2012 Miami Dolphins: 5 Reasons Fans Shouldn't Give Up Just Yet
There's nothing worse than when fans of a sports franchise give up all hope and dismiss the team's chances before the season even begins. When it comes to the Miami Dolphins, there is absolutely no reason why 'Fins fans should do so. This team is loaded with talent and could come out of nowhere to make a playoff run and shock the league.
So, if you're a Miami Dolphins fan and you're reading this, please don't give up on this team. The past has been tough, and there certainly hasn't been a ton to cheer for over the past few years, but fans need to be optimistic and look forward, not backwards, when it comes to this team. It could be a really fun season down in South Beach, and here's why:
1. They're Riding a Hot Streak
After an abysmal 0-7 start to last season, Miami could've just packed it in and called it quits. No one really would've blamed them if they had, since it seemed like the season was already essentially lost. However, they were able to rebound very strongly and finish the season on a very high note, going 6-3 over their final nine games.
During that stretch, Miami played very well and looked nothing like a team that started 0-7. It was a great way to end the year after all hope appeared to be lost at the midway point. Hopefully, the 'Fins can ride this wave of positive momentum and keep their winning ways intact as the season opens up in September.
If they can get off to a hot start and maybe go 6-3 to start the season just as they did last year to close the season, they will be a dangerous team no one will want to play.
2. They Have a Favorable Schedule
If you go down Miami's 2012 schedule, a ton of winnable games will jump out at you. They're ranked as having the 18th hardest schedule, which is somewhat surprising given their competition. They only have six "quality" opponents on their schedule as well (per ESPN).
Clearly, they have a schedule that will give them a chance to win a lot of games.
The Dolphins will square off against Oakland, Arizona, the Jets twice, Buffalo twice, St. Louis, Seattle and Jacksonville. All of those teams finished .500 or worse in 2011, and many haven't improved all that much.
These games, specifically the ones against the Bills and the Jets, are absolutely critical. If Miami can win these games, many of which come early in the season, they'll be in excellent shape.
If Miami comes up short against the lower quality opposition on their schedule, then the team is in serious trouble. Hopefully they'll pull through and win the "easy" games, stealing a couple victories from their tougher opponents.
3. The Offense Has Changed
Newly minted head coach Joe Philbin is bringing with him a taste of the West coast to South Beach—the West Coast offense, that is. Philbin's scheme is a much better fit for this team than Tony Sparano's was, and it should translate to more wins in 2012.
The new offense better suits this team because it'll allow everyone to get more involved than in previous years. With the loss of Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins will need to utilize a more intermediate passing game, which the new offense will certainly help with.
Davone Bess and Chad Ochocinco will need to be crisp with their route-running, but if all goes well, this offense could put up some big points this year.
Add to that the news that Reggie Bush will be playing more of a wide receiver role for the 'Fins, and the offense could be very dynamic and break open some big plays.
4. The Defense Is Solid
Last year, while Miami was only ranked 15th in overall defense, they were sixth in the red zone, which is a very impressive stat (per Phinsider). And with defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle's new 4-3 scheme, Miami's defense could improve a lot and step up to become an elite overall defense.
With the offense's improvements, the defense could probably stay the same as last season and the 'Fins would still be a good team. Miami did, in fact, give up the least points in the AFC East last season by a relatively comfortable margin (per ESPN), so they have a solid foundation to build off of.
The addition of Olivier Vernon from "The U" will only help to strengthen this defense, as he's a perfectly built 4-3 DE.
And with the linebacking corps anchored by veterans Karlos Dansby and Cameron Wake, and Vontae Davis and Sean Smith in the secondary, Miami should impress a lot of people with its defensive play.
5. "Hard Knocks" History Is on Their Side
As well all know, Miami has been chosen to represent the NFL on HBO's acclaimed Hard Knocks series. It should be a really fun season (click here for an article detailing the possible storylines), and all Dolphins fans should be looking forward to it.
This may be a bit of a stretch, but if history serves, Miami should have a winning record this year. In the history of the show, four out of the six teams have finished with winning records, including the last three teams to be featured. And three out of six have made the playoffs, including the last two teams to be on the show (per ESPN).
Good things are said to come in threes, so hopefully Hard Knocks will follow this pattern and Miami will be the third consecutive team in a row to make the playoffs this season.
We can only hope, right?
Follow me on Twitter: @rlongo924