1. I want some nastiness
This defensive front should be a top-tier unit; it’s short and simple. The line was already formidable without the addition of Ndamukong Suh. Cameron Wake draws a double team and many fans forget that Oliver Vernon is no joke on the other side. These two are both animals and are able to attack the QB with ferocity off the edge. Now throw Suh into the mix, and this line should wreak all kinds of havoc on opposing offenses, collapsing the pocket constantly. The intensity should trickle down onto the secondary, who will capitalize on heavy pressure up front by causing more turnovers and being a more productive group as a whole. The linebacker core has concerns as a defensive unit, but I think this line will do its fair share to make everyone’s job easier. With that said, this should be a ruthless defense. This needs to be a physical unit and one that will strike fear in the eyes of any opponent that the Dolphins encounter. The best offense is a good defense, and the Dolphins should have a great one.
It’s been too long since we’ve had some playoff football in Miami. I was at that game in 2008 when the Ravens came to town and embarrassed the Dolphins, and it’s time for some redemption. The Patriots will be handicapped with a suspended Tom Brady, the Bills are currently listing three players to start at QB, and the Jets are busy punching their way out of contention. Everything looks aligned for a Fins playoff appearance. KC Joyner, an ESPN personality, didn’t just pick the Dolphins as a sleeper for nothing. People believe in this team and think it can make some noise. That said, I don’t want to just see an appearance in the postseason and have to wait seven more years for another. There needs to be some progression if this team is a contender, and I want to see the Fins win at least one playoff game to give the fans something to look forward to.
3. An offensive line with some stability
The offensive line has been a consistent problem for the Dolphins for several seasons now; it's no secret. After re-tooling the line once again in 2014, the boys up front looked somewhat promising until Branden Albert tore his ACL and MCL. If he can come back healthy, I think the line has enough to play with some stability, ultimately helping Ryan Tannehill to have a more comfortable time in the pocket. On a side note, the Dolphins are in reported talks with Evan Mathis, a former Eagles guard. With his potential addition, the offensive line should be able to put together a solid year of play. Many fans don’t know that Mathis was actually with the Dolphins for a few games earlier in his career, only to be let go. Acquiring him is a big "what if" because Mathis is currently being courted by several teams. I would like to see a healthy unit, regardless of his acquisition or not, and how it performs. If one of the pieces on the line goes down with an injury, and the Dolphins have to start playing musical chairs again, it could get ugly.
4. Chemistry on offense
With any organization, the addition of new players means having to learn together; it’s all about chemistry. The Dolphins have a bunch of new offensive personnel this year, sending away old pieces for some fresh ones. New weapons for Tannehill include: Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, Greg Jennings and DeVante Parker. Tannehill has to develop chemistry with his weapons, learning where they like the ball and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Sometimes players simply never mesh, but I think this group has the right combination of youth and veteran leadership to develop the chemistry to win.
5. Tannehill, it’s time for another baby step
This will be said every year, but it's huge. Tannehill needs to keep showing he is worth that contract extension. He doesn’t need to take Miami to a Super Bowl this year, although that would be nice, but he needs to keep taking those baby steps. Crawl before you walk. Walk before you run. Some of the mistakes Tannehill made last year need to disappear if he wants to show fans that he is the man they can lean on. His deep ball has been a glaring weakness and some of his training camp performances appear to show him having improved that area of his game. We will have to wait until the season opener to see if that’s true. His improvement is crucial because as good as the defensive unit should be, a team can’t solely rely on its defense to win a game. Tannehill needs to move the ball a little more down the field, scoring some extra points and giving the defense some much needed rest.