Miami Dolphins Schedule: 5 Most Interesting Storylines

The Miami Dolphins schedule was released last week, and there are several interesting matchups for Mike McDaniel and company.

Miami Dolphins Schedule
Credit: Sam Navarro, USA Today

The Miami Dolphins schedule was released last week, and it is riddled with interesting matchups. The Dolphins are getting two primetime games, along with several more that may be nationally televised. Following their trade for star acquisitions, many view the Dolphins as playoff contenders. Thus, their schedule has five key storylines to look out for.

Tua vs. Herbert and Burrow

The Miami Dolphins hold matchups against the Bengals and Chargers, the former of which being on Thursday Night Football. These three teams have been tied together for over two years, when they were all competing for the number one pick and the rights to Joe Burrow, who went to Cincinnati.

Miami, of course, selected Tua Tagovailoa soon after, passing on Justin Herbert, who has looked stellar with the Chargers. In a “do or die” year for Tua, it’s important to see how his progress stacks up with the fellow quarterbacks of the 2020 draft.

Brian Flores Returns to Miami

Following the conclusion of Miami’s 2021 season, the Dolphins opted to fire Brian Flores. A combination of friction with personnel and a lack of production on the offensive side of the ball caused Miami to look in another direction. However, this was called into question when Flores filed a lawsuit against the team and the rest of the NFL.

Flores alleged several teams of racially motivated hiring and interviewing practices, and accused the Dolphins of offering him incentives to lose games in 2019.

Unable to find a job in this cycle as a head coach, Flores joined the Steelers as a linebackers coach. Coaching Mike Tomlin’s star-studded defense, Flores will make his return to Miami on Sunday Night Football in Week 7.

Deshaun Watson in Hard Rock Stadium

The most prominent factor in Miami Dolphins schedule for early on is facing the Cleveland Browns. The constant rumors about a Deshaun Watson trade. It loomed over the team for a large portion of the year, and former coach Brian Flores refused to refute any potential trades. Thus, the pressure was on Tua Tagovailoa, with the constant worry of not having his job in the coming weeks.

Following the trade deadline, the weight seemed to be lifted from Tagovailoa’s shoulders. He performed significantly better and led Miami on a seven-game winning streak.

With Miami’s new staff putting forth full confidence in Tagovailoa, they backed out of the Watson sweepstakes. The controversial quarterback was traded to the Cleveland Browns and leads one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.

Many looked at Watson, Jacoby Brissett, and Jakeem Grant, as three players that would be in Miami in 2022. However, all three are on Cleveland together and will come down to Hard Rock to face the Dolphins in Week 10.

Mike McDaniel Revenge Game

Following the firing of former coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins figured that they needed someone who could change the game on offense. Thus, they hired San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, who comes from Kyle Shanahan’s elite outside zone scheme.

McDaniel took several staff members from San Francisco on his trip to the east coast. Namely, receivers coach Wes Welker (who played for the Dolphins) and tight ends coach Jon Embree. These three, along with other assistants, will go back to their old stomping grounds in Week 13. Miami will fly to San Francisco where McDaniel will meet his mentor, and potentially show him that he was ready to move on.

Beating the Bills

When Tom Brady left New England to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a power vacuum in the AFC East opened up. Each team made aggressive attempts to get better with hopes of taking over in the division. Miami and Buffalo, namely, have made vast changes to their teams over the last couple of years.

Now Miami fans (and Buffalo fans) circle their calendars every time the Miami Dolphins schedule drops.

However, the Bills have been much more successful in their approach. Making timely additions of Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and other contributors have vaulted them to the top of the East. Miami, on the other hand, has been on the outside looking in.

This has largely been in part to the matchups between the two teams. Miami hasn’t beat the Bills since 2018, when Adam Gase as their head coach. It is up to Mike McDaniel and company to change this if they are to contend for a title in the coming years. They face the Bills in Weeks 3 and 15.

What Sony Michel Brings to the Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have signed running back Sony Michel, and his role is one the team was desperately looking for.

The Miami Dolphins signed former Patriots running back Sony Michel on Monday. Following a brief stint in Los Angeles, the Broward Native will be coming back to play in his home state.

Miami Dolphins sign Sony Michel.

Following a solid first couple seasons in New England, 2020 was a rough year for Michel. Battling injury, he only played in nine games, racking up just over 200 yards.

However, when Rams running back Cam Akers went down, Los Angeles called about the struggling back, whose job was being taken over by Damien Harris. Michel was thus dealt for a pair of day three picks, and began to revitalize his career in Los Angeles.

