How bad was the 2021 season? Dolphins’ grades, biggest disappointment and top performers

A three-year rebuild didn’t get the Miami Dolphins to the desired destination.

The Dolphins are virtually in the same spot they were when the latest overhaul began, and that stagnancy ultimately cost Brian Flores his job.

While some improvements were made during the rebuilding process, the offense continued to struggle. The biggest concern moving forward is how much of the roster is salvageable, and what’s the next step for this franchise?

Here’s a look at how the Dolphins performed in all areas, and some end-of-season recognition that will allow us to closely examine the 2021 season.

Passing Game: D

There are only nine teams in the NFL that had a worse cumulative passer rating (85.4) than the Dolphins, and four of those teams had a rookie quarterback at the helm, and another four lost their starting quarterback to an injury. It can be argued that Tua Tagovailoa had a decent second season (90.1 passer rating) as an NFL starter. Tagovailoa delivered a 7-5 record despite suffering two injuries, but there were four games where he threw for less than 200 yards. It’s abundantly clear Miami’s offensive line struggles handcuffed the offense, and limited playcalling.

Running Game: F

The Dolphins possessed one of the NFL’s worst rushing attacks no matter how its quantified. Miami ranked 30th in rushing yards per game (92.2), and 31st in rushing yards per attempt (3.55 per carry). Turning the backfield over to Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsey in the final month of the season helped the unit improve, but it was too little, too late. The Dolphins’ decision makers need to re-evaluate how they address the tailback position, considering the failures they’ve had improving that unit the past three offseasons.

Defending the pass: B

The Dolphins ranked among the league leaders in sacks (48) and pressures this season. Miami’s defense ranked seventh in opponents’ cumulative passer rating (85.4), and four of the teams that finished ahead of them are in the playoffs. Miami forced 1.5 takeaways per game, tying it with Green Bay for eighth in the NFL. For the second straight season, Miami leaned heavily on the coverage skills of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, which freed the defensive front and safeties up to blitz regularly. Both cornerbacks deserve more praise for making Miami’s scheme work.

Defending the run: C

The Dolphins had struggled defending the run all three of Flores’ seasons, and this year was no exception. Miami allowed opponents to gain 109.8 rushing yards per game and 4.4 yards per attempt. The Dolphins only held their opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards six times. While Miami’s young defensive linemen — Emmanuel Ogbah, Raekwon Davis, Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler — began to blossom, the linebacker unit took a step back, struggling with consistency, coverage and run fits.

Special teams: D

Special teams had been one of Miami’s strengths the first two seasons of Flores’ reign, but this year’s unit was a massive disappointment. Jason Sanders missed eight field goals and one extra point. Michael Palardy’s punts were average (40.1 net, and 39 percent downed inside …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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