Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints Live Preseason Game Chat

Last preseason game of the year.

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Five Unsung Dolphins That Will Have Solid Seasons

The Miami Dolphins were very active this offseason with the signings of Mike Wallace, Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbee and Brent Grimes among others. Another popular topic of conversation has been how quarterback Ryan Tannehill will improve from a rookie season in which he led Miami to a 7-9 record. While Tannehill, Cameron Wake and the newcomers will get most of the spotlight and with it, much more scrutiny, here are five unheralded Miami Dolphins who will have solid seasons for the 'Fins in 2013:

Right tackle Tyson Clabo. (Photo: Brownsville Herald)
Tyson Clabo, Tackle
While most of the offseason focus for the Miami offensive line has centered on second-year tackle Jonathan Martin replacing former All-Pro Jake Long, the other tackle for the Dolphins, Tyson Clabo, looks to be one of the more overlooked signings of the offseason. Clabo is a former Pro Bowler with the Atlanta Falcons and thus far, has handled the right side nicely. While Martin will continue to get much of the focus, the Dolphins should have little to worry about at the other tackle position.

Chris Clemons, Safety
While Miami safety, Reshad Jones, had a Pro Bowl caliber year in 2012, the Dolphins other safety also put together a career-year. Chris Clemons, a fifth-year man from Clemson, is Miami's leading returning tackler from a year ago with 98 combined tackles. Clemons was also tied for second on the team with two interceptions. In addition to being a solid tackler, Clemons rarely got lost in coverage a season ago and seems to have a firm grasp on Kevin Coyle's defense.

Brandon Fields, Punter
Brandon Fields led the NFL last season averaging better than 50 yards-per-punt and looks to have another big year. In Miami's 17-16 preseason loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday, Fields averaged nearly 53 yards-per-punt and had two of his five kicks downed inside the 20 including a coffin corner punt that went out at the three-yard-line. While Fields won't get much recognition, he should help serve as a de facto 12th defender for what should be a very good Miami Dolphins' defense in 2013.

Koa Misi, Linebacker
Linebacker Koa Misi (Photo:
With the signings of Dannell Ellerbee and Philip Wheeler and the selection of Dion Jordan third overall in the draft, the lone returning starting linebacker, Koa Misi, has become a forgotten man for the Dolphins. Misi however, may greatly benefit from the new additions. Misi has always been a better blitzer than a sideline-to-sideline linebacker and with the speed and play-making ability of Ellerbee, Wheeler and Jordan, teams likely won't focus as much on Misi which should allow him to be very effective when it comes to rushing the passer.

Jared Odrick, Defensive Tackle
With the additions on defense, Jared Odrick, a former first round pick of the Dolphins, has the versatility to become very valuable. Whether at end or tackle, Odrick's biggest strength has always been his ability to bull-rush the passer. Odrick could find himself on the inside in obvious passing downs and while teams will look to slow down the Wheelers, Ellerbees and Wakes of the world, Odrick should find himself often in one-on-one situations and will be able to get pressure regardless of where he's lined up.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!  Also, follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

The Changing Miami Dolphins Looking Forward

While the Miami Dolphin fan base struggles to believe in a general manager and owner after four consecutive losing seasons, the team has quietly put together the blueprint for a future of rising stars. Predicting the outcome of the 2013 season seems daunting in light of past failures, but there are many reasons for optimism. The distinct difference between Parcells/Sparano and Joe Philbin is apparent when following the progression of player transactions on offense. On defense, Jeff Ireland’s eye for defensive line talent provides a clue to the emergence of quality players across the unit, even with the change of schemes.

The indelible mark Parcells left on the offense was felt from the start of his failed regime. While Matt Ryan directed the Atlanta Falcons into the playoffs, an injury riddled Jake Long limped off to greener pastures in Saint Louis. The Parcells offensive philosophy was built off the ancient premise that in order to be successful in the passing game, a team must first establish the run. Establishing the run begins in the trenches and is the reason Jake Long was selected before Matt Ryan. Parcells believed in the antiquated notion that Quarterbacks were game managers and a steady but unspectacular Chad Henne could guide a power running offense to success in the NFL.

When defenses mercilessly stacked the box it became desperately apparent, a one dimensional running attack was no longer feasible. The Wildcat gimmick helped stave off the inevitable, but with the clear need of a passing game, Ireland traded away two future second round picks for Brandon Marshall. Ireland’s misguided offensive player selections are a direct result of Parcells’ first mistake, taking Long over Ryan. A modern offense cannot be built off a tackle. Bill Parcells’ inability to recognize the changing landscape of the NFL, setup Tony Sparano and the Miami Dolphins for failure.

For the next two seasons, the Dolphin offense floundered without direction. Sparano mistook the Wildcat as a viable base formation and Brandon Marshall demanded diva attention Chad Henne and the offense were incapable of providing. Jeff Ireland took the brunt of the criticism for the revolving door of failed players, but the lack of a consistent strategy is the true culprit. After four seasons, the offensive plan was still a mystery, should the offensive line play a road grader running style with players to fit the mold? Or should they be able to pass block and pull in a zone scheme more fit for a passing attack?

