2021 Miami Dolphins Schedule: Full Listing of Dates, Times and TV InfoMay 12, 2021
While they wilted down the stretch to narrowly miss out on the playoffs, the 2020 season was a success for the Miami Dolphins. Now, the pressure will be squarely on head coach Brian Flores to get the team into the postseason.
Miami demonstrated how quickly a team can execute a rebuild in the NFL when the process is done right.
The front office tore the roster down to the studs in 2019 while positioning the franchise to have a ton of salary-cap space and strong draft picks in the subsequent offseason. The Dolphins proceeded to win 10 games while anointing Tua Tagovailoa as their franchise quarterback.
The 23-year-old's ceiling remains something of a question, though. He threw for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions and completed 64.1 percent of his passes in 10 games. That production wasn't otherworldly, but it was encouraging given how much his recovery from a dislocated hip limited him in the offseason.
This isn't a Super Bowl-or-bust kind of year for the Dolphins, but the bar for success will be reasonably high.
Here's a look at the road ahead for Miami as it looks to punch a ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The AFC East is matched up against the NFC South this year, which isn't an ideal draw but could have been worse.
The bad news for the Dolphins is they have to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints—shaping up to be the division's strongest teams again—on the road while welcoming the Carolina Panthers and rebuilding Atlanta Falcons.
The Bucs return almost all of their key players from a roster that won a Super Bowl in 2020, while the gap between Jameis Winston and a then-41-year-old Drew Brees may not be that big for the Saints. Tampa Bay in particular will serve as a solid barometer for where the Dolphins are in 2021.
Miami received some good fortune with the new 17th game. The scheduling formula matched the team up with the New York Giants, the runners-up in the NFC East.
The Giants have been active this offseason but still carry a big question mark as long as Daniel Jones is their starting quarterback.
Intra-conference clashes with the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts figure to be difficult, though the Dolphins at least get those at home.
In general, Miami's schedule isn't a murderer's row, but it does present some tough tests along the way.
The Ravens and Colts were wild-card teams in 2020, with the latter sneaking in ahead of the Dolphins on the final day of the regular season. They would again be Miami's direct competition for those spots, so the results could carry big consequences.
The Dolphins will also want to measure themselves against the best team in the division, the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo edged out Miami in Week 2 last season before earning a 56-26 victory in Week 17. The Bills defense intercepted Tagovailoa three times, and his 20.2 QBR was the lowest of the year, per ESPN.com. The result encapsulated the gap between the two franchises.
The East is likely to run through Buffalo or Miami in 2021, so the Dolphins can't afford to go 0-2 against Buffalo again if they have any aspirations of sitting atop the East standings.