NGSC Sports

Season Review: Miami Dolphins

 

The Miami Dolphins had a disappointing finish to the 2013 regular season. The team was 8-6 after 14 games and had an opportunity to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008, but they lost their last two games of the season. While the season ended on a dishearten note, there were some positive things Dolphins fans can hang their hat on heading into 2014. Here are my positives, negatives, and what the team can improve on in the off-season.

Positives: I think the biggest positive of the 2013 season was the improve play of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The 25-year-old threw twice as many touchdown passes in 2013 (24) as he did in 2012 (12).  Tannehill also threw for 3,913 yards and completed 60.4 percent of his passes, both improvements from 2012. The thing that was most impressive about Tannehill was that he was sacked a franchise record 58 times and still he was able to have the solid sophomore campaign season that he had.  There were questions about Tannehill before the season started, but he showed a lot of progression in his second season. There is still a lot of room of improvement, but it seems like Tannehill is headed in the right direction.

Another Positive: Tight end Charles Clay was not expected to be a major contributor in 2013. But when Dustin Keller suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, Clay’s number was called to take over the starting job at tight end and he did not disappoint.  Clay achieved new career highs this season with 69 receptions for 759 yards and seven total touchdowns.  With Keller becoming a free agent in March, expect Clay to enter the 2014 season as the unquestionable full-time starter for the Miami Dolphins.

Negatives: The biggest thing that held the Dolphins back in 2013 was the play of their offensive line. The team set a new franchise record with 58 quarterback sacks allowed. With guards John Jerry and Richie Incognito as well as tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie all unrestricted free agents, expect a major makeover on the offensive line.  Most, if not all four are not expected to return to the Dolphins. Jonathan Martin, who left the team for emotional reason is also not expected to return in 2014.

Another negative was the play of linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.  Miami spent a total of $61 million on both linebackers but, both struggled in pass and run situations. What makes the signings even worst was the two linebackers Ellerbe and Wheeler replaced (Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett) had better seasons than they did.  The goal was to get younger and faster at linebacker, but in 2013 the Dolphins took a step back. While both linebackers recorded over 100 tackles in 2013, you have to hope both improve in their second season with the team.

Top Priorities Heading in 2014:  First thing the Dolphins have to do is find a way to keep cornerback Brent Grimes. The team only signed him to a one-year contract since he was coming off a season-ending Achilles injury with the Atlanta Falcons in 2012. Not only did Grimes have an excellent comeback season, he was Miami’s best defensive player in 2013. Grimes was tied for the team lead with four interceptions and made his second Pro Bowl.  The Dolphins have to find a way to keep him in South Florida.

The offensive line and running game are the other positions the Miami Dolphins need to address. There’s no way you can expect Tannehill to keep taking the beating he did in 2013 and stay healthy. I expect the Dolphins use the draft to take a couple of offensive linemen and pick up a couple of free agent linemen.

I know some people say the offensive line was the reason running back Lamar Miller wasn’t effective, but expect the Dolphins to bring in someone to compete with him for the starting position at running back. With the 2014 NFL Draft having a number of good running back prospects, the Dolphins could get a steal in the third or fourth round.

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