My tour around AFC East rival camps ends with the Miami Dolphins. It was a season to forget for Miami in 2013 for various reasons, mostly off the field. The Dolphins are hoping 2014 is much better to them or heads could roll.
Make or Break in Miami
Their 8-8 record in 2013 may not look all that bad on paper, but anyone within the Miami Dolphins organization would probably admit that it was a much more disappointing year than what that indicates. Front and center was the Jonathan Martin – Richie Incognito scandal that shook up not only the organization, but the entire NFL. On the field, both the offense and defense were about average. Nothing more, nothing less. In their third season together, all eyes will be on both starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and head coach Joe Philbin to take a significant step.
Ryan Tannehill won the starting job right away after being selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft and has started in all 32 games since then. During this time, he has been about average, completing just under 60% of his passes and compiling a 36:30 TD:INT ratio. While these numbers aren’t horrendous by any means, they certainly do not do all that much to convince you that he is a franchise quarterback. In fact, ESPN Grantland writer Bill Barnwell did a fantastic job of breaking this point down just this week.
In my opinion, the Dolphins group of skill-position players around Tannehill is entirely unimpressive. At this point in his career, Mike Wallace has still not proven to be much more than a one-trick pony – relying on the occasional deep ball to make up for a lack of willingness to work the middle of the field and gain the tough yards. He is also not much of a threat in the red zone. Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson are pretty uninspiring as well. It’s kind of the same story from the running back group, ‘led’ by Lamar Miller. Point being, Tannehill needs to take a big step to lead this pedestrian group. He reportedly misfired passes that resulted in 6 interceptions in a span of two practices just this week, so reports on his play in camp so far have been less than stellar. I believe that Tannehill needs to play well-above what he’s shown thus far in his career in order for the Miami offense to be successful, and I just don’t think he has that in him.
I like Joe Philbin as a person; I really do. I just have a lot of questions as to whether or not he’s actually a competent NFL head coach at this point. The previously mentioned Martin/Incognito drama, that seemed to involve a lot of the rest of the team, was an utter disaster. That simply cannot be allowed to happen on an NFL team and, first and foremost, it is the head coach’s responsibility to see that it doesn’t. Beyond the locker room issues, Philibin was billed as an offensive mastermind coming from Green Bay, and I don’t think he has done nearly enough to help Tannehill or the rest of that offense succeed.
Miami has ranked 27th in the NFL in total offense in both years that he has been the head coach. That simply isn’t good enough. They are also -12 in turnover ratio during that span. If you aren’t moving the ball efficiently and are turning it over, it is a recipe for disaster. This is a huge year for Ryan Tannehill, but it may be an even bigger year for Joe Philbin. He needs to get that locker room in order and do more with that offense. Mike Sherman was the offensive coordinator the past two seasons (he’s gone now) but Philbin’s background is on that side of the ball, and if he wants to keep his job he better be taking a more active role in implementing it and ensuring that they do a much more efficient and effective job. Personally, I believe the offensive struggles will continue and that Miami doesn’t have quite enough talent on defense to overcome them. This could very well be Joe Philbin’s last year as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
That concludes my breakdown of the major story lines at the training camps of the Bills’ AFC East rivals so far this summer and some things we’ve already seen happen with them.
BillsMafia, where do you see the Dolphins finishing in the AFC East? Do you believe Ryan Tannehill is a franchise quarterback? Will this be Joe Philbin’s final season as Miami’s head coach? Share your thoughts about the Dolphins with us in the comment section.
Previous AFC East Rival Camp Reports: