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Repercussions and Benefits to Drafting a QB in Both 2019 & 2020

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest conundrum and worst-kept secret engulfing the entire Miami Dolphins franchise is the quarterback position.

Yes, they did sign Paul Bunyan’s doppelganger, Ryan Fitzpatrick, to be the team’s “starting quarterback” in 2019, but I don’t think there are too many fans thrilled with this signing as it correlates to the overall success of the franchise.

2019 was destined to be arduous, frustrating and outright boring, so at least we know we’ll have 17 weeks of entertainment courtesy of the smartest man (Harvard graduate) to play start for so many NFL football teams (8 and counting).

And while Fitzpatrick could be Thormund Giantsbane’s stunt double in Game of Thrones, what does the future hold for Miami?

Some of us want the Dolphins to select one of the 4-6 potential 1st-round quarterbacks in this upcoming draft so we can get a head start on rebuilding our franchise. We’ve passed on a starting quarterback all these other years, and we’ve seen a productive starter come from the 1st round in virtually every recent NFL draft (all except 2013, where E.J Manual was the best QB and Mike Glennon was next-best).

By my unscientific calculation, I’d say most fans want the Dolphins to grab their quarterback in the 1st-round of the 2020 NFL draft – where there are at least 3 QBs projected to be better professional players than any QB coming out of the 2019 draft.

Miami has wasted 19 seasons since Dan Marino retired; what’s another wasted year if it means we finally end the quarterback drought?

What most fans don’t want the Dolphins to do is invest a 1st-round pick on a quarterback in 2019 and then again in 2020. Why “waste” a 1st-round pick – such a desired asset – when you can draft an elite & cheap commodity at another position; a prospect that will still benefit the eventual QB you draft to take over your team.

But what if I told you that it’s quite alright if our beloved Miami Dolphins select a quarterback in the 1st-round of the draft in back-to-back years? What if Miami took multiple chances to end the curse that has plagued this franchise longer than some of us have been alive for?

Would the plethora of fans advocating for Miami to not “waste a pick in 2019” be justified? Would the group of fans yearning for the team to get their quarterback in 2019 be validated?

The short answer is: (insert The Rock voice here) it doesn’t matter where Miami drafts their franchise quarterback, just as long as they draft the right player. We won’t know who that right player is until their career begins, so fans won’t be justified until the 2021 draft at the absolute earliest. That said, we’ve gone back the past 10 years and analyzed just how teams have fared the year leading up to them drafting a quarterback in the first round versus the year after their rookie quarterback was drafted.

Let’s just say, there’s no absolute science, but there’s no concrete reason to avoid this conundrum.

The Breakdown

Some fans see drafting a quarterback in the 1st-round of the draft as the “endgame” when it comes to finding a starting quarterback for their team. Draft a quarterback in the 1st-round of 2019, and you’re marrying yourself to that prospect throughout their rookie contract.

While that may be right for players you misdraft like Charles Harris or DeVante Parker, it doesn’t necessarily apply to quarterbacks.

Yes, you do lose a prospect at another position, so you can automatically assume that misdrafting a quarterback is a missed player somewhere else on your roster, but do we all agree that there is only one position on a team’s roster that genuinely matters?

When comparing the two seasons, we wanted to see if teams saw a noticeable gain or drop between the two years. The main purpose? To see just how much the Miami Dolphins screw themselves over in 2020 if they select a quarterback in 2019.

The prevailing thought is that the Miami Dolphins will be out of the running for a QB in 2020 if they draft a QB in 2019. Judging by how teams have fared the past decade, there is no evidence to suggest that the Dolphins will be out on a 2020 quarterback. Especially when you take into account the Dolphins current roster status and talent, I think it’s safe to say that an improvement from 7-9 is very unlikely.

Take a look at the last 10 years and see how kind (or terrible) history was to these franchises:

Note: the draft slot listed is where the team was originally slated to draft – not necessarily where they actually drafted that year (plenty of teams traded up to acquire their quarterback). We wanted to show their original draft slot as that was a better indication of the team’s success between the two years.