Enter Joe Philbin and the draft strategy took an immediate three-hundred-and-sixty degree turn. By selecting a quarterback with the eighth pick in the draft instead of a tackle, the new direction was confirmed.  A clearly defined philosophy built around a QB was established. The zone blocking scheme was the stated goal from the get-go giving the offensive line much needed direction. One dimensional wide receivers where replaced by players capable of manning multiple positions along a varied front with the priority of speed. Fullbacks were discarded and replaced by tight ends capable of running routes as well as blocking. Finally, the Miami Dolphins and Jeff Ireland had a stable offensive blueprint to build from.

On defense, Parcells believed in building from the inside out, fortunately this strategy has remained constant through the ages. The difference between Parcells and Philbin is the use of a three-man line versus a four-man line. The depth of this unit was already firmly in place and ripe for the switch to Philbin’s four-man line concept. The switch also changed the style of play at the linebacker position, where smaller faster players replace bigger slower bodies. Smaller faster LBs are much easier to find than larger players with enough speed to cover tight ends in the NFL. The team to beat in the AFC East is the New England Patriots, and the 4-3 defense is the proper alignment to do it.

The Patriot offense was developed from years of working against the division’s prominent 3-4 alignment which left larger linebackers on the field to cover multiple TE and WR formations. The Patriots may have finally outsmarted themselves as the new Miami defense goes against the tendencies New England was built to manipulate. Three interchangeable defensive tackles manning two inside positions cause constant disruption from the middle of the line. The quarterback can no longer step up in the pocket, but at the same time, speed demons collapse the line from the outside, leaving the QB with little room to maneuver. Defensive backs formally required to cover for well over three seconds can now look to capitalize on harassed QBs more prone to making errant throws.

The Dolphins may not win the division or make the playoffs, but the change of the guard has come full circle. No longer does the rest of the NFL have the luxury of playing a rudderless team without a clear formula for success. While some of the players needed may still be a work in progress, the direction of these Miami Dolphins is absolutely clear. The person benefiting the most from this systematic approach is Jeff Ireland. Ireland’s tenure with the Dolphins has been plagued by uncertainty on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The basic ingredient for success in the NFL is the quarterback and Bill Parcells treated them with disregard.

On the field, Ryan Tannehill continues the slow progression of learning under fire. As he grows, the obvious mistakes come less often and positive plays result. Speedy interchangeable wide receivers allow for variable formations within the same player group. This same interchangeability at the TE and RB positions opens up an unpredictable offense with the flexibility to run or pass. All of the pieces are not yet in place, but most importantly, the blueprint is. There is no indecision on the type of players needed both physically and mentally and this provides the personnel department with clear direction.

Mike Wallace is already a star, as the offense takes off perhaps the next in line is Lamar Miller or Dion Simms. Every player on a winning team is noticed regardless of whether the talent is truly greater. Without Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace could have labored in obscurity with Chad Henne as his QB. The point is more systematic, a winning quarterback and a stable system provide the atmosphere for success. The defense was fortunate to have a solid line already in place allowing for a smoother transition.

Mr. Ross knows all of this, he knows how to run a successful business, but he was hamstrung by the huge shadow of Bill Parcells. As a new comer to the NFL, Ross was not foolish enough to dismiss a hall-of-fame icon even if he knew the direction was wrong. The moment Parcells stepped down Ross was on a plane to California in pursuit of Jim Harbaugh. Ireland takes the blame for chasing Harbaugh but it was Ross who was chomping at the bit to see the end of Parcells and Sparano in Miami. Sparano was a puppet and Ross knew it from the start. The first true decision he made as the owner of the Miami Dolphins was to replace Tony Sparano, only his method was questionable.

Have the Dolphins made it back? Not yet, but they are in hot pursuit and making the right systematic decisions to lead them into a brighter future. Luck only has value when a team or a person is properly positioned to take advantage of it. A lucky touchdown at the end of a game while losing by nine points will never be as lucky as one scored while losing by six. Tom Brady falling into Tony Sparano’s lap would never have resulted in the same luck as falling into the Bill Belichick’s. With the system in place, watch as the Miami Dolphins grow into a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.

Perhaps the lucky break in Miami is named Ryan Tannehill.

Dolphins Preseason Game Three Recap: Is That Another Fumble?

That was the name of the game tonight folks: FUMBLES.

On a night when the defense just about destroyed Tampa Bay the Dolphins offense fumbled away the game.  If not for the Dolphins fumbles Tampa Bay would have been shut out.  Miami's third team defense was tossing a shut out until the Gillislee fumble in the fourth quarter.

Doesn't that seem typical for this team? Play a great game and then give it away. From the reports coming out after the game Philbin was not a happy camper.

