In order to make a postseason run in the NFL, teams need certain players to step up and have career years in each aspect of the game, offensively, defensively or on special teams. Here’s a look at which players are poised to fill that role and have breakout seasons for the Miami Dolphins in the upcoming 2014 campaign.
5. LB Koa Misi
Koa Misi is the Dolphins starting middle linebacker after Dannell Ellerbe spent last season occupying the position, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Misi was the lone bright spot amongst the team’s linebackers, earning more trust and playing time from the coaches. He has certainly put in the effort to prepare for his position change as Misi said he has been studying for two to four hours every night and arriving early to team headquarters. Considering the Dolphins linebackers struggled nightly against the run last season, moving Misi to the middle could be a vast improvement.
4. RB Lamar Miller
Expectations were high for Lamar Miller last season following Reggie Bush’s departure, however the second year back was unable to live up to the hype. Despite his underwhelming stats of 709 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Miller recorded a respectable 4.0 yards per carry and showed glimpses of his speed and elusiveness. While Bill Lazor’s arrival has mainly been seen as a way to assist Ryan Tannehill, it should also pay dividends for Miller. If Lazor can guide Miller in a similar way the Eagles coaching staff guided LeSean McCoy, the Dolphins run game could be a lethal one. An improved offensive line will also be of benefit to Miller.
3. CB Jamar Taylor
Jamar Taylor’s rookie season was derailed due to injury and as a result, he did not make a single start. In fact, Taylor only appeared in nine games, while recording only three tackles in limited snaps. With Taylor entering camp healthy, expectations are higher for the 2013 second round pick. He is the favourite to beat out Cortland Finnegan for the starting corner back role opposite of Brent Grimes. The athletic corner will be counted on to make significant contributions out of the secondary this season.
2. WR Jarvis Landry
No Dolphins player has received more praise throughout the first three days of training camp than rookie Jarvis Landry. During offseason drills, Landry showed the ability to consistently separate from coverage and catch every ball thrown to him, lending credibility to those that believed he has the best hands of any pass catcher in the 2014 draft. Possessing these qualities can quickly make him Ryan Tannehill’s go-to target. The LSU product has already caught the attention of Stephen Ross as the team’s owner named Landry the players he’s most excited to watch this season. Many fans seem to agree, myself included.
1. QB Ryan Tannehill
It always comes down to the quarterback. Even if all the players mentioned above have breakout seasons, it won’t account for much if Tannehill is unable to take the next step. Despite last season’s issues with the offensive line and stale offensive system, Tannehill showed flashes of brilliance at times. He is in better position to succeed in 2014, operating behind an improved offensive line and under a new co-ordinator. Miami lacks a true No.1 receiver, however they have plenty of solid depth at the position giving Tannehill a variety of weapons. If the new Dolphins offense is anything like the Eagles, you can expect to see Tannehill take advantage of his athleticism and run with the football more.