Before we can set ourselves to predicting the outcome of every single Miami Dolphins game of the 2013 NFL season, I think we have to establish a few things. We have to establish what this team was, what has changed and what it should become. The latter is the most important task, because you can't hope to know how the team's strengths and weaknesses will interact with other teams' strengths and weaknesses unless you have properly gotten your arms around them.
It’s a tall task, but I think we can make do.
What the Dolphins were
Let’s keep this part simple. Last year, the Dolphins were a 7-9 team with an offense that scored 28 touchdowns and 23 field goals, or about 16.5 points of offense per game (loosely, rounding to the nearest half-point). The defense allowed 28 touchdowns and 31 field goals, or about 18 points per game. The offense turned the football over 26 times while the defense only created 16 takeaways.
The team had a rookie quarterback and arguably only three star players on offense (one of whom failed to play like one), with another three stars on defense. For the record, I account those players as Reggie Bush, Jake Long, Mike Pouncey, Cameron Wake, Randy Starks and Reshad Jones. I suspect most NFL coaches would account it roughly the same.
What has changed
The biggest change the Dolphins made in the offseason was the addition of Pittsburgh free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, who is a classic speed flanker. The Dolphins also voluntarily jettisoned two mainstays of the defense in Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, replacing them with Baltimore free agent Dannell Ellerbe and Oakland free agent Phil Wheeler.
The team allowed tight end Anthony Fasano and offensive tackle Jake Long to depart as free agents with expiring contracts. In their place, they signed Jets free agent tight end Dustin Keller (now disabled for the season) and Falcons tackle Tyson Clabo, who will man the right tackle spot while second-year tackle Jonathan Martin moves to left.
The team allowed dynamic tailback Reggie Bush to escape as a free agent and made no appreciable effort to replace him, figuring that second-year man Lamar Miller can step into his shoes. Slot receiver Davone Bess was traded to the Cleveland Browns for minor draft considerations and was replaced with journeyman Rams free agent Brandon Gibson. Corner Sean Smith was allowed to depart the team as a free agent, while Falcons free agent corner Brent Grimes was welcomed in his place on a one-year “prove it” contract aimed at seeing if he has fully recovered from an Achilles tendon tear.
The team drafted Michigan State tight end Dion Sims to be the blocking specialist at the position that may be missing at times now that Anthony Fasano departed. After showing a significant lack of depth at corner a year ago, the team drafted two rookie corners in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft in Jamar Taylor of Boise State and Will Davis of Utah State.
However, the most significant draft acquisition is Oregon pass-rusher Dion Jordan, who will fill the role of nickel pass-rusher opposite Cameron Wake that was inadequately filled a year ago by rookie Miami (FL) product Olivier Vernon. The team also drafted a place-kicker who will replace Dan Carpenter.