The Miami Dolphins finished the 2016 NFL season with a 10-6 record and the team's first playoff berth since 2008. While they failed to win their playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the fact that they made the postseason was a huge accomplishment for the franchise and its first year coach Adam Gase.
Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill Look Like a Worthy Coach/QB Duo
While Gase and Tannehill won't be confused with Shula and Marino anytime soon, they look like they will be in Miami together for a long time. Tannehill had the best quarterback rating of his career in 2016 as well as his highest completion percentage and yards per attempt in his career last season. While Matt Moore filled in admirably in the final three games after Tannehill hurt his knee, the team and its fans saw what they were missing when he wasn't on the field. Gase was brought in as the head coach because of his reputation as a “quarterback whisperer.” Many felt if Gase couldn't get production out of Tannehill, then no coach could.
Jay Ajayi Was a Revelation
Running back Jay Ajayi had three games in which he rushed for more than 200 yards. Overall, he finished fourth in the league in rushing with 1,272 yards in 15 games. Ajayi averaged 4.9 yards per carry while scoring eight touchdowns on the ground, and he was as valuable for fantasy owners as he was for the Dolphins in the second half of the season. Ajayi quickly became the focal point of the Dolphins’ offensive attack and one of the surprising breakout players of the 2016 season.
The Kiko Alonso Trade Worked Out Well
In March 2016, the Dolphins made a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that netted them cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso. Alonso had been dealing with the aftereffects of an ACL injury that had impacted his effectiveness over the past two seasons. However, in 2016, he had 115 combined tackles to go along with two interceptions. It was his best season since he was a rookie with the Buffalo Bills in 2013.
Mario Williams Was a Dud
Mario Williams had been among the best pass rushers in the league when he was in his prime. Unfortunately, it looks like he is past his prime as he was routinely benched by the Dolphins late in the season. Set to make almost $8.5 million in 2017, he could become a cap casualty at some point before the 2017 season begins.
The Miami Dolphins overcame a 1-4 start to have one of the franchise's best seasons in recent memory. While they may not have enough to compete with New England or other elite AFC teams, they have the building blocks in place to continue to be successful in the future. A playoff appearance sends a message to the fan base that the team is headed in the right direction under Gase and that it is looking to be competitive for the near future.