(Photo Credit: Jim Rassol / Palm Beach Post)
Crazy what difference a few years can make is it not? Remember 2019, the year of the Tank for Tua! The year when the Dolphins traded away Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Laremy Tunsil. Miami’s season started 0 and 7, and they looked like the favorites to finish with the worst record in the NFL. Since that point in the 2019 season, they have gone 15 and 13 overall and most recently finished with a 10 and 6 record, narrowly missing the playoffs by a game, and they were even able to get their guy Tua Tagovalioa at #5 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Tua’s first season could be classified as up and down. The 2020 Dolphins squad was a team that was successful because of their top ten ranked scoring defense, and their NFL leading 29 takeaways. As a matter of fact, it seemed as if the best answer at QB this year was not the rookie, but instead the lifelong veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. His throw against Las Vegas that knocked the Raiders out of playoff contention is one of the best I have seen a QB make. The Dolphins seemed to have made the priority for the 2021 season. Get Tua some help and build around him.
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(Photo Credit: AP Photo / Butch Dill)
Where do we even begin with the off-season additions the Dolphins made this year? Well, let’s start this discussion at the WR position. First things first, the Dolphins were able to sign Will Fuller away from the Texans, to what amounts to a 1-year prove-it deal, to help add speed and explosiveness to their offense. Fuller ran a 4.32 when coming out of college, and prior to facing a PED suspension, he was having a very good season, grabbing 53 catches, 879 yards, and scoring 8 TDs, while averaging 16.6 yards per catch. Fuller is a big-play threat, that’s for sure, and it’s a low-risk play for the Dolphins to sign him. The Dolphins were not done in terms of adding to their wide receiver core, as with the 6th overall pick they were able to select Jaylen Waddle out of Alabama. A guy Tua is all too familiar with and should be another weapon that should fit the system well. Waddle is another speedster much like Fuller, he ran 4.37 40 and there was also a video of him running neck and neck with Henry Ruggs who ran a 4.27, Waddle has laser speed, and prior to his injury last season he caught 25 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns and was on a great pace. He has Tyreek hill vides and IF that is what he turns out to be it's one heck of a weapon for the young single caller.
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Speaking of the QB, let's speak a little about his development. Word coming out of Dolphins camp has been high praise for the young single caller. A few years removed from his devastating Hip injury now, Tua seems to be back to his old confidant, and decisive self. A huge part of the Dolphin's success this season will come down to his development. If he turns out to be the elite talent they selected 5th overall, the Dolphins could compete for the division title, if not, they could be looking to add another QB, sooner rather than later. Tua has made an effort to force the ball deep in training camp and has shown overall improvements from last season. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald spoke to multiple players on the difference they see from the QB this year. “He’s letting it fly this year,” Cornerback Nik Needham said, “he looks a little more comfortable back there, making some tough throws, putting it in the hole, leading the receivers.” Eric Rowe also stated “Tua is making that jump. I see each day he is getting better from the first day.” It remains to be seen how his development plays out, but the early reports are nothing short of positive.
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If you looked at last season what would stand out to you about the defense. Turnovers! The defense’s ability to create turnovers was a huge part of what made them into a special program. It all starts at the top. With their #1 CB Xavien Howard leading the way with a league-leading 10 interceptions, and a first-team all-pro trip. Howard recently accepted a restructured contract, so he looks to be a part of the Dolphins 2021 plans. Opposite of Howard was Bryon Jones at CB, and together they create one of the best CB duos in the NFL. The great news for Dolphin fans is they will both be coming back for the 2021 season. Another huge part of this defense was Emmanuel Ogbahs nine sacks, and Jerome Bakers 100 plus tackles and seven sacks. They even added to their secondary in the draft selecting Jevon Holllard Safety out of Oregon. This is a defense that remains incredibly well-coached, by Brian Flores and company, and it is fair to assume they will continue their strong play in 2021.
I could honestly give two predictions when it comes to this team. The record if Tua develops into a franchise QB, or the record if Tua Struggles to find his footing in this second year. In terms of rank of schedule, the dolphins actually have it fairly easy at 27th overall. The schedule has them facing the AFC South, NFC South, Ravens, Raiders, Giants, and their own division schedule. My predictions right now would say the Dolphins finish 3rd in the AFC East and make the playoffs as a wildcard team. Going 10 and 7 overall. I believe Tua will have a very solid sophomore campaign, and I believe Jaylen Waddle will be a massive part of that. I would grab both players in dynasty if available. Again, these are just my predictions and look forward to your responses.
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