(CBSMiami)- After a 10-6 season in 2020 that left them just outside of the playoffs looking in, the expectation for the Dolphins entering 2021 is for another step forward. With quarterback Tua Tagovailoa entering his first full year as a starter and now fully recovered from the hip injury suffered in college, it would make sense to expect another step from the team.
But, Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay doesn’t see it that way. Writing in a post this week, Kay included the Dolphins as one of the seven teams that are “most likely to disappoint” in 2021 expecting them to under perform their win total.READ MORE: Second Suspected Case Of Monkeypox In Broward Under Investigation
There are two primary reasons that Kay points to in expecting the Dolphins to fall short of the 9.5 win total that oddsmakers have given them: offensive line and Tua.
On the offensive line, Kay’s questions come with the consistency of the unit, noting that offensive line coach Lemuel Jeanpierre is the latest in a string of coaches the team has had under Flores since the head coach took over in 2019. The change in the staff and potential for re-shuffling the combination up front were the main causes for concern for Kay.
It is true that the team’s most recent depth chart sees just two starters from last year’s line return in left tackle Austin Jackson and right guard, formerly right tackle Robert Hunt. The other three spots are filled by rookie Liam Eichenberg, third-year player Michael Dieter, and veteran Jesse Davis at right tackle. That combination is likely subject to change based on the preseason performances, but the churn is an understandable concern.
The other reason for Kay’s including the Dolphins on the list is the development of Tua.READ MORE: Dale Spidle charged with premeditated murder in killing of 10-month-old
“Even if Miami gets decent protection, it still isn’t sure what it has in Tua. Last year, the Dolphins leaned on veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick to bail them out when Tagovailoa was struggling. With Fitzpatrick now in Washington, Tua must become more consistent if he is going to guide this organization to the postseason,” writes Kay.
2020 was a roller coaster year for Tagovailoa as a starter. But, the team hopes that the addition of former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle and free agent receiver Will Fuller V will help improve on of his biggest struggle points last season: pushing the ball down field.
Tagovailoa was below average on throws between 10-20 yards down the middle of the field and just average at throws over 20 yards down field last season according to Next Gen Stats charting. But, the Dolphins offense didn’t have much in the way of deep threats last year.
The Dolphins are tied for the fifth-easiest schedule in the league this season based on opponent’s winning percentage last year (.471). What do you think? Will the Dolphins get to double digit wins this season? Answer our poll below.MORE NEWS: Heat's Herro (groin) ruled out ahead of Game 4 vs. Celtics