Saturday, September 11, 2021

Miami Dolphins Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Miami Dolphins rank in terms of average, best and worst:

  • Average ranking: 14.4 (T-13th)
  • Best ranking: 11th (USA Today)
  • Worst ranking: 16th (Multiple)

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Dolphins in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 16

Person on the hot seat: QB Tua Tagovailoa

This is low-hanging fruit, sure, but Tagovailoa is absolutely under pressure to perform in his second NFL season. The team around him is built for success, and although Miami's offensive line still has room for improvement, the Dolphins expect to see a more confident, aggressive quarterback in 2021. He gets somewhat of a pass for last season, coming off a debilitating hip injury and entering the league in a pandemic-ravaged offseason. But in a year when the Dolphins should expect to make the playoffs, Tagovailoa must rise to the occasion. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques -- Rank: 14

Brian Flores reportedly used a team meeting last week to tell Dolphins players that Tua Tagovailoa is unquestionably "our quarterback." The support comes as rumors continue to swirl around a possible Miami pursuit of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. It's a thorny issue on multiple levels for the Dolphins, but ultimately it's up to Tagovailoa to make this story disappear. If the second-year passer thrives in the season's opening weeks, any hypothetical pursuit of Watson should end. But if Tua's play resembles what he put on tape in 2020? The outside noise will only grow louder.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 15

It's all about Tua Tagovailoa. If he makes the strides, they will be a playoff team - and maybe more. If not, there will be changes coming.

USA Today -- Rank: 11

Brian Flores' team has won 15 of its past 25 games, yet Miami's coach continues fielding questions linking his club to Houston QB Deshaun Watson. The group Flores will take into Week 1, including sophomore QB Tua Tagovailoa, certainly appears playoff-caliber.

The Athletic -- Rank: 16

Why they're ranked here: This feels exactly right for the Dolphins. It's not too difficult to make the case for Miami as a wild-card playoff team, if Tua Tagovailoa has a breakout season, the revamped receiver corps is explosive and the pass defense is one of the best in the NFL. But you can also look closely at the Dolphins and see holes and reasons why it could all fall apart (see below). So, right in the middle of the league rankings is appropriate.

One big question: Can they protect Tua? The Dolphins' offensive line is far from settled. Miami traded for two linemen in recent weeks (tackle Greg Little from Carolina, and guard Greg Mancz from Baltimore) as it tries to figure out the five best players to put in front of its new starting quarterback. Tagovailoa is far enough removed from his college hip injury to worry about his health, but he's going to need competent and consistent play from that line, both to establish a running game and to give him time to actually throw downfield. That was missing from the Dolphins' passing attack once Tagovailoa became the starter in the second half of last season.

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