Miami Dolphins: 2017 Training Camp Checklist
After failing in the postseason the Miami Dolphins have a lot of motivation going into 2017. The team finally changed the culture now they just need to change their results. Second-year coach Adam Gase probably as a long list of areas he’d like to improve on starting at the end of July. Where are Miami’s biggest areas of concern to start the season?
More chemistry with receivers: Ryan Tannehill has arguably the most talent he’s ever had in his NFL career. Of his current class of receivers, only Julius Thomas is new to the starting rotation. Tannehill won’t have much to learn carrying over last year’s offense going into this season. It’s time to challenge not only himself but test his faith in his receivers. Training camp will be the perfect place to hone just what the offense is made of. Fans shouldn’t worry about the negative coverage should the offense struggle in camp. The most important function this year will be finding out everything that does and does not work before the regular season starts. Gase will no doubt challenge his offense again this season and with enough drive, this unit can be one of the top in the NFL.
Stop the run: Miami was one of the worst teams at stopping the run last season. At times they showed their defense can keep them in games, but they never truly figured out how to stop the bleeding against the run. Now they’ve spent plenty of the offseason acquiring pieces to fill holes. Now they need to make sure their Wide 9 scheme can do so. New defensive coordinator Matt Burke seems to have faith in the scheme, but if it doesn’t succeed expect the defense to pivot much like last year’s offense.
Rebuild the line: The Dolphins took a big leap of faith this offseason giving up starting left tackle Brandon Albert in favor of the younger more agile Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil is no doubt a gifted athlete but will no doubt feel the pressure from his counterparts at guard. Miami resigned struggling veteran Jermon Bushrod and drafted Isaac Asiata. However, a rookie and troubled starter might not be the long-term solution. The Dolphins have movable pieces along the line with players who’ve played multiple spots, but with often injured Mike Pouncey, no one knows just how much they’ll be asked to slide and shift around.
Find Starting Linebackers: Outside of Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons, the Dolphins have no clue who their starters will be. They have a few ideas but nothing concrete of the third starter. Will it be Koa Misi Raekwon McMillian or someone else? Even when they figure it out, who will be playing where? The deciding factor will be who plugs holes and fills gaps quickly. However, playing against division rival tight ends like Rob Gronkowski, they’ll also need to cover the passing game. Miami seems to have an uphill battle with this group, can they pull it all together or will they repeat last season?
Create competition: Both Wide Receiver and Corner have plenty of talent. Both positions really need to be challenged having tremendous upside and never reaching their full potential. If the Miami Dolphins want to be competitive against their tough schedule, they’ll have to be able to control the ball. Miami will need playmakers on both sides of the ball and those are the two positions who can make the biggest impact. Depth is key to figuring out who wants to be the guy and who wants to back that guy up. Expect receivers and corners to play a big part in camp.
With all eyes focused on the Miami Dolphins as the closest to challenging the New England Patriots, they can’t afford to take a step backward. Ten wins seemed to be a long stretch last year, now it’s almost expected. The AFC East hasn’t been won by less than 10 wins since the Patriots have held strong to first place. Did they do enough to get to the 11 or 12 win mark? It’ll be an uphill battle but with their talent, they shouldn’t be that far off.