Second Year Dolphins Taking on Bigger Roles in 2013

Lamar Miller will have to fill the shoes of last year's leading rusher, Reggie Bush. (Photo:
The 2012 NFL Draft was a success for the Miami Dolphins as the 'Fins found two starters in the first two rounds, including what they hope to be a franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. This offseason, the Dolphins made significant upgrades with the addition of some key veterans. But for Miami to be a playoff team in 2013 they are going to need production from some of their younger guys, too, particularly on offense. This upcoming season should go a long way in telling how successful the draft of 2012 really was.

Tannehill, who went 7-9 as a starter in his 2012 rookie season, will, without a doubt, start at quarterback. Tannehill will look to improve on a 12 touchdown, 13 interception campaign and will get the brunt of the attention from the sports media and the fans for how he performs, but this will be a big season for tackle Jonathan Martin as well.

Drafted to play tackle opposite of Jake Long, Martin started all 16 games for Miami as a rookie in 2012. After Long's season-ending bicep injury late in the season, Martin took over at the left tackle position. Martin struggled early last season at right tackle and was less than stellar replacing Long.

Martin will likely play the left tackle position for Miami this season and be tasked with protecting Tannehill's blind side. Martin, who was criticized for being small for a NFL tackle, has said to have put on some weight. With a schedule that includes premier pass-rushing defensive ends Greg Hardy, Michael Johnson, John Abraham and Mario Williams twice, Martin will need to be up to challenge.

The success of the offense, however, is not dependent on just Martin and Tannehill making improvements, but little used players as rookies in 2012 are poised to take on bigger roles.

University of Miami product and second-year back Lamar Miller will split time with third-year man Daniel Thomas and could wind up being the feature back.

Miller carried the ball just 51 times in 2012, a little more than three-per-contest. His 4.9 yards-per-carry average however, was better than either Thomas' or last year's leading rusher, Reggie Bush. Miller did move up to the number two back towards the end of last season, but with Bush now in Detroit, Miller will have to replace much of Bush's production.

Similar to Bush in style, Miller could be a real contributor in the passing game as well as a guy who can give Miami big plays on the ground. While in college, Miller was even an excellent special teams player having returned kicks including one for a touchdown against Ohio State. While Bush was never an All-Pro, he had the best years of his career with Miami and averaged over 1,000 yards rushing in his two seasons with the Dolphins. Equaling Bush's production won't be that easy.

Failing to make any sort of splash at all in 2012 was rookie tight end and third round pick Michael Egnew. An excellent pass-catcher at Missouri, Egnew did not record a single reception in 2012, but may be forced into action in 2013.

After losing Anthony Fasano and his team-leading five touchdown catches to Kansas City, Miami is thin at tight end. Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman seem to like Charles Clay more in an h-back role as his production declined slightly in 2012. The Dolphins did acquire former New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller, but Keller battled injury last season and is coming off the worst year of his career. If Keller fails to stay healthy or produce as he did in 2010 and 2011, Egnew will have to step up.

Defensively, Olivier Vernon will have the opportunity to take over the defensive end slot opposite Cameron Wake or at the very least, find plenty of playing time in a reserve role.

Vernon proved to a valuable special teams player for the Dolphins in 2012 and even filled in some at outside linebacker. A physically gifted player, Vernon recorded 3.5 sacks as a rookie and is a better athlete than Jared Odrick, Miami's first round pick in 2010. Vernon will also battle rookie Dion Jordan, who was taken third overall by the Dolphins in this year's draft. Having already played a year in Kevin Coyle's system could prove to be advantageous for Vernon as well.

But unlike the offensive side of the ball where Miami will need production from Martin, Miller and perhaps Egnew, a breakout season for Vernon would be more of a luxury, but it is entirely possible.

While the Miami Dolphins are hopeful that key acquisitions like Mike Wallace and Philip Wheeler can help take them to the next level, increased production from a number of second-year guys will prove just as important this upcoming season.

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

A Look at the Miami Dolphins Offensive Line

Patrick just did an analysis on the Miami Dolphins defensive front, so I am going to continue our series and take a look at the other side of the ball today. I am going to be taking a look at the offensive line, which was solid last year but nothing to speak of.

Right now my projected starters for the Dolphins line are:

| LT Jonathan Martin | LG Dallas Thomas | C Mike Pouncey | RG Richie Incognito | RT Tyson Clabo |

Now what I'm going to do is take a look at each guy and who could potentially compete with them for the spot.

Left Tackle - Jonathan Martin
Jonathan Martin
Martin only played four games last season as a left tackle filling in for the injured Jake Long. He was not very impressive at that spot, but a large part of that is due to him being underweight. He claims that he has gained 15 pounds this offseason, which is an encouraging sign. All signs are pointing to him starting at left tackle this year.

