It’s that time once again for every team not named the New England Patriots to look forward to the off season and the draft here in the AFC East. While the standings shuffled around again, once more the Patriots are on top and Buffalo, Miami and New York Jets (in alphabetical and standing order) trailed behind saying, “WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST RETIRE, TOM BRADY??!!”
Since the retirement of Tom Brady is still too far off in the distance (oh for a plutonium powered Delorian and a flux capacitor…) every front office has to square their house and get ready to knock off the king of the mountain in 2015. As an E!$PN Insider (I get the magazine for free, so why not?) they are posting the top 4 needs for every team eliminated from the post season. I will list the topics posted by Field Yates, and give my take. I’ll also strike through some and figure out what should actually be a focus. We now move on to the 3rd place Miami Dolphins.
- Fix Ryan Tannehill’s Long Ball
Well…There are two major MAJOR issues with Ryan Tannehill’s deep ball issues. First and foremost, the offensive line gives him approximately -3.4 seconds to stand in the pocket. I’m still looking for the video evidence of Tannehill being sacked presnap, but so far I think it might just be an urban legend. This is also your friendly reminder that 85% of the statistics you read online are made up 100% of the time.
The second portion of Tannehill’s long ball issues are the receiver core. Yes, Mike Wallace is amazing when he’s not so stuck in his head about his role on the offense. Brian Hartline should be the Dolphin equivalent to Julian Edelman and could be considered a rich man’s Danny Amendola. Tannehill is beleaguered by deep threats that aren’t getting deep enough quick enough. Here’s all you need to know about the long ball in Miami: Tannehill’s season long pass for this season was tied with Mohamed Sanu at 50 yards. If you can’t out do a gimmick play by the Bengals there needs to be some drastic work done on the offense.
One more point of reference: We all know Kyle Orton isn’t the greatest QB ever, but even he found a way to an 84 yard pass this season. Distance isn’t everything, but when it becomes a talking point on the TV broadcasts about how few passes are thrown over 20 yards….
- Make further improvements to the Offensive line
I’d say this may be the understatement of the year.
I’d almost say this needs to say “Holy God make some improvement on the offensive line.” Tannehill was the 3rd most sacked QB in the NFL this season. He’s been sacked 139 times in his first three seasons. That is (to the best of my cursory research) the most in the past 3 years and I feel like it’s not close.
Now granted, Miami suffered some unfortunate injuries to the line, but just like last year when the Miami O-line was essentially a laughing stock of the NFL, they had no depth to continue to keep Tannehill upright.
Sacks aren’t everything though. The Phins did manage the 12th best rushing attack in the NFL and averaged the 2nd best YPA at 4.7. Lamar Miller (the much maligned and hardly ever spoken of) quietly broke 1000 yards this year based helped a great deal by the 97 yard jaunt against the Jets this past Sunday. Miami seems to have the pieces in place for a solid offense they just need some players to get healthy and stay healthy in order to keep Tannehill clean and holes open for the running backs.
- Decisions on Jared Odrick and Charles Clay
To the key free agents we go!
We’ll start with Charles Clay, Mr. Inconsistent. Clay can be a mismatch for defenses…when he’s put in the situation. He recorded 58 receptions for 605 yards and 3TDs. He was averaging 10+ yards per catch. Going back to the Offensive line, he is probably being kept in more to try to protect Tannehill vs. running routes and making plays. If Miami retains Clay, I’d hope they draft well on the Oline so maybe he can become a larger threat on their offense. If not, be prepared for days where he doesn’t leave the box.
Odrick is the larger issue. He’s an every down kind of player who will attract a great deal of attention if Miami doesn’t lock him down. Will they be able to survive without him? Yeah probably. There are some other talented D linemen waiting in the wings to replace him, but in order to compete with the New England Patriots for the division title you’ll need your big uglies in place. Odrick provides that stability.
So let Clay slide if you must but only after you figure out the Oline. Don’t let Odrick go. You can’t afford to.
4). Add one more difference maker on offense.
So I’ve been unkind to the Miami Offense. Sue me, I’m a Bills fan and I will be as critical of the Phins as I feel like!
At the same time, they have pieces in place. Wallace and Hartline, Miller, and Tannehill provide some explosive potential on offense. They just aren’t enough on their own. They need something else to get them going especially if Clay finds a ticket out of Miami. If Clay goes they’ll need a versatile Tight End, but if he stays where to go? They’ve already got a decent 3 WR in Wallace, Hartline and Landry. The most obvious pick up would be a compliment or change of pace piece to fit along side Miller. No jokes to be made about Tannehill the former WR and blah blah blah. He’s decent to potentially good. He needs to make quicker decisions to get the ball out to those play makers though.
Is anything missing from Miami? Well…arguably coaching. I disagree with the assurance that Philbin was coming back before the week 17. It ended up with Rex Ryan getting Gatorade bath at Sun Life Stadium as his final hurrah as the Jets head coach. It’s not to say Miami didn’t play hard because for once the offense definitely had things going including a number of huge plays. The problem was they let Geno Smith do something no one else accomplished all season: Perfect passer rating and by far his best single game performance in the NFL.
Philbin oversaw the bully scandal, and has gotten the Phins to 8-8 twice in a row (only a few more until he reaches Cowboys status!). Is it time to make a change yet? No. I do agree with Miami’s decision to bring him back for now. I also agree with the insistence of staff changes. Something has to give down there, and next year we’re going to find out what.