With the 2022 NFL season fast approaching, the South Florida Sun Sentinel examines 10 storylines to watch in a 10-part series ahead of the First day of Miami Dolphins training campwhich is scheduled for July 27.
Just landing left tackle Terron Armstead in free agency was already a home run for the Miami Dolphins, but they then outdid themselves the following day by acquiring star receiver Tyreek Hill in a blockbuster trade with the Chiefs from Kansas City.
The decision of the speedster who won six Pro Bowls in six NFL seasons catapulted Miami to simply address an area where improvement was needed to meaningfully push its offense to the next level.
But can Hill, who has 6,630 regular season receiving yards and 56 touchdowns while being a playoff perennial with the Chiefs, have the same impact on the Dolphins offense?
The Chiefs have been a juggernaut over the past few years between Hill, quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce and a running game. The Dolphins, meanwhile, haven’t been in the top 10 in points since 2001 or top 10 in yards since 1995.
The hope is that inserting Hill as possibly the greatest offensive playmaker Miami has had this side of debuting Ricky Williams is a key to altering this recent history. That, along with the progress of third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and second-year wide Jaylen Waddle as well as new coach Mike McDaniel’s spirit and running game, can reverse the offensive woes that have become too synonymous with the franchise in the past. two decades.
But if Hill can’t produce anything close to what he did in Kansas City, it will be an indictment of what surrounds him in Miami.
The Dolphins don’t need Tagovailoa to be Mahomes or McDaniel to be Andy Reid or tight end Mike Gesicki to be Kelce. But if Hill gets more attention from opposing defenses and Tagovailoa can’t get him the ball or the other playmakers don’t keep the covers honest, it could last a long season after Miami invests five draft picks. and $120 million over four years for Hill. .
As the Dolphins prepare to report to training camp on July 26, Hill has spent the offseason acclimating to Tagovailoa. The two started throwing and catching early in the off-season training program, and Hill was a regular participant thanks to voluntary organized team activities and a mandatory minicamp. Hill talked about his new quarterback.
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“At first I thought it was going to be something crazy, the ball going all over the place,” Hill said after an OTA session, “but Tua probably has one of the nicest balls I’ve ever caught. of my life. It’s very catchable.
To some, Hill may have gone over the top with some of his praise for Tagovailoa this offseason in what was an obvious attempt to instill confidence in the quarterback. On his new podcast, he said Tagovailoa had an edge over Mahomes in accuracy, while Mahomes had the better arm. Many have taken it as a blasphemous notion to even say that Tagovailoa has an advantage in all aspects of the position.
Tagovailoa’s arm strength is the main concern when it comes to whether Hill can maintain his previous production levels. With Hill’s elite speed, he’ll open up deep. There is no doubt about it regardless of the hedging schemes he will face. When that happens, will Tagovailoa consistently hit him deep or will Hill have to wait for those long passes, allowing a defender to catch up and break up play?
Tagovailoa has prioritized improving his strength this offseason, and being another year away from the devastating hip injury that cut short his college career in November 2019 should help him create the torque needed to deliver. the deep ball. His teammates and Tagovailoa’s new offensive coaches have agreed that he can make any throw required of him this offseason.
The Dolphins won’t be as reliant on the long pass either. McDaniel’s offense will feature the running game and an out-of-bounds scheme that can make Armstead another version of San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams, who McDaniel had in his previous stop as offensive coordinator and coordinator. racing game. A revamped backfield sees Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel now in Miami, along with fullback Alec Ingold.
The passing game will emphasize yards after the catch, so Tagovailoa can get the ball to Hill, Waddle and slot receiver Cedrick Wilson below in space, and effective game design can create lanes so that they have a clear field once the ball is in their hands.
When Hill arrived in Miami, one thing that appealed to him and agent Drew Rosenhaus was how McDaniel used 49ers Deebo Samuel in innovative ways, including in the ground game. Something similar might be in store for Hill with the Dolphins.