In 2009, the Chad Henne era began. It was a good start for the young quarterback. This year, with a new target and higher expectations, Henne must improve and become a top tier quarterback.
Lets preview the 2010 Miami Dolphins.
2. Projected two-deep lineup
3. Draft analysis
4. Position analysis and top ten player ranking
5. Schedule and prediction
Once again, I can open up this article with the same line I used in my 2009 iteration (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/164710-the-everything-you-need-to-know-guide-to-the-2009-miami-dolphins).
The Miami Dolphins were the talk of the league last year.
However, last year, it was for different reasons.
While people talked about how amazing the 1-15 to 11-5 turnaround was. This year, the talk was about Chad Henne and Ricky Williams and how this team is on the cusp of greatness.
Their 7-9 record is a deceiving one. The 2009 Miami Dolphins were much better then their 11-5 2008 predecessors. A slow start and injuries kept last season on the rails, but some key pieces and additions have created buzz in South Beach.
Enter Brandon Marshall. Exit Ted Ginn. Enter Coach Nolan. Exit Jason Taylor and Joey Porter. The team lost names, but gained better players, and better coaching on defense. The incoming class of rookies are not flashy, but should become immediate and workman like cogs.
The coaching staff must be one of the top five coaching staffs in the league, and they will have their players ready to win in an even more difficult AFC East.
Projected Two-Deep Lineup
Starter First, Backup Second
(R) = Rookie
QB: Chad Henne, Chad Pennington
HB: Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams
FB: Lousake Polite, Rolly Lumbala
WR 1: Brandon Marshall, Gregg Camarillo
WR 2: Brian Hartline, Davone Bess
Slot Receiver: Devone Bess
TE: Anthony Fasano, Joey Haynos
LT: Jake Long, Andrew Gardner
LG: John Jerry (R), Justin Smiley
C: Joe Berger, Jake Grove
RT: Vernon Carey, Lyndon Murtha
RG: Nate Garner, Richie Incognito
LDE: Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling
NT: Randy Starks, Jason Ferguson
RDE: Jared Odrick (R), Tony McDaniel
LOLB: Koa Misi (R), Quentin Moses
LILB: Channing Crowder, Reggie Torbor
RILB: Karlos Dansby, Tim Dobbins
ROLB: Cameron Wake, Charlie Anderson
LCB: Sean Smith, Will Allen (R)
RCB: Vontae Davis (R), Jason Allen
FS: Tyrone Culver, Reshad Jones (R)
SS: Yeremiah Bell, Chris Clemons
Round 1, Pick 28: Jared Odrick, DT/DE, 6'5", 304, Penn State
A great leader with excellent upside. This quote by him says it all: "I want to get after the quarterback every play that is a pass. Sacks don't come every play... so it makes you hungry to go get that one. Defending the run? That's just being a man".
You know Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano are high on this man, and seeing how they traded down, picked up an extra pick, and still got the player they want, you have to give this one a solid grade.
Pick Grade: A
Round 2, Pick 40: Koa Misi, OLB, 6'3", 251, Utah
This was a need pick, and Miami picked up a great, high energy player in Koa Misi. Originally a defensive end, Misi has great pass rushing potential from the linebacker position.
A very intelligent player and relatively risk free pick.
Pick Grade: A
Round 3, Pick 73: John Jerry, OT, 6'6", 328, Mississippi
Many professionals don't like this pick. I for one LOVE it, and almost call it my favorite pick of the draft. As a South Carolina fan, I watched this man maul many good Carolina defensive players.
He is massive, can play anywhere on the line (save center) and could start next to Jake Long and create a massive wall. He played in the SEC, and he is used to top competition.
Pick Grade: A+
Round 4, Pick 119: A.J. Edds, OLB, 6'4", 246, Iowa
Miami stretched to get this player, but they like him. He had five interceptions his final year, making him a situational player who will likely play on passing downs in nickel packages. Still, could have probably got him in the fifth round.
Athleticism is not this players strong point.
Pick Grade: C-
Round 5, Pick 145: Nolan Carroll, CB, 6'0", 204, Maryland
A very athletic cornerback who ran a 4.4. Suffered a broken leg, making his production more difficult to judge.
Called "more athlete than player" by NFLdraftscout.com. Still, could be an asset in the future, and play on special teams.
Pick Grade: C
Round 5, Pick 163: Reshad Jones, SS, 6'1", 214, Georgia
My favorite pick. Great value, huge production, and amazing athleticism. Runs a 4.5 forty, with great strength and awareness. Projected as a potential 3rd rounder, character issues dropped him to the last pick of the fifth round, where Miami landed him.
Will be a starter at some point, and will contribute immediately.
Pick Grade: A+
Round 7, Pick 212: Chris McCoy, OLB, 6'3", 261, Middle Tennessee
I also like this pick. Slated as a fifth round pick by many, worries about him being a "one year wonder" dropped him to the back of the pack.
He absolutely dominated the Sun Belt with 20 tackles for loss including seven sacks, he is a true 3-4 linebacker with good speed, strength, and size. The player matches the scheme, and is another example of how to draft.
