Odds Courtesy of 5dimes
The Miami Dolphins are a team on the rise to be sure. They’ve improved the last four off seasons, and last year nearly caught a .500 record, but finished with seven wins. Ryan Tannehill looked very good last year, and they’ve given him even better passing options this season, in addition to adding a couple younger linebackers (Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler), which should make a big difference in the Dolphins’ offense this season.
The Dolphins will be entering their second season of using the West Coast offense. The offense relies on zone blocking, and it will also feature a lot of three and four receiver sets to utilize Tannehill’s good decision making. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller will be those four quite often.
While Tannehill’s rookie season was not brilliant, it was very good. He threw for 3,294 yards and 12 TDs (while also rushing for two). He also had a 76.1 passer rating in his 16 starts. Tannehill struggled down the stretch, as he managed 250-plus yards just once in the Dolphins’ final eight games.
Over-reliance on Reggie Bush had a lot to do with this, as the Dolphins just didn’t have enough guys Tannehill could count on to make a play. Predictability became the Dolphins downfall late in the season. Tannehill has a lot to offer as an athlete, though, so some play action could diversify the offense quite a bit and that has to be something coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman will look at.
Lamar Miller will be the primary running back this season in Miami. Bush was not re-signed, which frustrates some Dolphins fans, but they will need to remind themselves that for all Bush did do, he was often indecisive with his running routes and danced around a lot. He managed nearly 1,000 yards and had six TDs, but he had the opportunity for far more. Miller had 250 yards last season, with a very respectable 4.9 yards per carry. That came even in the face of not knowing the offense that well, so now that Miller is gaining better perspective on the sets and routes he has to run, expect him to have a breakout season. Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee will back up Miller.
The ‘phins were weak at receiver last season, and that was addressed in the offseason: they added Wallace and Brandon Gibson. Gibson and Wallace will be joined by Armon Binns and Brian Hartline to form a solid rotation. Wallace has scored 32 TDs in four seasons and is a good deep threat, while Gibson had 51 catches for 691 yards last year, as well as scored five TDs. Keller will be a great TE for the Dolphins, so Tannehill’s added comfort combined with this much better receiving corp could pay off big.
The Dolphins defense is pretty solid, all things said. They use a 4-3 scheme and have a good, strong DL, one which protected well against the run and in the red zone. The “D” didn’t put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but Ellerbe and Wheeler should strengthen the blitzing a lot so that Cameron Wake doesn’t have to get every sack (15 last season). They’ll employ a lot of zone coverage in the backfield, which has to be an emphasis since the Dolphins ranked 27th in interceptions last season and 27th against the pass. Their rush defense ranked 13th.
The Dolphins have made a steady climb to this season, which many expect to result in a playoff berth. It’s difficult to imagine the team overtaking the Patriots to claim the division, but that has to be the hope, with a Wild Card berth coming as a nice consolation prize. The team has too much young talent for Ireland not to feel the pressure and be on the hot seat if they fall short this season. Tannehill really would have the pressure on him, but he’s only in his second season, so it’s deferred to the GM. One must wonder if Ireland will draft Tannehill in his fantasy football leagues for good luck, or look to avoid a jinx of his job.
Be sure to check out Maddux’s picks for this NFL season, as we line our bettors pockets once again in big fashion.