5 Miami Dolphins Players Primed for Bounce-Back Seasons in 2014
When the 2014 season gets underway, the Miami Dolphins will hope to forget about 2013 and come back as a stronger unit.
Much like the team as a whole, individual players such as Reshad Jones, Lamar Miller and Dannell Ellerbe will look at the upcoming season as an opportunity to bounce back from poor performances the year before.
Just as the players will do, it's time to put the 2013 season behind us and look ahead to find the guys who will rebound with big seasons in 2014.
In order to be on this list, these players first and foremost need to be coming off a disappointing 2013 campaign.
They also need to have the proper combination of talent, potential and opportunity that will help them bounce back next year.
With that said, here are five players that will overcome their underwhelming 2013 seasons and come back with much improved performances in 2014.
Dimitri Patterson, CB
At first glance, you may be wondering how Dimitri Patterson can be on a list of bounce-back candidates when he was so dominant last season.
It's certainly true that when he was on the field, Patterson was a stud for the Dolphins.
However, the problem was that he couldn't stay on the field. Battling with a groin injury all season, he actually played in just six games all year.
In the games he did play, Patterson was targeted 31 times and allowed 18 catches for 219 yards while intercepting four passes and defending three more.
He held opposing quarterbacks to just a 51.1 rating when throwing at him, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Patterson is an ideal player to deliver a bounce-back season in 2014 after showing what he can do in limited time last year.
Providing he can come back healthy next season, Patterson has the potential to team up with Brent Grimes and give the Dolphins one of the best cornerback duos in the entire league.
Mike Wallace, WR
When the Dolphins signed Mike Wallace to a $60 million contract last offseason, most fans expected huge numbers from the explosive receiver.
It's safe to say that 73 catches, 930 yards and a career-low five touchdowns didn't live up to the hype.
However, the fact that Bill Lazor—not Mike Sherman—will be calling plays this season should be enough to bring plenty of optimism on the potential of Wallace in the Dolphins offense.
In fact, Sherman's terrible play designs were a huge factor as to why Ryan Tannehill struggled to connect with Wallace.
Take a look at Bleacher Report's Chris Kouffman's article in which he broke down Tannehill's deep-ball issues.
One of the biggest problems Kouffman mentions with the deep ball is the play design. In many cases where Tannehill seemed to underthrow Wallace, the issue was that there was simply too much going on during the play.
Instead of dropping back to pass and letting it rip, in most cases Sherman would design a play that calls for other elements—such as play action, a hitch step or even both—that would add an extra second or two to the play.
For a burner like Wallace, the extra time results in underthrown balls, which allows the defender to get back into the play.
In other words, Sherman was not putting Wallace in the best possible position to succeed.
Even still, Wallace did prove to be a dangerous weapon that opened up a lot of the field. He should see tons of improvement being fully maximized to his potential next season.
Dannell Ellerbe, LB
This will very likely be the most controversial selection on the list as the majority of the Dolphins fanbase has already given up on the two new linebackers.
While I won't attempt to make an argument supporting Philip Wheeler, I firmly believe that Dannell Ellerbe is much better than what he showed in 2013.
After all, Ellerbe was supposed to be next in line to fill the shoes of the retiring Ray Lewis.
The talent was there, but the execution wasn't.
Throughout the 2013 season, Ellerbe's biggest problem was the hesitancy he showed when reading and reacting to plays.
He was consistently slow to react to situations. As a result, he rarely made impact plays and was especially bad against the run.
A big reason for this could be his unfamiliarity with the system. It was his first time in his career playing in a 4-3 defense, and he struggled to find his place.
Given another year to gain familiarity in the system, Ellerbe is certainly talented enough to live up to his free-agent hype.
While he will enter next season with little to no expectations, Ellerbe very well may turn into one of the best players on the Dolphins defense.
Lamar Miller, RB
With Reggie Bush leaving in the offseason, Miller was expected to fill his shoes and be an explosive player who would carry the load in the backfield in 2013.
He was far from it.
Miller finished the year with just 709 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.0 yards per carry—nearly a full yard worse than what he averaged the previous season.
The bad news is that Miller took a big step back after showing a lot of promise in 2012.
However, the good news is that much of the blame can be put squarely on the shoulders of the dreadful offensive line.
The unit that allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks did not perform much better in run blocking either, and Miller suffered because of it.
Coming back in 2014 with an improved line should allow Miller to get back on track and return to being the explosive player that he was in 2012.
Reshad Jones, S
For all the negative attention Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler got for their bad performances in 2013, Reshad Jones' year was just as disappointing.
After a breakout season in 2012, Jones took a major step backward.
He struggled most in coverage, where he got torched by opposing quarterbacks all year long.
When matched up with a wide receiver, Jones allowed completions on 37 of 45 passes thrown at him.
The 82.2 percent of passes completed on him was the worst in the league among safeties targeted at least 25 times, via Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Quarterbacks also boasted a passer rating of 123.5 when targeting Jones in coverage, a massive drop-off from the 38 rating they had when going against him in 2012.
It was simply a dreadful year for Jones from day one.
Whether or not these struggles were a one-year fluke or a troubling trend remains to be seen.
Regardless, Jones showed the type of talent he has with his 2012 season, in which he proved that he has the potential to be a top safety in the league.
There is no reason to think that Jones can't return to that top form, and his immense potential alone makes him primed to bounce back in 2014.