Under offensive mastermind Sean McVay, Michel saw his role expanded. While he was mainly seen as a power back in New England, there were several skills that were uncovered in his game.

Outside Zone and Pass Protection

Rather than running between the tackles, McVay’s system (very similarly to Mike McDaniel’s), calls for more outside zone run. This put more emphasis on his ability to make quick cuts and find cutback lanes, which was rarely seen during his tenure in New England.

Sony Michel makes a big run.

Michel appeared to have regained some burst following his injury, and it showed in his speed. He was more decisive than ever, and was making quick moves, turning big holes into bigger gains.

This is crucial for a Dolphins offense that, under the aforementioned McDaniel, is basing their offense in the inside zone. They signed running backs Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds in free agency, but they both fit more niche roles, and Miami still needed an early down back.

Michel can bring exactly that. His mixture of power and a newfound knack for hitting the hole is a match made in heaven for McDaniel. Running behind a left side of new additions in Terron Armstead and Connor Williams should open up several lanes that Michel has shown the ability to hit.

Michel’s collaboration with Miami’s linemen won’t stop there. Coming from a New England scheme that emphasizes the little things, Miami’s new addition takes pride in his pass protection. He has shown an aggressiveness and, just as importantly, a willingness to take a hit to protect his quarterback. The Miami Dolphins struggled to protect Tua last year, and that could soon change with Sony Michel in his backfield.

Sony Michel makes a huge block against the Bucs.

The Bottom Line on the Sony Michel and the Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are clearly committed to the “running back by committee” approach, and they now have the backs to do it. The three newcomers join Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed, who have both shown spurts of starting-caliber production.

However, this doesn’t mean that the Michel pickup isn’t significant. While Edmonds and Mostert are talented, Miami was lacking an early-down back. With this signing, they now have someone who can run between the tackles and take the tough hits, while also being able to perform on outside-zone concepts.

Michel’s versatility and willingness to do the little things will come in handy for a Dolphins team that looks to be in win-now mode this season.

Miami Dolphins Reap the Benefits of the Deebo Samuel Trade Request

The Miami Dolphins may not trade for Deebo Samuel, but his potential deal still brings them significant value.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel has requested a trade. This comes after an apparent stall on contract negotiations, as Samuel is in the final year of his deal. Furthermore, it’s been reported that he may have become unhappy with his expanded role last season and the beating he took in it.

Samuel was one of the most productive receivers in the NFL last season, in large part due to his versatility. The self proclaimed “wide back” played a large portion of his snaps out of the backfield. This allowed him to make big plays in both phases, while also opening opportunities for others.

With this larger workload came a desire for a new contract, and while San Francisco reportedly made an offer, Samuel decided that it would be better to request a trade.

Deebo Samuel seems unhappy with his role.

Could the Miami Dolphins trade for Deebo Samuel

A majority of the league is expected to have interest, and many were wondering if the Dolphins and head coach Mike McDaniel have interest. McDaniel was Samuel’s offensive coordinator last year, and a reunion may be possible.

However, the Miami Dolphins just traded significant capital for Tyreek Hill. They are also dedicating a significant portion of their cap to receivers. Thus, it’s unlikely Samuel ends up in Miami.

Although, the impact of a potential trade, no matter the destination, benefits the Dolphins greatly.

Miami’s Draft Capital

Miami holds the 49ers draft pick next season, which looks to be in limbo. San Francisco has yet to name a starting quarterback between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Lance showed high potential in limited starts, but was unable to win the job last year. Garoppolo, on the other hand, helped the offense operate at a high level, but couldn’t step up in big moments.

Samuel was a large part of both of the quarterback’s success, and a potential trade would hinder them greatly. The ability to get the ball to someone as prolific as Samuel was a large part of the Shanahan system, and it may be gone soon.

The 49ers’ Flaws

On top of that, the 49ers receiving corps lacks the depth of an elite unit. Brandon Aiyuk has been inconsistent over his first two seasons, and their number two receiver has 282 career yards. While they do have George Kittle, this system lacks the perimeter play-makers to attack all areas of the field. This would only get worse if they decide to move on from the unhappy Samuel.

Their injuries are just as big of an issue. Over the last several years, San Francisco has been one of the most injury-prone teams in the NFL. Key starters such as Nick Bosa, Trent Williams, and Javon Kinlaw all have major injury history. If this were to persist, it may be too much to overcome.

