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It will take more than words for Miami Dolphins to win this year: Fan’s take
If the Miami Dolphins' defensive players, like linebacker Karlos Dansby(notes), are able to make good on their lofty predictions that the South Florida club is going to have the top-ranked defense in the NFL this upcoming season, I'll be the first to congratulate them.
However, it will take more than words for Miami to win this year, and whether the defense is great or not won't matter one iota if the 'Phins offense isn't able to dramatically improve over last season.
Granted, Miami signed a very explosive talent in Reggie Bush(notes), and he should be able to provide the Dolphins with many more options offensively (although I don't see him being an every-down back as he states he wants to be). Yet, even with Bush, in my view Miami doesn't have enough firepower to hang with some of the NFL's elite—or even with division rivals like the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
Add to that the uncertainty that seems to be surrounding the offensive line with Jake Long(notes) being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and there's the possibility Miami's offense might actually be worse than last year's; not better.
Sure, the signing of Marc Colombo(notes) on Monday gave the Dolphins a bit of insurance, and with Mike Pouncey(notes) looking like he'll be stepping into the starting center role unless Miami does end up signing Pro-Bowl center Shaun O'Hara(notes) (in which case Pouncey is likely to be shifted to left guard) they could have a better offensive line, but is anyone truly buying into Colombo as some premier starter?
I know head coach Tony Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland are seemingly enamored with any and every former Dallas Cowboys player who was ever on their roster when they were with the Texas club, but I'm not sold on Colombo as a guy who'll be anything more than a backup riding the bench if Long is able to return soon.
Despite what Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald says in his latest article, the former Dallas offensive lineman has no shot in my opinion of pushing Vernon Carey(notes) for his starting right tackle spot. As Darlington notes, Carey was inked to a six-year, $42 million deal in 2009, and there was a reason for that; because he's good.
In fact, other than Long, Carey has been the most consistent offensive lineman on the Dolphins over the past three seasons, and I don't see a Cowboys reject beating him out for his job even if Sparano does like him; although he will add depth to the roster at tackle and could spell either Long or Carey for certain plays to give them a breather.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald is reporting Sparano and the Dolphins have asked Carey to restructure his contract (take a paycut in Salguero's words), in order to find room under the cap to make another signing (perhaps Orton), but I don't see this as Salguero does, that Carey's job is in imminent danger of being lost.
I also don't agree with him that Carey wasn't an elite-caliber tackle last year. Carey was hardly responsible for the Dolphins lack of offense last year.
One thing that could ignite the Dolphins offense this year is if Chad Henne(notes) and Brandon Marshall(notes) really start to click. Marshall, who just revealed he suffers from a Borderline Personality Disorder, may just be on the verge of having a breakout season with the Miami club now that he's getting treatment for his problems, and although many aren't sold on Henne as a big-time QB I still see him as having potential.
He won't be getting much competition at the position, either, despite the signing of Matt Moore(notes) (another player Sparano and Ireland seem to love because of a Cowboys training camp he attended five years ago), unless they do end up finding a way to make a trade for Kyle Orton(notes) sometime soon.
Yet, even with Orton in a Miami uniform (who I don't believe is a good fit for the 'Phins), Henne could end up easily beginning the season as the starting quarterback.
Right now, though, I think it's safe to say there are more questions than solid answers about the Dolphins offense, and until the season begins or Miami signs some big-name free agents I didn't know were out there to be had, I think 'Phins fans will just have to bide their time waiting on those answers.
For instance, will Daniel Thomas(notes) be the stud running back Miami fans are hoping he will be? Will Marshall, Davone Bess(notes), and Brian Hartline(notes) be enough in the receiving corps with the addition of Clyde Gates(notes) to stretch opposing defenses this year (even though they weren't last year)? Will Anthony Fasano(notes) make 'Phins fans forget Miami failed to go after a free agent tight end like Zach Miller?
Will Brian Daboll be able to mold an offense into something better than he did with the Cleveland Browns the previous season with arguably less talent? Will the "Wildcat" formation be gone now that Dan Henning is? Will Tony Sparano finally figure out how to manage the clock in his fourth year as the Dolphins head coach?
There's no doubt Miami has gotten better defensively. Losing Channing Crowder(notes) and replacing him with Kevin Burnett(notes)—while also re-signing hometown hero linebacker/defensive end Jason Taylor(notes)—was sheer brilliance. Signing defensive tackle Tony McDaniel(notes) adds depth to an already incredibly deep defensive line.
In fact, when I look at Miami's defense, position by position, I'm tempted myself to say they could give the Philadelphia Eagles (who many are calling a Dream Team because of their defensive signings) a run for their money—and defense does win championships.
However, it'll be the offense that determines whether Miami even has a shot at the postseason for the first time in three years, and on that side the ball I'm not as confident Miami has the pieces it needs.
I still think the Dolphins are owned by a clown and are being coached by someone who isn't half as good a coach as Bill Belichick or Rex Ryan, but I'll also be the first to admit I'm wrong if Sparano's able to lead Miami to the Promised Land (or even close).
If he doesn't, though, I'll be looking for owner Stephen Ross to make good on his statement that coach Tony has to win or else this year; despite his contract extension.
One thing's for sure, though. I'm definitely tired of all the talk and in answer to the question asked by Hank Williams Jr. every season, am ready for some football.
Hut, hut, hike!
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Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
*Daniel Barber has been a fan of all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.
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