The Miami Dolphins had hoped that 2015 would bring about a positive change for the franchise and they added a key piece to their defensive line last offseason. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill signed a massive contract extension last May and Joe Philbin was ready to lead the team into the postseason. But then the season started and it was clear that the Dolphins were doomed, and they finished with a 6-10 record and with Philbin standing in the unemployment line.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Defensive line, wide receiver, special teams
Defensive Line: The list of strengths is rather small but the Dolphins have arguably the best, or one of the best, defensive lines in the NFL. The addition of Ndamukong Suh last offseason turned this unit into one that could constantly pressure the opponent’s backfield, and already having Cameron Wake made it even deadlier. But they seem to still need help because they only combined for 31 sacks, although 27 of the 31 sacks were from the defensive line.
Wide Receiver: This is a borderline pick as a strength because of the erratic play of Tannehill, but it should have been one of the bright spots for Miami. With Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews as the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers respectively, they both accumulated four touchdown catches a piece. The acquisition of tight end Jordan Cameron was also supposed to be a bonus for the Dolphins’ offense, but again, Tannehill let them down. Running back Lamar Miller was also a consistent piece of the passing offense this season, and his re-emergence as a running back helped take pressure off the quarterback.
Special Teams: Landry has been a decent kick returner and had a punt return TD in 2015, while averaging 9.9 yards per punt return and 24.7 yards per kick return. The Dolphins also have solid kickers in place-kicker Andrew Franks and punter Matt Darr. Franks was 13 of 16 (81.3 percent) on field goals with a long of 53 yards and Darr averaged 47.6 yards per punt and had a long of 70 yards.
Quarterback, head coach, offensive line
Quarterback: Tannehill signed a contract extension prior to the 2015 season and was expected to have a better season than he did. Suddenly, the Dolphins aren’t sure if he can be the franchise quarterback that the team has searched for since Dan Marino‘s retirement. His season was still a decent one though, and he completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 4,208 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Head Coach: The Dolphins fired Joe Philbin in October and waited until season’s end to sign their next coach, former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase. At this point, Dolphin fans were ready for the change and it needed to happen, but will Gase lead the team back to relevancy?
Offensive Line: As a unit, Miami’s offensive line allowed 45 sacks which ranks as eighth worst among all NFL teams. The offensive line was able to open up some holes for RB Lamar Miller occasionally, but they were anything but great this past season. With former Dolphins offensive guard Richie Incognito flourishing in Buffalo, it makes fans wonder if they should have handed out a suspension to the bully instead of a pink slip. This is probably where Miami focuses in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Players to Re-sign:
WR Rishard Matthews
RB Lamar Miller
LB Kelvin Sheppard
DE Olivier Vernon
Free Agent Targets (2016 projected cap space – $2,385,569):
G Cordy Glenn
2016 NFL First Round Draft Targets (No. 8 pick)
OT Ryan Stanley (Notre Dame)
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AFC West: San Diego Chargers