HEEEEY YOU GUUUUYS (AND GALS)! Remember this mess? From before? I’m back and so is the most wonderful time of the year (almost)! So very soon the Miami Dolphins will open the 2022 NFL season against Back Alley Bill and the New England *Patriots. I call him ‘Back Alley’ because his sweatshirts make him look like he lives behind and/or sometimes inside of a dumpster. Speaking of dumpsters: The 2022 Miami Dolphins! I kid. I really, really, really hope I kid.
There have been some changes a-brewin in South Beach lately. Miami has a new coach with smooth hair and cool glasses. Mike McDaniel most definitely sits on his chair backwards and I’m all about that A.C. Slater energy. When it came to the Dolphins’ sudden need for a new head coach, I was completely on board the Doug Pederson train. Alas, he inherited the mess that is the Jaguars. Meanwhile, Mike McDaniel was a guy whose name I didn’t even know back then. But in the limited time he’s been in charge of our beloved Fins, he’s started to make me beloved him. You like that?
The front office went on a spending spree, bringing in one of the league’s top left tackles and wide receivers alongside a cadre of other less splashy additions at positions of need (especially in the running back room). Most, if not all, of the roster moves were in the interest of bolstering the supporting cast of the Dolphins’ quarterback: Tom Brady.
What’s that? Years, you say? Still in Tampa anyway?
Blowing right past all of the idiocy surrounding ownership as of late, the real actual current (and hopefully future) quarterback is the one and only Tua Tagovailoa. I’m going to go against the current here and not include any predictions about Tua. I hope he puts unending foots up unending asses, Red Forman style, and that’s that.
Now, about that spending spree:
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle will both have over 1,000 yards receiving
Former Kansas City Chief Tyreek Hill was signed to an 18 year, $29 billion contract this offseason. Okay, fine. The real one was only 4 years, $120 million. Point is, he’s going to be expected to produce and produce something fierce. Based on his career history and his camp so far, I think (barring injury) he’ll do that just fine. I also think that his new partner in crime, 2021 1st round pick Jaylen Waddle, will produce as though he too was just handed a cartoonishly huge sack of money. I expect both wideouts to go for over 1,000 yards receiving and make opposing defenses sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done.
Emmanuel Ogbah and Jaelan Phillips will both have double digit sacks
Dynamic Dolphins duos aren’t limited to the offensive side of the ball. Emmanuel Ogbah, recipient of a 4 year, $65 million contract extension himself, notched 9 sacks each of the last two seasons. I think 2022 is the year he gets 10+. Meanwhile, rookie pass rusher Jaelan Phillips had 8.5 sacks of his own, all while learning the ropes of being a professional football player throughout his first season. Look for Phillips to add to his total and join Ogbah in making quarterback sandwiches a la Bryce Petty.
An injury to one offensive lineman will cause complete catastrophe
This thing right here is why I’m not hopelessly optimistic across the board, calling for a deep playoff run, possible Superb Owl appearance, and the first step on the road to total world domination. The offensive line has improved on paper, yes. Bringing in Terron Armstead was a great move. Connor Williams should be an upgrade at whichever interior position he takes over. Filling in the remaining positions with continually improving young guns should round it all out. Yet, I worry I’ve seen this play out before. Back when Branden Albert was anchoring the line at the left tackle spot, things were looking pretty alright. However, he never played a full season for Miami and the games he missed resulted in musical linemen chairs and a test of depth that was failed repeatedly. Terron Armstead has a similar injury history. If he goes down, I shudder at the thought of sliding everyone around to a new spot in the interest of ‘versatility’ and watching the line crumble back to dust. Either the whole line stays healthy all year or the coaching staff plugs-and-plays one guy at a time in each spot. Otherwise, the offense could slip right back into oblivion.
The Dolphins will have two first team All-Pros
Xavien Howard. Tyreek Hill. Jaylen Waddle. Emmanuel Ogbah. Mike Gesicki. Jevon Holland. Byron Jones. Jaelan Phillips. Christian Wilkins. Chase Edmonds. Under the right circumstances, I could see any one of those players making first team All-Pro. Are some more likely than others? Does a bear build an environmentally friendly composting toilet in the woods so he can do his business away from the watchful eyes of busybodies? Of course.
Due to the aforementioned apprehension I have about the offensive line’s ability to operate as a whole unit all season, I’m hesitant to make team-wide predictions. At the player level, though, I think it’s safe to say the roster has improved considerably and it’s not a huge leap to envision Miami having two (or more!) players named first team All-Pro. Hopefully as the players go, the team goes, and the Fins have All-Pro players along with all-world numbers in the win column. But even if the team needs another year to reach deep into the postseason, I think there are plenty of individual players ready to shine right now.
Big Bold Boy: Jevon Holland will win Defensive Player of the Year
I like to cap each annual prediction parade with a real doozy. A suggestion so outrageous that everything goes sideways. You know, real Old Testament stuff. Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!
The only reason that Jevon Holland winning DPOY feels like going out on a limb is because he plays in Miami. His talent is unquestionable. His numbers are gaudy. He’s young and aspiring. If he was on a team that spent time in the national media for things other than rule violations (good lookin out Steve!), calling him a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year would be just another guess in a long line of guesses that on-air pundits make and never get held accountable for being wrong about (good lookin out Mel!). As it stands, he’s a Dolphin, so he’ll need to go well above and beyond the call of duty to get the recognition he’s going to deserve. I think he can do it. Dolphins fans think he can do it. And he’s going to force everyone else to realize he can do it too.
How right am I? How right is too right? Have you ever even seen someone as right as this? Scream your own predictions into your screen using a megaphone and the comments section!