It’s hard for me to believe as a fan, but the Miami Dolphins offense hasn’t ranked in the top 10 since 1995. That’s unheard of considering all of the rule changes geared to benefiting the offense in football nowadays. In almost 30 years, the Dolphins haven’t been able to have an offense score points and make big plays consistently. 

When I read every day about the training camp reports for the first week, I’ve consistently heard the Dolphins’ offense is making big plays. However, as a fan, I’m skeptical because I feel like, over the years, the Dolphins have flashed in training camp and the preseason only to be non-existent in the regular season. Think about it last year, wide receiver Albert Wilson was the training camp MVP the first week of camp, only to be a no-show in the regular season. Preston Williams was consistently getting the best of cornerback Byron Jones the year before, but of course, when the season started, there was no consistency. 


There are many reasons why the Dolphins’ offense has been average for the last 25-30 years. The number one reason has been quarterback. The Dolphins have failed to find a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino retired. The Dolphins have had journeyman quarterbacks like Jay Fiedler and Matt Moore, who were decent quarterbacks, but not franchise quarterbacks. Fiedler was the last quarterback for the Dolphins to win a playoff game back in 2000, and most people will say they won that game despite him being the quarterback. The Dolphins have also made some trades for quarterbacks only to get burned on players like AJ Feely, Daunte Culpepper, and Josh Rosen, all quarterbacks who were overrated or had injuries derail their time with the Dolphins. The Dolphins missed the boat going after a quarterback, like Drew Brees twice, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Ryan, and even not trading up a few spots for Josh Allen; instead, the Buffalo Bills beat them to the punch. The Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill with the 8th pick in the 2012 draft, but he never lived up to the hype of being selected that high, and it took them seven years to figure that out. Now, the Dolphins are in the third year of trying to figure out in Tua Tagovailoa is their future at quarterback, who has shown some flashes but not enough consistency. 


One argument for Tagovailoa’s struggles has been the lack of playmakers, and the Dolphins, over the last 25 years, haven’t consistently brought in playmakers. The Dolphins have drafted guys over that time like Chris Chambers, Ted Ginn, Brian Hartline, and DeVante Parker, but many of those guys flashed and didn’t make plays consistently. In Parker’s case, his problem was durability because he always had some nagging injuries. Ginn was used as a kick returner but got caught in a regime change that got him traded. Chambers and Hartline flashed, but nothing consistent. The Dolphins traded for Brandon Marshall, and while he had over 1,000 yards each year in his two seasons, he had drops, and inconsistent quarterback play didn’t help him. The biggest frustration was when they signed Mike Wallace in 2013 because he wasn’t the number one receiver, just a speed guy who didn’t run routes. The Dolphins drafted Jaylen Waddle last year, and he broke the rookie record for receptions, but the Dolphins didn’t use him properly last year to get the big plays to go with his sp ed. The Dolphins traded for all-pro Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs and also signed Cedrick Wilson to add more speed to the offense. The hope is it will provide big plays. 

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Over the past five years, the Dolphins haven’t had a semblance of a running game. They have been at the bottom of the league in the last few years in that category. The Dolphins have had some good running teams over the past two decades, with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. They had one with Jay Ajayi in 2016, but then he had a falling out, and he got traded within a year, and the Dolphins haven’t had a running game since. They have been drafting players in the late rounds or signing them as undrafted free agents. This year, they brought in Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Sony Michel to upgrade the running game. We shall see. 


Perhaps, the biggest issue with the Dolphins’ offense the last couple of years has been their offensive line. They are ranked at the bottom of every category with run and pass blocking metrics. Frankly, the Dolphins hadn’t had a decent offensive line since 2009-2010, when it was the strength of this team. The Dolphins have invested a lot of high picks in the offensive line in guys like Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, Liam Eichenberg, Michael Dieter, and Solomon Kindley. All guys have not performed well. They show some glimpses, but that’s it. The Dolphins have had constant change with offensive line coaches, and that can’t help any young lineman. The Dolphins’ new coach Mike McDaniel is implementing a new zone blocking scheme, and the team didn’t make a lot of changes, so the hope is McDaniel, and his staff can revive some of these guys and their carers. I find it hard to believe that all of these linemen are that bad, so maybe they are being coached in the wrong scheme. 


Over 25-30 years, the Dolphins have had some good moments on offense, but not one where it all comes together. When Marino quarterbacked, it was a passing offense that didn’t have a running g me. After Marino retired, the Dolphins had good running games with Lamar Smith in 2000, and then in 2002, Williams ran for a franchise record of 1,853 yards, but the problem was the team didn’t have a passing game to complement their running game. If Marino had a Williams to turn the ball and hand off to in his career, that offense would have been unstoppable. In 2009, the Dolphins had a physical running game again, but their lack of a passing offense hurt them. The Dolphins had some moments of a balanced offense in 2016, in which Ajayi ran for over 1,000 yards, and Tannehill was starting to make big plays in the passing game, but then he got hurt and never had a year like that again.  


In the regular season, I’d like to see the Dolphins’ breakthrough on offense. Nowadays in the NFL, frankly, it’s embarrassing the Dolphins can’t get an offense going with all of the rules geared to more offense. I am optimistic that it can get going with Hill playing with Waddle, but I want to see it in the regular season and not in training camp. Tagovailoa, I know, can throw some passes down the field because he did it at Alabama, and I know they had the best talent, and I know there’s a difference between college and the pros. Reading about the plays the Dolphins were making is encouraging, but I feel like it’s a recurring theme from previous years, and when the season starts, the offense fizzles. The Dolphins’ offense has been holding this team back for years. It’s time for this offense to break through if they want to be considered a playoff-caliber team. If not, this team will be average at best. I’m optimistic, but I want to see it on the field. I don’t want to see flashes. I want to see consistent plays made week after week.