AFC (B)EAST: What the Miami Dolphins Need To Do To Be Successful Next Year

Michael SchwarzbaumContributor IIJanuary 8, 2010

Having the ability to finish 7-9 after losing three top players on your team is not just good, it's spectacular. But don't get me wrong. I was one of the many Dolphins fans screaming in anguish after dropping the final three games of the year. 

But how do you balance the amazing comeback with the apparent need to improve?

You could look at the Miami Dolphins team in many different ways. The only statistical category that we were not ranked 18 or lower in was our offensive rushing attack; we placed fourth. But in pass offense, pass defense, and run defense we placed 20th, 24th, and 18th respectively. 

Let's start with our passing attack. I believe we found our quarterback, so we can only blame our wide receiving core. Our top receiver, Davone Bess, was ranked 45th in the NFL in receiving yards. Our savior also placed 22nd in receptions. 

Many people have been claiming that drafting a receiver is the way to go. But with the Dolphins picking Ted Ginn with the eighth pick a couple of years ago, hopefully that bad taste in our mouth remains. It would be stupid to draft a wide receiver when you have an upcoming free agent class which is filled with them.

Brandon Marshall, Terrell Owens, Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers. That is a short list, containing some of the best (not necessarily the best) wide receivers available in the offseason of 2010. The fact that we have our "Best quarterback since Marino" is too much to ignore his main problem; the lack of a deep threat receiver who can catch a pigskin.

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Our run defense was seemingly amazing, constantly being put next to our UFL-caliber secondary. But it was not.

Being ranked 18th is not acceptable. With Randy Starks having a Pro Bowl-caliber year, he looks like a young star that could pay dividends in the near future. Our veteran linebackers are on their way out, with Jason Taylor and Joey Porter showing signs of age.  

They had good years, don't get me wrong. With Porter and Taylor being 33 and 36 respectively, if we don't win with them soon, we might die soon without them.

Cameron Wake is an up-and-coming player, coming from the minor league of the north. His position is a perfect one for the 3-4 system. 

With Navorro Bowman from Penn State, Sergio Kindle from Texas, Brandon Spikes and Carlos Dunlap from Florida, and Pierre-Paul from USF projected to still be available, there are many options for our run defense in the draft.

But there still is the possibility of getting Kyle Vanden Bosch and Adewale Ogunleye in free agency. DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman are also available.

And here comes the pass defense. Ranked 24th in the league, they are giving up 234.6 yards through the air, and depressingly, the statistics are not deceiving.  

Gibril Wilson seems to be the biggest free agent miscue by the Dolphins since Ernest Wilford. Before I get torn apart by comments, that was a joke. I know that Wilford was terrible, and I know that that was not so long ago.

He signed a five-year $27.5 million dollar contract. Renaldo Hill was almost as good, when the Broncos had a great steal by signing him.  

The bright lights, which were dimmed somewhat this year, are rookies Sean Smith and Vontae Davis. With Will Allen going down early, they had to assume the positions of veterans a little early.  

And if you will wonder how different it would have been with Allen, don't. Will Allen, in his only five full games, only allowed one 100-yard receiver.

With Yeremiah Bell having a great year, and Allen hoping to come back, the only questionable position battle is between Wilson and Chris Clemons. Let's hope for the best.

Texas safety Earl Thomas is projected to be available, and lets hope he is. In 13 games so far this year, he has eight interceptions.  

Darren Sharper and Dre Bly are great veterans, who will also be available this year, and could influence one of the youngest secondaries in the league.  

Let this be a good offseason, and let's come back next year with a better, rejuvenated team. Arlington, 2011. When all the Dolfan's dreams will come true.