I was okay with Tannehill's play. When we compare him to Freeman he played a great game. Josh Freeman should be cut from the Bucs. Whatever you do don't select Freeman for any of your fantasy teams. He makes Sanchez look good.

After watching our tight ends I think we are really, really, really, going to miss Dustin Keller. I would say we would be better off not using a TE. They were invisible and Charles Clay was "doghouse" material. No, I'm not going to put him in the "doghouse" for two reasons. First, it's only preseason and secondly I am having trouble getting rid of the smell from Dan Carpenter.

Our wide receivers had a tough go of it. For a time there they couldn't get open and when that didn't happen only perfect passes will work, and Tannehill doesn't throw passes like that at this time. Come to think of it, only about four quarterbacks in the league can throw those passes. I think we expect Tannehill to make the throws that Brady, Manning, Brees, and Rodgers make. This is only his second year. Give him a little more time, alright?

I have come to the conclusion that Daniel Thomas has NO FEEL for running the ball. He has no idea where the soft spots are in the running game. He doesn't even know where the running lanes are. The guy is clueless. The running backs' blocking was much, much better this week, so maybe they are catching on.

So now it's time to turn off the critical eye. I really liked the way the Defense played, and I have been waiting to say that. The pass rush was AWESOME! The run defense was smothering. All the Bucs offense could do was crawl in a hole and hide. If only the offense could get their act together and be consistent. They showed us they can move the ball, and Tannehill can be more effective.

Everyone please look for Mike's new post below this one.  He puts a lot of time into a post as we all do. So don't miss what he has to say:

Ranking the Dolphins Schedule by Difficulty

Miami Dolphins vs Buccaneers Live Preseason Game Chat

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Ranking the Dolphins Schedule by Difficulty

The start of the NFL season is now less than two weeks away as the Miami Dolphins look to improve on a 7-9 season. Based on last year's standings, the Dolphins have the eighth toughest schedule in the NFL. With 16 games on the schedule in 2013, here's how they rank from easiest to most difficult.

16. at Cleveland Browns (September 8th)
QB Ryan Tannehill. (Photo: Miami Herald)
It's the season opener and for the Dolphins to prove themselves as a viable playoff contender, it's a must-win. The Browns finished just 5-11 a season ago, but did defeat the Dolphins in Miami's last visit to Cleveland back in 2011. It should give fans an early look at the maturation of second-year quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden.

15. vs. Buffalo Bills (October 20th)
The Dolphins have won four of five at home against the Buffalo Bills and will look for that trend to continue. The first of two meetings this season will come at home after a tough five-game stretch to open the season and a bye week.

14. vs. New York Jets (December 29th)
While on paper it looks like one of Miami's easier games, it may wind up being one of the more important. The Dolphins could be fighting for their playoff lives in the regular season finale. While the Jets have won three of the last five in Miami, the Dolphins have taken the last two season finales against the Jets and have won six of the last nine overall.

13. at Buffalo Bills (December 22nd)
Despite falling 19-14 last November, the Miami Dolphins have still managed to win three of their last five road games against the Bills. This will be the Dolphins' next-to-last game this season and they could arrive at Orchard Park with a lot on the line.

The Dolphins have won 6 of 9 vs. the Jets. (Photo: ESPN)

12. at New York Jets (December 1st)
The Dolphins have won four of the last five against the Jets in New York including a 30-9 thumping last season. But with a December trip to cold weather, this one should be a bit more difficult than the game in Miami despite the fact that the Dolphins have played the Jets better in East Rutherford than in South Florida.

11. vs. San Diego Chargers (November 17th)
The San Diego Chargers finished 7-9 a season ago and have won the last two against Miami, but have already lost Danario Alexander for the season and will have to travel across the country to face the Dolphins. The last Miami victory over the Chargers came in 2008 at Sun Life Stadium.

10. at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (November 11th)
Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman has a number of weapons around him and the Buccaneers' offense could give Miami trouble. The good news for Miami is that the Tampa Bay defense struggled a year ago and the Dolphins will have 11 days to prepare for this one and a short distance to travel.

9. vs. Carolina Panthers (November 24th)
The Carolina Panthers finished just 7-9 a season ago, but won their final four games. The Panthers have a dynamic quarterback in Cam Newton and are expected to be improved defensively.  Miami does have history on its side as the Dolphins are 4-0 all-time vs. Carolina.

Miami beat Cincinnati in 2012, 17-13. (Photo: Sun Sentinel)
8. vs. Cincinnati Bengals (October 31st)
The Cincinnati Bengals were one of two playoff teams a season ago defeated by the Miami Dolphins. Miami won 17-13 in Cincinnati last season, but both teams have big expectations this year. This looks to be a low scoring Thursday night battle, but both teams have explosive receivers in A.J. Green for the Bengals and Miami's Mike Wallace. With this game being at home, the short week could be an advantage for the Dolphins.

7. at Pittsburgh Steelers (December 8th)
 Mike Wallace's return to Pittsburgh could have huge playoff implications. The Steelers underachieved last season going 8-8, but getting a win in the steel city won't be easy. The Dolphins have lost four straight to Pittsburgh and have not beat the Steelers since 1999.

