If you’re waiting for a big move in free agency this offseason, you might be disappointed. The Dolphins aren’t going to have a ton of room under the cap and the biggest moves this offseason may have already occurred. Coach Gase had to do something. His team ended the year 6 and 10 one year after going 10 and 6 and making the playoffs. Some fans on social media were already saying how bad he was and were calling for his job (I think Coach Gase is a good young coach and I am not in favor of hiring and firing every three years looking for the next best thing.) But I understand the fans frustration. Give the guy some time and a chance to learn from his mistakes. I think he has already made some excellent bold moves this season.
One of the most troubling things with the Dolphins is the lack of development in certain areas and players not reaching their potential. This comes down to the coaches, more specifically the position coaches, and that is where Coach Gase made some big changes after last season.
He shook things up by hiring Eric Studesville as the running backs coach, Kris Kocurek as defensive line coach, and Tony Oden as defensive backs coach. They also hired Renaldo Hill as an assistant defensive backs coach. Miami hired Dowell Loggains as the new offensive coordinator. Jeremiah Washburn was brought in to coach the offensive line. Shawn Jefferson was moved to assistant head coach/offense and Clyde Christensen was moved to director of football and player development.
That is a ton of changes, especially for a head coach who isn’t coaching for his job this upcoming season. Ross expects a better product than what the Dolphins put on the field last year, but he isn’t pressuring Gase with a “playoffs or bust” ultimatum. Gase is safe and he should be. But he also knew that something had to change because he wasn’t getting the most out of his players.
The Dolphins fielded one of the most expensive defensive lines in the league this year. But they ended the year with 30 sacks which was tied for 26th best in the NFL. That’s not reaching its full potential. There is some promising young talent on the defensive line with Davon Godchaux and Charles Harris to go along with veterans Suh, Wake, and Branch. Coach Kocurek must get better results from these guys. Some of Suh’s best years were with this Kocurek in Detroit..
The offensive line and the running game were inconsistent last year. Now I’m sure the Chris Foerster incident midseason didn’t help, but they still weren’t good enough afterwards either. Drake played well when he got the chance, but there is still room for improvement. So Studesville and Washburn take over.
The same goes for the defensive backs. There were times last year where Xavien Howard looked like he was going to be an All-Pro and then there were games where you were left shaking your head. Reshad Jones plays like a stud every game, but am I the only one thinking he could be even better? There’s no questioning his athleticism and toughness.
The other group is the wide receivers. There are so many questions with this group I don’t even know where to start. Can these guys reach their full potential? We still don’t know what Parker is. Carroo has not developed. Who is Isaiah Ford? Kenny Stills had a decent year but had trouble with ball security. What is going to happen with Jarvis Landry? Maybe the new wide receivers coach, Ben Johnson, will be able to help Jakeem Grant improve his route running abilities. Maybe new offensive coordinator Loggains will be able to use Grant like the Chiefs use Tyreek Hill. If Jarvis leaves, there is going to be a lot of opportunities for other guys to step up.
The Miami Dolphins have some holes in the depth chart, but they have some good players too. Let’s hope that this revamped coaching staff can get the most out of these guys so that they can get back on track to the playoffs. These may not be the headline grabbing moves we expect, but they might be the ones that we need.