The guy who I could see as potential competition to Martin would be versatile rookie lineman Dallas Thomas. I am expecting Thomas to be the starting left guard, but Miami wants him to learn guard and tackle on the left side, so he could potentially beat out Martin for the job.

Left Guard - Dallas Thomas
Miami drafted Thomas out of Tennessee in the third round (77th overall) of this year's draft. Thomas is a very versatile offensive lineman. He is capable of playing tackle, but he is better suited to play guard. The Dolphins want him on the left side, and they have been working him at both tackle and guard. I expect Martin to take the left tackle job, though, so that leaves the guard spot for Thomas.

Dallas Thomas in Tennessee
Thomas, like Martin last year, is a little on the light side. He could stand to gain a little weight, and I fully expect that Miami will work on bulking him up this offseason. He is an excellent pass protector and should be able to block for Ryan Tannehill very nicely. His run blocking isn't quite as excellent, but he is still very good at it.

Potential competition for Thomas would be Richie Incognito and John Jerry, depending on who doesn't win the right guard spot. Incognito was the starting left guard for Miami last year, but the Dolphins desire to have Thomas on the left side makes me think that they'll move Incognito to the right. Jerry was the starter on the right side, and if he doesn't win the competition against Incognito then we could see him competing with Thomas on the left.

Center - Mike Pouncey
Pouncey is 100% safe at center after last year's Pro Bowl-worthy season. He will be the starter and we can expect him to be an anchor on the offensive line.
Nothing to see here. Move along
Right Guard - Richie Incognito
Richie Incognito
This is where it gets a little more interesting. John Jerry was Miami's starting right guard last season after he was finally able to get his weight under control, but Richie Incognito will probably be replaced by Dallas Thomas so he will be looking for a new job on the right side. I think that Incognito will be able to win out. Richie is an important part of the team and, in my opinion, is the better lineman, so it makes more sense to have him starting.

Like I said above, whoever loses out on this job will likely be competing for the spot at left guard as well, but unfortunately for John Jerry, it looks like Incognito and Thomas will have the starting jobs at the start of the season. Jerry makes for excellent depth, though.

Another possible competitor is Lance Louis from the Chicago Bears. Louis was awful as a tackle for the Bears, but he is a good guard. He will add competition to the line.

Right Tackle - Tyson Clabo
The Dolphins needed another tackle, so after the draft they signed free agent veteran Tyson Clabo out of Atlanta. Clabo is a very solid all-around tackle who was cut from the Falcons for cap reasons. He is a little on the old side, though, at 31 years old, but he should fill in nicely and give Miami time to find a replacement in the next year or two. Like Pouncey, Clabo is pretty much a lock to be the starter.
Tyson Clabo
So there you have it. I am very optimistic about our offensive line this season. The biggest question mark is Jonathan Martin, but I have confidence that he will be able to play well. He will have had an offseason to bulk up, and he will be able to play on the left side from the start.

Thanks for stopping by. What do you guys think about our offensive line? Let me know below. Email me at I'm also on twitter @PaulDSmythe.

A Review & Preview of the Miami Dolphin Front Seven

In the first of a series of articles, the writers at Dolphinshout will analyze changes in key areas of the Miami Dolphin football team. This installment focuses on the defensive front seven.

The responsibility of the front seven begins most notably with pass rushing. In today’s NFL, money goes to the players that pass the ball, protect the passer, catch the ball, rush the passer and cover the receivers. The front seven is the main force in rushing the passer, but must also shut down the running, while covering the middle of the field.

The pass rush is where the players on the front seven earn their reputation. The Miami defensive backs take the blame for the lack of big plays on the defense, but balls fluttering in the air are easy pickings compared to perfect passes thrown in rhythm. Pressuring the QB disrupts the passing game and takes the pressure off the coverage unit. The QB has a much better chance of completing passes the longer he has to survey the field.

The brain trust of the Miami Dolphins is well aware the DBs are not solely to blame for the team’s inability to create turnovers. Moving from a base 3-4 to a base 4-3 defense, changes the roles of several players in the component most experts believe is the overall best unit on the team. There is talent left from the Sparano regime, but Kevin Coyle’s defense attacks differently from the scheme coached by Mike Nolan.

The pressure is now applied mainly by the defensive ends where it previously came from the outside linebackers. Where there was a primary nose tackle in a 3-4, there are two tackles in the 4-3. The following illustration shows the difference in the two alignments side by side.

The dolphins will interchange these two formations in a hybrid defense; the base scheme is pictured on the right. Under coach Coyle, the Miami defense changes from the left picture to the right picture. In this simplistic interpretation, a defensive lineman replaces a linebacker.

