The 2011 season for the Miami Dolphins was, to say to least, disappointing. As most of you Dolphin fans read this, I'm sure you've heard over and over the ups and downs this season brought.
- Starting 0-7
- Going on a hot win streak (now 5-2)
- Tony Sparano's firing
- New head coach?
- New quarterback? Can Reggie be the feature back?
And on and on...
The Miami Dolphins fell far short of expectations this year—expectations that were set high by the fanbase when in reality, a new offense, new players, new coaches, etc. had to all come together in a very short offseason. This was something the Miami Dolphins organization couldn't quite pull together in time.
Well, as the 2011 season winds down it's time to get excited for next season and I think there are a lot of reasons to be excited!
Let's start from the most important position on the field.
The Dolphins started the year off with Chad Henne, who was starting to turn his game around and play better. Unfortunately he had a season-ending injury early into the season. Matt Moore, the backup quarterback, took over the reins of the team to finish out the season.
I have read countless articles and heard countless Dolphins fans saying Moore can't be our quarterback. I say bologna (I'd say something else, but I need a little class right?).
Why can't Moore be our starting quarterback?! Yes he did get off to a slow start the first four games, posting one touchdown to four interceptions, but in the past seven weeks he has played nothing short of fantastic. In the past seven weeks he has scored 11 touchdowns to only two interceptions. Even in the past seven weeks where he hadn't put up the best numbers, he kept control of the football.
Moore played so well that he was even put up into Kurt Warner's top five quarterbacks list. A top-five quarterback talent is what Miami Dolphins fans have been screaming for since Dan Marino left the building. We now have him in our grasps and all these Dolphins fans are saying "No, we want to draft one."
Why? Moore is young, a leader, plays well and stays out of trouble. A perfect face for the franchise.
I think Miami would be wise to keep starting Moore next year. He will only help our chances of getting to the playoffs.
Now I know Dolphin fans want to draft a quarterback; I'm all for doing that as well. But let the guy sit behind Moore for a few years and get comfortable in the system. I think rookies suffer when being thrown right into starting quarterback roles. It's just a completely different game.
Of course this year is the exception with Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and even T.J. Yates, but I think most rookies do better when having a slower transition.
I believe Moore should be our starter. If a rookie is in order, I like Robert Griffin III, but I think we might be playing our way out of the position to draft him. We shall see...
I think I made my point in the last slide on what we should do about the quarterback situation. So lets move on to the rest of the offense...
Let me just say this as a pure Dolphins fan: Reggie Bush is awesome! I had my doubts at the beginning of the year like the rest of the world when Miami said they were going to be using him as an every-down back, but man, he has proved me and the rest of the NFL wrong.
In the past three games he has posted over 100 yards. For a running back, it seems that is getting to be a lower number every year, as the NFL gets to be more of a passing league. I think Reggie is playing really good football and is a tough guy that truly fights for those extra yards. With no injuries—knock on wood—I think Bush has a future with this team and will stick around next year.
I still think you need to think how you use him. Yes, he can run in between the tackles, but on 3rd-and-1 you do not try to plug him up to middle—poor play-calling. Anyway, it will be exciting to see more Reggie in 2012.
Daniel Thomas is a rookie. He's been injured for a lot of this year. Again, no offseason. I think it has been a tough transition for him.
We have seen flashes of a powerful runner though. I think the sky is the limit for the kid and we shall see what he does next year. I like what I'm seeing, but it just needs to get more consistent.
Get a new running back next year? I'm not so sure. I think Reggie stays and you see how Daniel pans out. We'll see what the organization decides.
I am sick and tired of hearing about how the Dolphins have no weapons outside of Brandon Marshall. Really? Really?!
You don't think Davone Bess and Brian Hartline are weapons? They just don't get the ball thrown to them as much, therefore they don't have the best numbers, but I think they are great weapons that just need to get more involved into the offense next season.
For fans that say Hartline contributes nothing in the offense, I have a hard time taking them seriously. Look at his catches. He makes incredible catches and looks like a gymnast as he constantly plants his toes and extends for balls on the sideline. He has always impressed me and I think is a valuable part of the offense. He also has speed—not the fastest guy, but enough to run great routes and catch the ball, dang it!
Brandon Marshall, on the other hand, drops balls. But he does catch some incredible ones. Anyone see him being strangled on Thanksgiving? Brandon needs to get more consistent in 2012, but I still see him being a big threat in our offense.
