Here we are two days away from the start of Miami Dolphins training camp and the unofficial start of the 2010 NFL season. Fans of every team are full of hope for what the new season will bring. Soon Sunday’s will be a day of praise at the football altar. With this the third season in the legacy of the Trifecta the Miami Dolphin fans and the organization are looking for big things from this team. The excitement around this team is at it’s highest since number 13 was barking out signals. Everybody likes to make predictions and this is the time of year for them, so I figured I would join in the mix and put eight predictions out there for fans and readers of this site to discuss.
Prediction #1; Mike Nolan will turn this defense around and make them a top 10 defense. Last year Miami’s defense looked lost with no leadership, this year Nolan will give this defense direction and it will become Karlos Dansby’s team. Last year Miami ranked 22nd in overall defense and was burned on big plays often. This year the defense will attack and make the opposing offenses try to adjust. I expect good things out of this young defense, they will have some head scratching moments because of their youth, but they are bigger and more athletic than any Dolphins defense that I can remember.
Prediction #2; Brandon Marshall will not have 100 receptions. I know this my bother some, but not saying he is going to have a bad year, just don’t feel he will hit the century mark. I am looking for him to have 80+ catches and 1000+ yards, but given Sparano’s conservative mentality and a healthy Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams I don’t see Marshall having as many opportunities as past years. Marshall will bring more to the Dolphins than just receptions and yards, he will help pull the 8 and 9 men out of the box giving the R&R Express better lanes to run in. He will also draw double coverage allowing Hartline, Bess and Fasano to be in more open zones or be in one on one matchups.
Prediction #3; Cameron Wake will have at least 12 sacks. Paul Pasqualoni couldn’t find a way to get Wake on the field last year. Nolan won’t have that problem. Last year Nolan took Elvis Dummerville and transformed him from a good defensive end to the NFL sack leader as an OLB. Dummervil although listed as an OLB had his hand in the dirt on over 70% of the snaps and over 80% of that time he was coming after the QB or RB. I look for the same use of Wake. Wake already has one of the quickest first steps in the NFL now line him up out wide and an LT is going to have a very hard time getting out there quick enough to cut him off.
Prediction #4; Ronnie Brown will have his best season as a pro. For the first time in his career Miami will have a legitimate threat on the outside that will keep teams from stacking 8 and 9 men in the box. Miami’s offensive line is one of the biggest and strongest in the NFL. They may lack some in pass protection, but they don’t skip a beat in run blocking and now take that 8th and 9th guy out of there, well it could just be fun for the R&R Express. This is also a contract year for Ronnie and we all know that running backs go downhill when they sign that second contract. Brown has the talent to be an elite back in the NFL, his problem is he just can’t stay on the field. I have a feeling this year he will and his stats are in for a huge boost. I think Brown will top the 1300 yards rushing and add another 350 receiving. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him knocking on the 2000 combined yardage door.
Prediction #5; Koa Misi will win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. As many have said sometimes winning a rookie of the year award is about opportunity, well Misi will have a great opportunity to win the SOLB spot in camp and be the day one starter. To those that still aren’t sure on Misi and wanted Miami to draft Kindle, hindsight is a great think and while Kindle will more than likely start the season on the PUP list, Misi has a good chance to be number one on the depth chart. Misi is very athletic and will need to add some technique to his pass rush but I look for him to add 7-9 sacks from the other side of Wake.
Prediction #6; Davis Island will be established. Vontea Davis will have a year under his belt and with the aggressive style of defense that Nolan will bring Davis will have more opportunities to make plays because QB’s wont have as long to sit back and scan the field. Davis is physical and knows how to get his hands on the ball. Put a year under his belt and he will prove to be one of the top tier corners in the NFL. I look for Davis to have 4 picks and double digit pass defenses.
Prediction #7; Chad Henne will have establish himself as the franchise QB of the Miami Dolphins. For all intensive purposes last year was Henne’s first year and many times it looked like it. However, many times he showed the instinct of a seasoned veteran. Enter Brandon Marshall and exit Teddybear Ginn and now Henne has targets to throw too and defenses will have to respect the pass. Henne will need to cut down his turnovers and I think he will. I look for Henne to post more than 3500 yards passing and 20+ touchdowns.
Prediction #8; The Miami Dolphins will win the AFC East. The key to doing this will be for Miami to come out of the gates strong. They have a brutal schedule during the first half of the season including 3 of their first four games against division foes. Miami will need to win all three of the division games. They will have the Jets and Patriots at home in the South Florida heat but will have to play them at home late in the season in the cold. They need to take advantage of the second half of the season when they play 6 teams that did not make the playoffs last year and are probably on the outside looking in again this year. I think Miami will be 11-5 this season and win the AFC East.
The start of a new season brings excitement and anticipation. The doldrums of summer with no football is finally over and hours of debate over what teams are better can begin. Here’s to the start of a new season and hopes that good things come to our beloved Dolphins.