Miami Dolphins Season Outlook - 2011 Edition

Hello Dol-Fans!

Let’s take a look at what Miami Dolphins fans really want to know: can Miami challenge for the AFC East title in 2011?

Predictions this early in the season are often inaccurate however, so I will objectively analyze several main factors (i.e. schedule, roster, coaching, and schemes) and realistically project Miami’s chances. I will annotate this by using a simple “plus and minus” format.

Schedule - Miami is tied for the tenth toughest schedule in the NFL this season, and will face four Playoff teams from 2010 (two are from within the Division), resulting in a combined six out of sixteen games vs. Playoff opponents. Last year’s AFC “Road Warriors” will face a difficult road schedule as well, including games at San Diego, New York(Giants), New York again (Jets), Kansas City, Dallas, and of course the Christmas Eve game in Foxboro. MINUS

Players - The Dolphins Front Office has shrewdly adopted the “Draft and Develop” philosophy, and thankfully avoided overspending amongst the FA frenzy. With that being said, they’ve added some integral pieces (i.e. C Mike Pouncey {Florida}, RB/WR/PR Reggie Bush {New Orleans}, RB Daniel Thomas {Kansas State}, ILB Kevin Burnett {San Diego}, DE/OLB Jason Taylor {New York Jets}, and LB Jason Trusnik {Cleveland}), which will only upgrade all three facets of the game. Plus, we should see the highly anticipated return of powerful DE/DT Jared Odrick from injured reserve. The only foreseeable concern here is the failure to upgrade the QB position. PUSH (EVEN)
*Note – Adding Jason Taylor, Kevin Burnett, and Jason Trusnik were ingenious moves. All of these players can easily provide insider information (“Intel”) on 2011 opposition.

Coaches – While many predicted and speculated that Tony Sparano would be ousted after last year’s meltdown, the Front Office decided to grant him another opportunity to prove his worthiness. Thankfully, the Dolphins parted ways with OC Dan Henning and hired OC Brian Daboll to implement his version of the West Coast Offense. Additionally, DC Mike Nolan is in his second consecutive year masterfully crafting his Defense, which ranked sixth in the NFL in 2010. Continuity and upgrades on Defense will likely result in a top five ranking this season. PLUS

Scheme – As stated previously, the new Offensive System will be the game changer for Miami this year, especially early on. Opposing Defenses will no longer have the luxury of loading the box and forcing multiple punts and field goal attempts. They’ll have to spread out and respect Miami’s passing and play-action game, or face costly consequences. While Miami doesn’t possess a top flight QB, the upgrades along the O-Line, RB, WR, and TE/H-Back will aid our average passers like Chad Henne and Matt Moore. Having more Offensive and Special Teams firepower, as well as bigger play makers on Defense, will be huge factors this season. PLUS.

All things considered, I sincerely believe Miami has a legitimate chance to challenge for the AFC East this year, and I predict no worse than 10 – 6 season, with the possibility of going 11-5. Will that be enough to win the Division? Only time will tell, but with either of these records Miami will likely qualify for a Wild Card berth at a minimum, and as we all know once you’re in the Playoffs it’s a whole new season. Just ask the 2010 Green Bay Packers what their sixth seed meant to them last year.

Can you say Super Bowl?

Go 'Fins, Go!