The AFC East’s Miami Dolphins are up next in my team previews. A team with flashes of playoff-contender throughout the year, the team ultimately meandered around mediocrity and finished the season as an unimpressive 7-9. Where do they go from here?
For most teams, dropping 4 games off your pace from the previous year is nothing to be proud of, and looking in on the Dolphins, they should feel no different. The QB spot has been a major issue, though, and while Ronnie Brown re-emerged as a reliable when healthy running back, Chad Pennington’s injury threw everything out of whack for a few weeks. So then we got Chad Henne, starting in week 3, who gave Miami a 12/14 TD/INT ratio, which does wonder to explain the record. He’s currently penciled in at the top of the depth chart for the position, but you can expect plenty of controversy there before the season even starts – for two reasons.
First, Pennington isn’t a bad quarterback. In fact, there was a huge amount of enthusiasm before the start of last season that he would be the guy to carry them deep into the playoffs. Obviously, whether that happens waits to be seen, but if he’s healthy in 2010, I don’t see how you can stick with Henne for long if they start losing games.
Second, the team brought in Brandon Marshall, who isn’t going to keep quiet if the Dolphins are losing and he isn’t seeing the touches. And while they bring this guy in, they let Ginn go for picks, which I ultimately think will come back to bite them, as I don’t see anyone on the roster right now stepping up to be that No. 2 guy.
So expect the team again to win or lose on the strength of their defense and running game (don’t forget about Ricky!) There were 20 TDs scored on the ground between Brown and Williams in 2009, and while you can expect the Dolphins to spread the field more with a true deep threat, the bread and butter will be pounding down the opponents’ throats. Count on it.
I think we’re in for another mediocre year in Miami, and you shouldn’t expect more if you’re a fan or just an interested gambler. While their schedule lightens up a bit toward the end of the season, it’s brutal for the first half, and I think it’s a safe bet that by week 14 it’ll be too late for the fish, anyway.