The Miami Dolphins’ hierarchy of players is starting to round into form, as the team decides who will get the bulk of the playing time in key spots. They traded tight end Adam Shaheen to the Houston Texans earlier in the week for a draft pick, and will continue to trim their roster as the month goes on.
There may be no player under more of a microscope this season than Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The franchise is intent on finding out whether he can be their long-term answer under center. If he is, they will have him at an affordable contract figure for at least a couple more years. If he is not, Miami will move aggressively in the offseason to upgrade the position for what appears to be a win-now roster.
Should Tagovailoa struggle, Miami will turn to experienced veteran Teddy Bridgewater to help keep the offense on schedule.
New head coach Mike McDaniel specialized in drawing up creative running plays during his time with the San Francisco 49ers. To that end, Miami brought in a few players who could help execute those plays. They signed former Fordham University star and Arizona Cardinals rusher Chase Edmonds, and also brought in Sony Michel from the Rams. Raheem Mostert might be the darkhorse of the group, since he spent time with McDaniel in San Francisco.
Jaylen Waddle was everything Miami hoped he would be as a rookie. He set an NFL record for receptions as a rookie, and the team would probably like to see him used more downfield. The Dolphins also acquired three-time All-Pro Tyreek Hill, who will have the attention of the defense focused on him even if the ball is not in his hands. The Dolphins also brought in Cedrick Wilson from the Dallas Cowboys, who had some impressive moments in limited playing time there.
Although he is listed as a tight end, Mike Gesicki has often played like a wide receiver with the type of athleticism he brings to the position. The team used the franchise tag to retain him, and he will be looking to play well in hopes of securing an extension. He is backed up by Durham Smythe, Hunter Long and Cethan Carter.
Arguably the biggest key to the Dolphins season will be the play of their offensive line. The blocking up front in 2021 left a lot to be desired, and Miami is hoping that will be corrected in 2022. Terron Armstead and Connor Williams will need to come in and play well right away to provide stability.
The Dolphins will continue to play a 3-4 defense, and in that scheme, it is important for the linemen up front to soak up blocks. Christian Wilkins headlines a group that should do just that, along with solid rotational players like Zach Sieler and John Jenkins. Emmanuel Ogbah has been productive as well, recording nine sacks in each of the last two seasons.
The Dolphins have a lot of potential with this group, and could be dominant if everything falls into place. Former first round pick Jaelan Phillips had a solid rookie season, and will look to jump into the next tier of pass rushing talent in the league. Andrew Van Ginkel has been a revelation for the team, advancing from a special teams player who has made big plays on defense the last two years. They also signed Melvin Ingram III, who if healthy, can be a problematic edge rusher in passing situations.
The recovery of cornerback Byron Jones will be worth monitoring, as the Dolphins have invested a lot in the veteran. Xavien Howard returns as one of the best players at his position, and if Jones can play and perform up to previous levels, Miami will have a strong tandem. Excitement about second-year safety Jevon Holland is palpable as well, who showed he can be a playmaker as a rookie.