There are a lot of expectations for the Miami Dolphins this year.
This is their second season in Joe Philbin's offense, Ryan Tannehill has a year of experience under his belt and the roster is much more talented.
Through three preseason games, we have seen a mixture of last season and what we can look forward to this season. Not all of it has been pretty, but there have been flashes of brilliance that give fans a glimmer of hope.
To start off on a good note, let's look at the positives.
The Tannehill-to-Mike Wallace connection is supposed to be the best in Miami since Dan Marino and whoever was playing wide receiver at the time.
During the team's second preseason game, Tannehill and Wallace were unable to connect, giving people a reason to start freaking out. However, during the third preseason game, Tannehill connected with Wallace three times for 58 yards—including a 33-yard reception—and a touchdown.
Mike Wallace runs past Jonathan Joseph for nice pass and catch with Tannehill then Tannehiill hits Wallace for TD.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) August 18, 2013
#Dolphins WR Mike Wallace shows various skills on that drive. Wallace makes a first-down catch, a deep rec. on the sideline and a TD catch.— James Walker (@JamesWalkerNFL) August 18, 2013
Mike Wallace on catching his first passes of the preseason as a Dolphin: "It was great. It was fun. Got the monkey off our back."— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) August 18, 2013
All was right with the world again.
Another positive after three preseason games is the way the first-team defense is playing. We all knew the defensive line wouldn't be a problem. Cameron Wake looks like Cameron Wake and the interior of the line is playing at a high level—even without Pro Bowler Randy Starks.
The linebackers were a question mark, given that two of the three starters were new acquisitions. Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler have responded well and shown that they are capable of handling their responsibilities.
In the secondary, Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones will make this a much-improved group.
Grimes had a great interception against the Texans during their first drive. That's something Dolphins fans haven't been accustomed to seeing for some time.
Up front, the second- and third-team offensive linemen have been the most impressive group apart from the starters. Kheeston Randall, A.J. Francis and Tracy Robertson have really made a case for themselves. This, in my opinion, will be the toughest call for the coaching staff.
In the special teams department, Caleb Sturgis has yet to miss a kick. His kickoffs are rarely returned and he has been so impressive that the coaching staff didn't need to give the kicker competition a second thought.
Now is when "all good things must come to an end" comes into play.
The Dolphins have shown plenty of discouraging signs during the preseason, to say the least.
Miami's second team has been pretty bad. The linebackers constantly fail to make plays and the secondary is being shredded by backup and third-string quarterbacks.
From what the tape shows, the Dolphins' coaching staff must have a pretty good idea on who will be making the 53-man roster.
On offense, Matt Moore has been pretty bad. To his defense, he's playing behind an offensive line that gives him little time to take a three-step drop.
Josh Samuda has been just short of terrible during his time as the starting right guard and prayers are going up for either Lance Louis or John Jerry, who returned to practice on August 14.
I'm watching John Jerry work and it APPEARS he's returned to the starting right guard spot. Josh Samuda is back at his C spot.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) August 20, 2013
To those that watched the game against the Houston Texans, you probably know what the ugly will be here.
During the second quarter, Dustin Keller caught a short pass from Tannehill and took a helmet to the knee from Texans rookie D.J. Swearinger. From what the replay showed, it wasn't pretty, and the results proved that.
Keller suffered a torn ACL, MCL, PCL and a dislocated knee. In other words, he's lucky to still have a knee.
With Keller out for the season, the Dolphins will turn to a young and inexperienced group at tight end. Their most experienced player, Charles Clay, has not been the epitome of consistency during his time with the team. Michael Egnew has been a disappointment thus far and Dion Sims is a rookie.
And Charles Clay is the Dolphins new starting tight end.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) August 20, 2013
The Dolphins hope these players can produce and give Tannehill the safety net he needs when he's under pressure.