Has the Miami Dolphins gotten any closer to taking the division away from the New England Patriots? No. It’s a brutally honest answer I know. How close are they? That is an entirely different question but the answer may just be as brutally honest. Last year was supposed to be the Patriots fall off year. Injuries decimated their defensive line and their WR’s were not very good. They lost Rob Gronkowski for most of the season and Aaron Hernandez to off-season murder charges.
And they still made the AFC Championship game.
Here we are watching them once again play coy in free agency. Up until they added the number one CB in all of football. Darrelle Revis signed a one year deal for 12 million guaranteed and a second year for 20 million not guaranteed. Are the Patriots better? It’s hard to say no. Their defense got better with the addition of Revis but there are still questions on the defensive line, at LB, and on offense where the WR’s are still question marks. The Patriots are however once again the favorite to challenge Denver for AFC superiority.
The New York Jets had a season that many believe was one of the best coaching jobs of Rex Ryan. Sorry but given the teams total lack of continuity and the Mark Sanchez/Geno Smith hang-ups the Jets actually turned in a solid season that finished in 2nd in the AFC East and knocked Miami out of the playoffs. While they lost top guard Austin Howard they added Seattle Seahawk guard Breno Giacomini and today added WR Eric Decker. They lacked a solid WR group last year. The team is now talking to James Jones of the Packers.
Have the NY Jets gotten better? Hard to say and until they fix their QB position that answer will remain, well, unanswered.
That brings us to the Miami Dolphins, the Bills really haven’t done much this off-season thus far. The Dolphins opened the new year with Branden Albert. There is no question that the offensive line is better for it. The caveat of course is the fact that now the Dolphins have two starters on that line. Mike Pouncey being the other. No guards, no right tackle. I like Nate Garner but he can’t hold it for an entire season. I really came away impressed with un-drafted rookie Sam Brenner last year but enough to hand over the starting job this year? No.
The Dolphins added Earl Mitchell to the line and while it’s a hole that has been plugged can anyone say without conviction that Mitchell is poised to be as good or better than Paul Soliai? Of course not. The re-signing of Randy Starks was a very good move for the team but does it make the Dolphins stronger than last years team? No, it keeps them the same at the position. Conversely, the re-signing of Brent Grimes doesn’t make the team better at that corner spot either but both Starks and Grimes are very needed leaders and the team as a whole is far better with them than without them.
The Dolphins also added Louis Delmas but it’s hard to say whether or not he will immediately be better than the departed Chris Clemons. My money would be on yes, he is an improvement but his knees will be the answer to that question ultimately. Miami has had a solid off-season thus far but I wouldn’t necessarily say they are a better team than the talent they put out last year. Mainly because they have position left to be filled and until they are the Dolphins won’t win the paper schedule.
It’s far from over. The Dolphins will find a way to put lineman on the field. Will they be short term solutions, quick fixes, or permanent fixes remains to be seen. It’s been a good start to free agency but it surely can’t be it. Too much remains for the team to divert their focus solely to the draft where the opportunity to draft BPA is for now not reasonable.
It will be exciting to watch the next few days unfold. I suppose the bigger question is what direction are they going in? So far I would say it’s lateral. They haven’t taken a step back but they haven’t taken a step forward either. It’s like a puzzle that has a couple missing edge pieces but a lot of missing center pieces. You think you know what it is supposed to look like but there is still too much left to know for sure.