The Seattle Seahawks open their season 51 days from the day this article will be posted, or roughly in a little more than seven weeks. They begin by hosting the Miami Dolphins, the first time the two teams have met since 2012, when Miami won 24-21 after scoring 10 unanswered in the fourth quarter including a 43-yard game-winning field goal by Dan Carpenter as time expired.
That loss hurt, but also basically marked the end of an era in Seattle and the beginning of a new one, as Russell Wilson and the team won their final five games of the season after that and have an overall record of 47-14 since. I expect them to add get win number 48 by Week 1.
You may not remember the Dolphins being "terrible" last season. They went a mediocre 6-10 with a mediocre quarterback. They had players you may have liked, such as Lamar Miller, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, Branden Albert, Mike Pouncey, Olivier Vernon, Brent Grimes, Reshad Jones, Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi, and Ndamukong Suh. Hell, with that lineup you might even think that Miami was better than their record.
In fact, not only were the Dolphins much worse than their record (29th in DVOA), but they lost some of their best players: Miller, Vernon, Grimes, and Matthews all left in free agency. Grimes was a Pro Bowl corner last season while Matthews was vastly underrated, finishing 17th in DYAR and second in DVOA. These may not be devastating losses for a good NFL team, but Miami was one of the worst in the league already and the reinforcements provide some hope, but little reassurance.
The Dolphins recently signed Arian Foster, but he's over the hill for a running back and probably won't be featured a ton in Adam Gase's offense anyway. They're getting back Ju'Wuan James from injury and added Laremy Tunsil in the draft, but it takes time for offensive lines to gel together and to make up for that you need to have elite players at quarterback and running back, something that Miami doesn't have; despite good touchdown-to-interception ratios throughout his career, Ryan Tannehill was 26th in DYAR and 32nd in DVOA last season. Maybe with better protection he would play better, but that hasn't really stopped 2012 draft classmate Wilson, and Tannehill should be mobile as he is a former wide receiver. If not though, Seattle can take advantage of the fact that he's been sacked 149 times in the last three seasons with 29 fumbles.
Are his weapons going to improve? That's what they said last season too. DaVante Parker should be better than Matthews, but it remains to be seen if he'll make the second-year leap that most good receivers have to make. He caught just 52% of his targets as a rookie.
Mario Williams, Byron Maxwell, and Kiko Alonso all provide name value but they were available for a reason. If the Dolphins do start to come together as a team and if this combination of veterans and young players give Gase a roster capable of competing with the best teams in football, such as the Seahawks, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals (all teams on their schedule next year), you'd think it won't start to happen until November at the earliest. Sometimes teams don't save their best for last, sometimes they throw out all their best punches in Week 1, and that could be the biggest danger to Seattle's chances of starting 1-0, but I doubt it.
The Miami Dolphins were one of the NFL's worst teams in 2015 and they are relying a lot on so many players who struggled or were injured last season that you'd think they targeted "redemption stories" on purpose. Hey, Pete Carroll loves players with a chip on their shoulder too, but they often come on the cheap because they were being overlooked not players like Maxwell or Williams, who were just overpaid. I'll be a little surprised if the Dolphins don't finish in last place in the AFC East, and given that this game is at home, I expect their journey to the bottom will start with a loss in Week 1.
That means it would be a "W" for the Seahawks to open their season of "redemption" as they try to get back to the Super Bowl.