Dolphins Going Nowhere In 2016 Without Offensive Upgrades

The Miami Dolphins haven’t made the playoffs since 2008, which is also the last time they finished with a winning record. Last season, Coach  Joe Philbin was fired during the season. He has been replaced by Adam Gase. He is the 12th head coach in franchise history and was clearly the team’s first choice. Gase is a former offensive coordinator with the Bears and Broncos so obviously his expertise is on that side of the ball. Yet Miami has largely ignored its mediocre offense this offseason and won’t be a playoff team as things stand. Currently the Fins are 7.0000 on betting picks to win Super Bowl LI.

During Gase’s 2015 season with the Bears, they ranked 17th in offensive points. But he helped quarterback Jay Cutler reduce his turnovers and post a career-high passer rating of 92.3. Gase spent six seasons on the staff in Denver, where he helped Tim Tebow win a playoff game. In his first season as offensive coordinator in 2013, Peyton Manning and the Broncos scored an NFL-record 606 points and reached the Super Bowl. The following year they scored 482 points, the league’s second-highest total that year.

So perhaps Gase can get the best out of underachieving Ryan Tannehill. He had an 88.7 passer rating last year, just 21st in the NFL. He ranked 23rd on third downs and 20th on red-zone throws. But while the Dolphins have signed Mario Williams and traded for Byron Maxwell and Kio Alonso on defense, they haven’t really helped Tannehill yet.

The Fins averaged only 19.4 points per game in 2015 and have lost starting tailback Lamar Miller and receiver Rishard Matthews. Miller carried the ball 194 times for 872 yards and eight touchdowns with the Dolphins in 2015. He also caught 47 passes for 397 yards and two scores. Miller was not used as much as he should have been, never running for more than 19 times in a game in 2015. Miller played in six games where he recorded less than 10 carries. Matthews, meanwhile, had 43 receptions and four touchdowns in 11 games.

Miami signed Denver running back C.J. Anderson to an offer sheet that the team didn’t think the Broncos would match. They did. Then the Fins turned their attention to the Cardinals’ Chris Johnson, but he opted to take a one-year deal to return to Arizona. Alfred Morris, Arian Foster, LeGarrette Blount, James Starks and Ronnie Hillman, Anderson’s teammate in Denver, are the top free agent running backs remaining. All come with some sort of baggage. None near as good as Miller.

Right now, the three tailbacks on the Miami roster are Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Jahwan Edwards. Ajayi showed some good signs in 2015 as a rookie with 187 rushing yards and one touchdown on 49 carries. But he’s a little guy and probably can’t handle a 200-carry workload. He missed the first nine weeks of his rookie season following a stint on the short-term IR list (broken rib).

The Dolphins’ problems could be resolved if Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is still on the board when they pick No. 13 overall in the draft. And he might be. Elliott is projected as the top running back in the draft and likely to be the only one taken in the first round. Alabama’s Derrick Henry, the Heisman winner, is the next best back and is projected as an early second-round pick.

Miami has a wins total of 7 for the 2016 season.

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