And that was before the games even started.
Amid all the uncertainty around the league caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the losses of players who opted out, the Miami Dolphins represented one of the most mysterious teams in the NFL.
If not the most.
For one thing, no team has made as many significant changes, with the Dolphins overhauling their roster with perhaps the busiest offseason in team history. There was drastic turnover at most positions, most notably the offensive line and defensive lines.
And, of course, there was the arrival of the would-be savior at quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.
The fun will begin Sept. 13 for the Dolphins when they start the 2020 season where they ended in 2019, at Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots.
Here are the 10 biggest storylines for the Dolphins heading into the regular season:
1. Can the Dolphins pick up where they left off?
Unfortunately for Dolphins fans, the successful run at the end of the 2019 season that saw the team go 5-4 in its final nine games means absolutely nothing now.
For one thing, it’s an entirely different roster the Dolphins will be taking to Gillette Stadium — albeit a much more talented one after the 53-man group that shocked the Patriots in the 2019 season finale included 30 players who entered the NFL as seventh-round picks or undrafted free agents.
There are several recent examples involving the Dolphins that kill the notion of year-to-year momentum. The Dolphins went 9-2 in their final 11 games in 2016 to make the playoffs but went 7-9 the next year. The Dolphins won their final six games in Nick Saban’s first season in 2005, only to go 6-10 the next year.
2. The talent on the roster is better, but how much better?
No offense meant to the 2019 season-ending roster, but the Dolphins had a long way to go in terms of personnel as they entered the offseason.
But as much as they upgraded, this still can’t be considered an elite roster. Most national analysts certainly don’t think so, with one ESPN writer putting every position group in the bottom third of the league except for the cornerback group.
3. All eyes on Flores
If we mentioned the make-up of the Dolphins roster (in terms of draft status) on the day of the season finale at Gillette Stadium, then we have to tip our hat to the job done by Brian Flores for helping the team pull off the shocking upset of the Patriots.
Flores actually worked some magic to get the Dolphins to five wins after the roster reset that sent several high-profile players on their way out of Miami.
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