2012 was another mediocre year for the Miami Dolphins. At times, this young team showed glimpses of a very solid football team. Other times though, they looked like the same predictable and boring Dolphins we have become accustomed to over the past four years.
Unforeseen losses like the blowout suffered against the sub-par Tennessee Titans and a poor outing against the Buffalo Bills in their only prime-time spot this year left fans angry and confused. Losses like these and their inconsistent play week in and week out were keys to missing out on the postseason for the 4th straight season.
Their overall play is the reason why many in the football world including Miami, knows they have to add key players either through free agency starting in March and pick well in the draft in April to have any hope at the postseason next year.
The Dolphins are two position players away from being a legitimate contender for years to come. Cornerback and wide receiver are the two major areas of concern that GM Jeff Ireland will need to address to both save his job for the future and to give South Florida and Dolphins fans everywhere what they have been longing for…… A consistent winner.
Wide receiver seems to be the only hiccup in the progression of Joe Philbin’s up-tempo offense that he would like to rev- up a bit next season. With good complementary receivers like Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, Miami is just one deep threat away from changing the whole auro about their mediocre offensive output.
Free agency is where I believe the Dolphins need to and will strike to get that game changing wide receiver. 2013 free agency has a handful of great free agent pass catchers to choose from. A do it all receiver like Greg Jennings from the Green Bay Packers, the physical and talented Dwayne Bowe from the Kansas City Chiefs (who is also a Miami native), and speedster Mike Wallace from the Pittsburg Steelers all have what it takes to be the Dolphin’s #1 wideout in 2013.
Greg Jennings (Aaron Rodger’s right hand man) seems to be the most relevant so far in discussions about just who Miami will bring in. Jennings will be looking for a big pay day when free agency starts. Green Bay has an abundance of talented wide receivers and they might just not want to pay a boat load for Jennings when they could spend elsewhere.
Jennings’ sister also has hinted at Jennings leaving the cold confines of Green Bay and “taking his talents to South Beach.” In my opinion, Jennings seems like the best fit for Miami and is a proven performer. Dwayne Bowe is a beast when he wants to be, but rumors over the last two years have painted Bowe as a selfish player who plays when he wants and Miami doesn’t put up with that…. i.e. Brandon Marshall and Chad Johnson.
Mike Wallace is a great deep threat and would help to stretch the field which Miami has been lacking forever. I don’t think Miami will pursue Wallace like they will Jennings for a couple reasons. Jennings knows Philbin’s system and has played under Philbin with great success. Another reason is simply because Greg Jennings is a more complete receiver, not just a sprinter.
No matter what happens though, it is almost a certainty that Miami will pay big money for a wideout as they have the highest cap space out of any team this year. I don’t believe it would be a good decision for Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins to try and draft their future great wideout when your team is only a couple pieces away from contending and also when you have great free agent wideouts available.
Miami’s other key position that they desperately need to address is cornerback. Nolan Carroll stepped in for the injured Richard Marshall early in the season and proceeded to get torched by almost every team he faced. Miami mixed in anyone they could find to try and play the corner opposite of Sean Smith, but with some horrible results.
Miami’s cornerbacks probably are as a whole the worst in the league. With such a talented run defense and front 7, the 2012 secondary of the Dolphins truly was their Achilles to a more successful season.
Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin need to use their 12th draft pick in April and select the best cornerback available. Dee Milliner from Alabama is the concensus best cornerback coming out of college and has the capability of coming in and making an immediate contribution.
All you would have to do is watch Milliner in the national championship game against Notre Dame. For some reason, the Irish challenged him early and often but never got the best of the talented corner for the Crimson Tide as he defended the ball well in the air and never let his man get seperation.
Milliner also averaged a little more than 4 tackles a game for Alabama as he is a very strong tackler who helps tremendously in the run game. Just imagine, the Dolphins would now have a cornerback, yes cornerback to improve their already stellar run defense. Yes, if Dee Milliner is there at #12…..PICK HIM!
So, those are the two key positions that Miami must get right this time. This team is too close and too talented at most other positions to have another losing season. Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin need to be on the same page before free agency starts if they hope to turn things around. If for once, the Miami Dolphin front office gets key players to “take their talents to South Beach,” I have a feeling Dolphins fans will be much happier with the results this time next year.