Pick Grade: B+
Round 7, Pick 252: Austin Spitler, OLB, 6'2", 243, Ohio State
I don't get this one. I just don't. I can't find any reason other than a possible special teams need, and even at that he wasn't particularly valuable to Ohio States special teams.
Not particularly athletic...not even projected to be a free agent. With so many good players picked up during the free agency period (Shay Hodge, WR, Ole Miss... David Nelson, WR, Florida...Andre Dixon, RB, UCONN...etc.) I just can't possible find even the slightest bit of rationale in the pick.
My Ohio State friends even can't believe it.
BUT, like I said last year, Tuna knows what he is doing.
Pick Grade: F-. I would go lower if I could. Can a zero be a rating? What would you rate a tackling dummy?
Overall Draft Analysis
I believe this was a great draft for Miami. Two great and needed defenders, a plethora of rushing linebackers, a potential steal of a safety, and a big hog molly guard.
Three things would have made it better for me...another wide receiver, a nose tackle, and someone other than Austin Spitler.
Overall Draft Grade: B+
This is the year that Chad Henne breaks out and becomes elite. He is a solid leader, with a rocket arm, and decent mobility. He reminds me a bit of Ben Rothlesburger (minus the baggage).
Chad Pennington should go down in Dolphins lore as a saint and a blessing. He signed a small money deal to sit behind Henne, help him grow, and step in when necessary. He is still a brilliantly accurate quarterback who is probably the best backup quarterback in the NFL.
Behind them are two decent options. Tyler Thigpen has played well before, and has a great deal of potential. Pat White should see time in the Wildcat again, and should be better this year.
Position Grade: A
Running Back/Full Back:
Once a great strength of the team, no some questions exist. Ricky Williams was brilliant last year, but questions remain about how long he can play at a high level.
Ronnie Brown derailed the R and R train again with another injury. This has now become something that people just know will happen during the course of the season, and of course trade rumors have been brewing.
Lex Hilliard and Patrick Cobbs seem to be capable backups, but not feature guys. Miami may need help here this year.
Even though R and R (when healthy) are an A+ tandem, there are too many questions here to warrant a high grade.
Lousake Polite is one of the best FB's in the game. Highly underrated, and could be a pro-bowler this year. Rolly Lumbala gets props for having an awesome name.
Alright everyone...together now...say it like you mean it...
Brandon Marshall arrives with a big fat new contract, a new wife, and a homecoming celebration. This is the perfect situation to keep B-Marsh happy. People complain about his drama, but ex-teammate and Bronco receiver Kenny McKinnly once stated that people don't realize it, but he was a great teammate and the hardest working player.
Miami paid him, and he will repay the team.
Brian Hartline was the surprise of the season last year, and could earn a starting nod, as Davone Bess is so good out of the slot. However, Bess is easily the second best receiver, and is on the verge of being a star.
Camarillo is functional, and Patrick Turner has worked very hard this spring and still has natural gifts (large hands, height).
Still...I would have liked to have seen Ted Ginn Jr. stick around one more year. See if the pressure being off of him would have allowed him to play better.
Positional Grade: B+
This is a workman like group. Anthony Fasano has to be consistent this year. He plays hard, but Miami fans will not forget his epic fumbles and drops.
Joey Haynos is such an exciting prospect. 6-8, 270 pounds... sounds like a small tackle. However, he also moves well and has good hands. If he gets involved more, he could contribute.
Korey Sperry and John Nalbone round out the group. If more consistency emerges from this squad, they could be pretty good.
Positional Grade: C+
This is a HUGE line. Probably one of the best in professional football at decimating people at the point of attack. Look at the sizes of the projected starters:
Long: 6'7", 317
Jerry: 6'6", 328
Berger: 6'5", 315
Garner: 6'7", 325
Carey: 6'5", 340
That's some serious beef.
Positional Grade: A
Kendall Langford and Jared Odrick are your slated starters in this position. There is quality depth in this department, but no true superstar. Langford is a freak, with huge size and good speed, and could be poised for a breakout year.
Odrick has the desire to be very good, and expectations are high for this solid player out of Penn State.
Tony McDaniel and Phillip Merling are adequate backups, and they should be able to apply pressure to the quarterbacks from the end spots. Beyond the first four on the depth chart, it is mostly unproven talent.
Positional Grade:B-, but could be higher depending on the play of Odrick and Merling (who could still grow to be a great player).
Once again, the Dolphins failed to truly address the NT position, which is critical to the 3-4 scheme. They passed a couple of potentially solid 3-4 guys in the draft.
I have Randy Starks (yes, the DE) slated as the starting NT. He has good speed, hands, strength, and size. He could add some weight, but he seems like a solid and logical choice to hold the position down until Jason Ferguson gets off of his suspension.
Starks could be good at it, and if that's the case, this score jumps up. Paul Soliai is slated as the starter right now on the team's depth chart, but he is extremely lazy and out of shape (according to spring reports).
