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Leadership, not talent, the issue for the Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins once again faltered at the last hurdle in 2013. But is the team really devoid of talent, or is the lack of leadership on the football pitch the main reason for failure?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming general manager Dennis Hickey needs to get the Miami Dolphins moving, and fast. Owner Steve Ross believes the team are close to becoming a playoff caliber team, and expects this franchise to return to winning ways in 2014. The remit is simple: win.

For many Dolphins fans, that might be something difficult to fathom. Not since the days of Dan Marino has the franchise produced a football team that can consistently win. Failure and mediocre have become the norm of the day for the better part of a decade. Many are starting to lose hope that Dennis Hickey, Joe Philbin and even Ryan Tannehill have what it takes to reach the next level.

Don't lose hope just yet. The biggest problem with the Miami Dolphins is not talent, but leadership.

In 2013, ex-general manager Jeff Ireland decided to part ways with three big leaders of the team in offensive tackle Jake Long, middle linebacker Karlos Dansby and running back Reggie Bush. While the team improved talent-wise with the additions of key free agents in Mike Wallace, Dannelle Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Brent Grimes amongst others, none had the leadership to help guide the team through the season.

Consider Dennis Hickey's recent quote:

"I like to draft captains, because if you want leadership, they're proven leaders."

That shows that Hickey knows he needs to draft leaders. Any successful team needs players who will step up to the plate and lead by example. There's just not enough of those players in this current Dolphins team.

That's not to suggest Ryan Tannehill isn't a leader. In fact, last season Ryan Tannehill was the leader on offense, if not the whole team. That's remarkable for a second year quarterback. However, Tannehill can't do it all on his own. Dennis Hickey needs to surround Tannehill with players that will fire the whole team up to get this team back on the straight and narrow.

This is especially apparent on the offensive line. At the beginning of the season Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry and Tyson Clabo were the starters. None of the above are true-born leaders, a vital component in the trenches. The result proved disastrous, leading to a lack of coordination and execution on Sundays, along with the controversy involving a bullying culture in the dressing room rather than in the trenches. It's imperative the Dolphins find players on the offensive line with that nasty attitude that would jump through walls in order to keep their quarterback on his feet. If a player steps out of line, they need to be told. The Dolphins need a leader on the offensive line.

On defense, it's often said that the middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense. Sadly for Dannelle Ellerbe and the Dolphins, that didn't quite transpire for the team last season. That's not to suggest Ellerbe can't be a leader. In fact it's quite the opposite. Ellerbe must become the leader. The team has too much money invested in him to lose him now. The middle linebacker must step up the plate and assume the role of the captain on defense. If that happens, this defense can really be a force to be reckoned with.

Remember it's leadership, not talent, that is the biggest fault of the Miami Dolphins. Do you agree?