Will the Miami Dolphins be a success next season? That's the exact question I'm asking myself as I stare out the window of the train, looking at the glorious English countryside, for the best part of three and a half hours.
You see, Dolphins supporters haven't had much to cheer about these days. Since the retirement of the great Dan Marino, we've been abysmal. Dave Wannstedt, Nick Saban, Colin Cameron and Tony Sparano are all names that have tried, and failed, to return our beloved football club to more respectable climbs. We're not even asking to win Super Bowls year after year after year. I hope I speak for everyone, but all we want is to be competitive year in, year out. Lets make the playoffs every single year. Lets beat the Patriots every now and then. Lets create a spectacle in order to bring those fans back to Sun Life Stadium.
Is all this possible? Of course it is!
Remember that quarterback we selected with the eighth pick of the 2012 NFL draft? Remember the critics that suggested we reached for that quarterback? Some even suggested that player wasn't even worth a second round pick? I remember that day, and I remember when Ryan Tannehill first suited up for the Dolphins. Even before then, I had an inkling he would be different. He wasn't going to be the next Chad Henne. This kid looked like the real deal. I saw a quarterback that was dedicated, poised and ready to play ball the day he set foot on that practice field during HBO's ‘Hard Knocks'. In the regular season, he didn't put up impressive numbers, but did you really expect he would, given the supporting cast at his disposal?
Of course, this year is a totally different proposal altogether.
Let's take a look at our wide receivers, revving their engines reminiscent of a Shelby GT 500 Ford Mustang. Do you think anyone in the league can catch Wallace one on one? I don't think so either. And how about Hartline. His game will be helped a ton by having Mike Wallace playing opposite him. And then we have Brandon Gibson in the slot. He fared reasonably well with the St. Louis Rams last year. Will he be able to take it to the next level this year?
Then there's our tight ends. Dustin Keller has been one of the biggest signings of the summer on offense for the Dolphins. Will he be able to shake off those injuries that plagued him at the New York Jets? How about Michael Egnew, will he finally be able to learn the playbook? Then we have Dion Simms. He's a player I like a lot. He can block, can catch and has underrated speed. He may turn out to be exceptional value in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
But of course this means nothing if we can't protect our young quarterback. Jake Long is a thing of the past. In comes Jonathan Martin at left tackle, with Tyson Clabo starting at the right. Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey will provide stability at their respective positions, leaving a slew of players to fight it out for that last guard spot.
Let's not forget defense. Dion Jordan could turn out to be the biggest signing of the offseason. He's fast, athletic and can get to the quarterback. Sure, he didn't have the production that you'd like to see in college, but with some NFL coaching, he could be a legitimate star and menace opposite Cameron Wake. How do teams defend against that?
Out with the old, in with the new. That's exactly what happened with Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby. We now have an ascending player in former Oakland Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler. We also managed to prize a superbowl winning linebacker in Dannell Ellerbe. Both will aid the Dolphins in coverage and blitzing packages.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we have the secondary. Our safeties may just turn out to be one of the best in the league. Reshad Jones has shown the NFL what a player he is, while Chris Clemons is proving to be an ever dependable player opposite him. At corner, Sean Smith was deemed surplus to requirements. Instead we have Brent Grimes, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis as the standout names joining Dimitri Patterson And Richard Marshall. Competition breeds success, and we have plenty of competition here. Will it be enough? We'll soon find out.
So there we have it. Sure, I may have missed a few players out. Fill me in if you feel other players should get a special mention. The running back group are one example I can think of. Call me an eternal optimist, but I really believe the Dolphins can take the next step this year. We have to. We have no other option but to win this year.
What do you think? Do you agree? Can the Dolphins improve from last season? Let's hear your thoughts.