The NFL is a business. Teams are selling their product every year. The product is the team that a franchise puts on the field on Sundays.
Fanbases have the tendency to get upset with the teams they root for which leads to empty seats in stadiums and money being lost. This is currently happening with most of the teams who weren’t in the playoffs last year, including the Miami Dolphins.
Teams will often look to please their fanbases and lure them back with flashy new skill players. The Dolphins did that last offseason spending over $250 million in free agency with speedy Mike Wallace and an athletic tight end in Dustin Keller being among those in the shopping cart.
Miami added these weapons but failed to fortify their trenches. The Dolphins’ offensive line was knocked around nearly the entire season. Costly sacks and lack of running lanes burdened the Dolphins offense. Miami often times abandoned the running game entirely in the second half of games, making the offense completely one-dimensional. It was at this point that apposing defenses would attack Ryan Tannehill and the franchise-worst 58 sacks allowed in 2013 was the result.
The Dolphins were also (surprisingly) pushed around on the defensive side of the ball. While the defensive tackles often times weren’t moved back, the linebackers were. Miami’s linebackers struggled with tackling and were often blocked out of plays, leading to big runs.
The Dolphins, while having trouble selling the team to the fanbase, must fortify the trenches in free agency and the draft this offseason. The Dolphins only have one 2013 OL starter (besides Jonathan Martin, who won’t be suiting up for the Dolphins anytime soon) under contract for next season. At least six quality offensive linemen need to be added to this roster.
Miami also has the dilemma of not having two of their top defense tackles, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai, under contract for next season. With both men being top players at their position, they will command a good sum of money. With all the other needs Miami has, this may mean only re-signing one of the two DTs. This means at least two will be needed to be added to provide depth and make up the production that Starks or Soliai provided.
The Dolphins also desperately need a linebacker who can fight through traffic and make a tackle. The problem the Dolphins face is they also need a linebacker who can cover a running back coming out of the backfield. Basically, the Dolphins need NaVorro Bowman or Patrick Willis, and those types of guys aren’t easy to find.
Dolphins fans, at least the delusional ones, will likely not be happy with a draft class and free agent shopping cart filled with big-uglies, but when the Dolphins make the playoffs for the first time since 2008 next year because Tannehill had time to throw and the running backs had room to run, all will be forgiven.
The common fan still wants to see the playmakers, but nothing helps the hurt (and sells the team) like wins.