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It seems that if you want to really know what the projection of your team is then you need to skip the "opinions" of the NFL media and check out something that deals with your wallet. A recent article over at Football Betting Center has the Dolphins right in the middle of the pack with these stats: Dolphins | 7.5 (-over -125) | 8. With the way the Dolphins faded out in 2013 it has left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. With the building talent on this team, I expect a break-out season on both sides of the ball.
The first good thing for a surprise season is that betting money is against us. The general consensus of those who deal with money is that the Dolphins have not done anything to really improve over our record of 8 wins from last year. In fact, money says that they will fall back a half game. This is very understandable since the Dolphins suffered last year mostly due to a very ineffective offensive line play. They also whimped out with two heartlessly-played losses against in-division foes.
Last season the Dolphins added some big name free agents only to gain just 1 more win than the previous year. Did any of us even that that possible? Well, looking back on that it does make sense as Mike Sherman did a poor job of utilizing WR Mike Wallace, the prize of last year's free agent frenzy. Also, getting rid of aging LBs Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett for young 1 year wonders LBs Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler proved to be disasterous for our defense. Sliding Ellerbe to OLB and moving high 2010 2nd round pick Koa Misi should plug up any daylight in the middle. He is a former DT/DE at the college level and played well against the run at OLB for the Dolphins. And what about last year's draft? Ireland drafted players that were injured entering the draft and they never made any kind of a difference for us. But, keep in mind that those injured players are very healthy right now, have added bulk, and know the defensive playbook better than last year. I see the defense primed for a step forward.
Offensively, Miami's new GM Dennis Hickey went out and signed the best pass blocking left tackle on the market in ex-Chiefs LT Brandon Albert. Albert made the Pro Bowl last year while only playing 12 games. Talk about making an impression. Hickey drafted the best true RT in Ju'wuan James in the middle of the first round. He then added a mean offensive guard in Billy Turner who is all ready turning heads in camp. Let's also keep in mind that C Mike Pouncey is on the Pro Bowl bubble himself. I would not be surprised to see 2 offensive linemen make the Pro Bowl this year. I really like what Miami has done this year in their job of protecting Ryan Tannehill. Another move that I am excited about is dumping OL Coach Jim Turner for John Benton. Benton coached several good offensive lines under Gary Kukbiak at Houston.
Who would have thought that the Philadelphia Eagles would have gone from 4-12 in 2012 to 10-6 in 2013? They fired a great coach in Andy Reid and hired a successful college coach in Chip Kelly. Kelly took the talent on his roster and turned them into the NFC West champs overnight and did it with Nick Foles as his quarterback. I think Ryan Tannehill is a better quarterback than Foles. While the deep pass is his weakness which contributed several interceptions, Tannhill has a gunslinger approach to the game and has very good accuracy on the short to medium passes. He is surrounded by several good receivers and is now getting the proper practice time on the deep passes. If the OL protects him better he should have an outstanding year in 2014. I expect a lot of work on his pocket presence to cut down on some of those sacks. I have to say that Tannehill is one of the toughest minded quarterbacks in the NFL and does not fear contact back in the pocket.
The Dolphins liked Eagles offense so much that they dumped OC Mike Sherman for Kelly's QB Coach Bill Lazor. All ready there is a lot of excitement from every Dolphins player. Even our defense is raving about the difference. What I really like about Lazor are the head coaches that he has coached under:
Three Hall of Fame coaches and the current offensive guru. All ready Lazor has incorporated a lot of what he learned from Chip Kelly. An example of that is his use of Mike Wallace. He is moving him all around on the offense as he did with Jeremy Maklin. While Lamar Miller is not LeShawn McCoy, Lazor has been impressed with Miller's instincts, quickness, and dedication.
Chip Kelly's comments on Dolphins OC Bill Lazor from ESPN:
“I think everybody’s product of what you see on the field and, obviously, Nick deserves credit because Nick’s the one who’s playing. But Billy was the guy that got him prepared to play, so I think Billy did a great job with him. I think he’s got great experience in terms of being a coordinator at the college level but has also coached with the Seahawks and the Falcons and the Redskins. … I thought it was a great opportunity for him and I think he’s going to do a really good job down there.”
Let's hope so, because it has to. While the Dolphins lost DT Paul Soliai to ridiculous money from the Falcons, they should stout against the run this year. There is a lot of depth along the defensive line and the Dolphins added DT Anthony Johnson who fell in the draft due to failing his drug test ... at the NFL Combine. One player that I am excited about is former 2nd round pick CB Jamar Taylor. He struggled last year due to kidney problems and injuries, but the kid is loaded with talent. He will be our starting corner at some point, but he'll have to beat out a rejuvinated CB Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan is now in a system that should take advantage of the skillset that he had when he was a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Titans a few years back.
S Louis Delmas was a 2nd round pick for the Lions back in 2009, but injury issues made them part them part with him this year. He is an outstanding player and hits so hard that he oftens takes himself out, too. I'm excited about what he can bring to the defense team if he can stay healthy. The Dolphins were forced to move S Rashad Jones up to help shore up our run defense last year, but with the moving Misi to MLB and bringin in Delmas as the 2nd safety, I look to see Rashad Jones return to form as he plays his game.
I do like Miami's coaching staff as I see two potential future Head Coaches in OC Bill Lazor and DC Kevin Coyle. Hopefully they should overcome what little faith I have in Head Coach Joe Philben. Philben seems to stay out of things just enough to let his coaches have control.
Last year the Dolphins saw CB Brent Grimes excel as our Comeback Player of the Year and TE Charles Clay as our Break-Out Player of the year. Yesterday, Mark Grimm wrote about players he expects to see step up this year. I would like to find fault with a couple of these players, but I just cannot. I expect to see a major stepping up of talent this year.
WR Mike Wallace
TE Michael Egnew and/or Dion Sims
RB Lamar Miller
OLB Dannell Ellerbe
S Louis Delmas
QB Ryan Tannehill
OG Dallas Thomas
OG Billy Turner
RT Ja’Wuan James
WR Jarvis Landry
WR Brian Hartline
DE Dion Jordan
CB Jamar Taylor
MLB Koa Misi
Go to Football Betting Center and drop a Benjamin (or more) on the Dolphins. There is a list of their top 5 betting sites. Heck, I am going to do that myself and invest that money back into Phinfever. I would love to run this site and not have to not rely on my members to keep it running as server costs are expensive.
I know there is a lot of "rah-rah" in this blog, but believe me this is going to be an exciting year for us. Look for the Dolphins to finish strong in 2014 and not whimper out as they did last year.
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