The 2022 NFL Season is nearly upon us. As part of the run up to the season, we’re preview all the teams, culminating with our picks for who makes the playoffs and who wins the awards this season. Check back each day through September 5. Let’s get ready for some football!
The 2021 Dolphins were an enigma. They won their first game, lost their next seven, won their next seven, then split their last two to finish 9-8. They beat the Patriots twice, which hadn’t been done in decades. Very up and down on the season, but there were highlights.
Let’s start with the firing of head coach Brian Flores. That turned into a nightmare. He claimed there are multiple teams that are not hiring people due to racial differences. This has been a nightmare not only for the Dolphins, but for the league in general. He also claimed he received an offer to be paid $100k to lose games, which is also something the league is trying to eliminate so that didn’t help.
Then there’s the Tom Brady/Gronk/Sean Payton snafu. Apparently Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross invited Brady out on his yacht to recruit him to the Dolphins. There was friction between Brady and Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and Brady had already won his post-New England championship so going to another team and winning another would put him past Peyton for most championships with different teams.
Gronk was on the Dolphins radar to bring over with Brady. Ross felt they were the players that would take them to the promised land and what better coach to lead them than Sean Payton. There were also discussions about bringing him over as well, with an offer of a pick or picks to secure his service.
The problem was Brady and Payton are both under contract. That is tampering and the league does not look kindly upon it. Commissioner Goodell and the powers that be levied an unheard of at the time. The Dolphins lost their 2023 first round pick, and their 2024 third round selection. Ross was suspended until October 17th with additional meetings being disallowed until 2023. He also was levied a $1.5 million fine.
In actual football news, they signed top end tackle Terron Armstead. They extended their best defensive player Xavien Howard, which was timely as he was requesting a trade. They traded for Tyreek Hill. The Cheetah gives them an excellent field stretcher to go along with Jaylen Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki. They also entirely retooled the running back room, signing Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel, who figure to be the top three options. They also added edge rusher Melvin Ingram.
Let’s start at running back: Edmonds, Mostert, Michel and Myles Gaskin. Who is going to do what? Edmonds will probably get the majority of his work between the 20s, but even then it’s going to be split with the much faster Mostert. Mostert has some significant history of injuries so I don’t see them working him a lot on early downs unless they’re in a big hole. Michel is the most likely to get goal line carries. Gaskin went from stud to dud as the season went on last season so unless there’s a lot of ouchies ahead of him, he’s not worth rostering. Only Edmonds carries weekly value to start the season and we’ll have to see how it shakes out before I have any confidence in him being any more than a strong bye week guy/deep flex. Mostert and Michel are touchdown dependent and are off the redraft radar for the most part, though I have been stashing Mostert as his ADP allows for it.
At receiver, Hill and Jaylen Waddle should both carry value, but it’s to be determined on how much of a step forward Tua Tagovailoa is able to make this year. Both should start on your teams, but I think neither of them is going to do better than WR2 this season. Cedrick Wilson was a big signing until they traded for Tyreek, so he’s going to get some balls thrown his way but will be mostly irrelevant unless there is an injury to the big two. Preston Williams is a deep roster dynasty stash at best.
At tight end, Mike Gesicki has put up reasonable numbers towards the end of the TE1 group, but he’s being used in a lot more blocking schemes so far so even that expectation should be tempered. If the offense finds a groove, he’ll see some targets but he’ll probably be a mostly TD dependent high end TE2.
At quarterback, you’ve got Tua. He came into the season last year clearly unable to handle the playbook. He even said as much. He says he’s caught up and ready to go. Hopefully he’s right because if he can’t perform with the talent he’s been given, he’s not going to last very long as a starter. He’s a good QB2 target at his ADP, though it’s creeping up. He has the opportunity to be a Top 12 quarterback with the offense he’s in. I don’t think he gets there but he’ll finish above the median.
The Dolphins’ schedule this year isn’t doing them any favors. They play New England and Buffalo twice, they have the resurgent AFC North, but get the Browns before Deshaun Watson comes back, the NFC North, which shakes out as not too bad for them since they get Green Bay and Minnesota at home, but then the Chargers and San Fran away. The path to 10 wins is a hard one.
I’ve got them finishing 9-8 again and getting eliminated from the playoffs sometime during the games in Week 17.