Well now that the 2013 season is officially over after the Super Bowl, despite the disappointment in both the way the season ended for the Dolphins and the way the Super Bowl played out, now is the time for renewed hope and faith in the 2014-15 Miami Dolphins. The offseason has begun for the players but it is never-ending and continues for the management team and with a new GM, OC, LB’s, O-line coach and Athletic trainer as well as potential new hires forthcoming after the departure of Brian Gaine Miami has a lot of work to do.
Now that the last remaining issue from last season is in the rear view mirror (The Wells Report) it is time to take a close look at the players on the roster the pending free agents and what the Dolphins should do to be more competitive as this season is a make or break season for Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill as I will paint the narrative that both are tethered to each other and their fate will depend on how they both do this season.
I will take a look at the entire team by positions and asses the positions and grade them as far as strength just like my 5 star ranking option on the articles I will give the positions a 1-5 star ranking 5 being the highest (stating the obvious) .
I will start with the Quarterbacks and Miami over the last two seasons have had 3 QB’s on the roster. Ryan Tannehill who was drafted 8th overall in 2012 and has been the starter for the last two seasons. Ryan has developed but not to the potential that I feel he should have and I do blame coaching for the most part and hopefully with a new person developing him (Bill Lazor) Tannehill has the opportunity to learn from someone else other than Mike Sherman and I can say I am excited an d happy for Tannehill and hopefully with the tutelage of Lazor Ryan will use all his weapons and do a better job of sustaining drives and delivering game changing plays as I feel he has the potential to do. Now some word has leaked that Joe Philbin wants to push Tannehill and eventually look at Matt Moore as a relief QB should Tannehill not step up to the plate next season . I have one issue with this, not that Tannehill should not be pushed but who it is that the Dolphins have as our backup QB. I feel the Dolphins should trade or cut Matt Moore and not pay him another dime as that is one contract I will never understand as I am not a Matt Moore believer. I do wonder why they also are hanging on to Pat Devlin? It’s time to push Devlin and have him step up as the #2 QB and let him be the person who challenges Tannehill should he falter. I also would like for Miami to bring in another QB into the mix one who TRULY have the potential to push Tannehill for his job. Overall I give our QB’s 3 stars basically due to the potential of Tannehill but we need to upgrade the backup position with a legitimate threat to Tannehill and I am not convinced we have that person on the team as of now.
Next I will look at the RB’s as I am still upset with the Dolphins for letting Reggie Bush walk without any proof that Miller or Thomas could fill his shoes. Reggie went on to have an outstanding season rushing for over 1000 yards and over 500 receiving yards that is over 1500 all purpose yards for another team. That alone was an excuse to fire somebody. Now looking at Daniel Thomas I will have to conclude he is a bust, I see no other way to describe the kid he is what Channing Crowder so aptly describe a man with a Tarzan Body but plays like Jane. I am done with Thomas and feel he should be replaced. Lamar Miller has potential his speed is obvious but his vision is questionable and Miami needs to add at least two more RB’s one in free agency (Ben Tate) and one early in the draft 2nd-5th round. Overall now we have a RB group that I would grade out at around a 2.5 stars with only Miller worth retaining but we need significant upgrades at the RB position and Ben Tate is exactly the back that I feel could upgrade the position on the team and I would spare no cost in getting him in-house if I were Hickey. He is now the top rated FA RB so if Miami gets him it will not be cheap.
The WR’s are next and that is the group that I feel needs less attention as we are stocked with very good receivers I will give them 4 stars with only one addition making that group perfect a big bodied 6-4 – 6-6 possession receiver the only addition I would not mind seeing Miami make but the next group just might be capable of handling that role …
The TE’s: Unfortunately we lost Dustin Keller before the season started but the good that came from it is Charles Clay more than adequately filled in and delivered in fact he was in my opinion the most improved player on the team from the previous season. Charles made many key plays and if he should play the same or better next season we are looking at a star TE. Miami have Michael Egnew and Dion Sims both young TE’s who could fill that role I talked about as tall possession receivers \/TE’s Egnew is going into his 3rd season and he too needs to do something or it might be time to push him off the team. Sims going into his 2nd season has a chance to push for more playing time I was excited when he was drafted because he has the look of a prototypical TE who could be a true weapon with his size and receiving abilities but with all the turmoil last season I think the draft class of last year got lost in the mix. Hopefully this next season we will get some dividends next season. The TE’s as a group gets 3.5 stars when you factor in a healthy Keller and our rising star Charles Clay.
