The Miami Dolphins got off to a slow start in the 2018 NFL season, with their first win not coming until October 7. But now they are fighting for an AFC wild card spot and could be playing on January 6th if everything goes according to plan. So what can we expect from them?
6:14 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques
MIAMI, Fla. — Terron Armstead wore a vintage Dan Marino jersey and orange shoes to the stage in front of a near-capacity conference room at the Miami Dolphins’ Baptist Health Training Complex on Thursday.
When questioned why he donned the Mariners’ jersey, he said, “Why not?”
Armstead and wide receiver Tyreek Hill were presented together on Thursday, wrapping up a whirlwind week in which Miami signed both players within less than 24 hours of each other. Armstead and Hill, who have a combined nine Pro Bowl appearances, provide star power and postseason experience to a squad eager to overcome a five-year playoff drought.
“The game is clearly at a different tempo once you get to the playoffs — you have to play at a different level,” Hill said. “For these younger people, just having us two guys who have been through it before means a lot. Because some males may see it as an additional chance to play the game. Guys, on the other hand, strike harder and run quicker… It’s incredible how quickly the game speeds up and slows down.”
After agreeing to terms on Tuesday, Miami signed Armstead to a five-year, $87.5 million deal in an attempt to improve the NFL’s worst pass blocking unit from last season. Armstead, who is ESPN’s top-ranked free agent for the 2022 cycle, spent his first nine seasons with the New Orleans Saints, including two with Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith, who was then the Saints’ assistant offensive line coach.
Armstead praised Smith for piqueing his interest in playing for the Dolphins, as well as the intensity and offensive strategy of head coach Mike McDaniel.
“Few people understand us as well as (McDaniel). It’s a difficult job, and it’s a difficult situation to be in “Armstead said. “It’s a thankless job; we’re told to go out and create, but we don’t always get to rejoice or reap the benefits. It takes a special set of people to accomplish it again and over again… Mike loves to put offensive linemen in positions to succeed, allowing them to exploit their talents and abilities, which was another reason I chose Miami. I believe the offensive plan and fit are ideal for what I do best, which is to be explosive and powerful and go out and run.”
Miami made another bombshell move a little more than 12 hours after Armstead’s trade was announced, trading for three-time first-team All-Pro Hill.
Armstead was giddy with anticipation for his new partner.
“Come on, he’s the league’s most exciting player. I’ve always been a fan of his game, even if I’m just watching it “he said “Now that he’s a member of the offense, I believe we’re on the verge of creating something great. We’re going to try to make Sundays into a track meet with him, (Jaylen) Waddle, (Raheem) Mostert, the speed, and then the speed of us on the offensive line. But let’s not overlook the importance of a physical track meet.”
Many in the NFL were surprised by Hill’s trade from the Kansas City Chiefs, but his agent Drew Rosenhaus claimed the Chiefs granted him permission to explore a trade after the two sides couldn’t agree on a new contract that surpassed that of Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams. The New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs agreed to trade terms earlier this week, according to Rosenhaus, before the Dolphins countered with an offer that Kansas City approved.
Hill was given the last choice on whatever club he wanted to play for by the Chiefs, and he selected Miami, his “second home.”
“It’s difficult (to leave Kansas City), but things change when someone comes to you with a lot of money,” Hill remarked, smiling. “The emotions begin to shift. It was unquestionably difficult, guy. I certainly had one of those times when I needed to go in my vehicle and simply drive while reflecting on my experiences in Kansas City… I even spoke with Pat (Mahomes), who I consider to be my brother for life.
“I know those players will still play because they’re Hall of Famers,” says the coach.
Hill lauded the Dolphins for their obvious determination to stocking their new offense with as much skill as possible, calling Tua Tagovailoa “one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL.”
“(The Dolphins) absolutely want to surround the quarterback with the appropriate components,” Hill said. “Because the quarterback is the most crucial component.”
Hill and Rosenhaus both believe Hill will play a Deebo Samuel-like role in McDaniel’s system, with “potential for even more.”
The Dolphins’ starting wide receiver combination of Hill and Waddle may be the quickest in the NFL. Hill said he contacted Waddle quickly after the deal was completed and intends to meet up with his new teammate, work out, and, of course, race.
“No matter where I go, the Cheetah has to show I’m the quickest on the squad,” Hill said.