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Week 7: Dolphins at Jaguars
MY 2014 PREDICTION
Well, well. It is finally here. The Miami Dolphins season is upon us!
There was a time when I would be ecstatic to start the season, but year after year of being disappointed I seem to be taking a "wait and see" attitude this year. Will we underachieve once again, or will we put an exclamation point on "Are you ready for some football?!"
When you think back at the 2013 season and the state of our offensive line, you have to be amazed that the Dolphins were 8-6 and only had to win one of their final two games to make the playoffs. The Dolphins had beaten some really good teams and some good quarterbacks in that stretch, so, facing the Bills' Thad Lewis and the Jets' Geno Smith should have been a cakewalk. Well, we won't rehash what happened. Let's just say that most of us still haven't gotten over it.
It is 2014, and I would say that Coach Philben is on the hot seat. I would blame a lot of Miami's problems the past two years on Philben and his inability to manage the team. So, if the Dolphins do NOT make the playoffs this year I would kick him and his 4-3 defensive scheme out the door. Who is with me?
My prediction for 2014? I think our new GM Dennis Hickey has done a good job of adding free agents and rookies. I see an improved team over 2013, but only a small improvement in our record to 9-7 due to tough schedule and a tougher AFC East division. No playoffs which will mean that Philben should be out. It all depends on whether owner Ross feels the team took an encouraging step to finish out the season strong. I'd like to see him gone as I know that he isn't head coaching material. That does not mean that I do not like him as a person. This team has a lot of potential, but the offensive line has got to block. If the OL does their job, I think you'll be happy to see a more efficient Ryan Tannehill. Don't expect him to hook up on many bombs to Mike Wallace though. I've never seen a quarterback whiff on so many opportunities. A lot of that falls on the offensive line in giving him time to throw the deep pass, but he just does not seem to have that chemistry with Wallace.
WILL THE OL LOOK BETTER?
They'd better, because their first two games they face teams that did very well in getting to Tannehill last year. The Patriots sacked Tanny 10 times last year, and the Bills sacked him 9 times. They'd better get better in a hurry. Keep in mind that the Dolphins have 5 new starters this year. They also have a new offensive line coach in John Benton, and that is a good thing as he is a very good coach. Keep in mind that an offensive line requires chemistry and the Dolphins have been flipping guys all over trying to find a good fit. It should be very interesting.
I thought it was interesting that the Dolphins rank as the 15th youngest team in the NFL which is right in the middle of the pack. Not too old (Raiders) and not too young (Rams). And that is with having 6 undrafted free agents on the team. Go figure.
HEATH EVANS IS A JERK.
And that is being nice. In 2005 he was cut from the Dolphins, and he ended up giving Belichick our playbook. Well, here, let me let you read it for yourself:
He was angry. So blessed angry. This was six games into the 2005 season and Heath Evans was just informed by phone the Dolphins cut him. But even as his blood cooked the phone rang again. New England wanted to see him.
"A hurricane was coming that day, it was a 45-minute drive down to Dolphins camp and I wasn't going down there just to turn in my playbook,'' Evans, now a NFL Network analyst, said. "I was too angry to do that."
The next day he entered the Patriots coach's office and slid the Dolphins playbook across the desk."
"Here, have this,'' he told Belichick. "I don't know if you're going to sign me or not. But this is yours." (Dave Hyde)
Not to worry, someone hacked his wiki page with this:
Isn't there an unwritten rule in that taking another team's playbook from a player is "cheating" and a classless move? I'm sure Belichick pushed it back and said, "No, Heath. That would not be class to do that since I am an honorable man" <Insert a big laugh here!> Yeah, and to think that Belichick did this to one of his closest friends in Nick Saban.
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The season gets underway on sunday, finally, and with 5 new starters on the offensive line many, if not all of us fans will be keenly interested in the play of these 5 new friends.
There will be one returning player to the line when pro bowl center Maurkise Pouncey returns, hopefully for week four, which is his targeted date. Right now however these are five new players to the Dolphins line.
Well sort of, Samson Satele was drafted by the Dolphins back in 2007, but was traded after the 2008 season. He is now back, but really is a new player to the team... again. He was a pick up due to the Pouncey injury, and failed Shelly Smith move to center.
He joined a line that had new free agent pro bowl left tackle Brandon Albert, who was lured away from the Chiefs, veteran journeyman Daryn College at left guard, the afore mentioned Satele at center, career back up Shelly Smith at right guard, even though the team wanted second year player Dallas Thomas to grab that spot, he wasn't very good in the pres-eason however and lost his job, and rookie first round pick Ju'uan James at right tackle.
So, will this be the right mix of players, or at least some of the right players, third round pick Billy Turner is expected to earn a spot at guard, perhaps not this season but next season most likely. Ju'uan James is thought to be the right tackle for some years to come, Pouncey is an elite center, Brandon Albert is still fairly young for a lineman at 29,could this be the core of the Dolphins line for the next several years.
It certainly could be, but what about right now, the Patriots coming up on sunday, how well will this line perform, will they create running room, will the protect Ryan Tannehill. It certainly is no secret that our offensive success relies heavily on how well this line performs, as does every team, but every team doesn't have five new starters, will it take time to gel, will some of the players actually be good enough. Time will tell, it would be hard to be worse than last year, but like I said at the top, everyone will be watching this offensive line, let's hope these five new friends work well together.