Buckle up, Dolphins fans. There is no TL;DR version of this. If you want to be invested in who the starting quarterback should be for the Miami Dolphins next season, take into account every bit of information that goes along with it. And I’m telling you upfront, there’s a lot.
This piece is not for someone who is sensitive or emotionally-charged about their 5-5 football team. Suspend your current desire to blow up the organization and start from scratch, and take a look at what questions and evidence lie before you.
Miami has been at a crossroads since it fired the greatest head coach and quarterback in the history of the NFL; almost as if it’s payment for irrationally and emotionally moving on from our franchise’s all-time greats. And, going into 2019, the Dolphins remain at the same crossroads they were at 20 years ago.
How exactly do they alleviate themselves from mediocrity?
The calls for a new head coach are slowly rumbling, but they aren’t as loud as the outcries for a new quarterback. While the team has been teased with Matt Moore, Jay Cutler and now Brock Osweiler (all previously starting quarterbacks for their former teams), it has never been able to dismantle Ryan Tannehill from the starting spot. Even David Garrard couldn’t stay healthy enough in his own backyard to unseat a rookie quarterback on the gridiron fresh off the 8th-overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft.
So while (futile) attempts have been made, the team has never successfully replaced the embattled quarterback. Which has led to such a porous cry for change, and for Miami to do “whatever it takes” to land their next beacon of hope.
Careful, Dolphins fans, as the last time the team did whatever it took, they signed Mike Wallace and Ndamukong Suh. And to an extent, Ryan Tannehill was a forced selection by Stephen Ross; a billion-dollar business man who understands that quarterbacks = cash for his entertainment business.
But let’s be rational, not emotional.
Yes, there is no doubt this team needs to guide itself off its current course and towards a new horizon. It has been:
- 45 years without a championship
- 34 years without a Super Bowl appearance
- 17 (most likely 18) years without a playoff victory
- 10 years since their last division title
This team has produced 2 Hall of Fame players over the past 3 decades. To say that this team has been irrelevant is somewhat of an understatement. It’s evident something needs to change.
This article isn’t to convince you that Ryan Tannehill is the answer. In fact, if you’ve come to the conclusion that Tannehill definitively isn’t the solution and the team needs someone new, I won’t blame you one bit. You’re not wrong. Like Bleacher Report said, after seven seasons, we really have no idea what we have in Tannehill. But this article will prepare you for the nightmare that lies ahead; the reality we face as we try to become a franchise we can be proud of once again.
Below are some things I’d like you to consider when taking into account Miami’s 2019 starting quarterback:
“Poor” Quarterback Class
According to every “expert’s” opinion, this is going to be a weak draft class. I’m sure come February we’re going to hype ourselves into believing that four quarterbacks should go in the first round, but remember back to this time when the aura around the quarterback draft class was disappointing.
The top two quarterbacks (Justin Herbert of Oregon and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State) might not even declare for the draft, leaving NFL teams reaching desperately past a person’s true draft value to select one of the other “top” quarterbacks coming out.
With Miami likely scheduled to select somewhere in the late teens, they will either have to settle for giving up a treasure trove of draft picks to move up, or remain steady and select a quarterback that drops to them.
Teams have wised up since the mid-2000s, and a quarterback of Aaron Rodgers‘ caliber isn’t falling to Miami again. So instead, Miami has to give up extra lottery tickets and cheap roster spots in exchange for a prayer that your less-than-desired quarterback class strikes lightning in a bottle.
Are you fine passing on patching the defensive line, the linebacking unit, a second cornerback opposite Xavien Howard, or a wide receiver to compliment Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, all for the chance of selecting what’s more likely to be the next Tim Tebow or Branden Weeden?
Although we have hindsight on our side, let’s take a look at the previous 10 draft classes and see how the quarterback selections panned out:
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Over the course of a decade, there are 10 quarterbacks that we would easily take over Ryan Tannehill, 8 who are on par with Tannehill (Deshaun Watson is the only one of that bunch that you can argue is definitively better, though I’m hesitant to say that right now with his limited sample size and annual injuries), and 57 that are clearly below him.
