Joe Philbin was a very good offensive coordinator in Green Bay — a big reason why Aaron Rodgers is the player he is. Now, at age 51, he has his chance to be a head coach for the first time. He has a lot less to work with here than he did in Wisconsin, so if he manages to make this team respectable early in his tenure then we’ll really know that he has a magic touch.
There is one statistic that I have come across more than once this offseason that really stands out because it defines this team so well — the last time the team had a Top 10 offense was 1995. That’s an almost impossible stretch of futility, but when you look at the teams they have put on the field it’s not that surprising. It’s hard to believe that this year will end that streak. There are three quarterbacks competing to take the wide-open starting job, but none of them appear ready to light the league on fire with their play.
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At some point we know that Ryan Tannehill, the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft, is going to be given the keys to this team. He’s raw and relatively inexperienced, though, so it would qualify as a big surprise if he wins the job out of camp. That leaves Matt Moore and David Garrard fighting it out to be the place holder, with Moore holding the edge. Things could be worse — both guys are reasonably competent. Neither are Dan Marino, though, and they won’t come close to fooling the fans into thinking they are.
Does an offense need a clear No. 1 receiver? This team will be a good test of that. Brandon Marshall was unquestionably a No. 1, but he was also a massive pain in the butt. Now the Bears can worry about him. That leaves a lot of uncertainty, though. Davone Bess and Brian Hartline top the depth chart — hardly inspiring. The most interesting name on the roster is Chad Johnson, the artist formerly known as “Ochocinco.” He promises that he’s a newly-focused man, but he has been a shadow of himself lately and has a whole lot to do to prove that he’s ready to be a serious contributor here.
While quarterback is a bit of a concern and pass catching is an issue, there are far fewer issues with the running game. Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Steve Slaton are a nice trio of running backs. None are likely to threaten for the league lead in yards gained, but when you combine their efforts they will take a lot of pressure off their quarterback.
Last year this defense was underrated. They weren’t the best in the league, but they were more than solid and made this team better than they otherwise would have been.
The new coaching staff clearly agrees. Despite the change in leadership and a shift to a 4-3 scheme that suits the team better, they really didn’t make a whole lot of personnel changes. The biggest and most important move they made was inking defensive end Cameron Wake to a new contract. Wake is among the best in the league on the pass rush, and he’s the centerpiece of a defensive line that is deep and solid.
The secondary wasn’t as strong as the front seven last year, so it is a bit of a concern that they weren’t that active there aside from signing corner Richard Marshall. Here’s hoping, then, that coaching can elevate the squad. There is a chance of that happening. Mike Nolan, who is far from the best coordinator in the league in my eyes, has moved on and Kevin Coyle has taken his place. Coyle spent 11 years coaching DBS for the Bengals so he certainly knows the secondary.
2012 Miami Dolphins Schedule Analysis
The best way to describe this schedule is manageable. There are some tough games for sure, but it could be worse, and there are some relatively soft ones as well.
They will be challenged by a reasonably tough divisional schedule — especially the Patriots and the confident Bills. Outside of that the tough road games — likely playoff squads Houston and San Francisco — are more than balanced by trips to more manageable teams like Arizona and Indianapolis. At home Oakland, St. Louis, Tennessee and Jacksonville are all opponents that don’t need to be seen as impossibly intimidating.
I’m not confident this season will go particularly well for the Dolphins, but if it doesn’t it won’t be the fault of the schedule.
2012 Miami Dolphins NFL Futures Odds
Not surprisingly, Bovada has installed the Dolphins as a distant fourth to win the AFC East at +1200. At 25/1 to win the AFC their chances are seen as better than four other squads in the conference.
They are at 75/1 to win the Super Bowl, so the city of Miami probably doesn’t need to worry about planning a parade route just yet.
BetOnline opened the season win totals at 7.5, and it still sits at that number. The “under” is at a very steep -200, though, so there is a good chance it will fall to at least seven before the season starts.
2012 Miami Dolphins Predictions
In the NFL there are three types of teams. There are those that are good and are fighting for a playoff spot. There are those that are really bad and you almost pity when you think about them. Then there are those that are just there — they are neither very good nor very bad, and by the end of the year you almost forget that they exist. The Dolphins are definitely in the third group.
They have some solid players and they will win some nice games. They’ll get blown out a time or two as well. In the end they’ll wind up with somewhere between six and nine wins. That will give them yet another season without a playoff berth, and yet another decent-but-not-elite draft pick.
The biggest reason for hope, though, is that I like the hire of Joe Philbin and I like the staff he has assembled, so the progress this team makes will be more than they would in other hands, and they will move forward in coming years. That optimism doesn’t change the fact that the season win total seems just about exactly where it should be so there is no real value here.
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