6 Positions Where Miami Dolphins Need To Play Better In Order To Succeed In 2014
Miami Dolphins: 6 Positions That Need Better Play For 2014 Success
No matter what growth was displayed, the Miami Dolphins’ 2013 season was a failure. With two games left in the season, the Dolphins were sitting pretty at 8-6. They had just taken care of business against the New England Patriots, and all they had to do was secure one win against a division rival to earn a spot in the playoffs. They failed miserably losing by a combined score of 39-7.
The offense and defense both shriveled up in the most critical stretch of the season, and the team as a whole seemed flat and unprepared. It’s almost as if they did not want to play in the postseason and were content on watching the playoffs from the couch. It was a display that usually leads to men losing their jobs.
It was the kind of choke job you expect from the Dolphins, but this year was supposed to be a “changing of the tides” year. And the worst part was after the miraculous win against the Patriots it was believable that things had finally changed. After the season-ending skid, no one’s job is safe and everyone must watch their back. One thing is for sure: Steve Ross is going to do whatever it takes to produce a winner.
The Dolphins are going to need better play from certain positions or they are going to need to upgrade these positions with new players if they want to have the success in 2014 that they were so close to in 2013.
6. Defensive Tackle
With Randy Starks and Paul Soliai both becoming free agents, it is key that the Dolphins re-sign one of them and maybe draft another young stud at this position as depth became a problem down the stretch with this unit. If both Starks and Soliai return, they (along with Jared Odrick) need to step up their usually dominant play as the Dolphins allowed 1998 rushing yards this season. Though the linebackers are largely responsible for that number, so too are the men up front who uncharacteristically got pushed around in some games this season. If neither returns, replacing them must be a priority.
5. Running Back
Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have gotten enough carries to show that they are both just change-of-pace backs. While Miller ran with more toughness the last two games, the lack of physicality is the reason the Dolphins lined up in the shotgun for anything over third-and-1. The ability to fall forward and run people over is what the Dolphins need. They have enough quick guys; now they need a bruiser like Marshawn Lynch.
Reshad Jones may have been the most disappointing of all the Dolphins players this season as he had a career year last season and was given a big contract extension. Then when the Dolphins' defense changed with the linebacker swap, Jones suddenly didn’t fit as well. He had more coverage responsibilities, and coverage is an area in which he struggles. Chris Clemons, the free safety, didn’t have a bad year. He did a good job of not letting things get behind him, but you would like to see more impact plays from the free safety (Ed Reed and Earl Thomas).
3. Offensive Line
At least two new starters need to be added to this group that was absolutely atrocious in 2013. This group allowed a new franchise record for sacks and more than once this season has set the new franchise low for rush yards in a game. This unit showed how hard it is to win when you get dominated in the trenches and gave fans a new appreciation for the smash-mouth football in which they used to watch every Sunday from Tony Sparano’s Dolphins.
The exchange of linebackers that took place in the 2013 offseason is now one of Dolphins fans’ main criticisms of Jeff Ireland, and possibly the most justified. This unit was largely responsible for the 1998 yards rushing which were given up this season as these linebackers missed a lot of tackles and were in the wrong spot far too often. Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe were also very slow in coverage and only had a sack and a half combined on the season. That number is a bit disturbing as the linebacker swap of the offseason was justified by the new linebackers’ ability to blitz.
Ryan Tannehill improved greatly in his sophomore season, but it was still not enough for his team to make the playoffs. This team will only go as far as Tannehill can take them; therefore his lousy performance to end the season cannot be overlooked. Tannehill and the Dolphins collectively blew a perfect opportunity to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008 with Tannehill throwing for 293 yards and three interceptions in the final two games. The Dolphins need better quarterback play down the stretch, and Ryan Tannehill needs to prove he can do that in 2014 (and lead his team to the playoffs) if he wants to take the next step and become a franchise quarterback.
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