Guess who’s back? Back again? No one as slim as Shady. Just me. Tell a friend if you want.
Miami’s offense will finish with a higher rank than the defense
We’re coming in hot this time. It’s true: The Fins brought in former head coach and longtime defensive coordinator/guru/mastermind Vic Fangio to bolster Mike McDaniel’s bridesmaid side of the ball. And Fangio is the exact kind of coaching hire fans have been clamoring for over the last century. The Dolphins brought in elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey (who, in traditional Fins fashion, was immediately injured) and have a formidable front seven anchored by often-overlooked powerhouse Christian Wilkins. With all of those ingredients, how can the defense not dominate?
But the offense can dominate even more. Why, you ask rhetorically? Because they feel the need: the need for speed.
Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Raheem Mostert, and rookie De’Von Achane all run 4.3 40-yard dashes or better. QB1 gets the ball out of his hands quickly. The offense as a whole can strike instantly with huge downfield plays, see: last season.
This is year two in the same system for Tua and company and it will bear dividends. Injuries are the biggest potential hurdle to an absolute explosion in productivity and, even though the defense can be elite in its own right, the offense will be even elite-er.
Speaking of speed:
De’Von Achane will end the season as the starting RB
The aforementioned rookie running back De’Von Achane migrated from Texas A&M to Miami as the 84th pick (3rd round) of the 2023 draft. He’s gotten rave reviews out of training camp and used his first preseason game to flash his abilities to run between the tackles, fly in open space, catch the ball out of the backfield, and even stand up an extra blitzer now and then. All of those attributes combine to form a Voltron of running back success.
If the first depth chart of the season is to be believed (it’s not), Achane is either 5th or 6th in line to start. In reality, I expect he sits third today behind Mostert and Jeff Wilson. He might be edged out by Myles Gaskin, but it’s likely neck and neck. I think Gaskin gets traded, Mostert has injury troubles (based on his history), and Achane outperforms Wilson to find himself on top by year’s end. The Dolphins’ running back room has solid depth for the first time in a while, but I see Achane rising to the top before it’s all said and done.
The Dolphins will sweep the Jets and Bills
The AFC East is a behemoth this year. Buffalo has been floating on top for a bit now and the Jets, with their acquisition of Mr. Relaxation himself, have become media darlings as potential Superbowl contenders. That leaves Miami in the unenviable position of playing two potentially top-tier teams twice each this year.
The good news for the Dolphins is that they also are a potentially top-tier team. Despite the ballyhoo around the others, I think Miami comes in from slightly under the radar to upend both the Jets and the Bills across the board. I’m sure there’s a stat that says if my prediction is true, they’re a lock for the playoffs and more, but if this team is like all other Dolphins teams I’ve ever watched, they’ll find a way to drop both to a bad Patriots team to keep things interesting.
I hope against all hope that this team is unlike so many teams of the past and not only cruises through the easy ones but also shuts down the hype train barreling through their own division.
The Fins are one year from greatness
In spite of my hopes, I bear the curse of both trying to be a realist and being a lifelong Fins fan. This means that I have to believe that the team is going to improve, but I still fear that they’re one season away from the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl run.
Every season at least one team’s lofty pursuits get derailed by forces out of their control. This year it’s going to be the Jets. But already Miami is seeing injuries to marquee players (Jalen Ramsey, Terron Armstead) and we all know how that tends to play out.
There are areas of depth that are probably not to where they need to be yet for a real shot at the Superbowl. The offensive line, tight ends, and linebackers all leave something to be desired after the first string (and sometimes including it). The Fins will still have success this season, but I fear not the level of success that we fans all yearn for.
After this year, I think the front office and coaching staff will come together to fill the few remaining holes and set the team up for one hell of a 2024.
Big Bold Prediction: Noah Igbinoghene will earn a long-term starting role at CB
Meet me outside. This is my favorite type of prediction because it can be proven wrong before the season even starts. The former first-round pick of the 2020 draft has been viewed as a disappointment so far throughout his career and, really, rightfully so. While it’s not his fault he was drafted so early or so young (he turns 24 during this season, his 4th as a pro), there are expectations that come with that pedigree, warranted or not. At a minimum, fans expect an early-round pick to be a consistent contributor after a few seasons on the roster.
I say, this is the year.
Because I feel like it, more importantly, it’d be great for Miami. Xavien Howard is getting older, and Jalen Ramsey will be coming off of an injury like Nik Needham is currently. Kader Kohou seems like an outstanding find, so pairing him with an ascending young partner in Iggy would do wonders for the future of the defense.
Or he could be cut in two weeks.
I guess we’ll all find out together.
What do you see in Miami’s future? Is this the Dolphins’ year? Is any year the Dolphins’ year? Rattle your sabers in the comments below.