As the Dolphins prepare for a new era in Miami, the era of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the 2020 regular season should set the table for the eventual franchise quarterback. While Tua’s health is always at the forefront of any forecast for potential success, there are also a few players on the Dolphins’ offense that will be critical to his early success and progress when he does step in as the Dolphins signal-caller. Let’s take a look at those players and how they can aid in Tua’s transition to the NFL, as well as making sure this Dolphins’ offense is as dangerous as possible in 2020 and beyond.
Key players on the Dolphins’ offense for Tua’s transition to the NFL
Fitzpatrick is in place to be the perfect bridge quarterback for the Dolphins, and by all accounts, seems to embrace his role as such. Fitzpatrick has settled comfortably into his role with Miami, both as a player and as a leader. His performances during the 2019 season, despite a talent depleted roster, demonstrate that he can be the guiding voice for Tua as he develops.
The 37-year old has seen plenty during his NFL career, both as a backup and as a starter. He’s seen both major slumps and major highs during his journeyman career and has learned a variety of offensive systems throughout. His knowledge and leadership can help the Dolphins’ transition to Tagovailoa, as well as his development thereafter.
Prior to the 2019 season, Parker was associated with the word “bust,” and his time with the Dolphins seemed to be nearing a close. Then Parker found his groove, to the tune of 72 receptions, 1,202 yards receiving, and 9 touchdowns during the 2019 regular season. He became a favorite target for Fitzpatrick while producing against some of the NFL’s top defensive backs.
Much like with Tua, health will always be a concern for Parker. However, it seems that as the Dolphins organization finally found stability under general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores, Parker has found his way. Gone are the days of Adam Gase and Joe Philbin, who made head-scratching decisions and offensive changes aplenty, and now there is a culture set in Miami.
Parker demonstrated what he is capable of in 2019, and the 27-year old may have just scratched the surface of his potential. Should Parker stay focused and healthy, he will be a key ingredient to Tua’s development, especially if he can continue to grow as a number one receiver.
Parker’s development doesn’t mean he has to be in the discussion of top receivers in the league, but he needs to be close, or at least better than the Parker we saw in 2019 Parker. If he can maintain that level of play, or exceed it, then Tua will have a key target to lean on when he lines up under center.
Grant is one of the fastest players in the league, but he has not developed into the kind of offensive threat that is becoming the norm for players with his skill set in the league today. What Grant has demonstrated as a returner indicates that he can be utilized by the Dolphins in a similar manner to how Tyreek Hill has been utilized by the Kansas City Chiefs.
If Grant can take a step forward as a receiver in 2020, then Tua will have another option when he takes control of the offense, one that could produce explosive results if he can develop into a consistent contributor. If Grant can develop further, it gives the Dolphins a receiver that can take the top off of defenses, and he could become that true deep threat that the team currently lacks.
Karras, 27, flashed some solid potential when he took over for David Andrews at center for the New England Patriots in 2019, starting 15 games. Karras allowed just two sacks and 14 pressures in 15 games while being a key component of the Patriots’ screen game.
Karras does have some versatility, but he was brought in on a prove-it deal (one-year, $3 million) and has a golden opportunity to be the leader of the Dolphins rebuilt offensive line. His responsibilities will include quarterbacking his fellow offensive linemen and helping the new unit find their collective harmony.
Should Karras be able to show that he is not a one-year wonder, the offensive line will come together quicker, and provide the kind of protection that will be necessary to keep an injury-prone Tua upright and healthy.
Tight end Gesicki is another Dolphins draft pick who made incredible strides in 2019. Similar to Parker, Gesicki was flirting with the label of bust before putting it all together for a promising 2019 campaign.
He is now considered to be one of the league’s promising you tight ends after hauling in 51 receptions, for 570 yards and 5 touchdowns. If Gesicki, 24, can continue to build on the production of 2019, he will be both another weapon and a security blanket for Tua as he develops.