Fact or Fiction: Miami Dolphins Offseason Edition
Everyone enters the regular season with a certain set of expectations for how their teams will perform, and who will be the major contributors. Inevitably, our expectations are defied year after year.
The Miami Dolphins defied expectations greatly in 2008, and proved that there's never a good reason to count a team out before the season begins.
With so much attention around their club with the selection of quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first round along with HBO's Hard Knocks cameras rolling, there are more preconceptions around the Dolphins than in recent memory.
So let's play a little early fact-or-fiction and take a look at some of the thoughts around the Dolphins headed into the 2012 season.
Reggie Bush Will Lead the League in Rushing
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There's no denying Bush's work ethic, as is well-documented in the above Sun-Sentinel piece, and he had by far the best season of his career last year, but are we to expect seasons like that to become the norm for a guy who was little more than a role-player for the Saints offense from 2006-2010?
What about the fact that he had only 565 yards in his rookie season?
Other than last year, he has never been a solid conventional running back. There's still an outside chance he could lead the league in yards from scrimmage, but consider this: Bush's next completely healthy season will be only the second of his career, and the first since his rookie year. If he's going to lead the league in anything, it will likely take a full 16-game slate to do so.
But even if he is healthy a full 16 games, Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas could cut into his reps a bit, which would only make it more difficult for him to come out on top in the league's rushing standings in 2012.
As of right now, it's a long-shot for Bush to win the rushing title in 2012.
'Hard Knocks' Will Be a Distraction
Cameras and microphones and voice recorders, oh my!
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The announcement that the Dolphins would be starring on HBO's Hard Knocks was met with groans by many on the Dolphins roster. The attention on the Dolphins will be heightened, but that doesn't mean it has to be a distraction.
Head coach Joe Philbin himself intimated that it's only as much of a distraction as the coaching staff allows it to be. Philbin said, per ESPN Milwaukee:
As we know, there's distractions in everything. And it is what you make it. One thing I guarantee, which I told the staff and I told the players, these players will follow the lead of the coaching staff. So if we make it a big deal, if we're thinking, 'Oh my god, this, this and this,' it'll be a big deal. But I don't think it'll be a big deal.
For a first-time head coach, the pressure may seem too high, but it's self-inflicted, and there's no reason to think Philbin has bitten off more than he can chew. He strongly believes that Hard Knocks is a good way to get the word out about his team, to allow them to "show the new direction" and "identity of this football team."
I've said in the past that it could hurt them in some ways, but it could be a great team-building experience. As long as it doesn't influence the decisions by the coaching staff and the players buy in and will sell out to do what's best for the team, it shouldn't be a problem.
David Garrard Will Be the Starting Quarterback
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The debate over the Dolphins starting quarterback has raged on between aggregators and journalists alike.
Could Ryan Tannehill win the starting job as a rookie? Will Matt Moore's stretch performance in 2011 be enough to earn him some equity on the starting job in 2012?
Perhaps neither is the case.With multiple reports now indicating that quarterback David Garrard is the man to beat for the Dolphins starting quarterback job, we can now begin to believe what we're reading. Other reports say he looks the best of the group.
It may not necessarily be the worst thing for them, either. There are plenty of positives to having Garrard take the reigns: He's the most experienced quarterback on the roster, and has gotten it done without a No. 1 receiver in the past. Also, Garrard has the better career stats in areas that he'll need to be effective to run the West Coast offense.
Chad Ochocinco Will Emerge as the Dolphins No. 1 Receiver
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Dolphins wide receiver Chad Ochocinco didn't do much at his previous stop in New England, hauling in just 15 passes in the regular season for 276 yards and a touchdown.
Ochocinco isn't the first receiver to get lost in New England's offense, but not many pass-catchers have gone onto have successful careers after leaving on such a low note.
He keeps himself in top physical shape, though, so perhaps the dip in production wasn't as much about him nearing the end of his career as it was him not being a fit in the offense. Even if that's the case, though, the Dolphins new-look West Coast offense doesn't call for a "true" No. 1 receiver in the mold of Brandon Marshall and others.
With that, it would seem the odds are stacked against him to produce big numbers in Miami.
The Dolphins Defense Will Remain Potent
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The one thing Miami fans could hang their hat on last year was a defense that finished ranked sixth in scoring.
If the Dolphins are going to improve on last season, the defense can't afford to lose much ground.
There are a lot of changes occurring on that side of the ball, just as their are on offense. Kevin Coyle brings with him the 4-3 defense, which he coached in Cincinnati for years. The Dolphins are expected to run a hybrid front, but their base defense should be the 4-3.
That could help them create pressure on the quarterback, but most importantly, it could play into the strengths of their roster. Their defensive group features a cast of primarily returning characters, and another year together could mean growth for a defense that has been underrated the last two years.
Maybe not in 2012, though.