Miami Dolphins-The Biggest Loser (2009 Season Outlook)
Trim the fat (Dolphins cut QB John Beck), tone up your core (Dolphins sign Jason Taylor, Vernon Carey, Yeremiah Bell and Channing Crowder) and begin to bulk up (Dolphins have Key Draft Picks in Pat White, Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, & Andrew Gardner).
Deal with possible set backs’ (Brian Hartline, John Nalbone and an Injury prone backfield).
Leave sympathy and all emotional baggage of the past at the door and what will you have? The Miami Dolphins; a team ready to compete at the highest level in the National Football League after succumbing to several flat out embarrassing seasons.
Well okay, not necessarily the “Biggest Loser” but true contenders for another winning season. A team that went from a despicable 1-15 record to a miraculous11-5 record in just one season; It’s absolutely hard not to be exited about this upcoming year.
Although, in my honest opinion, the Dolphins are not Super Bowl contenders just yet and will need to make some major moves (which may take a couple of years) for them to even be considered. In 2009 I look for the Dolphins to go 9-7 with a possible Wildcard berth.
How could my prediction be less than last year’s outcome? Well, all things considered, you have to realize that the AFC east was plain horrible in 2008. Tom Brady got hurt in the first game; Bret Favre lost his touch towards the back end of the season (not to mention his “nagging” bicep issue) and the Buffalo Bills were never in the picture to begin with.
It was a topsy-turvy season and you have to just admit it because in the beginning no one could have envisioned the Arizona Cardinals making it all the way to the Super Bowl, let alone having a chance of winning it all.
But, you do have to give the Dolphins credit for making the right moves in the off season to prove that everything wasn’t just hype. Offensively, With the addition of a versatile Pat White and one of the NFL’s most accurate QB’s in Chad Pennington, the Wildcat offense will be wide open.
Sure, the only reason the Dolphins ran the wildcat in the first place was to accommodate for the lack of talent they had on the offense; No one to compliment the deep threat- Ted Ginn Jr. and force the double team. But can you imagine Pat White at the slot and Ronnie Brown in the backfield or vice versa? Chilling isn’t it.
Offensively, the only possible obstacle the Miami Dolphins will face is…The Wildcat offense. Hey, you live by the gun, you die by the gun. Although it was a great tactic that the Dolphins sprung out last year; Defensive Coordinators will prepare vigorously, if they hadn’t already begun to do so, and adapt quickly to the schemes of teams that will rely heavily on this offense (i.e. The Miami Dolphins).
Also, being AFC east champs doesn’t come without it’s own prices and the Dolphin’s Wildcat offense will have to fend off a rejuvenated Chargers defense, as well the Indianapolis Colts and the Super Bow Champions; The Pittsburg Steelers.
Defensively, last year Ed Reed dealt the blow to the Dolphins that opened up everyone’s eyes to the fact that they needed a DB badly. With that, the Dolphins drafted one, if not the purest, cornerback in this year’s draft; Vontae Davis. Not to mention Sean Smith, a physical DB, who only adds to a unit in need that ranked 25th in the league against the pass.
The obstacles that the defense will face this year is that even though they may have drafted, Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, they will definitely have their hands full with the Dolphins carrying the load of “Toughest 2009 NFL schedule”.
Six of their non-divisional games are against teams that made it to the playoffs and half of the season the Dolphin’s will be matched against top tier, playoff caliber teams.
This also means that Vontae and Sean will be facing the likes of Randy Moss, Chris Chambers, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith and Hines Ward just to name a few. Even with Veterans Yeremiah Bell and Will Allen, the odds are looking pretty steep.
Another obstacle the Dolphins will face is the fact that they refused to draft a true rush end in this year's draft.
Yes, the Dolphins run the 3-4 defense, which would make Joey Porter the rush end on some plays but Mr. Porter only managed a pathetic one sack in four games in the home stretch. With that being said, the Dolphins also signed Jason Taylor who is no more than a rotational Rush linebacker at best in my opinion; The Dolphins did far better without him.
I mean this is the same guy that got out ran by possibly the slowest QB in the game for a touchdown- Eli Manning; enough said. On the plus side, they did manage to sign Cameron Wake who is a rare talent and will be someone to watch for next season.
Realistically, like I said, I see a 9-7 finish with a possible wildcard berth and even that may be pushing it, unfortunately. There will be several games that will test the Dolphin’s no doubt.
Being that most considered the Dolphin’s success was a fluke on the count of a weak schedule and that they only managed a meager 345-317 point difference last year; they have a lot to prove.
To have a winning season against such a tough schedule, the Dolphins are going to have to pull out the bag of tricks. Regardless, making it to 11-5 should count for something right? No, not in this sport where yesterday is dead and the new question now becomes “what have you done for me lately”?
That’s just my nickel with a three-cent rebate. Take care.