Success for any NFL team likely means making the playoffs and potentially making a deep run with a chance at winning the Super Bowl. However, while the term of success is used loosely in this statement, it still rings true when we are talking about the Miami Dolphins, especially with the team coming off it’s first playoff appearance since 2008.
If the Dolphins want to repeat their playoff push from last season ad prove to all that 2016 was not a fluke for the team, then it will need it’s entire roster to step up this season. Specifically though, the Miami Dolphins will need the following three players to play well as their success may single handedly tip the scales in either a good or bad direction for this team.
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Ryan Tannehill — Quarterback
Who else? Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be quite possible the Miami Dolphins most important player in 2017. While backup quarterback Matt Moore played admirably last season when he was called upon following Tannehill’s knee injury, Tannehill has proven to be the main starter for the Dolphins going forward.
Speaking of that knee injury, that could be something to watch as the year progresses. While Tannehill looks to be fully healthy now, the knee can be finicky at times. If problems resurface, it could spell doom and gloom for another extremely successful campaign from the Miami Dolphins.
Overall, Tannehill needs to have a career year this season. Getting the touchdown totals up and the interception total down will be key. If this happens and Tannehill continues to prove that he is “the man” in Miami then the Dolphins will have another successful season in 2017.
Reshad Jones — Safety
Seen as the Miami Dolphins most important defensive player since his breakout campaign in 2015, Reshad Jones continued to impress last season until a shoulder injury caused him to miss the team’s final 11 games of the season and playoffs. Expected to battle back in 2017, Jones will have to be the senior and vocal leader of the Dolphins secondary.
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With a new safety playing across from him in either Nate Allen or T.J. McDonald — after week eight — and inconsistency at cornerback likely to remain from last season, Jones needs to be the leader of the secondary. Setting the tempo week in and week out for the Miami Dolphins defense, Jones will need to be a leader for the team.
If Jones continues to put up good numbers this season and is the leader that the team needs him to be then the Dolphins defense should see better overall results in 2017.
Jay Ajayi — Running Back
The breakout player from the Miami Dolphins last season, Jay Ajayi is not only lined up for even more reps in 2017 but he is also set up to potentially be in contention for the NFL’s rushing title this season. Thank’s to Ajayi’s performance last season, Miami was able to press forward, making Ajayi one of the team’s most important players last season.
With the team looking to make Ajayi a workhorse type of back in 2017, his role with the team and his importance to it will increase dramatically. If he can replicate his averages from 2016 in terms of yard per rush, then he will be the league’s rushing yard champion this season.
However, Ajayi needs to play a major role in this offense no matter what. If he doesn’t meet his numbers from 2016, Miami will be put behind the eight ball very quickly. If he does match those averages though, he could propel the Miami Dolphins back to the playoffs in 2017.