The Playoffs a childish concept to anyone who openly identifies as a Dolphins supporter – have resurfaced as a discussion topic going into the 2022 season. Overheated fans at training camp whisper of it; they mumble sweet nothings about a newfound ‘belief’ in this team; how this 2022 team will transcend the mediocrity that has riddled South Florida for over a decade.

And this past week, the practice field was left with sweet, emotional vindication as Tua connected with Tyreek Hill on the prettiest throw of his career. 

This was a huge moment for the entire fanbase and beyond. This wasn’t merely a moment to showcase Tua’s growth in the hail mary department. No, this was the accumulation of over three years of the world arguing that he didn’t have the arm talent to make that throw in the first place while at the same time affirming that having Tyreek Hill as a weapon is going to change everything for this offense.

But even before this throw, the fanbase has been abuzz with one central concept:

This is a playoff team.

But Let’s Talk Math!

Until we build this playoff-predicating algorithm, I think it would be best if we took a gander at the McDaniels-involved offenses over the past three seasons with the 49ers:

PPG Rush Yards Per Game Pass Yards Per Game
Offensive Coordinator 2021 49ers 24 (15th) 124.6 (7th) 236.6 (12th)
Run Game Coordinator 2020 49ers 23.5 (21st) 118.1 (15th) 252.1 (13th)
Run Game Coordinator 2019 49ers 29.6 (3rd) 153.5 (2nd) 220.7 (21st)

What To Gleen

There is no reason to expect this offense to operate or succeed on a different clip or rate as the 2019-2021 49ers offenses. This offense will run the ball with the vigor of a top 10 ground attack (God willing, Terron Armstead can stay healthy). However, nobody should expect this team to be a top 5 scoring offense; this is unrealistic, and the opposite of the type of team McDaniels is trying to craft.

Expect a team who can run effectively – not only because of the specific personnel that it chooses to turn the key, but because it creates specific positive run leverage that will eat the clock and allow defensive freshness. 

***Ignore the 2019 team’s scoring numbers, as these were skewed by insane defensive eliteness and offensive mastery that we probably won’t see Tua produce in his first year in the McDaniels system.***

Lets Talk Defense (And Math)

The big mathematical issues start on this side of the ball; the side of the ball we all forget to worry about.

In my opinion, this defense and the scheme that this defense is predicated on may be fundamentally flawed in one specific area. This team will be returning its entire 2021 unit – player for player – which could be a terrible reality, as the unit’s most significant weakness (the linebacker position) was left totally unsupplemented going into this season.

And unless players like Noah Igbonoghne, Jevon Holland, and Jaelan Phillips are prepared to grow in leaps and bounds – this team could be looking at a major record deduction if they aren’t able to create positive change with a specific alarming statistic:

Their inability to stop top 15 QBs.

*Based on QBR from the 2021 season*

W/L Defense vs. 1-15 Opponent Points
L Bills – Josh Allen 35
L Bills – Josh Allen 26
L Raiders – Derek Carr 31
L Colts – Carson Wentz 27
L Bucs – Tom Brady 45
L Titans – Ryan Tannehill 34
0-6 (0%) AVERAGE PPGA 33 Would be 32nd in NFL

Quick Breakdown

In 2021, every time the Dolphins’ defense faced a top 15 QB; they were the worst unit in the league. They allowed 33 points per game against these QBs, which is why our team fell to a humiliating 1-7 to start the season.

No offense should be expected to score 33 ppg in order to win a high-level game; that is ridiculous. Though it is only fair to acknowledge that these ppg numbers should naturally dwindle as the offense this season will be more efficient and designed around keeping the defense off the field, with an obvious emphasis on running the ball. However, this trend needs to change for this team’s potential to be fully realized.

The silver lining: when our defense faces a QB ranked between 16 and 32, it is the best defense in the NFL –

W/L Defense vs. 16-32 Opponent Points
W Pats – Mac Jones 16
W Pats – Mac Jones 24
L Falcons – Matt Ryan 30
L Jags – Trevor Lawerence 23
W Ravens – Lamar Jackson 10
W Jets – Joe Flacco 17
W Jets – Zach Wilson 24
W Panthers – Sam Darnold 10
W Saints – Ian Book 3
W Texans – Tyrod Taylor 9
W Giants – Mike Glennon 9
9-2 (82%) AVERAGE PPGA 15.9 Would be 1st in NFL

 

Quick Breakdown Pt. 2

This team was able to go 9-2 against these lower-end QB talents. Without speaking too technically, this is probably a product of bad quarterbacks not being able to handle our full-tilt-style blitzing defense; and being able to prey on these mistakes. 

 

Using Loose Math to Predict Every Game in 2022

2022 Games vs. Top 15 QBs W/L Prediction
Chargers – Justin Herbert L
Bengals – Joe Burrow L
Vikings – Kirk Cousins W
Browns – Deshaun Watson W
Bills – Josh Allen L
Bills – Josh Allen L
Packers – Aaron Rodgers L
2-5
2022 Games vs. QBs 16-32 W/L Prediction
Ravens – Lamar Jackson L
Jets – Zach Wilson W
Jets – Zach Wilson W
Steelers – Mitchell Tribusky W
Lions – Jared Goff W
Bears – Justin Fields W
Texans – Davis Mills W
49ers – Trey Lance W
Pats – Mac Jones L
Pats – Mac Jones W
8-2

 

Quick Breakdown Pt. 3/Summary

I believe that this trend of our defenses’ inability to stop these upper-echelon QBs will continue to a certain degree. The offense’s new focal point will keep these crucial games closer and swing the needle in favor of one-possession games, but until further evidence arises, I struggle to believe we will be able to match the likes of Aaron Rodgers in a shootout.

All of that being said, I see us sneaking into the playoffs this year with a wildcard berth and a 10-7 record. I believe we are even more talented than that, but I’m not sure everything will gel perfectly in the first season under the new regime. 

But I will say: 

If we do make the playoffs, watch out. The 49ers are always sneaky good when they make it; the Dolphins will be as well.