So here we stand at 4-4. The Miami Dolphins are at .500 for the third time this season following a loss to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend. A team that most people projected to win five games or less now has the opportunity to win five this Sunday at home against the Titans.
The question now is how good are the Miami Dolphins really, and how will they finish the season?
I think that right now the Dolphins talent-wise are a fringe playoff team. There are a lot of positive signs coming out of Miami, but the Dolphins are still a young group that has not fully developed. They are in no way an elite football team, but they're making progress towards becoming one in the next few years.
Last week's loss to the Colts was disappointing, but that's alright. It's not time to throw in the towel on this year's squad just yet. We are still very much in the playoff hunt in the mediocre AFC, and we look great if you're looking long-term. Through good coaching and solid drafting (you know it's true) Miami is no longer a bottom-feeder, and the arrow is pointing up for them.
What I am going to do now is give a quick breakdown of the Miami Dolphins positional groups on offense. I will look at each group long-term and short-term to get a full understanding of exactly where we stand. I will also do defensive positional groups sometime next week.
Boy does it feel good to not have to worry about finding a franchise quarterback. Ryan Tannehill is, without a doubt, the long-term answer at QB that the Miami Dolphins have been looking for. Tannehill's composure, accuracy, and knowledge of the offense put him far ahead of the learning curve that rookie quarterbacks normally experience. He's obviously still going to make rookie mistakes, which could hurt Miami this year, but even still I think he helps us a lot more than he hurts us in the short-term.
Miami is great at running back, too. Reggie Bush has started dancing around a little more than I would like to see recently, but he is still doing a great job and making plays when the ball is in his hands. Daniel Thomas has also been very powerful running the ball. He and rookie Lamar Miller make Miami's long-term options very attractive. I will include fullback Jorvorskie Lane in this category too, who looks awesome. Lane is just a fun player to watch, and his familiarity with Tannehill and OC Mike Sherman make him that much better.
This is Miami's biggest offensive weakness. Brian Hartline is a great compliment receiver, but he will never be a true top receiver. The Dolphins offense doesn't need a number one receiver, but they do need someone who will consistently produce at a high level. Davone Bess is also a great compliment receiver, but he's not a true top guy either. This group is manageable for now, but expect Miami to bring in a few receivers through the draft this offseason.
The Dolphins are pretty good at tight end. They have one of the best blocking TEs in the NFL in Anthony Fasano, who is also a red zone threat. They have two pass-catching TEs in Charles Clay and Michael Egnew. Clay was disappointing early, but he caught a touchdown last week and looks like he might be turning a corner. Egnew has been a disappointment to Dolphins fans up to this point, but I need to stress the importance of being patient with him. He may have been highlighted (or lowlighted, if you will) on Hard Knocks because of his poor blocking, but we need to give him time. He will come around. It's unrealistic to expect a rookie to come in and contribute immediately.
I think that I am higher than most people on Miami's offensive line. Sure, Jake Long hasn't played like he did early in his career, and sure, Jonathan Martin has made some mistakes, but I think that the Dolphins line has done a really good job this season. Long, despite his less than elite play, is still a very good left tackle. The issue with him is the amount of money he is being paid and the amount of money he will expect to be paid once his contract is up after this year. Hopefully he won't be expecting more money than his rookie contract, because if he is then I highly doubt he will be in Miami next year.
As for Jonathan Martin. Again, he's a rookie so we need to give him time. I've actually been very impressed with him this far. He's made a few mistakes, but he's been able to hold his own for the most part. He and John Jerry have done a really good job holding up the right side of the offensive line, which has plagued the Dolphins for a while now.
At center the Dolphins have an elite guy in Mike Pouncey, who might be the best center in the NFL. He and Richie Incognito have been great, and I expect them to stay with Miami for a while. Richie is signed with Miami through next season, but I think that unless something bad happens the Dolphins will end up re-signing him.
So there you have it. Those are my thoughts on the offense. Now I want to take a look at what I think the Dolphins will do for the rest of the season. I'm going to post their remaining games with the result that I see happening.
@ Bills: W
@ 49ers: L
@ Patriots: L
According to my projections the Dolphins will go 9-7, which should be enough to make them a wild card in the playoffs.
What are your projections? Let me know below.
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