Thursday, August 5, 2010
2010 Miami Dolphins Preview
Not many NFL teams can go 7-9 with only a mild amount of disappointment. After winning only one game in 2007, the Miami Dolphins brought in the man, the myth, the tuna Bill Parcells as Executive Vice President, and saw immediate results, winning 11 games and the AFC East championship the very next season. They entered 2009 with high hopes, but an 0-3 start combined with key injuries (QB Chad Pennington, RB Ronnie Brown, and LB Channing Crowder) quickly derailed their season.
The Dolphins are an unknown commodity entering the 2010 season. Will they be able to regain the form that won them the division championship in '08, or will they fall back into another rebuilding cycle?
The Dolphins made a big splash in the off-season by trading two second round draft picks to the Denver Broncos for mercurial wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall is a definite upgrade over the receivers from last season. He's coming off of three consecutive seasons of 100 catches, last season being the most impressive having to caught 10 TD passes from Kyle Orton.
Of course Marshall has had his fair share of on-field and off-field trouble. Last season, with the playoffs on the line, Bronco coach Josh McDaniels benched Marshall for reasons that still aren't clear. Still Marshall should make an impact for a team that was relying on Ted Ginn Jr. to make big plays last season.
Chad Henne will enter the season as the starter, and likely will stay that way regardless of what the other Chad (Pennington) does in terms of recovery. Henne threw for almost 3,000 yards last season in 14 games as a starter, but what was most impressive was his 60 percent accuracy. He'll be asked to do more this season, but the Dolphins will still be a run-first offensive team.
Wildcat offense fans will look to the leaders of the concept to continue to find ways to accumulate points in atypical ways. Look for RB's Ronnie Brown to return to form, and Ricky Williams to continue to defy Father Time (and marijuana legislation) running behind T's Jake Long and Vernon Carey.
The Dolphin defense will have a harder time proving themselves. The loss of LB Joey Porter (31 sacks in 3 seasons with Miami) and NT Jason Ferguson will be difficult to replace. They've essentially traded Porter for Arizona Cardinal free-agent, LB Karlos Dansby. Dansby isn't the player Porter was, but he's athletic and has a high motor. DE Charles Grant was also brought in via free agency.
The Dolphins are solid, not spectacular at corner. Sean Smith and Vontae Davis (4 INTs) both got extensive playing time as rookies, with decent results. Strong Safety Yeremiah Bell is a fierce hitter, and made the Pro Bowl last season. Free Safety is still up for grabs between fifth round pick Reshad Jones, and Chris Clemons.
Too many unproven commodities in key positions. Head coach Tony Sporano will have his work cut out for him putting all the pieces in place. With the Patriots and Jets being the power brokers of the division, this year should be only a moderate-to-mild improvement.