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Miami Could Have A Top Offense IF….

Miami Could Have A Top Offense IF….

Statistics point to top 5 offenses needing one unit to be strong... but not as strong as you think.

Statistics point to top 5 offenses needing one unit to be strong… but not as strong as you think.

Top 5 offenses have several ingredients, but one ingredient is essential

The NFL generally labels the top offense in the league as the team that has the most net yards, and in that respect, the top 5 teams where the Saints, Falcons, Redskins, Patriots, and Cowboys in that order.

Only the Saints and Redskins didn’t make the playoffs.

However, most NFL football fans would argue that a better gauge of the top offenses is the teams that averages the most points per game. The top 5 teams in points scored were the Falcons, Saints, Patriots, Packers, and Cowboys.

Four of those five teams made the playoffs, with three of those teams making it to the Conference Championship, and two of those teams meeting in the Super Bowl.

The age-old adage of offense wins games, but defense wins Championships is still a valid argument, as  the last Superbowl was a display of a team with a top defense ending up victorious against the #1 offense.

Still, the game has evolved into a higher scoring game, where scoring points is a must, if you want to win.

Here is another stat: Offensive Line rankings of these top offensive teams: Cowboys 2nd, Packers 5th, Falcons 6th, Redskins 7th, Patriots 10th, and Saints 12th.

And just to put it out there, the Dolphins were ranked 30th.

Top 5 Offenses don’t always include a Top 5 Quarterback

Last season, in terms of points scored per game, the Dolphins ranked 17th, averaging 22.7 points a game, which is nothing to get too excited about. The Dolphins will be entering their second year under Coach Adam Gase and his offense, and the hope is that Miami’s understanding and production in this offensive scheme will only get better.

One thing that immediately jumps out is that Miami is instituting the idea of continuity this year, by resigning a lot of their free agents, they are heading into the 2017 season with only two new starters on offense: Left Guard Ted Larsen or Isaac Asiata, and tight end Julius Thomas. Having over 80% of your starting offense return will be a strong first step for Miami’s offense to progress this season.

Having said that, this all hinges on one main ingredient to have a top offense: Offensive Line.

But that ingredient is not as huge a scoop as many believe.

The Seahawks had the 12th ranked offense in yards and 18th in points, but had the 32nd ranked offensive line. Now, the caveat is that both Carroll and Wilson are Top 5 in their craft, so that does skew this a bit. But the Seahawks bested the rank of their O-Line by twenty spots in offensive output.

In a similar comparison, the Dolphins bested their O-Line’s ranking by thirteen spots in contrast to points scored.

Now, this is not to diminish the value of the O-Line. It’s true that a great line can push a team like the Cowboys, with a rookie QB, into the top 5 and the Post Season. Yet it’s also true that lesser talented lines like the Pats and the Saints can be supported by elite QBs.

But the bottom line is, you need a quality line (not a Top 5 OL) to have a Top 5 Offense.

I think it’s fair to say with certainty that Miami has quality everywhere on offense except on the Offensive Line (and maybe TE), where there are big question marks.

A solid Offensive Line can propel a offense into the Top 10

Now, these question marks may very well prove to be exclamation marks. But this is the million dollar question: will Mike Pouncey stay healthy; will Tunsil prove to be as good as billed and stay healthy; with James play up to his talent; will Asiata be able to play a part; will Bushrod, Urbik, and Larsen contribute more than revolving doors?

It’s also important to remember that in 2016 Pouncey went down quickly, Albert fell apart, Tunsil was injured,a rookie and playing a new position, and Thomas and Turner wasted valuable reps in preseason, and the Dolphins still managed to have the 17th ranked offense and make the playoffs.

I would say that Ryan Tannehill’s health is probably the biggest wild card affecting this offense. However, the more likely unsung hero, or villain, for the Dolphins will be the offensive line.

If the offensive line can stay relatively healthy and can continue to show improvements, then the Dolphins offense has a chance to be truly dangerous, because the smash-mouth rushing attack of Ajayi and the aerial assault filled with talented pass catchers in Landry, Stills, Parker, and Thomas will put pressure on every level of opposing defenses.

Now I don’t see this happening, but it’s important to understand that the margin is so small; if Miami could improve their average points per game by 4 to 5 points this would put them in the top 5 scoring offenses in the league.

Yes it will take far more than the 30th ranked Offensive Line to do it…. but it won’t take a Top 5 line.

