Dolphins by the Numbers: 2013 Stats Miami Must Improve in 2014
When looking back at the Miami Dolphins' 2013 season, you can see why they failed to make the playoffs for the fifth straight season and finished they year with an 8-8 record.
Simply put, they didn't perform well enough in a number of key statistics.
Miami was toward the bottom of the league in rushing—both offensively and defensively—and also allowed a historic number of sacks.
That's not exactly a recipe that will win you 10 games and get you to the playoffs.
However, the good news is that these issues can be fixed.
So without further ado, let's take a look at the five most important stats from the 2013 season that the Dolphins must improve upon next year.
Yards Per Carry
While the Dolphins averaged a modest 4.1 yards per carry last year—good for 17th in the league—that number was extremely skewed thanks to Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill was the third-leading rusher on the team, running for 236 yards and six yards per attempt. The real number to look at is 3.8, which is the yards per carry for the running backs.
It's no secret that the Dolphins had a tough time running the ball last year.
It's also no secret that they are looking to upgrade at running back.
However, the free-agent market for running back has already started to dry up. Rashad Jennings, Toby Gerhart and Ahman Bradshaw were signed early while ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that Darren McFadden and Donald Brown are also now off the market.
That realistically leaves a few ways the Dolphins can go.
They can still sign a veteran like LeGarrette Blount, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Michael Bush or Andre Brown.
The other option is to find a running back early in the draft. According to the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly, this may actually be the option that general manager Dennis Hickey prefers:
I'm told that new GM Dennis Hickey feels good about his ability to evaluate tailbacks, and would prefer to address the position through the draft, adding another youngster to compete with Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee and Marcus Thigpen
If that is the case, then Miami could grab someone like Carlos Hyde or Tre Mason in the second or third round and pencil them in to split carries with Lamar Miller.
This is a number that will haunt Dolphins fans for a while.
The number here is 58. It was the most sacks allowed in the entire league and also the most in Dolphins history.
The offensive line was historically bad and the Dolphins wasted very little time in upgrading it.
The Dolphins are still far from done, with three more positions on the offensive line still needing to be filled.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that free-agent guard Shelley Smith has a visit scheduled with Miami.
Zach Strief and Davin Joseph are also two other possible options. The Dolphins will likely address the position in the draft as well.
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game
As a fan, there are very few things that are more frustrating to watch than seeing the opponent run the ball right down your throat and your defense being helpless to stop it.
That was the case with the Miami Dolphins last season, as they allowed 124.9 rushing yards per game—24th in the league.
According to Charlie McCarthy of Fox Sports Florida, the Dolphins not only brought in Earl Mitchell—an explosive nose tackle from the Houston Texans—they also brought back Randy Starks in a very surprising, but brilliant move.
Mitchell inked a four-year, $16 million deal while Starks returned with a two-year, $12 million deal.
It remains to be seen if the Dolphins have gotten better with the move, but they definitely got more athletic and the defensive line is still as formidable as ever.
However, as we know from last year, it takes more than just a good defensive line to stop the run.
This is why Miami still needs to address the linebacker position.
The team showed interest in D'Qwell Jackson, who signed with the Colts, but have not aggressively pursued any other free-agent linebackers as of yet.
This could mean that it is exercising patience and could eventually make a move for someone like Brandon Spikes.
It could also mean that the Dolphins aren't interested in anyone currently on the market and would rather draft a top linebacker like Ryan Shazier or C.J. Mosley.
There is a very simple theory in football positing that when you turn the ball over more than your opponent, you likely aren't going to win.
The Dolphins ended the season with a minus-two turnover differential, forcing 24 turnovers while turning the ball over 26 times themselves.
The addition of Louis Delmas may help that, as he is much more of a playmaker than Chris Clemons.
However, thanks to the release of Dimitri Patterson, the Dolphins will be in the market for a new cornerback if they can't find a way to bring him back.
Turnover ratio is a two-way street, though. Even if the defense can force more turnovers, it will be up to the offense to do a better job of taking care of the ball.
That will largely fall on the shoulders of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who accounted for 22 of the Dolphins' 26 turnovers in 2013.
With an improved offensive line, Tannehill should have more time to throw and that interception number should work its way down.
If the Dolphins can consistently get their turnover ratio into the positives next year, it's safe to say they will be much better than an 8-8 team.
Points Per Game
The most simple stat in football, yet the most important.
You can't win if you don't score, and unfortunately for the Dolphins, they didn't do nearly enough of it last season.
Miami finished 26th in the league in scoring, averaging just 19.8 points per game.
The Dolphins reached the 25-point mark in a game on just two occasions all season. In comparison, 11 different teams in the league averaged at least 25 points per game in 2013.
In the final two games, playing against the 19th- and 20th-ranked scoring defenses in the league with a playoff spot on the line, Miami scored a total of seven points.
The offense was predictable, conservative and was far too easy to stop.
However, the good news is that the Dolphins have already fixed the biggest problem with the offense by replacing Mike Sherman with Bill Lazor at offensive coordinator.
Lazor should open up the offensive playbook quite a bit and do a much better job of maximizing the offensive talent Miami has. Upgrading the offensive line will be a major bonus too, as will adding a running back to replace Daniel Thomas.
As usual, however, it will come down to Ryan Tannehill to put it all together.
If Tannehill can become the player that most Dolphins fans believe he can be, then the Dolphins could have a very explosive and dangerous offense next season.
If he can't, then it's safe to say that the Dolphins won't be putting up many points or winning many games.