Why the NFL Should Fear the Miami Dolphins in 2013

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Why the NFL Should Fear the Miami Dolphins in 2013
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have made some recent signings that either kept or acquired sorely needed talent, and it's time the league began to worry. 

I know. There are hardly any teams out there that can't make a similar statement. What’s really important is whether the moves will result in long-term gains.

And I know. The draft is the most important event in a successful franchise's offseason.

But I'm not talking about the far-off future. I'm not even talking about 2014.

I'm talking about this coming season, because the Dolphins have a chance to be good.

 

The Passing Attack Looks More Like a Passing Attack

If anything held the Dolphins back in 2011, it was the passing offense. In fact, only five teams threw for fewer yards and two teams caught fewer touchdowns.

But in all the misery, Brian Hartline performed a weekly therapy session for the Dolphins faithful. He doubled his output over the previous season (74 receptions to 35), and continued to deliver when the offense increased his workload.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Bringing him back ensures Ryan Tannehill won't lose his first receiving love. Or wide receiver man crush. Whatever you want to call it, Tannehill won't become bitter and shirk football altogether.

And adding Mike Wallace will give Tannehill the target he needs to show off the strongest arm in the 2012 NFL draft, as Russ Lande wrote for Yahoo. Wallace is going to love running by defensive backs while tracking down deep balls. It's what he does. He may not prove to be worth his $60 million contract, but he will improve the offense with his top-blowing capabilities. 

Dustin Keller and Brandon Gibson were also good pickups, and don't forget Davone Bess. None of them can carry an offense by themselves, but they are nice pieces when combined with the above.

 

The Defense Isn’t Worried about Looks Because It’s Actually Good

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Unlike the offense, the defense didn't hold anyone back except opponents. The unit only allowed 30 or more points twice and gave up an average of just 11.9 points in seven wins.

Stats don't always tell the story, but they are especially deceiving when evaluating defensive players. That's why I'll rely on the fellows at Pro Football Focus and their excellent grading system to illustrate my points (all links to PFF require a subscription).

The Dolphins retained Randy Starks by utilizing the franchise tag, and he will combine with Paul Soliai to keep Miami's interior line stout, which frees up Cameron Wake to continue wreaking havoc on the outside. And when I say havoc, I mean he was so dominant that he produced 86 quarterback sacks, hits and hurries.

Meanwhile, keeping Chris Clemons gives the Dolphins at least two competent players in the secondary. Clemons (4.4) achieved an above-average grade while cornerback Reshad Jones went bonkers (22.1). That's the makings of a solid back line

Finally, Dannell Ellerbe is a guy who will give a large boost to the rushing defense while also providing some pass rush (five sacks in 2012). He'll pair with recent addition Philip Wheeler (9.8 2012 PFF grade) to give the Dolphins a respectable and talented linebacking duo. 

So why should the NFL take notice of what's happening in South Beach? When you consider the foregoing, why not?

 

All transactions sourced from NFL.com.

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