Tomorrow night marks the beginning of a shiny new season of Miami Dolphins football. The home team will take on the Atlanta Falcons at 7:30 at Hard Rock Stadium. Preseason or not, it feels good to look forward to an actual game.
As much as the Miami Heat is beloved in South Florida, there really isn't anything that compares to the anticipation of a new season of Dolphins football, whether there are expectations for the team or not. One of the key parts of being a Dolphins fan is overreacting to things that happen in August.
Could that undrafted free agent become the next Cameron Wake? Can DeVante Parker put it all together and turn into one of the best wide receivers in the NFL? No one is sure what to expect from the 2019 Miami Dolphins. Those questions will begin to be answered tomorrow night.
Here are five reactions to expect come Friday morning once the Dolphins and Falcons have played a full 48 minutes of football that doesn't count.
5. Who in hell is Preston Williams, and should I buy his jersey this weekend? The Dolphins snagged six players in April's draft, but rookie Preston Williams wasn't one of them. Instead, he signed with the team after the draft as a free agent. It's taken exactly all of July for fans, the media, and even his teammates to give him any respect.
After a handful of practices against Williams, Xavien Howard was sold. Well, that escalated quickly.
Xavien Howard just told us he believes Preston Williams can be number one receiver "that guy can be special"— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) August 3, 2019
You can expect to see a healthy dose of Williams in the preseason. The "fake season" is basically made for undrafted rookies and journeyman veterans battling to see who can be the last man to make the team. Williams' story alone is worth the watch.
4. Josh Rosen: chosen one or frozen one? Josh Rosen and only Josh Rosen can save Dolphins fans from the roller-coaster ride that is four games of Ryan Fitzpatrick. If Rosen loves us, he will win this job in camp and let Fitzpatrick spend what should be his final year in the league watching from the sidelines, not starting a new era of Dolphins football.
The Fins didn't trade a second-round pick and midround pick to Arizona for a 2018 first-round quarterback so Fitzpatrick can play football for Miami. Rosen has what will amount to about a full game of snaps over the preseason to win the starting job and, in turn, get a 16-game audition with the team to prove he is the quarterback of the future.
We're a long way from watching Ryan Tannehill hand off 20 times in August without any real threat of being benched. For the first time in almost a decade, there's a bonafide competition to see which QB will be the starter.
3. Who is Brian Flores, and does he know when to call time-outs and stuff? Brian Flores has come to the Miami Dolphins from the New England Patriots. That's what we know right now, and that's what makes us feel safe at night. Flores has already proven himself to look and feel the part, but we're in early August and have made this mistake before when assessing new coaches and their overall competency.
The bar is low in replacing Adam Gase, who was clown-shoes bad at his job. When things didn't go his way, his eyes bulged out of his head and his hat lowered almost beyond his nose. The preseason is about shuffling 80 players to find the best 53 — but only one coach will be coaching the team.
Let's hope Flores shows this preseason that he learned well from Bill Belichick when it comes to time-out/clock management and when to throw a review flag. That's what we'll learn most about the Dolphins' new bossman this month.
2. Is Kalen Ballage ready to wreck shit? When the Dolphins selected Ballage in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, a few eyebrows raised. Running back wasn't exactly the most pressing need for a team that supersucked at the time, and we've since confirmed Kenyan Drake is great. As soon as we saw Kalen Ballage in a football uniform, though, we got it. He's built like a brick wall, and he runs through defensive lines like a wrecking ball.
Ballage is tearing up training camp to the point that some observers are asking the insane question of whether he could end up being the starter. That seems nuts in light of the fact that Drake has been solid, but watching what Ballage can do in the preseason to change our minds is certainly worth the price of a beer.
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1. Will the Dolphins look un-Dolphins, or will they look totally Dolphins? It's a new day in Miami. Almost every facet of our little football team is new. Even the uniforms got tweaked (though the terrible Sea World logo remains). But we've been here before and seen exactly nothing change when it came to the culture of the franchise or, more important, the win-loss record.
If you're a Dolphins fan, you know when you know. You can tell pretty quickly if anything has changed to move the needle in terms of your confidence in the team's ability to win a Super Bowl before you die. Big changes take time, but things such as accountability and effort should show up right away.
This preseason, fans will get their first look at their new Miami Dolphins. Let's hope it'll be nothing like their old Miami Dolphins.