With my preview of next year's draft out of the way, and with not much else going on in the world of sports that I care about, I figured I'd dedicate a large portion of my blog's future to preview each team in the NFL for the upcoming season. Being that I'm a Dolphins fan, what better team to start off my preview with than the team that I follow most closely? Here's my preview of the 2013 Miami Dolphins.
Key Losses: The Dolphins lost a couple of big name players in free agency this off-season, most notably former starting running back Reggie Bush and former starting left tackle Jake Long. Bush has departed to become the starter in Detroit and Long is off to St. Louis to protect Sam Bradford's blindside. The loss of Reggie Bush shouldn't be much of an issue for the Dolphin offense, as we're making the transition to a more pass-happy offense. Lamar Miller is being slated as Bush's replacement and by all accounts so far, he seems more than capable of filling the shoes. The loss of Long, however, is going to be much more of a problem for us. As it looks right now, Miami is going to slide last year's second round pick Johnathon Martin from right tackle over to the left side (the side he played on at Stanford protecting Andrew Luck). This is worrisome for most fans, as Martin didn't look very solid last season and needed to do some serious work in the off season to improve his strength and conditioning. All reports indicate that Martin has put in this work, so we'll see if it translates to his performance on the field.
Key Additions: Miami had a very active off season, adding a lot of fire power on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. On offense, Miami went out and signed Mike Wallace at the start of the free agency period. The addition of Wallace will give Miami something that they have not had in a long time, possibly since I started following the team back in the early 90's, a bona fide number 1 receiver. Wallace's speed alone should significantly open things up offensively, and he has put in work the last two seasons to become a more complete receiver instead of just a one-trick speedster. Miami also went out and signed Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller to bolster our passing game. Putting Gibson in the slot along with Wallace and Hartline on the outside will give Miami as starting trio of wide receivers that I feel can rival almost anyone in the NFL. Keller's addition at tight end will give Tannehill an athletic, large target to throw to in the redzone as well as down the seam. These guys should spell a marked improvement in both Ryan Tannehill's development as a young quarterback and to Miami's offense as a whole. On the defensive side of the ball, Miami's biggest addition was the signing of corner back Brent Grimes. Coming off of an Achilles tendon injury and being on the wrong side of 30 when the season starts, Grimes is a bit of a risk. But he has been a top-5 corner (when healthy) in the past and addresses what has been Miami's biggest need on the defensive side of the ball for several years now. With the addition of Grimes, along with Phillip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe, and the drafting of Dion Jordan, Miami should easily have a top-10 defense this season, if not better.
What it means: With all of the additions made to the offensive side of the ball, the front office has sent a clear message that the time is now to turn this franchise around. Miami has been mired in mediocrity for the better part of the last 15 years and it's time for that to stop. If Ryan Tannehill can progress in his quarterbacking the way that everyone expects him to with these new weapons, it's hard to imagine Miami being anything less than a 9-7 team this season. I'm hoping to see more along the lines of 11-5 and an AFC East championship, loosening the New England Patriots recent stranglehold on the division. 11-5 and a playoff birth is certainly within the realm of possibility for this team right now. I'm not willing to hop on the bandwagon and say this team is one of the best in the AFC, but we certainly have that potential.
Welcome! My name is Chris Spooner. I am an overly-passionate Dolphins fan who has many opinions about his team, and the sports landscape as a whole. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy voicing them.