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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Omar Kelly: Ten reasons the Dolphins might not make the playoffs in 2022

For the past two decades, the Miami Dolphins have been mired in mediocrity, regardless of who ran the franchise (seven different executives and general managers), coached the team (eight non-permanent head coaches), or supported it (10 who started 10 or more games) for this time.

At some point, we have to wonder what is at the heart of Miami’s struggles, the reason why this once-proud franchise hasn’t made the playoffs more than twice in 20 years, or won a playoff game since 2001.

Dolphins get together this year?

This is the second part of a two-part series that addresses potential issues. The first explains why the Dolphins should make the playoffs in 2022.

This breaks down 10 things that could prevent the Dolphins from qualifying for the playoffs in 2022:

Tua Tagovailoa becomes starting quarterback.

The Dolphins need Tagovailoa to be one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league this season to justify the investment made in the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. To get there, Tagovailoa needs to stay healthy, improve on his 6.8 yards per try average that ranked him 24th last season, and need to get more efficient on third tries and in the red zone because that’s moments when elite quarterbacks thrive. . If Tagovailoa is fighting them, it could be a sign that this franchise is being built on the wrong foundation.

The Dolphins learn that Tyreke Hill was the beneficiary of Andy Reed’s gaming calling and the talent around him in Kansas City.

Hill has been one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers over the past six seasons, but he played under future Hall of Famer coach Andy Reid and benefited from the presence of two possible future Hall of Famers on the Chiefs’ team, Patrick Mahomes and a quarterback. tight end Travis Kelsey during his appearance in the NFL elite. Dolphins fans better hope there isn’t much difference between Reed’s call for rookie coach Mike McDaniel, Mahomes for Tagovailoa, and Kelsey for Mike Gesicki.

Miami’s sophomore players are regressing, as were the 2020 inductees last season.

It is generally assumed that young players make the most progress in the second season, but sometimes they encounter stumbling blocks that hinder their development. Let’s hope wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, pass rusher Jaelan Phillips, defenseman Jevon Holland, offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg, and the rest of the 2021 draft class don’t experience what happened to Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, Solomon Kindley, and Noah. Igbinogen in their year. 2.

Injuries wipe out dolphins in 2022.

Imagine going through most of the coming season without a couple of key Miami players, such talent as cornerback Xavien Howard, pass rusher Emmanuel Ogba, Hill, Gesicki, linebacker Jerome Baker and offensive tackle Terron Armstead. Losing any of these players can lead to instant problems because the backups won’t be able to deliver the level of performance they provide. That’s one of the reasons Miami needs to be careful with training camp and train a load of their high-profile players.

Miami’s offensive line remains mediocre.

Last year, the Dolphins led the NFL in allowable pressure. Miami’s quarterbacks were constantly harassed and rushed into games, and this significantly affected passing play by limiting calls to play. If the addition of Armstead and Connor Williams to the Miami roster and new coaches fail to solve this problem, we could be in for another year of disastrous offensive play that could weigh the entire team down for another season. The development of Jackson, Eichenberg, Hunt and Michael Deiter will either support or sink the Miami offense.

McDaniel is struggling to lead the NFL locker room.

There’s a reason only one of the nine teams looking for a head coach in the offseason has interviewed McDaniel. Most organizations didn’t think the 39-year-old, who served as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator for one season, was ready to become a head coach. McDaniel is respected for his intellect, but he has a quirky personality. This can be helpful or hinder his success when it comes to relationships with his players. The only way to find out is to see how he reacts to a losing streak, which is almost inevitable in the NFL. When that happens, will McDaniel be able to fix the problems and calm the troubled waters? Do his players buy into his approach when adversity strikes?

Dolphins’ new crime is experiencing growing pains.

Adjusting to change is often tricky, so expecting the Dolphins offense to hit all the cylinders at the start of the season and setting up a brand new offense is unrealistic due to all the variables. Coaching staff usually take time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their players. But what happens if it takes half a season for the Miami offense to find itself in this action-based offense? Or even longer to find a groove? This can lead to some early issues that can put unwanted pressure on other parts of the team.

Josh Boyer can’t get Miami’s blitz defense to work properly.

Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (40.8 percent) had a higher blitz percentage than the Dolphins (39.6) last year, leading the league with 77 quarterback knockdowns and 48 sacks to put Miami in fifth place. in 2022. prior to that, the Dolphins were second in blitz percentage (40.8), 17th in knockdowns (54), and 10th in sacks (41). It will be interesting to see what level of performance Bowyer’s division puts into his third year of leadership, which will be his first year without former head coach Brian Flores, respected throughout the league as an innovator of the amoeba blitz approach.

Miami’s running game remains inconsistent.

The Dolphins’ performance was so unreliable last season that the team had to rely on two players, Duke Johnson and Phillip Lindsey, who waived their rights at the end of last season, to get through the second half of the year. And yet, Miami ranks 30th in yards per game (92.2) and 31st in yards per game (3.55). If McDaniel doesn’t get this unit into the top half of the league’s fast attacking stats in 2022, that’s a bad sign of what’s to come, because building an effective running game should be this head coach’s specialty.

Miami linebackers are exposed because of their shortcomings.

Baker, Phillips, Elandon Roberts, Duke Riley and Andrew Van Ginkel together make a solid linebacker team because their unique strengths complement Miami’s hybrid defense, which is fueled by its versatility. But there isn’t a single player in this linebacker squad that can do anything above average, and because of that, a good offensive coordinator may be able to attack their individual weaknesses, like running on Baker, throwing on Roberts, or forcing Phillips. return to the coverage area.

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