Long before my time on this Earth and being a fan of the Miami Dolphins, since the days of Marino, Duper and Clayton, this team has lacked fire power. This year through draft and free agency is the year I believe this all comes to an end. The Dolphins have had play makers in this time but never all at once with a stable quarterback, put a check on having our quarterback. But what about the weapons to put at his disposal?
What we can take from the past few years
I like most on here can't really applaud Ireland for not surrounding Tannehill with adequate talent. We lost 2 consecutive overtime games that we not only could have won but should have won. The Indianapolis and first Buffalo game were also games where our lack of talent may have been the difference in a win vs a loss. But being an optimist I can look at last year and see how close the Dolphins were with games. A majority of our games were games that came down to a couple plays, the same can be said for the 2011 season also. The thing that jumps out the most with these two teams? Play makers. The only player we've took a chance on to blow the top off a defense is Clyde Gates and he failed miserably. We had Brandon Marshall but who was there to compliment him? Like it or not, in the recent past we've had Brandon Marshall and our second best receiver in that time has been Brian Hartline, with Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo behind him. Why such a drastic drop off of talent? Our tight end position has been weak too. I think Anthony Fasano is a pretty solid all around football player, so don't get me wrong. But he's not the sole answer, Jeron Mastrud and Michael Egnew are another case of a big drop off in talent. This class doesn't have a Calvin Johnson, AJ Green esque receiver but looking at our past and roster, that's not the problem, we need depth, not above average or average player with a drop off of talent. We had an alpha receiver but what I've concluded is that we don't need that, we need a solid corps of respectable players. That kind of corps is obtainable this year.
How the Dolphins should approach this offseason
In free agency I think it is crucial that Miami hits on a skilled veteran receiver. Spoiler warning, my ideal plan for what the team should do involves a pretty heavy laden corps of rookies that will need to contribute. But I'll explain why this isn't a bad thing. Lets look at three teams who were worse off in 2011 than the Dolphins were in 2012 and made the playoffs the following year. The Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. The Redskins had a stroke of luck on their side with Alfred Morris but it's still a good example that a rookie player at a play maker position can have a huge impact. The Colts went after TY Hilton who has the speed to blow the top off of a defense and had a huge impact. The Seahawks are a different example of acquiring talent but it's still something the Dolphins should take a watch and learn approach to. They got play makers in free agency in past years that helped the progression of their quarterback. Zach Miller and Sidney Rice. The Dolphins need to hit both of these with 5 picks in the first 3 rounds and roughly $50 million in cap space to play around with. Here is a look at how I see it playing out in a way that vastly improves Tannehill's targets.
- Greg Jennings- I'll be happy with any of the big name free agents on the market. But Jennings makes the most sense to me, he's coming off of a couple injury plagued seasons, which is concerning. But he knows the offense and when healthy is a proven talent. His veteran presence and knowledge of the playbook is invaluable.
- Reggie Bush- As Kevin stated in a recent post, Bush and the Dolphins seem to be close to parting ways. But why? He's our only current play maker. You can't add fire power by subtraction, if he wants more money then I would give it to him in the form of guaranteed cash or an incentive based contract for the performance you expect for that money. We need to keep Bush and utilize him more in the passing game.
- Brian Hartline- I know a lot of people on here are kind of split on Hartline. But I look at him as a lesser combination of Jennings and Bush. He knows the playbook, he has a veteran presence and like him or not, he was our best receiver last year. So why cut him loose? Let him swim in the free agency pool for a bit like how we did with Paul Soliai last year and give him a similar contract with a hometown discount. We need to keep talent and add, not subtract.
- Dustin Keller/Jared Cook- These two aren't really a must... But if we can get them at a fair price, I'm game. They're proven talents that would help Tannehill and dramatically improve our corps of tight ends if we can't hit on a tight end in the draft or choose to go the veteran route, which I'll hit on shortly. Then these two players become more important to me. I've all but given up on Egnew based on last years performance, or lack thereof.
The 2013 draft
This draft is absolutely crucial to me in terms of getting talent to compliment our free agents and grow with Tannehill. I don't think Miami should go with a play maker in the 1st round, Dee Milliner if available is my choice and if he's not, then I think an elite pass rusher is the way to go. But there will be plenty of talent later in the draft and Miami needs to pull the trigger. I don't have the draft expertise like Keith. But this is how I think it should go.
- Round 1. Dee Milliner CB Alabama/ Dion Jordan DE Oregon- Either of these players upgrade holes on Miami's defense
- Round 2a- Terrance Williams WR Baylor- I like Williams more than Hopkins, although I think both would be great additions. Williams brings a different type of receiver. While the Phins go for explosiveness with the next pick.
- Round 2b- Markus Wheaton WR Oregon State- He beat Kenjon Barner in a race, that's just about all I need to know. He would be our TY Hilton or Torrey Smith and blow the tops off of defenses.
- Round 3a- Joseph Fauria TE Ucla/ Travis Kelce TE Cincinnati- We need a red zone target in the worst way, we get that with tight ends. Fauria specialized in it at Ucla this past year with 11 touchdowns. Living in the Cincinnati area, I think Kelce would be a gem. He posted 45 catches this year for 722 yards, 16 YPC.
- Round 3b- Kyle Long- RT Oregon- Son of Howie Long, he brings athleticism that would be great in our zone blocking scheme. It's not an attractive pick but with Jake Long all but gone in my opinion, it's a needed one.
- Round 4- Tyrann Mathieu- CB/S Lsu- If Vontaze Burfict can go from a top 10 projection to an UDFA, then I believe Mathieu will be there. He's undersized and has obvious character concerns but we need play makers. Miami needs to bite the bullet and take him.
I didn't list him above but I also want to get Ryan Swope, receiver from Texas A&M. He and Tannehill are familiar with each other and Swope knows the playbook, that smooth transition is invaluable. Taking a look at this new team, the talent level would far exceed what Miami has had. The Dolphins need to hit on other positions of need as well. But looking at the skill positions....
QB- Ryan Tannehill with a year under his belt
RB- 1. Reggie Bush 2. Lamar Miller
WR- 1. Greg Jennings 2. Brian Hartline 3. Davone Bess 4. Terrance Williams 5. Markus Wheaton 6. Ryan Swope
TE- 1. Anthony Fasano/Dustin Keller/Jared Cook 2. Joseph Fauria/Travis Kelce
The depth chart for the receiving corps would change as needed and as the rookies develop. There isn't a true alpha receiver in that corps but I feel like it would be a huge improvement and is completely reasonable. I also feel like my preferred draft is kind of moot at this point with the combine and free agency still to come. And there are plenty of other players i.e DeAndre Hopkins that I would also like. But this is, even considering much more to come and learn from prospects, the template of what Miami needs to do to me. They need to fill team needs and go for players that help out the development of our young quarterback. I think we fill in the end of our draft with lineman or best player available. This is a make or break year for Ireland and we as fans have gone through the roughest stretch in Dolphins history. As I stated earlier, we're a competitive football team. It seems like we're a play or two away in most of our losses. We fought the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers tough in their own back yard but our lack of fire power was apparent. So what do you all think? Do you agree with the template of focusing on talent positions? Who would you rather see, or do you think the Dolphins problems lie with something more than our lack of talent on offense?