How close is Miami to achieving greatness? Winning the division? Going to the Superbowl? Are they close? How close can a team who boasts back to back 7-9 years be? What is missing? I have been watching the Fins for years and normally watch each game, win or lose, at least twice. For brevity, I will only explore the teams situation in the Tony Sparano era.
The team has talent on both sides of the ball. No doubt the defense has been improved since 2008. Bringing in DC Mike Nolan has proven to be a good decision. The DE position may be the strongest and deepest on the roster. The LB corp is solid, but going through changes with the departure of Channing Crowder. All indications are the move will be an upgrade with recently signed Kevin Burnett taking over the spot. The offense has also made major personnel upgrades with the addition of Brandon Marshall , Jake Long and most recently, Mike Pouncey. The RB & QB position remain questionable. Henne is in a do or get traded position. The front office decided to let Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams go and sought to replace them by drafting Daniel Thomas and signing veteran Reggie Bush. Personally, I was not in agreement with letting both RW & RB go. Look what RB did in his last preseason game. Was it Ronnie, Ricky or the offensive line? Regardless, the talent is there!
Now that I have given an overall view of the team, let’s evaluate each aspect on where we are and what the possible shortcomings are. Where are the problems?
- Tough Division: Not to make excuses, but it would be hard to disagree that the AFC has become one of the NFL’s most competitive divisions.
- QB position: Let’s get right to it! The teams who enjoy success in the NFL all have either franchise or above average QB’s. This has been an achilles heal for the Fins since “what’s his name” retired. I believe Henne can be an above average QB if you JUST LET HIM PLAY!
- Offensive Line: The O line has been average or worse since Parcells left. The best year was when they went 11-5 after a dismal 1-15 record the year before. BP brought in Justin Smiley and Jake Grove. Coupled with the easiest schedule in the NFL and a career year for Chad Pennington, things looked bright. .However, inefficiencies raised their ugly heads by a rout against Baltimore in the first playoff game. The score did not reflect the dominance! Last year the O averaged a meager 2.9 yds. per rush and gave up a whopping 37 sacks. Both stats the worst in recent history. This is an area in definite need of improvement.
- Drafts: Here is a history of past drafts, but I will only concentrate on picks since 2008. Like most drafts, it has been hit and miss. Big Jake was a lock. Nice pick! The addition of VD & SS has proven to be invaluable. Conversely, Pat Turner, Pat White and John Jerry were high pick busts. Jerry is the only one left on the team, but I am not done typing yet. The pick of White was a total blunder. I remember seeing the pick and yelling, WTF!
- Free Agents: With the exception of Karlos Dansby and Brandon Marshall, the signing of quality free agents has been dismal. The O line signings have been especially poor. See this article from Brian Miller for details on the Revolving Door.
- Ownership & Leadership: It’s true, it all starts at the top and rolls downhill from there. How do you like the front office and coaches? First, let’s give Mr. Ross a pass on being a rookie NFL owner, although what he did by trying to hire a HC was far from business like. Stephen’s main concern is selling tickets and having a winning team. Who cares if he turns pre-game into a circus or sells part of the team to celebs? How do you like the HC and his, or Jeff Ireland’s personnel choices? This is where I cannot help but have a problem. A team desperate to develop a QB promotes a WR coach with no experience rather than try and keep Pennington, or another applicant? Has the HC been shortsighted by signing so many players from Dallas, Tony’s Alma Mata?
What do you think? I have tried my best to try and not be biased, but I admit, I found it impossible. Are the Fins better now than in 2008? Defensively, yes! Offensively, jury is still out. Averaging less than 20 points (17.9) won’t win many games against the QB’s and offenses today.
Regardless, better days are ahead! Hope you comment and vote in the poll!