Next we will take a look at the Offensive Line and what can you say but it is a total mess! We just might need to have 5 new starters next season as only two players are under contract and both have question marks about their availability next season as one could be suspended and at the very least penalized/fined and put on notice that no matter how good of a player our young Center is his troubles (Bully Gate and whatever involvement he had with Aaron Hernandez) And the other Jonathan Martin looking for a way out of Miami and the Dolphins most likely more than willing to accommodate him. Now I do feel Miami should consider bringing back both Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie as they played adequately for they Dolphins and use both free agency and the draft to rebuild the line and maybe have a backup plan should Mike Pouncey run afoul of the law or continues his immature behavior. As of now they as a group gets 1 star and is by far top priority as to what to address in the offseason as this line need a face lift and some veteran leadership.
The Defensive line also needs to be addressed as both our DT’s are free agents and personally the way the D line played this year I see no need to break the bank for either and possibly find a free agent player and draft a DT and I would seriously look, at doing so in the first round! (Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame, Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh, Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State, Ra’shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota, Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame ) are some names that pop up as first round DT’s and to me that is also a high priority just as much as the offensive line because both lines set the tone for the team and last season neither played up to expectations so goodbye big Paul and/or Randy Starks I see no need to spend big money on either again. Time to replace them with both young and new veteran leadership as the leadership of the complete team can legitimately be questioned. I give them 2.5 stars.
As for the LB’s I am not sure why but they seemed to do a really poor job of tackling last season and seemed to be out-of-place and lost at times. In hindsight it just might have been a mistake to replace Dansby and Burnett as they both had what appears to be better seasons than their replacements. I am hoping it is just an adjustment year and as they have that year under their belt I am hoping that they are more comfortable with the system next season and we do not have the problems we had with our LB’s as we did last season. I also have a legitimate concern about the system that I will be addressing in a future article. Our LB’s get 2 stars and I am hoping the arrow is pointing up….???
The DE’s had a solid season as our young 2nd year end Olivier Vernon played very well he started off slow as in preseason he showed signs of his potential but started the regular season slow only to come back and have an outstanding 2nd season and warded off our young rookie first round pick Dion Jordan who had a very pedestrian rookie season. But make no mistake about it I have ZERO regrets that Jeff Ireland drafted this kid as he will eventually be our best pass rusher (I am hoping). I will give our DE a 3.5 star rating as our veteran leader Cameron Wake has been a consistent pro bowl player and he is an excellent mentor to our young stable of DE as our future looks bright at this position for year to come.
Our CB’s were a huge concern for me going into the season but after seeing Brent Grimes play lights out I was no longer concerned and he deserves top dollar as he is worth every penny! Miami MUST sign this guy to a 3-4 year contract and follow it up by drafting more CB’s hopefully taller ones to match up against the taller WR’s and receiving TE’s like the ones in NE who is dangerous but injury prone. Our CB’s get a 3.5 star rating from me as well as I feel we have two young players drafted last year (Jamar Taylor, Will Davis) who had a red shirt season due to injuries and I am looking forward to their development next season. I will give this group a 3 star rating but my concern is that we need to bring in taller CB’s in the future as all of our CB except Nolan Carroll are under 6 feet tall and that to me is a liability we need to address…
That brings me to our Safeties another group like the DT’s that disappointed me especially Reshad Jones who had after a great season in 2012 that earned him a contract extension but to me he was a no show this season and I am hoping he is not one of those players that played only to get his extension and now is resting on his laurels I hope he has the pride to step it up and play the way he did to earn his extension but all was not bad as Chris Clemons played very well and he is worth keeping an eye on as I can see him only getting better and if is partner put this average season behind him and step it up next year and earn the money and trust this team put in him our Defense can be what I had thought they would be this last season a top 10 Defense and despite all the hype Seattle PROVED that Defenses still win championships! I give them 3 stars.
As for our Special Teams I feel our punter deserves to get an extension as soon as it is time to do so and our young Kicker needs to shake off his rookie season and deliver and play to his potential but I see no reason for change yet! 3 stars is proper.
This concludes my assessment of the Dolphins and as always I invite your opinions so chime in and let TDS know what you feel needs to be addressed. Despite all the drama this season I still truly believe this team is not far away from being a contender but there are things that need to come into place starting with the coaching staff and I will be addressing the coaches also in future articles so stay tuned as the offseason is my busiest time of the year and if you have not singed up as a follower I suggest you do so and get an e-mail when I post future articles. Thank you all for your support and especially Mad Englishman you are truly my number one supporter and I appreciate you and thank you…….
TDS AKA Markeyh