The Dolphins 2011 Season ended up for the most part being a disappointment. They did not make the playoffs while their rivals, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, did, and they failed to achieve more wins than losses by obtaining a 7-9 record.
There were some highlights of the 2011 season though, as Jake Long and Cameron Wake both started in the Pro Bowl. Additionally, Randy Starks was an alternate.
This season also demonstrated some of the potential talent Miami has in its younger players. Let's see which of these players' potential will be utilized in the 2012 season, and which Miami Dolphins will make the Pro Bowl.
Paul Soliai emerged this year as a force at nose tackle and has become one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL. Usually I would be leery of a player who plays at a rotational level throughout his career, and suddenly becomes a superb player just as he enters his contract year; however, Soliai has gotten the Franchise Tag and knows that he needs to continue his outstanding play if he wants to get paid the big bucks.
Soliai, who will be constantly double teamed through the upcoming season, has a unique ability to jump off the ball and force centers to backpedal. This not only helps clog up holes in the running game, but serves as an obstacle when the opposing offense attempts to throw the ball. Soliai will be a backup in the 2012 Pro Bowl
If you haven't heard of Vontae Davis, I feel sorry for you. As a Dolphins fan, it has truly been an honor to watch him mature as a player on and off the field. If he continues his growth into the next season, which I think he will, he will be a starter in the Pro Bowl next season (especially considering that Nnamdi Asomugha may play for the NFC).
Vontae has found a perfect balance between a shut-down corner, such as Darrelle Revis, and a gambler, such as Asante Samuel. He does an excellent job of not allowing his opponent to catch the ball, which has been seen through his 14 pass deflections in his first two years in the league. He also has 5 interceptions, which can be attributed to his risk-taking ability. Davis' one flaw is his combination of aggression and speed can sometimes act as his cardinal sin.
For example, the only time Davis was completely beat in the past year was when he over-played Greg Jennings and reacted too quickly to his moves. If Davis controls his speed, not only will he make the Pro Bowl, but he could emerge as a top NFL Cornerback.
The day Karlos Dansby arrived in Miami, he served as the veteran leader that the Dolphins desperately needed ever since Jason Taylor had departed. In addition to his leadership skills, his abilities to stop the run, get to the quarterback, guard top receivers and tight ends, and make open-field tackles make him one of the most well-rounded middle linebackers in the NFL.
Dansby also serves as the "clutch quarterback" of our defense during short yardage situations. Whenever the Dolphins found themselves in a situation where they desperately need a stop on third or fourth and short, Dansby always seems to come up big.
In fact, had it not of been for his injuries, Dansby could have seriously pushed for a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl Roster. If Karlos Dansby stays healthy for the entire season and continues his balanced performance, he will make the 2012 Pro Bowl.
Cameron Wake made an astonishingly fast transition from the CFL to the NFL. Last season he started in the Pro Bowl, and I see no reason that that should change for this upcoming season.
Wake recorded 14 sacks last season, and also caused defenses to hold him numerous times giving the Dolphins great opportunities on defense.
Unlike most breakout players, who start hot but don't finish as strong, Wake recorded one more sack in the last eight games of the season than in the first eight games. This demonstrates, that even as defenses learned more about Wake, they could not stop him.
If he continues his dominant, unstoppable pass-rush into the next season, Cameron Wake will start in the 2012 Pro Bowl.
Bearing any season-ending injuries, Jake Long will be a starter in the Pro Bowl. He is the best left tackle and offensive lineman in the league, and aside form Joe Thomas, no one even comes close.
Even while he was battling an injury to a shoulder, Long started every game of the season and was the one constant in the Dolphins offense: he simply doesn't get beat.
As long as Long (no pun intended) does not regress this year, he will start in the 2012 Pro Bowl and be selected for an All-Pro Team.
First off let me say that Brandon Marshall is a phenomenal wide receiver. His hands act like alligators that can snag a ball no matter where it is thrown to him, and his ability to create plays is unreal.
Unfortunately, the Chad Henne to Brandon Marshall connection hasn't been established yet, and I don't think it ever will be. In my opinion, a Wide Receiver is only as good as the Quarterback that throws to him. Henne's inability to get the ball into Marshall's hands in the open field stifles Marshall's performance.
Having said that, Kyle Orton seems to be on his way out of Denver. When he and Marshall worked together, the outcome was incredible. If Kyle Orton plays for the Miami Dolphins next season, Brandon Marshall will make the 2012 Pro Bowl.