- WR Hartline cut after 6 seasons WR Gibson was also released
- Mike Tannenbaum hired... ...as Dolphins' executive VP of football operations
- Philbin retained Coach Philbin was given a contract extension
- Fins season ends on low note Jets down the Fins to end their season 8-8
Evaluation time: start building for 2013
The Dolphins are 10 games in and under .500. If you had asked me before the season if I would be shocked or disappointed with this record I certainly would have told you “no”.
After free agency and the draft it was clear this team continues to have a lack of talent across the roster, then combine that with implementing new offensive and defensive schemes under the new coaching staff. Then the preseason games did nothing to inspire confidence. My expectations were fairly low.
But once the regular season started, Miami did something few of us expected: they played well and after 7 games they were above .500, Tannehill was playing well, and the team thoroughly dismantled the hated NY Jets.
Everyone was talking about how surprising the Dolphins were and that the playoffs were a possibility, in no small part becauseeveryoneexpectedtheteam to not only continue playing the way it had, but also to continue to show improvement.Aseveryavidfanknows, the wheels then came off of the wagon and Miami has gone on a three game losing streak, with ugly losses to the Titans and Bills. The offense in particular has disappeared, with just 1 TD in the last 30 possessions.That 4 and 6 record would be a lot more palatable if the Dolphins were progressing. Instead, the team appears to be regressing. Reggie Bush has become a non-factor. Jake Long, our #1 draft pick, fallen to the 44th ranked tackle and the offensive line apparently unable to block in any phase of the game. Those were the two biggest rocks that this offense was supposed to be able to rely on. Our rookie QB, who hasn’t really dazzled but at least was efficient and steady, has started turning the ball over again. I could continue to point out all the failures over the past 3 games, but why pour salt into the wound?Looking ahead, Miami’s schedule toughens up, with four of the last six games against the Patriots twice, 49ers and Seahawks. Shoot, the Jaguars sprang to life under back-up Chad Henne and the other game is against the Bills, who Miami just lost to. It’s certainly looking like 4-12 is possible if not likely. If the Dolphins aren’t already out of playoff contention, does anyone doubt that it’s inevitable with that schedule? As a result Joe Philbin and staff should start giving more playing time to their young players like RB Lamar Miller, TE Charles Clay, TE Michael Egnew, WR Rishard Matthews and DE Olivier Vernon.More playing time doesn’t necessarily mean starting them and giving them the majority of snaps (although it could). At a minimum these players should be able to master at least 10-20 plays a game and have an opportunity to get game time experience that will benefit their development in the long run (or, in Egnew’s case, show if he’s a bust).
This may already be happening to a degree with Reggie Bush giving way to Daniel Thomas. Bush is a free agent in 2013 while Thomas remains under his rookie contract. Thomas however is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry on 165 attempts. Given his relative lack of productivity I think Miami should make some more room for Miller, who has had some shining moments in limited playing time.
Matthews also just saw a bunch of snaps against the Bills and had a positive (if limited) impact and warrants more reps. On defense get Vernon on the field and slide Oddrick in to Starks position and see if they can excel in these positions. If not, Miami will need to re-sign Starks in the offseason.
As Mike Shanahan said, it’s evaluation time. Continuing to see Miami trot out ineffective players like Fasano (who is a free agent) and Daniels when promising players sit on the bench does little to demonstrate the team is progressing. As a “long suffering Dolfan” the only way to tolerate the losing this year is to see that the team is building for the future.
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