Updated: Sep 25
by Alejandro Fernandez
The Miami Dolphins this season will win a playoff game for the first time in 20 years.
Last year, the Miami Dolphins ended their six-year playoff drought by getting the final Wildcard spot in the AFC. With Skylar Thompson at the helm, the Dolphins almost completed the upset loaded with their 3rd String QB, but fell short to the Buffalo Bills. Despite the playoff loss, the 2022 season was filled with many ups and downs mainly due to the injuries of Tua Tagovailoa, leaving fans with a vision of the potential success in the near future if their starting quarterback could stay healthy.
Tua Tagovailoa had his best NFL season last year, despite his head injuries. According to ESPN, Tua Tagovailoa threw for over 3,500 in just 13 games with the 3rd best QBR (68.8) in the league. Although Tua had success, two concussions caused him to miss 5 games including the playoff game and miss time in games that he started. With that being said, Tua has made it his mission to avoid injuries by adding more weight and even taking Judo to learn how to fall properly. If these two methods work to keep Tua healthy, the sky's the limit for this offense and for this team that has improved after being one of the best NFL offenses.
The Dolphins track team got even faster this off-season. Last year, Tua had his key speedy wide receivers in Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, who both had career years with over 1,000 yards each and Hill nearing 2,000. This wide receiver room has gained more speed with University of Miami alumni Braxton Berrios and former Cardinal Chosen Anderson. Both these receivers add much-needed depth with the loss of Sherfield and Gesicki. Berrios gives them a solid punt/kick returner, which helps the special teams unit.
Along with the receivers, the running back room got even deeper with the addition of Texas A&M Devon Achane, with a 4.32 40-yard dash (NFL). While the offense has improved, the defense has nearly outmatched them.
The Jalen Ramsey trade makes the Dolphins secondary even scarier. In March, the Miami Dolphins traded away TE Hunter Long and 2023 3rd-round pick in exchange for Jalen Ramsey. Jalen Ramsey joins the cornerback room with Xavien Howard, standout undrafted rookie Kader Kohou and Nick Needham who is recovering from a torn Achilles. Along with Ramsey, the Dolphins drafted South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith with the 51st overall to add depth behind the cornerback duo. In addition to the cornerbacks, the safeties got more depth in former Lion Deshon Elliot and healthier with Brandon Jones coming off a torn ACL.
Unfortunately, on July 27, Ramsey was carted off the practice field with an injury and will miss the first few games of the season due to knee surgery.
The Dolphins secondary got deeper but the rest of the defense improved as well. Vic Fangio is the new Dolphins defensive coordinator. Fangio was the Denver Broncos former head coach and defensive coordinator. Fangio used to coach Bradley Chubb in Denver so it could help Chubb improve in Miami. Time will tell if Fangio lives up to his nickname: The Godfather of NFL Defense.
With the addition of Fangio, the Dolphins signed LB Malik Reed who played alongside Chubb in Denver hoping to replicate their success next year. The team also added former Tennessee Titan David Long who can pair with Jerome Baker as their starting linebackers. The defensive line will also get a major boost as Emmanuel Ogbah will return from a torn Biceps that sidelined him for half of last season.
Although the Dolphins improved on both sides of the ball, they have the second toughest strength of schedule according to CBS. The Dolphins begin the schedule with four impactful games that could lead them to either a great or poor start.
They first play away against the Los Angeles Chargers, a battle between Tua and Justin Herbert that should be interesting to watch, in which the Dolphins will win a shootout.
Then the Dolphins travel to Foxborough to play the Patriots on Sunday Night for what I feel is a must-win game. With Tua at the lead, he has yet to lose against the Patriots and I don't see that ending this season.
After the primetime game, Dolphins play their first home game in which Fangio plays his former team. I believe Fangio will have their number on the defensive side of the ball leading the Dolphins. As the Dolphins would be rolling, they have to go up to Buffalo to play against a team they have struggled against in the past years. This game will be one of the hardest of the season and sadly I think the Dolphins drop their first loss here
The Dolphins proceed with a couple of easier games but then face both the former NFC conference champions. Dolphins play the Giants and Panthers at home, and I have the Dolphins winning both these games in a breeze. In Week 7, the Dolphins play at Eagles on Sunday Night Football, where I think the Dolphins are destined to lose, making their record 5-2.
They should have an easy win against the Patriots at home the following week, but then fly to Germany to face the Super Bowl Champions, Kansas City Chiefs. The Miami Dolphins got lucky and avoided playing in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, where it is known to be difficult to play. The cheetah, aka Tyreek Hill, plays his former team for the first time where I think he has one of the best games of the season going for over 200 yards receiving leading the Dolphins to the upset making their record now 7-2.
After these difficult games, the Dolphins get a much needed bye week to help close their season. The Raiders visit Miami once the bye ends, which should be an easy win for Miami. The Dolphins then play away for the first-ever Black Friday game against a much improved Jets with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, thus leading the New York Jets to beat the Dolphins.
With the Dolphins at 8-3, I have them cruising past the Commanders and then the Titans on Thursday Night, making their record 10-3 going into the final 4 games of the season.
The final four games of the 2023-2024 season will make or break the Dolphins' playoffs chances.
For their 13th game, the New York Jets travel to Miami to play a must win game for Miami. Although it will be difficult, I think the Dolphins have the edge in the rematch making them 11-3. After, they play the Dallas Cowboys at home on Christmas Eve in a difficult game once again, which I have them losing.
Dolphins at 11-4 will have to go on New Years Eve in a cold Baltimore who are fighting for their playoff lives in a close game against the Dolphins, but ultimately Lamar Jackson runs over this team again.
Dolphins would be now 11-5 playing their final game at home playing against the Buffalo Bills in one of the most anticipated games of the year. I think the Dolphins will bounce back from their two losses and beat the Bills to end the regular season at 12-5.
These predictions are based on the precedent that Tua Tagovailoa will stay healthy. With Tua never playing a full season in the NFL, it is unlikely he will play the full year, but it is impossible to predict which game he could get hurt.
If Tua stays healthy, this team has a chance at a Super Bowl, but if he doesn’t the Miami Dolphins could easily miss the playoffs. However, the hope is that he will string together his first year of playing all 17 games to play and win his first playoff game.