FACTS AND STATS
2015 finish: Third, AFC East
DIVISIONAL RECORD: 1-5
FACTS AND STATS
TOTAL OFFENSE: 372.3 (8th)
RUSHING: 100.6 (19th)
PASSING: 271.7 (7th)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 420.3 (32nd)
RUSHING: 121.4: (24th)
PASSING: 298.9 (32nd)
COACH: Adam Gase
1st season as Dolphins/NFL head coach
--Miami closes the 2016 season against AFC East opponents Buffalo, the New York Jets and New England, which is significant because the Dolphins are 8-16 (.333) against the division in the last four years. And two games in that season-ending trio -- vs. the Jets on Dec. 17, and vs. the Bills on Dec. 24 -- are on the road. Miami is 3-9 (.250) in division road games the last four years.
2016 UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS
By TSX reporter covering team:
Tannehill is the undisputed leader of this group and one of the undisputed leaders of the team. But he needs to ascend into the top quarter of quarterbacks in the NFL if Miami wants to have its best chance of making the playoffs. Moore, regarded as reliable, had a concussion for part of preseason and didn't get a lot of work. Doughty is an upstart rookie seventh-round pick.
Ajayi could end up as the starter but Foster is more complete. Either way, Foster, who is 30 and coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, will eventually be the workhorse of an unspectacular group. These guys, aside from Foster, have a small NFL resume. Drake, the rookie third-round pick from Alabama who only played the preseason finale because of a hamstring injury, offers the most game-breaking excitement after Foster.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Jordan Cameron. Bakckups -- Dion Sims, MarQueis Gray
Cameron, who has three drops on two preseason games, has been disappointing. He needs to find a way to become a weapon in this offense. Catching the ball would help. Sims remains the blocker of this group and Gray is the best combination of receiver and blocker. None will scare opponents.
Landry, the first player in franchise history to record 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season (2015), is the star of the group. All others are questions. Stills had the best training camp and preseason while Parker has the best raw ability, but he can't stay healthy and had a couple of notable drops in preseason. It should be noted Landry had problems with drops in training camp and preseason. Carroo, the rookie third-round pick from Rutgers, Grant, the rookie sixth-round pick from Texas Tech, and the recently-signed Hunter are unproven.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Brandon Albert, LG Laremy Tunsil, C Mike Pouncey, RG Jermon Bushrod, RT Ja'Wuan James. Backups -- G-T Billy Turner, G-T Dallas Thomas, C Anthony Steen, C-G Kraig Urbik
The starters, especially Albert, Pouncey and James, must stay healthy. They are clearly the best in the group and the key to success, although Tunsil, the rookie first-round pick, also is a good one. Depth, a problem in recent years, should be much better because each, save for Steen, has NFL experience as a starter. Pass protections should be better but run-blocking was woeful in preseason. That must improve. Pouncey (hip) is questionable for the opener at Seattle.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LDE Cam Wake, DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Jordan Phillips, RDE Mario Williams. Backups -- DT-DE Julius Warmsley, DT-DE Jason Jones, DE Andre Branch, DE Terrence Fede
The key is whether Wake, 34 years old and recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury, and Williams, coming off a disappointing 5.0 sacks in 2015 with Buffalo, can fuel the pass rush. If so, this could be an outstanding unit. If not, this could be a very disappointing unit. Again. Suh is a rock. No worries there. Jones, Branch, Fede and Warmsley are decent but not standouts. Wake, Suh and Williams must play to their previous Pro Bowl levels.
This is an unimpressive group on paper. Alonso was a standout in his rookie season of 2013 (159 tackles) but knee problems have dogged him in recent years. Jenkins and Misi are decent players but neither figures to be a top Pro Bowl candidate. Depth is shaky. These guys need to become playmakers somehow (tackles for losses, sacks, interceptions, fumbles caused) and they need to be strong against the run. If those two things don't happen, this unit will play in oblivion the way it has the past few seasons.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Xavien Howard, RCB Byron Maxwell, FS Isa Abdul-Quddus, SS Reshad Jones. Backups -- S/Nickel Michael Thomas, CB Tony Lippett, CB/Nickel Bobby McCain, S Jordan Lucas, S Walt Aikens
Jones, a Pro Bowl selection last season, is the best player in this crew. Howard, the second-round pick from Baylor, has loads of potential but no training camp and only one preseason game. Maxwell, Abdul-Quddus and Thomas are the swing guys, the ones who could raise the level of this defense with surprising good play or sink it with poor play. Depth is fairly lacking although they do have some starting experience. These guys need to make big plays from time to time, something they flashed during preseason.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Andrew Franks, P Matt Darr, LS John Denney
Franks was OK last season (13 of 16 field goals, 33 of 36 extra points) but didn't have many opportunities. Darr was sensational in 2015, and appears to be on his way to a similar performance in 2016. He does a good job flipping field position. Denney, a former Pro Bowl selection, is as solid as they come.
PRACTICE SQUAD: C-G Jamil Douglas, LB James Burgess, TE Thomas Duarte, S A.J. Hendy, T Ulrick John, DE Cleyon Laing, CB Lafayette Pitts, WR Rashawn Scott, DE Jordan Williams
All times Eastern
Sept. 11, at Seattle, 4:05
Sept. 18, at New England, 1:00
Sept. 25, CLEVELAND, 1:00
Sept. 29, at Cincinnati (Thu.), 8:25
Oct. 9, TENNESSEE, 1:00
Oct. 16, PITTSBURGH, 1:00
Oct. 23, BUFFALO, 1:00
Nov. 6, N.Y. JETS, 1:00
Nov. 13, at San Diego, 4:05
Nov. 20, at Los Angeles, 4:05
Nov. 27, SAN FRANCISCO, 1:00
Dec. 4, at Baltimore, 1:00
Dec. 11, ARIZONA, 1:00
Dec. 17, at N.Y. Jets (Sat.), 8:25
Dec. 24, at Buffalo (Sat.), 1:00
Jan. 1, NEW ENGLAND, 1:00