For some NFL writers, the talk of the Miami Dolphins possibly being a playoff team in 2013-14 is quite real.
I am one of those writers.
The changes on offense and the improvements on defense have made the Dolphins (7-9 last season) a “hot” pick to grab a wild card slot in the postseason.
The team run by Joe Philbin may not be ready to overtake New England just yet, but they will be exciting nonetheless.
New receivers, a new starter at running back, a solid tight end and a second-year quarterback ready to take the next step.
Those things alone have team owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland excited about this season, a season which could be the best in a while for this franchise.
With those expectations come goals, predictions and prognostications. Some are real and attainable. Some, well let’s just say they are pretty out there. The NFL season is now a year-round business, so we sports reporters can come up with some wit as well as wisdom.
Here are six bold predictions that may or may not come true - but we will all have fun with them this offseason.
1. Mike Wallace catches 100 passes: Let’s start with the obvious. Wallace knew all along he was coming to South Beach and signed with the Dolphins. Shortly thereafter, he spoke out against gay athletes and caused a firestorm of criticism upon arrival.
Not the best way to make himself known for his new team.
If Wallace can keep his mouth shut and concentrate on football, he will catch many passes from Ryan Tannehill. Catching 100 passes is not out of the realm of possibility. And Wallace will be hailed as a savior for the receiving corps if he does this.
2. Tannehill falters, Marino wants back in: Oh, in the same vein of Brett Favre, Marino misses the game. Well, maybe not as much as Favre.
But Marino gave the team a vote of confidence a few weeks back and now that he sees Tannehill struggle a bit, Danny Boy thinks he can come in and play again. Tell that to aging legs and an arm that has been used to work on his golf game more than throw passes.
3. Cameron Wake, Sack Expert: I have always liked Wake and his presence on the field. I wonder out loud why the Jaguars (my team) never took a swipe at him.
When you talk about great sack artists, Wake’s name is rarely mentioned. But he is just as good as any pass rusher in this league and continues to be the leader of the Dolphins’ defensive front. This is the year he could truly breakout as a superstar in the NFL.
4. Daniel Thomas, 1,200 yards: I like the approach by the team, having Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller and now Mike Gillislee in their backfield. One of them will get the lion share of the load. I am hoping it is Thomas. The big back with north-south running ability should be able to run for 1,200 yards if the line is improved.
And that is a very big, “if.”
5. Dallas Thomas makes the Pro Bowl: I thought Thomas was one of the most underrated players in this year’s Draft. Miami was a perfect place for him to play. He is a rookie trying to make an impression like Roy Foster, Vernon Carey and Jake Long all did in years past. The thing about Thomas is, and I really believe this, he could be better than all of them.
6. Jeff Ireland, Executive of the Year: When it comes right down to it, the Dolphins have not been the NFL’s most stable franchises of late. There has been scrutiny in the past of Ireland, the team’s general manager for his moves. This season, however, it appears he and head coach Joe Philbin have made the right moves. Those moves will garner him the top executive award in the NFL.