The State of the Miami Dolphins Address: Post Free Agency
Another 8-8 season didn’t sit well with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and the rest of the team and he made it a point to make a splash both on the field and in the headlines. With the key departures of Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, and Charles Clay the team had some major holes to fill in order to compete with the New England Patriots and the rest of their AFC East rivals. That’s where assistant general manager, Mike Tannenbaum comes in. Owner Stephen Ross broke out the checkbook and wanted to make sure the Miami Dolphins made headlines on the opening of free agency.
Fixing the Defense
A defensive tackle by the name of Ndamukong Suh will fix that right up. After signing a 6-year, $114 million contract, Suh gives a frightening face opposite of Cameron Wake. How does one player make a defense better? That’s easy. Think of Jason Taylor. A Dolphin great brought so much attention and took up so much space that it opened up lanes for the linebackers and allowed corners to play more aggressive. Players like Zach Thomas, Sam Madison, and Patrick Surtain definitely reaped the rewards with such a dominant force up front. So in theory, they bring in Suh to play with Olivier Vernon (who’s no slouch) and Cameron Wake (a beast) making life for the linebackers and secondary a little easier. The way that the AFC East has shaped up this offseason not only do you have to have shutdown corners but you also need a nasty front line to put much needed pressure on the quarterbacks and stuff run lanes. So the combination of Wake and Suh up front and Brent Grimes and Rashad Jones patrolling the backfield should make for a pretty formidable defense.
Like the Jason Taylor days, the new Miami Dolphins defensive line should create plenty of opportunities for the linebackers and secondary to thrive. For linebackers, you will see the likes of Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi, and Chris McCain have breakout seasons because of the fact the defensive line demanding so much attention. For the secondary, you already have a Pro Bowl corner in Grimes (completely underrated by most NFL analysts) being able to take on a team’s primary throwing target. Just look at his game against Calvin Johnson. To compliment Will Davis, you bring in Brice McCain for your nickel packages with his size and speed. Louis Delmas is coming off an ACL injury but had a really good first year with the Dolphins and is reunited with Suh from their times together in Detroit.
Let’s flip to the other side of the ball for a minute.
Fixing the Offense
On offense the Dolphins had a lot of weapons decide to take their talents elsewhere. Mike Wallace never really fit in, Brian Hartline went back home to play in Cleveland, Brandon Gibson went to the dark side in New England, and the Dolphins decided not to take the poison pill (transition tag) and let Charles Clay play with the offensive “genius” Rex Ryan. Bill Lazor’s offense is quick and precise relying on short to mid-range passes to set up the deep ball and run game. With Lazor, you get the closest thing to Chip Kelly’s offense not in Philly, and Ryan Tannehill has made solid progression since coming into the league in 2012. The ugly duckling, so to speak, of the offense was Mike Wallace. He never really fit on the field, in part because Tannehill doesn’t have a Ben Roethlisburger type of arm, and he was a diva off the field. Joe Philbin made it very clear that there was and is no room for those type of players in the locker room.
With all those names headed to colder weather, the Dolphins managed to bring in Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, Greg Jennings, and draft a receiver to compliment Jarvis Landry (who’s sneaky good). What does all this mean? You just have a crowded receiving group. Wrong. You’ve brought in locker room leadership in Jennings, a young wide receiver who gains yard after the catch on a consistent basis in Stills, and add a bigger better receiving tight end with Cameron (yes, he can be better than Clay if his brain doesn’t get scrambled). The offense will be very efficient and productive in 2015 if Tannehill can continue to take positive strides.
So what has Miami done in free agency to put a winning team on the field and put their name in the headlines?
They bulked up on defense with the addition of Suh to create one of the meanest and scariest (outside of the Cowboys front line) in the NFL. The coaching staff has made it clear to the rest of the NFL, if you’re going to beat us you’re going to beat us with the pass. They added weapons on the offense side of the ball by signing players that not only fit the Lazor system, but each bringing a unique set of skills the team was missing last year. I’m sure Tannehill will be ready to fire the ‘Lazor’ when game one rolls around. Remember the Dolphins only had to win one of their last three games to make it into the playoffs.
So what does GM Dennis Hickey think about the state of the Dolphins?
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 8, 2015
It’s true, the Dolphins made a serious splash by signing Suh and added players on both sides of the ball to compliment the semi-successful roster they had at the end of the 2014 season. The wheels fell off the Dolphins’ 2014 season in the final three games, but if the names added in the offseason live up to the hype, it indeed is a “very exciting time” for the Dolphins.
And we haven’t even discussed the draft yet…
By Nicolis Freeman