The Miami Dolphins, owners of a 9-8 record in 2021, experienced extreme volatility over the season that had major ramifications heading into 2022. A seven-game losing streak was followed by a seven-game winning streak. Injuries at key positions at inopportune times. This all led to coaching changes, blockbuster trades, and lawsuits, among other things.
The team had expected to compete for division titles and playoff appearances, but the hope is that a new coaching staff can unlock the potential. However, injuries can have a major impact on a team’s successes or failures which is why it is important to look back at last season’s injury concerns heading into a new campaign.
Notable 2021 Injuries
QB Tua Tagovailoa (Rib Fracture) Missed four total games with rib fractures originally suffered in Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills, courtesy of DE AJ Epenesa. The initial injury sent Tagovailoa to injured reserve for a minimum of three games which began the seven-game losing streak.
The loss of Tagovailoa certainly contributed to the losing streak, but it will never be known how many wins his presence was worth as three of those losses (Raiders, Falcons, and Jaguars) were three points or less.
There is no concern heading into next season regarding the rib fractures, but better protection from his offensive line including the addition of OT Terron Armstead can only help keep him healthy.
TE Adam Shaheen (Knee) Missed five total games including three games due to a knee injury sustained against the New York Jets in Week 11. He also missed Week 1 due to COVID and Week 6 due to a knee injury, though it isn’t clear whether these injuries were connected.
The details of the injury are not available, but it’s possible that the late knee injury was the garden variety MCL sprain. There isn’t any concern for further complications, but Shaheen has become a dependable depth option and special teams contributor.
WR Lynn Bowden (Hamstring) Missed the entire season on injured reserve following a significant hamstring strain in training camp. As he was placed on injured reserve prior to cut downs for training camp, it’s unknown whether he would have been effective during the 2021 season.
His true potential is still largely unknown as he was traded by the Raiders shortly after being drafted in 2020 and saw playing time in 10 games in 2020. According to reports, Bowden was still working through hamstring issues during OTA’s, suggesting that the injury is not behind him quite yet.
There is still a chance for a further aggravation to the hamstring during training camp which makes him someone worth watching to see if he can live up to his potential. It’s also worth noting that he did not deal with any injuries during his playing days at Kentucky.
WR Preston Williams (Foot/Groin) Missed nine games. He dealt with foot and groin injuries over the season that affected him at various points. He was ruled out of games due to injury for two games, questionable for two more, and the rest were inactive.
Williams has not appeared in more than eight games in the season since he entered the league in 2019. It’s worth noting that he dealt with a foot injury in 2020 that required surgery. He will continue to be a liability until he can be both healthy and productive.
C Michael Deiter (Quadricep/Foot) Missed nine games. Dealt with quadriceps and also a foot injury during practice in early October.
While the quadriceps injury was likely a strain, the foot injury is worth watching closer heading into 2022. There were no reports of surgery during or after the season, but it’s not clear what the exact injury was. Prior to this season, Deiter had not missed a game during his career.
OT Larnel Coleman (Knee) Missed the entire 2021 season due to a knee injury that required surgery, placed on IR prior to the cutdowns. It was initially reported that he required an 8-to-12-week recovery which sounds like a potential meniscal injury.
He was a 2021 7th-round draft pick which likely meant that the team wanted to stash him for the season. spent all of last season on IR, was a 2021 7th round pick, had 8-12 week recovery, sounds like meniscus
DT Raekwon Davis (Knee) Missed three games. Suffered the knee injury five plays into the season, and went on IR for the minimum number of games before returning without lingering issues.
LB Brennan Scarlett (Knee) Missed four games total, suffered the injury around Thanksgiving, and was able to return after missing three games. Will continue to be a depth option.
CB Byron Jones (Left Ankle Surgery) Jones underwent left ankle surgery in March according to reports and his Instagram post. The article goes on to state that the area for the surgery was the ankle/Achilles area with a two-month recovery.
While the specifics of the surgery are not known but the timeline being as short as it was, there are no reservations regarding when Jones returns for training camp.
CB Elijah Campbell (Toe/Knee) Missed three games. Dealt with both toe and knee injuries, the specifics of each are not known but toe injuries are typically turf toe injuries.
CB Jamal Perry (Knee) Missed six games. Played 5 snaps against the Jets before exiting the game. Details of the injury were not available and there were no reports of surgery.
WR Tyreek Hill: Has been very durable over his career with the only significant injury being a posterior sternoclavicular dislocation in 2019 forcing him to miss 4 games. Has been shown to produce at a very high level, but since speed is a key component of his game, I wonder when he begins to lose a step.