The change does not seem drastic, but the type of players required for the scheme to work presents issues when transforming to the new the system. Paul Soliai manned the nose tackle position in the 3-4, but he is now joined by Randy Starks at the under tackle position. The NFL game is evolving from common five and seven step QB drops replaced by 3 step drops in a rapid-fire up-tempo sling fest.

In this modern passing game, the QB releases the ball so quickly, the outside linebackers in the 3-4 are mitigated by the release time of the football. Here is a look at the same illustration with the arcs of the pass rushers added in red.

Notice the distance required to get the passer in a 3-4 versus the distance in a 4-3. As the game evolves to a quicker tempo, the pass rushers have to find ways to get to the QB fast. Lining up closer is one obvious advantage as the red lines indicate. There is an added benefit in the 4-3 by having two tackles coming up the middle. Any pass rush coming around the end is going to have issues reaching the passer in the 3-step drop.

Bringing pressure up the middle can disrupt the timing of the up-tempo offense. The 3-step drop with only a single nose tackle is much easier than a 3-step drop with two tackles. Fortunately, Miami has two players already on the team capable of playing the positions, Soliai and Starks, but there needs to be rotational players to rest the starters. For that the Dolphins will need Jared Odrick to bulk up. A heavier Odrick cannot man the DE position in a 4-3, because he does not have pure pass rusher speed.

The Dolphins began reshaping last year by drafting DE Olivier Vernon but the process was not complete until they jumped up to the number three spot in the draft to add Dion Jordan. With Cameron Wake at RDE, the addition of Jordan on the left side will strike fear in QBs and the Miami defensive line has now made the complete transition to the new defensive scheme.

Soliai, Starks and Odrick at the tackles with Wake, Jordan and Vernon at the ends, are as solid a group as there is in the NFL. Keeston Randall, Vaughn Martin and Dereck Shelby will fight it out with a large group of rookies for the final two or perhaps three DL roster spots.

The linebackers feature free agents Danell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler joining Koa Misi in a change from four linebackers to three. By releasing Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, the Dolphins cut ties with two older free agent linebackers but the need for more change is still evident when looking closely at the alignment.

The areas circled in red demonstrate how the roles of the OLBs change from one scheme to the other. The simple diagram shows why Dansby and Burnett are no longer with the Dolphins. The need for speed becomes obvious when shown graphically. The OLBs in the 4-3 have twice as much ground to cover and the two aging veterans were a mismatch for the defense.

Both OLBs needed to be replaced with more speedy players and the dolphins are probably not done, but will wait for next off-season to tweak in the LB corps. Dion Jordan and Cameron Wake will be used in hybrid type roles leaving the LB corps manned by more special teams’ demons than by actual starting caliber LBs.

The Names Jason Trusnik, Austin Spitler and Josh Kaddu don’t inspire thoughts of greatness and hoping a host of rookies led by Jelani Jenkins will sure up the LB corps is wishful thinking. The Linebackers may be the weakest unit on the team. The free agent acquisitions are still unknowns, but there is a lot riding on the two new players stepping up in a big way.

In conclusion, the defensive front seven is a unit with impressive talent on the line, backed by an unknown group of linebackers. The line will hold its own and the linebackers should be sufficient without being spectacular. The group will be outstanding if Ellerbe and Wheeler make the leap from spot starters to true every down players. The group could go the other direction if these two players fail to step up.

As go Ellerbe and Wheeler, so goes the front seven…

Dolphins Most Underrated Offseason Move: Re-signing QB Matt Moore

Fresh off their best offseason in recent memory, the Miami Dolphins look to make the transition from overachievers in 2012 to contenders in 2013.

Matt Moore elected to remain
a Dolphin this offseason.
(Photo: Kevin M. Coleman)
The Dolphins have certainly bolstered the roster with the additions of wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson and linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbee among others. But while the new acquisitions rightfully stole the headlines, there was one very significant signing lost in the mix and it was that of quarterback Matt Moore.

After a 6-3 finish to 2011 in which Moore threw three times as many touchdowns as interceptions, many projected Moore to be the starter in Miami in 2012. But after losing the starting job to rookie Ryan Tannehill, Moore had to settle for the job as Tannehill's backup.

One common theory was Moore was a bad fit for Mike Sherman's offense, but Moore proved that he could still add value even if it came in a lesser role. In his only appearance of significance in 2012, Moore went 11-for-19 with 131 yards and a touchdown helping lead a 30-9 rout of the New York Jets.

A free agent this offseason, Moore stuck with Miami rather than trying to compete for a starting job in a place like Arizona or Kansas City. What the signing of Moore does for Miami, however, has less to do with Moore himself and more to do with Tannehill.

