Free agency frenzy is scheduled to start either July 25th or July 28th. That being said, I wanted to do a Dolphins’ state of the franchise before free agency took place. My state of the franchise will be done a little differently than most. I am going to go up and down the roster and evaluate where Miami stands by 4 different criteria: Super Bowl caliber, playoff caliber, league average, and below league average. I think these four category groups are a good display of letting the fan base know exactly where I think the Dolphins stand at each position on the field.
Quarterback: Below League Average
Solution: Bring in competition for Henne
Whether you have thrown in the towel or not on Chad Henne, it will be hard to argue that brining in a stable backup or veteran option would harm the young quarterback. Some might forget, while pouring their Hater-ade all over him, but Chad Henne is still a young QB in this league. While I personally don’t feel Henne is the solution, I do believe bringing in competition might elevate his game. If that doesn’t work for Henne it at least could present itself as a short-term solution to have a veteran start for the Dolphins the next two years potentially.
QB is obviously the most important player on any team so it goes without saying that it is Miami’s biggest concern. But a quick fix may not be enough to put them over the top.
Running Back: League Average
Solution: Bring in a compliment running back for Daniel Thomas
Some people might think I am too harsh on this rating but the fact is it would be hard to argue that Daniel Thomas, who has never stepped on an NFL field, is better than 16 other NFL running backs. That being said, RB is the position that can go through the most growth and very quickly. By simply adding an X-factor at running back like Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush or going the route of DeAngelo Williams or Ahmad Bradshaw it would immediately make this team’s backfield, at the very least, playoff worthy.
Wide Receivers: Playoff Caliber
Solution: Brandon Marshall enters BEAST MODE all season
Many people are quick to criticize Brandon Marshall because of his only average 1st year in Miami, but if you can put his immaturity to the side, Marshall is easily a top 5 NFL WR. Alongside Marshall is maybe the best slot receiver the NFL has to offer in Davone Bess. Gates and Hartline bring a solid amount of depth, speed and skill to the mix to round up the crew. The only reason I put Miami’s WR core at playoff caliber and not Super Bowl caliber is because Marshall needs to up his game the way he can for this to be one of the NFL’s elite receiving cores.
Offensive Line: Playoff Caliber
Solution: Give them adequate time to gel together
This one was a toughy! I really wanted to rate the O-Line as Super Bowl caliber, but after last year’s poor production in the running game I couldn’t do it. However, Miami does have one of the league’s top offensive lines and without all the juggling this year, they should find more stability and rise to Super Bowl caliber status.
Tight End: League Average
Solution: Hope for the best with Charles Clay
This rating might even be a bit generous. Anthony Joseph Fasano is a very reliable, solid and a great blocker, but he is also very average. The Dolphins drafted Charles Clay and are hoping he will create mismatches to defenses around the league and present himself as a reliable offensive source for Chad Henne.
Defensive Line: Super Bowl Caliber
Solution: Play to your potential
The Miami D-Line is very deep and has the potential to be very disruptive to QB’s around the league. Randy Starks is expected to go back to defensive end with Langford on the opposite end. The D-Line is young and with the addition of Odrick coming back from injury, there is a lot of upside for what this D-Line can do.
Linebackers: Playoff Caliber
Solution: Edds become a reliable 3rd coverage Linebacker
Many Dolphins fans have petitioned to bring in Many Lawson to go on the opposite side of Wake, but I am not willing to give up on Koa Misi as a pass rusher just yet. Karlos Dansby is a very solid player in the middle of this defense and Wake has the potential to be one of the league’s elite pass rushers. In my eyes, Crowder is the only hole at the linebacker position. While Crowder has a lot to offer on first and second down, his skills have a lot to be desired on third down in coverage situations. Hopefully last year’s injured rookie A.J. Edds can fill in for that role.
Cornerbacks: Super Bowl Caliber
Solution: Vontae Davis and Sean Smith blossom
Miami’s young corners have a bright future and Dolphins fans hope Smith and Davis become the tandem that Surtain and Madison were. I have all the faith in the world in Miami’s corners, who, if they take the next step in their game, can become one of the league’s best shutdown corners.
Safety: League Average
Solution: Competitive battle between Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones
Miami is set at strong safety as Yeremiah Bell has proven to be a reliable strong safety. However, on the opposite side, they are still struggling to find the right guy to compliment him. Hopefully, between the battle of the two young safeties, a solid free safety will prevail.
Special-Teams – League Average
Solution – Stop turning over the bottom half of the roster and stay healthy
At kicker and punter Miami has two Super Bowl caliber players. However, as a unit, the Dolphins special-teams haven’t been up to par.
Overall State of the Franchise: 7-9
While Miami has a very solid young core and a lot of strengths all over the roster, it once again comes to that all important position: quarterback. Unless the Dolphins find some sort of solid stability at the quarterback position, I find it hard to believe they can compete in the tough AFC East.
Hopefully post-free agency I will have a more positive outlook on the team. We will have to wait and see!