Some fun stats to take note of regarding this information:

  • Teams moved an average of 3 draft slots lower the year after they drafted a quarterback in the 1st round (lower meaning they went from #7 overall to #10 as an example)
  • Of the 31 selections, 15 teams (48%) ended up drafting within the top-10 the following year
  • Of the 31 selections, only 12 teams (39%) ended up drafting later than #13 (where Miami is currently slotted to draft in 2019) the year after they drafted their QB in the first round.
    • And of those 31 selections, only 9 (29%) teams ended up picking 20th or later
  • Of the 31 quarterbacks taken, 17 of them (55%) have led their teams to the playoffs
    • With 11 of those 17 (65%) quarterbacks going deeper than the 1st round of the playoffs
    • 5 of those 17 (29%) ended up going to the Super Bowl
  • Of these 31 instances, teams ended up improving their record after they drafted their rookie QB 17 of those times (55%)
    • 11 of the 31 teams (35%) did worse the year after
    • 3 of the 31 teams (10%) ended up with the same record

What can we take away from all of this? There is no scientific evidence to confirm that Miami will select the right quarterback, but it also indicates that Miami wouldn’t be in a “worse spot” in 2020 if they drafted a quarterback in 2019.

Outside of Matthew Stafford in 2009, Cam Newton in 2011, and Andrew Luck in 2012 (all 1st-overall picks), the quarterback classes were pretty stale from 2009-2016. Sure, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow and Teddy Bridgewater led their teams to the playoffs throughout that time, but none of those quarterbacks are necessarily viewed as franchise QBs at this time.

Though with that being said, how many of us would enjoy Jacksonville’s run to the Super Bowl? Or the Tennessee Titans upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs after Mariota caught his own pass? How electric would the fanbase have been watching RGIII and Bridgewater lead Miami to a division title? Even Tim Tebow has been a more-successful quarterback than anyone the Dolphins have had this century.

While the answer isn’t always available, it’s evident there are answers. It’s just a matter of finding a legitimate long term solution and not one of these quarterbacks who bring temporary success.

How should the Dolphins approach this dilemma? Do they make their selection and stick with it or do they finally decide that finding the right quarterback is worth the risk & hassle?

Advocating for a Quarterback in 2019

What do you have to lose?

Outside of the obvious aspect that you do not have a 1st-round talent at another position (a snowball effect that plays into the team’s total cap space when you account for the fact that you have to spend on a roster spot that would have otherwise been filled by elite, cheap talent), there isn’t much the Dolphins can lose by drafting a QB at #13.

Frankly, as long as the quarterback you select isn’t horrendous, you can still flip him for a 3rd or 4th-round pick the following year (see Josh Rosen).

If you get the selection wrong, you may have even enhanced your draft status the following year rather than hurt it; which means you’re in an even better spot to draft your franchise QB in 2020.

Of all the 1st-round QBs that have “failed” over the past decade (to keep it simple in this instance, any QB that didn’t lead their teams to the playoffs “failed”…there are 14 total QBs in this instance), 8 of those teams ended up with a lower draft pick – though that stat is a bit misleading:

  • Between all 14 of those teams that “failed” to pick the right QB, they slid an average of 1.5 draft slots lower
    • 8 of those 14 teams ended up picking in the top-10 the year after they drafted their QB
  • Of those 8 teams that ended up with a lower pick, 3 of them had the #1 overall pick when they drafted their QB – making it pretty easy to “beat” that statistic

Assuming Miami doesn’t trade-up and make the wrong selection, all of their 2020 draft picks will still be available to use in a trade if you want to move up to grab one of the diamonds coming out of the 2020 draft. You’ll even have all of your 2021 draft picks to help make that trade a reality.

Pros:

  • Potential franchise quarterback (this is kind of a big one)
  • Maintain all future draft capital
  • Tank properly for 2020 (if pick is wrong)
    • Given Miami’s current roster and how rookie QBs perform, it’s safe to say Miami would get a better draft pick in 2020 rather than falling further than #13
  • At worst, a really good backup quarterback

Cons:

  • Missing 1st-round talent at another position
  • Hurts cap space if player is released
    • Hurts cap space by requiring team to spend on replacement for position you could have drafted

Advocating for a Quarterback in 2020

You have EVERYTHING to gain.

Sure, 2019 may solve Miami’s quarterback problem, but will it make the Dolphins a contender for years to come? Or are we looking at the potential of overdrafting the next Andy Dalton at #13 and setting ourselves up for continued (albeit, slightly elevated) mediocrity?

