Will the Miami Dolphins Make a Wins Leap in 2020?
2019 was a rebuilding year for the Miami Dolphins, as they finished in last place in the AFC East with a record of 5-11 But after a busy offseason and plenty of additions in both free agency and the draft, Miami is hoping to be competitive right away and earn a trip to the postseason.
As it stands, the Dolphins over/under win total is set at 6.5. So let’s take a closer look at their offseason and their schedule to figure out if the over or under is the smarter okay.
As one of the league leaders in salary cap space heading into free agency, Miami wasted no time in improving their roster. They handed a large five-year contract to Cowboys CB Byron Jones, making him one of the highest-paid corners in football. They also signed ex-Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy to a four-year deal. The Dolphins also added a pair of pass-rushers in Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah for three and two-year deals respectively. On the offensive end, they inked OG Ereck Flowers to a three-year deal and secured the services of RB Jordan Howard for the next two seasons. They also added a veteran running back during the draft, acquiring the old 49er Matt Brieda for a fifth round pick.
After selling off a number of players last year, Miami didn’t have a whole lot of departures this offseason. The main ones came along the defensive line, with DE Charles Harris signing with the Falcons and DE Taco Charlton cut before signing with the Chiefs. In addition to losing a couple of depth pieces along the offensive line, the Dolphins also let CB Aqib Talib walk, who spent his tenure with the team on injured reserve and didn’t appear in a game.
The Dolphins left the draft with a haul, selecting 11 times over the course of three days. Their most-notable selection came fifth overall, when they selected Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa as their next franchise quarterback. In an effort to bolster their O-line and protect Tagovailoa, Miami used their next first round pick on USC OT Austin Jackson. Then near the end of the first, they added Noah Igbinoghene, the slot CB from Auburn. Some other notable picks Miami made include Louisville OG Robert Hunt, Alabama DT Raekwon Davis, Texas S Brandon Jones, and Boise State EDGE Curtis Weaver.
According to strength of schedule, Miami will have the third-most difficult schedule in the league this upcoming season. The AFC East will be playing both the AFC West and NFC West this season, perhaps the two toughest divisions in football, which will make things a little tough for the Dolphins. However, the two teams who have higher opponents winning percentages than Miami’s .529 are the Patriots and the Jets, two division foes.
In addition to facing divisional opponents and playoff teams New England and Buffalo twice each, the Dolphins will have to take on last season’s Super Bowl teams, the Chiefs and the 49ers, as well as tough teams like the Seahawks, Chargers and Rams. However, Miami gets a break in the fact that they only go on the road to Kansas City, but will remain home against San Francisco, Seattle, and the two L.A. teams. The two other at-large opponents will be the Jaguars on the road and the Bengals at home, two rebuilding clubs who the Dolphins might actually be favored against.
Miami Dolphins Verdict
There’s no question that adding veterans like Jones, Van Noy, and Lawson make the Dolphins a significantly better team. Not to mention, they were a team that gained some juice after starting last season 0-7, going 5-4 in the last nine weeks of the year which included wins in their final two games. The draft also brought in an influx of talent, most notably Tagovailoa and Jackson.
Until Tagovailoa is ready, Ryan Fitzpatrick will lead Miami from behind center. The veteran has proven to be capable, albeit for a short while, and now has a better running game and an improved offensive line to count on. They are still missing some key areas in order to be really good, as they could still use improvement along the offensive line and additional help on defense. But I don’t think a two-win improvement from last year is out of the question whatsoever. So I’ll take the Dolphins OVER 6.5 wins, with them likely challenging for a playoff spot beginning in 2021.
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