The off-season could be four weeks away or the off-season could be pushed back a week or maybe even two. The Miami Dolphins control that to some degree. Regardless of whether the season ends in late December or sometime in January the Dolphins will face an interesting off-season that could see the team change directions, stay the course, or get tweaked. What we don’t know is what exactly the Miami Dolphins are building right now.
For starters no one thought that Dennis Hickey would be more than a one year general manager that would serve nothing more than filling a hole until the team found someone better. Hickey has proven to be a very good GM in year one and if this isn’t a fluke Stephen Ross got his first break as the Miami Dolphins owner. Remember it was only last off-season that the team parted ways with Jeff Ireland who was almost retained if not for his unwillingness to give up some control and then there were five GM candidates that turned down the Dolphins offer. Hickey was literally the only one who would take it.
Talk about a blessing.
With one year under his belt it will be fun to watch him put his thumbprint on the organization. Will he cater to what he views as needs for the team or take the advice of his head coach. Which brings us to Joe Philbin.
I admit that I am not a fan of his coaching but I also admit that this team is playing very good football compared to the last ten years or so. (At least those not run with a gimmick). Philbin has made a lot of questionable calls and while he is no longer sitting on the proverbial hot seat it has to be a consideration if the team fails to make the playoffs. Should he be retained if the Dolphins lose two of their last four to finish 9-7? I suppose that would depend on who the losses were to. If Philbin stays and right now, today, he should without question, Hickey will find his second season a little bit easier as he won’t be dealing with a new HC that might want to mix things up.
Players come and go each year but this year the Dolphins will face some tough decisions. The Dolphins are loaded with wide-receiver salary and Brian Hartline no longer is earning his salary on the field. Not for poor play but he just isn’t that go-to guy he has been in the past. Charles Clay has spent most of this season injured and will be looking for a new contract but the emergence of Dion Sims and the reality that even with Clay the Dolphins still lack a red-zone TD producing TE, Clay could be and probably should be gone.
Then there are the defensive players with question marks. Louis Delmas and Cortland Finnegan are both free agents and Jamar Taylor will be coming off a season ending injury as will Will Davis. Michael Thomas will be back in 2015 so do the Dolphins need to bring either one back after they wrap their one year deals? The Dolphins have some up and coming linebackers that have surprised this year so is Dannell Ellerbe out after sitting out this season injured? What about Phillip Wheeler who has been more or less underwhelming most of the season?
Knowshon Moreno was supposed to help the Dolphins as a featured back but instead he spent the season on IR. Is he worth bringing back?
The answers lie with the direction that the team is going to move forward in. Will Kevin Coyle have a job and if so how much stock will the Dolphins put into his opinion of key personnel? Mike Pouncey and Jared Odrick will be looking for new deals and the Dolphins will tie up a lot of money to retain them. Is this team going to continue the Bill Lazor experiment and if so how will that effect the team should he leave? Lazor is not likely to leave this season for another job but 2015 could be his last in Miami regardless of how well the team performs.
The Dolphins lack a real identity as they are not a fast paced offense like we expected but they are productive and getting better. Defensively the team wants to fast up front but Cameron Wake is on the wrong side of thirty and Randy Starks isn’t getting younger either. The Dolphins defense is not strong against the run and quite good against the pass but is their lack of run stopping a personnel issue or a coaching one?
These are questions that will be answered once the season is over and I bring it up now because a lot of these questions are riding on the outcome of the final four weeks and maybe even more specifically the next two weeks. At least for now, there is a renewed confidence in knowing that Dennis Hickey actually seems to get it. The better news is that the Dolphins legitimately seem to be going in the right direction. Which brings up the final question. Should the Dolphins change anything at all outside of a player personnel?