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AFC East News – Pre-Season Evaluations

AFC East News – Pre-Season Evaluations
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The Miami Dolphins

 

Camp Opens: Friday, July 25th

Last Season:  8-8         vs AFC East: 2-4                vs AFC: 7-5

Team Leaders

Passing:Tannehill 3913 yds

Rushing:Miller 709 yds

Receiving:Hartline 1016 yds

 

Pre-Season Games:

Fri, Aug 8th                 away               Falcons          7:00pm

Sat, Aug 16th              away               Bucs                7:30pm

Sat, Aug 23rd             home              Cowboys        7:00pm

Thu, Aug 28th           home              Rams              7pm

 

Strengths

Defensive Line: Cam Wake and Olivier Vernon are the rocks that hold it all together. The duo combined for almost 19 sacks a year ago. On the edge, this is as good as there is; however, the inside is a bit of a different story. Soliai is gone, but Randy Starks was retained. Jared Odrick is due to make an impact. The defensive line lost Dion Jordan for the first four games (bulking up the old fashioned way is no longer in style). The depth consists of Derrick Shelby, Earl Mitchell and A.J. Francis. This unit is certainly good enough to compete, and should do quite well. Last season, their inability to stop the run was an issue, but that was maybe more due to dumb GM moves at LB than it was at the DL.

Cornerbacks: I never thought I would write in CBs as a strength, but when you have “Little” Grimes in the picture, I call it a strength. Brent was a gamble that paid off. Jamar Taylor is going to play opposite Grimes, and the Dolphins signed Cortland Finnegan to complete the trio of CBs. I think that Finnegan has been washed up for 2-3 years. The rest of the group is serviceable: Ron Parker, Will Davis, Walt Aikens. Grimes will hold this together; if not, the Dolphins are on trouble.

Tight End: A year ago, the Dolphins went out and signed Dustin Keller to solidify their TE position. Keller, as he has done for three years, was out injured. That was pure luck, because out of that, Charles Clay emerged. The Fins had Dion Sims and Michael Egnew all rated above Clay. Charles is now the go to guy, and deservedly so. Also on the depth chart is Arthur Lynch. This group should do well, and if Tannehill develops any trust in Egnew, he might emerge as the next Clay.

 

Improvement expected

Running Backs: The running seemed to have been forgotten and abandoned, and that was a second year HC mistake. Philbin figured he was in Green Bay and could rely on Rodgers, and that the running game was just a supporting cast. Although Lamar Miller accumulated 709 yards, he was really irrelevant. Dolphins signed Knowshon Moreno off of SB contender Denver. Moreno has been very inconsistent in his career. The hope is that he is another Reggie Bush rejuvenating his career in South Beach. Moreno should help, but he is not the answer. Bigger things are expected from Daniel Thomas, or his career is a bust. Along for the ride also is Mike Gillislee. If the Dolphins are to make a run at nine wins, their running game will have improve tremendously. Moreno, Thomas and Miller should provide the help; however, Mr. Philbin must not give up on the run as fast as he did last year.

Wide Receivers: If there was one position that was the culprit for Ireland’s demise? WR was it. Mike Wallace was signed to a lucrative contract, as if he was actually a QB a la Brady. Manning. Mike did not deliver the goods. Grandon Gibson out for the year did not help matters. But one has to wonder if the little guy can withstand the pounding down the middle. My prediction is that Gibson loses his job in season to Richard Matthews. Brian Hartline, the least talented of the three has been a rock, and Tanney’s go to guy. Rookie Jarvis Landry (I see him on the PS), Matt Hazel, and returning Marcus Thigpen, Armon Binns, and Damian Williams fill out the depth chart.

This group will have to really step it up and be counted on the “Strength” side next season, if Miami has any chance at a good season.

Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill has done all that has been expected of him and more. I blame Joe Philbin for expecting Tanney to carry this team in 2013; clearly he couldn’t. Tannehill has taken so many shots that you have to commend him for still playing uninjured. He will have to improve his turnovers, both on the ground and in the air. That will largely depend on the OL. Tannehill is in a tough situation; one that many talented QBs have crossed before him, and to make it out alive and well will not be easy. The kid has the tools to succeed, but he lacks a coach that knows how to handle him. Lazor may be that coach, but he may have arrived a year too late.

 Free Safety: This group has been pretty solid, but it will need to improve in order for this team to have a decent year. Rashad Jones and Louis Delmas are probably the best duo in the division; Don Jones and Walt Aikens back them. I really believe that the safeties will improve this season, and become a strength.

 

Special Teams

The Fins cut long time reliable Dan Carpenter, and used Caleb Sturgis. The hope is Sturgis has grown into an NFL kicker. The punting game is great with Brandon Fields. Miami STs should be fine.

 

Question Marks / Weaknesses

Offensive Line: Where do you start? Let’s start by forgetting 2013 all together. Returning is the Center, Mike Pouncey, who is out for at least six games. The Gestapo called NFL Front Office may even discipline him; the rest of the line is totally new. Signed was Branden (not Fat) Albert. The rest of the OL are rookies Ja’Wuan James and Billy Turner. Shelley Smith is the other actor. The depth is not much better: Nate Garner, Sam Brenner, Davonte Wallace and Jason Fox.

Many fans will ask, “Why not include this group in the Improvement Expected category?” Simple; they will not be better than the patched up / make shift line that ended the season. You cannot put together a totally new OL and expect to win that same year, especially when the “anchor” is a total disaster in the makings.

Linebackers: If it wasn’t the WRs that finally ended King Ireland’s Reign, than it was the linebacker decisions. Fins spend a ton of money on a one off-season wonder, Dannell Ellerbe, and he did not deliver. The group includes Koa Misi; it seems that we have heard about Misi emerging for years, and it still has not happened; and Philip Wheeler, who will need to do some gut-checking at camp. This group couldn’t stop me from running free last year. Backing them up is Jason Trusnik, Jonathan Freeney and Jelani Jenkins. I believe that Jenkins will unseat Wheeler at some point this year.

 

 Dolphins

Depth Chart by ProFootballFocus.com 

Pre-Season Evaluation Schedule

Last Thursday – New York Jets

Last Friday – Buffalo Bills

Tuesday – New England Patriots

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