Feb 20, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin speaks during a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Are The Dolphins Better? Really


The Miami Dolphins had an interesting off-season to say the least.  The Well’s Report wrapped up after the NFL season did putting to be the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito mess.  Jeff Ireland stood in limbo as he awaited his fate, as did Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin.  Ireland lost his job a day after Sherman lost his.  Philbin remains for at least another season.

For most that would be enough but not for Miami.  A two and a half week process to find a new GM was met with media skepticism that never materialized into anything more positive.  Five candidates turned down interviews for the job and three others declined the job after it had been offered.  After eight other candidates had been interviewed and courted the Dolphins settled on former Tampa man Dennis Hickey.

Hickey’s free agency, the first of his career in charge, was seen as positive despite the lack of effort to shore up the right side of the teams offensive line.  His draft has received mixed reviews.  Media pundits are casting “C’s” while most fans give the early paper grade a solid “B”.  Now that Hickey’s initial work is over the burden now falls back on the shoulders of HC Joe Philbin.

The question of whether the fault of this teams inability to rise out of the sub-500 doldrums has been heavily debated.  Was it a lack of talent or a lack of coaching?  Was it both?  With Ireland gone and Philbin still in place we will get a better idea as to how much coaching played a role in the teams issues.  In Ireland’s time in Miami he had two head coaches he didn’t choose.  Bill Parcells’ assigned Tony Sparano and Stephen Ross opted for his choice over Ireland’s, Mike McCoy.

Last season ended in horrid fashion as the Dolphins failed to score more than 7 points in two games.  Winning one would have put the team in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and likely would have saved both Ireland’s and Sherman’s jobs.  The fact that both losses came against division foes was even harder to swallow.  Fans demanded change and they got it.

This year the Dolphins face a tough schedule home and away but on paper have the talent to win.  Can Philbin coach this team above the level they have played at?  Consistently.  We will find out.

The only way to decide if the Dolphins are better than last year is to let this season play out and then judge the results.  The only way to decide who had a bigger hand in the teams mediocrity can only be known when the players leave and strive elsewhere or the coach leaves and a new coach elevates their play.

While the Dolphins made solid changes on the offensive line with the addition of Branden Albert via free agency and Ja’Wuan James via the draft they failed to tweak the linebackers and only made minimal changes in the secondary where they are hoping CB Cortland Finnegan and S Louis Delmas can play at previous levels.  It’s often debated whether either are upgrades over Nolan Carroll or Chris Clemons.  Perhaps the biggest change was the one that forced by owner Stephen Ross.

Bill Lazor.

Fans are hoping for a breakout offensive season and Lazor could be the guy to provide it.  His last offensive coordinator job came in the college ranks but he has been credited with the development of Philadelphia Eagle QB Nick Foles and has received high praise for his work under Eagles coach Chip Kelly.  If Lazor can implement an exciting and dangerous game plan, the Dolphins might give the fans a lot more to cheer about.  If the Dolphins can score more points Joe Philbin may enter the 2015 season not worried about his job.  It’s a merry-go-round.

The changes made to this years roster are small when compared to last years team.  The bigger additions as mentioned were on the offensive line where Miami has to improve on the field if they will have any chance of implementing a Bill Lazor game plan.  Fans will have another two months to debate the additions and will once again scrutinize mini-camps and organized team activities.  Nothing however will provide significant answers until mid-August when the players start taking the field and we get to see exactly what they have.  Then in September we know if the dress rehearsal missed the target.

So have the Dolphins “really” gotten better?  Not by attrition, sorry the removal of Jeff Ireland does not make this team better nor does the retention of Joe Philbin or the addition of Dennis Hickey make them worse.  The fact is the team needs to step up and it begins with the head coach and ends with the head coach.  This is Philbin’s year.  The draft and free agency was exactly what he wanted and he has no excuses.  They may be better in some areas but others are still question marks.  We will know if they are better or worse come December.

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  • Pygskyn

    DB’s – Likely to be an improvement, but just for the sake of argument, lets call it a push from last year.
    LB’s – Sucked last year, even if we make no changes to the starting 3 we are still at the same point as last year. No better or worse (They are a year older, but a year more experience in the system, another wash)
    D-Line – Soliai’s loss hurts, but with a healthy Jordan and the signing of Mitchell, this is another wash at worst, likely an upgrade with depth.
    Defensively looking like just the same as last year.

