So much talent and not enough success. That continues to be the mantra that plagues the Miami Dolphins. It reminds me of the teams Don Shula had at the end of his career – the teams made up of former first round picks that went nowhere fast and fans and the media questioned whether he still had the Chutzpah he showed as a fiery young coach decades ago. Joe Philbin is no Don Shula, but he had better find some of that magic mojo or this team will be the fourth team in a crowded AFC East – where it seems every team in the division did something in the offseason to make itself better and possibly a playoff contender.
Here are the five most pressing questions facing this team as it heads into 2014.
CAN THIS TEAM GET PAST THE OFF-FIELD ISSUES OF 2013?
If players can keep their mouths shut. The worst thing to happen to the NFL and the Dolphins is social media. It seems every time there is a sensitive issue involving a player or action, there is a member of the Dolphins there to make a comment and not in a good way. Maybe all Twitter accounts for NFL players should be shut off completely. Mike Pouncey needs to stop talking about last season’s events and get on with football – because that is what he gets paid to do, not open his mouth.
CAN RYAN TANNEHILL TAKE THE NEXT STEP AS AN NFL QUARTERBACK?
The team and the new offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor hopes so. If you look at Tannehill’s statistics, you would say 3,900 yards and 24 touchdowns was a good year. Then there are the 56 sacks, which are not all his fault. He has some issues with fumbles, but he is better than Matt Moore and Chad Henne before him and gives Miami a solid shot to win every time he is on the field. Let’s see how he plays with the new wrinkles in the offense this season.
HOW LONG BEFORE KNOWSHON MORENO IS THE STARTER?
It may to be until midseason or it could be after a game or two. Right now, Moreno, who was signed to a one-year deal, is second on the depth chart behind Lamar Miller, which may mean Miller is ready to take the next step. It also means for now, Moreno is a third-down back, which is a far cry from where he was last season in Denver. Something tells me there will be a change at the position sooner rather than later where it is possible that Miller or Daniel Thomas is traded before the start of the season.
IS OLIVIER VERNON THE TEAM’S NEXT STUD ON DEFENSE?
Yes, but don’t be surprised if Jared Odrick is also mentioned in that same context. Vernon led the team in quarterback sacks last season, but yet was a Pro Bowl snub. Cameron Wake was again in Hawaii – while it was deserved – but Vernon came into his own last season. Odrick has been a mainstay on the Dolphins defense, but does not get the recognition he deserves. Odrick’s play on the field, coupled with his leadership off the field make him a valuable player to have on this defense. All, while he is healthy and bigger than last season, the Dolphins must figure out what to do with Dion Jordan.
IS JOE PHIBIN ON THE HOT SEAT IF MIAMI DOES NOT REACH THE PLAYOFFS?
YES! The team parted ways with its general manger in the offseason. The team asked Philbin to fire long-time friend and former offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman. The team hired Dennis Hickey to come in and a run the show, who has no allegiance to the Philbin and may have his own idea of who he wants as a head coach. Philbin has so much talent on this team and still has not pushed all the right buttons. He and Ryan Tannehill are also linked together. This is his last chance.