The Miami Dolphins overhauled their roster and brought in a new coaching staff ahead of the 2019 season.
Miami is not expected to compete this season and could potentially be in the running for the top overall draft pick. The Dolphins elected to rebuild the team, following multiple disappointing seasons. Miami has two new names in the depth chart under the quarterback position and both should see time this year. Brian Flores will have plenty of decisions to make, during his first season as Miami's head coach.
Flores spent plenty of time working under Bill Belichick in New England, but this will be the first time he is in charge of an NFL team. Clock management is often an issue for rookie head coaches, and Flores could run into some struggles early in that area. The Dolphins will be unable to afford mistakes from their head coach, as wins will already be hard to come by along the way. If Flores can avoid those kind of errors, Miami may be able to steal an extra game or two during the season.
The Dolphins cut ties with Ryan Tannehill in the off-season, after the QB spent seven years with the team. Tannehill had some fine moments along the way, but was ultimately not the franchise quarterback Miami had hoped he would be. With Tannehill gone, the Dolphins signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and acquired Josh Rosen in a trade. The two quarterbacks competed against one another in the preseason, with Fitzpatrick being named the starter in the end.
Rosen arguably had a better preseason than Fitzpatrick, but the job may have never really been up for grabs. Fitzpatrick was listed as the top QB on the depth chart when the preseason began and that did not change along the way. Flores was critical of Rosen at times, despite some solid performances. Fitzpatrick sat for the final preseason game along with other starters, though the veteran was dealing with an illness at the time as well.
Following the preseason schedule, the Dolphins unloaded a few more veterans in trades and cuts. These moves reduced salary obligations for the team and also increased the chances of a top draft pick in 2020. Miami also acquired some draft picks in recent days, which should pay off in future seasons. The loss of key veterans will also open up opportunities for some new faces on both offense and defense.
After struggling with the Arizona Cardinals in his one season of work, Rosen came to Miami looking for a fresh start. Due to the rebuilding effort, Rosen may find it difficult to produce in his opportunities. Rosen could still become a franchise quarterback, but he may have only this season to show it. Miami could elect to draft a QB in the 2020 NFL draft, especially if it lands the coveted first overall pick.
Preston Williams was the talk of town after his performance in the preseason opener, but was quiet over the next three games. Williams still made the team and should see opportunities to show what he can do. The undrafted free agent has a playmaking ability and could be the target of numerous plays in the beginning of the season.
Miami's running game will feature Kalen Ballage and Kenyan Drake, but it remains to be seen how those snaps are split. Both men may struggle to find room to run however, with a depleted offensive line in Miami. The running game will be incredibly important for the Dolphins, as they may have difficulty moving the ball in the air as well.
Miami's season will begin with a pair of home games against the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. Even though the contests will be in Miami, this is a difficult way to begin a season for a rebuilding team. The Dolphins could easily be 0-2 after the first two contests, as both Baltimore and New England are expected to contend in the AFC. New England QB Tom Brady could have a big day in the second week of the season, against Miami's weakened defensive unit.
Things will not get easier for the Dolphins in the third week of the year, when they visit the Dallas Cowboys. The NFC team is another playoff contender and went 7-1 at home last season. This game appears to be a lopsided matchup on paper and it is possible Rosen could get some looks in the second half of it. The Dolphins will likely try and get Rosen opportunities in any blowout games.
The Dolphins will return home in the fourth week of the year to host the Los Angeles Chargers. This game once again features a playoff contender on the other sideline, though Los Angeles will be missing Derwin James on defense. James is expected to be out of action until November, which will make things a little easier for Fitzpatrick or Rosen in this game.
Miami's bye week will come in the fifth week of the year, before it hosts the Washington Redskins. This could be the first victory of the season for the Dolphins, as Washington is expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFC in 2019. Even though Miami may end up with more losses than Washington, the home-field advantage could come into play in this contest.
The remainder of Miami's season will include visiting the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, New York Giants and the Patriots. The Dolphins will host the Jets, Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals at Hard Rock Stadium.
With a difficult schedule and an unproven roster, Miami could end up with only a few wins this year. That win total would be the worst for the Dolphins, since their 1-15 campaign in 2007. Miami ended up with the top draft pick following that dismal season and selected Jake Long.
The 2019 season will begin on Sunday against Baltimore at 1:00 p.m.