How The Miami Dolphins Can Move Up In The AFC East

What was the biggest news story for the Dolphins in 2017? Was it that they traded their best running back, Jay Ajayi, to the team that went on to win the Super Bowl? That seemed questionable, but no. What about that time their offensive line coach was recorded snorting cocaine? Sounds like a funny story, but he resigned because of that.

The biggest story for the 2017 Dolphins was they signed Jay Cutler to be their quarterback. I know, I laughed too. But, seriously the Dolphins lost starting QB Ryan Tannehill to a non-contact injury to his left knee that occurred during a practice. The same knee that was injured in 2016 causing Tannehill to miss the last 3 games of that season. Tannehill had started every game for the Dolphins from 2012 up to the injury in 2016, a total of 77 games in a row.

The Dolphins felt they needed more than Matt Moore and David Fales.

Jay Cutler mentoring David Fales and Matt Moore

Enter stage left, Jay Cutler.  Cutler was practically retired and had agreed to join the ranks at Fox Sports being a color commentator for their football games. He must have got the idea from Tony Romo.

As they say, money talks. Cutler was primed to get paid somewhere in the range of $400,000-425,000 for the season from Fox.  The Dolphins desperate for a QB with more experience, and someone that Head Coach Adam Gase liked or was familiar with, decided to splurge on Cutler.  The Dolphins more than trevigintupled the salary he would have received with Fox Sports.  I mean, $400,000-425,000 x 23 = about $10 million, seems like a good reason to come out of “retirement.”

The Dolphins have many problems to look at.  The most glaring being the offensive line.

What are the Dolphins going to do with the offensive line moving forward to the 2018 season?  Will making the offensive line better, make the team better?  How relevant can the Dolphins be in a highly competitive AFC East?

The Dolphins are coming into the 2018 NFL Draft picking at #11. Their biggest need is to upgrade a offensive line that is on the the wrong side of balanced.  The NFL has definitely become a pass first, pass often kind of game, but the run game is still important to overall team success.

The Dolphins aren’t much different from any other team.  The connection to success for the them starts with the running aspect of the game.  The Dolphins O-Line rushing game ranked 29th in the NFL for yards per game at 86.6, 22nd for average yards per rush at 3.9 yards, and 29th for total rushing yards with 1,388. Unsurprisingly, they ranked last in rushing touchdowns with an abysmal total of 4.

A good example of the Dolphins ineptitude is Jay Ajayi.  Just take a look at his split numbers between the Miami Dolphins and the Philadelphia Eagles.  With the Dolphins, he had 138 rushing attempts for a total of 465 yards, ZERO touchdowns, averaged 3.4 yards per run, and his longest run was 21 yards.  With the Eagles, he had 70 attempts for 408 yards, 1 touchdown, averaged 5.8 yards per run, and a long run of 71 yards.  The Dolphins clearly have a problem establishing the run game.

The Dolphins pass protection is slightly better. They were 11th in fewest sacks allowed with 33 sacks and they were 12th in fewest QB Hits at 79 last season.  Protecting the quarterback isn’t as much of an issue as running the ball.  Drafting a guy to beef up the O-Line so a run game could be established would be a great benefit to the Dolphins offensive schemes.

The Dolphins have some good options to look at in the draft.  Many analysts and mock draft pickers have the Dolphins going for an O-Line guy.  I don’t disagree.  Just looking at the numbers, the thing that is missing in Miami is a dynamic run game.  Any team, any where can throw the ball around any more but there is something to be said about a team that runs the ball.

The Top 10 teams in rushing:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Playoffs, lost AFC Championship game
  2. Dallas Cowboys – Playoffs? Not this year
  3. Philadelphia Eagles – Playoffs, won the Super Bowl
  4. Carolina Panthers – Playoffs, lost Wild Card game
  5. New Orleans Saints – Playoffs, lost Divisional Round
  6. Buffalo Bills – Playoffs, lost Wild Card game
  7. Minnesota Vikings – Playoffs, lost NFC Championship game
  8. Los Angeles Rams – Playoffs, lost Wild Card game
  9. Kansas City Chiefs – Playoffs, lost Wild Card game
  10. New England Patriots – Playoffs, lost the Super Bowl

Want to get to the playoffs? Get a run game Miami!