6-6 in his career as a starter with the Dolphins, Matt Moore is an excellent insurance policy behind Tannehill.

Joe Philbin, Sherman and the rest of Miami's coaching staff in 2012 was understandably hesitant to open things up completely for the rookie at the early stages of the season. While known for 6'4", 225-pound frame and his big arm, Tannehill's athleticism often gets overlooked. Many forget that before taking over the reins at quarterback at Texas A&M, Tannehill saw the field plenty as a wide receiver.

It wasn't until the latter parts of the 2012 season that the Dolphins allowed Tannehill to use his legs as a weapon in addition to his arm. In the Dolphins' final six games of 2012, Tannehill averaged better than 30 yards-per-game on the ground while rushing for 6.5 yards-per-carry.

Having Moore on the bench will allow Miami to use Tannehill's full arsenal by allowing more opportunities outside the pocket and in the zone-read game. Obviously neither the Dolphins nor their fans want anything to happen to Tannehill, but with the skill set he has, Miami cannot afford to relegate him to the pocket. No one will be urging Tannehill to lower the shoulder and take on opposing linebackers, but it would be foolish not to take full advantage of his athleticism.

In today's NFL, the running quarterback is a weapon and the Dolphins have a weapon. After all, there's no one on the West Coast clamoring for San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick to spend more time in the pocket, and don't expect Mike Shanahan to try to turn Robert Griffin III into Dan Marino in Washington despite his recent knee injury.

With an upgraded receiving corps that now includes Wallace, Gibson and last year's leading receiver Brian Hartline, it's entirely possible that there is less of a need for Tannehill to run. Conversely however, with a lack of experience and the largely unproven duo of Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller in the backfield, there may be a greater need for Tannehill to become a more intricate part of the Dolphins' ground game.

How often Tannehill takes off remains to be seen, but having Matt Moore on the bench should make the Dolphins and their fans breathe just a tad bit easier when he does.

A New Dolphin Joins the Team

I have some exciting news to announce for Dolphin Shout. We are adding a new member to our team of writers. Please help me introduce Mike Ferguson to the Shout.

Mike is a lifetime Miami Dolphins fan with many fond memories of the Dolphins of old. He actually owns his own sports website called Outside the Redzone and is a sports reporter for The Ledger in Polk County.

We are very excited to add Mike to our team. His work on Outside the Redzone and The Ledger is top-notch, and I believe he will bring that same ability to the Shout. You guys are going to like what he has to write. I can guarantee you that much.

So please join me in welcoming Mike. Check out is bio on the 'About Us' page. You can email him at

The Miami Dolphins: All Peaches and Cream...Not!

We here on the Shout have been praising Jeff Ireland and the staff for what they have done this year. It really does look promising doesn't it? The Miami Dolphins have allowed a few players to move on that seem to be having declining careers. You know who they are so I won't mention their names. They are gone and there is nothing we can do about it. Some of us, myself included, agree with the moves, and others do not. Neither of us is wrong.

I am not so foolish to think that EVERY move the Dolphins have made will work out. Losing Reggie Bush is not something that can be just written off with the promise of Lamar Miller, or anyone else for that matter. The fact is we really don't know. When we let Bush go I think it said more about what direction the team was heading in than what they felt about Reggie Bush's ability. My thoughts were they are going to put more on Tannehill and the passing game than what they were willing to put into the running game. I think we are going to see quite a bit more about what the west coast offense is all about next year. Last year was no more than a stepping stone for what the future will be.

As I look into that future it looks brighter than what it has for a long time. That is not me being an optimist. The fact is I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I try to keep everything real. I trust that people will do the right thing, but I never count on that happening. And so it goes with the Miami Dolphins.

I trust that the moves the Dolphins made this year will work out, but will they? Not all of the moves will be good ones and not all will be bad ones, regardless of how they look on paper. Some of the players brought in will have injuries and others will, for lack of a better word, suck. They will not be near what we thought they would be. Which ones they will be I have no idea.

Philbin and Ireland have taken a bold step. They are turning the team over to Tannehill. They have taken a chance on Ellerbe, Wheeler, and Jordan. They have done the same with their wide receiver and running back positions. I like the moves, but I know they will not all work out.

The Miami Dolphins Off-Season of Transformation

RiverdoG is a big fan of Dawn Aponte for her work as the Miami Dolphin's Capologist. The Voodoo Science of the NFL has some interesting features in the latest version of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). These changes drove the Dolphins to make a splash in free agency after a self-proclaimed desire to build through the draft. Many experts quote the minimum or cap floor figure as 89% of the cap value. This is true in a sense, but there is a little more behind it that drove the Dolphins and other teams to make sure they spent now or face penalties later.

