You read the headline, so you're either here to scoff at the notion that the Miami Dolphins could be the last team standing on Sunday, February 4, after Super Bowl LII in Minnesota concludes, or you've happily arrived at the official Fins hype party, six-pack in hand. Either way, welcome to a place where positive words are about to be written about the Dolphins football team. Yes, it must be August.
Wait. No. The negativity surrounding the Dolphins should be a thing of the past. Last season's 10-6, when the Fins made the playoffs for the first time since 2008, was no aberration. Last year was just the beginning for Adam Gase and this new-look, new-feel team. Here's why the Dolphins are poised to challenge for a Super Bowl this year.
1. The Dolphins are adding two Pro Bowl players to last year's team. The Fins steamrolled the second half of their schedule in 2016-17 without the services of arguably their two best players, one from each side of the ball: safety Rashad Jones and center Mike Pouncey. Getting those two players back can't be overstated. If the team had signed them in the offseason, the Dolphins would have been on every "Offseason Winners" list published on the internet over the past few months. The pair's return will only help the team improve on last year's ten-win season.
2. The Dolphins have one of the best wide-receiving corps in the league. The Miami Heat aren't the only team in town that has decided to run it back with the same lineup that overachieved last season: The Dolphins are also looking to build on the promise a prior season brought. With the re-signing of Kenny Stills, the Fins made it a point to bring back a wide-receiving corps that has the ability to be one of the league's best. Everyone who has laid eyes on former first-round pick DeVante Parker this offseason has gushed about how much progress he has made. If Parker turns into an elite playmaker, the Dolphins could have the most lethal offense they've had since Dan Marino was under center.
3. Running back Jay Ajayi gives the Dolphins the sort of balance every Super Bowl team needs. If you go back and look at some of the past Super Bowl champions over the past 20 years, you'd be hard-pressed to find an offense that didn't have some semblance of balance. Ajayi proved last season he gives the Dolphins just that. The Dolphins' lead back had a breakout season in 2016-17 that saw him rush for more than 1,200 yards in basically 75 percent of a season (the first four games he backed up Arian Foster). Ajayi is the Dolphins' version of Marshawn Lynch. He's a three-down back who led all running backs in tackles broken last year, proving that even if the blocking isn't there, he'll make yards gained happen.
4. The Dolphins have tightened up some of their holes on defense. Besides adding Rashad Jones, the Dolphins have made some other significant upgrades across their leaky defense this offseason. First off, the team signed former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker and run-stuffing specialist Lawrence Timmons to help plug the middle of a defense that finished 30th against the run last season. The Dolphins also acquired defensive end William Hayes from the Rams in an attempt to shore up their run defense.
The next biggest addition to the defense will likely come in the form of first-round pick Charles Harris, a pass-rushing freak who is already garnering rave reviews from Dolphins veterans for his attention to detail and his athleticism. There are scenarios where Cameron Wake could be rushing from one side and Charles Harris from the other, with Ndamukong Suh busting up the offensive line's gut. That sounds like a headache to stop. The Dolphins should also get a full healthy season from last year's second-round pick, Xavien Howard. Many believe he is in line for a breakout season.
5. The Dolphins finally have an unquestioned leader in Adam Gase. Be honest: When was the last time you thought the Dolphins had a head coach who could seriously lead the team to a Super Bowl? Did Joe Philbin give you that feeling? Tony Sparano? Cam Cameron? Has it been since Jimmy Johnson that fans had trust in a Dolphins coach? Adam Gase has already proven to be the most competent coach on the Dolphins' sideline since Johnson, and it's quite obvious players love playing for him. That alone should be worth a few more wins this season and could be the difference between a ten-win team and a team that makes it all the way to Minnesota.
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