NFL 2012 Preseason Preview: The AFC East – Miami Dolphins

The 2012 Miami Dolphins head into the NFL season with yet another new coach and (maybe) another new quarterback. Former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin is calling the shots in Florida. He is charged with the not insignificant task of bringing the Green Bay Way to South Beach. Like, by Tuesday.

2011 season wrap-up:

  1. It took the imminent firing of their head coach to get the attention of the 2011 Dolphins. The defense should have been strong—and was downright dismal for the first half of the year.
  2. GM Jeff Ireland has spent five years buttressing the lines, only to have an O-line featuring former first overall pick Jake Long give up 52 sacks. Fifty. Two. That even beats the David Carr-destroying season in Texas.
  3. Chad Henne has finally proven that he is not an NFL starter (although many would say that he proved that two years ago). He is now the backup in Jacksonville. I’d say more, but that would just be mean.
  4. QB Matt Moore played reasonably well after taking over from Henne last year. According to HBO’s Hard Knocks, he has the respect of the team. (Consider the source, here.)
  5. All receivers (including TE Anthony Fasano and RB Reggie Bush) caught 280 balls on 469 targets. That doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of the rest of the AFC East.
  6. 2011 draft picks WR Clyde Gates and FB Charles Clay (don’t you just love a pass-catching fullback?) seem to be able to hang onto a football and should develop in 2012. Depending upon who is throwing them the ball.

2012 offseason:

  1. Talented but troubled WR Brandon Marshall left for Chicago, leaving an opening for a play-making WR. Chad Johnson was signed, but cut after his arrest.
  2. David Garrard is on a mission to prove that his tacky dismissal from the Jaguars was unwarranted. He was No. 1 on the depth chart at QB until he opted for arthroscopic knee surgery. Now it’s Matt Moore starting with first–round rookie Ryan Tannehill lighting it up in relief during the first preseason game.
  3. Rookie offensive lineman Jonathan Martin is penciled in at starter having spent the last few years effectively guarding Andrew Luck. His first preseason game had predictable rookie results, but he is expected to improve.
  4. The secondary looked dreadful against Josh Freeman and the rest of the Bucs offense. The Bucs offense. Just let that sink in for a minute. (To be fair, the new rushing tandem in Tampa Bay is going to be a force.)

Storylines:

  1. Short-term, there will be fallout from the Chad Johnson fiasco, but it won’t last as the team moves on quickly.
  2. Tannehill knows this offense because he played under the new offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman, in college. Well, that hardly seems like a fair competition does it?  We’ll see what happens when David Garrard gets back on the field. Garrard’s nickname for Tannehill is “The People’s Choice.”  Uh-oh.
  3. Supremely talented cornerback Vontae Davis does not appear to be “feeling” the Joe Philbin/Green Bay culture. That could be trouble for a young man who never met a discipline he didn’t try to avoid.
  4. Reggie Bush still wants to be the featured back. He proved that this is a possibility in 2011, but will it fly in a Green Bay system?  The last time I checked, the Pack ran a lot of plays with a totally empty backfield. Plus, last year’s rookie Daniel Thomas and this year’s rookie Lamar Miller will also want to tote the rock. Hmmmm.
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