6. at New Orleans Saints (September 30th)
Despite just a 7-9 finish a season ago, the New Orleans Saints managed to lead the NFC in points scored as Drew Brees and a talented corps of receivers will test the seemingly suspect Miami secondary. A Monday night game, the Superdome crowd will be lively as well. This will also be Miami's second dome game in four weeks.

5. vs. Baltimore Ravens (October 6th)
The defending champs have seemed to have their way with the Dolphins in years past and this looks to be another challenge for Miami. It will also be linebacker Dannell Ellerbee's first game against his former team. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has become one of the league's best, but Baltimore did lose a number of key players on each side of the ball. Since collecting their only win of 2007 against the Ravens, the Dolphins have lost three straight to Baltimore and by an average margin of 16 points.

4. vs. New England Patriots (December 15th)
The Miami Dolphins have lost six straight to New England and many believe that this game could decide the AFC East. The Dolphins last beat the Patriots in 2009 and have lost 10 of 12 overall. Miami has also dropped five of the last six in South Florida. This game could have huge playoff implications and a win won't come easy. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick  and New England always seems to play their best football in December as well.
Luck (right) and Tannehill (left) meet in Week 2. (Photo: Zimbio)

3. at Indianapolis Colts (September 15th)
The Dolphins let one slip away in Indianapolis last season falling 23-20 to the Colts. This should be an exciting showdown of second-year quarterbacks as Andrew Luck leads his Colts against Ryan Tannehill and Miami. The Colts were tied for the second best home record in the league a year ago finishing with a 7-1 mark at Lucas Oil Stadium.

2. vs. Atlanta Falcons (September 22nd)
The Dolphins' home opener pits them against the team that finished with the best regular season record a season ago. The Falcons went 13-3 a season ago and finished just yards shy of making the Super Bowl. Matt Ryan is loaded with a corps of weapons and will certainly test Miami's secondary. Brent Grimes will be facing his former team as he looks to help Miami beat the Falcons for the first time since 2001.
New England has won 6 straight vs. Miami (Photo: Zimbio)

1. at New England Patriots (October 27th)
The Miami Dolphins have not won in New England since 2008 and this has a chance to be a real statement game for Miami. The last time the Dolphins won in Foxborough, they won something even more significant, the division. The Patriots are 16-2 against the AFC East over the last three years.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!

Miami Dolphins 2013 Roster Projection

The Miami Dolphins have three more weeks until the NFL's opening day. Here is an early projection of who and what the roster may include.

There are a few questionable positions whose numbers can, and likely will, be manipulated at tight end (experience), guard (depth), tackle (depth), fullback (depth), and linebacker (too many, though they may be required for special teams). Those positions may be altered from within or after other teams' cuts.

Special Teams (4)
K Calib Sturgis
P Brandon Fields
LS John Denney
KR Marcus Thigpen

Ryan Tannehill
Offense (26)

Quarterback (3)
17 Ryan Tannehill
8 Matt Moore
7 Pat Devlin

Running Backs (4)
26 Lamar Miller
33 Daniel Thomas
35 Mike Gillislee
32 Jonas Gray

Fullbacks (1)

42 Charles Clay (H-Back/Tight End)

Wide Receivers (5)
11 Mike Wallace
82 Brian Hartline
10 Brandon Gibson
Michael Egnew
18 Rishard Matthews
16 Chad Bumphis

Tight Ends (2)
84 Michael Egnew
80 Dion Sims

Center (2)
51 Mike Pouncey
75 Nate Garner

Guards (5)
68 Richie Incognito
Jonathan Martin
74 John Jerry
61 Lance Louis
64 Josh Samuda
70 Dallas Thomas

Tackles (4)
77 Tyson Clabo
71 Jonathan Martin
67 Andrew McDonald
72 Will Yeatman

Defense (23)

Cameron Wake
Defensive Ends (4)
91 Cameron Wake
95 Dion Jordan
50 Olivier Vernon
79 Derrick Shelby

Defensive Tackle (4)
96 Paul Soliai
94 Randy Starks
98 Jared Odrick
97 Kheeston Randall

Linebacker (6)
59 Dannell Ellerbe
52 Philip Wheeler
Phillip Wheeler
55 Koa Misi
57 Josh Kaddu
53 Austin Spitler
93 Jason Trusnik

Cornerback (5)
21 Brent Grimes
24 Dimitri Patterson
28 Nolan Carroll
22 Jamar Taylor
29 Will Davis

Safety (4)
20 Reshad Jones
30 Chris Clemons
37 Kelcie McCray
27 Jimmy Wilson

Outside Looking In

Running Back
48 Evan Rodriguez
24 years old, 6'2", 245 pounds, two years experience

