NFL Preview: Miami Dolphins

Head Coach: Tony Sparano
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Henning
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Nolan
Special Teams Coordinator: John Bonamego
President/CEO: Mike Dee

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Chad Henne
HB: Ronnie Brown
FB: Lousaka Polite
WR: Brandon Marshall
WR: Davone Bess
LT: Jake Long
LG: Richie Incognito
C: Joe Berger
RG: John Jerry
RT: Vernon Carey
TE: Anthony Fasano

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Kendall Langford
DE: Phillip Merling
DT: Randy Starks
DT: Marques Douglas
LB: Karlos Dansby
LB: Channing Crowder
LB: Cameron Wake
LB: Koa Misi
CB: Vontae Davis
CB: Sean Smith
FS: Chris Clemons
SS: Yeremiah Bell

Special Teams
K: Dan Carpenter
P: Brandon Fields

@ Buffalo
NY Jets
New England
@ Green Bay
@ Cincinnati
@ Baltimore
@ Oakland
@ NY Jets
@ New England

Position Battles:

Nothing really of note here, but it could be interesting to note the cornerback position. Will Allen, Sean Smith, and Vontae Davis are all competing for the starting cornerback positions. Allen has proven himself through the years, but due to the fact that he is recovering from a season-ending knee injury, as well as his age, I don’t think he will be getting the starting nod. There has been very few, if any, athletes who ever are the same after an ACL tear, and with Allen’s age, I truly believe his better days are behind him. Smith and Davis are still developing, but are making themselves out to be decent cornerbacks. They both have a strong upside, and apparently have Miami fans comparing the two to Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain. That comparison remains to be seen, but for now, those should be your starting two cornerbacks.

Rookies to Watch:

Jared Odrick, the 28th overall pick in the NFL draft, is obviously the top rookie to be watching on the Dolphins squad this year. Odrick, who was named Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, may not be quite ready to take the starting job right away, but depending on how long it will take him to learn the system, it may not take him long to be seeing significant playing time.

Season Expectations:

If there were ever an offensive scheme in the NFL that could be labeled as “unpredictable”, it would belong to the Miami Dolphins. Last year, they relied very heavily on the Wildcat offensive scheme, but this year, they may not have to quite as much. Chad Henne proved last year that he was perfectly capable of managing the offense, and I believe he will be trusted to throw the ball more this year, especially when you look at the acquisition of receiving man-beast Brandon Marshall. The kicker of this is, with defenses focusing on blanketing Marshall (which any smart defensive coordinator HAS to have rattling through his brain right now), the other receivers can also be given a chance to shine. With defenses focusing on the pass, obviously it opens up the run, and having Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams running the rock is nothing to sneeze at. Neither back is a Chris Johnson or an Adrian Peterson, but neither are they a Steve Slaton or a LenDale White. The Miami offense, on paper, has the potential to be very good, if everyone executes. Defensively, Yeremiah Bell is a very underrated player at the strong safety position…anyone who racks up 114 total tackles in a season should NEVER be underlooked! As I stated earlier, the addition of Jared Odrick also could significantly impact the defensive unit. If he proves to be worth his 28th overall pick, then what you’ll have is a hard-hitting, run stopping machine who doesn’t miss tackles…which in turn could inspire his fellow linemen. With Bell in the secondary and a decent D-line, combined with their offensive potential, one would believe that the Dolphins have a chance to make a serious playoff run.

Not so fast.

Miami faces an extremely tough schedule this year, facing Pittsburgh (that defense is still very dangerous), New England twice (who impressed me last night with how they were able to handle the high-octane offense of New Orleans), the New York Jets twice (say what you will about Rex Ryan, but the man has a sick defense to work with, with or without Revis), and Minnesota (when was the last time someone racked 100 or more rushing yards on this defense? It doesn’t happen often…). Also, when you consider the division that Miami plays in, along with the Bills, the Patriots, and the Jets, that’s not exactly an easy division to play in. I think the Dolphins will have a winning season, but sadly enough, only make it to the playoffs through the wild card. Incidentally, I’ll predict right now that the AFC East will be the conference to watch in the standings, as they will command at least one of the wild card spots, as well as have the stiffest competition for division leader.

My Projected Record: 9-7

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