Miami's first preseason game is less than a week away now, so I figured it would be appropriate to make a Dolphins season preview.
Miami is coming off of another mediocre season where they had the perfect opportunity to make the playoffs but couldn't beat the Bills or the Jets at the end of the year. One victory would have sealed the deal, but they fell apart when it counted and ended with an 8-8 record.
During the offseason the Dolphins and longtime General Manager Jeff Ireland agreed to part ways. Miami then went and replaced Ireland with former Buccaneers front office man Dennis Hickey. They also fired offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and replaced him with Bill Lazor, who was quarterbacks coach for the Eagles under Chip Kelly.
Lazor is installing a fast-paced offense similar to the one the Eagles used last year. Hopefully that will translate to more offensive production. Miami's main concern on offense is their offensive line, and rightfully so. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked 58 times, which was 10 more than the next closest quarterback. Miami's offensive line troubles have been well documented and they went into the offseason determined to fix the holes. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, their Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey had to have hip surgery and could miss as many as eight games. For Miami that is terrible news, and hopefully they'll be able to protect Tannehill better than they did last season.
On defense Miami should be good. Kevin Coyle remains the defensive coordinator, as he should be. Third year defensive end Olivier Vernon is coming off of a team-leading 11.5 sacks. He should continue to apply pressure opposite of superstar defensive end Cameron Wake. Dion Jordan, who was the third overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has looked good in training camp so far. He's been suspended four games for PEDs, but when he returns he should push Vernon for playing time. Miami re-signed Pro Bowler Brent Grimes at cornerback, which will be great for their secondary. Overall, the defensive unit should be an asset and not a liability.
Miami's offensive line can't be any worse than last year. I'm counting on Ryan Tannehill to continue his development, especially in this new, hopefully better offense. The Dolphins also drafted wide receiver Jarvis Landry out of LSU in the second round. He has looked really good and I'm excited about what he'll bring to the offense. Charles Clay's emergence last year was well timed and hopefully he can emerge even more this year.
Miami's defense will continue to be a strength and will hopefully win them a few games. If I'm predicting a record for the Dolphins I'd say they go 9-7. This team is better than last year, and even though Pouncey is gone I expect the offensive line to be better. Miami's current expected record is 8-8 if you're looking for some NFL betting at William Hill. I'm taking the over on that, and I think you should too.
Miami is hopefully out of the mediocrity rut they've been in for years. Let's see what they're able to do this year. I'm sure it will be an exciting one for fans.