    Now lets see the offense:
    QB: Tannehill should be in a position to take the next step. 3rd year is when franchise QB’s typically step up. Improvement through experience.
    RB: Moreno definitely improves the stable of RB’s and allows a greater degree of flexability in what we can expect from the position. Upgraded.
    TE’s: The Claymaker has found his groove. Adding in an improved O-Line allows Simms and Lynch to be able to run more routes. Lynch gives that hard nosed inline blocker role a boost as well. Improved.
    WR’s: Landry’s looking like he could be the steal of the draft. The kid with hands of glue gives RT17 another safety valve that he can trust to attack the ball and drop practically nothing. Improved.
    O-Line: Dear sweet Jebus colossal improvement. (And that is with the belief that they will just be middle of the road)
    Special Teams: The big pieces are all back. Should expect a similar year. Push.
    Coaching Staff: Remains to be seen, hard to see how Lazor could be as bad as Sherman. Most likely another improvement.
    So as I see it, we didn’t get worse anythere, and for most position groups we either stayed the same or improved (dramatically improved in a couple of spots)… so yeah, we are definitely better unless the injury bug bites us in a sensative spot (knocking on wood)

    • nlb

      Well said. Go Phins!!

      • keath sygman

        we suck

        • txmedic5

          I don’t think we suck but I do think it’s going to be tough. Starting rookies on the Oline could be a problem early in the season. All in all I think that Lazor could have more to do with this season that anyone else.

          • Pygskyn

            Starting Rookies on the O-Line will definitely create the occasional “are you kidding me?” moments out there. That’s still miles better than the utter ineptitude that last years line was able to put together. Getting even a “D” this year is better than getting an “F” and honestly this group should at least be a “C”.

          • keath sygman

            If Philbon can coach them up. He hasent improved one player since he has been here . GUy has no emotion , cant be a leader . We will never be very good with him here

          • Pygskyn

            An epileptic spider monkey with touretts could coach this group up into an improvement over last years group.
            Besides, it’s not the head coaches position to coach up the Offensive Line. That is the position coaches job, and our new O-Line coach as I understand it is pretty darn good.

          • keath sygman

            pHILBON SOLD HIMSELF OFF AS AN OFFENSIVE GURU. You are right , coach Benton is great . We need to get a head coach. The Jets and Pats coach is light years ahead of ours. Even when the jets suck the coach keeps it interesting. Right now we are not very good and very boring on top of that . Hopefully Ross gets his Michigan brother to come here when he leaves the head coaching job in San Fran next year

          • Pygskyn

            Okay, even conceding that point (which I disagree with, but that’s for another discussion), it has absolutely nothing to do with the conversation at hand. This conversation is about whether or not Miami is better this year than they were last year. If Philbin sucks this year, and he sucked last year then it’s a push and not really a relevant point to the topic at hand.

  • Don Devine

    We have the talent to produce and win. The talent just needs to step up.

  • Johnny

    I don’t know… Tough schedule.. Once again in the top 10 hardest schedules..
    We have 4 new OLinemen!!!

    That’s what it all will come to::::::::::::::::

    How fast can this Offensive Line Gel??

    (AND??? Don’t forget, most likely their will be 2 rookies on that new OLine..)

    That’s asking a lot!!!

    Just like always… Hope for the best, but expect the worse…
    Or is it Expect the worse, but hope for the best….???? (You know what I’m trying to say..lol)

    Phins up!!!

  • James Rice

    I sure hope that I am wrong abbout Joe Phillbin and his lack of passion,brains,not playing rookies,and total head scratching decissions that he showed the last two years.We are stuck with him,so please show us a good year for once.We are counting on you Go big joe and phins.

    • Johnny

      Have you seen Coach Philbin’s head?? He’s got the brains!!!
      He’s missing the passion….
      Pretty much opposite of Sparano, he had the passion.. but lacked the brains..
      Got to have both…

      • James


      • txmedic5

        My concern with Philbin is that he doesn’t get it. I have never seen a coach on any level read from queue cards to rally his team after a game. I mean really?

      • Miami Jules (Julian)

        LMAO!!!!! Great analogy!

        • Johnny


  • scho013

    I think the one thing you can definitely say about Coyle is he gets the most out of his DB’s, I think this position will be a major upgrade, there’s too many good players to miss on the DB2 & 3 position and we only play 3 games against legit spread offense passing next year (Packers, Broncos, Lions) … why did everyone think so high of Carroll? Every game i saw he was the one getting torched.

