The Miami Dolphins will have Ryan Tannehill back behind center as they begin the 2018 season.
The Dolphins missed the playoffs in 2017, following a season-ending injury for Tannehill. Miami brought Jay Cutler out of retirement and the team failed to ever get into a rhythm. Tannehill's last regular season game was in December of 2016, but the quarterback did see some action during the preseason.
Tannehill's preseason was not spectacular and he did show some signs of rust along the way. Most importantly for the QB and Miami, Tannehill made it through the entire preseason without an injury. The quarterback appears to be at full health as the long and demanding season gets underway.
Tannehill's teammates have changed a little since that December 2016 contest. Kenyan Drake only had 33 carries in 2016 and now he will see a heavy workload at running back. Frank Gore will also get plenty of work, after joining Miami in the off-season. If the duo can post big numbers on the ground, Tannehill's playbook will be wide open.
Miami's receivers have also changed since Tannehill's last regular season game. DeVante Parker figures to be Miami's primary target at WR, while the tight end spot could be an interesting one to watch. MarQueis Gray was expected to be Miami's top tight end, but he was placed on injured reserve due to an injury suffered in practice. With Gray out, the Dolphins will likely turn to A.J. Derby and Mike Gesicki more often.
Jason Sanders won the kicking competition in the preseason and the rookie could be a key for the Dolphins. Kickers are often overlooked by fans, but Sanders' leg is critically important. Cody Parkey had some highlights in his lone season with Miami in 2017, but he also missed three extra points. Miami will hope Sanders is able to reduce that total in 2018.
The Dolphins have undergone same changes defensively as well. Ndamukong Suh is gone and this could lead to new looks on defense. Suh was an important player, even in games where his stat sheet seemed empty. Suh's presence changed the way teams lined up against the Dolphins and that could become a factor quickly.
Head coach Adam Gase is entering his third season with the Dolphins with a 16-16 overall record. Miami reached the playoffs in Gase's first year and went 6-10 in 2017. Gase has three years remaining on his five-year deal and his job is likely safe for the time being. Under owner Stephen Ross, the Dolphins have not been quick to make head coaching changes. Barring a disastrous season, Gase is not likely coaching for his job in 2018.
Miami will begin the season with a relatively easy schedule. After opening the season at home against the Tennessee Titans, Miami will travel to take on the New York Jets. The following week, the Dolphins will host the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium. All three games are winnable for Miami and any losses could be difficult to recover from later. The Dolphins have begun the last seasons with 1-2 records and will need to try and avoid that this time around.
The schedule will get more difficult as the season rolls on, with a touch conclusion on December 31st. In a game that Miami may end up needing for the playoffs, the team will take on the Buffalo Bills in New York. Frigid temperatures along with snowy conditions will likely welcome the Dolphins to Buffalo. The final month of the season also includes games with the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings.
Miami's season will begin on Sunday with a game against the Titans at 1:00 p.m.