Jorvorskie "Butterball" Lane
41 Jorvorskie Lane
26, 5'11", 258, two

Wide Receiver
3 Keenan Davis 22, 6-3, 215, rookie
14 Jeff Fuller 23, 6-4, 223, one
87 Marvin McNutt 24, 6-2, 216, one
83 Julius Pruitt 27, 6-2, 212, two
15 Andrell Smith 23, 6-3, 217, rookie
88 Kenny Stafford 23, 6-4, 204, one
85 Brian Tyms 24, 6-3, 204, one

Tight End
81 Dustin Keller 28 6-2 255, six
86 Kyle Miller 25 6-5 262, two
Marvin McNutt

65 Sam Brenner 23, 6-2, 310, rookie

62 Chris Barker 23, 6-2, 310, rookie
73 Jeff Braun 23, 6-3, 316, rookie
63 Chandler Burden 23, 6-4, 310, one

60 Jeff Adams 23, 6-7, 305, one

Ouside Looking In

Antwan Applewhite
Defensive End
93 Antwan Applewhite 27, 6-3, 270, six
66 Tristan Okpalaugo 23, 6-4, 260, rookie
69 Emeka Onyenekwu 23, 6-3, 264, rookie

Defensive Tackle
76 A.J. Francis 23, 6-5, 316, rookie
78 Chris Burnette 23, 6-2, 303, rookie
89 Tracy Robertson 23, 6-4, 300,one
90 Vaughn Martin 27, 6-4, 300, five

43 Jelani Jenkins 21, 6-0, 243, rookie
58 Lee Robinson 26, 6-2, 253, one
56 Jonathan Freeny 24, 6-2, 250, two
45 Alonzo Highsmith 23, 6-0. 240, rookie
49 Michael Clay 21, 5-11, 235, rookie
47 David Hinds 23, 6-2, 234, rookie

De'Andre Presley
36 Don Jones 23, 5-11, 200, rookie
38 Julian Posey 25, 5-11, 200, one
23 De'Andre Presley 23, 5-10, 188, one
25 R.J. Stanford 25, 5-10, 190, three

40 Keelan Johnson 23, 5-11, 212, rookie
44 Jordan Kovacs 23, 5-10, 210, rookie

What would you suggest the Miami Dolphins do differently?


Replacing Keller Won't Be a One-Man Job

In Saturday's 24-17 preseason loss to the Houston Texans, the Miami Dolphins were dealt a big blow in the second quarter as tight end Dustin Keller took a shot in the knee from Houston safety D.J. Swearinger. Keller suffered three torn ligaments and is out for the season.

Dustin Keller is done for 2013. (Photo: BleacherReport)
Keller shined in his brief stint in a Dolphins uniform. In just over three quarters of preseason action, Keller caught three passes for 60 yards which included a 22-yard touchdown grab in Miami's 27-3 victory at Jacksonville on August 9th.

Keller is just two years removed from a career-year with the New York Jets in 2011, a season in which he caught 65 passes for 815 yards and five touchdowns. Keller is also a tough cover for opposing linebackers and a smooth route runner and would have fit in very well with second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a new-look Dolphins' offense. While Keller's season is over, all hope is not lost at the tight end position, but replacing Keller won't be a one-man job.

Unless the Dolphins go out a sign a free agent tight end like Chris Cooley, Kevin Boss or perhaps even former Dolphin Randy McMichael, the biggest added responsibility looks to be on H-back Charles Clay.

Clay certainly has versatility and he has had to. In college, Clay was a fullback in a spread offense at Tulsa, but in the NFL, has taken the bulk of his snaps at the tight end position. In two NFL seasons, Clay has spent most of his time as the second tight end behind Anthony Fasano and has recorded 34 receptions for 445 yards with five catches going for touchdowns.

This preseason however, Clay has taken the bulk of his snaps from the backfield and performed pretty well. But with Keller out, Clay looks to be their best option right now which means that Clay will either split time between fullback and tight end which is essentially what a H-back does or he will take the bulk of the snaps at tight end which will put Jorvorskie Lane as the team's primary fullback.

While Clay likely won't be able to replace Keller's production, Clay can have a career-year. Recording 30 receptions for 350 yards is a realistic and reasonable goal for Clay. That should also take much of the pressure off a pair of younger tight ends that the Dolphins will need to step up.

Clay will need help from either or both second-year tight end Michael Egnew and/or rookie from Michigan State, Dion Sims. Egnew went without a reception last season as a rookie after a stellar career as a pass-catcher in college at Missouri. Egnew is more of a receiving tight end and has a lot of improving to do as a blocker. Sims on the other hand, is more of a complete tight end and looks to have an edge right now for playing time over Egnew.

If Clay can have the career-year that was mentioned, Egnew and Sims would only have to combine for about 20 catches and 225 yards to reach Keller's career averages which would also give Miami more production than it got last season from Fasano and Clay. It is worth mentioning however that Fasano and Clay combined for seven of Miami's 13 receiving touchdowns a season ago.

Second-year tight end Kyle Miller is also on the roster, but like Egnew, Miller went without a reception as a rookie. Miller appeared in just one game for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.