There’s a difference between a quarterback and a difference maker, and the 2020 draft class provides the potential for 3 outstanding difference makers to join the fray: Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. By some accounts, even the next-tier of QBs in the 2020 draft (K.J. Costello and Jacob Eason) are better than most of the 2019 QBs coming out.

Even the Miami Dolphins front office recognizes that 2020 is the more-optimal year to set their franchise up for success. With all of these recent trades netting Miami 2020 draft picks, it seems the team is gathering all the ammunition they need to get the quarterback they want at the turn of the decade.

Assuming the Dolphins didn’t trade any 2020 or 2021 draft capital, they will be in a prime position to grab the man they want in 2020.

Trade the farm. Trade valuable assets in 2021 and potentially 2022 if need be. We’re beyond strategically trying to draft our quarterback (no more 2nd-round picks on the Chad Henne‘s, Pat White‘s and John Beck‘s of the world). Take that risk, whatever the risk costs.

  • Of the 20 quarterbacks drafted in the top-10, 11 of them took their team to the playoffs
  • Of the 11 quarterbacks that were drafted in the top-5, 7 of them took their team to the playoffs
    • With Baker Mayfield being one of the quarterbacks who hasn’t (yet)
    • Another is Brandon Weeden, and he was technically selected 22nd overall (the Cleveland Browns originally had the 4th-overall pick in the draft, so the stat is a tad skewed. For your entertainment, after a bunch of maneuvering that spanned multiple seasons, the Browns eventually traded up to select Trent Richardson with the #3 overall selection the same year Weeden was drafted)

While there’s a chance you draft Mark Sanchez, there’s a better chance you draft a playoff-caliber quarterback. Unless Miami is tanking for Trevor Lawrence in 2021, it’s time they identify the risk they want to take and execute accordingly.

Pros:

  • You’ve probably drafted someone equivalent to Eli ManningPhilip Rivers, or Ben Roethlisberger rather than someone like Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder
  • You’ve (hopefully) utilized 2019 to build a better roster around your QB so he isn’t getting sacked 184 times in his first 4 years like Ryan Tannehill did
    • This also coincides with having the ability to field an expensive team that can make a deep run in the playoffs while your quarterback is cheap

Cons:

  • If you get it wrong in 2020, you’ve now wasted 2-3 seasons simply misidentifying the most important position
    • Quite frankly, this would absolutely justify Chris Grier being fired, and you could argue Brian Flores should follow suit

Why Not Both?

So why not take a flyer on a quarterback in back-to-back years? Are you afraid of losing out on one (potentially) really good player for the sake of waiting yet another year to take your risk?

A friendly little reminder of who the Dolphins have drafted in the 1st round since 2008:

  • 2018 (11th-overall): Minkah Fitzpatrick
  • 2017 (22): Charles Harris
  • 2016 (13): Laremy Tunsil
  • 2015 (14): DeVante Parker
  • 2014 (19): Ja’Wuan James
  • 2013 (3): Dion Jordan
  • 2012 (8): Ryan Tannehill
  • 2011 (15): Mike Pouncey
  • 2010 (28): Jared Odrick
  • 2009 (25): Vontae Davis
  • 2008 (1): Jake Long

By drafting a QB at #13, it’s possible you miss out on someone like Laremy Tunsil or Minkah Fitzpatrick, but there’s also a solid chance you’re drafting someone like Parker or Harris.

You may end up with “very good” players like Ja’Wuan James or Mike Pouncey, but would you rather have someone like James or Pouncey, or would you rather take a minimal risk to get this franchise to the point where it can have back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-2003?

Pros:

  • Multiple quarterbacks on your roster giving you security or a huge trade chip
  • There is virtually no detriment to your future cap space, given the rookie contracts
  • Unless Miami royally screwed it up, you can exhale and enjoy the next decade of your football fandom knowing the Miami Dolphins have the right player at the right position

Cons:

  • Missing a 1st-round pick at another position

By the way, the last time the Dolphins had a losing season before 2003 was 1988. Before that? 1976. You know why? The team had legitimate franchise quarterbacks.

While there is logic behind waiting until 2020, there isn’t much preventing the team from getting a head start in 2019. Confidence? Stagnating quarterback development? I guess those are a couple of concerns if you give a quarterback competition (at least those were the main reasons for avoiding competition for Ryan Tannehill), but the Miami Dolphins need to identify a player that can lead them to, at the very least, a playoff victory.

