It's hard to believe in the middle of June, but real Miami Dolphins football is inching closer and closer. This week is the next step toward the NFL's return, when the Dolphins conduct their annual minicamp. This season is more intriguing than most because the Dolphins have a new coach in Adam Gase and some interesting roster battles to watch progress throughout camp and the preseason.
Many questions remain unanswered — this is the Dolphins we are talking about, after all. Here are a few of the hottest-burning questions the Dolphins need to douse with cold water as fast as possible during their minicamp practices.
1. What will the Dolphins offense look like under Gase?
For the first time in a very long time, Dolphins fans are genuinely intrigued to find out what an offensive-minded head coach has up his sleeve. Under Joe Philbin, not only did the opponent seem to know what was coming most of the time, but the fans did as well. Gase has a reputation for being an offensive guru who knows how to install an up-tempo offense that gets the best out of his quarterback.
When Gase was with the Chicago Bears, he made it clear his intention was to mix it up on the offensive end of the field so that his team was less predictable.
"We try to do what’s best for us that week. It can be hard to tell what we are doing because we could be a different offense every week," he told reporters. "At least that’s how I try to make it feel for defenses.”
Having a creative offense that keeps the opponents guessing and fans on the edge of their seats should make for some unfamiliar exciting moments of Miami Dolphins football this season.
2. Will Rashad Jones continue his holdout?
The Dolphins are looking to get off to a fresh start under Gase, but a large part of their defense has yet to take the field this offseason. Rashad Jones is scheduled to make $14 million-plus over the next two years but has made it clear he wants top-safety type of money before the season begins.
"I personally believe I'm the best safety in the league," Jones said last season. "I know there are some great safeties in this league. I have a lot of respect for those guys. But my body of work speaks for itself. I've got versatility on my side. I can play both safety positions. I can make plays. I've got the numbers to back that up."
While no one believes Jones will make good on his threats to sit out the season, it's clear his intentions at the very least are to sit out a large portion of the Dolphins practices and possibly even preseason games if he doesn't get a new deal.
3. With Lamar Miller gone, is Jay Ajayi ready to take over the role of
Since the Houston Texans inked ex-Dolphins and UM running back Lamar Miller to a four-year, $26 million deal, it's just been assumed that Jay Ajayi was the answer to replace him. The Dolphins made a very real run at Denver Broncos back CJ Anderson, but the Broncos matched the Dolphins' offer sheet. The Dolphins haven't looked into much else since and seem destined to start the season with the second-year back out of Boise State in the backfield.
The Dolphins did invest a high pick in Alabama running back Kenyan Drake, but he's looked at as more of a change-of-pace back compared to Ajayi, who most feel is an every-down type of player. It's pretty jarring that the Dolphins would have this sort of faith in a man who has carried the ball only 49 times for 187 yards in his career, but then again, Ajayi was pretty impressive in his limited action in 2015.
If you ask Ajayi, he's more than ready to take over the lead back duties Lamar Miller left in Miami.
"I've been excited since I found out Lamar was moving on and the position would be available," Ajayi told reporters. "I've been pushing myself... to have a great season, trying to prepare mentally to [be] a starter... I'm ready to elevate my game to a new level... I think I’ve been doing a great job so far."
4. Can Devante Parker stay healthy throughout the preseason?
This time last year, Dolphins fans were extremely excited about getting to watch Devante Parker do his thing. Then they learned his foot injury would basically derail his entire rookie campaign, getting it off on the, um, wrong foot.
This year the Dolphins hope the man they selected with the 14th overall pick of the 2015 draft can stay healthy throughout the preseason so they can see him contribute right away. The man who might be most excited about having a big, young, and fast wideout who's healthy is Ryan Tannehill.
“I expect big things out of him. I’m expecting him to be a heck of a football player, a guy that other teams
5. How quickly will Tannehill pick up Gase's offense?
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Tannehill never seemed thrilled to be playing for Philbin, and Philbin never seemed thrilled coaching Tannehill. Thankfully, the marriage was broken up this offseason. Enter Gase, who has installed an offense that, for better or worse, will rely on having much more confidence in the Dolphins' signal-caller.
Gase promises an offense that runs a much more up-tempo style, one that shoots to confuse defenses and keep them on their toes.
"I think that's going to make us always on the attack. We're not going to have to sit on our heels and feel like the defense is coming after us, and we have to figure out a way to make it work. We can put pressure on the defense by getting in a good play and always keeping the heat on the defense."
The most important thing in this minicamp is how fast Tannehill will pick up this new offense so that he and his wide receivers can develop a chemistry before the snaps are real.