While Keller could have been a real game-changer in the passing game, the Dolphins have the bodies on the roster to make up for his absence. Miami will miss his big-play ability, veteran presence and the depth that came with being able to use Charles Clay at fullback.

Clay should still be able to have a career-year for the Dolphins and Miami should be able to retain the production it had from the tight end position last year. This of course, is all possible even without mentioning the upgrades made to the Miami receiving corps. Few will argue that Keller won't be missed, but the Dolphins certainly have the bodies to replace his production. It however, won't be a one-man gig.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans Live Preseason Game Chat

Here we go. Another week of player analysis has arrived.

Five Things Miami Dolphins Must Do in 2013

After a 7-9 campaign in 2012, the Miami Dolphins are seeking to reach the playoffs for the first time since winning the division in 2008. This offseason, the Dolphins made a number of big changes including big free agents signings such as Mike Wallace, Philip Wheeler, Tyson Clabo and Dannell Ellerbee. Wallace, Wheeler and Ellerbee have all played in Super Bowls while Clabo was one game away last season with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Dolphins have certainly brought in players with winning mentalities, but new-look Miami will still need to back it up on the field. Here are five things that the Miami Dolphins absolutely have to do to make 2013 a success:

1. Protect Tannehill
Tannehill will need to be kept upright. (Photo: RantSports)
Despite his mobility, Ryan Tannehill was the eighth most sacked quarterback in the NFL in 2012. The offensive line has a new look with the addition of Clabo and the subtraction of Jake Long. Jonathan Martin, a second-year player from Stanford, will be tasked with protecting Tannehill's blind side. Miami has surrounded Tannehill with new weapons in receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson and former Jets' tight end Dustin Keller to help compliment last season's leading receiver Brian Hartline. But for Tannehill to utilize his weapons, the offensive front will have to keep him upright.

2. Be Balanced Offensively
The Miami Dolphins' offensive line may have a new look, but so does the backfield. Reggie Bush, who averaged better than 1,000 yards rushing and was Miami's leading rusher in each of the last two seasons, is now in Detroit. Replacing Bush will fall in the hands of second-year speedster Lamar Miller and underachieving power back Daniel Thomas. Between the two, Miller and Thomas have just 1,156 yards rushing in three combined seasons of work. If the Dolphins are to reach their full offensive potential, they cannot allow opposing defenses to sell out on the pass. This preseason, Miller and Thomas have combined to rush for 51 yards on 12 carries, a 4.25 yards-per-carry average.

Will 2013 be another big year for Jones? (Photo: SportsSpyder)
3. Force Turnovers
Last season, the Miami Dolphins forced a grand total of 16 turnovers with six coming from safety Reshad Jones. The Dolphins ranked just 28th in the NFL in taking the football away last season. While the Dolphins weren't overly careful with the football themselves last season, the offense was given very few opportunities with a short field which was a big reason why the Dolphins ranked just 27th in scoring a season ago. In the takeaway/giveaway department, Miami was -10.

4. Generate a Pass Rush
This Dolphins finished 14th in the league in sacks last season with defensive end Cameron Wake finishing fourth in the NFL with 15 sacks. This season, Miami may be even better with the additions of Wheeler and Ellerbee, who replace Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett at linebacker. Teamed with Koa Misi, the Dolphins have an excellent trio of linebackers when it comes to rushing the passer. With the third pick in the draft, Miami moved up to take Oregon's defensive end/linebacker hybrid in Dion Jordan. Jordan should excel as a pass rusher in the NFL right away. Opposite Wake last season, Olivier Vernon and Jared Odrick combined for a respectable 8.5 sacks. With strong-armed quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger on the schedule along with Tom Brady twice, reaching the opponents' backfield needs to become routine for the Dolphins.

5. Beat New England
Since the 2001 season, the New England Patriots have claimed 11 of a possible 12 AFC East titles with the lone exception being 2008 when the Miami Dolphins completed a 10-win turnaround to steal the division. But of late, the Patriots have had their way with Miami. The Patriots have won the last six meetings and 10 of the last 12. Not since a late Dan Carpenter field goal in December of 2009 has Miami topped New England and if the Dolphins want to be a playoff team or take the division title in 2013, they will need to beat the Patriots. The first of two meetings between the teams this season will be in Foxborough on October 27th.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!

Protection and Health Will Key Dolphins Passing Game

Keller (81) and Wallace (11). (Photo: El Nuevo Herald)
While the Miami Dolphins offense struggled early on once again in Friday's 27-3 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the starting unit finally got it together on its final drive which resulted in a touchdown. But despite the early struggles, it has become apparent that this will be a far more dangerous team when it comes to throwing the football in 2013.

The Dolphins look to be a more dangerous passing team this season despite the prized signing of the offseason, Mike Wallace, going without a catch in his first game in a Dolphins' uniform. But who needs a receiver that can stretch the field when you have a tight end that can do it?