At this point, we aren’t necessarily asking for a Super Bowl. Hope would be a good start. Drafting a quarterback in 2019 provides hope. Drafting another quarterback in 2020 virtually guarantees success.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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Miami Dolphins have exercised Laremy Tunsil’s fifth-year option

Shawn Digity

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Laremy Tunsil USA Today Sports
Laremy Tunsil taking on Khalil Mack. Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Miami Dolphins have exercised Laremy Tunsil’s fifth-year option

The headline says it all; the Miami Dolphins have picked up Laremy Tunsil’s rookie contract fifth-year option. All 2016 first-round draftees are up for fifth-round options and the dominoes have started to fall with Tunsil.

The announcement tweet, which can be seen below, was broken on Twitter by Armando Salguero and shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to Dolphins fans. Laremy Tunsil is one of the key cogs of the team and will be the cornerstone of an otherwise enfeebled offensive line that will likely be addressed in next week’s Draft.

Laremy Tunsil is the surest thing on the Dolphins o-line in a unit that has seen better days and will require two to three new starters. While Tunsil was a no-brainer for the Dolphins to pick up that fifth-round option on, they’ll likely have to extend him at some point, which won’t come cheap since he’s one of the rising stars at left tackle.

But Laremy Tunsil is secured through the 2020 season. I hope between now and then the Dolphins spearhead an extension and get Tunsil locked up a little bit longer. Success in the trenches will start with Tunsil at left tackle and the Fins can fill in the rest during the draft.

Laremy Tunsil will realistically become the highest-paid left tackle at some point in the next few years, and the Dolphins would be wise to get ahead of the curve for that. I think that will happen.

The current frontrunner for left-tackle contracts is the Oakland Raiders’ Trent Brown, and he is making an APY (average per year) of $16.5 million with. The top ten left tackles are making from the aforementioned $16.5 million to $12 million for Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari, Kansas City’s Eric Fisher, and Cincinnati’s Cordy Glenn.

There’s an average APY of $14 million, but I expect Laremy Tunsil to eventually be well above that average when the time comes–I foresee the Dolphins making him the highest paid left tackle, remember. Full guarantees on those top-ten contracts are running between $16 and $36 million, so there’s much more variability with those portions of the contract.

Good and great left tackles aren’t cheap. Laremy Tunsil will break the bank in a few years and will be the highest paid left tackle if the Miami Dolphins intend on making him their franchise LT for years to come.

Laremy Tunsil was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 2016 NFL draft after an unfortunate and unfair draft-day tumble that gave the team a golden opportunity. The 2016 class has proven to be extremely fruitful (for the most part). Along with Tunsil, Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, and Jakeem Grant were selected in the second, third and sixth rounds, respectively, and all have made major contributions in one form or another.

Exercising Tunsil’s fifth-year option is good news for Fins fans. It’s not a blockbuster trade or a splash signing, but taking care of the best players already on the team before it snowballs out of control a la Jarvis Landry or Ju’Wuan James is a step in the right direction. And while exercising Tunsil’s option is an obvious choice, it’s still an encouraging sign nonetheless.

All contractual information courtesy of Over the Cap.

 

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Brian Flores’ Pre-Draft Update

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Miami Dolphins / Jason Hrina

Get used to this mantra, Miami Dolphins fans: Adapt or Die.

You might not find it printed on training camp t-shirts for the team to sport around, but you can expect head coach Brian Flores to repeat this line often. It’s about to become ingrained in both us and the players.

Flores spoke briefly with reporters before the team finished up their 3-day “voluntary” workout and prepares for the upcoming NFL draft.

If you’ve heard these kind of comments before, it’s because Flores has nailed the proper, cliche  press conference etiquette. Answers are “insightful”, but vague. He gives you an answer while also laying out all other possibilities. That said, he’ll sometimes respond with some sarcasm and wit that’ll reassure you that there is a personality inside of him.

If there is one thing we can take away from Flores’ demeanor and message, it’s that he isn’t about to tolerate the type of locker room culture that festered under Adam Gase. There will be both accountability and self-reflection; and that’s reassuring after witnessing Gase deflect blame to everyone but himself.