Win-Now Mode

Miami, on the other hand, is trending in the opposite direction. Their rebuild seems to be ahead of schedule, and they look to win big this season. However, they still have two first round picks next year, and one of those was acquired in Miami’s trade back with San Francisco. If these potential struggles were to manifest themselves, the value of that pick will continue to rise. Miami would have a variety of options.

5 teams have two firsts in 2023.

The potential to move up for a key play-maker, add another key veteran via trade, or find Tua Tagovailoa’s replacement if he doesn’t work out are all viable scenarios for a 49ers pick that could feasibly be in the top half if Deebo is dealt.

The Bottom Line on Deebo Samuel and the Miami Dolphins

While it would be exciting to see the explosive wide receiver in aqua and orange, it’s unlikely Deebo Samuel joins the Miami Dolphins. With their current receiver room, dealing their draft capital simply doesn’t make sense.

However, it’s clear that Miami will still benefit if Samuel is traded elsewhere. The 2023 first round pick was quite the steal to only move down three picks and select Jaylen Waddle, and it’s value is only growing. If Samuel is the next domino to fall in this all-time offseason, it could become a hot commodity.

It’s unknown what Miami’s needs will be next year, but it will be exciting to see how they fill them with that much more valuable San Francisco pick.

Dwayne Haskins’ Death Shows the Disease of NFL Culture

Dwayne Haskins death was sullied by people representing the league’s media and former executives. That isn’t how Haskins should be remembered.

Dwayne Haskins throwing the football while with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Dwayne Haskins tragically lost his life, after he was struck by a dump truck on the side of the interstate in Florida. At just 24 years old, he still had the great majority of life in front of him. Joys, pains, the glories of life; all of which were stripped away in crushing suddenness.

While the great majority of the NFL community showed their support, the league’s culture reared its ugly head again. As Saturn devoured his son, a portion of the league’s media devoured a man’s honor in death.

Zero Empathy from NFL Media

Adam Schefter was, for most people, the first person to break the news. He did so in a way that focused on Haskins’ struggles in the NFL, rather than a person who just died.

Dwayne Haskins, a standout at Ohio State before struggling to catch on with Washington and Pittsburgh, died this morning when he got hit by a car in South Florida. . .

Adam Schefter

Schefter deleted the tweet, and posted a new one that focused on Haskins’ accomplishments. The damage was done, though. Adam Schefter had taken a terrible situation and made the worst of it. Haskins’ failures in the NFL were the first thing that came to his mind.

Not even two hours later, Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt appeared on SiriusXM NFL radio to discuss Haskins’ death. What resulted was a disturbing diatribe about Haskins’ character.

Brandt said that “he was a guy that was living to be dead,” and placed the blame for Haskins being hit on the interstate on Haskins himself. At one point, Brandt launched into a story about Haskins wanting to hang out with friends and family at a bowling alley on draft night. This was somehow supposed to be a knock against his character.

Yes, Brandt is 90 years old. No, that doesn’t excuse him from launching into this rant. Even if he was asked about him from a purely scouting standpoint, he could have turned it down until a later date.

Brandt eventually apologized, but phrased it as a “poor choice of words.” Yet, the problem is that the words reveal a mindset far too common in this league. Players, even in death, are looked at as assets to be judged.

A Chronic Problem

Of course, race is the great divider in how the league treats players, and always has been. White players enjoy a standard of humanity in death. That humanity is looked at through the lens of football, but it still exists. When Colt Brennan died last year, Schefter did not focus on his pro failures, but on his successes in college at Hawai’i.

Meanwhile, the ugly saga of Sean Taylor’s treatment in death rears its head again. Taylor, despite being the victim of a burglary, was blamed for his own death by the media. Famed troll Colin Cowherd delivered his racist id’s invective, saying that one should “ask yourself realistic questions….Just because somebody cleans the rugs doesn’t mean there aren’t stains.”

Taylor was famous for not caring about what the media thought of him. At points, he was even combative. For this, the shadows of the NFL’s media saw themselves fit to judge him for his own demise.

It is no wonder, then, that players like Marshawn Lynch refused to give access to the media during their playing career. They understood that the league only cared about access, and little about them. Whatever story that they, as Black men, brought to the game, didn’t matter to the media or the league as a whole.

Haskins Deserves Sweet Remembrance

With Black athletes and coaches degraded in the NFL as such, it is logical that former Dolphins coach Brian Flores is suing the league. Black executives get no redoubt from racism because of their supposed authority. Black athletes put their bodies on the line for white owners, who care little for what happens to those players.

All these people suing for change, demanding respect from the media, and asking for people to care are just that; people. They have lives, loves, ambitions, and dreams.