Ups and downs. I believe Mike Pouncey and Jake Long are great pieces, but the others, ehh...
I think Richie Incognito can be solid, but other than that I think we need some upgrades to give our quarterback more time. I'm not sure. Sometimes the line will play great and other times Matt Moore is on his rear end before turning around.
Work needs to be done.
There is talent on this offense. I believe if we can just straighten out the kinks, get some more plays in the playbook and score in the red zone, the Miami Dolphins will be a wrecking machine next season.
Stacked. I think this is one of the team's strongest points. Teams all year have struggled to run against this. A perfect example would be the NFL's top runner at the time, Fred Jackson, being held to only 17 yards. Seventeen! Wow, now that's something to be proud of.
I think this unit is young and will be just as good next year, giving running teams more fits. Also, Jared Odrick, who was injured all of last year, has played great this year, another positive piece to the unit.
I believe Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett are turning out to be a nice little duo. They struggled toward the beginning of the year, but the chemistry is really clicking now. They also have been doing a great job of shutting down tight ends recently, a problem that was clearly exploited Week 1 vs. the Patriots.
It will be interesting how they do this week against the Patriots' same tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Again, these linebackers are young and will be a great combo next year.
Been a weak point this year, but again, in recent weeks they have been thriving. In this past game they had three takeaways, a season high. They seem to be getting back on track.
Vontae Davis has improved later in the year and I believe he's emerging to becoming one of the best in the NFL. Sean Smith still has some breakdowns, but I believe he is very solid. Safety Yeremiah Bell is the veteran on defense who still can make a big hit. This unit might need some adjusting this offseason, but again there's talent.
This defense is just fun to watch. They have great pass-rushers, can shut down a run and man they can even force some interceptions. I believe 2012 it will be another great year.
I believe the new offensive coach, Brian Daboll, has had ups and downs. The offense is definitely more exciting than a year ago when it was a mess with hanging onto the Wildcat and still going to the ground-and-pound.
This year the offense had a good balance between throwing and running. Keep it simple, Brian. Just please stop running Reggie on 3rd-and -hort up the middle. I think Brian deserves to come back for another fresh start next year.
Mike Nolan, the defensive coach, is great. I know moves are going to be made this offseason, but I think of all the coaches he should be kept. He knows what he is doing and man, our defense responds. Keep Mike Nolan—whatever you do, Stephan Ross, keep Nolan.
Head coach...ohhhh boy.
I'm sure all of you Dolphin fans will be reading up on this throughout the offseason. It's a tough decision. This is the next turn for the franchise and man, is it crucial.
This head coach will either take us to a postseason or will take us to a few more years of painful, on-the-bubble suffering. The top choices are intriguing, but again, remember that no head coach has won a Super Bowl with two teams.
I believe if Miami does get a big-name coach, go for Jeff Fisher. He went to a Super Bowl and lost. He is hungry to win it.
Don Shula, the coach that led Miami to win the '72 and '73 Super Bowls started off as the head coach of the Baltimore Colts and lost in the Super Bowl. Same scenario. Fisher would be respected and would bring a no-nonsense philosophy to the team. I believe his presence could be a positive one.
I also believe Todd Bowles should be given a shot. Tony Sparano was an emotional head coach, and while I loved him I believe he showed a little less class as the leader. Bowles looks poised, knows what he's doing and players respond—even ex-players.
A new head coach could be the future for Miami and I believe a good one is coming. I just worry with Ross making the decision. Hopefully it will be the right choice and the Dolphins will bring back the glory days.
Overall, we're a young team, we're a fun team, we're a talented team—we're a team that can do it all. I believe with the right moves this offseason, the Miami Dolphins can have a great campaign in 2012 and get to the playoffs and even make a Super Bowl push.
They are just two players and a coach away from getting there, I swear. I look at this team and I say "Man, their record could be so much better." And it really could be.
I have just seen some bad coaching decisions, flukes, miscommunications—simple problems. I believe we are in 10 times better shape than Jacksonville, which seems to have only two people I can name on their team (Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert).
I do not believe we are in rebuilding mode—just a transition mode. This offseason we are going to hopefully hire the right coach for the job, make a few key adjustments, create an attack plan and get headed towards one of the best records in the NFL.
I see it coming, I really do, but we just have to wait and see. The Miami Dolphins are a good team; they just need a record to back it up. 2012 is the start of something special.