Dolphins fans, what can you expect moving forward?


It’s going to be hard to analyze new Miami Dolphins coach Dan Campbell. For starters he is taking over a 1-3 team heading into week five or the bye week if you will. Stephen Ross said yesterday that he still believes the Dolphins can win this season and potentially make the post season. Campbell himself said he was there to win games. What is reality and what is fiction? What can you expect as a Dolphins fan moving forward?

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To begin we have to look at what Campbell said during his press conference and I’m paraphrasing. He said he want’s a more physical team. A more aggressive team and that he does believe that this team can win. The question is how?

While the Dolphins replaced Joe Philbin, the first positive step in changing the culture that Campbell says must take place, the Dolphins have not changed the players. And they won’t. Miami still has a putrid offensive line and underproducing defensive line, poor linebackers, and questions in the secondary. Dan Campbell can’t change that. Enthusiasm is high right now, again, but it should be tempered. Have we learned nothing from the last 15 or so years?

The offensive line can get better. Branden Albert is getting healthy and the two weeks he will have off in addition to the previous two weeks will give him time to get as close to 100% as he will be all season. With Albert back in the lineup, assuming that he does return, the Dolphins offense will have at least a solid left tackle to take up some of the slack from Dallas Thomas at left guard. Albert should improve the offensive line and let’s not forget that prior to his injury last season, the Dolphins offensive line was doing well.

Miami still has problems at both guard positions but if Campbell is correct in challenging these players then maybe he can get more out of them than Philbin who has been characterized as soft. It’s something to watch moving forward but we shouldn’t expect an immediate change in performance until Albert gets more up playing strength.

The Dolphins offense has been sluggish and a lot of that has to do with abandoning the run and allowing defenses to play only the pass. Bill Lazor, if he stays will be pressed to balance the offense and open it up at the same time. The Dolphins are not aggressive on that side of the ball but Campbell promises to change that. While he may  not be able to get the players competing soon, the play calling should change immediately and an aggressive offense could be enough to open the scoring.

Defensively there is no question that Kevin Coyle is a big issue and we are waiting to hear if he loses his job today. In the meantime the Dolphins are not tackling and they are not stopping the run at all, or getting pressure on the quarterback. That isn’t going to change overnight unless a new scheme is put into place, overnight. Even then the Dolphins defenders will be learning something new. Sometimes that works and sometimes it does not.

Linebackers are an issue as well and Dan Campbell’s hiring doesn’t change that. Again, as with the defensive front, coaching changes might help ease some of that lack of talent. A lot will come down to how well they are prepared during the week.

If the Dolphins are looking to be more aggressive they don’t have to look any further than the cornerbacks who immediately give up six yards to receivers at the line of scrimmage. I expect the Dolphins to challenge more at the corners and play more aggressively off the edges but that too will take time and mentality is not changed overnight. Players need to learn what aggressive play is and frankly it’s been three years for a lot of these players.

Dan Campbell isn’t a miracle worker and it will be just that, a miracle if he can turn the team around quick enough to even challenge for a playoff spot. Hell it would be a miracle just to be mathematically in the hunt as the team heads into it’s final four games.

What Campbell does bring is respect and that can not be understated. Philbin had the respect of his team but it was not the right kind of respect. They respected him because he was nice not because he brought them to another level.

It sounds like the team may have been shackled by Philbin and if that is true then Campbell holds the keys to their chains. It’s possible that Miami, who faces both the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans in their first two games back can get to .500. That would be a minor miracle in and of itself. If the team can accomplish that, and if they can do it in a big statement making way, then the Dolphins will gain confidence, confidence they have been lacking so far.

There is a lot of happy fans right now, me included, but reality tells me that there is far too much left to fix, including possible management changes to get excited. The first step in recovery is realizing you have a problem. Stephen Ross took care of that on Monday when he fired Philbin but it only sets the Dolphins up for a 2016 head coaching search that could bring more changes to the team.

How well the team responds to Dan Campbell will have a lasting impact on the franchise beyond just 2015. It’s hard not to be excited about the change but remember, the Dolphins still have a lot of holes and a lot of players that are not coming close to meeting expectations. It’s a small victory to provide at least a little hope.