Whatever there is to say about his career, Haskins has achieved so much in his short life. To play quarterback for Ohio State, and at the NFL level, is a life most would give anything for.

Dwayne Haskins was a dreamer who achieved, and that is the way he should be remembered.

Follow Kathryn Rose on Twitter

The Miami Dolphins are Back to Having Fun

The Miami Dolphins are back in the facility for their offseason program, and the aura around new HC Mike McDaniel is refreshing and fun.

As the Miami Dolphins head back to the facility for their offseason program, there seems to be a common theme among players and coaches. That being the fun, lighthearted nature of coach Mike McDaniel.

“It’s more like… fun.”

Emmanuel Ogbah on the differences of having Mike McDaniel as Head Coach.

At first glance, it would appear the Dolphins, specifically on defense, enjoyed their time under Brian Flores. Rattling off back to back winning seasons was quite the accomplishment, and much of it came on the back of the defensive unit. An opportunistic bunch with a knack for timely turnovers and sacks was able to drag a lackluster offense to two of their best seasons in recent memory.

However, it was clear that the other side of the ball wasn’t improving, and Flores’ no nonsense attitude was wearing on players. When the “Patriot Way” isn’t winning postseason games (or getting you there in the first place), then it all falls apart.

Mike McDaniel, however, had a clear goal coming into this offseason: keep the defense intact while bringing in players and staff who can get their offense back to being competent for the first time since Dan Marino was under center.

Mike McDaniel brings hope of getting Miami’s offense back on track.

New Acquisitions

McDaniel came in with aggression, quickly bringing in major acquisitions in the free agency period. Namely, signing All-Pro tackle Terron Armstead and trading for the NFL’s most explosive receiver Tyreek Hill showed determination.

Along with that, depth pieces and other upgrades, such as Cedrick Wilson Jr., Raheem Mostert, and Chase Edmonds are sure to give Miami a more dynamic unit.

The Miami Dolphins have a new look offensive unit.

This was a clear issue under the previous regime. Brian Flores showed an unwillingness to go after free agents, leading to an offense bereft of talent.

They also brought in familiar faces and rising stars in the coaching room. Patrick Surtain, Sam Madison, and Wes Welker, all former Dolphins players, will be taking on the reigns as assistant coaches. There have even been jokes about whether the assistants will run one-on-ones in practice, which is yet to be seen.

Keeping Your Best Players Happy

However, this was all on-paper, and if players are unable to get along with the coach, then it all goes downhill. Miami’s previous two coaches alienated players from one side of the ball, and it was up to McDaniel to show he won’t make the same mistake. How would he do that? By paying Miami’s premier defenders.

Xavien Howard and Emmanuel Ogbah, two of Miami’s best defensive playmakers, received extensions to remain in the aqua and orange.

Unlike Flores, McDaniel’s regime didn’t let these contracts linger, as they made sure to keep the best players happy. It’s important to make a strong first impression, and the new coaching has definitely done just that.

Fun Off the Field

However, McDaniel’s connection with Miami’s fanbase has been just as strong. Dolphins fans across social media noted the former OC’s stellar press conferences, which always included witty remarks. Thus, he struck a cord with those who wanted a more lively candidate at the helm.

It’s clear that the wit and humor has remained in Miami, along with the lighthearted interactions with fans and media.

Mike McDaniel accepts and conquers Rich Eisen’s coaching cliché challenge.

The Bottom Line on Miami Dolphins and Their Fun Offseason

On paper, the Dolphins look to be much more fun than years past. The offensive line is vastly improved, appearing much more able to support Mike McDaniel’s outside zone scheme. This would give the support needed to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa needed to get the ball to his new dynamic duo at wide receiver.

On top of that, a defense that ranks among the top of the league in turnovers is still intact. Although many thought Xavien Howard or Emmanuel Ogbah might not be retained, they are both back for the foreseeable future.

They even found a way to acquire one of the league’s most fun-to-watch wide receivers in Tyreek Hill. One whose ability after the catch is unmatched, and appears to be a great fit in their scheme.

However, the X’s and O’s only begin to describe this new era for the Miami Dolphins. New Head Coach Mike McDaniel brings an aura that Dolphins fans and players haven’t seen in a long time. It is this hope, humor, and… fun, that has eluded this fanbase for decades, and comes back in it’s newest form.

While we are unsure of how good the Miami Dolphins will be, it’s clear that something has changed this offseason. We can expect coaches, players, and fans alike to be having a lot more fun in the years to come.

Follow Tyler DeSena on Twitter