Miami Could Have A Top Offense IF….
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!!!