As the Miami Dolphins head into the 2016 season, many are focused on the new faces that have been added or the ones that have not. When it comes to improving the teams record however, returning players need to improve as well.
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For some NFL players it takes two or three years for the light to come on, when all of sudden their play drastically improves. Usually we hear comments such as “the game is slowing down for me”. This is when players stop being hesitant and are comfortable to the point that they are reacting instinctively, instead of thinking too much. And then there is the physical improvement that comes from being a year round professional player. The natural maturation process is also a factor. Of course some players show little or no improvement year after year, and soon become either back-ups fighting for a job, or they simply are no longer in the NFL. Then there are other times where veteran players simply have a much more productive season (not considering injuries) then from the previous year.
Here are four prime candidates who could show improvement this season:
DeVante Parker WR
In his rookie year, the foot that he had surgery on in his senior year in college starting bothering him. The medical staff determined that the screw inserted in his foot needed to come out and be re-inserted. Although this was considered a relatively minor procedure, it basically took away half his rookie season. When Rishard Matthews broke his ribs and was put on I.R., Parker became a starter by necessity. He scored a touchdown in each his last six games and had 22 receptions for 445 yards. If he can stay healthy his future looks bright, as he is already penciled in as a starter.
Jordan Phillips DT
As a rookie last year Phillips saw most of his action as a back up rotational player. He had 19 tackles and 2 sacks for the season. Although he was far from outstanding, I believed he deserved more playing time because Earl Mitchell underwhelmed. At 6’6 330 lbs. he did display some good instincts for knocking down passes. My hope is that Phillips will get in better shape and make a big jump this season. I see a big man with a lot of upside. Paul Soliai was a talent that took a few years for him to develop. I believe Jordan Phillips in is second year will become much more productive.
Jordan Cameron TE
Jordan Cameron had a disappointing season last year. The former Pro Bowl player finished the year with only 35 receptions for 386 yards. Conventional thinking was that the only concern with him was whether or not he could stay healthy. So how can a former Pro Bowler be a breakout player? For the Dolphin’s he was a non -factor last year, so I am considering him as player that has never shown much with the Miami Dolphins. The Fins offensive line was so poor last year that the Tight Ends often had to block on passing downs. But even so, Tannehill and Cameron clearly had chemistry issues. He was targeted 70 times which resulted in only 35 completions. Adam Gase says he is very high on Cameron, and he is a player who has proven in the past that he can produce.
Ryan Tannehill QB
Tannehill had what some considered to be a breakout season two years ago. Last season he and the team clearly regressed. Gates realizes that Tannehill’s major weakness is his pocket presence, or lack thereof. With a coach that at least brings to the table the expertise of having been an excellent offensive coordinator, and mentor of quarterbacks, Gase will make Tannehill a better player. Joe Philbin was an offensive coordinator in title only, as he did not even call plays at Green Bay. And did anyone ever hear Aaron Rodgers credit Philbin for his development? Tannehill is hard working, intelligent, and athletic. With decent coaching I believe he can gain some pocket awareness. Of course if the offensive line begins giving decent pass protection, that in itself would lead to better quarterback play.