Out of all of those quarterbacks taken, how many teams traded up in the 1st-round (or into the 1st-round) to get their QB? 19
How many of those QBs would we take over Tannehill? Not counting the uncertainty of the 2018 draft class, 4.
Most of the trades that worked out ended up being quarterbacks taken within the first 5 picks of the draft. And even then, Mark Sanchez and Robert Griffin III were busts, so moving into the top-5 still isn’t a guarantee.
Miami is going to have to (over) commit to a quarterback that is genuinely one of the top-3 best prospects coming out of college, but they shouldn’t press to make someone a top-3 talent. And while there are still quarterbacks worthy of being selected outside of the top-5 (Patrick Mahomes at 10, Watson at 12, Joe Flacco at 18), the truth is, you need to identify a legitimate, elite talent at quarterback in order to convince yourself that it’s worth giving up extra assets to obtain them.
Over the past decade, there are only two quarterbacks selected outside of the top-5 that are definitively better than Tannehill: Russell Wilson (75th overall) and Patrick Mahomes (10th).
Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) and Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) rank 1st and 2nd in passer rating in @NFL history (min. 1,500 attempts). On Thursday, the two square off as the @packers travel to Seattle to face the @Seahawks.
— NFL345 (@NFL345) November 12, 2018
Though it’s not a given, if we were to make the assumption that this quarterback class is equivalent to one of the “weak” quarterback classes mentioned above (2008-2011, 2013-2015), Miami’s best option would be Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton, who would all be desired, yet two went #1 overall and the other was the 3rd-overall pick (that should have also been #1 overall). Are you convinced Justin Herbert or Dwayne Haskins are any of these quarterbacks? Are they worth the cost of a franchise quarterback?
Seeing how 2019 isn’t the year to invest in a rookie quarterback, Miami might be interested in taking a chance on a potential free agent.
Are you willing to provide a riskier quarterback you know absolutely nothing about with a larger contract than what you’re giving Ryan Tannehill?
That’s the first compromise you have to pass if you’re going to go after a free agent quarterback.
With Kirk Cousins possibly setting a new precedence for quarterbacks after obtaining $84m fully guaranteed from the Minnesota Vikings, quarterback contracts are only going to get more expensive as each season passes.
Desperate teams take desperate chances, and teams are willing to pay less-than-stellar quarterbacks (with the most minute bit of potential) for the hope that they can bring their team out of the abyss of irrelevance.
- Brock Osweiler: $72m, $37m guaranteed with the Houston Texans
- Sam Bradford: $78m, $50m guaranteed with the St. Louis Rams after being drafted; $36m, $22m guaranteed with the Philadelphia Eagles; $20m, $15m guaranteed with the Arizona Cardinals
- Matt Flynn: $20.5m, $9m guaranteed by the Seattle Seahawks
Are recent examples of quarterbacks that received a bunch of money due to the desperation of the teams signing them.
I’m not saying spending on a free agent quarterback is the wrong route to go; if you’ve identified an upgrade, you try and obtain it. But how many successful quarterbacks have hit free agency since 2010? Take a look at the quarterbacks who recently signed free agent contracts and look what they earned:
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I was going to abstain from color-coding this chart, as it was just going to be a sea of red, but figured I’d leave it in for visual effect.
Now, to be fair, most of these quarterbacks were signed with the intent to be a backup, and nothing more. And that’s fine, but Miami isn’t looking for a backup quarterback right now, they’re looking for an answer, and this chart lets you know just how many answers are out there on an annual basis.
Other than two Hall of Fame quarterbacks not moving anywhere (Peyton Manning in 2011 and Drew Brees in 2018) and then Manning’s unique case in 2012, there are only two quarterbacks whose signings worked out for the team: Alex Smith in 2012 and Kirk Cousins in 2016. You can argue Joe Flacco in 2013, but that contract was horrendous and he is not all that good to begin with.
