As another promising season was coughed up towards the end, the Miami Dolphins will miss the playoffs yet again. The mediocrity of another 8-8 season, a middle of the pack drafting position and a coach that was endorsed for one more season leaves fans scratching their heads. Now- the season wasn’t a complete wash, Miamis young signal caller Ryan Tannehill took a huge step in his development, running back Lamar Miller also figured out the NFL game and had a productive year. Like all franchises though the Miami Dolphins were struck by injuries that derailed the progress they were making.
Ryan Tannehill was the guy Miami’s fan base was hoping for when he was drafted 8th overall a couple years earlier. After switching his playbook for the first time since high school under new offensive coordinator Bill Lasor, Tannehill had a career high in yards(4,045) a decline in interceptions (12) and a better grasp of the “Leadership” role. With all the good he was able to accomplish and grow upon he still could not connect on the deep ball. Outside of that , running the read option and directing this offense it’s safe to say his development is on track. A number of injuries to the offensive line didn’t help Tannehill, most notable left tackle Brandon Albert who was lost for the season.
Despite the injuries, Miamis running game was better than expected but still not enough. Second year back Lamar Miller broke off big runs all season long after running back Knowshon Moreno went down for the year. Miller was the starter at the start of the season but looked to be surpassed by Moreno who had a coming out game against the Patriots in week 1. Next week Moreno was hurt and Miller went on to rush for 1,099 yards on 216 carries. He became the first back since Reggie Bush to break 1,000 yards in a season for Miami since 2011. In a loss against the New York Jets, Miller broke off a 97 yard touchdown run. Longest in franchise history, and ranks top 5 in NFL history.
The receiving corps were, one of the highest paid, had just about an average year. Mike Wallace who was signed to be the teams number #1 receiver and go-to deep threat had just 67 receptions for 867 yards. He did find the end zone 10 times but that number should have been much higher. There were many times he could have caught passes that he just gave up on or did not extend for. He seemed to bench himself in the final game of the season against the rival Jets, which was later said to be a coaching decision. Fellow receivers Brian Hartline was non-existent this past season and Brandon Gibson made what he could out of his limited snaps. Rookie receiver Jarvis Landry is the lone bright spot. With 84 receptions for 758 yards and 5 TDs its safe to say that Landry will be a staple in Miami’s passing game for years to come. Even the tight end position hit a wall when Charles Clay was in and out of the line up, battling a knee injury. Second stringer Dion Sims was able to fill in nicely but doesn’t bring nearly the same versatility as Clay.
Now we focus on the defense, a unit that ranked in the top 5 for most the season and was a mere two plays from a 7-2 start for the season. This unit held the high scoring Chargers to zero, yes zero points. Kept the Packers under 30, a team that twice scored 50+. A defensive front that was feared. Then it all just went bad. A late season collapse is what kept Miami out of the playoffs. Going from as high as number 3 in total defense to finish in just the top 15. Cameron Wake and Oliver Vernon had milk cartons asking if you seen them. Starting linebackers were injured and replaced by rosters fillers, all though Jelani Jenkins did bust his tail during his time on the field. Hard hitting safety Louis Delmas couldn’t avoid the injury bug. Outside of Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones the secondary was awful towards the end of the year. Linebackers and a safety, a second corner and one more rotation pass rusher and this unit will be back in shutdown mode keeping opposing offensive coordinators up late at night trying to figure out how to move the ball.
Coach Philbin has his work cut out for him. GM Dennis Hickey and Philbin have to shale up this roster somehow some way. Maybe a trade, a “GO OUT ON A LIMB” pick up like a Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson(hey we can dream right). Regardless of how far fetched, how out of this world something big needs to happen. Coach the ball is in your hands now.