Miami Dolphins 2013: Revamped and Reloaded

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Not too long ago, we were celebrating the Miami Dolphins’ first playoff birth in seven years behind the miraculous comeback of Chad Pennington. For the first time in the post-Marino Era, things were looking up for the franchise.

Then, for some reason, we were condemned to an offense that proudly called Chad Henne its starting quarterback. There were a few flashes of brilliance here and there, but they were short-lived. Eventually, the Dolphins’ returned to mediocrity. Everything was back to normal.

The past two years, mainly the off-seasons, have shown some promise for the historic franchise. The front office began by hiring Joe Philibin as the Head Coach in an attempt to give the team an offensive identity. Philibin had been the Offensive Coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, whose offense ranked in the top 10 in total yards and points scored every year under his control.

The Dolphins proceeded to draft some offensive pieces that would fit into Philibin’s West Coast scheme, mainly quarterback Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A & M and halfback Lamar Miller from the University of Miami.

Despite finishing the year with a 7-9 record, the Dolphins finished second in the AFC East. Jeff Ireland, who had a reputation for doing absolutely nothing in previous off-seasons, decided to continue building on the previous year. The front office began by spending big money in free agency.

Miami signed explosive wide-out Mike Wallace almost immediately. Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler signed shortly afterward. Wide receiver Brandon Gibson soon joined Wallace. Tight end Dustin Keller and cornerback Brent Grimes were the last big names to follow soon.

The Dolphins managed to re-sign wide receiver Brian Hartline and safety Chris Clemons. Management also placed the franchise tag on defensive tackle Randy Starks. Jake Long and Reggie Bush both left elsewhere, but the additions seem to outweigh the subtractions.

Fast-forward to the draft a month later, and the Dolphins continued to shock the rest of the league. The front office traded up to the third overall pick to select hybrid linebacker/defensive end Dion Jordan out of Oregon. Other draft picks include Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins and running back Mike Gilislee.

That finally brings us to the present. Tannehill returns to the same offensive system with more confidence. Sophomore halfback Lamar Miller finds himself with the starting job, and fans are expecting big things from the Miami native. Wallace hopes to give Miami the over-the-top threat it has lacked for several years. Gibson, Hartline, and Keller hope to give Tannehill additional targets he can trust. For the first time since the Marino era, the Dolphins’ offense shows serious PROMISE.

The defense is young, fast, and loaded with talent. Dion Jordan hopes to take some of the focus away from pro-bowler Cameron Wake. Ellerbe and Wheeler are both young, explosive linebackers. With Starks continuing to anchor the defensive line, Miami’s run defense should remain one of the best in the league. Richard Marshall, Chris Clemons, and Reshad Jones all return as starters in the secondary. We like to think Brent Grimes can only help them improve.

The pieces finally seem to be in place for the Miami Dolphins to be one of the most competitive teams in the AFC. They are a young, fast, and dynamic group of players with a lot to prove. The Philibin identity is taking shape, and all we can do as fans is wait for the opening kickoff on September 8th when the Dolphins visit the Cleveland Browns.

Brandon Fernandez

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