Jimmy Garoppolo and Cousins’ recent contracts remain to be seen and are temporarily filled in yellow; though I have a feeling those have a better chance of being shaded red than they do green when we reflect back on this a few years from now.
Even now, I’m not all too convinced that Kirk Cousins is anything special. Cousins is a career 31-33-2 quarterback with a 116/60 TD/INT ratio. He took over for a team that Case Keenum led to a 13-3 record and the NFC Championship game, and he is currently 5-3-1. He might be the most successful quarterback on this list not named Manning or Brees, but it’s mostly by default. For comparisons sake, Tannehill is a career 40-42 quarterback with a 114/71 TD/INT ratio…or about the same as the quarterback currently making $28m annually.
Unless it’s a rare case like Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, when their previous team had a top-5 first-round pick waiting in the wings, teams don’t get rid of good quarterbacks.
So let’s take a look at our available options this year (including quarterbacks that are speculated to be released by their current teams):
I could list the Sam Bradford‘s, the Matt Barkley‘s and the Nathan Peterman‘s of the NFL, but we’re not dipping down that low. Plus, give me Nick Mullen (not really).
Above are your most realistic possibilities. How many of those quarterbacks would you confidently select to a larger contract than Ryan Tannehill’s AND confidently expect better results?
The only quarterback on that list that has a ceiling is Teddy Bridgewater, one of the most unknown commodities in this game right now. His hype will elevate him to a rich contract, similar to what hope accomplished for Sam Bradford throughout his career.
It’s quite possible Bridgewater is completely durable and there is zero injury risk, while Tannehill, once an iron-man is this sport, is deemed injury-prone. But Bridgewater’s first two seasons, the only seasons we really know, are on par (or worse) than Tannehill’s first two seasons. Is this similar to when a musician or athlete dies at a young age and we never witness their decline, forever immortalizing them as “stars” in our minds? We never got to see Bridgewater develop, so there’s hope that he can regain his franchise form. This is the biggest risk the Dolphins front office has to ask themselves, is Bridgewater the bridge to the future? The traits we wish Tannehill possessed are easily identified in Bridgewater. He has “it”. But outside of the 2018 preseason, where he looked good, what are we really investing $25m-per-season in?
Are you taking a flier on Eli Manning, an aging quarterback who has crumbled to a 5-19 record over the past two seasons while having better offensive weapons than the Dolphins?
Are we bringing in Jameis Winston‘s character flaws or Blake Bortles‘ inconsistency? Look at how badly he’s holding down a Super Bowl caliber defense in Jacksonville.
Convinced Tyrod Taylor deserves a shot after falling out of favor with his past two teams?
If your answer is Derek Carr, then I wonder why you would want to bring in a more expensive quarterback who has under-performed with a team that features better skill position players than the Dolphins as well as one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
You also have to consider how long you’re signing this quarterback for. Is this a long-term solution that you’re investing close to $100m in? Or is this a temporary solution until you find your next quarterback in the draft?
Chances are, you’re looking for a quick fix while impatiently waiting for the 2020 draft class to hit. In that case, how many quarterbacks are taking one-year deals and how many of them will accept that contract for anything significantly less than Tannehill’s $26.6m next season?
The quarterbacks that are taking prove-it contracts are going to be in the most precarious of situations and will essentially select anything. Which means say hello to Trevor Siemian.
No one is saying Tannehill’s $26.6m cap hit is ideal, but when compared to the other options out there, it doesn’t seem as daunting.
Contracts Guaranteed To Make You Cringe
This is where Miami bites itself in the ass.
Ryan Tannehill will cost $13.4m against the cap if he’s cut (along with $5.5m in 2020), while costing $26.6m if he’s on the roster.
Taking into account the $18m increase in Tannehill’s cap hit from 2018 to 2019 ($8.6m vs $26.6m), it’s not like their cap space will be too dire. Below is a quick summary of the players likely to be released (and what it’ll cost the team) as well as the likely pay raises coming up.
