September 2016 — The Miami Dolphins enter their regular season under the leadership of their new head coach Adam Gase.
Gase hands the offensive reins to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but not everyone is on the same page.
The offensive line plays poorly, the running game is not in rhythm due to a 4-headed backfield, and the team’s offense puts up pathetic efforts against the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, and Tennessee Titans.
The Dolphins go 1-4 to start the season, and Phins Nation is asking themselves “what is the identity of this team? What do we do well? Who else do we have besides Jarvis Landry?”
But then Gase changes things up in mid-October.
He decides to take the offense out of Ryan Tannehill’s hands, and put the ball into Jay Ajayi’s.
The Dolphins go on a 9-2 streak, make the playoffs, and end the regular season as the NFL’s 9th rushing attack– averaging 25.3 attempts and 114 yards per game.
Fast-forward to 2018.
It is now mid-October, the Dolphins have played their first 5 games, and the team faces similar adversity like they did in back in the first 5 games of 2016:
– The Dolphins offensive line has undergone key injuries and it’s not performing well.
– The Dolphins entered the season with an offense that correlates through the arm of Ryan Tannehill, but it’s showing again that that strategy is not the recipe for success.
– And the Dolphins still are facing an identity crisis on offense. They don’t do anything well. They don’t rush well, they don’t pass well, and they can’t move the chains to acquire first downs effectively.
They are trying to find themselves once again.
Luckily, the Dolphins are 3-2, ahead of the curve, and can still find ways to make changes before digging themselves into a hole in the next couple games.
So this is what Mikey suggests to the Dolphins:
Utilize your best weapons and make them part of your offensive identity.
The Dolphins entered the 2018 season with a ball-distribution philosophy for their offense– never favoring one player, using defensive coverage to dictate who will receive the ball, and a split backfield.
But that philosophy is not working.
That type of offense may work well with a quarterback like Tom Brady, but it does not work well with someone like Ryan Tannehill who doesn’t always see things clearly on the field and doesn’t always identify the open receivers.
The narrative of Ryan Tannehill is that he is not the type of quarterback who can elevate the play of the players around him. He needs the right players around him to elevate his play.
The Dolphins may not have that right now, but they do have some good players who they can feature to help their struggling quarterback.
And when Adam Gase has had featured players, the offense is successful… or has improved, at least.
2016 – RB Jay Ajayi (1,272 yds, 8 TDs, Pro Bowl), and WR Jarvis Landry (94 rec, 1,036 yds, 4 TDs, Pro Bowl)
2017 – WR Jarvis Landry (112 rec, 987 yds, 9 TDs, Pro Bowl) and RB Kenyan Drake was one of the NFL’s better RBs during the second-half of the regular season.
If an offense has players they can go to heavily and establish as threats, it causes defenses to shade these players, and it allows other offensive weapons to become open. Some Dolphins secondary players have made in an impact under these circumstances:
2016 – WR DeVante Parker (744 yds, 4 TDs), Kenny Stills (726 yds, 9 TDs)
2017 – WR Kenny Stills (847 yds, 6 TDs)
So give the ball to Kenyan Drake, Adam Gase. Use him. Feature him like you did in 2017. Give him carries. Give him catches. He’s a mismatch for any linebacker, and a big play waiting to happen. He was an offensive inspiration last year in a season we’d all like to forget.
Find out who your go-to chain-moving playmaking wide receiver is for your team.
Is it team captain Kenny Stills who the Dolphins gave an extension to in 2017? Or is it the newcomer Albert Wilson who the Dolphins went after in 2018 free agency? Wilson and Stills are both earning an average of $8M per season throughout their contracts. Or perhaps both of these receivers can act as the Dolphins WR-1’s until DeVante Parker is ready to return from injury.
Establish these players as threats, Adam Gase. It could provide more opportunities for WR’s Jakeem Grant and Danny Amendola, and rookie 2nd-rounder TE Mike Gesicki to make plays for your offense.
It could provide more consistency from your offense.