In 2019, Brian Flores was hired to take over a struggling Miami Dolphins franchise. That season, Flores led the Dolphins to a 5-11 record. Sure, the Dolphins were in last place in the AFC East, but everyone could see Flores was building a strong foundation. That foundation became apparent when, in Flores' second season, the Dolphins went 10-6.
The Dolphins largely won with defense as a result of a league-high 29 takeaways. Now, heading into 2021 the Dolphins and Flores will look to take another big jump forward. To take the next step towards becoming a true contender, the Dolphins need a stronger performance from Tua Tagovailoa.
Training camp will be all-important for Tagovailoa as he looks to progress and build continuity with the rest of the Dolphins' offensive personnel. Training camp for the Dolphins will begin July 27th at Baptist Health Training Center, Miami Gardens, FL
Miami Dolphins offseason news roundup
The Dolphins spent the 2021 offseason surrounding Tagovailoa with offensive talent. Anytime you bring in Will Fuller, your offense immediately becomes much more explosive. The former Houston Texan brings a ton of speed to Miami. Fuller had 16.6 yards per reception last season.
The offensive additions didn't stop there. Malcolm Brown was added to the Miami backfield, and Hunter Long was drafted in to provide tight end depth. More importantly, though, the Dolphins selected Jaylen Waddle as their first-round NFL Draft pick. Waddle, like Fuller, will add speed and explosiveness to an offense that desperately needs it.
On defense, the Dolphins cut Kyle Van Noy, traded Shaq Lawson and lost Davon Godchaux in free agency. To replace them, Miami signed Adam Butler from the New England Patriots, acquired Benardrick McKinney, and drafted Jaelan Phillips. Phillips is an intriguing young edge rusher with loads of potential.
Miami also made some changes in the secondary. Justin Coleman was acquired after playing the last two seasons in Detroit, and Jevon Holland was drafted in to compete for a starting safety spot.
It's hard to argue the Dolphins had anything but a great offseason. Tagovailoa got a good amount of reinforcements and the defense got even stronger.
Dolphins training camp predictions: Position battles to watch
The Dolphins have a very young offensive line. At times last season, they struggled to handle opposing defensive lines. Protecting the quarterback is absolutely paramount in the NFL, which is why the position battles at right tackle and left guard will be very intriguing to watch.
Robert Hunt, Jesse Davis, D.J. Fluker, Jermaine Eluemunor and versatile rookie Liam Eichenberg are competing for a spot at right tackle. It's a very big list of names that will need to be widdled down by the end of training camp. Hunt played a ton last season, but it's no sure thing he can win the job with so much veteran competition.
Meanwhile, at left guard, Michael Deiter, Eichenberg and Eluemunor will compete to start. The versatility of Eichenberg and Eluemunor is extremely valuable to have along the offensive line. This feels like a good spot for rookie Eichenberg to claim a starting position.
The edge position will also feature strong competition for two starting spots. Andrew Van Ginkel, Emmanuel Ogbah and Jaelan Phillips will all be in fierce competition.
Van Ginkel had a breakout season in 2020, Ogbah is a savvy veteran, and Phillips is a rookie with high upside. All three will play a good amount, but it should be fun to see if Phillips can be good enough to claim a starting spot right out of the gate.
Safety Jevon Holland is another rookie who could find himself starting in 2021 for the Dolphins. Holland will go up against Brandon Jones in the starting free safety role. Realistically, Holland has a very good shot at training camp to win the job from Jones.