Yes, the players you release will need to be replaced, but losing Andre Branch, Robert Quinn and Danny Amendola isn’t too much of a downgrade. And while Kiko Alonso has had himself a “good” year, he is also a liability and can be replaced at a much cheaper rate.
One of the most intriguing questions going into 2019 will be the status of Kenny Stills. He is set to earn $9.75m if he’s on the roster, but only $3.5m in dead cap space if he’s released. Stills is a wonderful leader and has a tremendous work ethic, but I wonder if Miami approaches him with the possibility of a contract extension in mind. Lower the rate for the next two seasons while giving him more guaranteed money. It’s also possible Miami does this with some of their other players, giving them more space to play around with in free agency.
Miami’s recent draft history gives me confidence that they can find at least 2-3 impact players on rookie deals.
It’s also not too far fetched to assume the Dolphins are capable of cutting Tannehill’s contract loose and eating the money – given what they did to Ndamukong Suh this past offseason.
Suh and Tannehill are different people and different players who are impacting different positions.
We saw how miserable the Dolphins run game was with Suh in the middle of the defensive line. It was better than what it is currently (so is everyone else), so Suh has that going for him, but he wasn’t enough to elevate this team to the next level.
Whether you think Tannehill is a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback or not is one thing, but the production Tannehill provides is abundantly better than a quarterback making less than $20m a season. We can throw $10m at Jay Cutler, but that was obviously a waste, and would have made more sense for Miami to go with a 720k Brock Osweiler than a slightly better option at $10m.
Wildcat Jay Cutler is the GOAT pic.twitter.com/itbuqmFapV
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) October 1, 2017
How far do you want to downgrade for being cheap?
For a team that likely won’t (realistically) address the quarterback position until 2020, retaining Ryan Tannehill gives you a winning combination with Adam Gase for 2019, and allows you to retain your assets for 2020 – should a rookie quarterback not be immediately available this offseason.
Or, if you’re convinced, bundle your assets and select a quarterback this year in the draft while retaining Tannehill for one more season. Allow your rookie to learn and grow while also developing a potentially hot trade chip to help recover some of those lost assets.
Ryan Tannehill is essentially on a one-year contract (at $26.6m) for 2019, with a $5.5m dead cap hit in 2020 (if released). Rather than continue to pay players that aren’t on your team, retain the contract you unwisely extended during the 2018 offseason and finish out the Ryan Tannehill era with a concrete answer.
Next year is Ryan Tannehill’s “prove it” year. Miami isn’t going to extend him any further (unless he chooses an extremely reduced rate with the intent of obtaining more guaranteed money. Think 2-years, $40m), and are poised to pounce on the 2020 draft class.
How Much Fun is Ross Really Having With His Marionettes?
With every situation comes a caveat, and that caveat rests in the ambitious and perplexic mind of the team’s owner, Stephen Ross.
At this point, Ryan Tannehill’s status is entirely cemented to Adam Gase’s tenure. If Stephen Ross decides to make a move for one of the Harbaugh brothers, or another splash hire he identifies somewhere else, then you can bet the new regime will look to utilize all of the draft picks and cash they have to build their own brand.
We still have another 6 weeks to go, and if the team flutters miserably, it’s quite possible Ross removes Gase, Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier in a complete upheaval. Though if the team stays competitive and ends up with at least 7 wins, it’s likely Gase stays, which means it’s likely Tannehill stays.
Find someone who defends you the way Adam Gase defends Ryan Tannehill.
Dolphins Live: Coach Gase meets with the media. https://t.co/SvryqaJAbX
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 1, 2018
Fast-forward to the 6:23 mark when Gase is asked about Tannehill as the future quarterback of the team. Look at his body language the moment the reporter begins to ask the question. Listen to the tone of his voice as he’s giving his answer. That’s a passionate response. That’s a head coach who has conviction in who his starting quarterback should be. Adam Gase remaining as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins is a separate topic for another time, but as long as he is the head coach in 2019, Ryan Tannehill will be his starting quarterback.
