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.

The Myth of the Second Round Quarterback

The 2022 NFL Draft is behind us, and it reveals a modern scouting trend at the league’s most important position.

The NFL draft has come and gone, and there were plenty of surprises, notably at the quarterback position. Among them, not a single quarterback was picked in the second round.

After Kenny Pickett was drafted by the Steelers at 20, the next QB didn’t go until 54 picks later, even though there were several who analysts believed were capable of going in round two.

There’s just one small problem: second round quarterbacks don’t exist.

I know it sounds like an odd — or maybe blatantly false — statement, but there is a case to be made. The success rate on round two signal-callers is pretty horrendous, and it all seems to lead to this one conclusion.

In order to come to that conclusion, however, there are a variety of different criteria. First, the types of quarterbacks and draftable skills. Second, the structure, and third, the history of these picks. Those three, when looked at together, bring a pretty shocking revelation that made me conjure up that statement above.

Drafting a Quarterback

Teams who find themselves drafting quarterbacks highly may be in a variety of spots, but there are three that are the most typical:

  1. One of the league’s worst teams, holding a high draft pick.
  2. Middling franchise, looking to make a change.
  3. Top of the league, finding the protégé for an older (on the verge of retirement) leader.

When teams find themselves in any of these positions, they must find the traits they value in a quarterback. Among those are arm talent, rushing ability, composure, ability to read the field, and more. However, there are two categories that those fall into, which, for the sake of the argument are production and potential.

To put it simply, teams judge what a quarterback is right now versus what he could be in a few years.

Scenario one

The top guys usually have a combination of both. Trevor Lawrence, who went number one to the Jaguars last year, combined national championships and Heisman ballot appearances with a 6’6″ frame and a cannon of an arm. Thus, he went to a team that I would place in the first set of criteria. The Jaguars were easily one of the worst teams in the NFL, and thus received a generational talent.

Scenario Two

Those with one of the two traits, however, have a wide range of options. For a team that’s just good enough to be picking outside of the quarterback window, they might be willing to take a chance on a potentially huge swing in their franchises history. Kenny Pickett is a prime example of this. While he doesn’t have the strongest arm or the highest ceiling, his production last season was hard to ignore. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 9-7-1 last year, decided that he was worth it at 20.

Kenny Pickett goes 20th overall.

Following that pick, there were other quarterbacks on the board, who, like Pickett, possessed one of the two main traits. Malik Willis, who some suspected may go as high as number two overall, had one of the highest ceilings in the draft, however, if he wasn’t going to go in the first, it seemed he wasn’t getting drafted until later on day 2.

scenario threE

Teams that fall in the third category (such as the Packers in 2020) have a tough decision. While they could take their chances on a high-potential pick like Jordan Love, it makes the most sense to maximize their championship window. Green Bay took that chance in 2020, and passed up elite talent because of it. Now, teams have learned from that mistake, while quarterbacks brunt the blow to their draft position.

Thus, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, and all of the quarterbacks who many expected to go in round one, are now available in the dreaded first half of day two.

The Structure of the Second Round

On the typical draft boards, teams have a wide range of grades on prospects. It’s common to see someone who’s viewed as a top prospect by one team be a day two pick for someone else. Due to this disparity, many “first round talents” fall into the beginning of day two.

These players are quickly scooped up in what makes up roughly 25 percent of the round. This leaves the last 24 picks for guys truly viewed as round two prospects, which doesn’t leave much room for quarterbacks.

If a team would have believed in someone enough to draft them with those first eight picks, it’s unlikely he would have slipped to begin with. Teams rarely risk the opportunity of missing out their guy. This is why it’s common to see teams move up to 32. They guarantee themselves the player they want with an extra year of team control.

Lamar Jackson was drafted 32 overall.

If a team wasn’t willing to take that chance, it’s unlikely they viewed them very highly. That idea is exactly what makes the second round the worst for the quarterback. Would a team take a player who, at the most important position in the sport, they aren’t fully invested in or comfortable with — especially when there is still high-end talent on the board?

The last 24

Once you find your way out of those first eight picks, it becomes time for teams to ask themselves that question. As this draft has shown, the answer has been a resounding “no.” The later picks, which are usually the teams competing for playoff spots, would rather choose someone who can contribute right away. Bubble teams are always looking for their next big acquisition, and their philosophy is that is can come then.

Quarterbacks, as a result, usually fall by the wayside. However, there are some instances where they are picked. The results of which are rather interesting.

Modern History of the Second Round Quarterback

Over the last 20 years, there have been 20 quarterbacks selected in the second round. 20 different times, teams have weighed the ideas of production and potential, and in the last two decades, have determined it’s time to take a quarterback who likely only had one of those traits.

A list of second round quarterback selections of the last 20 years.

Of those, the results are typically a failure of epic proportions. Kellen Clemens, Deshone Kizer, Drew Stanton, Chad Henne, Brian Brohm, John Beck, Jimmy Clausen, and Geno Smith all have more career interceptions than touchdowns, while Christian Hackenberg and Kyle Trask (who’s only in his second season) never played a recorded snap.

The other options aren’t great either. Tavaris Jackson, Brock Osweiler, and Kevin Kolb all showed some flashes, but never lived up to their selection.

Five of the remaining six are polarizing. Jalen Hurts has shown flashes, but fell apart in the playoffs. Drew Lock is still young, but was just traded by the Broncos and has been shaky. Jimmy Garoppolo was able to succeed in the Kyle Shanahan offense, but was just replaced and hasn’t shown an ability to transcend the system. Andy Dalton is a similar story, having rough stints in limited playoff appearances. Lastly, Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance, but has been out of the league for the better half of the last decade.

