Are the Dolphins a Legit Super Bowl Contender This Year?

By  //  September 27, 2023

The Miami Dolphins, propelled by their quarterback prodigy Tua Tagovailoa, are staking their claim as an NFL powerhouse.

Their odyssey in 2022 has laid down a significant prelude for a potentially riveting 2023 season. Their offensive ferocity is something many are talking about.

In this narrative, we’ll traverse the Dolphins’ current course, accentuating Tagovailoa’s determination and exceptional feats, marked by their notable victory over the Broncos on September 24. As the sports world awaits for the Dolphins’ impending clash with the Bills in Week 4, let’s rewind and relive the defining moments of their current season and their Super Bowl chances.

Dolphins’ 2022 Opening Saga

The Miami Dolphins started last season with a 3-0 record after a 21-19 home win against the Buffalo Bills on September 25, 2022. The Dolphins finished the regular season 9-8 and they eventually lost in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, 34-31 on the road against the same Bills team on January 15.

The 2022 Chapter of Tua Tagovailoa

During the 2022 season, Tagovailoa navigated through challenges, primarily concussions, but emerged with commendable displays. Bolstered by the Dolphins’ infrastructure, the strategic insights of their offensive head coach Mike McDaniel, and allies like Tyreek Hill, his prowess was on full display. 

Tagovailoa notably amped his target depth from 7 yards (29th in the league) in 2021 to 10 yards (2nd in the league) in 2022, boasting an 8.9 yards per attempt. These accomplishments didn’t go unnoticed, as he topped the league with a passer rating of 105.5. Injuries, unfortunately, made him miss five crucial matches, including the Wild Card defeat to the Bills.

Dolphins’ Stellar Start in 2023

As 2023 unfolds, the Dolphins are on a fiery trail with a 3-0 start, with Tagovailoa leading from the front. His partnership with Tyreek Hill has already chalked up 1,024 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions in just three games. Hill alone has accounted for 25 receptions, 412 yards, and four touchdowns. 

The experienced Raheem Mostert has also shined with 240 rushing yards and six touchdowns from 41 attempts. 

While concussions from the previous season loom as a potential concern, the Dolphins’ strategy is geared towards safeguarding Tagovailoa. His commitment is unwavering. His endeavors, like enrolling in Jiu-Jitsu classes to enhance safety during falls, are testament to his dedication.

“You think it’s easy, just fall down and don’t hit your head. But it’s a lot more to it than that,” Tagovailoa explained.

Tagovailoa is in good health, supported by exceptional star wide receivers Hill and Jaylen Waddle, who combined for 3,066 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns last season.  The sky is the limit for the Dolphins. If healthy, this team can make a deep playoff run and even reach the Super Bowl and win it

The Dolphins will face off against the Carolina Panthers in Week 6 of the regular season, where they are a 7-point favorite according to the North Carolina sportsbooks

They could easily start the season 6-0 or 5-1 playing teams like the Giants and Panthers in the upcoming weeks. The one loss I can see happening is in Week 4 against the Bills next Sunday. If the Dolphins get past the Bills, they could be 4-0 before hosting the Giants in Week 5 and the Panthers in Week 6, which are winnable games.

The Dolphins must take advantage of winnable games in the schedule if they want to fight for the AFC East title, improve their playoff position and eventually contend for the Super Bowl. Having home field advantage can make or break a season for playoff teams and the Dolphins are aware of it.

Miami finishes the season with a couple of tough matchups, as they visit Baltimore in Week 17 and host Buffalo to end the season in Week 18, reinforcing the importance of beating teams they’re supposed to beat early on.

The Broncos vs. Dolphins Week 3 Showdown

In their latest encounter against the Broncos, Tagovailoa was in sublime form, completing 23 of 26 passes for 309 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. This led the Dolphins to notch up a franchise record, scoring 70 points in a single game. 

Furthermore, Tagovailoa’s victory marked an NFL record of 10 consecutive wins over Super Bowl-winning coaches. (Sean Payton coaches the Broncos and he helped lead the Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIII, 31-17 against the Colts on February 1, 2009 in Tampa). 

Although Jaylen Waddle’s absence (he was on concussion protocol after the September 17 win against the Patriots) was felt, the game wasn’t short of stars, with rookie De’Von Achane rushing for 203 yards and two touchdowns from 18 attempts, and Tyreek Hill catching nine passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.

On the opposing side, the Broncos struggled to find their rhythm. Notably, this marked a career-first for Russell Wilson, starting a season with a 0-3 record.As the weeks roll on, the synergy between Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense, navigating Mike McDaniel’s innovative system, promises a tantalizing match against the Bills in Week 4.