Team Award Predictions: Miami Dolphins

For the first time in years, it seems like the Miami Dolphins have an identity. Brian Flores may seem reserved on the outside but his burning desire to win should be unquestioned. Flores is also in a unique spot because the second half of the 2019 season really proved he can rally a group. I think he’s going to get the full three to five years that it takes to build a football culture. With guys like Byron Jones and Kyle Van Noy stepping into big roles for Miami, I expect the defense to move forward dramatically.

On offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick should be able to play average football without pressuring the organization to run Tua Tagovailoa out there after his horrific hip injury and wacky offseason. This team is in a good spot but they need to remain patient and hopefully, the fans can continue with their patience.

Make sure to check out all of our other team award predictions here.

MVP: Matt Breida

You could probably list Breida under multiple award predictions but I’m rolling with Breida as the MVP for the Dolphins. In order for this team to succeed, new additions like Breida must perform at a high level. I like how Miami has revamped its offensive line with Austin Jackson, Ereck Flowers, Ted Karras, and Solomon Kindley. I think they will be much improved in the run game and a lot of that will have to do with the combination Breida’s natural rushing ability and offensive line play.

With 381 rushing attempts in his career, Breida averages 5.0 yards per carry. If he were to do that over his next 300 rushing attempts, he would meet the minimum criteria and rank somewhere in the top ten of all-time. I just think he finally gets his time to shine. Not to mention, he can sprinkle in about 40 receptions. Are 1,200 scrimmage yards and eight total touchdowns possible? I think so.

Offensive Player: Ryan Fitzpatrick

You could easily sprinkle in Tua when talking about their offensive player of the year but I don’t think it will happen. Flores and the Dolphins really don’t have anything to lose so why rush Tagovailoa back from injury during a global pandemic? Let Fitzpatrick handle the duties and push this team through their next phase of growing pains.

Flores hired Chan Gailey as his offensive coordinator this offseason and both Fitzpatrick and Gailey have a long history with each other. Fitzpatrick has been in Gailey’s system for over six seasons and that’s where Fitzpatrick has experienced the most success. In 2015, Fitzpatrick threw for roughly 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns under Gailey. I expect Fitzpatrick to come close to those same numbers, leading this team to a solid seven or eight wins. He obviously needs to win the job first but he clearly has the upper-hand with Gailey at the helm.

Defensive Player: Byron Jones

Jones signed for 82.5 million in the offseason and now there about 82.5 million reasons why he must succeed in Miami. If you check the box scores, Jones doesn’t come off as turnover creating machine that many would hope for that amount of cash. However, if you turn on the tape, this guy shuts down an entire third of the field because quarterbacks fear to throw his way. This is going to be a nice luxury to have, considering Xavien Howard will be locking down the other side of the field. Because Jones might force targets to Howard’s side of the field, he could also be in consideration for the team’s most valuable defensive player as well.

Offensive Rookie: Austin Jackson

There are going to be growing pains with Jackson, there’s no doubt about it. I know it’s hard to think about his play more than Tagovailoa but it’s probably going to happen. I liked Jackson’s game coming out of USC. He’s got very good to elite feet in pass protection and should be able to hang with the speed rushers early on in his career. It’s the play strength that is concerning, and it will cause him to struggle against speed to power rushers. He may not light it up when you’re watching on television, but his athleticism and nuance in pass protection opens up an early lane for him to start and perform. With no real competition for the award, Jackson wins with just encouraging flashes of good play.

Defensive Rookie: Noah Igbinoghene

Igbinoghene is a four-down player at the next level. He’s an elite athlete that can return kicks and will be a gunner on special teams. Those are the ancillary traits that really set rookies apart from everyone else. As a corner, he’s good in man-to-man and he’s more of a press-corner. His edge and competitive toughness are two of his better traits and Flores will love that aspect of his game. He’s so athletic and good in man-to-man situations, I almost wonder if they’ll try to play him at nickel? It sounds like a low risk and high reward option with two high level cornerbacks on the outside. We could talk about Raekwon Davis as well but I’m going with the athletic freak in Igbinoghene.

Biggest Surprise: Kirk Merritt

Who? Yes, the undrafted free agent, in my opinion, should enter the conversation of making the final roster. He’s an athletic specimen with videos showing him standing box jumping at 62 inches. He runs a 4.33 and is smooth laterally, especially in his releases. Why was he undrafted? Merritt left Oregon after limited playing time. He then joined Texas A&M where he was kicked out of the program for two bizarre incidents with his academic tutors.

At Arkansas State, he finally put it together, where he had 153 catches, 1,811 yards, and 19 touchdowns over a two-year stretch. Off the field, I’m not sure what Merritt will bring but on the field, I think he’s better than Jakeem Grant. If he pushes Grant for his job, there’s potential for Merritt to show fans his explosive playmaking ability in Miami.

Biggest Disappointment: Jordan Howard

I like Howard because he’s a grinder with a ton of experience and he’s only 25 years old. The problem is, I just don’t think he’s that good. He offers little to nothing as a receiver and has averaged a pedestrian 4.3 yards per carry. He often steals goal line carries because of his bruising style, and his touchdowns inside the 10-yard line are what keeps him relevant in the box score. From a talent and upside perspective, give me Breida all day for the bulk of the carries. This league craves for dynamic ball carriers and I don’t view Howard as that guy. If you’re expecting 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, I think you’re going to end up with loads of disappointment.

Questions and comments?

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