Miami Dolphins: 5 Things That Will Have to Change in 2014

Miami Dolphins: 5 Things That Will Have to Change in 2014

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The Miami Dolphins will look to clinch their first playoff berth since 2008 when they open their 2014 season versus the New England Patriots in September. If the Dolphins hope to advance to the postseason for the first time under the leadership of head coach Joe Philbin, they'll have to fix a few pressing issues that plagued them throughout the 2013 season. Here are five things that will have to change for the Dolphins in 2014.

Better Play From Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe

Shane Vereen
Steve Mitchel - USA Today Sports

Better Play From Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe

Shane Vereen
Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports

Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe were two of the Dolphins' biggest signings of the free-agent spending frenzy of 2013. However, they turned out to be downgrades as the two linebackers they replaced from 2012 -- Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett -- were a lot more effective than Wheeler and Ellerbe. The two are supposed to be veteran leaders, so the Dolphins need both of their defensive leaders to play like it.

Stability At Running Back

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Stability At Running Back

Cincinnati Bengals v Miami Dolphins
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The Dolphins were one of the seven worst teams in the NFL in terms of running the football. The Dolphins ran for just 90 yards per game. Perhaps just as disturbing was the fact that the Dolphins were only able to run for eight touchdowns -- just six total by their running backs. Whether it is Knowshon Moreno or Lamar Miller who wins the RB competition, the Dolphins need stability at the position in order to progress in 2014.

Better Run Defense

Kim Klement-Randy Starks
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Better Run Defense

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A lot is made about the Dolphins' lack of a rushing attack on the offensive side of the football, but many people forget the Dolphins were as equally bad in terms of stopping the run on defense. Miami ranked 24th in the NFL at stopping the run in 2013. The Dolphins will pair the returning Randy Starks with newcomer Earl Mitchell with the hope that the new starting duo can improve a woeful run defense.

Better Chemistry Between Mike Wallace and Ryan Tannehill

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Better Chemistry Between Mike Wallace and Ryan Tannehill

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One of the biggest reasons for the Dolphins' demise in 2013 was the lack of chemistry between Mike Wallace and Ryan Tannehill. In fact, the two's lack of chemistry was apparent even in Week 17 versus the New York Jets, when Tannehill overthrew a wide open Wallace on a streak route. Wallace's yards per reception average was just 12.7 in 2013, nearly 3.5 yards per catch below his career average.

Better Protection For Ryan Tannehill

Terrell McClain
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Better Protection For Ryan Tannehill

Terrell McClain
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The Dolphins allowed 58 sacks on Tannehill in 2013. It not only led the NFL, but it was a franchise-record for sacks allowed. With starting center Mike Pouncey out for at least the first month of the regular season, the Dolphins will have five new starters along the offensive line entering the season. It's going to be a rough month for Tannehill in September if the Dolphins can't find a way to protect him.