OT Terron Armstead: Signed to Miami following nine years in New Orleans. Despite being one of the better left tackles in the league, Armstead has never appeared in every game in a season, with his max being 15 games in 2019 followed by 14 games in 2013 and 2020.
Despite the five-year, $75 million deal signed in the offseason, Armstead has dealt with several notable injuries since entering the league in 2013. Injuries include:
2014: Neck injury, missed 2 games.
2015: Played through a knee injury, missing only 3 games.
2016: Dealt with knee and quadriceps issue, missed 9 games total before going on IR for the remaining three games for the season.
2017: Tore his labrum in his shoulder during mandatory minicamp, required surgery to repair, and missed the first 4 games of the season. Missed two additional games due to a thigh injury, and was on the injury report most of the season due to these two ailments.
2018: Tore his pectoral muscle in Week 10, missed 6 total games, did not require surgery, but managed to play in the playoffs.
2020: Played through most of the season with a significant high-ankle sprain, missed 1 game.
2021: Suffered through the left elbow and right knee injuries. Missed 2 games due to an elbow injury followed by missing 7 games due to a knee injury that eventually required surgery in the offseason. It’s not clear what the surgery was for, potentially meniscus or cartilage damage.
There is a significant concern for Armstead’s availability heading into the season with multiple knee and shoulder injuries. He has demonstrated the ability to play through various injuries, but at what point does he hurt the team versus help? It’s important to note that the backup according to OurLads.com is Greg Little, a failed draft pick of the Carolina Panthers.
RB Raheem Mostert: Missed 16 games in 2021, cost him all of last season except 1 game, chipped full thickness cartilage tear in his left knee cartilage repair surgery. Required autologous chondrocyte implantation which is where a portion of articular cartilage is donated and surgically implanted into the damaged area to allow for the cartilage to heal fully.
Return to play rates are 74% and return to the same level of play return is 71% according to the research. The Dolphins did mitigate the risk by signing him to a one-year deal, but it remains to be seen how he will perform, especially cutting off the left knee and playing for the entire season.
WR Cedrick Wilson: Has been pretty durable as of late, notable injuries include tearing his labrum in his shoulder in 2018, and suffered a knee sprain at end of 2019 with the Cowboys.
QB Teddy Bridgewater: Has a noted injury history including his horrific knee injury with the Minnesota Vikings back in 2016. Has been a career backup since then, but suffered a significant concussion that forced him to miss the remaining 3 games of the season. Far better backup option than Jacoby Brissett, but shouldn’t see the field if Tua Tagovailoa can stay healthy.
RB Chase Edmonds: Missed 4 games due to a high ankle sprain in Week 9 with the Cardinals. There is little concern heading into this season with the injury but the high ankles are notoriously difficult to play through in-season.
He also worked through a shoulder injury that did not force him to miss any games, but I would expect him to get more of a workload in the backfield than others already on the roster. He is on a 2-year contract which means he should get some serious consideration. He also worked through a hamstring strain in 2019 but has mostly avoided soft tissue injuries.
OT Connor Williams: Overall few injury concerns. Was the most penalized offensive lineman in the league last year with the Cowboys. The only notable injury was a torn ACL in 2019, returned to play every game the following season.
FB Alec Ingold: Tore right ACL last season in November with the Raiders, may not quite be ready for the beginning of the season or be totally productive.
CB Keion Crossen, WR Trent Sherfield: Both are durable with few injury issues over the past several years.
2022 Draft Picks
LB Channing Tindall (Georgia) has few injury concerns coming out of Georgia, suffered a fractured fibula in 2019.
WR Erik Ezukanma (Texas Tech) Minimal injury concerns coming out of Texas Tech, suffering a concussion in 2021.
WR Cameron Goode (California) Dealt with season-ending injuries in 2017 and 2018, has been available since then, and was a 7th-round pick which makes it tough for him to make the roster.
QB Skylar Thompson (Kansas State) Missed 10 games over the last two seasons due to injury, will he even make the roster due to being a 7th-round pick, likely a practice squad guy.
The roster is fairly strong, but injuries to key positions including quarterback really dictated the underachieving performance in 2021. The team really wasn’t held back due to depth issues, but if they can perform to expectations, they can be a playoff team.
The injury concerns on the roster are QB Tua Tagovailoa, RB Raheem Mostert, and OT Terron Armstead. If the new additions to the roster can contribute and stay healthy, then with a new offensive identity, this team could take the next step.
A division title isn’t totally out of reach, but they will need to play to the top of their abilities and get a few breaks to go their way in order to rise to the top of the AFC East.
An 11-6 or 10-7 season is not out of the question, good enough for a potential playoff spot, but they will need to steal several games in order for this to happen.
Top Photo Credit: Mark Brown/Getty Images