TDT NFL Power Rankings No. 16: Miami Dolphins
Can the Dolphins still contend for a second consecutive playoff berth with Jay Cutler under center?
The Miami Dolphins had heightened expectations heading into the 2017-18 NFL season, after making the playoffs last season. They will have to go without their starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, however, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury. They brought in Jay Cutler to take his place, but he is far from the answer. With talent everywhere else on the roster, it comes down to the quarterback.
What I Like: This is the most talented the Dolphins roster has been in quite some time now. The offense features big time playmakers like running back Jay Ajayi and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The front office has also built a solid offensive line around center Mike Pouncey. The defense, led by Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Reshad Jones, is an budding unit as well.
What I Don’t Like: Tannehill is not a star by any means, but he was a steady fit in the Dolphins offense, given that he was healthy. I feel as though Miami reached on Jay Cutler, especially when better options (cough, Colin Kaepernick) were available. The only thing that leaves room for optimism is the fact that Cutler is used to playing in Adam Gase’s system. If the Dolphins want to challenge the Patriots for the AFC East title, it can’t be with Cutler under center.
Offensive MVP: WR Jarvis Landry. Landry is heading into a contract, so you know he will be ready. He’s looking to get paid like his former LSU teammate Odell Beckham Jr. He will need to be a security blanket of sorts for Cutler, who struggles at times. He’s had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and I’m expecting him to make it three in a row.
Defensive MVP: DT Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins made Suh a rich man just a couple years ago, but it wasn’t until last season that he proved why he got paid. Suh racked up 72 tackles in 2016, good for third amongst all NFL interior linemen. His impact cannot simply be measured by his numbers because he draws so much attention from opposing offenses, that it creates opportunities for his teammates to make plays.
Season Outlook: I think the Dolphins realize how much Tannehill means to this team, but they will find out in 2017. I don’t think the Cutler signing will be a complete wash, but it may hold them back from reaching the postseason for a second straight season. The talent is there, but if I’m the Dolphins, I’m not putting all the chips on the table for a guy who has made a career out of negative headlines.
9-7, 2nd in AFC East