Dolphins Questions Still Linger
By Brian Miller
Jul 22, 2013; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) runs with the ball during training camp at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Spending spree aside there are still questions about whether these Miami Dolphins can turn the proverbial corner and win this division. Gone is the “we will be satisfied with a contention” attitude from most fans. You don’t invest 200 million in future contracts and expect to compete. You expect to win.
Fans want to win now as do the players, coaches, Jeff Ireland, and Stephen Ross. That may be what we want but is it a reality? Call me a “Debbie-Downer” here but reality has a tendency to smack the crap out of you when it slams into the side of your face. I’m not here to say that these Miami Dolphins can’t win, I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion that they will. This isn’t predicated on any singular issue at training camp or one single thing not seen at training camp. It only provides a realistic view into what still lacks on a team full of high-dollar grocery items.
The Dolphins opted to go shopping this season and it was a fun few weeks watching them pour money into brand names. It was nice to see them shopping at an upscale super market rather than at the bargain mart for canned goods and discounted produce that was set expire. When the spending is over and your budget is tossed on the table you start to look at the pantry and see what you forgot. That may be the case for the Dolphins.
While the WR group is, at least on paper, the best it has been in over a decade, the TE position still lacks a two headed monster that would thrive in a West Coast style of offense. The Phins are relying on inexperience behind Dustin Keller as well as Keller holding up all season after an injury plagued 2012. Yet this is actually the least of their concerns. Running back however is not.
Lamar Miller is primed to lead the Dolphins but he has to do it with changes on the offensive line that could prove tougher than originally expected (we will get to that shortly). In addition he hasn’t proven that he can carry that type of load. 20 to 25 carries a game may more than he can handle. The Dolphins of course may not run the ball that much but durability is still a concern. An injury his senior year at ‘The U” cost him draft slots and last year he was used sparingly behind Reggie Bush. The Dolphins true veteran back is Daniel Thomas and his as inconsistent as any player on the teams roster at any position.
When it comes to Thomas there is no concrete guarantee that he even makes the final 53 after poor consecutive seasons in 2011-12 and he continues to struggle with holding on to the football during training camp. Mike Gillislee is a rookie and Jonas Gray is coming off a season ending injury that makes him in essence a rookie as well. Put these inexperienced runners behind a line that has questions and it’s not a recipe for guaranteed success.
While Jonathan Martin mans the left side there are questions at the guard positions once again. John Jerry is injured and his time to return is unknown. Ritchie Incognito has at least temporarily moved to RG which has moved rookie Dallas Thomas to LG next to Martin. The combination of youth and NFL inexperience on the left side is troubling. Martin has struggled in camp and having his inside protected by a rookie could make it a rougher transition. The right side may be better with Incognito but the Dolphins like to move the RG around and Incognito is not fleet of foot. Pulling out to the right could be problematic for the slower lineman who has struggled moving right to left. Learning to instinctively pull off your left foot first takes an adjustment.
Lance Louis would be ideal fit at RG but he has not fully recovered and until he does the Dolphins don’t know if he will be able to slide in and start or provide depth.
The offense was supposed to be much improved this year and they very well may but are they improved enough to put 30 plus points on the board each week? They will likely have to as it’s hard to win in the league anymore by posting less than 20 and the range between 20 and 30 is normally narrow outcomes. The Dolphins must start putting points on the board with six and seven point additions instead of three’s.
Defensively the front is looking like it could be the best unit in the NFL. Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, and Olivier Vernon are all three battling each other for playing time and depth positioning and the competition is making everyone better for it. Slide back two rows and your wondering who will step up opposite Brent Grimes at CB.
Grimes is having a fantastic camp and while Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall are pounding it out opposite him Will Davis is making a bigger impression than second round selection Jamar Taylor at least by a little. While neither were expected to make a great impact early the fact that Patterson is showing as much as Marshall could be an indication that either Marshall has slid in his production or Patterson has improved his. One thing is for certain and that is that there is a question mark that sits on that side of the field. And in the secondary, that corner spot is not alone.
Skipping back to the safety position Reshad Jones has emerged as a leader but at FS there is a question as to whether or not Chris Clemons who signed a one year deal has what it takes to man the spot opposite Jones. If not the only true option on the roster is Jimmy Wilson who has not shown 100% that he is ready for full time duty.
The Dolphins improved their team in the off-season there is no question but they also put themselves into a position of needing more than what they currently have. T