The inside of the Miami Dolphins offense is not in bad shape. Davone Bess has been a fixture now for several years and he isn’t showing any signs that he his hands are losing the ability to catch. When Bess isn’t the go to guy or the Dolphins move out to a four or five wide set, they have the ability to use Charles Clay or one of their running backs in the slot. It may not be 100% ideal but getting one on one coverage with a speed back and a LB is a good problem to have.
The outside of those sets is a problem and the Dolphins have a big one. Going into training camp, the national media continually harped on the fact that the Dolphins have the worst WR corp in the league. So far, no one on the team has stepped up to prove them wrong. Despite the fact that this style of offense doesn’t need “name players’ or even a prototypical number one WR, it still needs talent. At the wide-receiver spot, the Dolphins lack talent.
Forget about the release of Chad Johnson a week ago, the 34 year old receiver likely wouldn’t have made a dent in the outcome of a game. Discounting the injured Brian Hartline isn’t realistic either. Hartline has good hands and a little speed but he is not going to draw coverage off of anyone. This off-season the Dolphins GM, Jeff Ireland, traded away Brandon Marshall in part due to his off-field issues, and then failed t address the position in the remaining free agency or the draft. With two weeks to go until the season starts, Ireland still hasn’t given fans anything to hope for on the outside.
Last night’s game was proof once again that the Dolphins sorely lack talent on the rim. Roberto Wallace was supposed to be the guy that stepped up but so far hasn’t and it’s becoming more and more apparent that he likely won’t. Legedu Naane had fans and media buzzing over his training camp yet he has been non-existent through two weeks of pre-season games and still can’t get enough separation from the defenders to make himself a viable passing option. To say nothing for the rest of the WR’s.
Marlon Moore caught two passes last night for a total of 25 yards and may be the best option the Dolphins have going into the season. The problem is that he really is only a serviceable option. When you move down the roster you start seeing names like BJ Cunningham, Rishard Mathews, Jeff Fuller, and Chris Hogan who have combined for exactly zero NFL seasons of experience. Clyde Gates who was supposed to make the jump this year has fallen on the depth chart instead of rising to meet the challenge.
Where was Julius Pruitt? For all the training camp accolades, Pruitt has disappeared thus far in two pre-season games.
When it comes to the Dolphins and Joe Philbins’ decision on who he keeps at the position, it’s impossible to know who has a shot and who doesn’t. Sure Davone Bess will stay and depending on how Brian Hartline’s calf heals, he will stay. Outside of those two, it’s a guess to just about everyone. The Dolphins will be watching the upcoming roster cuts across the league to turn over that Ireland acorn, but the problem is this team can’t afford too many acorns right now. They need a root for that oak tree.
Where they turn and find a WR that is fast enough and seasoned enough to step in, in a weeks time is anyone’s guess. Many fans want a trade for a guy like Mike Wallace but the Steelers are standing firm on not trading the speeding wide-out. Others think that it’s time to bring in Plaxico Burress but reality says that outside of his name, there is a definitive lack of talent and drive left on the aging wideout.
That leaves waiting for cuts where valuable WR’s rarely land or making a trade of some kind. I still think the Dolphins should look to Green Bay and possibly James Jones. Familiar with the offense, in Miami Jones would be the go to guy. What the Packers want, if anything is anyone’s guess.
The 2012 dress rehearsal game is a week away and while that game will serve to get the offensive line on the same page and ready to go with their blocking stunts and pulling blocks as well as help the defense with their blitz coverage and packages, it does nothing for Ryan Tannehill or even Matt Moore in terms of putting even a “B” rated receiver on the outside.
Making matters worse is the fact that the team actually has some young guys who have shown enough to believe they will develop into productive WR’s in the NFL. The Dolphins however can’t afford to keep them on the final 53 man roster which means they hit the free agent market or the practice squad where they can be poached by teams who do have the space and time available to let them grow.
After two dismal pre-season games it’s easy to wonder what the Dolphins will do on defense and along the offensive line. To me, I think it’s a matter of “time” in the sense that they will grow into the system and gain the continuity to get better. While our right side of the line looked horrid last night, many still believe that Jonathan Martin will become a very good left tackle. While the defense was horrid, many still believe that with the return of three up front starters, the defense will improve as well.
But who will improve on the outside? It is the biggest question mark the Dolphins have right now because normally, it takes two years to figure it out. The Dolphins either have guys who been around a while and haven’t figured it out yet or they have young guys who are entering their first year.
It’s not a good situation for the Dolphins.