The last week and half hasn’t been kind to the Dolphins franchise. Last night’s capper, a loss to previously winless Tampa Bay feels like salt in a fresh wound. But the truth is Dolphins fans have been wondering for 10 weeks what has happened to Miami after what was supposed to be a championship kind of offseason.
The Dolphins wanted to upgrade the weapons around QB Ryan Tannehill. Their hearts were in the right place. They signed the most explosive receiver available in Mike Wallace. I warned it was a bad idea. It’s been even worse than I imagined. The argument that he is a one-trick pony as a deep-threat is holding water this year. He’s been unreliable catching the ball and getting open on intermediate routes. It appears the Steelers not fighting to keep him was a bad sign.
The signing of WR Brandon Gibson was poo-pooed by some, but I liked the kid when he was at Washington State and thought he had a chance. He was terrific up until the point he got hurt and knocked out for the season. TE Dustin Keller tore up his knee in the preseason and never got to be a factor.
The offensive line has been a trainwreck. Ryan Tannehill may become the most sacked quarterback of all-time for a season. They opted not to bring back LT Jake Long which many questioned and were correct in doing so evidently. The move of Jonathon Martin to left tackle wasn’t good, but not nearly as bad as signing Tyson Clabo to play right tackle. He graded out as the worst in that spot before being benched. The team could have signed Bryant McKinnie, but instead traded for him when their experiment failed. Oops.
They also decided to let Reggie Bush walk after two very good seasons with the team, and he has continued to play well in Detroit. Meanwhile Miami has dropped from 112 yards per game to 87 with the less dynamic combo of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas.
I’ve noticed virtually no difference in linebacker production for the Dolphins despite spending money to go younger with Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler. Both have been productive, but not outstanding.
The draft has been almost completely useless to Miami.
1st round- Trade up for DE Dion Jordan who spent the entire offseason and preseason rehabbing an old injury, and has never gotten up to speed or earned a starting role. He has made a few plays in spot duty, but you don’t trade up to #3 in the draft expecting that little production. I think he has a future still, but his present has been a bust.
2nd round- CB Jamar Taylor has only appeared in 5 games and has two meaningless tackles.
3rd round- OG Dallas Thomas can’t even get a sniff on game day for this bad, and troubled offensive line. What does that tell you?
3rd round- CB Will Davis dealt with injuries in preseason, but has only appeared in one game all year, registering no stats. Seriously? Miami has gotten more out of journeymen corners and their 7th round pick than their two highly drafted corners.
4th round- LB Jelani Jenkins has seen spot duty on defense, but mostly has been a special teams player.
4th round- TE Dion Sims caught the game-winning TD pass against Atlanta, but other than that he’s played as a 2nd TE and had no impact in the passing game.
5th round- RB Mike Gillislee couldn’t beat out Daniel Thomas for the back-up RB job, and has been a healthy scratch every week of the season.
5th round- K Calib Sturgis has been the most impactful rookie by far. He’s missed a few kicks (one blocked not his fault, two over 50 yards including a 57-yarder for the win against Baltimore, but he also hit a long one to send the Bengals game into OT) but mostly he’s been worth the selection. Perhaps most disappointing is Miami’s touchback rate has not improved as they thought it might. It was 47% last year and is 50% this year. By comparison, Dan Carpenter, kicking in Buffalo now, is converting at 44%, near the bottom of the league, but not too far behind.
7th round- CB Don Jones has actually appeared in 9 games and has 7 tackles.
The Dolphins had a ton of money to spend and a ton of draft picks. On paper they looked like a team that could take a major step forward based on the opportunities presented to them. GM Jeff Ireland has instead put together a 4-5 team with as many question marks and busts as it has answers. Heck, a year and a half in it’s fair to wonder in this microwave society if they even got the right quarterback. Ryan Tannehill isn’t bad, but will he ever be good?
The only good news is that Miami still can be a playoff team this year. They host San Diego and play the Jets twice. Those two teams look like their biggest competition for the final wild card spot. Of course, while their win against Cleveland may help them, their loss to Baltimore hurts them just as much.
A playoff birth would be nice, especially for a team that has been just once in the last ten years, but it’s fair to question right now based on the moves they made if they are any closer to a Super Bowl, which is the ultimate goal. They spent enough money to buy a Lexus and instead are driving a Honda.