.8), the Steelers 29th (67.0), the Jets 30th (66.0), and the Dolphins 32nd (51.8). The Dolphins cannot score this year, averaging a league-worst 6.5 points per game - but the Jets are 31st at 9.8, the Redskins 30th at 14.6, and the Steelers are 22nd at 19.8.
None of there teams are offensive juggernauts. Miami should be able to keep up with all three of them.
The defenses are better for Miami’s opponents, with the Dolphins dead last in the league with 472.0 yards per game allowed. The Redskins are the closest to Miami in the group, coming in at 28 with 407.8 yards per game allowed. The Steelers are 17th at 355.6 yards per game allowed while the Jets are 12th at 347.8 allowed per game. In passing defense, Miami is 31st at 296.3 allowed, while the Redskins are 23rd (263.8), the Jets are 21st (260.3), and the Steelers are 12th (229.8). The Dolphins are allowing a league-high 175.8 yards per game on the ground, while the Redskins are 28th (144.0), the Steelers are 21st (125.8), and the Jets are 7th (87.5). Miami is allowing 40.8 points per game against them, the 32nd ranked team in scoring defense, while the Redskins are 30th (30.2), the Jets are 25th (25.3), and the Steelers are 15th (22.8).
Miami’s defense will have to tighten up, and the offense has to find a way through the opposing defenses, but they are not facing the first (New England), sixth (Dallas), 11th (Chargers), and 21st (Baltimore) ranked defenses (yards per game) like they did in the first four weeks.
According to Football Outsiders, the Dolphins, who are last in offensive defensive-adjusted value over average (DVOA) ranking, will face the 30th (Jets), 29th (Redskins), 20th (Steelers) DVOA-ranked offenses (and the 28th in the Bills, but again, we assume a loss there for Miami). As for DVOA-ranked defenses, Miami is again 32nd, while Washington is 26th, Pittsburgh is 19th, and the Jets are 12th.
Pro Football Focus ranks the Dolphins 32nd overall in their grading system, while the Jets are 31st the Redskins are 29th, and the Steelers are 20th. In offensive grades, the Dolphins are 31st, with the Jets ranked below them at 32, while the Redskins are ahead of them at 30 and the Steelers are 28th. On the defensive side of the ball, PFF’s grades have Miami ranked 32nd, the Redskins 24th, the Jets are 16th, and the Steelers are 6th.
Meanwhile, quarterback Josh Rosen seems to be getting better in each game and the offense looks more in rhythm with him than it did with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins are looking more like a competitive team, at least in the first half of games, and could extend that to challenge some of the other under-performing clubs in the league.
No game in the NFL is easy. None of these games will be easy for Miami. But they could be easier. Miami could exploit the confusion that is in Washington right now, couple with the Dolphins coming off their bye week, to pick up a first win of the season.
Then, after a loss at the Bills, they could look to find a second win against the Steelers on Monday Night Football.
Then they welcome the Jets to Miami for the first of two meetings between the teams fighting for last place in the AFC East. The Dolphins are not going to want to be embarrassed by former head coach Adam Gase and the Jets.
It is not likely, but the Dolphins have a chance at going 3-1 over the next four games.
What would happen then?