Before the preseason win against Tampa Bay, head coach Joe Philbin made a bold statement on Friday at the team's annual Luncheon in Miami:
"We have the best roster that we've had in the three years I've been here," said Philbin.
Indeed, from a regular season record point-of-view, the team have improved, albeit marginally. Philbin started his tenure with a new quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, and went 7-9 (an improvement on the 6-10 in the previous season), before posting an 8-8 record in his second season.
But from a talent perspective, have the team improved? Have these coaches maximized the talent on this football team?
This was a huge issue during Tony Sparano's time with the team. Sure, the first round draft picks were solid players, but were they game changers? For example, Vontae Davis and Jared Odrick are good players, but could the team have picked someone better? As for the second round picks, Miami swung and missed on multiple players. Running back Daniel Thomas is one example of a former second round pick with his head on the chopping block.
As for the players drafted during Philbin's tenure, the jury is still out. Tannehill looks like an upgrade over Matt Moore, while Dion Jordan so far has not proved himself worth of a starting place. Nothing gets heard of about Ja'Wuan James, which is what you want from your offensive linemen, as it means they are simply going about their business and getting the job done.
In terms of the players that have been drafted, the analysis could go on and on. Olivier Vernon, Jimmy Wilson and Lamar Miller are other recent draft picks that have made their mark on the team.
Have any of the free agents made an impact on the team?
Last year the Dolphins spent big on the linebacker position, signing Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe to long term contracts. Unfortunately, neither have proved to be shrewd signings. The same could be said for wide receiver Mike Wallace, a player that was supposed to add star quality. Instead, Wallace has been solid in his first season, something you don't want out of a marquee signing. The coaches really need to figure out how to use him to the team's advantage.
Others have faired better. Cornerback Brent Grimes looks like a master stroke signing, while wide receiver Brandon Gibson showed glimpses before his injury.
There will surely be players that I have missed. But that wasn't the objective of this article. Instead, it's your time to decide: have the Dolphins improved over the course of Joe Philbin's tenure as Head Coach? Please vote in the poll and add your comments below.
Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @AlexParish89.