The Miami Dolphins have talent on this team. That’s nothing new. The Dolphins throughout the years have had talent on their team. They simply don’t know how to use them.
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With the Dolphins now trying to wrap up their season in five weeks and move on yet again into an off-season full of questions, Miami has once again wasted the talent on the roster. Players are not getting any younger and eventually, this team will need to replace some of that talent. Either this year or next.
To say this team has talent and then to look at their record is almost laughable but its the truth. Whether the results are bad coaching, bad schemes, or poor player choices, the Dolphins free spending habits in the off-season have netted them nothing but ridicule. From high-profile signings like Dannelle Ellerbe, Mike Wallace, and the trade for Brandon Marshall, Miami has focused their attention singularly on the big screen HD television instead the sound system.
This year the Dolphins paid a hefty price from Ndamukong Suh and while they are getting quality play out of him, he can’t elevate the supporting cast. Or at least they are not elevating to him. Here is a look at some of the talent that Miami has that has been wasted the last three years.
Ndamukong Suh – Suh will be around at least for the next three years. Minimum. If the Dolphins don’t find adequate help along the defensive line and at the linebacker position, then Suh’s relentless play and occupation of two offensive lineman on every snap is a massive waste of money and talent. The good news is that the Dolphins may have something in Jordan Phillips, the teams 2nd round pick who is rarely used.
Miami has some depth along the line but to be honest the Dolphins schemes haven’t been conducive to their style of play. That should change next season but only if the Dolphins hire the right coach and the right staff.
Brent Grimes – Grimes is one of the best corner backs in the league and for the last few years he has been incredible keeping the Dolphins secondary from falling apart. The problem is he is getting older and he is starting to show signs of breaking down. This is not just an observation from this past Sunday. More important is the cap hit that he will be making in 2016. Grimes is scheduled to count $9.5 million against the teams cap next season. Releasing him saves over $6 million. While the Dolphins will likely try to restructure his contract the question is can they.
Reshad Jones – Jones is probably one of the top two safeties in the NFL. He is lights out the best player on defense not named Suh and he plays far better than Suh. He is the absolute life and blood of the defense. Of all the players on either side of the ball, Jones is the one who used perfectly. He can blitz, he can cover, he is phenomenal in run support, and he too is getting older. Jones has a few more really good seasons ahead of him and it would be a shame to waste another season of poor play with Jones performing so well. If Miami wants to continue the track they are on, then they should really do Jones a favor and trade him to a contender where he may get a ring.
Jarvis Landry – Landry is the offense. He is the one single player on that side of the ball that has the raw talent and emotion combined with physicality and leadership that very few teams find in a young player. Landry is only in his 2nd season and already has become not only a favorite of Ryan Tannehill but of the entire fan base as well. Landry is also cheap. He is on the 2nd year of a four-year deal which puts him in Miami another two seasons easily. Landry is going to want a big raise in 2018 and Miami may have no choice but to give it to him. With talent like this, it’s appalling that the offense that surrounds him can’t do more.
Ryan Tannehill – Say what you want but Tannehill has a lot of talent. Is there hiccups in his game? Absolutely. He has no pocket awareness, can’t step up in the pocket when under pressure, and tends to force throws when he is being pressured. While he has improved considerably on his deep ball Tannehill still has a lot of improving to do. What makes Tannehill such a question mark is the fact that in his four seasons with the Dolphins, he has been saddled with Mike Sherman and Bill Lazor as his OC’s. He can’t audible for whatever reason, he is rarely rolled out of the pocket where he is one of the best in the NFL, and he is rarely allowed to run the ball, again where he excels. This is wasting what Tannehill does best but the biggest factor very well may be the offensive line. Or lack thereof. The Dolphins have not had a single solid offensive line in place since Tannehill arrived. In fact, they have had one of the worst lines in Dolphins history over the course of the last four seasons.
Lamar Miller – Miller can be explosive and when he is, he will change a game on a dime. Yet for all his talent, the Dolphins have abandoned the run in every game this season. That is on Bill Lazor who has admitted to not liking to run the ball. It’s also one of the reasons he has been fired. The lack of utilization on the ground this season may very well hurt Miller’s free agency stock in March. That is if the Dolphins let him go. That will be up to the new regime when they take over.
Jordan Cameron – Cameron was terrific in Cleveland. Gary Barnidge is terrific in Cleveland. Did Cleveland make these two tight-ends as good as they are or are they both very good tight-ends and Cleveland knows how to use them? When Cameron came to Miami it was a huge deal. He was supposed to be far more reliable than Charles Clay but the Dolphins still can’t figure out how to use the big tight-end. Not in the seam, not on the outside, not behind the linebackers. Having him on the roster is an absolute waste. Not because he lacks talent but because the Dolphins coaches lack the talent to use him. Making this more sad is the fact that Dan Campbell was his tight-ends coach. Cameron will cost the Dolphins $9.5 million next season, almost assuredly sealing his fate as a one year member of the team.
Cameron Wake – For years the Dolphins have been sporting one of the best defensive ends in the game. While Wake has some up and down games and isn’t very good in coverage or run support, he isn’t paid for that. He is paid to get to the quarterback. Despite Wake’s abilities and athleticism, the Dolphins have supported him with no one. Like Suh, Miami’s failures to develop linebacker talent that can protect Wake has wasted the talent that he has. Instead of stacking the roster on defense with good quality players, Miami has looked at support role players and that doesn’t cut it.
DeVante Parker – The good news for the Dolphins is they have the excuse that Parker has been injured and missed a lot of practice time. The bad news is that since he has been healthy, the coaches haven’t been able to get him up to speed. The only way a player can get better is to get on the field. Instead the Dolphins have opted for Greg Jennings who has more drops than any other player this season. Parker has talent but will he end up being another wasted draft pick two or three years from now?
Mike Wallace – Wallace had the speed to get open. Tannehill lacked the arm to get him the ball. While the two rarely were cohesive, some of that blame can be placed on Wallace who didn’t exactly practice like he played. Wallace dogged it in practice and then expected the timing to be perfect with his quarterback when it mattered. It wasn’t. After spending a lot on Wallace, Miami jettisoned him two years into to the project. Once again wasting the talent of a very good player but more importantly wasting the money on a player who has issues.
When looking at the players above, excluding Wallace, the Dolphins should have built around this talent. Instead they added players that need so much development and work that when someone get’s injured the holes show through easily. Some of these players are great when given the right system to play in but the Dolphins don’t buy players that fit their systems, they buy players that might sell tickets. They buy the name brand instead of the cheaper knock off with the same quality picture.
It’s been a rotating problem in Miami that has spanned Randy Mueller, Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Dennis Hickey.