Sports in South Florida are experiencing their day in the sun right now. Back in March, both the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic men’s basketball teams made improbable Final Four runs. The Miami Heat just made the NBA Finals as an 8-seed. The Florida Panthers just made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, also as an 8-seed. One of the biggest soccer players in the world, Lionel Messi, signed with Inter Miami. With all the recent success, it’s only fair for Miami Dolphins fans to ask when it’s their turn for postseason success.
The Miami Dolphins have a rich and storied history of postseason success. Don Shula is in the top 5 all-time for playoff wins. The Dolphins dominated the playoff landscape in the early 70s, making three Super Bowls and winning two. The 80s were less successful, but the decade still saw the team making two more Super Bowls. All-time great Dan Marino shattered records on his way to Super Bowl 19, giving fans everywhere renewed hope for the future.
However, that was the last Super Bowl this once-proud franchise would make.
A Rise Out of (Relative) Obscurity?
It’s been a long and painful stretch of obscurity for Dolphins fans over the past 40-something years. For much of the recent past, the team hasn’t been close to a playoff contender, let alone a Super Bowl contender. But fortunes may be changing in South Beach. There are reasons for optimism surrounding the Dolphins. After all the moves they’ve made the last two years, it has fans asking themselves, “If not now, when?”
It’s a fair question to ask. In my 30-plus years of watching this team, I’m hard-pressed to remember a team that was as talented – on paper, at least – as the team that heads into the 2023 NFL season. When you look at the roster, particularly on offense, you have to think that if there’s ever a team that will turn the Miami Dolphins into a postseason contender again, it’s this one.
Is This the Team to End the Miami Dolphins Postseason Win Drought?
This Miami Dolphins offense currently has one of the best wide receiver tandems in the entire league in Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. Last season, both Waddle and Hill surpassed 75 receptions, each had over 1,000 yards and 7 or more touchdowns, and Hill was named to the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro. All this in a season where their starting quarterback missed four starts and was knocked out of several others. These stats also came in a season where the Dolphins’ offense, yet again, had no real running game to speak of.
And therein lies the problem(s) with getting too excited about the postseason potential of the 2023 Miami Dolphins. There are still a whole lot of “what ifs” that surround this offense. Some of those questions, however, could be mitigated by a defense that should be much improved over its 2022 counterpart.
There weren’t many moves in the offseason to bolster the Miami Dolphins’ defense, but the ones that were made, they made them count. Namely, the Dolphins making a deal with the Los Angeles Rams to acquire cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Pairing Ramsey with standout cornerback Xavien Howard, soon-to-be star safety Jevon Holland, and 2022 surprise rookie stud Kader Kohou gives the Dolphins a defensive backfield that will give any offensive coordinator nightmares.
Pair that defensive backfield with the pass-rushing tandem of Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb, and you have the makings of one of the best defenses in the league. Miami’s linebacker group is still somewhat suspect, but the idea is that there’s enough talent around them to mask any deficiencies that show up. And if anyone is going to be able to put all that talent in a position to succeed, it’s new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Is 2023 the Year for the Miami Dolphins Postseason Hopes?
In the past two seasons, the Miami Dolphins have made great strides in once again becoming a postseason stalwart. But it all hinges on the arm – and, more importantly, the health – of their starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tua has not been able to have a completely healthy season since he came into the league. Even before then, actually, as his final season at Alabama was cut short by a severe hip/leg injury.
The 2023 Miami Dolphins will only go as far as Tua Tagovailoa can take them. If he can stay out on the field and duplicate – and expand upon – his successes from 2022, the sky’s the limit for this team. However, should Tua falter yet again and the Dolphins are once again relying on backup quarterbacks for multiple games, 2023 may be yet another lost season. Yet another year where the Miami Dolphins are on the sidelines during the postseason asking themselves, “Why can’t that be us?”
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