Looking back into the 2008 season we witnessed one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history. It shocked the football world that a team that finished 1-15 the previous year could win not only 11 games but clinch a division title. It was never done before and it made teams take notice. The Miami Dolphins also showed that you don't have to run an offense using a quarterback. In the now widely known Wildcat formation, the quarterback is posing as a wide receiver, making defenses believe he could be a threat in the open field. At the same time the running back is now the multi-threat player on the field. When done correctly the back could take a direct snap and go through an open hole in the middle or take it to the outside. Also as an added fake, he could act like he is passing and hand it off to the other back who is going in motion. He could go up the middle or take it to the outside. The Dolphins showed they could do more than just run the ball. Ronnie Brown also threw the ball fairly decent for a few touchdowns. When teams started to catch on they or add something different, they would call wrinkles to keep the defenses guessing. From flea flickers to WR sweeps, teams had a difficult time defending this offense. This formation didn't always go to plan and at times they did struggle but the defense led by Joey Porter, was there to pick up the slack. In spite of all these things that happened like going to the playoffs, there was so much that needed to be done to be a better team the next year.
In the off-season, there were some interesting things that was going on that I liked. I liked that the players were working out long before they were actually scheduled to. This shows me that their commitment to the team is deep and important to them. They were a step ahead of themselves before actually participating in OTA's and Mini-camp. When the rookies were drafted, they followed the lead of the veterans who was getting ready for the season by working out and watching film before the mini-camps actually started. I liked that the vets took time to help the rooks cope with their new enviornments and surroundings. I believe that was important in that the team could jell earlier in the season than later on.
The return of Jason Taylor to Miami was nothing short of amazing. To know that you have the opportunity to get after the quarterback with Joey Porter and JT on the other side, is going to prove to be something fun to watch no doubt. Jason could continue to be the nightmare for Tom Brady, who just got back from a season ending injury. He is back ready to go and there is no doubt that Brady is not wanting to meet him in the backfield.
It is good that the Dolphins could relax in knowing that there won't be any coaching changes or coordinator changes. Everything stays the same so the team could focus on refining their skills not trying to learn new ones. There is no doubt in my mind that Tony Sparano will be on pace again for the Coach of the Year award. People will see that he is the real deal and will place him on top.
Here is my analysis of the team so far and watch I expect from them as they approach Training Camp:
This is a solid position on the team that don't appear to have any concern with. They still have the reigning Comeback player of the year in Chad Pennington leading the pack. But 2nd year pro Chad Henne is ready to take over the offense if Pennington struggles. Over the past year both QB's have learned from each other and has gotten stronger and better because of it. Rookie QB/WR Pat White is going to be someone special because of his unique ability to play mulitple positions. Most likely he is going to be used in the Wildcat formation which should make defenses cringe because of his ability to run with the football and throw it accurately on the run.
This may be the strongest position on the offensive side of the ball. Ronnie Brown is officially a year past having that terrible knee injury. He is now more stronger, more faster, and more leaner than ever. According to himself, he believes he is more explosive than ever before. Even Sparano agrees with him and that is huge! Ricky Williams is as solid as they come playing some good football and coming through when they needed him. Patrick Cobbs was a jack of all trades. There wasn't nothing this man couldn't do for the team. He did all of the dirty work and his hard work definitely paid off. I expect great things from this guy.
This is an interesting group of players that no one has respect for except themselves. Everyone is looking for the glorious # 1 receiver but they think they have what they need within the receivers they have. They considered it an insult when experts say these receivers weren't any good. These guys are committed to show they are the best in the NFL. Only time will tell what will happen with 3rd year pro Ted Ginn Jr. He is now in a situation that he must have a breakout year to avoid being called a bust. He has all of the intangibles to be a good receiver. The question is whether he will tap into that seemingly limitess potential in him.... This will be something to keep an eye on in Training Camp.
In my opinion this is a solid group right here. At the same time they need to be more consistent. I don't have much to say about this group other than to keep an eye on them. They are a special group that I like but for some reason don't have much comment on. Moving on...
This line anchored by Jake Long and Vernon Carey should be strong for years to come. The weakness in my opinion is the guards. Once they can be healthy for an entire season, this line is going to be formidable and tough to move. They made some good additions to the line that should make it stronger. Hopefully this will be the key to keeping Chad Pennington safe in the pocket and open some big holes for the backs to go through.
Despite the release of Vonnie Holiday this line still continues to be strong and is only going to get better. Jason Ferguson is on the verge of retirement and yet he is still strong at his position. They have added some good players that is supposed to be able to get after the quarterback and stuff the run. This will help the linebackers tremendously as they roam the field. I believe the sky is the limit for these guys.
This is a very strong group of players and the core of this defense. There is no doubt, that the addition of Jason Taylor would make the group strong. If he can prove he can still do damage and Joey Porter continues his dominance....look out world....need I say anything else. This group is pretty deep actually and that is a good thing to keep everyone fresh...
This group of players can potentially be the strongest of the whole team. It is definitely one of the deepest and now the Dolphins could dominate the air. Rookies Vontae Davis and Sean Smith looks like the real deal. Of course we have to see if it is true when they put the pads on. Regardless we have enough talent in the secondary to give other teams problems. This is definitely something you are going to want to watch this off-season.
I don't have much to comment on here but I will say that if they continue to get better and more consistent, we may be able to dominate on special teams.
Training camp is upon and I know every Dolphins fans will be sliding to the edge of their seats as the await the upcoming season. I personally believe that the Miami Dolphins are now a complete team and they are about to show the world what they are capable of this season.