While the Miami Dolphins and the franchise's supporters haven't exactly been recent experts on the matter, everyone involved was reminded of just how bad it feels to be ousted from the postseason when the team fell to the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in their January 15 wild card game.
Rather than dwell on what might have been accomplished by a healthier Dolphins team, let's try to see the bigger picture by examining the most significant aspects of the 2022 campaign, along with their potential impact next season and beyond.
Besides having really good years, Dolphins' Wilkins and Sieler ranked among top 4 in snaps by a DL, with Maxx Crosby and Aidan Hutchinson. Their durability and stamina (doing an exhausting job) are very impressive.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) January 17, 2023
Good: Defensive Line DominanceThe Dolphins are in a great position when it comes to their defensive tackles. With Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler anchoring their front seven, Miami has a strong foundation to build upon in 2023. Not only were the Dolphins' biggest boys productive in 2022, but they were as durable as football players come, playing the majority of the team's snaps all season.
Wilkins, the team's first-round pick in 2019, has already shown flashes of brilliance and is in line for a huge payday this offseason, one that should keep him in Miami for the rest of this decade.
Sieler, who went undrafted in 2018 but has proven to be a valuable asset for the team, has shown a unique blend of size and athleticism that allows him to be a disruptive force in the run game.
Wilkins and Sieler are a tag team that should make life hell for opponents for years to come.
Tua Tagovailoa expected back as Dolphins’ starter in 2023, per sources:https://t.co/LxvLOGzrpF— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 15, 2023
Ugly: Tua Tagovailoa's Concussions
Any discussion surrounding Tua Tagovailoa this offseason should first revolve around his ability to stay on the field in 2023, and more importantly, live a normal life off it. After a season where the pendulum swung between talk of winning the MVP Award to fear that the series of concussions he suffered would force him into retirement, there's a lot to consider before turning to topics like touchdowns, completions, passing yards, and contract extensions.
Tua showed last season that he's more than capable of being a franchise quarterback when healthy. Unfortunately, it's unclear if his body will allow him to continue playing football one more week, much less one more year or beyond.
Xavien Howard's contract is a big problem for the Dolphins going forward— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) January 15, 2023
Bad: Xavien HowardWhat a difference a year and a megacontract make when assessing a player's value to a team. In Xavien Howard's perplexing case, he's gone from an All-Pro playing for a new deal to a top-paid cornerback who — judging from his on-field performance this past season — looked like just another player.
Xavien Howard looked uninterested, lost, and at times downright lazy on the field in 2022. Many pointed to possible injuries, but it seemed much more about attitude than ability. After giving in to his demands and handing their top cornerback a five-year, $90 million contract last offseason, you can bet the Dolphins will be looking for a team to take the deal off their hands.
Good: Tyreek Hill and Jaylen WaddleIf there is one single undeniably positive element to come out of the Dolphins 2022 campaign, it's that Miami has not only quite possibly the best wide receiver duo in the NFL, but the best in Dolphins history. Yes, history.
Numbers don't lie. Hill ended the season with a stat line of 119 catches, 1,740 yards, and seven touchdowns, while Waddle followed up a record-breaking rookie campaign with 75 catches, 1,356 yards, and eight TDs. Both had incredible years, but most who watched the pair play would agree they're capable of so much more, especially with a fully healthy Tua for 17 games.
We have parted ways with defensive coordinator Josh Boyer and made additional changes to the coaching staff.— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) January 19, 2023
Ugly: Defensive Coordinator NeededWell, that didn't take long. Days after their season ended in a 34-31 shootout in Buffalo, the Dolphins parted ways with defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.
Boyer was a holdover from the Brian Flores era, which has to have made it awkward at times as Mike McDaniel and his incoming staff coached the team in a fashion completely opposite of their predecessors' approach. Regardless, the NFL is a results league, and the Dolphins defense, which ranked near the bottom in a slew of categories, was inarguably lacking.
With as much talent as the Dolphins had on defense in 2022, the constant need to score 30-plus points to win was unacceptable and looking forward, it's obviously unsustainable.