The language of the CBA states, for each four-year period from 2013-16, and from 2017-2020, the minimum guaranteed team cash spending for each team is 89% of Salary Cap. Over the two four year periods, each team must spend a minimum of 89% of the aggregate total Cap for those four years. For example, if the Salary Caps for the 2013-16 periods are $100, $120, $130, $150 million respectively, each team must spend a minimum of 89% ($445 Million) of that $500 million total. To be clear, the minimum spending is over a four-year period for each team, not each season.

The 2011 and 2012 seasons had no salary floor and some teams took advantage of those years by cleaning house so to speak. Miami came into the 2013 season with over $40 million available cap space. The Dolphins had an announced agenda to build through the draft, but it is impossible to build exclusively through the draft in today’s NFL because of the rookie Salary Cap. The NFL Salary Cap is a “Hard Cap” meaning each team must remain under the Cap. The Salary Cap is the same amount for each team. The rookie cap fluctuates with the number and round of the picks a team has in any give year.

A team can “carry over” room from one League Year to the next by having the owner submit notice to the NFL within 14 days prior to the beginning of the next League Year. The owner must indicate

the maximum amount of room the team wishes to carry over. With the minimum spending change from one-year to an aggregate total over four-years, teams like Miami could have found themselves in a bind in the final two years of the four-year period if they did not spend the money this year.

By following the money, the new TV contract begins in 2013 and extends to 2022. The contract will increase revenues for NFL teams incrementally and teams falling below 89% this year will find it increasingly difficult to reach the 89% figure over the four-year aggregate. It is possible a team could find itself unable to reach the aggregate 89% in the fourth-year because doing so would take them over the hard cap number for that year. The penalty is unknown but the NFL usually takes these opportunities to come down hard on the perpetrator.

The CBA and the facts associated with the agreement are the real reasons behind Miami abandoning its stated objective to build through the draft. The Dolphins have used the second season under Joe Philbin to align the locker room with players more fit for his schemes and to adhere with the complexities of the CBA. From this point on the Dolphins will need to make fewer moves in free agency to remain in compliance with the CBA. Miami fans must hope the Dolphins bought the right players to fit the mold during the mandatory shopping spree.

The future of the team is now riding on the decisions made during this crucial off-season. Miami will not get the opportunity to make this type of sweeping change again without gutting the team of quality players. Many fantasy football fans will point out Mike Wallace is not a ranking player in their leagues and other Pittsburgh receivers had better numbers. It has become easy to miss the value of players by following a stats sheet in the fantasy league.

Wallace demanded the salary for more than fantasy numbers; he opens the offense and creates opportunities for other players. Safeties cannot sneak into the box as readily when they know Wallace can beat them over the top. They cannot cheat up and the running game benefits by not having an extra defender in the box. If a corner needs deep help to protect from the long ball, other receivers find less coverage and get more opportunities. The Steelers know the value of a deep receiver even if the fantasy geeks don’t understand the true value of football players.

Miami allowed Jake Long to seek greener pastures (Benjamin Green) even though they needed to spend on premium positions for the reasons documented above. It is a telling sign when the Dolphins held the line on Long. Two motives seem obvious, his injury history and the devaluing of the left tackle position. With the need to spend for cap purposes Miami passed on Long and then shocked the league by not drafting his replacement after trading up for Dion Jordan and not Lane Johnson. The Dolphins then left Brandon Albert and others waiting at the altar before signing Clabo, clearly, the position has lost its luster.

Mixed emotions flow from Miami fans about the deportation of Reggie Bush, but this is another position with declining demand. Bush had issues working against him off the field, there is a fascination between the media and Reggie Bush. Perhaps dating Kim Kardashian and having to return a Heisman Trophy make reporters wonder what juicy story Reggie will lead them to next. For whatever reason, like Tim Tebow, coaches hate distractions and Reggie, perhaps through no fault of his own, is a distraction. Declining value and a penchant for the spotlight, led Reggie to take his show to Detroit and join the circus already in progress there.

Karlos Dansby had a different problem, he was a shining example of the "all show and no go" cliché. He proclaimed himself the best linebacker in the NFL and failed to live up to the proclamation. Largely, this was not as much of a problem as the fact that he believed this was true even when his performance did not reconcile with his illusion. In this belief, he portrayed himself as a leader, making his presence known in the locker room as the veteran voice of the defense.

Kevin Coyle and Joe Philbin as football coaches could not allow this to continue. Dansby could easily have remained on the Dolphins if he understood his place in the locker room or matched his real performance with his illusion. It was not going to happen and perhaps Karlos got the message by waiting until May to sign a contract. His words brought hope, "It was frustrating with the release and a humbling situation, but I knew God had a plan for me," Dansby said.

