Terron Armstead - While the 3-time Pro-Bowler was Miami’s second most expensive acquisition this spring, he just misses out on my list. Armstead possesses tremendous talent, but it’s a tough ask for just one lineman to have a significant effect on the offensive-line, seeing as it’s easily the most team-oriented position on the field. Simply put, his individual impact is slightly lower than any of the names on my list.
Cedrick Wilson - Recently, I wrote about the underrated talents of Cedrick Wilson. Though he does add a lot of qualities to this roster, his impact (in terms of pure statistics) is almost certainly going to be lower than his counterparts in Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. For this reason, he falls short.
Xavien Howard - You can’t win games in the NFL without a shutdown corner, and Miami have one of the league’s best in Xavien Howard. However, he’s also surrounded by the likes of Byron Jones, Jevon Holland, and Nik Needham. Thus, his overall impact on the team is lower than you’d expect from an elite corner, simply due to the wealth of talent around him. Granted, Howard may be the primary reason those guys are playing at such high levels, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Now, without further ado (and in no particular order), here are the 5 Dolphins who will make the biggest impact next season:
1. Tyreek Hill
Cheetah. The Flash. TyFreak. Whatever you wanna call him, there’s no doubt the superstar wideout is bound to make a huge impact in Miami next year. His chemistry with Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa is growing by the minute, which only bodes well for the team. Of course, his speed is well documented, but his route-running and big-play ability are also perfect fits for Mike McDaniel’s offense.
2. Mike McDaniel
Putting the head coach on a list of a team’s most impactful members? Wow, riveting stuff.
Alright, it’s a bit boring, but what can I say? If Miami is to have any success in 2022, head coach Mike McDaniel will certainly have a role in that, if not the biggest one.
The Dolphins boast an arsenal of offensive talent, and it’s McDaniel’s job to get the best out of this extremely talented group. He’ll look to implement his wide-zone/West Coast offense (think the Shanahan Family coaching tree), which Miami’s roster is more than capable of running.
Off the field, McDaniel’s impact in Miami may even be larger. By all accounts, McDaniel a player’s coach, which is certainly the way the league is trending in 2022. To say the least, it’s a drastic change from the previous regime. For these reasons, I believe McDaniel will make a massive impact in Miami next year.
3. Tua Tagovailoa
I’m putting myself on record and dubbing 2022, the year of Tua Tagovailoa. I still believe in the Hawaii native, as should you.
A lot has been said about the upcoming season for Tagovailoa, namely how it’s a “make-or-break” season for the 3rd-year QB. While there’s certainly some truth to that, I’m more interested in watching his development from Year 2 to Year 3, particularly under an offensive head-coach for the first time in his NFL career.
In a few words, Mike McDaniel’s offense relies on running the ball to set up the passing game, and takes advantage of space left underneath by the defense. In short, his scheme is almost a perfect fit for Tagovailoa’s skillset as a passer. Quick, short routes, and asking your quarterback to get the ball out fast. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that this this won’t be a problem for Tua, not even in the slightest.
This transition to a more modern offensive scheme, as well as the team’s massive improvement in the weapons department, are both key in ensuring Tagovailoa makes a big impact this upcoming season. Miami’s offense is loaded, but every gun needs a hand to pull the trigger. I believe that hand is, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, Tua Tagovailoa.
4. Miami’s RBs
Yeah, alright, I cheated on this one. While I expect Miami’s running game to improve tenfold next season, all signs currently point to a “RB by committee” strategy in Miami. And with no shortage of talent in the backfield, it’s hard to pick out just a single standout player.
Chase Edmonds brings vision, pass-catching ability, and fits Miami’s wide-zone run scheme to a tee. Meanwhile, Raheem Mostert provides blazing speed, and also has experience playing under head coach Mike McDaniel. Sony Michel adds a veteran presence to the room, and is also the best pass-blocker of the bunch. And of course, we all know the qualities that Myles Gaskin possesses.
In 2021, Miami finished 29th in the league in total rushing yards, with a measly 1,568 yards across 17 games. This year, I expect that to change in a big way. All of Miami’s RBs can play, and collectively, they’re set to have a big impact in 2022.
5. Channing Tindall -
Yes, you read that correctly. The surprise selection on my list is rookie linebacker Channing Tindall, who the Dolphins drafted in the 3rd round of the 2022 NFL Draft. A relatively unknown player heading into the 2022 NFL season, Tindall makes my list for one reason, and one reason alone.
He possesses the speed, athleticism, and most importantly, the football IQ to “spy” on Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen. Let’s be real, Miami isn’t going anywhere without finally getting a win over Buffalo, and that starts with nullifying the threat of Josh Allen. In the past, Miami’s corners have been too small to catch Allen, while Miami’s linebackers have been far too slow to chase him down. In Tindall, it’s possible Miami has a so-called “Allen-nullifier”. It’s currently unclear how defensive-coordinator Josh Boyer will use the University of Georgia product, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else lining up directly across Josh Allen next season. If he does, he’s got all the tools necessary to leave his mark on Miami’s defense.
Which Dolphins do you think will make the biggest impact in 2022? Leave your lists in the comments below!