Ten reasons why the Miami Dolphins could stink as much as sports books think

DeVante Parker has to emerge from the shadows, especially with Jarvis Landry gone. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — Put me in a black hat.

Call me Debbie Downer (Derrick Downer?).

Tell me to quit staring at a half-empty glass.

I’m here to offer a retort to my colleague, Joe Schad, who yesterday painted an upbeat picture on how the Dolphins could take Vegas to the cleaners by winning more than the 5 1/2 games the sports books predict, a benchmark that evidently will credit them for leading that final game at halftime.

Oddsmakers aren’t alone. The national consensus in power ratings peg the Dolphins for a top-three pick in next year’s draft.

Joe wrote “10 reasons why the Miami Dolphins won’t stink as much as sports book think.” This response isn’t to say the Dolphins will go 5-11 (or 5 1/2-10 1/2). Nor is it an indictment of their draft. Rather than, “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” I will simply suggest reasons for caution before you mortgage your house, certain of a respectable season.

1. Backup quarterback: Coach Adam Gase said if something unspeakable happens to quarterback Ryan Tannehill again, he won’t be sending out the Bat Signal like last year. That would put the season in the hands of David Fales, whom we’ve seen precious little of, or Brock Osweiler, whom we’ve seen more than enough of.

What in the name of Earl Morrall/Don Strock/Matt Moore is happening? If last season proved anything, it reinforced that in this league, you’re only as good as your backup quarterback.

Gase says if he didn’t have confidence in Fales and Osweiler, they wouldn’t be on the roster. Yet as soon as Tannehill went down last year, he was on the horn with Jay Cutler because he didn’t trust Moore.

Today, there’s little evidence to support the notion that either Fales or Osweiler measures up to Moore. Whatever happened to prepare for the worst?

2. DeVante Parker: This is a make-or-break year for Parker. Oh, wait. So was last year (or was it the year before?).

Since being taken in the first round in 2015, Parker has made only half of the possible 48 starts. He has yet to top 750 yards or four TD passes in a season. But he’s 25 now and presumably has learned difficult lessons of what it takes to realize some of that potential. Without Jarvis Landry around, the Dolphins have to hope so.

3. The tackles: The Dolphins didn’t get what they were looking for out of right tackle Ja’Wuan James or left tackle Laremy Tunsil last season. Tunsil recently changed his jersey number from 67 to 78, which the Dolphins hope is more than symbolic.

With a QB coming off knee surgery, it has to be.

4. Kicker: Nobody (except Jason Lieser) wants to spend much time thinking about these guys — until they cost you a game. Cody Parkey has juggernautted off to Chicago, leaving the job to a rookie (Jason Sanders or Greg Joseph). The price for saving cap money was a seventh-round pick used on Sanders. Or will the cost be greater if Parkey’s replacement is called upon with a game on the line? Both prospects, by the way, were around a tepid 70 percent on FGs in college.

5. Linebackers: I’ve bashed this group enough the past two years. If the Dolphins can get back to playing to Kiko Alonso’s strengths, and if Raekwon McMillan can shake off a year’s worth of rust and not play like the rookie he basically is, Miami should be OK here. Key ifs.

6. Chemistry: Gase says his roster is more like the one he desired than anything he has had in Miami. That couldn’t happen without the loss of significant, team-MVP talent. How will the replacements fit in?

Mike Pouncey is gone, so the offensive line is anchored by center Daniel Kilgore. It includes a new guard (Josh Sitton). Some lines jell quickly. Miami’s hasn’t for ages. The same chemistry questions surround Tannehill and his new receivers and backs Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore.

7. The age factor: Defensive end Cameron Wake just made the list of the NFL’s top 100 players again, checking in at No. 74. He keeps putting up double digits in sacks.

But c’mon. He’s 36 years old. Obviously he can’t … never mind.

He’s Miami’s Tom Brady. Until he proves otherwise, let’s assume yes, he can, and skip to No. 8.

8. The Gase factor: Gase arrived with guns blazing, the youngest coach in the league, who took this team to the playoffs after a hundred-year absence. His approval rating in South Florida soared higher than those four spires at Hard Rock Stadium.

Despite a 6-10 season, his confidence hasn’t wavered. Chances are, the players’ confidence in him hasn’t, either.

But by jettisoning so many top players, is he testing it if the season starts slowly?

9. The cornerbacks: I like the mix of Bobby McCain, Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley (and Tony Lippett, coming off injury) for reasons that admittedly combine performance and potential. They grew as the season went on last year, but must pick up where they left off.

10. Rotten luck: These are the Dolphins, remember?

The last bit of great fortune to come their way was … (we’re waiting).

The last time the trainer’s room wasn’t packed was … (still waiting).

You might say the odds are they’re overdue for good luck.

The problem: Vegas doesn’t post odds on that.

[What Gase saw in RB Kalen Ballage’s college film]

[Dolphins formulating offseason plan for Tannehill]

[Dolphins aren’t moving T.J. McDonald from safety to linebacker]

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

[Takeaways from the Yahoo! Sports scouting series on the Dolphins]

Miami Dolphins’ Adam Gase: DeVante Parker approaching offseason with purpose

How Nick Saban feels about Miami Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick

Ranking every Miami Dolphins offseason addition, 1-25

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