Miami’s offense can be potent with modest gain in their O-Line play

Last year’s schedule was far easier than this one, and that’s a factor. But if Miami can make fair gains in their line play this season, say a high-teens ranking, you could very well see an offensive output creeping near the top ten.

I don’t see nearly enough depth or talent on the O-Line for the Fins to creep into a Top 5 offense, but I could see them getting just outside or inside the Top 10.

Last year’s O-Line had a lot going against it. Much of those issues are gone. Yes, there are some new ones, but the key as I see it is health… and especially the health of Mike Pouncey. Even with some deficient areas, and a tad light on depth, a lucky season of health could find Miami O-Line good enough to make the biggest IF on the team a nice surprise. Go Fins!!!


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  • Dunner

    What is it with the “negative Nellys” lately???

    Why will our defense stink??? Almost undoubtedly will be better than last years. Can’t be much worse, will it?
    Just the return of Reshad Jones will impact drives/games. Our draftees are unknown sure; but they bring in youth and health, not to mention athletic ability, speed (ala: Atlanta Falcons). Timmons is a proven Vet at a position that many 30 years old have thrived in, why wouldn’t he? I can tell you that he did not have a Ndamukong Suh in front of him in Pittsburgh keeping him clean! Kiko is not playing out of position, when he came into the league he played the “will” and had 150 tackles, he now is returning to his natural position.

    I’m done defending the O-Line; Pouncey is the key and a HUGE question mark. James is on a 1 year deal basically, perform or he’ll be somewhere else next season, James steps up this season. Guards are a mystery to say the least, to be continued.

    With all that uncertainty last year, with all the defensive injuries, we still made the playoffs. This offense is going to move the ball this season regardless who the guards are. It is the guards that may dictate if it is through the air or on the ground or both. So Miami will have a top rated offense “if” the guards are what most of you think they are and can not become.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    • admin

      As for OL health, and specifically Tunsil and Pouncey, it’s critical. Even with decent play at the G, given both T’s and C, this will be improved, even if that improvement in consistency simply through health. That’s a huge thing for a OL. If Miami’s OL can get anywhere from low 20’s to high teens ranking, it would be huge. As a base, uninjured D, I do think it will be better than last year, for sure. And I have a feeling that Burke is less a HC prospect and more of DC than Vance, who was the opposite. So his calling and scheming may be a nice addition as well. Of course, to be fair to the “negative Nellys”, all this is contingent on several factors. Miami Fans, aside from last year, aren’t used to plans working out in along, long time. As for Lemmus, he has been screaming about the Guard play, and correctly so, for two seasons. I am firmly in the camp of OL are essential, but I keep digging into this team build and I see that value is how they are going no matter what. So they will fill this team up as the value comes and they won’t be pressured. Asiata is a great value player. Next year they will fill out the line with some players as the value comes… it’s the only way to maximize your effort. And as much as it makes me antsy, I’m riding on their plan till it turns to a disaster due to 2016’s success. Likely the “negative Nellys” will end up right, unless Miami has something special going on… and my hunch, mostly surrounding Gase, is that they do.

    • Lemmus

      …raises hand …Negative Nelly here …wish i could be a cheerleader

      …in 2016 we were 10-6 …but 8-2 in games decided by 7 or less
      …and those 8 wins were vs teams with a 31-80-1 record
      …so we needed to get better …but did we? …really?

      …our LBs sucked with the exception of Alonzo who was mediocre at MLB, not great
      …so we drafted two LBs, who were MLBs throughout college. to play outside
      …and signed Timmons as a MLB …30 yo and can’t cover …a 2 down LB …wait and see
      …and brought back Misi who is mediocre at best at can’t cover
      …so our new LB corps is 4 guys who all played MLB last year plus an injury hobbled average joe
      …and you want me to get excited? …that’s just too many ifs for me, eh

      …Hayes looks like a plus at DE and can play DT
      …but Branch? …he was a filler at DE last year at best and yet we gave him a big contract
      …Wake is a huge ? …he’s great when he’s there …but the wear and tear is as well
      …Suh is a mountain but he sucks up so much cap we can’t afford to build around him
      …same goes for Jones
      …as for the other dbs …if, if, if, and if
      …and you want me to get excited?

