With a Super Bowl Champion crowned and the 2012-13 season officially in the books, the NFL collectively begins to shift towards preparing for the next season. Several teams came within a win or two of the ultimate goal, but only the Baltimore Ravens were able to achieve the pre-season goal of winning it all. It only makes sense then, that other teams would take a look at the Ravens and see if there is anything they do that could be implemented within their own organizations.
One such team could be the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins’ main strength at this point is their defensive unit, specifically the front seven. Special teams are also a bright spot, but Miami needs work in its defensive secondary. They have taken the first step on the offensive side of the ball by drafting a young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill to be the face of the franchise moving forward. There are questions concerning their wide receivers, tight ends, and now we can add their rushing attack to the list as well.
An above average special teams unite and a strong front seven is nice to have, but it is not enough to make them competitive. They need to settle in and focus on the foundation of this team and build from there, much like the Baltimore Ravens have done . The Ravens knew that the best players on their team were on the defensive side of the ball so they built around that, stocking the defense and developing a sense of pride.
Miami is in position to do the same thing, and with Coach Joe Philbin having come from a draft-first system in the Green Bay Packers, it is fairly safe to believe he will continue to build the defense and develop the pride of the team through its excellence on that side of the ball.
This is not to say that Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland will not try to put an offense together as well. In fact, they need to do their best to give their young quarterback a couple of weapons so as to give him a chance to be successful. They will certainly bring in a wide receiver or two, and you can believe the draft will help focus on some of the offensive needs as well, but this is right in tune with what the Ravens did as well. The fact is you cannot consistently win Championships on defense alone.
The Dolphins believe they have their coaching staff in place, and with nearly the whole unit returning for a second year in South Florida, they will have a shot at instilling a sense of stability the team has not known in quite some time. They have their quarterback in place, and they appear to confident in the running backs they have. The offensive line has a couple of holes, but shows promise as well. It seems as though the pieces are there, or are not too far off, giving the Dolphins a good chance at replicating the Ravens blueprint for success.
When it comes to Baltimore, though, it is not just the players at the positions, but rather, the belief those players have in each other as well. Those athletes step onto the field as a unit, all working in tandem to produce the greatest amount of effort and results. It is a trait that has been admired for the last decade and has everything to do with their General in the middle, Ray Lewis.
Miami could find that blood brother cohesiveness as well. Last season proved that they believed in each other more than they believed in themselves as individuals. No matter what was said about the team, they came forward and proclaimed their belief in the group and then proved that they were serious. For the Dolphins, Karlos Dansby must be the guy that holds it all together. He must be the team’s Ray Lewis.
Ireland and Philbin may have something completely different in mind for the Miami Dolphins this off-season, but they could do a whole lot worse than to try emulating the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens. After all, why reinvent the wheel when the wheel works just fine?