The Miami Dolphins enter the 2016 season hoping that a retooled and healthy offensive line will be a rejuvenated offensive line and that first-year head coach Adam Gase can help quarterback Ryan Tannehill become a consistent performer.
With training camp set to begin later this month, we take a look at the five most important offensive players on the roster entering the season.
Ryan Tannehill: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is entering the second season of his four-year, $77 million contract and coming off a year in which he saw his completion percentage, passer rating and number of passing touchdowns drop.
Tannehill did, however, throw for more yards than he ever has in his career, passing for 4,208 yards in 2015 while eclipsing the 4,000 yard mark for the second straight year in the process. He is expected to benefit from being under the tutelage of new head coach Adam Gase, who has been called a quarterback whisperer for his past work with Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler.
DeVante Parker: In 2015, the rookie wide receiver appeared in 14 games, catching 26 passes for 494 yards and three touchdowns. Parker, a first-round pick, figures to play a prominent role in Adam Gase’s offense as an outside receiver, but may also see some snaps in the slot.
The 6’ 3” ex-Louisville star was expected to be a big-play threat and flashed that potential late in the season, catching a 49 yard pass in week 16 and hauling in a 46 yard reception in week 17.
Jay Ajayi: Another member of the Dolphins’ 2015 draft class, Ajayi played behind Lamar Miller in a disappointing rushing attack. The former Boise State Bronco rushed for 187 yards on 49 carries and a touchdown while also catching seven passes out of the backfield for 90 yards.
After Miller’s departure to Houston, Ajayi is working toward securing the title of feature back for the 2016 season. His hard running style has impressed teammates and coaches and Ajayi believes that he has the ability to be a great running back in the league.
“My objective is to be the starter of the team,” Ajayi said in May.
Mike Pouncey: The three-time Pro Bowler has high expectations for the offensive line. Pouncey will look to lead a revived unit that will attempt to shed the stigma of several average seasons in front of Ryan Tannehill.
The line’s ability to protect the quarterback will be key in the development of Tannehill and the success of first-year coach Adam Gase’s offense.
Laremy Tunsil: This year’s first-round draft pick fell to the Dolphins after being surrounded by controversy on draft night. Since that night, Tunsil has refocused and will compete for a starting spot on the offensive line.
The Dolphins invested the 13th pick in the Ole Miss tackle, who was consider one of the top offensive line prospects in the draft, yet Gase insists that if Tunsil starts, it will be because he has earned it in practice.
The team will look for him protect Tannehill and prove that he can be a reliable part of their future.