NGSC Sports

R.I.P. 2014 Miami Dolphins Season

After finishing the 2013 season 8-8, the Miami Dolphins had expectations of making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Things were looking up after their season opening win against the New England Patriots, but the team failed to live up to their expectations.

Miami missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season as they finished 8-8 and in third place in the AFC East for the second straight season. Now that the Dolphins season is over, let’s officially put it to rest.

What went right for Miami?

Ryan Tannehill had the best season of his career in 2014. The quarterback passed for 4,045 yards, 27 touchdowns, against 12 interceptions. Tannehill also ended the season with a passer rating of 92.8 and a 66.4 completion percentage, which is the second-highest in franchise history.

While Tannehill was often criticized throughout the season for failing to connect on his deep passes, no one can deny his improvement as a starting quarterback. The third-year pro still needs to become more consist, but Dolphin fans have to be encouraged by his progression.

Another bright spot for Miami in 2014 was the play of rookie Jarvis Landry. The former LSU Tiger recorded 84 receptions, which is the fourth most by any Dolphins receiver in franchise history. Landry also had 758 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

Midway through the year, Landry became the Dolphins number one receiver and Tannehill’s favorite target. Miami fans should expect bigger things from Landry in his second season in 2015.

Many thought Knowshon Moreno would be the featured running back when the Dolphins signed him last March, but Lamar Miller was the guy that ended up having the better season.

Miller rushed for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns. He also recorded 38 receptions (one for a touchdown) for 275 yards.

Miller began the season as the starter, but the Dolphins favored Moreno more during their game against New England. After Moreno suffered a season-ending injury in October, Miller began to carry more of the load in the running game. A lot of people questioned if Miller could be the full-time starting running back prior to the season, but he silenced all of his doubters in 2014.

What went wrong for Miami?

Many thought head coach Joe Philbin was on the hot seat entering the 2014 season. After the Dolphins win against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16, owner Stephen Ross said that Philbin would return for the 2015 season, despite being eliminated from playoff contention. The very next week, the Dolphins got beat down by the New York Jets in their season finale for the second straight season and questions about Philbin linger.

There is no doubt the Dolphins have improved in every season Philbin has been in Miami, but his inexperience has shown during his tenure. Timeouts at inexplicable times, his conservative play calling and his personnel decisions plagued the Dolphins in 2014. You can’t just blame Philbin for the issues of the Dolphins, you also have to blame defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle as well.

Leading up to their game against the Denver Broncos, the Dolphins were ranked second in total defense and fourth in points allowed. After the team played Denver, that’s where things started to fall apart.

Miami allowed 992 rushing yards in the team’s last seven games. During their last six games, the Dolphin defense gave up an average of 32.2 points per game.

Philbin could fire Coyle, but what defensive coordinator could he get that’s any better? I doubt any respectable name would want to come to Miami when Philbin is entering the last year of his contract. While many fans want Coyle fired, it is possible he could also return in 2015.

MVP: Cameron Wake: The defensive end had another spectacular season for the Dolphins as he recorded 11.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. For his efforts, Wake was named to his fourth career Pro Bowl earlier this month. Despite the defense slumping late in the season, Wake remains Miami’s best player.

Game plan heading into the Offseason

Last season, the Dolphins needed to address every spot on the offensive line other than the center position (Mike Pouncey). Offensive line remains an issue heading into the 2015 offseason, but the Dolphins just need to address the two guard positions.

Miami drafted Billy Turner in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but he did not play at all this season. Even if he does get playing time in 2015, the team still needs to sign a veteran guard or two to get more depth on the offensive line. Dallas Thomas and Jason Fox certainly weren’t the answers at guard, so it is time for an upgrade there.

Cortland Finnegan got burned often by Jets receiver Eric Decker, who had 11 catches and 221 yards in the season finale. Miami needs to address the second cornerback spot opposite of Brent Grimes.

Then there’s the issue of what to do with Mike Wallace? The receiver has voiced his displeasure about the lack of deep balls in the Dolphins’ offense often and did not play in the second half against the Jets (Wallace says he was bench while Philbin says it was a decision by the coaches).

Miami could trade Wallace, but it is unlikely any teams would want to pick up the $9.85 million base salary and the $3 million signing base that comes with the headache that is Wallace. The team could decide to cut him after June 1 or appoint him as a post-June 1 cut. If the team does that, the Dolphins would have a cap hit of $5.2 million which would result in a savings of $6.9 million.

Philbin, Tannehill and the Dolphins are in a must-win mode in 2015. The team has went 8-8 two years in a row and anything short of a postseason berth next season could bring sweeping changes to the organization. Miami has the talent on paper to be a playoff team, but they have failed to show it consistently on the football field.

Follow Antwan on Twitter @blackredsoxfan

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: