This team has a lot of question marks at critical positions (QB being #1 obviously) so it’s impossible to tell how good, bad, or average we may be. However, it seems to me we’ll be employing the kind of physical veracity that will win a hand-full of games just on being a lot tougher than the opposition. Bottom line, this is not a team of pansies anymore, and a lot of the league won’t be licking their chops to play us.
So here’s the primary “IF LIST” in my opinion (keep in mind we’re starting off with 3-4 base-line wins based on toughness):
#1 QB: if we get solid (not spectacular) QB play with efficiency in general = 4-6 additional win potentials (AWP).
#2 OL: if the OL can provide adequate (not spectacular) pass protection and move the LOS for a downhill running game = 3-4 AWP
#3 WR: if TG develops into a legit game changer on the outside via his deep speed and prowess in space (contingent on #1 and 2 above) = 2-3 AWP.
#4 TE: if Fasano emerges as a real #1 TE with ability to operate underneath as well as stretch the middle (especially in concert with #3 above) = 2 AWP
#5 RB: if R&R can stay (a) healthy and (b) instated by the league and rush for 16-hundred yards combined (contingent of #2 above) = 3-4 AWP
#6 DL: if the DL emerges as one of the better young groups in the league (which I believe they the potential to be) it will make the rest of the D a downhill game. It all starts upfront, so this is the big one on the D side to me = 3-4 AWP
#7 LB: highly contingent on #6 above, if this LB group emerges at the top end of their potential spectrum (pegging the meter per se) they will be (surprise) one of the BETTER groups in the league. On the other hand, if they don’t tap their potential, they will still be “solid.” JP needs to stay healthy, Moses needs time on the field, and Anderson needs to make everyone forget about JT with his speed. A number of “ifs” but = 2-3 AWP
#8 DB: this is the year JA emerges as a bona fide big-time presence at S. The big question is if Bell can (a) regain his pre-Achilles form and (b) stay on the field. Contingent on #6 and #7 above, the DB are surprisingly solid (not spectacular) on this team = 2-3 AWP
#9 ST: this will be an obvious area of tremendous improvement in relation to last year. Based on that upside and the impact of teams (and variables above) on any given game = 2-3 AWP.
Final analysis, IF (??????) all the above come true = 36 AWP (keep in mind these “wins” are weighted possibilities and interdependent as described in the contingency variable).
I would use a 33% optimism factor (look it up on Wikipedia) and thereof derive our top limit of wins this season at 11.88 wins (we’ll call it 12 and cash our chips at the bank).
However, the odds are (unless the universe is in a dominant Dolphin phase cycle) we’ll probably fall somewhere between the top and the bottom end.
12 wins (as described above) + 3 wins (our baseline) /2 = 6.5 wins as the median point. Therefore 7 wins or more would be a “successful” season, and 6 or less would be a “failure.”
If the ball rolls our way, and we get a few breaks, I think .500 is a realistic possibility.
There is HOPE!