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Far too early power rankings: ESPN views the Dolphins as a top 10 team

Is it September yet?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a seven-month wait to see what the Miami Dolphins look like in Mike McDaniel’s second year as head coach — but we can still talk about it.

Miami finished the 2022 regular season with a record of 9-8, earning a trip to the playoffs despite a five-game losing streak late in the year.

The Dolphins came within three points of upsetting the Buffalo Bills with rookie seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson behind center but ultimately fell short 34-31.

While the late-season skid soured expectations, a lively performance in the Wild Card round is a reason to be optimistic about Miami headed into the 2023 season.

ESPN released early NFL power rankings for next season, and the Dolphins earned the No. 8 spot, sandwiched between the Los Angeles Chargers at seven and the Minnesota Vikings at nine.

“While operating at 100%, this team proved it could be among the best in the NFL,” beat reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques wrote. “The problem came when the Dolphins were at 100% for only a handful of weeks. The return of Brandon Jones and Nik Needham should shore up the defense — which stands to improve with the addition of coordinator Vic Fangio.

“Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion issues provided one of the biggest stories in the league this season, but Miami is confident that after an offseason of rest, he will be good to go in 2023.”

Tagovailoa will be “learning how to fall” this offseason as he tries to avoid feature head injuries. Meanwhile, Needham and Jones have documented the rehab process on social media.

Injuries are unpredictable, especially in a game like football, but a healthy roster could make the Dolphins quite dangerous in 2023.