In keeping with our AFC East theme, we’ll now take a look at the Miami Dolphins. The “Fish” finished with a respectable 10-6 record in 2020 and narrowly missed a playoff berth. Can head coach Brian Flores finally get his team over the hump in 2021?
So much will depend upon the development of second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa. The 23-year old had a decent rookie season in 2020 by tossing 11 touchdowns and only 5 picks, but many Miami fans were disappointed that he was outshined by fellow rookie QB Justin Herbert of the Chargers.
We have to keep in mind that Tua wasn’t fully healthy last season. The former Alabama standout was still recovering from an awful hip injury he suffered in 2019 while with the Crimson Tide. All reports say that Tagovailoa is finally 100% healthy so 2021 could be a breakout year for him.
The Dolphins management team gave Tua a reason to celebrate by selecting his former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle with the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft. Waddle has the blazing 4.3 speed that all defensive backs dread trying to defend. Waddle, DeVante Parker (793 receiving yards / 4 touchdowns), and tight end Mike Gesicki (703 yards / 6 touchdowns) form a terrific trio of options for Tua to throw the ball to down the field.
The Dolphins also hope to get some good production out of running back Myles Gaskin, who had a decent 2020 campaign with five total touchdowns. The 5-10 200 pound Washington alum only started seven games last season, but was a legitimate threat in both running and catching the ball.
Miami did a fantastic job on defense last season by only giving up 21.1 points per game which ranked sixth in the NFL (footballdb.com). Coach Flores learned from defensive guru Bill Belichick in New England before getting the head job in Miami. Flores loves to blitz and create lots of turnovers, which makes his defense one of the most fun to watch in the league.
The Dolphins’ defense could be even better in 2021 thanks to two rookies, Jaelan Phillips (1st round, 18th overall) and Jevon Holland (2nd round, 36th overall). Phillips was one of the best pure pass rushers in this year’s draft and should be a starter from day one. Holland is an excellent safety with good size and ball skills.
2021 Special Teams
Former Carolina Panther Michael Palardy will take over the punting duties for Miami in 2021. Palardy did not play in 2020 but averaged 46 yards per punt in 2019 with the Panthers. Jason Sanders returns at kicker after an impressive 2020 campaign where he hit 36 out of 39 field goal attempts. Sanders was also incredible from long distance as he hit 8 out of 9 field goals from 50+ yards.
Speedy wide receiver Jakeem Grant will be back this year to handle the punt return and kick return duties. Grant averaged 11.4 yards per punt return last season and also returned a punt for a touchdown.