The offseason prognosticators have not been kind to the Miami Dolphins. Several Las Vegas sportsbooks have pegged Miami's over-under win projection at six, which puts them in a tie with the New York Jets and ranked above only two teams, the Arizona Cardinals, and Cleveland Browns.
To add injury to insult, the Dolphins have been given 50-1 Super Bowl odds, which is the second-worst mark in the NFL. One final prediction of doom and gloom comes from the Action Network, who ran 10,000 simulations of the season and have Miami bringing up the rear as the league's worst team.
Soon the preseason magazines will start to pour out as well and maybe they will also take a similarly grim outlook on the Dolphins season, but I do not think it is time to buy into such negative talk yet. Miami has done enough this offseason and there are enough questions about the competition around them to have hope.
For starters, both the Jets and Buffalo Bills are breaking in rookie quarterbacks in the AFC East. No one expects the New England Patriots reign of terror over the division to cease, but that very fact alone makes the Dolphins the strongest contender to finish second behind Belichick and Brady.
One can add that Miami has a much easier road to the playoffs in the AFC then they would in the NFC. The Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have division championships almost on lock, but the Dolphins should compete with runner-up contenders from the AFC South and AFC West to garner one of two wild-card spots.
Miami's road to contention will be made easier by virtue of the third-place schedule they will play after their 6-10 finish in 2017. Unlike previous years, the Dolphins have a very balanced schedule and no stretches that look particularly daunting until the end of the season.
What is certainly going to be more important for Miami's chances though is not what others have done around them, but what the team has tried to do to remake the roster this offseason. Dolphins fans see high-profile names like Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, and Mike Pouncey exiting and think the sky is falling, but an addition by subtraction philosophy could end up hitting for the team.
Each has been cited at times for various controversies and Miami also had obvious financial reasons to part with that trifecta. What the Dolphins have replaced them with this spring is enough I believe to justify those moves.
Aging veteran Frank Gore still has enough left to supplement Kenyan Drake in the running game. Miami already had a good receiving corps and the signing of Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson ensures there will be plenty of people for Ryan Tannehill to throw the ball to.
The Dolphins also bolstered their offensive line by signing former All-Pro Josh Sitton and acquiring Pouncey's replacement in Daniel Kilgore. That should make that unit pretty good when you factor those two names in with holdovers at tackle in former first-rounders Laremy Tunsil and Ja'Wuan James.
On defense, Miami still has a void at defensive tackle, but they made a sneaky smart trade to add Robert Quinn on the line opposite stalwart Cameron Wake. They added two starters on defense through the draft in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and linebacker Jerome Baker.
The Dolphins also added a third starter in the draft with tight end Mike Gesicki. He should be another player who can help Tannehill in his comeback bid.
Perhaps the quarterback's return is the most important aspect of all the roster movement. After all, he did lead the team to a playoff appearance in 2016, which was also his first season with Gase.
These developments should all breed optimism, but it is hard to sell that to Miami fans who have been forced to annually take a skeptical outlook given the developments with the franchise over the last 15 years. If that can be set aside, however, a ray of hope is shining through for Dolphins fans willing to see it.
Cover photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons