South Florida has become the epicenter for sports in 2023. Since March, South Florida sports fans have seen – Nova Southeastern win the NCAA Division II National Championship (going undefeated in the process), both the Miami Hurricanes men’s and women’s basketball programs make deep runs into their respective tournaments, Florida Atlantic become a Cinderella story and reach the Final Four. Now the Florida Panthers have reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in my life, with the Miami Heat on the cusp of another NBA Finals berth; Hell, even the Miami Marlins are .500 after 50 games. It has been an insane success the past few months in South Florida, and now the Miami Dolphins have made their return to the practice field with hopes of continuing the success.
The Dolphins, fresh off an NFL Playoff appearance in the first season under Head Coach Mike McDaniel, have elevated themselves from an organization “in the hunt” to a legitimate contender in the loaded AFC. Miami enters the 2023 season with lofty expectations; following the off-season, the team revamped its defense by bringing in All-Pro Jalen Ramsey and defensive mastermind Vic Fangio. Can the Dolphins continue the success of the other South Florida teams? Here’s what I think they can do to follow and, perhaps, bring a Lombardi trophy back to Miami Gardens.
Post-June 1 moves
At this point of the off-season, the free agency market has run dry. Teams will still make moves after June 1 to open salary cap space, and I anticipate the Dolphins to do something similar. Miami has been tied to Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook throughout the off-season, and I fully expect the Dolphins to get a deal done with Cook shortly after he is released. Adding Cook solidifies an already stacked offense and gives McDaniel an actual lead running back in a room that features Devon Achane, Jeff Wilson, and Raheem Mostert.
Miami has also added depth to the offensive line, but it seems they’ve missed the opportunity to add a piece that can contribute to the line.
ESPN: How Tua Has Been Working this Offseason to Avoid Head Injuries
Continued progress and development of Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa enjoyed the best season of his pro career despite it being cut short due to injuries under McDaniel. It seemed as though he was finally put in a position to succeed for the first time as a Dolphin – what a concept, a coach that wants his players to be successful; looking at you, Brian Flores – and Miami looked like a contender with the signal caller on the field. Perhaps the key for Miami’s success in 2023 is keeping Tua on the field. Tagovailoa looks to be in the best shape of his life, thanks to the PER4ORM team, and McDaniel added a camera to Tua’s helmet throughout OTA’s. The ability to practice against one of the league’s premier defenses and an elite defensive coach will prove to be extremely valuable to the fourth-year quarterback, who struggled against defenses like what Fangio runs.
Health and no dramatics
It’s refreshing to look ahead to the Miami Dolphins season with optimism and no looming drama through contract disputes or flirting with other potential quarterbacks. The only “real” issue is getting pen-to-paper with Christian Wilkins and inking an extension. If Miami can get through training camp without injuries and into the regular season healthy, I believe they’re the favorites to win the AFC East.
To me, a successful Miami Dolphins season is an AFC East Division Championship and, AT LEAST, a playoff win or two. South Florida sports have been phenomenal; now it’s the Dolphins’ turn.