Welcome to the first edition of the State of the Miami Dolphins where YOU, the readers, get to have your say on the direction this team is heading. So without further ado, lets hear from three phinsider members, and their thoughts about the Dolphins.
AnishB15, has your perception of Jeff Ireland changed following the draft and free agency?
I think my perception of Jeff Ireland has pretty much stayed the same. I never really had an opinion on Jeff since his sample size was so small (I don't count anything from the Parcells era as Ireland's work as Ireland did not have full control at the time). I thought of Ireland as a "get the groceries" type of guy. What I mean by this is that, the coach tells Ireland what type of player he wants, and Ireland goes out and gets the player. I didn't think of Ireland as the guy with the vision, but as the guy that helps fulfill the vision. I think he is a average NFL GM, not a great one like the Falcons', Ravens', Seahawks' and 49ers' GMs. I think this opinion of him still holds now since, though he has gotten great players and made good moves, I don't understand the way he back-loaded some of those contracts, especially considering we will have about $13M sitting there after June 1st, with no free agents worth it to spend it on. We can't roll over all of it either, I believe we can only roll over about $5M. It would've made more sense to put more money up front right now when we have the cap space, rather than push it back, potentially creating problems in the future.
AnishB15 makes an interesting point. I can definitely understand the reasoning. During the Sparano era, Ireland had to choose players that could fit into the team at the time. The same is true with Philbin's team. Ireland now has to find players that fit into his system. The question as to whether Ireland or Philbin have the greater influence on player acquisition is, of course, up to debate.
Moving on, do you feel that Ryan Tannehill can finally be the quarterback that takes us to the next level?
I love how Tannehill plays. He has the perfect skill set for a franchise quarterback. He has the arm, accuracy, mobility and intelligence to be a great quarterback. However, he needs to work on his consistency. He should be improved this year with the addition of more weapons that can actually get open, but it all boils down to this: Does he have the mental makeup of a winner? I think that is what will determine the direction of his career. Is he a guy that (and I hate to use Omar terms, but it is applicable here) "hunts for the kill"? If he gets that "killer" mentality, he will be successful. He has shown it at times such as in the Seahawks and Bengals games, but he has also folded under pressure at times as well, such as in the Cardinals and the first Jets games. He's led a few blowouts against NFL bottom feeders like the Jags and the Raiders, and has been blown out as well against the Titans and Texans. Let's see how he does, but I think he is the single piece that will either make or break our Super Bowl hopes.
Spoiler alert: I think he'll be the guy that gets it done, and we'll be celebrating a couple of years down the road.
It's true that Tannehill has some way to go before he can be that franchise quarterback. So here's hoping he becomes that guy for us!
Next up is Shauny. What are your initial impressions of the players that Miami have drafted this year? Is there a standout player that you feel will make an instant impact? Who's your darkhorse?
My initial impression of the draft was a good one. I am excited about the upgraded pass rush and the attention to the secondary. Defensive end and corner were my highest priorities, and I think we nailed both positions. Couldn't have been happier with the Jordan pick and the bargain we got him for. The player that I think will have the greatest instant impact is cornerback Jamar Taylor. I didn't go with Dion Jordan here because I don't believe we will see a whole lot of him this year. Taylor will instantly upgrade our secondary with speed, awareness, and the play making ability that we haven't had in years. My darkhorse pick is Caleb Sturgis. I loved this pick. Used to be a die hard DC $ supporter, but once I lose confidence in my kicker, it is almost impossible to earn that back. I think that Sturgis will immediately improve our offense with a more reliable foot. Also, our coaching staff may be less confident and willing to settle for FGs with a rookie and look to drive deeper rather than playing it safe (RIP Sparano FG fist pump).
I like Taylor and Sturgis too, and believe both can be good players next season.
As for the offensive line, many Dolphins fans are nervous at the prospect of Jonathan Martin protecting our young quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Do you think Martin has what it takes to be Miami's starting left tackle?
