2015 NFL Season Preview- Miami Dolphins
Miami was nothing more than a middle of the road team in 2014.
Getting off to a good start is important in the NFL but finishing strong is even more important and for the past six years, the Dolphins haven't been able to do that.
The offense had a three game stretch at the end of the season where they only managed three touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed improvement in passer rating, completion percentage, touchdowns, footwork, and decision making. But he is still lacking in pocket presence, third down efficiency, fourth quarter passing, deep ball accuracy, and making everyone around him better. He's good, but he's not all there yet. Running back Knowshon Moreno was productive before a knee injury ended his season after three games and Lamar Miller rushed for over 1,000 yards. Tight end Charles Clay had a down year because of a nagging knee injury. The wide receivers were good but they weren't difference makers. Mike Wallace never used his speed as a deep threat and Brian Hartline had a surprisingly small role after coming off back to back 1,000 yard receiving seasons. After left tackle Branden Albert went down with a knee injury, the offensive line fell apart.
The defense was the most responsible for winning games. The defensive line was a disappointment because of they were good early but became very average by the end of the year. The linebackers and secondary were the same story as the year went on.
The team produced three Pro Bowlers in guard Mike Pouncey, defensive end Cameron Wake, and cornerback Brent Grimes. Wake had 11.5 sacks on the year and Grimes led the team with five interceptions, including the interception of the year against Calvin Johnson.
The top tier of the rookie class was very impressive. Tackle Ju'Wuan James was initially a surprise pick but had a strong year playing right and left tackle. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry was a productive at receiver and kick return and became the number two target by mid season.
Dolphins 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 17th
NFL Rank- 12th
NFL Rank- 6th
NFL Rank- 24th
NFL Rank- 14th
NFL Rank- 12th
Despite regressing to a 8-8 record, head coach Joe Philbin has hope for the future. With the team's losing record in December over the past few seasons, Miami has to show serious improvement if Philbin is expected to keep his job.
Notable Additions- QB Josh Freeman, WR Greg Jennings, WR Kenny Stills, TE Jordan Cameron, DT C.J. Mosley, DT Ndamukong Suh, CB Zack Bowman
Notable Departures- RB Knowshon Moreno, RB Daniel Thomas, WR Mike Wallace, TE Charles Clay, C Samson Satele, DT Jared Odrick, DT Randy Starks
Dolphins 2014 Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
Going into the draft, Miami held the 14th overall pick with many positions needed to be filled. Most notably at guard, defensive tackle, and cornerback.
Mike Pouncey wasn't as successful at right guard and will likely move back to center next season. The team will likely need two starters as the current roster offers little hope.
Jared Odrick and Randy Starks were both lost to free agency. The run defense was sketchy at best last year, so improvement at defensive tackle is a priority.
Cortland Finnegan is retired and neither Will Davis nor Jamar Taylor are starting material yet. Miami needs another standout cornerback to play opposite pro bowler Brent Grimes.
The Dolphins decided to replace Mike Wallace and select Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker with the 14th pick. Parker had a good combination of size, speed, and hands but needs to add muscle and bulk to his lean frame.
Miami also notably selected Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips in the second round, Boise State running back Jay Ajayi in the fifth, and Michigan State wide receiver/cornerback Tony Lippett in the fifth. Phillips has a Dontari Poe combination of size and explosiveness but only has the reputation as a nice guy and missed all of the 2013 after having back surgery. Ajayi was seen as the best receiving running back in the draft but he lacks the ideal strength to break tackles while running between the tackles. Lippett has big hands and a large catch radius but Miami intends to use him as a cornerback and he hasn't played cornerback fulltime since 2012.
The team also picked up Penn State middle linebacker Mike Hull as an undrafted free agent. Hull was the best tackling inside linebacker in the draft but doesn't have the ideal strength and size for the position.
DeVante Parker Highlights
What to Expect
This is a team we have to wait until December to judge.
Ryan Tannehill is improving each season but he has to step up and make this team playoff caliber if he is going to be seen as the long term answer. The receiving corps and running backs are stacked, so as the offensive line can stay healthy, the offense can be productive.
Adding Ndamukong Sun, C.J. Mosley, and Jordan Phillips to the defensive line should improve on the team's 24th ranked run defense. The linebackers and secondary should be better as a result of that.
With the strength of the other teams in the AFC East, it will be hard to picture Miami in the playoffs this season. There are just too many questions involving health and constancy to call this team playoff ready.
Best record they can hope for: 9-7