This week, we had an incredible opportunity to chat with Antwan Staley of Dolphins Wire, part of USA Today’s NFL team coverage.
On the eve of today’s game versus the Tennessee Titans, here’s what Antwan had to say about the Dolphins upcoming season:
FF: Who has been the most improved player on offense and defense heading into this season?
AS: On offense, that is hard to say considering the team’s first string had so limited work during the preseason. I know Kenyan Drake looked impressive but he also did at the end of last season.
Defensively, I would have to go with Vincent Taylor as he has grown so much since the team drafted him. I expect him to be a contributor stopping the run this year.
FF: Which rookie will have a lasting impact on the Dolphins season?
AS: Definitely, have to go with Minkah Fitzpatrick. Sure, Gesicki will flash at times and he could become a star, but I think Fitzpatrick could be a big-time player during the first game of the season.
FF: Where do you see Tannehill this season in terms of performance versus his 2016 campaign? What has changed since his injury?
AS: I still see Tannehill as the same quarterback that he was prior to the injury. Sure He may have some rustiness because he hasn’t played a regular season game in 21 months, but Tannehill can definitely return to the form that he was prior to the ACL injuries he suffered.
FF: Elaborate if you will about Coach Gase’s status beyond 2018. Is he safe if he doesn’t post a winning record?
AS: I believe Adam Gase will be back in 2019 barring a 3-13 or worst finish. Now if the Dolphins don’t get into the playoffs, Gase will definitely be on the hot seat entering the 2019 campaign as Stephen Ross is determined to turn the Dolphins into a winner. His patience is starting to run thin as it is as he questioned some of the moves Gase and the Dolphins front office made during the offseason.
FF: Finally: What’s your record prediction and why for the Miami Dolphins?
AS: I have the Dolphins going 7-9 this year. While I think Tannehill will be fine, they’re still too many questions on both sides of the ball. Not sure if the offensive line will be as good as people expect. Also, the Dolphins run defense appears it is going to be an issue all year with the absence of Suh. While it wouldn’t shock me to see the Dolphins win nine games, I think everything would need to go right for that to happen.
While I would predict 8-8, Antwan is correct in his prediction that the Dolphins will have to have a little luck in their side to eek out a few more wins.
We thank Antwan Staley for his time and conversation and be sure to follow Antwan @antwanstaley, catch him on the radio on WQAM Miami, and on various Miami Dolphins fansite podcasts.