This leaves Derek Carr, who, while having only one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins, has safely cemented a spot as the Raiders quarterback for eight years. He has made three Pro Bowls, and has continued to improve. Thus making him the only second round quarterback selected in the last 20 years who can safely be called a hit.

The Bottom Line on the Second Round Quarterback

The 2022 NFL Draft was a prime example of a philosophy at work. After a quarterback goes in the first round, teams have learned from mistakes of the past. Rather than picking signal callers with clear holes in their game in the following round, they’ve gone for contributors at other positions.

Several teams would love to have the next Derek Carr, but with that comes the chance of Brian Brohm or Deshone Kizer. Just like every other selection, the second round has it’s fair share of bust potential. However, it seems that the combination of quarterback traits, draft tendencies, and a simple history lesson will tell you that it simply isn’t the same.

General managers across the league will continue to take swings on quarterbacks, but when doing so, it’s important to look at the most glaring fact:

Second round quarterbacks don’t exist.

3 Free Agents the Miami Dolphins Should Target After the 2022 NFL Draft

The NFL draft is officially over, and the Miami Dolphins are looking for the finishing touches on a team hoping for a playoff run.

Following an eventful day three in which the Miami Dolphins made three picks and signed 14 undrafted free-agents, the NFL draft has officially come to a close.

For a team that believes they’re in win-now mode, Miami used the event to fill some of their holes. Linebackers Channing Tindall and Cameron Goode hope to satisfy one of Miami’s biggest needs, while wide receiver Erik Ezukanma and quarterback Skylar Thompson seem like icing on the cake for solid units.

However, Miami still has some needs, and is entering yet another stage of free agency. As of 4 PM on Monday, teams no longer forfeit potential compensatory picks by signing free agents. Furthermore, more teams are putting the finishing touches on their roster, filling holes that went unsolved in the draft. The Dolphins are no different, and there are a few free agents I expect Miami to have interest in.

Akeim Hicks

A report has surfaced saying the Dolphins have been in contact with two big names along the defensive line. Carlos Dunlap and Akeim Hicks have reportedly been on the phone with Miami, and the latter is rather intriguing.

Following the hiring of new head coach Matt Eberflus in Chicago, the incoming scheme didn’t match the 32-year-old, but it doesn’t mean he’s washed up. Hicks has long been a leader in Chicago’s locker room, and is a stalwart up front. His speed-to-power conversion is freakish for someone of his size, and it has long benefited those playing alongside him. Namely, Khalil Mack wrapped up opposing QBs for 36 sacks in four years with Hicks at his side.

Miami could use a space-eater like Hicks, and his ability to free up opportunities for others would be huge for Miami’s other rushers. Second year pass rusher Jaelan Phillips is in for a big second year. Another freak along Miami’s front could make it even bigger.

Hicks’ size also benefits Miami’s run game, which has been inconsistent over the last couple of seasons. While they beat up on the bad teams, they’ve been gashed by Buffalo and Tennessee in seasons past. Having another interior defensive lineman in rotation with Zach Sieler, Raekwon Davis, and Christian Wilkins would certainly give that unit a boost.

Akeim Hicks is a force in the run game.

Melvin Ingram

Miami is on the lookout for play-makers across their defensive line. Along with the aforementioned Dunlap and Hicks, they have been in contact with former Chief Melvin Ingram. They brought him in on a visit for the second time in the last year, and did so for good reason.

Ingram, after being on the Chargers for nine years, was another casualty of a regime change. When Los Angeles brought in Brandon Staley, Ingram moved on, playing games for the Steelers and Chiefs last year.

Melvin Ingram can still make plays.

While it didn’t correlate to a high sack total, Ingram had 11 quarterback hits last season, and is still a productive rotational pass-rusher. Miami is set with Phillips and Emmanuel Ogbah up front, but could still use some bodies for late in the season. It’s important to keep players fresh, and there’s no such thing as too many pass rushers.

He may not be in his prime, but Ingram can still make plays in a limited role. I expect Miami to remain in contact with him, and he fits well on a team ready to win now.

JC Tretter

Miami’s offense is a stark contrast from last season. Their receiving corps was statistically one of the league’s worst last year. However, after the acquisitions of Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson, that unit has become a strength.

They also shored up the left side of their offensive line, signing Terron Armstead and Connor Williams. However, there is still one hole, at what some would argue is one of the most important positions.

Miami struggled mightily at center last year, and while Michael Dieter has improved, he hasn’t reached where the team had hoped. There is a veteran in J.C. Tretter, however, who would be a major improvement.

Former Browns Center JC Tretter is a leader.

Tretter has been one of the league’s better centers for years, performing at a high level under Kevin Stefanski, who runs a similar zone run scheme to Mike McDaniel. His ability to move in space is top-notch, and is only matched by his IQ. His ability to identify fronts could help out Tua, who has struggled with interior pressure early on in his career. Adding someone who you don’t have to worry about up the middle would make his life much easier.

Why hasn’t he signed? It’s been rumored that he’s looking to join a contender, which some would argue Miami is. Also, he may want a substantial contract, and being the president of the Player’s Association makes his negotiation significant to the rest of the league. However, Miami has roughly $20 million in cap space and can afford to make a move.

The Bottom Line on Miami Dolphins Free Agents

Miami is looking for proven commodities who can help them win now. They believe they have the team to compete, and want veterans as the last couple pieces.

Each player offers a different element to this team, whether it’s Hicks’ space eating, Ingram’s pass rushing, or Tretter’s blocking, but each is vitally important to a playoff team.

The Miami Dolphins will almost certainly add more free agents, these three would certainly be a strong fit.

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.