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Week 6: Dolphins at da Bears
The Miami Dolphins begin the 2014 season with a very stiff test, as AFC East Champion and perennial AFC power New England Patriots come to Miami for a 1:00 kickoff. The two teams split games in 2013, with the Patriots winning in Foxboro 27-17, and the Dolphins defeating the Patriots in Miami 24-20. New England comes into the game as a 4 point favorite.
New England is lead by Future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady, going into his 14th season. New England made some key moves to try to shore up the defensive unit, as the added Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis and Seattle CB Brandon Browner, who will miss the 1st 4 games due to suspension for using PED. A recent move made by the Patriots which could have an negative effect is trading away All-Pro OG Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay.
Even with that move, New England once again comes into the game as the prohibitive favorite to win the AFC East and one of the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. A big key to the Patriots season is one TE Rob Gronkowski. He gives New England a weapon in the middle of the field that very few teams can handle, and as of right now it is still up in the air whether he will play against Miami on Sunday.
For Miami, it has been a season of change, as OC Mike Sherman was fired and Philadelphia QB coach Bill Lazor bought in as the new OC. He has bought in a new, up tempo offense and it is still a work in progress. The biggest change and perhaps the biggest key to Miami season is the revamping of the offensive line. OLT Brandon Albert was signed during the offseason and drafted ORT Ju"Wuan James out of Tennessee to help fortify and OL that gave up 58 sacks.
This is a make or break season for one Joe Philbin. With all the swirled around this team from the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito disaster, the Dolphins were 8-6 and in position to make the playoffs. The Dolphins proceded to lose at Buffalo and at home to the New York Jets to end the season 8-8. This lead to GM Jeff Ireland being fired at the end of the season, and many many Dolphins fans wanting Philbin to follow Ireland out of the door. The pressure is on Philbin to get this team to the playoffs.
Keys for the game will be the Dolphins ability to get pressure on Tom Brady, not just off the perimeter, but pressure up the middle as well. DT Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and new Dolphin Earl Mitchell will be key. The Dolphins have to make New England a one dimensional team and take the run away. The LB play for the Dolphins was a real weakness in 2013, and that has to change, starting with the game Sunday. If Gronkowski does play, keeping his damage to a minimum will be big as well.
Offensively, new Dolphin and now healthy Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller must help Miami establish some type of run game to give the Dolphins some balance. And QB Ryan Tannehill and 2013 FA addition WR Mike Wallace MUST have a better chemistry than they had in 2013. Tannehill must play a smart, error free game and spread to the ball to the various weapons Miami has.
The NFL is back and the Dolphins start off the season with the Bully of the AFC East. No better way to start the season than to knock the Bully off.
Let's Go Miami.
MY 2014 PREDICTION
Well, well. It is finally here. The Miami Dolphins season is upon us!
There was a time when I would be ecstatic to start the season, but year after year of being disappointed I seem to be taking a "wait and see" attitude this year. Will we underachieve once again, or will we put an exclamation point on "Are you ready for some football?!"
When you think back at the 2013 season and the state of our offensive line, you have to be amazed that the Dolphins were 8-6 and only had to win one of their final two games to make the playoffs. The Dolphins had beaten some really good teams and some good quarterbacks in that stretch, so, facing the Bills' Thad Lewis and the Jets' Geno Smith should have been a cakewalk. Well, we won't rehash what happened. Let's just say that most of us still haven't gotten over it.
It is 2014, and I would say that Coach Philben is on the hot seat. I would blame a lot of Miami's problems the past two years on Philben and his inability to manage the team. So, if the Dolphins do NOT make the playoffs this year I would kick him and his 4-3 defensive scheme out the door. Who is with me?
My prediction for 2014? I think our new GM Dennis Hickey has done a good job of adding free agents and rookies. I see an improved team over 2013, but only a small improvement in our record to 9-7 due to tough schedule and a tougher AFC East division. No playoffs which will mean that Philben should be out. It all depends on whether owner Ross feels the team took an encouraging step to finish out the season strong. I'd like to see him gone as I know that he isn't head coaching material. That does not mean that I do not like him as a person. This team has a lot of potential, but the offensive line has got to block. If the OL does their job, I think you'll be happy to see a more efficient Ryan Tannehill. Don't expect him to hook up on many bombs to Mike Wallace though. I've never seen a quarterback whiff on so many opportunities. A lot of that falls on the offensive line in giving him time to throw the deep pass, but he just does not seem to have that chemistry with Wallace.
WILL THE OL LOOK BETTER?
They'd better, because their first two games they face teams that did very well in getting to Tannehill last year. The Patriots sacked Tanny 10 times last year, and the Bills sacked him 9 times. They'd better get better in a hurry. Keep in mind that the Dolphins have 5 new starters this year. They also have a new offensive line coach in John Benton, and that is a good thing as he is a very good coach. Keep in mind that an offensive line requires chemistry and the Dolphins have been flipping guys all over trying to find a good fit. It should be very interesting.
I thought it was interesting that the Dolphins rank as the 15th youngest team in the NFL which is right in the middle of the pack. Not too old (Raiders) and not too young (Rams). And that is with having 6 undrafted free agents on the team. Go figure.
HEATH EVANS IS A JERK.
And that is being nice. In 2005 he was cut from the Dolphins, and he ended up giving Belichick our playbook. Well, here, let me let you read it for yourself:
He was angry. So blessed angry. This was six games into the 2005 season and Heath Evans was just informed by phone the Dolphins cut him. But even as his blood cooked the phone rang again. New England wanted to see him.
"A hurricane was coming that day, it was a 45-minute drive down to Dolphins camp and I wasn't going down there just to turn in my playbook,'' Evans, now a NFL Network analyst, said. "I was too angry to do that."
The next day he entered the Patriots coach's office and slid the Dolphins playbook across the desk."
"Here, have this,'' he told Belichick. "I don't know if you're going to sign me or not. But this is yours." (Dave Hyde)
Not to worry, someone hacked his wiki page with this:
Isn't there an unwritten rule in that taking another team's playbook from a player is "cheating" and a classless move? I'm sure Belichick pushed it back and said, "No, Heath. That would not be class to do that since I am an honorable man" <Insert a big laugh here!> Yeah, and to think that Belichick did this to one of his closest friends in Nick Saban.
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