12 June, 2023
Is South Florida’s summer of 2023 ring season? Miami is currently the sporting epicenter of America, with the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers competing for titles in the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals, respectively. This development was only made more notable by the unexpected signing of Lionel Messi to MLS team Inter Miami CF. And even though training camp is still about a month and a half away, excitement for the city’s NFL franchise is growing quickly.
Given their outstanding offensive firepower and a quality defense that is now being managed by one of the best brains in football, the Dolphins have the potential to be a dark-horse title challenger, which has football fans both inside and outside of Miami excited. Going into the 2023 season, the AFC appears to be completely loaded, but the Fins have tremendous sex appeal as a possible breakout club.
It is simple to understand why this squad has received so much offseason energy given Miami’s success in Mike McDaniel’s first season, when the Dolphins finished 9-8 and made their first playoff berth in six years. The Dolphins have put together an Olympic-caliber relay squad on the outside with the explosiveness to run rings around any defense in a league where offense sells. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Miami’s lethal wide receiver combo, have combined for 3,066 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns last season, scaring rival defenders on a variety of vertical routes and catch-and-run plays. The Fins have three backfield players who can maneuver through traffic like sports cars on the Autobahn: Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and youngster De’Von Achane. And with Dalvin Cook’s release by Minnesota, Miami has been viewed as a top destination for the four-time Pro Bowler. The RB group would undoubtedly reach a new level as a result of this. Anyhow, as long as the trigger man can stay on the field, the 2023 Dolphins will be an absolute nightmare to stop with big-play potential at every turn.
Miami possesses the ideal pass-first point guard in Tua Tagovailoa to run a fast-break offense that outpaces opponents with speed and tempo. Tagovailoa engages in a straightforward game of cat and mouse with a targeted defender in McDaniel’s RPO-based system, which is a wide-zone rushing scheme with a variety of fast routes bundled into concepts. Miami can frequently produce substantial gains on high-percentage plays because speedsters compel defenses to halt while they read their run keys as they fly up the field. In the end, Tagovailoa led the NFL in passer rating (105.5), yards per pass attempt (8.9), and touchdowns to interceptions (25:8) in 2022.
Despite all of this, a team that primarily depends on its point guard must be concerned about Tua’s injury history and durability issues. If Tagovailoa is unable to play, the Dolphins will have to pass the ball to Mike White, a wild-card gunslinger with a streaky record. There is no denying that Miami is a significantly weaker team without Tua in the starting lineup, despite the fact that he has become a contentious player on social media. Miami finished 8-5 and scored 25.5 points per game in regular-season contests that the former No. 5 overall pick from the previous season started. The Dolphins were 1-3 without him and never scored more than 21 points.
Ross: Tua’s health will be closely watched by everyone in Miami.
By trading for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, signing unheralded linebacker David Long, and using a second-round pick on CB Cam Smith, the Dolphins have generated buzz on defense this offseason. Vic Fangio, the new defensive coordinator, is the most significant addition to the squad. The cunning defensive designer excels at confusing quarterbacks and stifling offenses with fake pressures and split-safety formations. With his cunning plans and meticulous attention to detail, Fangio has discovered a way to continuously put pressure on the signal-callers of the opposition. Josh Boyer (and Brian Flores before him) will focus heavily on stopping big plays (long passes) and smothering the ground game as the Dolphins move away from being a blitz-heavy team. The Dolphins’ immobile two-deep shell will typically conceal a variety of coverages and four-man pressure concepts that will test the communication and diagnostic abilities of the offensive players.
From a personnel perspective, Bradley Chubb and Fangio’s reunion will not only improve the experienced defender’s performance, but it may also enable Jaelan Phillips, a third-year pro, to develop into a Pro Bowl sack specialist. Chubb (power) and Phillips (speed/finesse) are an edge-rushing combination that plays complementing games, improving each other’s skill sets. Additionally, the Dolphins might wreck havoc on opposing offensive lines with rising star Christian Wilkins dominating attention in the inside.
The signing of Ramsey gives the Dolphins an excellent cornerback pairing in the secondary, with Xavien Howard manning the other side. Although Ramsey, who is adaptable, might occasionally play the star position (nickel corner/safety), the presence of two outstanding cover corners on the perimeter will allow Miami to smoothly transition from man-to-man to zone coverage to thwart potent attacks. Not to add that undrafted nickelback Kader Kohou was maybe the team’s biggest pleasant surprise from the previous season. The Dolphins’ incredible defensive versatility might cause major issues as Fangio explores with Jevon Holland’s position as a Swiss Army Knife in the secondary. The seasoned defensive play-caller will employ a few tricks to keep quarterbacks off balance.
Miami might be the side to defeat if games were played on paper or through a Madden simulator. Even still, it’s difficult to discount the Dolphins’ prospects of stealing the division title from the Buffalo Bills and inflicting significant harm in January. The Dolphins have a loaded roster with Super Bowl potential, despite the fact that the New York Jets have also emerged as a popular AFC East club to follow. If Tua remains healthy, Miami’s supremacy in sports might last well into the winter.