The New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East over the last decade, but do their division-foes stack up better this season?
For the past two seasons, the Miami Dolphins have been one of the more polarizing teams in the National Football League. We all know about the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin debacle that played out last year, and while Joe Philbin has seemingly struggled to keep order off the field, his team is very undisciplined on it as well.
Last season the Dolphins had the worst offensive line in the game, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t progress, most likely because he feared his career may end every time he had the ball snapped to him. Two seasons ago, the ‘Fins were 7-9 and remained competitive with some of the best clubs in the AFC, though falling in some tight contests. The hope last year was that they would be able to win some of those close games, but with all of the drama surrounding them, it was hard to produce a top-notch product on the field.
2014 should be a bit more promising for Tannehill, as the Dolphins signed Branden Albert to play left tackle, and drafted Ja’Wuan James to play on the right side. Sure, there will be some issues with familiarity, but without a doubt the talent level has been increased up front. On the defensive side, Miami added help in the secondary with much of the front-seven remaining in place. The roster itself screams 9-7, or 8-8 season, but it is hard to put stock in this coaching staff, given what has happened behind the scenes.
Tannehill will be in his third year at QB, and has to stop running at times when he should keep his eyes down the field for Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, and has to stop locking onto his first reads, another reason why he was sacked so often last year. Barring a complete transformation of the offense, the Dolphins will be in for a disappointing year again.
So should the Patriots fear the Miami Dolphins?
Probably not. Miami has to prove that it can strike fear into opposing defenses by having an offense that shows up week-to-week. They also have to cut down on the turnovers. With 26 giveaways last year, the ‘Fins were in the top-half of the league in that category and can’t afford to do that if they want to fight the Patriots for an AFC East title.