The Miami Dolphins have been a team of underachievers for quite some time now.
Since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season, the Dolphins have made the playoffs four times, winning only one out of just 5 playoff games in the 21st century.
This is a far cry from the Don Shula days where they made play off appearance after play off appearance.
The Dolphins couldn’t have looked any further from the playoffs when they started the season 0-7. They opened the season with a 59-10 loss and a 43-0 loss against the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots respectively.
The Dolphins started to show signs of improvement, getting their first victory in a 26-18 home win against the Jets and against ex head coach Adam Gase.
A second consecutive win followed, on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. The Dolphins would finish 5-11 with a 5-4 record in their last nine games.
The highlight of the season came right at the end, in week 17 away against the New England Patriots in a 27-24 victory, their first in Massachusetts since 2008.
The team got better and better, with wide receiver Devante Parker having the best season of his career.
Parker, who was for years seen as someone not fulfilling his potential, secured career bests in receptions (72) , receiving yards (1,202) and receiving touchdowns (9).
Mike Gesicki caught for five touchdowns and finally looks to be an NFL standard tight end thanks to his second season in the NFL after a rookie season which ended with 0 touchdown catches.
The Dolphins ended the season with plenty of optimism going into the 2020 off season and have certainly added to the fans’ hopes with the free agent signings of cornerback Byron Jones who will team up with Xavien Howard to make one of the best cornerback duos in the league.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is also joining Miami during the off season with 17.5 career sacks, 289 career tackles and two Super Bowl rings to his name. He reunites with Brian Flores who he worked with at New England.
Miami also add to their defense with edge rushers Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah coming to South Beach.
Guard Ereck Flowers comes in to add to the offensive line and running back Jordan Howard comes in to fill the gap left by Kenyan Drake’s departure.
What excited Dolphins fans even more is the amount if draft picks at the team’s disposal, with fourteen picks at the franchise’s disposal and three of those in the first round courtesy of Houston and Pittsburgh.
The quarterback position is the one most expected to be used by Miami as their first selection.
Tua Tagovailoa is the player most expect to be heading to the Hard Rock stadium but Justin Herbert has also been mentioned.
There is also talk of teams trading for picks, with some predicting Miami to trade up to get the second overall pick and there is also the growing feeling that Miami could trade away several picks to Cincinnati to get Joe Burrow.
Whoever the Dolphins choose, the beauty is that the unlike the Bengals, the Dolphins do not need to play their choice straight away.
The Bengals are expected to play their draft choice straight away thanks to the regression of Andy Dalton but Miami can allow their quarterback to sit on the bench and learn.
With the form of Fitzpatrick at the end of the 2019 season, why would you drop him?
Also, we have seen many of the game’s greats of today be allowed to sit on the bench and learn from their predecessors.
Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre, Tom Brady was back up to Drew Bledsoe and Patrick Mahomes was a back up to Alex Smith. The 2019 regular season MVP Lamar Jackson was also a back up to Joe Flacco.
Whether it be Tua, Burrow or Herbert, they can sit behind Fitzpatrick and learn from him. Putting them in straight away is not always the answer as if a rookie QB comes in and struggles in their first year it can often set the tone for their career.
It is exciting times in Miami and they have a head coach in Flores who has really impressed in his first year, with many saying they believe he was 3rd in the Head Coach of the Year awards.
The constant cries of “Tank for Tua” from fans and media alike would not have made for an easy dressing room experience to handle for a rookie head coach.
Instead, he has galvanised the team and made them believe. To turn 0-8 to 5-11 is something not alot of coaches could have done. The ex-Patriots defensive assistant, safeties coach and linebackers coach has certainly added to the defensive unit in Miami which will add to the side of the ball Flores knows the best.
As a result of all of this, I do believe that the Miami Dolphins will make the play-offs in the 2020 season.
With the Patriots seemingly unlikely to be successful this season and the continuing mediocrity apparent with the Jets, the AFC East seems to be down to two teams . The Dolphins and Buffalo Bills are now the two front runners for the division.
The Bills, who made the divisional round last season, have added one of the league’s best receivers in Stefon Diggs to give Josh Allen more firepower and I believe they will win the division.
Miami I feel will be a fifth or sixth seed and the addition of an extra team to the AFC and NFC play offs will only go and help them even more in their pursuit for their first play off win since 2000.