2023 Miami Dolphins Offseason Preview
The 2022 season was a make-or-break year for Tua Tagovailoa. Miami hired Kyle Shanahan‘s protege Mike McDaniel as their next head coach. They then traded for Tyreek Hill and retooled their offensive line in the spring. Everything was primed for his breakout and he did not disappoint. Tua dominated in his third season, going 8-5 before his recurring concussion issues knocked him out for the remainder of the year. The Dolphins limped into the playoffs with Skylar Thompson at quarterback and were dispatched by Buffalo in a surprisingly close game. Though the season ended on a downswing, it’s hard to ask for a better outcome from McDaniel’s debut campaign as a head coach.
Key Offensive Stats
- Points per game: 23.4 (11th)
- EPA per play: 0.05 (7th)
- Dropback EPA per play: 0.11 (8th)
- Passing yards per game: 265.4 (4th)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.05 (13th)
- Rush yards per game: 99.2 (25th)
Looking at the season as a whole, Tagovailoa posted MVP-level stats. He led the league in touchdown rate (6.3 percent), yards per attempt (8.9), and Quarterback Rating (105.5). Only Patrick Mahomes generated more expected points per dropback. Late in his season, opponents appeared to be adapting to Tua’s style, limiting him to seven touchdowns with five interceptions over his final five games Even with three quarterbacks getting starts for the Dolphins, their receivers posted jaw-dropping numbers. Hill finished the year with 119 catches for 1,710 yards and Jaylen Waddle hit 1,356 yards at a league-high, 18.1 yards per catch. Raheem Mostert led the backfield with 891 rushing yards. He and Jeff Wilson, acquired through a trade with San Francisco, averaged 4.8 yards per attempt.
Key Defensive Stats
- Points per game: 23.5 (24th)
- EPA per play: 0.02 (24th)
- Dropback EPA per play: 0.09 (27th)
- Passing yards per game: 234.8 (27th)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.11 (7th)
- Rush yards per game: 103 (4th)
The Dolphins had a strong pass-rush in 2022 and that was only bolstered by their mid-season acquisition of Bradley Chubb. Second-year outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips was the breakout star of the defense, notching 7.5 sacks and eight TFLs en route to a top-10 EDGE defender ranking by Pro Football Focus. The secondary didn’t fare as well. Cornerback Byron Jones missed the year with an ankle issue and Xavien Howard struggled in coverage. He allowed the second-most yards (826) and the fifth-most touchdowns (six) of any corner. Miami’s defensive line looks set for years to come, but their coverage unit needs to improve in order for the front seven to shine.
Draft Picks (Top-150)
51st, and 84th
Notable Free Agents
After tweeting that he can’t run or jump anymore, Byron Jones will be cut and seems likely to retire after that transaction. His cap savings jumps to $13.6 million if cut with a post-June 1 designation. The NFL stripped Miami of their first-round pick in 2023 as a result of the team’s tampering violations involving Tom Brady and Sean Payton. They had a second pick in the first round, but that was sent to Denver to acquire Chubb.
The Dolphins haven’t drafted a corner in three years, and that was first-round bust Noah Igbinoghene. After seeing the success of their offense in 2022, addressing the secondary will be Miami’s top priority.
Given his lack of usage under McDaniel, Mike Gesicki will almost certainly sign elsewhere as a free agent. Durham Smythe‘s contract also makes him a cut candidate. This could be a position the Dolphins look to address on Day 2 of the draft.
The Dolphins don’t need to spend big at running back, but they need to do something. The team does not have a running back on the roster for 2023. Some combination of Moster, Wilson, and a rookie will likely be their solution.
Outside of one key injury on offense, Miami’s defense was their weak point in 2022. In turn, the team parted ways with defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, a holdover from the Brian Flores era. Vic Fangio was hired to replace him. Outside of a small job as a consultant with the Eagles, Fangio most recently served as the Broncos’ head coach. The Broncos finished top-12 in points allowed in two-of-three seasons under Fangio. For a team in need of a turnaround on defense, Fangio and his track record of success are a great get.
The Dolphins were on track to have one of the league’s best offenses midway through the year. Tua led the league or was top-five in most passing categories and his receiver tandem was all but unstoppable. Injuries derailed an otherwise promising season, but the Dolphins showed everything they needed to in 2022 to be considered contenders in the AFC. Since the end of the season, Miami has fully committed to this iteration of its roster. They picked up Tua’s fifth-year option and are likely eying a long-term extension. They also traded for Jalen Ramsey, filling one of the notable holes on the roster at the cost of their already weak draft resources. Given how well things went in 2022, you can’t blame them for pushing their chips into the table.