I believe that Adam Gase needs to focus more on being a head coach and less of an offensive coordinator, but there’s no doubt that Gase believes he has one of the better quarterbacks in the league already on his roster. No one can argue that Tannehill has all of the intangibles (arm strength, accuracy, speed/agility), but everyone is aware that he doesn’t have the “killer instincts” that are expected to come at the position.
I will also buy the notion that you might be skeptical of Tannehill’s shoulder. While I do not believe this will affect him in 2019, if there is any chance he can miss time leading into August, the injury is not worth the hassle and this all is voided.
But, if he is declared healthy, I will discard the narrative that Tannehill is injury-prone. Unless we consider the large gash of an offensive line he’s had to play with throughout his entire entire career as an injury, I’m not sold. Prevent defensive linemen from collapsing on his knee at full force or tugging his arm backwards as he’s trying to fire a 60mph football over 40 yards (one week after another 275lbs+ defensive lineman drove him to the ground and landed full force on the same shoulder) and you’ll see a perfectly healthy quarterback.
Don’t let this fool you, I’m all for finding a new quarterback. I would love nothing more than to set this franchise on the right path to success rather than muddling in mediocrity. Miami has missed on its fair share of opportunities and it has haunted this franchise for years. I don’t need to tell you about Drew Brees x2 or Aaron Rodgers or even the pain of watching Alex Smith go to the Washington Redskins this past offseason for a 3rd-round pick (though who’s to say Kansas City would have traded him in-conference).
You don’t need to be reminded about A.J. Feeley or Joey Harrington, who are substantially better than John Beck, Cleo Lemon and Pat White. I mean, when Gus Frerotte rounds out your top-three quarterbacks this century (and Jay Cutler is #4), it’s kind of easy to be numb to it all.
There is a lot of pain and frustration pent up inside every Dolphins fan. It has been 45 years since the Dolphins were Super Bowl champions, and yet, we’re not even talking about how frustrated we are that this team hasn’t won the big game…we just want to win a playoff game first.
This franchise needs a new course. Whether that’s a new coach, new general manager, new quarterback or new owner, it needs a change. It’s evident that the fanbase has become disgustingly tired of mediocrity, and wants the team to lead us down a path that’s more promising than the uncertainty another year of Ryan Tannehill brings.
There’s an entire generation of Dolphins fans that hasn’t witnessed success. Two decades worth of NFL seasons, and, frankly, your life, wasted on watching an average product. It’s time to take that next step. Just be bold…not stupid.
Brian Flores’ Pre-Draft Update
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 gets ready for the upcoming NFL draft.
If you’ve heard these kind of comments before, it’s because Flores has nailed the proper, cliche proper 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 in Miami 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.”
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 17, 2019
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 McMillian 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.”
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 18, 2019
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.”
Dolphins Live: Coach Flores meets with the media ahead of voluntary minicamp. https://t.co/9ttTAJHL2R
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 18, 2019
Miami Dolphins 2019 Vegas Slant Schedule Breakdown
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
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
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.
Miami Dolphins Complete 2019 Schedule
Before ESPN, NFL Network, local beat writers – before anybody on the scene, Locked On Dolphins broke the 2018 Dolphins schedule. 2019 is shaping up to be the same. Keep it locked on this thread for updates from our source in the industry to get you the latest on Miami’s 2019 slate.
After the schedule release we will break things down with a column similar to the last year’s analysis.
Tomorrow’s Locked On Dolphins Podcast will be all about Miami’s 2019 schedule.
|5||—||— BYE WEEK–||—|
|8||10/28||@ Steelers||8:15 MNF|
*BOLD denotes home game
- Brian Flores’ Pre-Draft Update April 18, 2019
- Miami Dolphins 2019 Vegas Slant Schedule Breakdown April 17, 2019
- Miami Dolphins Complete 2019 Schedule April 17, 2019
- Chris Grier Updates Status of Miami Dolphins – 4/17/19 April 17, 2019
- Miami Dolphins Voluntary Workout Update – 4/17/19 April 17, 2019