2013 Miami Dolphins Have to Improve Greatly at Moving the Chains

By Craig Ballard
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 Miami Dolphins offense was anemic and underwhelming. The team averaged a measly 18 points per game, which was ranked no.27 in the NFL, and they were one of only six teams to not amass at least 5,000 total yards. All of that can be improved once the team gets better at moving the chains, and this roster has potential to do just that.

Miami earned just 288 first downs last season, which was ranked no.26 in the league. 93 of those were rushing first downs (no.18 in the NFL) and a putrid 158 were through the air (no.29 in NFL … yikes). Between Reggie Bush, Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano, the team has lost about 100 first downs, but I do see reason to be optimistic that the 2013 ‘Phins will be significantly better at creating (and extending) drives this season.

For one thing, the addition of Mike Wallace should be huge. In his career, this is a guy who averages 41 first downs on 101 targets. I would anticipate his targets to climb well over 101 as a Dolphin, and I expect M-Wall to get in the 50s for first downs. This is a guy who is much more dynamic than some peeps seem to think, and he is a threat to break off at least enough yards to earn a first down on every catch.

Dustin Keller is a guy who is capable of moving the chains 30-plus times, and considering he is predicting a bigger season for himself than we have seen before, we may see him get into the 40s, which is a massive contribution and about double what fan-fave Fasano is capable of these days.

In 2012, Brandon Gibson got 43 first downs on just 81 targets (same amount as Bush got for Miami) which is remarkable production. If you saw my previous article about my interview with O.J. McDuffie and you listened to the link included, then you heard how excited he is about Gibson, which is good enough for me (when O.J. talks WR, I listen).

Gibson is excellent at turning second-and-long situations into first downs so in scenarios where first down was a dud, we will see Ryan Tannehill look for Gibson to make a big catch.

On third down, M-Wall and Keller will be in play with Gibson too, plus of course Brian Hartline. We will also see Lamar Miller and Mike Gillislee involved in the passing game on third down. Lots of talent and potential there.

Tanny should be able to lead the 2013 offense to 5,000-plus total yards and well over 300 first downs with this roster. The ground game is young and unproven, but the passing game should take enough steps forward that the team should be scoring in the mid-20s weekly. Scoring is the big picture and ultimate goal, but this team will need to be much better at earning first downs in 2013 to get there.

Craig Ballard is a NFL/NBA/MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @craigballard77, and you can find all of his articles HERE

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