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The AFC East continues to become stronger year by year with the Bills being Super Bowl contenders, the Patriots making playoffs last year without Tom Brady, the Jets bringing in a very talented 2022 draft class, and last but not least the Dolphins have established themselves as a clear playoff caliber team in the AFC. The Dolphins are slated to have around a nine win season in 2022.
First let’s start with the obvious for the Miami Dolphins, Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins lured the speedy wide receiver away from the Chiefs with a lucrative $120 million dollar contract, giving Hill around $30 million a year. This key signing not only draws a major playmaker away from the Chiefs but brings together the two fastest wide receivers in the game. Both receivers caught over 100 passes last year and had over 1,000 yards receiving, surrounding third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with all the talent he needs to punch Miami’s ticket into the postseason. Tagovailoa also has top ten tight end, Mike Gesicki, at his disposal who has played over 15 games every season since coming into the league and has shown good chemistry with the young QB.
Speed continues to be embedded throughout the Miami offense even in the backfield with the free agent signings of Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds. Edmonds reached 15 mph on 23% of his carries last season, which was the highest percentage in the league. The other running back, Mostert, has clocked in-game speeds of 22.73 mph and 23 mph in the last two seasons. Paving the way for these backs on the offensive line are further key free agent signings Terron Armstead and former second round pick guard Connor Williams.
All the while new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has been learning and studying under one of the great offensive minds of the NFL, Kyle Shanahan, since 2006. It’s safe to say that with Shanahan’s influence on McDaniel, great offensive playmakers, and an accurate quarterback, this offense will be a force to be reckoned with come September.
The only issues that might arise for the Dolphins are their defense and schedule. Despite finishing third in the AFC East last year, the Dolphins have the 19th hardest strength of schedule with games consisting of the Bills twice, Bengals, 49ers, Chargers, Ravens, and Packers which will provide a challenge for any first-year head coach.
In 2021, the Dolphins defense let up 21.9 points per game that was 16th highest in the league, which may seem like an unimpressive statistic, but the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams also let up 21.9 points per game last season. With the offense projected to be as dynamic as it seems, the Dolphins defense does not need to be spectacular to win games, but needs to remain an average defense as a minimum.
If Miami’s defense can hold on and Mike McDaniel can put the pieces together on the offensive end, the Dolphins are looking at over 9 wins this upcoming season. As for making playoffs on the other hand, since the AFC is so talented this year, a couple ten win teams might not make the cut for the postseason and I believe the Dolphins might be one of them.