What Should We Expect From The Miami Dolphins In 2017?

Miami Dolphins fans, it is that time of year again. Expectation and anticipation is building ahead of what could be another positive season for Adam Gase’s side. In 2016, Miami went 10-6 but fell at the first hurdle in the playoffs.

With the New England Patriots still locked in as the primary betting contenders in the AFC East, Miami will be fighting for one of the wildcard spot again this year but the Dolphins look well placed to reach the playoffs for the second season running.

Strengths

Defensively, Miami’s strength is up front. Playing predominantly with a 4-3 scheme, newly promoted defensive coordinator Matt Burke wants the Dolphins to be even more aggressive on the line. And why not?

Miami is blessed with an abundance of defensive talent and the Dolphins could be set for a mega year. They gave up 30 receiving touchdowns last season but Miami’s impressive tally of 16 interceptions and 33 sacks says a lot about their pressure upfront.

As previously mentioned, New England are Miami’s main rivals in the AFC East. The New York Jets are in disarray and plenty of pundits believe that Todd Bowles’ side may finish as the worst franchise in the National Football League.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills are a bit of a mixed bag and it would take a brave man to back Sean McDermott’s men in the race for second spot in the AFC East. Miami won at home and on the road against Buffalo last year and more success against their divisional opponents could be on the cards.

Breakout

Jay Ajayi had a breakout year in 2016 and Dolphins fans will be expecting Gase to adopt yet another run-heavy approach this time around – especially if Ryan Tannehill is out through injury for an extended spell. Ajayi averaged 4.9 yards per carry last year, rushing for over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns.

If the Miami running back can replicate those figures, the Dolphins will be in business and his influence should free space up out wide for the likes of Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Devante Parker.

Gase doesn’t have what you would call an ‘elite’ option at receiver but this Miami corps has plenty of potential. Landry is the shining light at the position and has been Tannehill’s main target in recent years but the Dolphins are now stronger than ever out wide.

Throw pass-catching tight end Julius Thomas into the mix and the Dolphins have a plethora of options on offense. Thomas flourished at the Denver Broncos with Peyton Manning under center and although Tannehill isn’t a future Hall of Famer, he could still make a solid impact with the Dolphins quarterback steering the ship.

Looking specifically at Miami’s schedule; it isn’t straightforward by any stretch. Facing the New England Patriots twice a year can take its toll on a side but the Dolphins must also cope with facing the NFC South and AFC West this year – Miami will need to be at their brilliant best to emerge victorious.

Getting off to a fast start is essential. With fixtures against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets to start the season, a 2-1 or even 3-0 record is a must if Miami are serious about competing this year.

Winning on the road in the National Football League isn’t easy but this Dolphins side are made of stern stuff. Adam Gase’s side are heading in the right direction and another 10-6 season beckons if Miami can hold their nerve and negotiate a tricky schedule.


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