When examining the Miami Dolphins, the words playoff contender don’t really go together. It might seem that the Dolphins are so far off the mark in making the playoffs that they could almost be written off for years to come. Not true! When you look at the Dolphins season there a few key aspects that can be examined to explain why they had a 6-10 record. In fact after researching the Dolphins season I truly believe with better execution in certain areas and the right off season moves, the Dolphins can make themselves a contender!
The Miami Dolphins running game was good this past season. They were ranked 11th in offensive rushing yards per game with 124.2 yds. There defense was excellent against the run. They ranked 5th in run defense with 93.2 yards a game against them and the four other teams are in the playoffs. They are: the 49ers, Ravens, Falcons and Texans in their respective order. So you might say the defense is where it needs to be against the run to contend. The first thing you must do in the NFL or any level of football is to stop the run.
So if the Dolphins are good against the run and are adequate against the pass (they are ranked 24th) then why aren’t they better by record? There are a few reasons. One they fumbled on offense a league high 13 times. You can’t win if you give the other team the ball. Secondly the Dolphins gain a decent amount of yardage in a game but only seem to score a minimal amount of touchdowns. The Dolphins scored 33 touchdowns and kicked 33 field goals this season. The 33 field goals ranked second in the league but the 33 touchdowns is near the bottom. To put that in perspective the Colts scored 24 touchdowns. Pressure is another concern. The Dolphins recorded 41 sacks this past season which is good however, they let up 51 sacks, not so good. The protection of the quarterback needs to be improved.
Let’s examine the results of some close games the Dolphins were in and lost. Specifically let’s look at the playoff teams they lost to. Two games vs. New England: Lost 38-24 week 1 and lost 27-24 week 16. Lost to Houston 23-13, Lost to Denver 18-15, lost to the Giants 20-17. Pretty close games against the league’s elite. One Key loses was to Cleveland 17-16. That is a combined total of 38 points. If the Dolphins win half of those games they could be fight for a playoff spot if not the division.
Now in the offseason what should be done? I have a few ideas although they may be a little wild. The Dolphins have the 8th or 9th pick depending on the coin flip. Let’s say the Dolphins win the flip and have the 8th pick. The Dolphins could trade the 8th pick to the Green Bay Packers for Matt Flynn. Is this possible, maybe not but the Packers have one of the worst passing defenses in the league and two of the best defensive backs on the board are Morris Claiborne of LSU and Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama. Neither will be there when the Packers choose. Another good pick for the Packers would be a top defensive lineman and the best on the board is Quinton Coples from UNC. Now the Dolphins could use another running back to complement Reggie Bush. Ahmad Bradshaw could be interested in Miami due to the fact that he works out there. Could the combination of a different quarterback and additional running back with a contrasting style put the Dolphins over the edge? Only time will tell.
Rich Kolka is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games, a leading tailgate gear supplier.