With the most important day of the offseason just one week away, we take a look at what Flores had to say at his press conference earlier this morning:

On the Draft:

Most important measuring tool?:

“Combination of production. Height. Weight. Speed. Intangibles. Fit. There’s a myriad of things there. To say it’s just one thing that’s important…they’re all important.”

“Is one more important than the other, I’d say no.”

“It’s the total fit of the player and how we feel they’ll fit with our team.”

Combine/Visits, what do you get out of it?:

“Try to get to know the person, that’s a big part of this.”

“Sometimes people see players as just players. You want to know about their mom, their dad, who was an important person in their life. What kind of adversity they have faced before. Does that person fit your style as a coach, your locker room, the culture you’re trying to build as a team. When you sit down with a player, you’re just trying to get to know him.”

I think Dolphins fans know this all too well after the Dez Bryant/Jeff Ireland prostitution episode back in 2010.

Flores’ Influence in the Draft:

“Chris and I definitely work well together. We speak the same language….when we come together it’s the same (language)”

“Have had (and) will have discussions on different scenarios (throughout the draft)”

On his New/Hybrid Defense:

What kind of players do you need for your Hybrid defense?:

“We need good players.”

“I think as a coach, you get a good player, (and you ask yourself) what does he do well? You try and do that.”

“That’s the good thing about having a versatile scheme, it fits a good player.”

“You try and get the best player and I feel me and my staff can fit what we’re going to do around that player.”

“Some guys are going to have a better fit than others, but you have to put the whole fit together.”

On Identity of this Team:

“You know, call it what you want.”

“I’m going to get my team to play hard. Play together. Play with good fundamentals and technique. Play as a team. Put the team first. You have to try and get 11 guys to play together and that’s a hard thing to accomplish as a coach.”

“That’s my goal, you can call it whatever you want. ‘The Patriot Way’….to me, it’s just good football.”

Flores seems to understand that he’s going to live under Bill Belichick‘s shadow for awhile, especially if he is unsuccessful. Seems like he’s also getting a little tired of it….and I kind of like it. I’m glad he’ll have this chip on his shoulder to prove that he isn’t just a Belichick clone. Then again, judging by all Flores has gone through, he doesn’t need this chip to drive him.

Does he expect his players to be on time?:

“If you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late, and if you’re late you’re forgotten.”

“Is it a rule, no, it’s my personal mantra.”

“I have a lot of respect for time. I think it’s precious; we shouldn’t take it for granted. If you want to stay on schedule you have to stay on time.”

“We have a schedule, it’s laid out pretty well.”

There is absolutely no bull**** from Brian Flores when it comes to practice! That’s not to say Adam Gase or any of the other prior head coaches were more-lenient, but you get the feeling that Flores isn’t going to tolerate players who believe they are bigger than the team.

Gase showed a similar coaching style when he traded Jay Ajayi and released players like Byron Maxwell and Jordan Phillips, but that never translated to a productive locker room culture. It’ll be interesting to see how Flores’ style compares.

On His “Right-Hand Man”:

“Pick any of the 20 guys, they’re all my right-hand men.”

“We work well together. (We) try and put a staff together that embodies what I want our team to reflect.

“I want to be tough, I want to be smart, I want to work well together.”

On Mike Gesicki:

“Mike is a good, young player. Talented. Like everyone else on this team, there are places he can improve, develop, get better. As a young player, there’s a lot of room for development. Mike’s working hard. We see what everyone else sees: he has size, speed, can catch the ball.”

On Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker:

“Raekwon is big. Fast. Physical. (Has) good leadership. Smart. Can play a few different positions. (A) good, young player.”

“Jerome is another skilled player. Fast. Good tackler. Raekwon is a good tackler as well. Smart. Can do a few different things. Can cover; which, obviously in this league, going in a passing direction, it’s good to have an LB that can cover.”

“We’re glad to have them both.”

On Jake Rudock and Luke Falk:

“Like everyone else, they’re working hard. They are doing everything possible to try and improve their techniques, fundamentals. Footwork. Ball Handling. They’re doing a really good job. All 3 quarterbacks.”

“We’re excited to see what they can do moving forward.”

Flores couldn’t be more generic with the assessment of his players. Even going back to when he discussed Charles Harris at a previous press conference, Flores tends to speak about his players vaguely, as if to avoid tipping his hand in any regard.

