Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer questions from readers.
Q: Not saying they will but do you think the dolphins will look at QBs this off-season? Can’t go into 2023 with this same injury prone qb room. – @Jay7kilo on Twitter
A: I think the Dolphins will look for a veteran backup quarterback. We know the plan is for Tua Tagovailoa to be the starter in 2023. The Dolphins have stated that publicly and emphatically. The question, considering Tagovailoa’s concussion history, including the one he sustained at Alabama when he had the dislocated hip, is whether you desire a veteran backup, and to what extent you chase such a player. To a smaller extent, you also must consider whether a backup such as, say, Baker Mayfield (I’m just using a name as an example), who might have immediate ambitions of being a starter, would be a distraction to Tagovailoa or make him feel uncomfortable.
But on the topic of a veteran backup, I didn’t get a chance to ask Teddy Bridgewater, the South Florida native who was injured for much of the season, about his hopes/plans for next season. I’m guessing the Dolphins want someone more reliable, health-wise.
I also get the feeling the Dolphins want an upgrade over rookie Skylar Thompson, who did an admirable job. He wasn’t great, but he gave you a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
I don’t think the Dolphins will draft a quarterback this year. It wouldn’t make sense. Right now, the Dolphins have a second-round pick, two third-round picks, a sixth-round pick, and a seventh-round pick. The second- and third-rounders need to go to players who could be immediate starters or rotation players at cornerback and offensive line, and the lower-round picks aren’t going to get you what you desire from a backup quarterback (and you already have the type of talent that’s available in those lower rounds with Thompson).
Look for the Dolphins to sign a veteran backup quarterback to put between Tagovailoa and Thompson.
Q: Have to be pleased with the season. Tua out for 5.5 games, and we still made the playoffs. Within one possession in the 4th quarter of all 9 losses is all you can ask for. Have to be optimistic about the future – @cjb8511 on Twitter
A: Yeah, I could agree with that, but with a caveat. You can only be optimistic about the future if you trust the people in charge, starting with general manager Chris Grier and going through coach Mike McDaniel and the coaching staff. It was a successful season because the Dolphins made the playoffs. That’s the first step. Now they must decide how to build on this success, and that’s a sweeping task that includes player acquisition (draft/free agency), salary cap management, playing style, and on-field decisions.
I’m not going to rip the franchise for past moves. That’s a waste of time and a lot of negative energy. I’d rather look ahead. It’s a new era, and they deserve an open-minded outlook, to a certain extent. The Dolphins have three consecutive winning seasons and a playoff berth, and they’ve used that runway to get the plane into the air. Let’s see if the pilot and co-pilot (Grier/McDaniel or McDaniel/Grier, however you view it) are good navigators. Here’s hoping it’s not a flight to nowhere.
Q: If you could upgrade one position what would it be? – @lefty5555 on Twitter
A: Cornerback. This position, one of the most crucial positions in the NFL, took a big hit for the Dolphins this season. Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard wasn’t the same due to health issues. I think Howard gets back to his top-level play next season, if healthy. But he turns 30 in July. Combine that with Byron Jones’ absence (right now he appears unlikely to return) and Nik Needham’s Achilles injury, and you have a concerning situation.
Rookie cornerback Kader Kohou was an excellent find, and someone the Dolphins can count on for 2023, but cornerback has gone from a position of strength to a position that must be immediately addressed.
Yeah, there are concerns at right tackle (protecting Tagovailoa’s blind side), left guard, tight end, and a couple of other spots. But in a league that relies heavily on passing, the Dolphins absolutely must address the cornerback situation.
Q: Given the struggles they had with getting plays in on time, will McDaniel give up play calling and have an OC take care of it? Let’s Dive In!!! – @njm1124 on Twitter
A: Let’s Dive In! I love the Dolphins Deep Dive reference! I’ve briefly considered whether McDaniel should consider splitting some duties. Yes, he should consider that from the standpoint the Dolphins must consider everything.
But McDaniel should remain the play-caller. Look, this is his offense. He’s the brains behind the system. He should control the offense from that standpoint, no doubt.
McDaniel was a head coach for the first time this season, and he was calling plays for the first time. Yeah, there were some rough spots. That was expected. Very few people have a smooth road in their first year on a new job or in a new role. I like McDaniel and his offense.
My biggest concern is that McDaniel fell in love with passes to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle too much and forgot about the run game and tight end Mike Gesicki. Sometimes coaches (including Joe Philbin and Adam Gase, both knowledgeable coaches) believe their own hype about the passing game, that they can fix things through the air.
Run the ball. Play defense. Use special teams for field position. They can help make your passing game more effective. In other words, do what the 49ers, and many other teams, are doing. San Francisco’s success doesn’t start with rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, it starts with a system that involves the run game, defense and special teams. I hope McDaniel, who just came from San Francisco, copies that model. But I digress.
The Dolphins must build a more balanced offense for a number of reasons, and among the primary reasons is once teams figured out the Dolphins’ offense, starting with McDaniel’s old team, San Francisco, we didn’t see adequate adjustments.
But, again, McDaniel was a rookie. And it showed. He’ll be better next season, including play-calling and getting plays in on time.
Q: Is it better to move Hunt to RT permanently and find 2 guards in the offseason? – @liquidave on Twitter
A: Interesting idea. Rob Hunt, who was drafted as a tackle, played well at right guard. The Dolphins intentionally drafted, and developed, offensive line versatility. Give them credit. So, yeah, shifting Hunt to right tackle is an option. But Hunt is a better guard than tackle, so the preference would be finding a right tackle, which might be expensive. It’s probably easier to find two decent guards than finding one decent right tackle.
Of course, the Dolphins also have to plan for Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead to only play about 12 games because of recurring injuries, but that’s a different topic for a different day.
Q: This regime, namely Grier, in the past seems to not like to draft rb high. Do you think with McDaniels on board that changes? Would they prioritize TE in the draft with Giesicki leaving? – @RonDaDon09 on Twitter
A: I hope McDaniel is on board with running the ball. Period. If you know me, you know I like defense and the run game. So, I’m fine with drafting a running back high. My philosophy is to draft a good running back and run him into the ground. Seriously. Do the Derrick Henry thing. It helps your quarterback tremendously. But Derrick Henrys aren’t easy to find.
Another way of looking at things is McDaniel was part of run game creativity in San Francisco when it used receiver Deebo Samuel and was seventh in the league in rushing. I’d just like to see more of an emphasis on the run game. You don’t necessarily need to draft a running back high, and I wouldn’t do that this year for a few reasons, but the Dolphins need to run the ball more effectively.
As for prioritizing a tight end in the draft, the Dolphins aren’t seeking a receiving tight end (they just inexplicably ignored Mike Gesicki six consecutive months) so, no, I’m guessing tight end won’t be a priority in the draft. Right now, I’m thinking cornerback and offensive line are the draft priorities.
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