In his Miami debut, former New York Jet tight end Dustin Keller shined. Keller recorded two receptions for 46 yards including a 22-yard touchdown on what would be quarterback Ryan Tannehill's final pass of the night. While Wallace was shut out, Brandon Gibson had a 14-yard reception to give Miami its initial first down of the night.

It's hard to imagine that Wallace will have anything but a productive season. Bundle that with the additions of Keller and Gibson and the team's leading receiver from a year ago, Brian Hartline, Miami has plenty of weapons for Tannehill to get the ball to. While tight end Anthony Fasano led the Dolphins with five touchdown receptions a year ago and receiver Davone Bess was a machine when it came to converting third downs over his five-year career with the Dolphins, both Gibson and Keller look to be upgrades.

Gibson may not put up the sort of numbers that Bess did with the Dolphins, but he looks to be a player that can better stretch the field vertically along with speedsters Wallace and Hartline. The same is true with Keller. While Fasano was a dependable big body at the tight end position, Keller is a walking mismatch in the passing game. That was evident as he averaged 23 yards-per-catch on Friday.

But while the Dolphins have playmakers in positions where they did not a season ago, the success of the passing game will hinge more largely on pass protection and health rather than personnel.

The biggest reason for Miami's early offensive struggles on Friday was the inability to protect Tannehill. A Jacksonville defense that ranked just 30th in the NFL a season ago and last in sacks was able to get constant pressure on Tannehill early on which led to one sack, a pair of three-and-outs and another possession that lasted just four plays eventually resulting in a Brandon Fields punt.

Coming into the season, the offensive line was a major concern and to this point, it still is. The Dolphins went out and shored up the right tackle position with the signing of Tyson Clabo, but Jonathan Martin will have to step up his play as the full-time left tackle protecting Tannehill's blind side. The guard position opposite Richie Incognito still remains a mystery at this point as well.

The second key to Miami's passing game this season will be the ability to stay healthy. Both Keller and Wallace fought through injury a season ago which led to down years for each. Protecting Tannehill will also be instrumental if the second-year quarterback is to start all 16 games as he did in 2012.

The Dolphins certainly have the personnel to be explosive in the passing game this season, but personnel won't be the big concern. If the offensive line is unable to protect Tannehill, the playmakers surrounding him won't be able to make an impact and with Wallace and Keller coming off of injury-plagued seasons, that once again looks to be a concern. While the play of Keller in Jacksonville and the starting offense's final drive were encouraging, the pass protection up front early on still leaves much to be desired.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!

Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Preseason Live Game Chat

Sorry for being so late. Hopefully we can still use it.

Click here to watch the game live. Beware pop-ups and do not download anything. You don't need to download anything to watch.

Dolphins Working Jordan in Slowly

Jordan in his NFL debut on Sunday. (Photo: BleacherReport)
Not everyone was happy with Miami Dolphins rookie Dion Jordan's performance in Miami's 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. Fortunately for the Dolphins, the majority of those unhappy are opposing quarterbacks and offensive tackles.

Without playing until the early parts of the second half, Jordan recorded just two tackles, but did a good job getting pressure on the quarterback. As Miami gets set for their second preseason game on Friday in Jacksonville, it's hard to not want to see more of Jordan. Joe Philbin and the coaching staff however, appear to know what they're doing.

With Cameron Wake, Jared Odrick, and Olivier Vernon out of the lineup on Sunday, it would have been easy to give Jordan the start, but the Dolphins didn't and probably for a number of reasons.

Guys like Jonathan Freeny and Derrick Shelby played in front of Jordan on Sunday and even though those guys played pretty well, neither are as intricate a part of Miami's future as Jordan. One reason for the move however, may have been to get Jordan's feet wet against weaker competition. While the term "first string" should be used far more loosely than normal after watching Sunday's Hall of Fame Game, Jordan's first taste of action came against players with NFL experience closer to his own instead of immediately facing a more veteran presence.

Secondly, not starting Jordan sends a message to not only the third overall pick, but to the rest of the team as well. Younger athletes are more entitled than ever before and not anointing Jordan as an immediate starter lets him know that he like everyone else will have to work his way to the top of the depth chart. Instead, Jordan had to wait his turn and made the most of his playing time despite a pedestrian stat line.

The third reason that sitting Jordan until the second half was a good move was that it allowed Philbin, Kevin Coyle and the rest of the coaching staff to see how lesser-known players responded with the chance to play against Dallas' "starters". While names like Jordan, Wake, Odrick and Vernon will most certainly be on the roster for the September 8th opener in Cleveland, others like Shelby and Freeny are fighting for their football lives and it made more sense to get them a look against guys closer to the top of Dallas' depth chart than others in the same position as they are, especially considering that the Dolphins play five preseason games while the rest of the league plays four.