From a player’s perspective, it’s nice to know your coach won’t throw you under the bus and will keep things private. From our fan perspective, it means we just have to go through every possible adjective and scenario with him. He’s not lying when one of them has to be true.

On his Mother’s Passing:

“It was hard. She’s someone I think about on a daily basis. Wish she was here to enjoy this with us, but she’s with me all the time.”

“She wouldn’t’ want me to dwell or be upset and she would want me to have peace.”

“I’m sad. I’m unhappy. I miss her. But I have peace knowing I did everything I can to make her proud.”

On New Surprises as a Head Coach:

“(I have had) A lot of conversations with head coaches around the league…one thing they said is something would come across your desk every day.”

“(That’s) kind of my approach coming in, being adaptable. A mantra of our team: ‘adapt or die’.”

“Part of (the job) is allowing other people to lead.”

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Miami Dolphins 2019 Vegas Slant Schedule Breakdown

Travis Wingfield

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Future opponents are known years in advance in the NFL. With the exception of two games decided by divisional standing finish, fourteen opponents are determined based on the schedule rotation. The order in which those games will occur, like everything else the NFL does, has become a primetime event.

While the luck of the draw factors heavily (in-season injuries, particular teams playing their best/worst ball at a certain time of year, etc.) the order of the games provides intriguing details.

Traveling for a Thursday night game, for instance, is an extreme disadvantage for the visitor. The infamous “trap game” can occur when a team faces a lesser opponent before taking on a heavyweight. Lastly, for a team like the Dolphins, weather implications are always worth noting.

This column refers to the favors, or lack thereof, that the NFL gave the Dolphins based purely on travel, trap games, etcetera.

Week 1 – BALTIMORE RAVENS – September 8, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Ravens Sandwich Game: Week 2 Cardinals

September victories are difficult to come by for teams visiting Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins haven’t lost such an affair since 2015 with a multitude of early-season upsets under the franchise’s belt this century (2014 vs. New England and 2005 vs. Denver, most notably).

Baltimore’s ground-and-pound attack could have a converse affect, however, as the Dolphins defensive conditioning will have to be on-point from the word go.

Week 2 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – September 15, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Patriots Sandwich Games: Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh, Week 3 vs. NY Jets

Dec 9, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) runs the ball after a flea flicker play to score a touchdown to defeat the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

New England’s 2018 meltdown in Miami came one week prior to a trip to Heinz Field. Now, the Pats will travel back to Tom Brady’s house of horrors in Miami one week after kicking the season off in primetime against those same Steelers.

This won’t serve as a trap game given the recent outcomes of games between these two teams, but Miami is catching the Pats at the right time. Over the last two seasons New England are just 4-4 in the first quarter of the schedule (September games), a .250-point decrease in winning percentage from their cumulative record.

Week 3 – @ Dallas Cowboys – September 22, 1:00 EST AT&T Stadium
Cowboys Sandwich Games: Week 2 @ Washington, Week 4 @ Saints

This is a classic trap game for the Cowboys. Coming off a game with its biggest rival, then heading to the toughest building to play in, in the NFC, the opportunity for Miami to steal a road win against a sleep-walking favorite is in the cards.

Week 4 – Los Angeles Chargers- September 29, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Chargers Sandwich Games: Week 3 @Texans, Week 5 Broncos

The early time slot for a west coast team is one of the biggest advantages, statistically, in football. The Chargers historically struggle in Miami but the talent discrepancy is probably too great for any of these advantages to factor in.

Week 5 – BYE WEEK

After a week-11 bye last year, Miami gets the burden of an early off-week. The Dolphins will play out the string for 12 weeks with zero breaks in between.

Week 6 – Washington – October 13, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Washington Sandwich Games: Week 5 @Patriots, Week 7 49ers

A let down following a potential beat down in New England bodes well for Miami. Washington is probably the one team on this entire schedule that Miami can matchup with from a talent perspective.

Week 7 – @ Buffalo Bills – October 20, 1:00 EST New Era Field
Bills Sandwich Games: Week 6 BYE, Week 8 Eagles

Miami’s first game against a team coming off a bye, in a building that has only provided the setting for one Miami win in the last five years, this one stacks the deck against the Dolphins.