This is a tough question. My gut tells me that Martin has what it takes to be a solid to above average left tackle for us. I don't think we will get the All Pro play that we got from a healthy Jake Long, but I do think that he will be effective and keep Tannehill off his back. I also don't value the left tackle position as much as I once did, considering our offensive philosophy and the mobility of Tannehill. At the end of the day, I am glad that we did not over pay or trade for a "franchise" left tackle because I do believe that Martin will at least be good enough.
Lets hope so. It's absolutely crucial that we protect Ryan Tannehill.
MarlinFn#56, I personally have been impressed by Miami's additions in free agency. But do you think they can all come together and win games straight away? Or do you feel it will take time for the team to gel?
First off, I just want to say how happy I am that football is not the same as baseball...because as many of us well know, the Marlins made huge splashes in free agency back in 2012 and that went...HORRIBLY to say the least. But I have a good feeling about this new Miami Dolphins team. The players are instant upgrades to what we had before and they're already working on synchronizing with each other. I would say that it may take a couple of games to really get things going, but hey, that's what the Preseason is for right? And thanks to the bonus game against the accident waiting to happen that is the Dallas Cowboys team, it gives us even more time to work out any kinks.
Agreed, the bonus game is a really good chance for the team to come together early. I think Philbin has specifically mentioned this before.
What are your personal thoughts about our coaching staff? Do you have confidence in them? Are there things you'd like them to do differently this upcoming season?
I'm still slightly skeptical about his supposed aversion to team leaders beyond himself, but he has the necessary credentials and I can't deny that. He'll be instrumental in helping Jonathan Martin get the hang of left tackle again, seeing as he was an O-line coach for a long time in Green Bay. Mike Sherman our Offensive Coordinator has a rapport with Tannehill, Kevin Coyle seems to be a creative man ready to play with his new draft pick, and the rest of the staff is ready to go. If there's one thing I want to see them do, and I think they will, is be more aggressive. 4th and 1 and we punt? Always drove me nuts, even Tom Brady does a quarterback sneak to get that yard. With all that being said, I've started to trust this bunch, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do.
There have been many Dolphins fans that I have spoken to that want Mike Sherman to be less conservative next year. Maybe he was worried about Ryan Tannehill? As Ryan gets more experience, maybe we'll start to see some more aggressive plays.
Right, all the chips are down: what are your preseason predictions for the Miami Dolphins next year? I'd be happy with anything over 9-7.
Conservatively, I'd say 9-7 too, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that we win at least one game against the Pats, which makes us 10-6, and if we can get in a win versus the Falcons or the Saints, we're a legitimate 11-5, and a likely playoff team! It's going to take a lot of creativity, a huge step up of Ryan Tannehill and his semi-new O-line, and a brand new secondary. I'm really excited about the season, and the first preseason game that comes on I will be on my couch with a bowl of homemade chili and I'm going to enjoy watching the ‘Phins' take down the Cowboys...you wait, Dallas will find a way to lose.
I typically don't like doing preseason predictions until I see how the roster truly shapes up, but since you asked:
I see three scenarios...
#1 Tanne 4100 yrds, 28 tds, 14 ints, 12-4 record
#2 Tanne 3500 yrds, 15 tds, 15 ints, 10-6
#3 Tanne 3000 yrds, 15 tds, 25 ints, 6-10
As you can see, our season is pretty dependent on the development of Tannehill. Our coaching staff really needs to take the training wheels off and let the kid ball. Conservative play calling could be our demise and this coaching staff really needs to get better at adjusting to the competition. If all goes the way I hope it will go, I see us hosting a play off game.
I think the Dolphins end up at 10-6 and get the same record as the Patriots, but we lose the tie-breaker, and get a wildcard spot. Then I predict we win in the wildcard round, but lose in the divisional round.
Lets say a big thank you to MarlinFn#56, Shauny, and AnishB15 for taking the time out to share their views on the Dolphins. Do you agree with their points? Now it's time to hear your thoughts.
Remember, for next week's edition, please comment below by writing ‘I'm in', and be sure to email me so that I can get those questions over to you. Some readers didn't do that last week, so please make sure you do send that email if you would like to get involved.