Older AFCE

Older AFCE

The Dolphins Have Found Their Identity

The Dolphins Have Found Their Identity
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The 2016 Miami Dolphins started off rocky as their offense was anemic and they had no idea what to do on either side of the ball. That led to them struggling to start the year and barely beating a winless Browns team and getting blown out by a team that has the Primetime curse (Bengals). It was a brutal and many in Dolphin Nation wrongly pointed the blame on the QB because fans don’t know what their talking about. This all changed against the Pittsburgh Steelers and when good things started to happen.  The Dolphins figured things out and they have been on a rampage since.
 
They Now Have An Identity on Offense
 
To start the year the Dolphins were trying to justify paying Ryan Tannehill all that money and him being the guy.  This led to constant 3 and outs and turnovers galore. The offense they were running didn’t mesh with the personnel and this led to one of the worse offenses in the NFL and neglecting their best playmakers. Then Adam Gase figured it all out. The key for the Dolphins offense to start playing well was to take the ball out of their quarterback’s hands. Bad things were happening when Tannehill threw too much and they decided to do the opposite and not have him win games. This was a similar strategy used in 2014 for the Broncos once Peyton’s arm fell off and last year in Chicago to fix Jay Cutler. This gameplan worked very well as the Dolphins had the type of workhorse RB to run this in Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins drafted him last year to be the eventual replacement to Lamar Miller who they wisely let go and he has not let them down as he has been a workhorse and dictated what happens in the game.  He ran for 200+ yards in back to back weeks to start the current streak and has ran for 75+ yards since coming back from the bye. Ajayi has put the offense on his back in this four game winning streak and they will ride him for as long as his knees will take him.
 
The Defense Isn’t Terrible 
 
The Dolphins defense the prior 1.5 seasons was can’t stop the run and maybe stop the pass. They thought they addressed it with the signing of Suh but he put little effort last year and the run defense suffered. This year they upgraded the defense by bringing in Super Mario Williams who isn’t playing in a horrible scheme and traded for The Legend of Kiko. So far the pass defense has been excellent as the front four has done a good job creating pressure and masking one of the worse secondaries in the NFL whose starting the likes of Byron Maxwell. The run defense has been terrible but that’s fine as this is a passing league and the Dolphins offense compliments the defense in forcing opponents to pass to catch up.  This defense isn’t close to being even mediocre as they need actual corners and they need linebackers outside of Kiko Alonso (though he is the best LB in NFL history). Compared to the past few years, this defense has been playing exceptionally well and just like the Dallas Cowboys of this year and 2014, it meshes well with the run first philosophy on offense.
 
Overall the Dolphins have figured out what they are. They aren’t a pass happy team that will make fantasy owners salivate, they aren’t a defensive juggernaut who will be playing smash mouth 1950s football. They are a hybrid of the times, as they rely heavily on the run to let their QB get very favorable matchups and let their defense play with the lead. It isn’t pretty sometimes and they sometimes get lucky breaks from Special Teams but this team knows that to win they have to ride Ajayi and force opponents to air it out. It also helps to injure the opposing QB like they have done twice this year. They might not make the playoffs this year, but 8-8 is very possible and they can use this offseason to overpay Stephon Gilmore.

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