The 2017 Season will be a season of firsts for the Jaguars, Buccaneers, and the Dolphins. The Jags will have their first full year under Doug Marrone. The Bucs will be coming off a winning season for the first time since 2010. The Phins will be coming off their first playoff appearance since 2008. But the question is which team needs the better season most?
At first glance, most would say it’s definitely not Jacksonville but it’s important not to judge a book by its cover. The Jags are in desperate need of national relevancy during the season for wins and not just for their off-season splurging. This organization hasn’t had a winning season nor a playoff appearance since 2007 and their only coach with a winning record was Tom Coughlin.
Bringing Coughlin plus Coach Marrone they will look to clean house and change the culture with the goal being to build a consistent winner in Jacksonville. That has already begun with adding the likes of Leonard Fournette, Cam Robinson and DeDe Westbrook in the draft and free agents Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye to help bolster their defense.
While they most likely won’t battle for a playoff spot like their state counterparts the season may still be more important for them to get off to a good start under a new regime to build a foundation for future success.
The Miami Dolphins made their presence known to the football world last year as more than just another team in the Patriots division. While they didn’t knock off the reigning champs they did sneak into a playoff spot and have a winning season for the first time in eight years. They bring back the same core team with a couple of additions like LB Lawrence Timmons, TE Julius Thomas, and first round pick Charles Harris.
Adam Gase made great use of his first season under the helm becoming the 20th coach to take a team to the playoffs in his first year there since 2006. With the Phins returning so much, there is a lot of pressure to make another trip back to the playoffs and maybe even beat the Patriots once or twice. It will be important for Gase and company not to take a step back after taking so many forward in 2016.
Last but certainly not least are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who have generated the most buzz of the three this offseason. Dirk Koetter became the Bucs fourth head coach since 2009 and it looks like he may have it locked up for a while. His offenses have been menacing to opposing defenses and his defense is starting to look like it can match it.
Jamies Winston is looking like he will buck the trend of the Bucs not having a franchise signal caller and he has the cast around him to run the league for years to come with WR’s Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and more. The problem that could arise for this young team is the expectations with HBO’s “Hard Knocks” coming to One Buc Place this season it will be important for the young team to stay focused. Koetter needs to keep the ship moving towards the playoffs and not sinking into last or anchoring down into third.
There is no right answer for who needs to have a better season between these State rivals. All three need to have improvements this year for their own unique reasons. While it will be interesting to see who comes out on top week 1 with the Bucs and Phins, that game won’t make or break the season nor will it tell us who the better team is.
At the end of the day, the season will be measured by who improved the most and made the biggest stride to a championship not who won an early season match up.
Dolphins beaten up every way possible after latest loss in Green Bay
Make no mistake, the Dolphins season is not officially over at 5 – 5 headed in the bye week.
It just looks and feels that way.
Mostly, it does, because the Dolphins are banged up, not only physically, but also it appears emotionally and psychologically. So, much so, they don’t appear to have a whole lot left for the stretch run.
Let’s start with the actual physical injuries and that began Sunday with the inactives. The Fins starting offensive line was minus Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, which were not unexpected. However, after being able to practice some this week, former number 1 pick defensive end Charles Harris was not able to play against Green Bay today, either.
Then, as the game wore on, it was one Dolphin leaving after another. Whether it was Kenyan Drake with a shoulder injury in the first half or Bobby McCain with a concussion in the third quarter or when receivers Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker both had to leave on the same Drive, it was tough to watch the Dolphins walking wounded.
The biggest fear is for the smaller but explosive Grant, who may have torn his Achilles in the third quarter. Grant was already suffering from Achilles tendonitis and came up hobbling right away on a slant pass and could not put weight on the foot. He was then carted shortly thereafter to the Dolphins locker room.
Coach Adam Gase offered no real update on Grant’s status other than that it’s a wait-and-see. As for Parker, same thing is being hoped, even though, the media reported him walking around in the locker room after the game with his left arm in a sling. You combine those injuries with Kenny Stills being slowed by a groin injury and Albert Wilson already out for the year having hurt his hip a few weeks ago, and the Dolphins may be looking for Mark Duper or Nat Moore to come out of retirement at this point.
Bigger than just the physical injuries, the Dolphins appear spent in the figurative sense as well. The frustration mounted as Aaron Rodgers continued to carve them up throwing darts all over the football field Sunday night in the Lambeau cold. He finished with only 195 yards passing, but did have two TDs. And, they marched on the Dolphins defense, whenever he wanted.
It was almost as if Miami was just helpless to do anything against him, and they are watching their season wind down.
Consider that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was not able to spark the team for the third consecutive game. So poor is the offensive output, that Miami has not scored a touchdown in their last nine quarters dating back to the Thursday night loss in Houston.
The Dolphins aren’t playing with any confidence, at least from the guys that are replacing the injured players. Remember, with Miami at full strength early in the year they got off to a 3 – 0 start.
So, the bye week comes now and perhaps, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill shoulder will be healed enough that he can practice in 10 days and maybe play at Indianapolis. It’s anybody’s guess as to who, out of the names above, will actually be healthy enough to help Tannehill and the Dolphins for the final six games.
Finally, even though Miami would appear by record to be very much in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot, they don’t look like a playoff team.
No. They’re banged up and look like a team that will be watching the postseason like everybody else.
Gameday- Dolphins travel to chilly Lambeau Field
Who: Dolphins (5-4) at Packers (3-4-1)
When: Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Spread: Packers by 10 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
Here’s what to watch:
Dolphins defensive coordinator Burke under scrutiny
It has been a tough few weeks for the Dolphins all the way around, but specifically on the defensive side of the ball, the struggles are mounting. And when you throw in a player pouting and essentially pulling a mutiny on the sidelines last Sunday, it’s not good for the defensive coordinator.
That’s what happened a week ago when Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones refused to go back in the game on two occasions during the second half of the Dolphins close 13 – 6 win over the Jets. It’s been a big topic in South Florida for the last few days, and it obviously has defensive coordinator Matt Burke having to answer for what’s going on in the defense of meeting rooms, practices, etc.
Dolphins Live: Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke meets with the media. https://t.co/2145Fq3uaU
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 8, 2018
As the press continued to poke at him about the Jones situation, you could tell that Burke is over it, as is coach Adam Gase, and they want to move on for this week. However, Jones didn’t make that any easier, when he basically refused to apologize for not wanting to play.
And, moving past it may also be easier said than done, when the opponent is All-Pro quarterback and former League MVP Aaron Rodgers at his house, Lambeau Field.
Yes, the Dolphins have some pass rushers, and that would include second-year defensive end and former number 1 pick Charles Harris returning to practice this week after a calf injury, and he may be able to play. Veteran Cam Wake came alive pressuring Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold repeatedly, and registering a couple of sacks.
However, the defensive plays have been few and far between, as the Dolphins have lost four of the last five games.
That brings us back to Burke, who was elevated after coaching the linebackers in 2016, when Vance Joseph left Miami to become Denver’s head coach. After spending his entire pro career as a linebackers coach, this is his first opportunity to be the guy in charge of the defense.
So, he and Gase can get aggravated with the questioning of what we’re seeing, but the bottom line is: if the Dolphins defense doesn’t continue to step it up, like they did last week, there is going to be much more scrutiny of him.
The oddsmakers have the Dolphins as double-digit underdogs to Rodgers and the Pack.
Now, let’s see if Burke’s unit will rally together, play solidly and give Miami a chance to win Sunday.
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