Believe it or not, the Miami Dolphins are one of the most perplexing and intriguing teams in the NFL. It is almost frustrating and insulting that a team which spent so much in free agency this offseason, including a $60 million contract for Mike Wallace, is seemingly still stuck in a .500 rut, projected for anywhere from seven to nine wins depending on the level of optimism one shares.
Personally, I think things are on the up and up for the team. However, chemistry and disciplines have to be the emphasis instilled by new coach Joe Philbin, who has come from the Green Bay Packers organization and is the first branch to have extended from the Mike McCarthy coaching tree.
Recall that there are some important factors which the Dolphins are able to build on from last year going into this one, aside from all the new acquisitions and an above-average draft which included the selection of Dion Jordan.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be looking to build off of an unimpressive rookie campaign. Lost in the myriad of rookie quarterbacks from 2012, Tannehill is looking to prove that he can be a secure quarterback option for the team going forward.
He has gained receiving talent from last year in the form of the aforementioned Wallace and emerging depth such as receiver Chad Bumphis, who was a favorite target in the Phins’ preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
That loss exemplified everything which keeps the Dolphins from emerging as legitimate contenders in the weak AFC East against the perennial favorite New England Patriots. The Dolphins are the absolute antithesis of the Patriots, who are at the pinnacle of executing discipline in the NFL.
Sunday night marked America’s first look at the Dolphins and they saw most of the same. Mistakes and unfortunate bounces mired some otherwise decent performances. A great example of this is the ball that struck off of Chad Bumphis’ hands in the second quarter, resulting in a 75-yard interception for a touchdown. It was one of two targets for Bumphis which were not caught.
Instead of a 10-7 game, the Dolphins ended up down 17-0. This came minutes after a botched fumble recovery, which would have given the Dolphins the ball.
Joe Philbin’s expectations were certainly not met during the Hall of Fame Game. And for Dolphins fans, it was gut-wrenching to see the on-field project remain such underachievers after all of the personnel changes the offseason had seen.
Going forward, Philbin must preach limiting crucial mistakes such as the ones seen Sunday night. Having Tannehill and Wallace clicking will also benefit offensive strategy, hopefully allowing Mike Sherman to utilize Lamar Miller and boost his confidence going forward. Possessions may be limited for the Dolphins this year and going forward into the preseason, look for them to make the most of every single one.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486