NFL Analysis: Miami Tries To Break Out Of Mediocrity

The Miami Dolphins have been an organization in a funk for a long time. They haven’t gone deep into the postseason since making the AFC Championship Game since 1992. They haven’t gone to the Super Bowl since 1984 and they haven’t won it since 1973. In recent years, an AFC East title in 2008 and quick first-round playoff exit is the only interlude in an extended run of mediocrity.

Ryan Tannehill was given the keys to the offense last season. I was skeptical about it at the time, and the 2012 season did nothing to change my mind. In fairness to Tannehill, it’s not all on him. The passing game was awful in aspects, including pass protection, and now tackle Jake Long is gone via free agency.

Miami went out and got deep threat Mike Wallace to give Tannehill a target, but if you throw deep, you need time for him to get open, and there’s no reason to think Tannehill will get that time, nor to believe he’ll be effective if he does. Tight end Dustin Keller has been brought in to upgrade the short game, but he was average with the New York Jets and I can’t come up with a reason why this change is going to turn Keller into Tony Gonzalez.

The running game is going through a similar transition, with Reggie Bush gone. Lamar Miller is listed atop the depth chart, though rookie Mike Gillislee might also get a chance.

Miami has to rely on defense to compete, and at the very least this is not a bad unit. They pressure the quarterback very well, with Cameron Wake leading the way with 15 sacks. The secondary gives up a high percentage of completions, but does a good job limiting the yardage. Given the quality of the pass rush, it makes you wonder why the coaching staff doesn’t get a little more aggressive in their cover tactics and let Wake and his mates bail out any coverage deficiencies.

Las Vegas has posted a number of 7.5 for the Over/Under on Miami’s wins, although the market seems to be optimistic. If you go Over, you’ll have to lay (-170), whereas you can get (+140) on the Under. As the tone of this NFL analysis probably shows, I’d take the Under even straight up. While I can see Miami winning eight games, I can see them collapsing to 5-11 more easily than I can see them exceeding the number by a decisive margin.

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