With any luck, God has bigger troubles to worry about than his plan for Karlos, but lessons come to different people in different ways. The leadership council of players wanting to police themselves with Long-Dansby-Bush in the forefront made it clear; Philbin was not onboard with the self-proclaimed team leaders. The opportunity to make a complete change in culture coincided with the need to spend cap dollars or face fines later.

The results will come when this new version of the Dolphins takes the field in the fall. The house is order, from the financial side and from the leadership side. Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland with the agreement of Boss Ross have done the business off the field, it's up to the players to complete the transformation on the field.

A new era in Miami begins at the Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio with the enshrinement of Bill Parcells. Parcells is the man many feel responsible for the Dolphins continued downfall. Perhaps facing the blighted past is the only way to burst into a new future. One thing is certain, not many Miami fans will be cheering for Parcells as a team he will not recognize takes the field in Canton. The irony of Parcells' enshrinement and the Dolphins playing in the Hall of Fame game is not lost on Miami Dolphin fans...

Miami Dolphins: Moving Forward or Backward?

Let me tell you I had to look up some statistics for this piece, and I can't stand looking up stats.

Paul just wrote a post asking your thoughts on what our record would be for the coming season. I didn't make a prediction. You are going to have to wait until I see the team in the preseason. I believe we will be pleasantly surprised when the season ends.

I will say for those few that don't feel very good about the upcoming season, you will be corrected. Once you take a closer look and get over your anger of not having your favorites selected in the draft and free agency you will see the Dolphins have really, really improved during the offseason.

Not only that, but Dawn Aponte our cap-ologist has done one heck of a job keeping the team in good shape for a few more years. The structure of some of our free agent acquisitions contracts was brilliant. Our draft picks should not only help us short term but also in the future.

The selection of Dion Jordan, although not very highly thought of by many here on the Dolphin Shout, was a much better pick then what many think. Randy Starks is not going to stay with the Dolphins folks. The defensive line is this team's strength. Drafting Jordan will keep it that way for a few more years. I love Odrick but he is not much of a defensive end, and Dion Jordan could take over his position in the future and allow Odrick to move inside. In the meantime Jordan can play myriad of defensive positions.

With free agent additions and draftees the entire linebacker core could be replaced. Koa Misi is the only one left, and with his stats (65 combined tackles, three and a half sacks, three forced fumbles, four tackles behind the line of scrimmage) you can see he is not on par with our other linebackers that are now gone! Even though Jordan is projected at defensive end at this time, I believe he will take over Misi's position at linebacker this year.

On offense we will see a total transformation. There are new players everywhere we look. Even if you didn't like the Wallace acquisition you must admit he is a HUGE improvement over Naanee, Gaffney, or anyone else they tried on that side of the field. The addition of Gibson will supplant the loss of Davone Bess, plus Gibson has more speed than Bess.

Here come some more stats. Many seem stressed out over the loss of Reggie Bush. To be honest he was our best and maybe only playmaker last year. Even so he wasn't a game changer. His stats were: 986 yards, 4.3 yard average, six rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns, and four fumbles. Not bad, but not great either. The projected starter, Lamar Miller, had 250 yards, 4.9 yard average, one rushing touchdown, and 6 receptions for 45 yards. If you project those numbers for an entire season Lamar Miller will have the same impact as Reggie Bush did, and Reggie Bush couldn't block any better than Miller.

So when I look at the entire picture I will make this statement. I do not know how many wins/losses we will have this coming year. I can say this. I don't see any way this team is worse than last year and I do see this team as vastly improved. We are much more likely to have a great season than we are to have another bad one. We are moving forward. I don't know about you, but I will be very happy with that.

Ryan Tannehill: the Question and Answer for the Miami Dolphins

How well will the Miami Dolphins do this season?

It's one simple question, but there are so many possibilities. So many different things could go right or wrong for the Dolphins. It's impossible to know what will really happen.

The truth, though, is the above question isn't even the right question to ask. The real question is actually also the answer to the question above (am I making sense here?). The real question is this:

How well will Ryan Tannehill perform this season?

That's the real question, because how well he does will dictate how well Miami does. A quarterback is so crucially important that even if you surround a poor one with a top-shelf group of players you will still struggle to be successful. Miami has brought in loads of talent on both sides of the ball, but if Ryan Tannehill isn't able to hold up his end of the bargain then none of it will matter.

Please, Ryan, save me
It's almost unfair to put that much pressure on a second year quarterback. Jobs are riding on his performance. Tannehill holds Jeff Ireland's job in his hands. Ireland has done an excellent job of building a team with real potential, but if his hand-picked quarterback doesn't work out then it won't matter.

