The Miami Dolphins’ offseason program turns to home this week with the start of organized team activity (OTA) practices.
What are the biggest storylines as Mike McDaniel enters his second year as Dolphins coach? We break them all down in our 2023 Miami Dolphins OTAs preview.
2023 Miami Dolphins OTAs Preview
This week marks the start of Phase Three of the NFL’s voluntary offseason program. The league allows teams to hold 10 days of OTA practices, under these conditions: No live contact, but individual, 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
Year 4 Tua Tagovailoa
The last time we saw Tua Tagovailoa on the practice field, Kris Kringle hadn’t yet begun his flight.
That will change this week. Tagovailoa has long been cleared medically after a second stint in the concussion protocol ended his season prematurely.
Observers will be watching Tagovailoa for two things:
- Does he look mentally and physically sharp after multiple brain injuries in 2022?
- Is he in line for another leap forward in McDaniel’s system?
Tagovailoa was the league’s most efficient passer in 2022 but could only watch the team’s first playoff appearance since 2016 due to health.
“It’s been a lot better of an offseason knowing that I don’t have to learn a new system,” Tagovailoa said last month. “I don’t have to learn new formations, new motions, new snap points, new cadences. It’s good to know that I already have a year under my belt within the offense. There’s always going to be nuances, but it’s not like a drastic change. So this is really good.
“I mean, this is good because of the guys that we have as well that have been with us last year under the same system. We’re all really, really excited to get things going.”
Other Miami Dolphins Injuries
Tagovailoa was one of more than a dozen Dolphins players who couldn’t finish the season.
A long list of significant contributors ended the year on injured reserve, including projected 2023 starters Emmanuel Ogbah (triceps), Nik Needham (Achilles), Austin Jackson (ankle), and Brandon Jones (knee).
That doesn’t even account for stars like Bradley Chubb and Xavien Howard, who played hurt much of the year.
“I’m healthy now,” Howard said earlier this offseason. “All I needed was some rest. With a groin injury, week in and week out, especially playing defensive back and playing a lot of man [coverage], it put me down a little bit. But I’m better now. I feel like I’m going to do better this year also. I’m just ready for it.”
Vic Fangio’s Time
The anticipation locally to see what new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio can do with what, on paper, is a talented group is second only to the excitement of seeing Tagovailoa back on the field.
Fangio was the Dolphins’ biggest free agent signing this cycle, and while we have a general idea of what Miami will look like schematically, he did promise some new wrinkles in 2023.
“There’s a few things that I came up with that I’m anxious to try,” Fangio said. “We’ll try them in OTAs at some point and then in training camp as a good fit for the other things we do.”
Jalen Ramsey in Aqua and Orange
We mentioned the Dolphins were loaded on defense. The trade for Jalen Ramsey in March is a big part of that talent stockpile.
Ramsey — a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro — was a relative steal for Miami. All it took was a mid-round draft pick and a backup tight end.
Ramsey’s coverage skills and position flexibility will make him a valuable chess piece for Fangio.
“This defense, this secondary, you look at it on paper, it’s something that you would definitely want to be a part of,” Ramsey said after the trade. “I know I’m not the only person who wanted to be a part of it and will want to be a part of it in the future.”
Offensive Line Questions
After a series of injuries to Tagovailoa in 2022, you’d think that protecting him would be priority No. 1. But the Dolphins made no major moves on the offensive line this offseason, other than switching position coaches. (Matt Applebaum is out, and Butch Barry is in.)
They should feel good about three spots in their starting five — Terron Armstead at left tackle, Connor Williams at center, and Robert Hunt at right guard.
But there better be an open competition at the other two spots. Liam Eichenberg (left guard) and Austin Jackson (right tackle) are big-time question marks.
Pushing them for spots in the starting lineup will be Robert Jones, Dan Feeney, Isaiah Wynn, and Cedric Ogbuehi, among others.
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