So...are the Dolphins really a playoff team?

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So...are the Dolphins really a playoff team?

Post by JMP on Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:38 pm

Over the past couple of days, Wake and Tannehill have both called the Dolphins a playoff team, and Tannenbaum said that the excitement around the team is justified. But...is this Dolphins' team really better than last season's version? Of course, it's far too early to tell - but this article seems to take a more objective view than a lot of the stuff I'm reading in Dolphins-land, and definitely highlights some questions and reasons for caution before you drink the kool-aid...

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-dolphins-mission-of-mediocrity/

It's really a great read - filled with interesting info and stats. I don't have time to comment on all of it, but here's some conclusions:

Defense:
By going with a stars-and-scrubs approach on defense, the Dolphins are leaving themselves little margin for error. They basically need Suh, Wake, and Grimes to play like three of the best players at their positions while requiring the likes of Misi, Delmas, Vernon, and Reshad Jones to stay healthy and productive. That’s not out of the question, of course, and relying on guys who played well to keep playing well is a lot better than hoping that middling players will turn into worthwhile contributors overnight.7 This is just a high-risk, high-reward strategy. And as was the case in 2014, expect there to be stretches when the Dolphins look very good on defense mixed in with weeks when they look downright abysmal.

Offense:
Which leaves the offense, a unit that was far more consistent and effective than its brethren on the other side of the football. Bill Lazor’s first season as offensive coordinator has to be considered a success. The Dolphins went three-and-out on a league-low 13.5 percent of drives last year and finished eighth in offensive DVOA, up from 18th the previous year.

Having found success, Miami promptly blew the offense up. Six of the 11 players who started for the Dolphins on offense against the Patriots during that 33-20 win in last year’s opener are no longer on the roster. Nearly 58 percent of the passes Tannehill threw last season went to players who aren’t in camp with this year’s team, including four of his top five receivers. There’s all sorts of change happening here.

In a vacuum, you wouldn’t be too upset about the changes Miami made with its offense. If Kenny Stills isn’t as effective of a wide receiver as Mike Wallace, the dramatic difference between their cap hits (nearly $11.5 million if Wallace had stayed on his deal in Miami) more than makes up the difference. First-rounder DeVante Parker certainly profiles as a more explosive no. 2 wideout than Brian Hartline. The shell of Greg Jennings would be an upgrade on Brandon Gibson after the latter tore his patellar tendon. And while Charles Clay took a huge offer sheet from the Bills, even his best season with Miami falls well short of what Jordan Cameron did for the Browns in 2013, and that was while catching passes from Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden.

And yet you can raise realistic doubts about most of those options. Stills was super-efficient as a deep receiver in New Orleans, but that was with Brees, and second wideouts in great offenses tend to produce sob stories elsewhere. Parker underwent surgery in July to replace the screw inserted in his foot last year; even if he’s healthy enough to suit up in Week 1, he’ll have missed most of his final season at Louisville and all of the preseason with an ailing foot. And Cameron has suffered concussions in each of the last three seasons, with a shoulder injury helping limit him to just 24 catches in 10 games last year. I guess you can count on Jennings, as much as you want to do that in 2015.

It’s also reasonable to be concerned about Tannehill’s offensive line. It would have been impossible for last year’s group to be anything but a massive upgrade on the Superfund site that failed to protect Tannehill in 2013, but they developed their own problems as the season went along. Most of them stemmed from star left tackle Branden Albert, the team’s big-ticket free agent from last offseason, tearing his ACL in the middle of November.


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Re: So...are the Dolphins really a playoff team?

Post by DolFan 316 on Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:57 pm

I said immediately after last season was over that this season's D had a great chance to be the worst in Fins history, and adding Suh does not change my mind on that. Even if somehow Grimes and Wake don't get old overnight, Coyle simply doesn't know what the hell he's doing. We're talking about a guy who could've made the Steel Curtain mediocre.

The O-line got all of one draft pick as an upgrade, and the Fins seem to be drawn to injury prone players like no other team. If anything, this season has disaster along the lines of '04/'07 written all over it.

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Re: So...are the Dolphins really a playoff team?

Post by Degarmo on Thu Aug 20, 2015 12:22 am

I don't see how we can be a playoff team with our depth right now on defense. Our linebacker corps is going to have to yield some unforeseen superstar in order to be competitive, in my opinion. I feel like they're going to be terrorized by the passing game. Offensively, we should be better, as long as the line holds up.
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Re: So...are the Dolphins really a playoff team?

Post by JMP on Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:57 am

Degarmo wrote:I don't see how we can be a playoff team with our depth right now on defense.  Our linebacker corps is going to have to yield some unforeseen superstar in order to be competitive, in my opinion.  I feel like they're going to be terrorized by the passing game.  Offensively, we should be better, as long as the line holds up.

I remember watching footage of the Patriots game when they destroyed the Lions and made Suh invisible. They did it with a quick, short passing game and absolutely terrorized the Detroit LBs. That's the gameplan for neutralizing Suh, and with our weak LB corps every team will quickly learn to exploit them.

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Re: So...are the Dolphins really a playoff team?

Post by HalCHorn on Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:47 pm

That first comment is my thought exactly. "No margin for error."

I don't see this being a 2004 or 2007 type disaster simply because Tannehill isn't the post-concussion Trent Green or Jay Fiedler after the league had more than enough film on him to neutralize his strengths and emphasize his weaknesses.

On the other hand, if Tanny goes down, this would have 4-12 or worse written all over it. And with this O-line being as thin as it is, that is sadly more possible with this team than most.

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Re: So...are the Dolphins really a playoff team?

Post by JMP on Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:46 am

I know all teams have depth issues, but this Dolphins team has to be one of the thinnest in the league. We have strong depth at WR and DL, but the backups at every other position are as weak as it gets. I agree, Hal, that I don't see this year being a "disaster" as long as Tannehill stays healthy, but it could get pretty ugly if we lose a couple of starters.

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