- 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
Why Miami Will be Improved In 2014
Let’s start with the obvious. The quarterback, Ryan Tannahill is entering his 3rd season, and albeit slight, he’s shown improvement fairly steadily. With Bill Lazor coming in he’ll have that knowledge at his disposal that is vital to further progress.
Lazor has worked for Dan Reeves, Joe Gibbs, Mike Holgrem, Jim Mora, Jr, and lastly Chip Kelly. Interestingly, he has a degree in human development. He’ll need it. That’s a solid group of offensive minds from which to draw from. There is also a common denominator. All these coaches knew the importance of the running game. Everyone is focusing on Lazor bringing an up-tempo, Chip Kelly offense here, and he should, but the key to me, and Ryan’s progression will be a running threat.
To provide this Miami added Knowshon Moreno, to compete with, and possibly split time with Lamar Miller, and potentially Daniel Thomas if the light finally comes on for him. If Miami is successful in forcing the defense to respect the running game you’ll see players like Hartline, and Clay all of a sudden have space to break open. You’ll see Wallace single covered. You’ll see more points.
The number one priority coming into this past off season was to construct an offensive line that would make everyone forget the nightmare of 2013.
Dennis Hickey was hired as GM, and while it was apparent he was not Miami’s first, second, or third choice he’s fit right in and hit the ground running.
Hickey went out and quickly signed the best LT available in Brandon Albert to a 5 year, 47 million dollar contract. Did he overpay? Probably, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It was apparent since early in the 2013 season Albert was the apple of the Dolphins eye, and Albert felt the same about the team. So what’s a few extra million for a player who truly wants to be here, was a pro-bowler, and has that thing everyone keeps talking about called high character? It was a no brainer. The one risk, and it’s a big one is he’s got to remain healthy.
Miami also signed potential RG Shelly Smith, who is a fabulous run blocker. Remember what I mentioned about the running game? He fits the mold. His struggles have been in pass protection, but let’s not discount the ability of new offensive line coach John Benton. John has been in Houston eight seasons, and their offensive lines were some of the best in the league. Miami also hired former Steelers offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. as an assistant. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 1,259 yards behind his offensive line last season.
You can see the trend developing, yes? Strong coaching who understand the importance of running the ball. That’s not to suggest they shouldn’t rely on the QB as well, but balance is the key here.
To play the LG position Miami drafted Billy Turner who has a nasty streak, and a willingness to play to the whistle. He’ll still have to win that job in training camp, and there will be stiff competition with the likes of Sam Brenner, Nate Garner, Dallas Thomas, David Arkin, and a few assorted undrafted free agents. My feeling is it is Turner’s job to lose.
At center, Mike Pouncey has had a miserable past year; he’s made some questionable choices. That aside, he’s one of the top 3 or 4 centers in the league. Another year of experience, and maturity should only benefit him provided there are no secrets in his closet.
At RT Miami went to the draft, and selected Ja’Wuan James 19th overall. Many people felt this was a bit of a reach at #19, but if I am Hickey I’d rather make a slight reach with a player I love, then risk someone jumping me to grab him later on. Ja’Wuan was considered one of the few tackles ready to play day one. People lose sight of that.
They’ll be some competition at the guard spots, but the center, and both tackle positions should be locked down for several years. The Dolphins have been trying to accomplish this for Ireland’s entire six years here. The players have to prove worthy, and a lot has to go right health wise, but it appears like a successful rebuild in record time.
That’s got to give the Dolphins, and their fans reason to think 2014 will be an improvement over 2013.
There are other reasons, but we’ll save them for a later article.
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