Dolphins Preview Capsule
MIAMI DOLPHINS (10-7)
New faces: QB Jay Cutler, TE Julius Thomas, LB Lawrence Timmons, TE Anthony Fasano, first-round pick DE Charles Harris, DE William Hayes, S Nate Allen, S T.J. McDonald.
Key losses: Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, LT Branden Albert, TE Dion Sims, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, TE Jordan Cameron, DE Mario Williams, DT Earl Mitchell.
Strengths: Dolphins are loaded at skill positions, with 1,272-yard rusher Jay Ajayi and deep corps of pass targets led by two-time Pro Bowl WR Jarvis Landry. Coach Adam Gase and $10 million coaxed inconsistent Cutler out of retirement after QB Ryan Tannehill suffered knee injury that will sideline him for entire season. Cutler knows playbook and clicked with Gase when both were with Bears, and Cutler connected repeatedly during preseason games and practice with WR DeVante Parker, who appears primed for breakout season.
Weaknesses: OL is shaky, and that’s with three-time Pro Bowl C Mike Pouncey, who has battled bad hips past several seasons. Back end of defense is also big question mark, and serious training camp injuries to rookie LB Raekwon McMillan, CB Tony Lippett and G Ted Larsen could prove costly.
Fantasy Players To Watch: Parker, WR Jakeem Grant.
Expectations: Holes on defense rule out challenging Patriots in AFC East. Law of averages also works against Dolphins, who in Gase’s first season won their final seven games decided by TD or less. But young coach is widely regarded as rising star in NFL, and if he can bring out best in Cutler, Dolphins should score enough to finish .500 or better.
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