      …2 very good WRs in Stills and Landry but neither is a #1
      …an expensive ’16 draft no show setting on the bench so far
      …and Parker who could be both a #1 and a pro bowler has not done a damn thing as yet to prove it
      …we did add 2 TEs that are complimentary and should be better than those who left …should be
      …but the OL looks …oh why waste my breath …”if” doesn’t begin to cover it
      …an average QB so far wearing a knee brace
      …and then there is Ajayi who had 3 massive games last year when the OL showed up …and otherwise produced a less than stellar 3+ yd average …consistency would be nice, eh …and an OL

      …and mj …its one thing to talk about the Pats OL as being low cost but look how much they paid to keep it this year …and their OL coach is one of, if not the, best in the game …ours is, so far, not in the race

      …so yeah, negative nelly me would be taking the under at this point if I were a gambler 🙂

      …and has any of you looked at the 2018 cap as yet …talk about a black hole 🙁

      …on the up side, I’d love it if all you cheerleaders turned out to finally get it right …I really am a fins fan, eh …hard as that may be to believe this time of year

      • Dunner

        Finally???? Last year doesn’t count????

        • Lemmus

          …lol Dun …I don’t seem to recollect you positing a 10-6 season before camp last year …but that could be the onset of dementia (as my better half claims)

          …and I do hope you’re right this time …just have my doubts, eh 🙂

          …forgive me for thinking we went deep (and expensively) into FA for two Gs that no other team even made offers to …heck, Bushrod was set to retire …and a 5th is the only competition?

          …now if Gase can whisper an OL out of that combo, great …but if he can’t, I don’t think Ajayi has another 200 yd game …and TH doesn’t finish the year

          …you could be right about the defense being “that” much better …Jones alone would be cause for optimism …but the LB situation is loose as a goose until training camp answers some serious questions about who is doing what, where, and how well

          …guess we’ll all just have to wait and see who was right …its one contest I’d rather lose

          • admin

            Honestly, I’m only concerned about filling the LG spot… that’s it. RG could be manned by Urbik and I liked what he brought. That LG though… he must block alone… must. If the C needs to help him then that mean the RG will block alone. If one of these guys can pass block without help even 75% of the time I think we’ll be fine. Asiata seems more a RG. I’m not sure if a LG is standing out at this point. This of course is beyond health and depth. Odds are you will stand correct Lemmus. Only a bit of luck and brilliance can navigate this course.

  • Samson

    I think our offense could score more points just for the fact our defense will stink. Harris will obviously not help vs the run and Timmons is coming from a different scheme not to mention his age. Kiko is playing a new position although I have hope for our 22nd round pick we will still be awful vs the run. If we play a lot of catch up We could have scewed numbers. If our defense is somehow mediocre our o-line will kill us. I’ll say again last year we had James coming back and a lot of us thought he could be a pro bowl type player. Pouncey was coming back and we had hope he could stay healthy. We had Albert and Tunsil fell in our laps. The only real question was RG and depth. Now both guard spots are a question, James didn’t take a step forward, Tunsil should be good but Pouncey might play 2 games. So really LT is the only spot I’m comfortable with. Maybe Larsen, Asiata, James and Bushrod step up but that’s a lot of questions for one unit

    • admin

      Samson, like I say to Lemmus, I can’t say you aren’t pragmatic in everything you say… but for one aspect. Let’s say Belichick, or Carroll, or Arians was the coach. Do you think they could make this lineup produce? I see that they could and do well with it. Gase is in his second year, and I don’t expect him to be on this level at this point, or maybe ever. But I do seem him as a level below. So I expect most of his plans to work. Now he might crap out this year and prove to be two steps below as an above avg. coach and not a good + one. Then if that’s the case this FO needs to be very good to get him the talent to compensate for him being only pretty good at coaching when he goes against the better teams and coaches. I see it at this point as the opposite: Above avg. FO and good coaching. Maybe this FO will prove to be better. I like their plan and guts to stick with it, but in the end that’s the easiest part. They must produce. So this season is about a clear evaluation of the FO with 2 drafts under their belt and Gase, who is entering his 2nd season. If Gase is actually good or better, then I expect to see some of these players rise more than we expect and his system to shelter their weaknesses and force teams to deal with their strengths. Then there is Burke… he needs to be at the very least above avg. So, in a sterile environment it’s hard to refute you or Lemmus, but the caveat is if Gase is as good as billed, or better, expect enhancement due to his leadership, planning, intelligence, and execution.

  • Steve

    How to dismantle the Patriots when it counts required steadfast balance.