There comes a time in each NFL franchise for the team to start showing true strides and promises from the work they’ve been doing while rebuilding and regrouping to become not only competitive but also noticeable in the league. For the Miami Dolphins, especially according to the top NFL predictions experts, that time is right now in the 2021 NFL season.
Football fans and pundits have all taken notice of all the moves that Miami has been up to in the past few seasons in order to once again become a force not only in their AFC East division but in the whole AFC conference in itself. After starting the season out with a win over their division rivals Patriots at home, what are some of the major keys to watch for with the Dolphins in order for them to put the AFC on notice? Let’s check it out.
Tua Tagovailoa’s Time Is Now Or Never
Nobody can deny that Dolphins starting QB Tua Tagovailoa has the chops and skills needed to become a top-tier QB in the NFL, but he needs for the 2021 season to be the one where he truly steps up and commands his role as the franchise QB for the Dolphins and leads this team to the promised land. With the rumors of Deshaun Watson joining the Dolphins before the trade deadline is over in November, the heat is on Tagovailoa to bring the heat to Miami if he wishes to continue as the franchise’s QB for the future.
While last season’s expectations of Tagovailoa weren’t really that high, the former Alabama QB stepped up and showed some promising signs, leading the Dolphins to seven wins in his rookie season. Now, in his sophomore season, it’s time for the Dolphins QB to put it all on the line for the team and show why nobody should really be paying any attention to the Watson to Miami rumors. Tagovailoa has plenty of weapons to choose from in Miami’s offensive core to be able to properly lead this team week in and week out but if he cannot deliver on a constant basis, this team will only be as good as his showings. He has the skills to control the times of the game as well as all offensive drives and with some much-needed help from his offensive line, it’s his position to keep or lose. Here’s to hoping he finds his best suit moving forward in the season and that he can lead Miami into the postseason.
Jaylen Waddle’s Abilities To Become A Game Changer
When the Miami Dolphins decide to take the former Alabama Crimson Tide WR Jaylen Waddle with the 6th pick of the 2021 NFL draft it was more than understood that this was a win-now bet for the ‘Fins. The skillset and physical prowesses that Waddle brings to Miami make him have all eyes on him and what he can do to help his former Alabama teammate Tagovailoa succeed in leading Miami’s offense.
But it isn’t exclusively up to Waddle to become Miami’s premier WR from the get-go. Miami’s coaches need to understand how valuable a player of Waddle’s impact can be. He’s the kind of receiver that will always be set to make the big plays down the field, but it’s on Tagovailoa and Miami’s offensive line to be able to properly feed him the ball in every down available. Give Waddle some time to fully get accustomed to the league, especially playing side by side with veteran WR Will Fuller and if groomed properly we could be looking at one of the best receivers that the Dolphins have had in a long time.
Miami’s Defense Needs To Be Elite In Every Game
Sure, there are rumors that the Dolphins’ star CB and defensive leader Xavien Howard wants out of Miami, and who knows, we could even see him leave Miami before the trade deadline even if after both parties involved in the apparent feud agreed to a restructuring of Howard’s contract. But, do not, under any circumstance undermine how good Miami’s defensive unit as a whole can be with or without Howard. Just look at this defenses’ numbers and rankings last season and you’ll see why we’re talking about one of the elite defensive units in the league.
With guys like Byron Jones, Emmanuel Ogbah, Jerome Baker, Jason McCourty, Raekwon Davis once he’s back from his week 1 injury scare, Christian Wilkins, and rookies Jevon Holland and Jaelan Phillips this defense is more than stacked, especially compared to other defenses not only in their division and conference but in the league in general. The level of depth and compromise to continue being one of the most dominant defensive lines in the game needs to continue being one of the main pushing points for Miami to thrive on the defensive side of the ball. While we wait to see if Howard will end up staying in Miami or leaving, one thing is for sure, if this defense continues to put up numbers like they had last season, we could be looking at the main key for the Dolphins being successful this season.