NFL training camps are winding down and the preseason is in full force. So what do we expect from the Miami Dolphins in 2017?

It’s safe to say we’re not shy when it comes to getting you ready for the upcoming NFL season. Since March, we have strung together four different series in preparation for the fall. We have looked at all 32 teams’ most improved area. That was preceded by pieces on a club’s best offseason addition, some facts, figures and feats for each squad, as well as an up-and-coming player for each roster.

So call this one for the thumb. With the regular-season rapidly approaching, we’ll take a look at what we could expect from each team. Every team wants to win the Super Bowl. However, 31 teams will obviously be disappointed. So we have been taking a look at all 32 clubs (in original 2017 draft order) and doing a little analysis. You can play catch up right here. So what are we really expecting from the Miami Dolphins in 2017?

The upcoming season took a funny turn for a team coming off its first playoff appearance since 2008. Yes, the Miami Dolphins were without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill for the stretch run and the AFC Wild Card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But now Adam Gase’s club will be without the five-year pro for all of 2017.

Enter recently-retired Jay Cutler. After being cut loose by the Chicago Bears this offseason, the strong-armed signal-caller joined the broadcast booth. But after trading John Fox for Fox-TV, Cutler was lured back to the game by Gase. He looked okay in the recent 31-7 preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens but played sparingly.

This season, he will have plenty of options to throw to in the form of wideouts Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Devante Parker, as well as acquired tight end Julius Thomas. Of course, handing the ball off to running back Jay Ajayi is the preferred option. He was the main catalyst to the team’s 9-2 finish (following a 1-4 start).

The same can’t be said about the Miami defense, which gave up the fourth-most total yards in the league a year ago. The biggest issue was the team’s play against the run as only the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns allowed more yards per game on the ground.

Summation:

Some will point to the addition of Jay Cutler as a reason the Miami Dolphins could fail to get back to the playoffs this season. But it’s the team’s defensive unit that remains fairly suspect. The addition of veteran end William Hayes is a positive and should aid Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and rookie defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. And 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris should improve the pass rush.

But even during their strong finishing kick, the Miami defense was exposed too many times – most notably in losses to the Ravens, New England Patriots and Steelers. And that makes a return to the postseason iffy at best. We see nine wins as a best-case scenario for this squad.

Russell S. Baxter is the NFL lead columnist for EndZoneScore.com and the founder of ProFootballGuru.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

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