    Most important upgrade was the offense, I think by default our line is better. Tannehill should have more time and we have a coordinator that doesn’t want to tell them if it’s a run or a pass and understands the purpose of moving the pocket. Moreno will be a difference maker because we finally have a great pass blocker in the back field. Landry will fit in nice, and there may be no true number 1 receiver, but we have 5 legit weapons on the field. Seasons have been mind-numblingly repetitive, but this team seems to fit together well.

    • txmedic5

      Maybe but there is a lot riding on two guys in the secondary with huge injury concerns.

  • Pentax Shooter

    11-5. Days of the Dolphins are coming…

    • Miami Jules (Julian)

      Hey Pentax you are an oasis of inspiration amid a desolate and arid desert of pessimism. Good! I know your post isn’t a mirage but a realistic vision of hope. I am closer to your forecast of needed soil fertilizing showers than I am to my other fellow fans’ forecast of killer sandstorms (Folks I’m exaggerating just a tad for dramatic emphasis). Here’s why I’m hopeful for a good season:
      1-Bill Lazor,
      2-Ja’Wuan James,
      3-Branden Albert,
      4-Jarvis Landry… and the size of his hands.
      5-Arthur Lynch
      I would’ve liked more help in the secondary, a DT or ILB, and not as many UFAs or lower picks who have been kicked out of a program, but just look and read the above, starting with the new OC and our less than enthused fellow fans, maybe can smile again and start feeling gleeful.

      • Johnny

        Lynch??? We basically have a Lynch by the name of Sims.. Both are slow, big blocking TEs..

        • Miami Jules (Julian)

          Yes, I like him too… I know not what Lazor is planning but I can’t wait to see… I Cheer up Johnny, it’s going to be OK, then againif it isn’t, I’m going to start to get upset too. thumbed up your comment ;-)

          • Johnny

            Jules.. I’m starting to warm up to the draft decisions.. I still believe they reached for RT James (and basically everyone else).. BUT?? He will be a solid Right Tackle for many years.. Not sure about 5 small school kids.. BUT?? I like the “potential” of T/G Turner.. He has the physical tools to play Guard.. Guard only.. Put him at LG and don’t experiment.. Keep there to get as many reps as possible..next to LT Albert.. Obviously I wouldn’t put him at RG next to James.. 2 rookies on one side won’t be a good thing.. It all depends on how fast they gel.. I still think we should have got Safety Ha-Ha, then trade up in 2nd to get James.. Then you get 2 quality players instead of 1.. And you know our Safety position is worrisome.. Obviously I like Jones, but Delmas is more then injury-prone.. After that?? Nobody.. Jimmy Wilson?? Who plays nickel??.. Ha-Ha would have made a great center fielder like a Berry or Thomas… And obviously you know I like WR Landry.. Kid is physical and has baseball mitts as hands.. Best hands in the draft… Also.. I like the potential of LB Tripp.. After those and maybe Lynch.. Don’t expect much… But like I said it will all come down to how fast this OLine gels as a unit and rookie play on that OLine…
            You know.. I spend $2 Gs (just for tix, not counting food, beer, gas, tolls, BBQ equipment)… And when you spend $2-$3 Gs a year, you would like to see your team win once in awhile… Haven’t had a winning season in 5 years.. Tired of driving 2.5 hrs round trip every game to watch them lose.. This was the first year EVER, I thought about not renewing my season tix.. Jules.. You can only take so much losing.. You know?? Will always be a fan of the Dolphins, I’m with them win or lose… But I’m missing those days of a winning season.. You know??? I get alittle frustrated from time to time.. (Like after and during the draft)… But I tell it as I see it.. My opinion that’s all.. That we are all entitled too.. Don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer.. But I’m realistic.. I finally think we have our Franchise QB with Tannehill and he gets sacked 58 times.. And no big seam-threat big TE… No big targets at all… Their not giving him the tools to succeed in this league.. It’s a shame.. Tannehill is the man.. The first QB I liked since Marino… And the kid won’t make it if they don’t protect him and give him some big targets… And that all starts and ends with the FO…

          • Miami Jules (Julian)

            I know Johnny, I have been feeling pretty frustrated with the Dolphins for the last few years myself, and had changes not taken place, I’d still be a fan but maybe not as involved. I have to trust Lazor, that was a welcome change and I’d like to think he had some input. I drive about 1 hour because I am way south of the stadium, and while I know it’s less than half the time you spend on your commute, it has been an ordeal for me to make it in the last few years. Half way through last season, I gave up on the season because of Sherman’s play calling and as a result, I thought I was going to have stroke, so instead I hoped for changes and started to look into the draft. That’s why I had a jump start on everyone else. I don’t know how much tape you have been able to watch a nd mind you, I also don’t get half the picks but I feel real good about the ones I do get. I know you’re a hard core fan, because I’ve gotten the opportunity to chat with you, and I hope you can hang in there and at least see what happens with the season.

