The Miami Dolphins did in 2014 what it did in 2013 – it re-built its football team.
After spending over $140 million on players who were productive, but did not get the team to the playoffs (where the missed the post season by one game), the ‘Fins revamped its management and coaching staff and made wholesale changes on offense and strengthened the defense.
- Offensive Tackle Branden Albert
- Safety Louis Delmas
- Cornerback Cortland Finnegan
- Cornerback Brent Grimes
- Defensive Tackle Earl Mitchell
- Running Back Knowshon Moreno
- Offensive Guard Shelley Smith
- Defensive Tackle Randy Starks
Even with the big names and the changes that will occur this season for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the team may improve and still miss out on the post season – which has avoided them since 2008, when Bill Parcells was still part of the organization. These Dolphins, the ones that are the blueprint of new team general manager Dennis Hickey, will have to show they are better than last year’s presents bought by then general manager Jeff Ireland.
The team still has questions at receiver, offensive line, cornerback, linebacker and running back – all of which were addressed in the Draft and free agency. What happens now is anyone’s guess but this is team that needs to show it can play an offensive style on new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor or it may be a very cold holiday season in South Florida.
Here is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of this team going into the 2014 season.
The Good: Defense, Defense, Defense
It is what this team hangs its hat on. A tough front line that challenges teams and makes them hesitate. Led by Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon up front, the Dolphins use speed to intimidate you and then hopes the backline can shut down opposing receivers – so the opposition must run the football. Little more of that will go a long way toward making this team elite. If the offense cannot pick up the pace and cannot score, it will be up to the defense to pick up the slack. Also, how will Dion Jordan fit into this team’s new defensive presence?
The Bad: Linemen beware
The Dolphins surrendered 58 sacks last season. That is unacceptable by any ball club at any time. The Dolphins could not stop a worm. It showed and it hurt the team trying to protect Tannehill and establish a running game. This must stop.
Look for there to be four new starters on the offensive line. Shelly Smith and rookie Billy Turner will play inside at guard. Tackle will be a position controlled by free agent signee Branden Albert and rookie Ju’Wuan James. Mike Pouncey will continue to anchor this team at center. Now – more than ever – Pouncey must become a leader of this franchise.
The Ugly: Re-writing history
The Dolphins endured the most excruciating season in the team’s history. While the team finished 8-8 and barely missed the playoffs, there was a lot of things on the field the team would just as soon want to forget. Jonathan Martin is gone. Ritchie Incognito is gone. Coaches and trainers are gone. A new season means a new life. The Dolphins must find resolve in 2014.