The Miami Dolphins are a team with a lot of talent. That is to say, a team with a lot of purchased talent. Last year, the Dolphins were good enough for seven victories. Actually, for the last four years in a row that’s about as good as they’ve been.
But the bar has been raised substantially after Jeff Ireland spent more than $250 million in contracts this offseason. And while I’m optimistic that his plan to buy wins will work out, statistics tell us otherwise.
The Dolphins early schedule is particularly brutal, making it difficult to gain momentum. Their first five games are at the Cleveland Browns, at the Indianapolis Colts, versus the Atlanta Falcons, at the New Orleans Saints and versus the Baltimore Ravens. If the Dolphins start off with two or less wins, they may be looking up at the other AFC East teams for the rest of the year.
Don’t get me wrong, the Dolphins are definitely a team on the rise. But the height of that climb sits squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If he fails to improve on his touchdown-to-interception ratio, or is unable to find chemistry with all of his new offensive weapons, then consider all of Ireland’s efforts wasted — not to mention the fact he’ll be out of a job.
The defense is the bright spot for this team. Led by Cameron Wake, the Dolphins front seven is a force to be reckoned with their amazing depth. If rookies Will Davis and Jamar Taylor can provide Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones the help they need in the secondary, this should be a top-five defense.
There remain plenty of questions marks with this team. Will a combination of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas be enough to fill Reggie Bush’s shoes? Can Jonathan Martin handle the left-tackle position? Will Tannehill overcome the loss of Dustin Keller?
I remain optimistic that the Dolphins will indeed reach 10-6 this year, but I’m not sold that it will be good enough to reach the playoffs.