The Miami Dolphins, though rarely the object of any great amount of respect in the mainstream media (this means you, NFL.com ), are a veritable powder-keg waiting to unleash a blast-wave of potential that will propel them into the ranks of the NFL's elite.
Despite a couple of disappointing finishes in 2009, in which the Dolphins gave up hefty fourth quarter leads, this team looked every bit as good as the squad that had shocked the league with its unexpected dominance during the 2008 regular season; maybe even better.
The 7-9 Fins of 2009 were just a few touchdowns, a couple of injuries, and a heartbeat away from a repeat 11-5 or even a 12-4 performance. But let's face it, sometimes the chips simply don't fall your way. Not to attribute it all to luck; poor second half game management also played a significant role.
When it comes to taking huge leaps forward in this league, it can be awfully difficult to stick the landing, but anyone who really knows this Miami squad will have no trouble believing that greatness is well within its grasp. Here are a few reasons why, in no particular order:
This kid has all the tools for the job, and it's only a matter of time before he learns how to maximize that potential. He has been eased into action over the past two years, so it is doubtful that he will be subject to a "sophomore slump." Do not underestimate Marshall's capability to stretch a QB's stats, or Henne's capacity to learn from previous mistakes. Look for Chad's first full season as the Dolphins' starting Quarterback to turn more than a few heads.
Restored RB Corps
The Dolphins' depth in the backfield should be back to full strength. I believe Ronnie Brown knows that performing well for an entire season may make or break his future with respect to his durability issues. If he has it in him, we are going to see it. Ricky Williams will get to rest more often, but there is still a good bit of fight left in him. Patrick Cobbs' return is also welcome, and many fans are hoping to see Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets get a few touches as well.
Dolphins 2.0: Upgrades
The addition of several impact-players to the roster will certainly not hurt the Fins' chances. Brandon Marshall's ability to stretch a defense is going to create major opportunities for everyone else on the field to improve on their 2009 performances. Karlos Dansby has the skills and experience to step into an immediate leadership role with the sideline help of new DC Mike Nolan. If he can keep his temper and ego in check, Ritchie Incognito should be able to complement the Offensive line nicely.
The Wildcat Offense
Did you think the Fins were just going to forget about the 'cat? Even when failing to gain astronomical numbers, the Wildcat keeps defenses off-balance, keeps the ball on the ground (most of the time), and the clock running. It would serve us all to remember how dominant the Dolphins can be with a heavy lead in time-of-possession. This is the Dolphins' calling card, and now a go-to offensive set for many teams around the league, but no one does it quite as well as Ricky & Ronnie.
The Dolphins are no longer a team that other teams love to play. When opponents look over the schedule and see a match-up with the Fins, it's no longer a guaranteed 'W'. The Dolphins are bigger and better than ever, and have many talented players with a lot to prove. Make no mistake—the Dolphins are dangerous.