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Week 6: Dolphins at da Bears
The pre-season finale, if you can call it that, is being played as I write this (actually for the second time, the whole article was erased when I attempted to insert a picture), and there is not much to talk about until we get underway in just over a week. Funny how the offseason seems to take so long and then there we are, just 10 days away!
So in this little calm before the storm, it's time to hypothesize, How Much is Riding on This Season.
It's an interesting question, one that is full of speculation of course, since none of knows what goes on in the head of owner Stephen Ross. How many jobs in the organization are on the hook this season, if you ask a lot of people, you'll get a lot of different answers, it's really anyones guess.
Mr Ross has not yet "cleaned house", so one wonders if this season is not a success will he actually do that, meaning is GM Dennis Hickey on a one year, double secret probation status. Mr Ross has settled for "half measures" so far when trying fix what ails this team.
When Tony Sparano was fired many thought that Ireland should also have been fired, when Ireland was, well, uh, amicably parting ways with the Dolphins, many thought that coach Philbin should have been, well, uh, amicably parted as well.
So what would Mr Ross do, common thought is that coach Philbin is coaching for his job, but Mr Ross is very fond of coach Philbin, so would he keep him if we have another 8-8 season. QB Ryan Tannehill has shown a lot of potential, but has been short on results. If this is an unsuccessful season would they part ways with him, after all, the man who drafted him is amicably elsewhere, so there is no loyalty to him from Hickey, or someone new. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is probably also on the hot seat, and is new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in a similar position as Hickey?
There certainly can be a case made that it just isn't fair, a new GM needs time to build a roster, a new offensive coordinator needs time to fully install his system, a young inexperienced QB needs time to develop. However, no one said it's a fair world, I do remember hearing something about a small world, but nothing about a fair world (see above comment about this being the second time I have to write this article). So will another 8-8 season bring more "half measures", will a sub .500 season bring a "cleaning house" front office massacre? Win and do well and we will never know what possible solutions Mr Ross would come up with.
I know I'm hoping for the latter.
So I find myself almost alone in my enthusiasm for this year. Other than Omar Kelly's 9-7 "bold" prediction most people are again predicting an 8-8 season for this team. I realize the questions, but every team has them.
What separates the good teams year after year is usually the QB. So therein lies my optimism for the year. I remember being this optimistic after the signings of Trent Green and Chad Pennington. One proved me right, the other got injured.
Ryan Tannehill has played differently this preseason. Last preseason, he seemed to stay on the field longer than most other starting QBs and got to see action against 2nd team defenses. Obviously the coaching staff was trying to build confidence and chemistry with some new WRs. This year, against some pretty good defenses like Tampa and Atlanta, RT had the first team offense moving the ball well between the 20s. His gawdy 68% completion percentage bears out that he's making good decisions with the ball.
His first team OL is also playing well. Add to that FA Alberts and number 1 draft pick James have been stellar in the preseason. When you compare to what they had last year, it is night and day. My gut is telling me that a more upright Ryan Tannehill is going to have a great year and with that drag Miami to at least a 10-6 record.
My confidence in the offense also stems from the young WRs and RBs. The WRs 2-6 are young, fast, have great hands and catch in traffic. Landry, Gibson and Matthews along with Hartline form a group you can't focus a defense on. RT was spreading the ball around in this group a lot and it will give DC's fits this year trying to figure out who to cover. Throw in RB's Moreno, williams and Darkwa and suddenly Miami has depth at positions that were a question mark a year ago.
Concerns, yes. Defensive front is as good as ever but the LB corps isn't inspiriing. Safety is also a concern. Miami has solid depth at CB and we should see some of those guys on the field this year.
Overall, I can't see this team losing many games this year. It is the most talented and deep team Miami has fielded in quite some time. My official prediction, Miami wins the East. 11-5. Here's to hoping you're not talking me off the ledge after the NE game.
Go Tannehill GD2