Under new head coach Mike McDaniel, the Miami Dolphins look like a different team than they were a year ago. Their defense has been solid for the last few seasons, but their offense has taken a noticeable step forward under the new scheme McDaniel has employed. They’ve also invested a lot of draft capital and money into infusing talent into their roster on that side of the ball.
Entering the 2022 season, the Dolphins were not viewed as a contender to come out of the AFC. If you opt for Bovada football betting, you will likely see a lot of rewards coming in for teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals to be the conference’s representative in the Super Bowl this year.
However, Miami’s victories against the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills early in the NFL season have opened a lot of eyes. We will examine whether the Dolphins have what it takes to make a deep run in the postseason.
Thanks to their blockbuster trade in March that brought three time All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the team, the Dolphins have a unique set of weapons that has the potential to be special. There are other NFL franchises with talented tandems at wide receiver, but the persistent threat that Hill and Jaylen Waddle put on defenses is rare.
Waddle had a very impressive rookie campaign last year, even if Miami did not use him quite the way many people expected. He set a rookie record for receptions, and still found ways to get open even when opponents knew he was the most dangerous offense player.
With the arrival of Hill, secondaries can no longer afford to allocate two players to Waddle—but the presence of Waddle also allows Hill to roam free with more single coverage as well. If teams decide to play their coverages conservatively so they are not beat by the deep ball, then both players can do damage underneath and rack up a lot of yards after the catch.
McDaniel has utilized both players creatively so far this season, involving them in action on jet sweeps and placing them in the backfield. Manufacturing touches for two of the NFL’s most gifted playmakers is always a good idea.
A Ferocious Defense
Even though head coach Brian Flores did not make it past his third season in Miami, the achievements of him and his staff are still being felt by the current roster. Namely, he was able to bring in and develop talent at all three levels of the defense. McDaniel did not replace incumbent defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who has been instrumental in maintaining the continuity between the two regimes.
It seems like Miami was able to steal Melvin Ingram as an additional pass rusher this season, as teams were worried about signing him due to injury questions. He has played well in the early portion of the year and appears fresh since the Dolphins bring him in as a situational blitzer.
The Dolphins are also extremely well setup in the secondary, as safety Jevon Holland is turning into one of the NFL’s best defenders. He has a nose for the football, as evidenced by his three career fumble recoveries and three interceptions in just over a year in the league. Miami also likes to use Holland to bring additional pressure, and he has proven to be effective in that role as well.
Questions At Quarterback and Running Back
With a roster that is pretty well rounded, the key factors that will allow Miami to go from good to great will be the production they receive at the quarterback and running back positions.
The Dolphins completely revamped their backfield in the offseason, signing Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert to anchor their ground attack. Both have been serviceable and solid, and Mostert is familiar with McDaniel from their days with the San Francisco 49ers. As the season progresses and the weather gets colder in other AFC East cities, they will be relied upon even more to keep defenses honest.
The biggest question will be the health of starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a much publicized concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals. Putting the topic of how he was handled in Week 3 and Week 4 aside, Tagovailoa has suffered injuries now at the college and professional level, and it is fair to wonder whether he can be relied upon for a full year, or a playoff run.
Before he was forced from the lineup, he was playing the best football of his career, routinely connecting with Waddle and Hill for sizeable gains. If he can return to the player that he was in September, the Dolphins will be a very difficult team to stop down the stretch.