Last year, the Miami Dolphins did not create many big plays through the passing game. They threw deep down the field less often than almost any team, with just 9.2 percent of their pass attempts traveling at least 20 yards in the air, according to Tru Media. They turned just south of 38 percent of their receptions into first downs, and had just 79 passing plays that gained 16 or more yards.
Things weren’t much better on the ground. The Dolphins ranked 20th in the NFL with 7.2 percent of their carries turning into gains of 15 yards or more, and 24th with 23.4 percent of their carries resulting in first downs.
This offseason, the Dolphins clearly made it a priority to add speed to their skill-position group. They signed speedster Will Fuller away from the Houston Texans on a one-year deal, then traded down from No. 3 to No. 6 in the draft, where they landed former Alabama wideout Jaylen Waddle. They also added athletic tight end Hunter Long later in the draft.
The result is a much faster group of skill players than the team had last year. Fuller, for one, is excited.
“You can’t teach speed and we do have that on this team,” Fuller said, per NFL.com. “Not just me and Waddle, there are other players with speed, too. It’s going to be fun. We’re going to do what the coaches ask of us and we just going to be playing fast and we going to make some stuff happen.”
Note: Players marked with asterisks did not run at the combine, so times are unofficial.
Apparently, the Dolphins pushed hard for Fuller in free agency, and that’s why he ended up signing in Miami, even though he only got a one-year contract.
“This was my first free agency, so I just took it as I wanted to go to a team that wanted me,” Fuller said. “The Dolphins showed the most interest. That’s why I chose the Dolphins. And, of course, I knew we have a great team here and we could do great things. Ever since I’ve been here, it’s been great. I love the culture here. It’s just been easy to be here. Like I said, I’ve been in the building as much as I can. I enjoy being here. I’m happy the Dolphins took a chance on me.”
With an improved group of pass-catchers and Tua Tagovailoa now firmly entrenched as the starter under center, there’s a chance for the Dolphins offense to take a step forward this year. If it does, the collective speed on hand is likely to play a significant role.