Going on a massive winning streak that eventually set the tone for the remainder of the Miami Dolphins season in 2016, the team eventually needed that result in order to secure their first playoff berth since the 2008 season. Thanks to an appalling 1-4 start, Miami was put into this spot after it struggled to really get up to speed early in the campaign.
For the 2017 season, this cannot happen. Unlike in 2016 where the Miami Dolphins had a moderately easy midseason stretch, the Dolphins of 2017 will not receive the same blessing. Seeing most of their “easiest” games come early in the campaign, Miami cannot afford another appalling start if the team wants to have a shot at back-to-back playoff appearances.
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The team and head coach Adam Gase apparently know this as it was recently addressed by the team and local media. Speaking about the 1-4 start that hit the team hard last season, Gase was straightforward in both what he expects from his team this season and what they plan on doing to have a consistently good campaign in 2017.
“Let’s not have the peaks and valleys. Let’s have consistent improvement. We need to start fast in training camp and not waste time on guys getting in shape. Our guys understand how we’re going to do training camp so they can’t go too far away from the playbook. They need to keep up with everything and when they come back, be sure they hit the ground running.”
Opening this season with an easier schedule than the same time last year, the Dolphins will open the season with a home game against the in-state rival Buccaneers. Following this, Miami heads on the road for three weeks with games at the LA Chargers, at the rival Jets, and a technical home game against the New Orleans Saints in London.
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Completing the opening five game stretch, Miami returns Hard Rock Stadium for a Week 5 contest against the Tennessee Titans. Last year during this stretch, Miami lost at Seattle, New England and Cincinnati as well as suffering a home defeat to the very same Titans that were mentioned earlier.
With an extremely tough midseason schedule to follow this opening stretch, Miami will need at least three or four wins to feel safely in contention for a playoff berth in 2017. Anything less likely puts the team in the danger zone thanks to two of the final 12 games coming against New England as well as contests against the Falcons, Panthers, Ravens, Raiders, Broncos, and Chiefs.
If the Miami Dolphins can perform at a strong level to begin the 2017 campaign, it could quite possibly carry them into the postseason once again in 2017.