At the onset of the offseason, the 2021 Miami Dolphins came off their second-straight winning season but had not found a way into the postseason in either year. Things appeared to be moving in the right direction for a franchise that was once the team with the highest all-time winning percentage in the league. Then everything suddenly changed — and the expectations may even be higher now.
Immediately after the 2021 season ended, the Dolphins surprisingly fired head coach Brian Flores. Reports indicated communication had broken down within the organization and the team had to make the move after just three years under Flores. Miami turned to San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to fill the surprise vacancy, and the team turned their focus to improving the offense.
After having already shaken up everything with the head coaching change, the team made a bold statement as the offseason began. Miami traded for wide receiver Tyreek Hill on March 23, adding a three-time First-Team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowl selection and immediately revamping the offensive firepower. In exchange for Hill, Miami sent the Kansas City Chiefs a first, second, and a fourth-round draft pick in 2022, along with a fourth and a sixth-round pick in 2023.
The Dolphins also attacked the free agency market this year, adding more offensive weapons to the roster. Running backs Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Sony Michel were all added, as was fullback Alec Ingold and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. The Dolphins also recognized the need to address the offensive line, first adding interior lineman Connor Williams, then signing the top free agent on the market, tackle Terron Armstead.
Suddenly, Miami’s offense was not only improved, but almost completely overhauled in just one offseason. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, entering his third season in the league, has the weapons and the protection — assuming the younger players being asked to surround Williams and Armstead are able to take another step forward in their development — needed to succeed in the league.
The Dolphins’ defense, despite a head coaching change, is positioned to pick up where they left off the 2021 season. Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer and most of the defensive assistants were retained, while the team added former Dolphins greats Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain, a former cornerback tandem, to the staff. The team also brought back most of their defensive players, while adding linebacker Melvin Ingram III. A unit headlined by cornerback Xavien Howard and safety Jevon Holland kept the coaches and the chemistry they developed last year, added a veteran pass rusher and put themselves in a position to continue to lead the team as the offense develops.
The special teams were not left out of the makeover, with punter Thomas Morstead signed to replace Michael Palardy.
The Dolphins, having used their early picks in the 2022 NFL Draft for Hill, did not have the firepower they had in previous drafts, but they were able to add several potentially developmental players. Linebacker Channing Tindall was added in the third round, along with wide receiver Erik Ezukanma, and the Dolphins used their two seventh-round picks to select linebacker Cameron Goode and quarterback Skylar Thompson.
The 2022 offseason marked a clean start and a reset for the Miami Dolphins. How will it play out?
Through the offseason and the draft, the franchise appears set to compete in the AFC and pull themselves out of a 20-year stretch of mediocrity. But even if it started here, how is it going?