Sports

Ten Things to Watch During the Miami Dolphins Preseason Opener

Football is back! Finally!
Football is back! Finally! Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty
Watching an entire preseason football game is a lot like entering a hot-dog eating contest: Both seem like fun ideas until you have to stomach them.

For Miami Dolphins fans starved for football, this weekend does technically end the wait as the Dolphins face the Chicago Bears at 1 p.m. Saturday in their first of three preseason contests.

Usually preseason football is a tough watch. The team's still preparing for the start of the season as unknown players step onto the field and stars try to avoid any injuries. But we believe this Dolphins preseason offers some exciting variables that will keep us intrigued until the last quarter.

Here is a handy-dandy guide to the things we'll be paying the most attention to heading into Saturday's first tuneup against the Bears.

Tua Tagovailoa's Second Season

QB1 might be No. 1, but it actually feels like Tua Tagovailoa's second season is his first. After a year of ups and downs and half-commitments, Tagovailoa enters this season as the undisputed most-important variable of the Miami Dolphins season. That's it. As he goes, they'll go.

Nothing is more important to watch this preseason than Tua. Even if you're just watching to ensure he's staying healthy and looking ready for the real games.

The New Preseason Broadcast Team

If the football gets boring around the third quarter this preseason, at least we'll be able to judge the new tandem of ex-Dolphins — the great Jason Taylor and current Florida Panthers voice Steve Goldstein — in their first season in the booth together.


The pair replace Bob Griese, Dick Stockton, and Nat Moore, who have called Dolphins preseason games since, well, as far back as I can remember. So tune in even if just to gauge the chemistry between Taylor and Goldstein.

Shaquem Griffin's Story

When the Miami Dolphins signed former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin to a one-year deal two weeks ago, it was more than just the pick-up of a camp body that hopefully could make a difference on special teams. It was the continuation of one of the greatest stories in the NFL.

The former UCF star had his left hand amputated at a young age because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome that caused him great pain and left him with limited function in the hand prior to surgery. Amazingly, he not only excelled in college but was drafted by the Seahawks in the fifth round in 2018.

Griffin isn't a lock to make the Dolphins roster, but as one might imagine, everyone is rooting for his success.

Jaylen Waddle

Jaylen Waddle. Yeah, just Jaylen Waddle. Not much more needs to be said about the Miami Dolphins' top draft pick making his NFL debut this preseason.

Dolphins fans will be tuning in to see a player who has a chance to be the most electrifying player in franchise history take the field. If everything goes according to plan, Waddle alone will be worth the price of admission this season.

The Rookie Class

Beyond just the intrigue of Jaylen Waddle, the Miami Dolphins have a crop of rookies that should be intriguing to watch this preseason. Former Miami Hurricane defensive end Jaelen Phillips is definitely the standout of the bunch, with comparisons to Jason Taylor already under his belt  during his time in camp.

Safety Jevon Holland and offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg also have excellent opportunities to play pivotal roles on the team starting Week 1. Fans will get their very first glimpse of what these new players have to offer on Saturday afternoon.

If Xavien Howard Will Play

Xavien Howard hasn't been so much something to watch on the field this preseason as he has been something to pay attention to off of the field. His contract negotiations were very complicated, but both sides got together and hammered out a new deal, which keeps Howard in Miami for the foreseeable future.

Even with fences mended, chances are Howard doesn't see the field until the games are real. Nobody needs to see anything from him. We know he's season-ready.

Will Albert Wilson Stay Hot?

Once upon a time, Albert Wilson was an integral part of the Miami Dolphins. Then injuries sidelined him, and he opted out of last season due to COVID. He entered camp as a player on the bubble, unsure of a roster spot. He's spent the last few weeks making sure there's no doubt that he'll be on the team.

If Wilson can continue his hot play, the Dolphins will suddenly be stacked at wide receiver. That would be great news for a team that was deficient at the position last year.

Will Fuller, the Miami Dolphin

Before the Dolphins went out and drafted Jaylen Waddle or knew Albert Wilson was going to look this great in camp, they signed away Will Fuller from the Houston Texans in free agency. At the time of the move, it was thought as savvy. The only issue? Fuller is always hurt. Specifically, his hamstring is always hurt.

So, of course, he is currently on the shelf with a hamstring pull that has kept him out of training-camp practices as of late. We'll see who Fuller is in Week 2, if he's healthy after he serves a one-game PED suspension.

Joe Burrow's Comeback

In most seasons, the third preseason game is the most important tuneup before the regular season. The starters play two or three quarters, then the fourth preseason game is dedicated to figuring out which guys will fill out the backup spots on the roster.

This year, Miami only has three preseason games, with the third being what will likely be 2020 first-overall pick Joe Burrow's comeback from knee surgery.

Any time Tua Tagovailoa meets Chargers QB Justin Herbert or Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow, the lights get a little brighter. Everyone understandably compares the quarterbacks who were taken in the same draft. Albeit a practice game, this preseason Dolphins fans get a glimpse of what could be a decade of rivalries.

What Does a Brian Flores Team Really Look Like?

Brian Flores' first season in Miami shouldn't even count. The team was depleted of any talent and they entered every game overmatched. Last season was obviously a bridge to what Flores truly envisions the Miami Dolphins to look like. This season, we see the cake he's baked.


Season 3 is normally when a head coach (if he hasn't already been fired) is judged. For Flores, this is that year. Saturday is the first look fans get at a team he's been molding for three years. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.