The problems with the Miami Dolphins have been consistent for the past 15 years. With the offseason approaching, the Dolphins must make the best of a bad situation.
Like a rough late night out with friends you haven’t seen in a while, the Miami Dolphins feel the same way you do this morning: disoriented, confused, restless, and blinded by a vicious migraine; they’re completely lost and have no idea how to pull out the thorn of mediocrity that has been ailing them for 15 years.
To an NFL franchise, the front office is important, but in reality, it’s the coaches and players that bear the weight of the responsibility for shifting the organization, and in this case, the product on the field, in either a positive or negative direction. In fact, they’re the ones responsible for putting fans in the seats, points on the scoreboard, and hopefully a mark in the win column.
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With that, what plagues these Miami Dolphins to the core can’t be fixed overnight. No, there’s no morning relief antacid that’s going to make them feel any better. Unfortunately, and most Dolphins fans will hate to hear this, they need a complete overhaul.
From a player’s perspective, the Dolphins have huge, gaping holes littered all-over their roster, and they’re astronomically paper-thin. Both of these issues have been put on display throughout the entirety of the 2015 season. After looking over the roster, where they rank throughout the league in specific categories, and studying their tendencies, Miami is weak in about every facet of the game.
Often, when trying to repair and galvanize a team that is struggling, you either try to identify strengths to build on, or weaknesses to rectify. However, in the case of the Miami Dolphins, it’s not that simple. On both offense and defense, the Dolphins hang wistfully at the bottom of the league. The game of football isn’t rocket science; the game is decided on who moves the ball downfield and who scores the most points before the final second elapses—the Dolphins can’t do either of the two. Hence why they’re cemented in the same place you’d find the rest of the NFL’s lowly franchises: the league’s basement.
The disheartening facts: Miami’s offense and defense both rank 26th in points per game; the defense is ranked 30th in total yards surrendered; they’re ranked 28th in both third down conversion rate and time of possession; they’re 27th in penalties and passing yards given up; opposing quarterbacks post a QBR of 100.2, which ranks them at 27th in the league; and only three more teams have allowed more rushing yards.
The offense is painfully similar: 26th in points per game; 29th in yards per game; 31st on third down conversions; 27th in penalties; 30th in time of possession; 24th in passing yards per game; 22nd in yards per completion; they have surrendered the 8th most sacks; only 10 other teams have a lower QBR; and they’re 21st in rushing yards per game.
Take a look up there. Let those stats sink in through your skull—into your aqua and orange blood—and come to the realization that these stats resemble a bad football team. These stats resemble the 2015 Miami Dolphins.
Surprisingly, the one and only thing the Miami Dolphins do well is the one thing they consistently get away from: running the football. Miami is ranked fifth in the league at yards per carry, yet run the ball fewer times than every other team, besides one (Detroit Lions), in the NFL. This area has baffled the fans, analyst, and commentators watching the Miami Dolphins on the field and in the film room. Interestingly enough, when Lamar Miller is featured heavily in the offense, Miami wins. In fact, when Miller gets 13 or more carries they’re a perfect 9-0.
So, whoever Dolphins owner Stephen Ross breaks the bank to bring in to coach next year’s team will have an arduous task ahead of him. The Dolphins have a lot of needs that they need to address in the draft and through free agency in the offseason. Miami is more than one offseason away from climbing to the top of their division or flirting with the playoffs.
Maybe the new man in charge in Miami will focus on the one area that the Dolphins do well. Maybe he will try to resuscitate the running game back to life and build Miami the way a football team should be built: from the inside out. The smartest thing that the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins can do is focus on establishing a top-tier offensive and defensive line.
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
This might be a passing league, but as every NFL season nears an end, there always seems to be a common denominator within the remaining teams that find themselves in the playoffs: a solid offensive or defensive line—or in some cases, both.
The lines on both sides of the ball are paramount in order for their given unit to be successful. For instance, a good offensive line can provide larger running lanes; it can give your quarterback more time in the pocket, and your management of the game-clock increases, which tires out opposing defenses and let’s your defense have the opportunity to catch a break on the sideline. On the other side of the ball, if your defensive line is good, they can be disruptive and take away the opponent’s running game and put pressure on the opponent’s quarterback, which, more times than not, leads to turnovers.
Now, if the season ended today, let’s take a look at the teams that would be in the playoffs: In the AFC you have the Patriots, Bengals, Broncos, Texans, Chiefs, and Steelers. In the NFC, you’re left with the Panthers, Cardinals, Packers, Redskins, Seahawks, and Vikings. What do they all have in common? Yep, you guessed it. Good, solid play on the line.
Eight of the top 10 teams defending the run are playoff teams, with an exception of two teams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets) who remain in the hunt for a playoff berth and are still in the thick of things. On the other end, with the exception of one team (St. Louis Rams), the top 12 rushing teams in the NFL are either currently in the playoffs, or right on the cusp, scratching and crawling their way into the postseason.
In total defense, nine of the top 10 teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. In total offense, it’s the same story: eight of the top 12 offenses are either in, or dangerously close to getting to the playoffs. Hell, the top six defenses that produce the most sacks are all elite teams who continuously find themselves in the playoffs or hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.
Hey, new coach of the Dolphins—whoever you may be—please, for all things good in this world, start this grueling renovation process from the inside out; solidify both lines and let’s get back to the way we want to win: tough, hard-nose, grind out football. Miami might not be a mecca for toughness, but at least we would have the opportunity to make tough look cool.