Heck, if he does poorly enough he could put Joe Philbin's job on the line. Philbin would seem to be safe for at least this year, but a three or four win season could change that. No, I don't expect Miami to win three or four games, but anything is possible (any given Sunday, right?).

Tannehill has been overshadowed and overlooked this past season. This year he has the chance to shine.

Can he do it?
Can Ryan Tannehill carry this team? Does he have what it takes to bring Dolphins fans the winning record that they're clamoring for?

Absolutely. Now that he has weapons he will start to blossom. Tannehill is a great quarterback. He's been vastly underrated this year because his numbers haven't been spectacular. No one seems to care that his receiving corps was one of the worst in the NFL.

Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.

The average fan will just look at statistics and not bother studying the player on the field. You guys can't be average fans. Don't allow yourselves to only look at numbers and not bother watching a player play before you form an opinion of them. Statistics are nice. In general they give you a good idea of how well a player can play (except for cornerbacks. Conventional cornerback statistics are almost worthless), but you have to watch the tape too.

Want an example where statistics can be misleading? Just look at Christian Ponder and compare his numbers to Ryan Tannehill. Ponder threw six more touchdowns than Tannehill and one less interception.

Is Ponder better than Tannehill? No, not by a mile, but Ponder had one of the best receivers in the NFL in Percy Harvin and the incredible Adrian Peterson taking pressure off him. Tannehill had the "pretty good" Brian Hartline and Reggie Bush, who are far inferior to Harvin and Peterson.

Statistics are great, but they're not always the whole picture.

Tannehill has the talent and the football IQ to be a successful quarterback. Now he has the necessary tools to go earn that success. It's going to be a fun season to watch.

A Prediction...
Here's what I envision happening for the Miami Dolphins this season.

Tannehill will do just like Mike Sherman predicted and be the "most improved" quarterback in the NFL statistically, which really won't be hard for him to do. He has a lot of weapons at his disposal and another year of experience under his belt.

The Dolphins as a team perform well, despite a difficult early stretch of games and finish the season as a possible wild card at 9-7.

What do you guys think? Will Ryan Tannehill carry Miami enough to earn a winning record? How many games will the Dolphins win? Let me hear it.

Thanks for stopping by. Email me at I'm also on twitter @PaulDSmythe.

Report: Miami Dolphins to Sign Tyson Clabo

The Miami Dolphins have found their right tackle for this season. Offensive tackle Tyson Clabo will be signing with Miami today, according to his agent Chad Speck.

Clabo has been the Atlanta Falcons starter at tackle for the past five seasons. He went to the Pro Bowl once as an alternate in 2010. He is currently 31 years old, so he will be able to give the Dolphins a year or two as a starter opposite Jonathan Martin.

Clabo's agreement with the Dolphins is reportedly a one-year deal.

Clabo was released by the Falcons earlier this season, possibly for cap reasons as he was due $4.5 million next year from Atlanta.

Miami's main question on the offensive line now has to be second year tackle Jonathan Martin. Martin wasn't quite strong enough last season and he was pushed around pretty easily. Thankfully, Martin has said that he's added 15 pounds this offseason, so he should be a lot stronger and harder to move.

I am a big fan of this move. Miami did their due diligence on the remaining right tackles available, and apparently Clabo was the tackle that impressed them the most.

Here's a little video on the Falcons release of Clabo so you can get an idea of him.

Miami left the draft with only one hole remaining at right tackle. The Dolphins seem like a complete team now. It's going to be a fun season to watch.

Thanks for stopping by. Email me at I'm also on twitter @PaulDSmythe.

Your Miami Dolphins and Joe Philbin

This is the time of year when it is hard to come up with things to talk about. The Dolphins have the rookies coming in this weekend for some non-contact workouts. I am guessing they will introduce them to what to expect when camp opens, run them through a few drills, and maybe pass out the iPads that will have their positional playbook loaded on them. I believe that Dion Jordan will be absent because of the way the university of Oregon semesters are set up. Kaddu had the same issues last year. Jordan will not be in camp until June unless he can get the NFL to allow him to play, which seems unlikely.

I have stayed away from asking this until a slow time came up. I'd like to know: what do you think about the job that Joe Philbin is doing?

So let me hear it.

Miami Dolphins 2013 NFL Draft: Whats Your Grade

Well fellow Shouters, here it is. I said I would write a follow up post to my "Past Draft Grade" post and ask about this year's draft, so here we go. Just so everyone knows, I'm not going to go through every draft pick with stats and analyzing them all. I will touch on a few, but we are grading the group as a whole and not certain individuals.

