As playoff team in 2016, the Miami Dolphins are the main competition for the New England Patriots in the AFC East. Here are five reasons why they won’t win it.
The New England Patriots have been on a historic run since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won their first AFC East division crown and Super Bowl in 2001. Since then New England has won the AFC East for 14 of the past 16 seasons. The only hiccups were 2002 (a post-Super Bowl letdown) and 2008 (Brady missed 15 and ¾ games). Even in those two seasons the Patriots tied for the division lead in wins and missed the playoffs based on tie-breakers.
The AFC East teams have made runs at the Patriots with the Dolphins and Jets trading ten win seasons in 2003 and 2004 and the Jets winning ten games again in 2006. In 2009 and 2010 the Jets made their mini-run with Rex Ryan. In 2014 the Buffalo Bills seemed on the upswing, in 2015 it was the Jets seeming to break out, and last year was the Miami Dolphins.
While the Bills and Jets before them broke down the next season and slid back to .500 and below, the Dolphins are trying to buck that trend in 2017. The Patriots have a lot to fear from Miami as they advanced to the playoffs before falling in the Wild Card round behind young superstars on offense Jay Ajayi and Jarvis Landry.
Just 23, Ajayi exploded on the scene in 2016 rushing for 1,272 yards and a 4.9 average (all stats from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted). A 2015 fifth-round draft pick from Boise State who fell due to concerns about his knee, Ajayi put those concerns behind him as he doled out the punishment between the white lines to defensive players trying to take him down.
Landry was overlooked coming out of LSU due to teammate Odell Beckham Jr. garnering most of the attention. All Landry has done since being picked one spot after Jimmy Garoppolo is snag 288 catches in his first three season in the NFL. He has improved each season increasing his yards per reception from 9.0 to 10.5 to 12.1 last season. Landry has emerged as one of the best slot receivers in the NFL.
On defense, the Dolphins had a resurgent Kiko Alonso at linebacker, ageless wonder Cameron Wake bringing the pass rush and All Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh stuffing ball-carriers in the middle of the defensive line. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dolphins snagged two defensive stalwarts with pass rusher Charles Harris of Missouri in the first round and linebacker Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State.
Despite these great players on the roster, the Dolphins are due for a downswing in 2017. Just like the 2014 Bills and 2015 Jets, tough times are coming for Miami in their attempt to knock-off New England. Here are five reasons why the Dolphins will not even make the playoffs, let alone knock the Patriots off the top of the AFC East