Miami Dolphins: Dolphins Have Many Major Problems Entering 2014

DJ SiddiqiCorrespondent IIIJanuary 4, 2014

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 22:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins is sacked by  Nickell Robey #37 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 16-0.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins concluded their 2013 season last Sunday in a 20-7 loss to the New York Jets in Week 17.

With an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot in the final two weeks of the season, the Dolphins failed to do so—in a major way. 

The Dolphins also failed to win at Buffalo versus the Bills in a 19-0 loss in Week 16, meaning with two opportunities to clinch a playoff spot versus teams with losing records in the final two weeks of the season, the Dolphins came out with duds, scoring just seven total points.

"It's definitely going to take a little while to get over this one," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said following Miami's loss to the Jets.

Miami finished the season 8-8, meaning they have gone five consecutive seasons without a playoff berth and have now gone 11 of the past 12 seasons without reaching the postseason.

Due to the horrendous way that the Dolphins ended the season, many key figures throughout the Dolphins organization are coming under fire—from general manager Jeff Ireland to head coach Joe Philbin, from offensive coordinator Mike Sherman to quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Monday following the Dolphins' season finale marked "Black Monday"—the annual Monday after the conclusion of the regular season which sees many coaches and executives fired following the end of the NFL regular season.

Neither Ireland, Philbin nor Sherman were fired. All three remain a part of the Dolphin organization nearly a week after Miami's regular-season finale.

The Dolphins had many major problems throughout the 2013 season. The problems were masked by the team's three-game winning streak in early December which catapulted them back into the thick of the AFC playoff race.

But the fact of the matter is, this team was never that good to begin with. Playing in a weak AFC conference, combined with a hot stretch during December, gave the false impression that this team was worthy of a playoff spot.

Here are the facts: Under Jeff Ireland's six-season stretch as GM, the Dolphins have managed just one playoff berth and one winning season. Under Mike Sherman's lead as offensive coordinator, the Dolphins ranked 26th in points and 27th in total yards on offense in 2013. Miami also ranked 27th in total offense in 2012, Sherman's first season as the Dolphins offensive coordinator.

Offensive Statistical Rankings 2012-2013
Points Per Game18.0 ppg (27th)19.8 ppg (26th)
Total Yards312 ypg (27th)313 ypg (27th)
Passing Yards199 ypg (26th)223 ypg (20th)
Rushing Yards113 ypg (17th)90 ypg (26th)

For all of the talk of Tannehill improving in his second season compared to his first, the young quarterback still has many strides to make. He ranked 22nd in the NFL in completion percentage and 24th in passer rating. A pedestrian offensive line and a likewise pedestrian running game didn't help matters.

Here is the bigger point at hand—though the Dolphins came this close to clinching their first playoff berth in five years, the Dolphins still have major questions entering 2014. 

The questions don't just pertain to whether or not Ireland, Philbin and Sherman will return with the organization next season, the questions relate to the players on the field for the Dolphins. 

The offensive line was absolutely dreadful. The Dolphins gave up a franchise-record 58 sacks on the season. A lot of the blame should go Tannehill's way for his shaky pocket presence, but it still doesn't undermine the fact that the offensive line was among the worst in the league. 

It isn't just that the line was bad when it came to protecting their passer, it was dreadful in the running game, too. The Dolphins ranked 26th in rushing yards and 27th in rushing touchdowns in 2013.

The bottom line is that the Dolphins are far from a finished product. They aren't much closer in 2013 to being a true contender for the Lombardi Trophy than they were in 2012 during their first season under Philbin.

The 2013 squad may have been a win away from clinching its first playoff spot since 2008, but the play on the field and the lack of stability in the organization signal one thing: The Dolphins have major questions entering 2014.