Well the eve of opening day is upon us Dolphin fans. Like a lot of fans, I’m excited for the start of the season and see how the team looks after making a lot of changes including changes that weren’t so popular with the majority of the fan-base. It’s also a time to prove the experts wrong.
At the same time, it’s time for others to step up and show what they can do. Adam Gase came to the Dolphins as a quarterback and offensive guru. It’s time for him to prove it. The Dolphins finally have a settled starting offensive line and their starting quarterback healthy. He also has a young tight end who can create mismatch problems along with a variety of running backs. It’s time for Gase to show us what this offense can do. Maybe he needed time to get players he wanted or was handcuffed by the offenses lack of speed or depth on the offensive side of the ball, but we are in year 3 and it’s time to show us something. It’s time to show we can be a productive offense that can score more than 20 points a game and contend with teams like the New England Patriots. The preseason wasn’t very promising, but maybe Gase wasn’t showing much and waiting for the season to start to show us what he has. Well see, but please show us something and no more excuses.
This is a make or break year for Ryan Tannehill. He is coming back from a knee injury and unfortunately it came when it looked like he was going to turn the corner in 2016, but now Tannehill is back, and he must step up his level of play. The Dolphins could have and perhaps should have traded up to get a quarterback in this year’s draft, but the Dolphins showed a lot of faith in Tannehill to pass on getting a quarterback. Tannehill now must show the Dolphins were right. Tannehill seems to have a great command of this offense and stepping up with his leadership, but now he must put it together on the field.
The biggest key on defense might be Jordan Phillips. He is in his 4th season and it’s a contract year. If he wants to get paid, he must become a dominant force in the middle of the defense. The Dolphins parted ways with Ndamukong Suh in part because they had confidence in the other players led by Phillips. Well now it’s time for him to show the team he is ready to become a force in the middle of the defense. He has shown flashes that he can become a force in the middle, but he must be more consistent. If he can it will go a long way to helping the Dolphins run defense but is he up to the challenge. The Dolphins feel he is, but now he must show us.
Kiko Alonso is healthy and is the leader of the linebacker core, but he must step up his play. He is fully recovered from his thumb injury that still plagued him last year, so he must improve his play in 2018. The Dolphins rewarded him with a new contract after 2016, but he is in the second year of his four-year deal and if he doesn’t step up it will be time to move on next year. That’s the way the NFL contracts are front loaded and if it doesn’t work out the first couple years, then teams will move on. He has to be the leader of the linebacker group and help Raekwon McMillian and Jerome Baker, guys who haven’t played a down in the regular season.
Xavien Howard finished strong at the end of last season and looked the shutdown corner the Dolphins drafted two years ago. It’s time for him to step up and become a dominant shut down corner. The Dolphins haven’t had one since Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain. It’s time for Howard to carry his dominant play from the end of last season into this season and become a force in the secondary. He has had a great training camp, but now lights are on and it’s time to shine.
The Dolphins open with the Tennessee Titans and they are considered a tough physical football team, and some feel their style will over power the Dolphins and beat them. It’s now time for the Dolphins to step up their physical play and show they can be just as physical as the Titans or anybody in the league. The Dolphins have seen the Titans a lot recently as the Titans and Dolphins have played each other the last 3 seasons, so it’s not like they aren’t familiar with them. The Titans won’t have one of their starting tackles in Jack Conklin, so the Dolphins pass rushers need to show up tomorrow. Robert Quinn was acquired this off season to bolster the pass rush and he is coming off and off year. He has had double digit sacks multiple times in his career and he was playing out of position, but some feel his game has slipped. I didn’t really see it in the preseason, but that’s the preseason. It’s time for Quinn and the rest of pass rush to show up tomorrow and set the tone and show the critics we aren’t a bad team.
It’s 2018, the regular season is here, it’s week 1 and for the Miami Dolphins it’s time to put up or shut up.