Week 8 – @ Pittsburgh Steelers – October 28, 5:25 EST MONDAY Heinz Field
Steelers Sandwich Games: Week 7 BYE, Week 9 Colts

Another game, another opponent coming off of a bye. The Steelers will have the benefit of a 15-day break prior to lacing it up for Miami in primetime. The Dolphins road primetime woes should be noted as well – Miami are 0-for-it’s-last 8 in those games.

Week 9 – New York Jets – November 3, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Jets Sandwich Games: Week 8 @Jaguars, Week 10 Giants

Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase looks on during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Adam Gase game will certainly have both teams on notice. The man that holds a grudge like no other will certainly have this date circled on his calendar, as will the countless Dolphins players that grew tired of Gase’s shtick. This might be the most entertaining football game Miami plays all season.

Week 10 – @ Indianapolis Colts – November 10, 1:00 EST Lucas Oil Stadium
Colts Sandwich Games: Week 9 @Steelers, Week 11 Jaguars

With a potentially crucial divisional game on-deck with the Jaguars, the Colts could fall victim to overlooking Miami here. The Colts are a difficult out in that building and are quietly building up one of the most talented rosters in the AFC.

Week 11 – Buffalo Bills – November 17, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Bills Sandwich Games: Week 10 @Browns, Week 12 Broncos

Divisional games rarely adhere to traditional trap procedures. Ideally the Dolphins would catch the Bills in September, but the week-7 trip to Western New York offsets the lack of weather advantages. This game should see peak effort from both teams.

Week 12 – @ Cleveland Browns – November 24, 1:00 EST First Energy Stadium
Browns Sandwich Games: Week 11 Steelers (TNF), Week 13 @Steelers

Somehow the NFL has this strange scheduling procedure where teams play each other twice over a three-week period. Cleveland sandwiches its two games with the Steelers with a home date against your Miami Dolphins – that’s the ultimate trap.Cleveland’s benefit comes from having 10 days to prepare for Brian Flores and Miami.

Week 13 – Philadelphia Eagles – December 1, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Eagles Sandwich Games: Week 12 Seahawks, Week 14 Giants

With a pivotal NFC matchup on the front end, and a divisional game on the backend, Philadelphia is in a potential trap game situation. The Dolphins home field advantage serves as another beneficial factor in this game as the weather contract between Philadelphia and Miami, in December, is stark.

Week 14 – @ New York Jets – December 8, 1:00 EST Met Life Stadium
Jets Sandwich Games: Week 13 @Bengals, Week 15 @Ravens (TNF)

The game before a road trip on a short week typically favors the opposition – that’s the spot the Adam Gase finds himself in here when the Jets welcome Miami to the Meadowlands. With two NFC games bookending this game for the Dolphins, this is a great spot for Miami to steal a road win.

Week 15 – @ New York Giants – December 15, 1:00 EST Met Life Stadium
Giants Sandwich Games: Week 14 @Eagles, Week 16 @ Washington

This is a trap game for both teams, believe it or not. A non-conference game, sandwiched by two divisional games, has the makings for a let down on either side. If the season plays out as expected, this game could have massive implications on the race for Tua Tagovailoa.

Week 16 – Cincinnati Bengals – December 22, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Bengals Sandwich Games: Week 15 @Patriots, Week 17 Browns

Like the previous game, this might set up as a draft positioning game. Both teams that figure to finish at, or near, the bottom of their respective divisions, playing out the string with rookie coaches, there isn’t much of an advantage to take away from this one.

Week 17 – @ New England Patriots – December 29, 1:00 EST Gillette Stadium
Patriots Sandwich Games: Week 16 Bills

For the second consecutive year, the Patriots finish the season with two divisional home games – seems fishy, doesn’t it? The only potential saving grace here, for the ‘Phins, is that New England could have the AFC East wrapped up, as they typically do every year.

 

This is, no doubt, a difficult road to hoe for Miami. The order of the games, the stacks of road trips, it’s a lot to put on the plate of a first year head coach trying to set a foundation.

The troops of the tank train should be satisfied with this gamete — it likely puts Miami in a hole that will be difficult to climb out of, especially given Ryan Fitzpatrick’s medical history.

For more on this schedule, tune in to the Locked On Dolphins podcast – your daily dose of Miami Dolphins football.

@WingfieldNFL

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