Miami Dolphins: 7 Reasons Quarterback Is the Least of the Dolphins' Worries
The Miami Dolphins were one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this year. They were projected to be a playoff team in the preseason, but instead failed to earn a winning record. It is no surprise that the Dolphins need a franchise quarterback that can lead the team in the future.
But is that their biggest need?
Miami still needs to fill some holes that will not help any quarterback develop and take this team to the next level. Some of these holes can be filled in the upcoming draft and others can be filled in free agency.
Let's take a look at seven of the Dolphins' biggest worries other than quarterback.
Right Tackle Position Is Obscure
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We have all been witness to how awful Marc Colombo is at right tackle. I can't fathom how Marc Colombo is even a starter in this league. His footwork is awful and constantly gets beaten around the edge by speed rushers, or bull rushed by bigger defensive ends. Miami has had to line up Anthony Fasano next to him to help him block. How is he still the starter?
For Miami's quarterback, whether it's Matt Moore or a rookie, to succeed they need to find at least a serviceable right tackle. Miami may draft a quarterback early in the draft this year, but they still need to make sure he can be protected and Marc Colombo will not be able to do that.
Miami can surprise everyone and draft a tackle in the first round rather than a quarterback, but that is extremely unlikely. There are good tackle options in the second and third rounds that can make an immediate impact. This would give Miami a better right tackle and would give the quarterback an ability to develop without having to deal with constant pressure.
Free Safety Is Still an Issue
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The free safety position has most definitely improved from a couple of years ago when Gibril Wilson held the position. However, Reshad Jones and Chris Clemmons are both liabilities in the secondary and are always susceptible to giving up the big play.
During the last few years, Yeremiah Bell has had to make up for the lack of play at the position and worry about the other guy more than his own assignment. Miami has proven that it has a top defense but is at times capable of giving up a big passing play.
The draft this year will not have a can't miss talent at the position so Miami won't be looking to draft one in the first round. They might take a long look at some safeties in the second or third round that can bolster up the secondary and help out right away.
It is also a possibility that Miami goes out and looks for a top free agent at the position instead of bringing in a rookie. LaRon Landry, Michael Griffin, Tyvon Branch, and Chris Hope are all free agents the Dolphins might target for next year. A highly unlikely possibility could be that they move Sean Smith to his original position at safety instead of having him play corner back.
Wide Receiver Opposite Brandon Marshall
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If the Miami Dolphins expect to give Matt Moore or a rookie an opportunity to succeed, they need to find another receiver that can play alongside Brandon Marshall. Brandon Marshall is a possession receiver that will gain yards after the catch and will need someone to stretch the field for him to perform at a higher level.
Clyde Gates was drafted for this very reason but the Dolphins have yet to give him a chance to prove himself. He is still very raw and will need a couple more years to reach his potential. Davone Bess is another good receiver for the Dolphins but he is a slot receiver and isn't going to be a game changer. If Miami is able to get its hands on another good receiver, the offense will flourish and become more explosive.
The Dolphins can get a receiver in this year's draft in the later rounds. Ryan Broyles from Oklahoma is a good prospect that may see his stock fall due to a knee injury which will allow the Dolphins to have a shot at drafting him in the third or even fourth round.
Another option would be getting a receiver through free agency. DeSean Jackson leads the way in a position filled with good free agents. Jackson would give the Dolphins a consistent and proven deep threat but I don't know the Dolphins would pay him all the money he wants. Vincent Jackson and Steve Johnson are also possible players the Dolphins might target.
Cornerback Opposite Vontae Davis
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Vontae Davis and Sean Smith earlier this season claimed that they were the best corner back tandem in the NFL. Well, one of them has the right to even say he's one of the best. The other, I'm not so sure he's even good. Sean Smith has been a disappointment since he was drafted out of Utah and has been unreliable in pass coverage, tackling and hanging onto sure interceptions.
Other than Vontae Davis, the Dolphins corner backs are average at best and will need some improvement. Nolan Carrol doesn't seem like the answer and Jimmy Wilson is still very raw. If Miami were to put Sean Smith at safety, or simply decide to start someone over him, neither of these players are ready to step up.
When Miami is on the clock with a top-10 pick in the draft this year, what would they do if say, Morris Claiborne is still available? He would give the Dolphins a much needed improvement at the position and a legitimate top-five duo at corner back. But will they pass on a top corner back and draft their eluded quarterback?
There are a couple of good quality corner backs in free agency this year as well. Cortland Finnegan, Brent Grimes and Tracy Porter headline the list of corner backs. It is possible Miami will like to go after a top free agent, but it all depends on how much they will be asking for.
Outside Linebacker Opposite Cameron Wake
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Cameron Wake is one of the most consistent, powerful and intimidating rush linebackers in the NFL. However, when you get double, and at times triple teamed, it's kind of hard to get to the quarterback. Koa Misi has been an absolute non-factor this year and has really disappointed coaches and fans. He has one sack this season and is incapable of getting to the quarterback.
There will be some good pass rushers coming out this year. The Dolphins will address this position, if at all, towards the middle to last rounds of the draft. Bruce Irvin is a good prospect that will probably be available in the middle rounds that can entice the Dolphins.
If they decide to go with a free agent, John Abraham will be a very good addition in pass rushing as well as overall quality at outside linebacker.
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This is one of the most important aspects. If the Dolphins are going to draft a quarterback early in the draft, or if they plan to stick with Matt Moore, they will need to find the right combination of coaches to put their quarterback in the best position to be successful. Play-calling has been a problem for the Dolphins during these last few years, and it has been especially bad when they get into the red zone. It is not 100 percent clear that Miami will fire Tony Sparano at the end of the season, but they will evaluate everyone from the general manager to the scout and make a decision that is best for the team and its future.
It is unclear if Miami will go with an experienced head coach or if they will go with a coordinator if they indeed decide to make a coaching change. Bill Cowher is one of the big names that fans have been talking about coming down to Miami and taking over. Other big name coaches include Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher. It has also been circulating that Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers, might be a good fit in South Beach.
Matt Moore Is Playing at a High Level
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Before the season started, Miami Dolphins fans were not even thinking about drafting a quarterback early in the draft. A lot of them thought that Chad Henne would have a breakout season and be the future quarterback of the franchise. When he got hurt, many people decided to jump on the "Suck for Luck" bandwagon and were hoping that their team would lose all its games so they can get the Stanford standout.
However, Matt Moore has been playing at an extremely proficient level during the last month and, in some people's minds, he has outplayed Chad Henne. His high level of play may hinder the Dolphins' decision to draft a quarterback early and go a different direction. They might let Moore show what he's got through next year and go on from there.
One thing is certain though—if Miami keeps the offensive line that they have now, who's going to replace Moore if he gets hurt?