The Miami Dolphins have had quite an up and down offseason. From losing out on numerous free agents to having an excellent draft, this team has been shooting itself in the foot as of late. Miami does look like a team ready to make a jump at times, and other times the organization looks like it is about to self destruct. Although this team has an excellent defense and special teams, the Dolphins struggled this preseason offensively. On numerous occasions the team came out flat footed on offense and was either held to a three and out, or was held to a field goal – that cannot happen. Due to the offense being anemic this preseason, many are pinning Miami as one of the favorites for the 2013 Number One Overall Draft Selection – although I do not agree.
Miami has many reasons to be concerned. The Dolphins have little to no threats at wide receiver. Not to mention the team’s receivers look as though they cannot even catch a cold – with the exception of Davone Bess who actually looked good in preseason action. Miami also has yet to address their void at safety on defense – how many years has this been an issue now? The Dolphins passed up an opportunity to draft George Iloka – I thought Iloka could have stepped in from day one and been a solid contributor. Instead the team selected Michael Egnew who has not exactly been impressive this offseason. To add insult to injury, Miami also has a large hole at corner after trading away Conerback Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts for “some picks” as Jeff Ireland put it on HBO’s hit series, Hard Knocks.
Yes, we get it. Miami is not very good at the moment. Yes, we know that Miami will not contend this season. But we do have a few reasons to be optimistic going into the future – possibly even this season!
No, the Dolphins will not be sharp on offense this season through the air. Rookie quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, will have his rookie ups and his rookie downs. But Tannehill has impressed me during the preseason. He has a great release with absolutely astounding accuracy – especially on the run. Of course, Tannehill will over throw a receiver here and there, but show me a quarterback who is perfect.
In order for Miami to be some what successful this season on offense, the team must rely on it’s running backs. Reggie Bush has the ability to break the big one any time he touches the ball. Bush, who finally broke 1,000 yards rushing last season and had a career year – some what of a long awaited break out season - should be Tannehill’s safety valve and the focal point of this offense. Second string tailback, Daniel Thomas, looked quite motivated this preseason to finally live up to his potential. Thomas looked faster and much leaner than he did during his rookie season. Rookie tailback, Lamar Miller, will be asked to spell both Bush and Thomas on passing downs. Miller has electrifying speed which should be used to perfection in this new west coast offense Miami is installing. We should see at least five to seven plays out of each game where all three running backs are on the field at the same time – that could definitely be scary with each players unique skill set.
What about Miami’s offensive line…? Well, we all know about Jake Long. Yes, Long went down with a sprained MCL – but the team expects him to play against Houston in the team’s opener. Richie Incognito is entrenched as the number one left guard on the team – as Mike Pouncey is entrenched as the teams starting center. The right side of the offensive line will determine whether this team looks destined for success or failure. John Jerry will be the team’s starting right guard. Offensive line coach, Jim Turner, believes that Jerry can be one of the best guards in the game – all Jerry needs to do is stay in shape, which has been an issue for the struggling offensive lineman out of Ole Miss. Jerry will be paired with rookie Right Tackle – Jonathan Martin. Martin had quite an erratic preseason. After playing Left Tackle for his entire collegiate career at Stanford, Miami’s new right tackle will be making a tough transition from college to pro ball. Yes, they’re bigger. They’re faster. And…They’re stronger. Martin has all of the tools to succeed as a right tackle in the National Football League – he just has to work on his technique.
Miami’s defense gives fans the biggest reason to remain optimistic for the upcoming season – that’s pretty obvious. Miami possesses one of the leagues best run stopping defenses – which will only get better with Jared Odrick seeing his second full season of action (3rd season overall). A front line of Odrick – Starks – Soliai – Wake is very scary. What may be even more scary is the talent behind this starting unit. Rookies Derrick Shelby and Olivier Vernon will both see significant time this season – most on passing downs, though. Let’s not forget about seventh round pick Kheeston Randall out of the University of Texas. Miami will look to groom these young players for the next two to three seasons to have one of the deepest defensive lines in the NFL.
Miami has a decent linebacking corp – not overwhelmingly good, though. Karlos Dansby finally lived up to his contract in the latter portion of last season. Kevin Burnett will be taking the strong side duties this season in Miami’s new 4-3 scheme on defense. Burnett looked sluggish to begin the season last year while covering tight ends. Burnett, like Dansby, showed up for the second half of the season looking like a different player – it was quite a nice thing to see after watching New England’s tight ends roam free in the opener. Miami is crossing their fingers that Koa Misi will finally live up to his second round potential. These three will be roaming the field this upcoming season behind one of the most talented defensive line’s in the league.
Miami has talent on the roster – most analysts overlook this due to the lack of talent in numerous positions on the depth chart. If the Miami Dolphins can get the running backs the ball on offense and the defense can stop the run similar to the way the team did last season, there is NO reason that this team cannot win 5-6 games. Yes fans, we are looking at another 5-11 or 6-10 season this year – but don’t hang your heads. Tannehill will get a shiny new toy or two this offseason on offense (hopefully through the draft) and the team will only get better.
“In order to get better, sometimes you must hit rock bottom.”
Keep your fins up fans!!!
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