All that said, it's hard not to expect Jordan to get more action as Miami visits Jacksonville on Friday. Jordan shined in his NFL debut and despite just two tackles, showed an ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and did so with relative ease. He will also likely see the field a bit earlier in Friday's contest, but by not giving Jordan the start in the Hall of Fame Game, the rookie from Oregon is learning that nothing in the NFL comes easy.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!

Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame Game: Is the Season over Already?

Overreactions are common in football. Because we see so little football from the Miami Dolphins each year it is common to overreact to a certain play, drive, or game.

I get that, but you guys do realize this is the preseason, right? Heck, it's hardly even the preseason. It's the Hall of Fame game. It is impossible to draw any conclusions about players or a team from a few drives of their first team offense.

So, to answer my own question:
Q: Is the season over already?
A: What kind of stupid question is that?

How's that for an answer?

Any conclusions drawn about this season from last night's game are unnecessary.

I understand most fans still realize this game meant very little at all, but there are still a good number of fans who are reading too far into this, and for those of you, I am not questioning your football knowledge. I am just saying that you are getting a little too into such a meaningless contest.

The Hall of Fame game is more "important" than an intrasquad game, sure, but it isn't even as important as a normal preseason game. So much changes in the five weeks between
this game and the regular season opener. The only thing this over-analysis will do is make us more stressed out and worried, which I don't think many of us need.

The only conclusion you needed to draw from this game was an opinion of the Dolphins new jerseys, which I thought were pretty sweet. I was originally not much of a fan because of the lack of orange in them, but I think Miami is going to look pretty nice in their uniforms this year. It's also worth a mention that at sites like you can bet on any NFL matches as they happen, exciting stuff!

Thanks for stopping by. I was seeing some of the reaction and I just wanted to quell it before it became excessive.

Email me at I'm also on twitter @PaulDSmythe.

15 Most Important Dolphins for 2013: #1 Ryan Tannehill

Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. (Photo: SI)
It's probably no surprise, but the most important Miami Dolphin for the upcoming 2013 season will be second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Game managers like Craig Krenzel, Matt Mauck and Matt Flynn may be able to win national championships in college football, but to win the Super Bowl, having an elite quarterback is a must with very few exceptions.

Drafted eighth overall in 2012 by Miami, Ryan Tannehill has all the tools to be a very good if not great NFL quarterback. Tannehill has the size, the arm and the athleticism good enough to contribute as a wide receiver at Texas A&M before taking over the starting quarterback role for his previous head coach, and now offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman.

The selection of Tannehill in last year's draft was a bold move for Miami as most of the Dolphins post-Marino quarterback history included getting over-the-hill former Pro Bowlers (Chad Pennington, Trent Green, Daunte Culpepper, David Garrard), career back-ups who showed potential in limited playing time (Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas), career underachievers (Joey Harrington, Brian Griese) and players taken later in the draft (Chad Henne, John Beck).

The selection of Tannehill has brought optimism about Miami's future unlike any quarterback since Marino. But to continue to have the support of the fan base, Tannehill must perform on the field.

As a rookie, Tannehill started all 16 games and led the Dolphins to a 7-9 record, much better than most projected. This season, the Dolphins' organization made an effort to surround the second-year pro with a better supporting cast that includes Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller.

Tannehill's numbers as a rookie were pretty pedestrian as he passed for 3,294 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Tannehill also ranked just 27th in the league in quarterback rating and 23rd in completion percentage at 58.3 percent.

But toward the end of last season, Tannehill was much improved, especially when it came to taking care of the football. Over his final six games, Tannehill threw just two interceptions and just one over his final five games. Over those final six games, Tannehill also averaged 30 yards rushing per-game and nearly 6.5 yards-per-carry. Tannehill used both his arm and his legs to lead his first career fourth quarter comeback in a 24-21 win over Seattle on November 25th of last season.

Tannehill's numbers last season were indicative of Miami's success and such will be the case again this season. When Tannehill did not throw a pick last season, the Dolphins were 6-3 compared to 1-6 when he did. When Tannehill's completion percentage hit 60, the Dolphins were 5-1 and when he threw multiple touchdown passes, Miami was 3-0.

Tannehill appears to have the skill players around him to succeed in 2013, but he will also need protection. Despite his mobility, Tannehill was the eighth most sacked quarterback in 2012. After a down year, former first overall pick Jake Long is now in St. Louis and the pressure is on second-year tackle Jonathan Martin and former Atlanta Falcon Tyson Clabo to keep Tannehill upright.

With expectations high, the Dolphins will need to see improvement from Tannehill's 12-touchdown, 13-interception campaign of 2012. Despite pedestrian numbers and a limited arsenal of talent around him, Tannehill and the Dolphins still overachieved a season ago and stayed in the playoff race until Week 16.

To win championships in the NFL, having a good quarterback is a must and with the offseason upgrades and a year of experience, Tannehill will have every chance to prove that he is just that. While few are predicting a Super Bowl championship for Miami this year, an AFC East title is a realistic goal, but only if Ryan Tannehill can prove he is the franchise quarterback that so many of the Dolphins' faithful believe him to be.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!