Welcome back to another edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race In The Perspective Of Chase’, a close to daily NFL article previewing your favorite teams season! The Miami Dolphins were a very interesting we team last season, as the addition of Tyreek Hill and development from Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle turned them into a contender for the first portion of the season. But injuries and lack of consistency brought them down pretty quick. However, can Miami go back to the contender they were? Or was last years minimal success what we should expect them from them long-term? Here is everything you need to know about the Miami Dolphins going into 2023!
It has to be answered: Can Tua be relied on long-term?
Last year, the Dolphins started off 8-3, 8-0 when Tua played the entire game. Because Tua was THAT good last season. Over 3500 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, just eight interceptions, league leading TD%, league leading yards per attempt and a league leading passer rating all in just 13 games! And while the injuries were concerning (more later), Tua finally proved he can play at a high level. However, Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson weren’t great in their time replacing him.
A large part of Tua’s success though were his receivers. The Dolphins gave up five picks last offseason to Kansas City to acquire Tyreek Hill, and he went off for a career high 1,710 yards, a mark that was second in the NFL and the 11th highest all time! Next to him was Jaylen Waddle, whose 1,356 yards ranked 7th in the entire NFL, and his 18.1 yards per reception was easily the highest in the league! After that, they really had no quality receivers, but you don’t need that when you have the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. And in the rushing game, Raheem Mostert had close to 900 yards, but Chase Edmunds in the first half of the year and Jeff Wilson in the second half of the year weren’t exactly the ideal backups. Overall, the Dolphins were 25th in rushing yards per game.
Defensively, Elandon Roberts and Jerome Baker each totaled over 100 tackles, and Jaelan Philips and Melvin Ingram each had seven and six sacks respectively. The biggest surprise from the front seven though was Bradley Chubb, whom after being dealt to Miami at the deadline for multiple draft picks including a 2023 first rounder, only accumulated 2.5 sacks in eight games. And even though he had an incredible rookie season a few years back, it’s time to start seeing Chubb elevate his game to the next level. If not, Miami’s pass rush could be concerning. In the secondary, obviously Xavien Howard played terrific football, but Miami was 29th in interceptions forced, meaning their secondary definitely needed an upgrade.
Overall, Miami ended up finishing just 9-8 after their terrific start, and got bounced in round one. But Miami knew they were close. If Tua didn’t get hurt, who knows what this team could have accomplished? Right?! Well, Miami thought that way and decided they needed to improve the team. The Dolphins couldn’t do much in the draft considering they didn’t have a first round pick, but they selected De’Von Achane in the third round to improve the running game, and drafted cornerback Cam Smith in the second round to add depth to the secondary. Achane should come in and be a focal point in this offense at some point in the year, and Smith is a nice backup to develop down the line.
But who knew Miami was not done adding to the secondary? The Dolphins brought in DeShon Elliott to pair with Jevon Holland at safety. They then also signed one of the best cornerbacks in the league, Jalen Ramsey, and then signed Eli Apple! Elliott should make a huge difference, and Ramsey would have if he didn’t go down. However, if he returns in late November/early December like he’s expected to, he’ll make a tremendous impact. And I know many like to clown on Eli Apple for his Super Bowl 56 performance, but he will still be a nice addition.
So Miami improved a significant amount in the offseason. And now they are back to being considered championships contenders. Here are my problems. One, Miami is in a very competitive AFC. So many teams could make the playoffs, and there’s a possibility they don’t even make the postseason. Two, I don’t trust Tua Tagovailoa. He’s continuously gotten hurt, whether in college or in the pro’s. He just can’t stay healthy.
And while he had a great season last year, many forget about his final four games of the season because he got hurt. In his final four games, all of which Miami lost, Tua threw for six touchdowns to just five interceptions while completing under 53% of his passes. That’s an 80.5 passer rating. Between his constant health issues, and tied to that his lack of ability to prove himself for a whole season, I’m not sure I can confidently say Tagovailoa can lead this team to success. And they need to him to! Miami passes for about 40 less yards per game without Tua, and they were 1-4 including their postseason loss without him last year, compared to 8-5 with him. And if he can’t stay on the field or play consistently, the Dolphins are going to be a mess.
Look, I hope this team succeeds. They may be the most fun team in the league. They have so many weapons and pieces that makes this team one of the more enjoyable ones to watch every Sunday. But in a competitive AFC with a team and especially a quarterback that has so many question marks, I’m not sure I can put a ton of faith into this Miami team. The Dolphins will be good, and have a winning record, but I think they fall short of the postseason and not reach their full potential!
Prediction: Dolphins are a fringe-playoff team with the same question marks that they had last year, and don’t make it past round one!
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