This may be the achellies heel of the team.
Positional Grade: D-
Last year, I had the linebacking core all wrong. I gave them an A, calling Joey Porter "the best pass rusher in the NFL" and praising Jason Taylor for coming back. Well, JP had himself a horrible season, and has been banished to Arizona.
JT had himself a solid year. Now, these two are gone, and I believe that the linebackers are better than they were last year, and have pass rushing depth to spare.
Karlos Dansby was a beast for Arizona last year. The Dolphins over paid him, but that's how free agency works. Cameron Wake is an emerging star, and Koa Misi could be a gem as a rookie.
Channing Crowder is a decent linebacker, with a big mouth. He reminds me of Bryan Cox when he was playing for the Phins. There are excellent players behind these guys. Quinten Moses rushes the passer well, Tim Dobbins is an excellent trade acquisition and will be a contributor, and Reggie Torbor, Charlie Anderson, A.J. Edds, and Chris McCoy will add quality depth.
Positional Grade: B+
The Jets are wrong if they feel as though they have the only potentially elite tandem in the AFC East. Vontae Davis and Sean Smith emerged last year as rookies to be solid starters.
They had their share of rookie mess-ups, but this year they should grow to solid, possibly pro-bowl caliber corners. Behind them are Will Allen and Jason Allen. Will Allen is a once great pro-bowler who can definitely still play. Jason Allen had his best year as a professional last year, actually looking like he belonged on the feild.
The backups are not particularly noteworthy. This units success will rely on the growth of Davis and Smith.
Positional Grade: B-. One full letter grade up from last year. If Smith and Davis make the leap from average, to even good...watch out.
After the excitement of signing a hart hitter like Gabril Wilson from Oakland dissipated...the nightmare of having a horrible coverman like Gibril Wilson set in. He was awful last year, and thankfully, the staff hit the eject button on this player.
Yeremiah Bell is one of the top five safeties in the NFL. Everyone behind him is a question mark. Tyrone Culver is set to start opposite of him. He is a very average player. He does nothing particularly well.
He feels like a place holder.
My guess? Rookie Rashad Jones steps in at some point. He is strong, hits well, and is a literal ball hawk with nine interceptions his last year at Georgia. Chris Clemons has speed to burn, but is a few years away from being a starter. He will contribute, though.
Positional Grade: C-
As I predicted, Dan Carpenter became an Pro Bowler. Alternate? Bah...so what? Bess is an adequate punt returner. Miami will miss Ted Gin's breakaway ability...but not his fear. Somebody must step up to the plate on kickoffs.
Positional Grade: C.
Sept 12: @Buffalo
Win. Miami opens the season by destroying a terrible Bills team.
Sept 19: @Minnesota
Win. Miami wins in a close game. Minnesota will be good next year, but I have the feeling they will take a few games to get into it. The Williams bros will not be in this game, so look for Miami to run a great deal.
Win. I believe that Miami splits this series, and wins this one at home.
Oct 4: New England
Loss. This will be a tough outing for the young corners. Green Bay will be a tough out for everyone this season.
Oct 24: Pittsburgh
Win. A potentially Roethlisberger-less Steeler team will be unable to move the ball against an improved Miami defense.
Nov 31: @Cincinnati
Loss. This feels like a letdown game. Cincy has weapons, and potentially one of the best offenses in the NFL.
Nov 7: @Baltimore
Loss. A sleeper pick to win the AFC next year, Baltimore has a couple more years of dominance in terms of defense, and an offense that may be coming together.
Nov 14: Tennessee
Win. The Dolphins snap a two game skid and get revenge on the team that may have kept them out of the playoffs last year.
Nov 18: Chicago
Win. Jay Cutler throws 62 interceptions. He blames his receivers.
Nov 28: @Oakland
Win. Oakland will be much improved this year, and this game will be close. Miami always seems to struggle in Oakland.
Dec 5: Cleveland
Win. I apologize in advance, Cleveland fans, for the play of Jake Delhomme. Well...it might be Colt McCoy at this point. Either way, Miami wins easily.
Dec 12: @N.Y. Jets
Loss. The Jets might be playing very well at this point. There is also the chance that half the team is suspended, injured, or regulated to a rascal for mobility.
Dec 19: Buffalo
Win. Miami is in playoff push mode. Buffalo is in "Thank you come again" mode.
Dec 26: Detroit
Win. The Lions will be improved. They are not quite there yet, but this team could be good in 2011-2012. Mark this one as a potential let down game.
Jan 2: @New England
Loss. Potentially for the AFC East. In New England, in January, even the most irrational Dolphins fan would predict a New England win this early in the season.
I have the Dolphins back to 11-5. Steps in the right direction, no doubt. I feel as though they are one off season away from truly competing for a championship.
The growth of Chad Henne, the young cornerbacks, the play of the rookies, and the health of Ronnie Brown will all go along way in determining where this team will fall in 2010.
It will be a three dog race in the AFC East, and Miami certainly has the guns to be in it to win it. All three AFC East teams have the potential to make the playoffs.