In the first round the Dolphins traded up nine spots to draft what some have called a "Jason Taylor Clone" in Dion Jordan. Now, I wouldn't want to put that kind of pressure on any young kid right out of the sandbox. I like Jordan as a player. I don't like the fact that we had to give up a second round pick to get him. I have not heard one "expert" say this was a good move. We had several holes to fill when we walked into the draft, and using two picks on one guy, especially your first two picks, seems a little counterproductive to me. There was still a very good selection of players available at 12 that would have helped in other areas, not to mention the 42nd pick that we got rid of also. I know if you look at the value chart it was a STEAL by Jeff Ireland, but not at the expense of giving up a second starter on a team that still needs help. Jordan will be a help, so let's hope for quality over quantity here.

In the second round we had two picks: 42 and 54. As we all know we gave Oakland 42 in the move up, so we had 54 left. With the 54th pick we selected Jamar Taylor, a cornerback from Boise State. Taylor was graded out as anywhere from 30th overall to in the 60s overall, so the value was there for the pick. Most had him in the high 30s. This is probably my favorite pick of the draft for us, just because I think he is a good player at a position of need. I think he's probably a week one starter barring injury. He has had some kidney issues in the past, so we can just hope he is healthy.

The third round is where I think Jeff Ireland starts to lose control of things. At 77 he reaches for an offensive lineman, Dallas Thomas from Tennessee, who, first of all, has a fourth or fifth round grade and, second of all, doesn't really fill a need. He's more of a depth pick who can possibly be a starter, but it would be at right guard not tackle. That's also if Lance Louis, who the coaching staff really likes, doesn't beat out the incumbent John Jerry. So you see Thomas has more than one player to leapfrog just to get playing time unless there are releases by the Dolphins, which is always possible on a 7-9 team.

The second third round pick (93rd) Will Davis was again, a depth pick. He's not a starter by any means, and on a 7-9 team that hasn't been over .500 for five years we should be drafting starters here and not depth picks. Davis is a nice player, but I feel like we had better options available, and he would probably still have been available in a round or two. The real hard part to swallow here is that we traded up to get a guy everyone says would have still been there when we picked next round, so we gave up additional picks to get there when we didn't need to. If we were going to trade up to grab a cornerback, we should have went and got "Honey Badger" earlier in the round.

On to the fourth round pick. 104 was Jelani Jenkins, a linebacker out of Florida. He's a bit undersized at barely six feet tall, but a very good cover linebacker. He should do well against the Aaron Hernandez's of the NFL. Again, a bit off a reach here, but not terrible.

With our second fourth rounder, pick 106, we took Dion Sims, a tight end out of Michigan State. Sims is mammoth at 6'5" 280 pounds. They say he is working on getting down to 260, which would still be very large. Sims is a much better blocker than pass catcher, but he can go get the ball, which would be nice in the Red Zone. Again, he is a nice player, but not someone anybody is going to get confused with Tony Gonzales, several other options were still available.

Now we are at the fifth round pick. 164 was Mike Gillislee, running back from Florida. Gillislee played very little until his senior season. The most carries he had was 58 and the most yards he had was 328 before his senior campaign. During his senior year he was OK: 1152 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he's not a receiving threat at all. 23 catches in four years, so as of now he's kind of one-dimensional, and with his lack of breakaway speed (he runs a 4.58-4.60 40-yard dash) I'm not sure where he fits, unless Daniel Thomas is on a short chain.

That brings us to our second fifth rounder. 166 was Caleb Sturgis, Kicker from Florida. I will go on record right now as saying that I hate this pick, but not because I don't like Sturgis. It's because he or any one of 100 other kickers would have been there after the draft was over to sign as a free agent. I know there were a lot of people on the live chat that liked the pick. I wasn't one of them.

Since we didn't have a sixth round pick that takes us to the seventh round and our last pick of the draft: Don Jones, Safety from Utah State. Jones doesn't have bad measurables. He runs a 4.40 forty and has a 42 inch vertical, so he can go get the rock when he needs to. It's a seventh round pick, so I won't be too critical, but I think Robert Lester, the Safety from Alabama may have been a better pick, but who knows.

Keep in mind we went into the draft having 11 picks, and through a couple of trades we drafted nine players. Even on a 7-9 team it's going to be almost impossible for all nine players to stick, and we also picked up 15 or 16 undrafted free agents to compete with these guys.

So, it's grade time. This is really hard for me because I really do like the first two picks. I hate that we lost 42 in the trade up, but you have to give something to get something is the old saying. I'm not overly impressed with much after the second round. I don't hate it, I just don't love it either. My overall grade is going to be a C+. I think we could have been a B+ with one move, but we didn't make it so this is my grade.

I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's comments and grades. And remember folks, this is just our own opinions. It won't change what the Dolphins did, and it certainly won't alter the course of the universe, so take it all in stride and have some fun with it. Love y'all!