      • Pentax Shooter

        Thanks for the kind words, Jules. I’m not usually so hopeful pre-season, but I have a really good feeling about the upcoming year.

        - I have confidence the overall coaching will be better. That doesn’t mean the coaching will be *great*, but I do think it will be better than last year.
        - The O-line will be better. It may even be average.
        - Last year, Miami lost 4 games by a single score. Win one of those games – what if the refs had called the illegal FG block on Baltimore – and Miami’s in the playoffs. Not saying Miami deserved to be in… they had 2 shots at the end of the year and blew it… but still, it’s a razor-thin margin between success and failure.
        - RT17′s natural progression as a QB. His first 2 years, he does what the coaches tell him. He’s not precocious like Andrew Luck, he’s not that kind of era-defining QB. Last game against Buffalo, RT17′s getting hammered by the pass rush, and what does the OC call? Throw deep, try to get beyond the man-to-man coverage… except the QB has no time to let the route develop, or even to wind up the throw! Neanderthal thinking by Sherman. Tannehill can run – gotta use his legs, force teams to contain. Quick throws over the middle – will Landry be that guy?
        - RT17 and Wallace seem to be determined to get in sync this year.
        - Last year’s late season games vs NE and Pit.
        - Karma. Last year was the storm, this year will be the exhale. The new grass will be greener. The Faustian deal with Parcells for 2008 is over.

        • Miami Jules (Julian)

          I just called it as I read it Pentax. I agree with your reply just as much and I will add something I wrote in an article early last season. It was after the first game and some fans were complaining about, and the media raising an eyebrow at, Wallace’s lack of production in that game. I wrote (recalling from the top of my head now) I rather Tannehill skips throwing to Wallace because the latter is either attracting the attention of opposing DBs or whatever, than force the ball in there and star throwing incompletes, because if DC’s around the division or the league, lose respect for Miami’s new found deep threat, they will start stacking the box and line and start sending extra rushers in, making our running game less efficient and Tannehill’s time to set up a lot shorter… I’d like to think than rather than jinxed it, I called it early on. Landry’s hands are so big, they have their own zip code… I missed out on him because I was too caught up in looking for a tall receiver instead. 2 OLs from the draft, 2 OLs from FA and a stud blocking TE from the draft, IDK how good the o line will be at least this year either, but I would almost bet this week’s lunch that they will be far from resembling last season’s.

    • Johnny

      I hope so.. Haven’t had a winning season in 5 years.. And even 08 was a easy schedule and Brady was injured..
      If we can go 3-1 before the bye week, we will be looking good…
      That 1st game if the year vs. the Pats will be an early indicator.. An early measuring stick..

      • Pentax Shooter

        Phins did go 3-1 last year, lol.

        • Johnny

          That was last year.. lol
          Actually went 3-0.. Then lost the next 4 games in a row…

  • Jacob

    My sister playing DB over Carroll is an upgrade.

    • Bryce

      Your sister picks a lot of balls?

  • John Smith

    Long time Dolphin fan here. I want to be clear. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PLAY CALLS OR COACHING. I am casting all the blame in player acquisition or the lack there of. The Fins have been getting beat at the wheeling and dealing side of this for years. Maybe decades at this point. Anyone who wasn’t buzzed out of their minds while watching the games can tell you that the offensive line was pathetic. The main reason was they had decided in the off- season that Martin was going to be able to hold that position down. They could have had Albert last year. This is case and point.

    Now with the addition of Albert, we can assume that the left side of the line is going to be ok. But if we look at the right side… at this point it’s a glaring weakness. At this point, Hickey needs to put together a trade. Even if it takes trading Dion Jordan to get a stud on the right side of the OL I say DO IT!

  • Miami Jules (Julian)

    I get a feeling of a less than warm reception to my upbeat sense of hope… I’ll just pack up my bags and sing a happy tune on my way out.

    • Pentax Shooter

      Don’t go!

      • Miami Jules (Julian)

        Thanks! I didn’t go very far for very long… was just pouting a bit at the time.