ESPN: Miami Dolphins 8 Players Away From Super Bowl
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins are only eight above average players away from making next years Super Bowl. This according to an ESPN feature on all the remaining 28 NFL franchises. Eight is a lot of players and the Dolphins, according to this feature is ranked 17th out of those 28 teams.
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To be considered a Super Bowl contender, 40 percent of the players who took part in at least 250 snaps (varies by team) have to be rated as good or elite. Here’s how Pro Football Focus evaluated each of the Dolphins’ 31 qualifying players. – ESPN
To put this into context a little bit more, ESPN has each team divided into four player categories. Elite, good, average, and bad.
The Dolphins have two elite players listed. Cameron Wake and Reshad Jones. Wake is a menacing outside pass rusher and while Jones had a very solid season last year it could be argued that Brent Grimes is closer to being elite than Jones. Personally, elite players are hard to define so leaving anyone off the elite list is o.k. with me. Very few teams in my opinion have more than one or two “elite” players. The NFL average according to this piece is two.
While there are two at the top, the “good” category is also out of sorts. Koa Misi, Branden Albert, and Jarvis Landry. O.k. Misi is an average linebacker with good potential and Albert is a very good left tackle but Landry while looking really good potentially is still coming off a rookie season. But again where is Brent Grimes and a slew of other players that ended up in the average list? The average “good” players per team is at 4.3. Miami is at three.
Good News: For the second time in three seasons, Dolphins safety Reshad Jones ranked third in PFF’s rankings. In 2014, Jones proved his mettle as a run defender with 23 defensive stops, sixth among safeties. He was also an effective blitzer, notching 10 pressures in just 20 blitzes. – ESPN
TE Charles Clay, QB Ryan Tannehill, DT Jared Odrick, RB Lamar Miller, DE Olivier Vernon, ILB Jason Trusnik, CB Brent Grimes, OLB Philip Wheeler, TE Dion Sims, DT Earl Mitchell, S Louis Delmas, WR Mike Wallace, OLB Jelani Jenkins, DT Randy Starks, DE Derrick Shelby, CB Cortland Finnegan, G Shelley Smith, CB Jamar Taylor, C Samson Satele, and, CB Jimmy Wilson are all listed on the average list so let that sink in for a moment. Jason Trusnik? Phillip Wheeler? Dion Sims? Yet again where is Brent Grimes? The same Grimes who is in the Pro-Bowl. The NFL average in this category is 21 and Miami has 20.
ESPN uses information obtained from Pro-football-focus but it obviously doesn’t take into account the fact that Charles Clay is a free agent as is Jared Odrick. Where is Mike Pouncey? What about Ja’wuan James?
Oh, here they are on the “bad” list. Yes that’s right Mike Pouncey is on the bad list as is James despite the fact that James was having a stellar season at right tackle before moving to left tackle and that Pouncey is a pro-bowl alternate as a guard really plays center. Also on the bad list is Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Dallas Thomas, and Daryn Colledge who will be a free agent. The NFL average is 5.8 and Miami has six.
Bad News: This was the worst offensive line in football this year, especially after LT Branden Albert went down with a season-ending knee injury. The six lowest-graded players on the Dolphins’ offense were all offensive linemen.- ESPN
It’s all really nothing more than conjecture and while it’s a topic that might be fun to discuss or even debate the reality is that Miami needs more than to simply add eight players to their roster. They need to play like a team and finish games like a team. The Dolphins do need more pieces but they don’t have to be elite but more good players are definitely needed. The bigger question is can the coaches get the most of the talent they do have and what exactly will Dennis Hickey do in free agency this year.