Another year another disappointing campaign for the Miami Dolphins. Although mathematically it is still possible to make the play-offs, most ‘Fins fans will be quick to recognise that any aspirations Miami previously held about making the post-season went with our poor start to the season and coaching change. The ‘Dan Campbell effect’ was fun while it lasted but most understood that the Dolphins were playing two poor teams in the Titans and Texans. Our slow start to the season and inability to beat either the Bills or the Jets at home (even though it was at Wembley) basically wiped out any chance of competing for the post-season in one of the hardest divisions in football. Some Dolphins fans on twitter appear to be wishing for the team to plummet and are just waiting it out for a high draft pick.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. Jarvis Landry has put together another impressive campaign following a solid rookie year last season. Reshad Jones is playing at a Pro-Bowl level and is making his name as one of the best safeties in the National Football League. Rishard Matthews has emerged as a Wide Receiver and overcame a pretty stacked Receiving corps to place himself as one of Tannehill’s most reliable targets. The limited amount of times that we’ve seen Miami run the ball has teased Dolphins fans with the potential of finally having a one-two punch with Miller and Ajayi. The past four weeks Ndamukong Suh has flashed the brilliance and disruptiveness that Miami committed so much money towards in the offseason. While last weeks game against the Cowboys saw Oliver Vernon showcase what many of us had hoped to see this year in terms of elevating his level of play.
Yet, question marks still remain as we enter the home stretch now of the NFL season. Cameron Wake will be 34 coming off a torn Achilles, something that could spell a massive decline in his level of production. The contract situations of Oliver Vernon, Lamar Miller and Louis Delmas all need addressing in the offseason, something that could spell trouble for a team who’s cap space is one of the most limited in the NFL following the monster contracts Tannehill and Suh received this past offseason. The Offensive Line is still underachieving and it may need a complete overhaul after this disappointing campaign. As well as this the Linebacking corps and the Secondary will need addressing, something that will be extremely difficult due to the previously mentioned tight cap space.
There is also the difficult question of Ryan Tannehill, a QB who has split the opinion of many Dolphins fans. Most believe we have now seen what Tannehill is truly all about; he’s a guy who is never going to be elite but is good enough to make use of the weapons around him. Tannehill is not a QB who’s going to put the team on his back and win you the game through his throws alone; however, he is not a guy who jeopardizes the Dolphin’s ability to win games. Whether that level of play is worthy of the $96 million mega deal he was handed is yet to be seen and it may be worth bringing in a decent journeyman to push Tannehill in the preseason next year or look to bring in a decent project QB later on in the Draft.
Finally, the coaching situation needs to be addressed. The coaching staff of the Miami Dolphins has cost them their opportunity to finally get back into the post-season. While I can’t blame all that went wrong on Joe Philbin, ask yourself this: if Stephen Ross had replaced Philbin last year with either Dan Quinn, John Fox or Gary Kubiak, do you honestly believe this Dolphins team would find itself in the position its currently in? Following this season Ross has to target Sean Payton as his number 1 choice as Head Coach, and if not then maybe talk to coordinators like Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots or Kyle Shanahan over in Atlanta. I also think that the Dolphins need to clean house with their Offensive and Defensive co-ordinators and either bring in a proven coach at the College level or bring in a fresh face from another NFL team.
Overall, it’s been a disappointing campaign and a rebuild is on the cards in the offseason. However, the standard of play by a few Dolphins players up until this point bodes well with the Dolphins bouncing back next season. At this point my Dolphins MVP is Reshad Jones with my Defensive Player of the Year as Ndamukong Suh and my Offensive Player of the Year is Jarvis Landry. The Biggest Surprise award this season goes to the rookie kicker Andrew Franks, just beating out fellow rookie punter Matt Darr and Wide Receiver Rishard Matthews.