Dreams of a healthy Tua Tagovailoa connecting downfield with Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle creating a chunk play after a perfectly placed underneath pass already dominate expectations for this year's Miami Dolphins. In truth, the biggest improvement should come from the defensive side of the ball and help elevate Mike McDaniel's squad from playoff hopeful to AFC elite.

Last year's Dolphins finished 9-8 overall and earned a Wild Card berth, with the NFL's sixth-ranked offense. Miami achieved the ranking despite Tagovailoa missing four regular-season contests. Conversely, the defense ranked 18th overall.

Realistically, the Dolphins should easily crack the league's top-five offenses this fall with Tagovailoa in the lineup for most, if not all, of the season. Whereas, a significant leap on defense can occur thanks to a few changes and one specific individual ready to assert himself among the league's best.

After last year's effort, the organization parted ways with previous defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. Vic Fangio's hire as Boyer's replacement may be the offseason's biggest coup. Fangio has been at the forefront of the league's latest defensive trends, while his groups have been consistently found among the best.

"I knew Vic was so different, and there wasn't really anybody like Vic," former Fangio assistant and current Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley told The Athletic's Robert Mays in 2020. "It's because of the depth that we play with. And it's not like Tampa Bay 2, which is way different because there's too much air in the coverage. We just play with more depth. When you start with that premise, you can really open your thinking to play the way you need to play to stop people."