3 Bold Moves To Fix the Miami Dolphins in 2024

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Mike McDaniel’s Miami Dolphins offseason got a lot more complicated after a second straight late-season collapse.

3 Bold Moves To Fix the Miami Dolphins in 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s hard to imagine a more disappointing end to a season than what the Miami Dolphins put on tape in their final three games. They went from possible 1 seed to making tee times over the course of a consequential 14 days.

Losses to the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, and Kansas City Chiefs in succession proved for all time that the 2023 Dolphins were pretenders, not contenders. Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel wasn’t ready to sift through the wreckage here late Saturday in the aftermath of his team’s 26-7 no-show loss to the Chiefs.

He’ll have a better perspective when he meets with reporters back home Monday, following exit interviews and some time to quietly reflect.

“We had goals that we didn’t accomplish tonight,” McDaniel said. “I think one of the reasons it hurts so bad is that nobody on this team harbored all the excesses or all the different variables that people talk about, injuries or weather. We came here to win, and it didn’t happen. We fell short of our goals.”

If McDaniel doesn’t want to find himself saying something similar in 12 months, he needs to be prepared to make some big-time changes over the next eight months.

Miami Dolphins’ 2024 Offseason To-Do List

Keep All Options Open at Quarterback

Well, all options except for two:

  1. Don’t cut Tua Tagovailoa. His 2024 compensation ($23.2 million) is fully guaranteed.
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  3. Don’t give Tagovailoa a top-of-the-market contract extension (which would pay him in excess of $50 million annually).

Everything else should be considered.

If Tagovailoa wants to sign to a team-friendly extension that wouldn’t commit the Dolphins to him beyond 2025, give it serious thought.

RELATED: New Contracts Coming for Tua Tagovailoa, Christian Wilkins?

But a smarter option would be to have him play 2024 under his current deal, and then reassess in 12 months. And if there’s a way to upgrade at the position — either through the draft or by trading for a veteran — do it.

What McDaniel cannot do is repeat Adam Gase’s mistake. Gase, like McDaniel, inherited a first-round quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) who had obvious limitations. Gase doubled and then tripled down on Tannehill, who like Tagovailoa disappeared in big moments.

That decision ultimately got Gase fired.

If McDaniel believes Tagovailoa is not the guy to lead the Dolphins to the Super Bowl, he should do whatever he can to find a guy who can.

“I think everyone has to get better because if you are not getting better, you are staying the same and that is as bad as getting worse,” McDaniel said post-game.

“It would be a far cry from putting blame on one player. He made some good plays tonight. I know t here are some plays that we would want to have back. I know there were some calls he liked and some I would want back. I think that goes across the board.”

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Take Hard Look at Injury Operation

Hurt players tend to get hurt, and while Tagovailoa for the first time was able to start every game, he was an outlier on the Dolphins’ roster.

Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb, Raheem Mostert, Terron Armstead, and Xavien Howard all entered the season with extensive injury history. All missed multiple games in 2023.

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier this offseason needs to avoid such red flags in free agency and the draft.

But the blame isn’t his alone. What could strength coach Dave Puloka and head athletic trainer Kyle Johnston do better to both prevent injuries and speed up the time it takes to recover from them?

We don’t have the answer to those questions. McDaniel better get those answers to avoid injuries blowing up the Dolphins’ Super Bowl chances for a third straight season.

Shake Up the Staff

As we wrote Saturday, special teams coordinator Danny Crossman has probably worn out his welcome in Miami.

But he shouldn’t be the only fall guy for a catastrophic end to the season. The Dolphins had issues in 2023 that went far beyond the kicking game.

The boldest move McDaniel could make is one he might not be willing to consider: Relinquishing or at least sharing play-calling duties.

Frank Smith this week will interview for the Carolina Panthers head coach opening.

If he doesn’t get it, he should have an enhanced role in 2024, if for no other reason than it’ll free McDaniel up to manage the game, which hasn’t been one of his strengths so far.

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