The way things went for the Dolphins last year, avoiding another full-blown public relations disaster would be considered progress.
With the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation behind them, the Dolphins will try to get back to winning football. To do so, they’ll need to improve on an offense that ranked 27th in the NFL last season and gave up a league-high 58 sacks behind a line that was in shambles after the Incognito-Martin mess.
The Dolphins set about fixing that line by signing former Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert, whom they tried to acquire in a trade the previous year only to fail to come to an agreement on compensation with Kansas City. But it’ll take more than just Albert to turn this offense around. The Dolphins need Ryan Tannehill to make a big leap forward in his third season, will have to get their money’s worth on Mike Wallace (930 yards and five touchdowns just doesn’t match the $12 million per season he’s getting), will hold their breath Mike Pouncey (hip surgery) doesn’t miss more than just a few games and had better hope Knowshon Moreno’s knee issues from the spring don’t manifest themselves in the fall.
As for the defense, cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan need to prove they have enough football left in them at 30 years old to justify the contracts Miami gave them. (Grimes’ four-year, $32 million deal raised plenty of eyebrows around the league.) Up front, if defensive end Cameron Wake can get back to double-digit sacks, that would certainly help the entire front seven, which welcomes back tackle Randy Starks after his flirtation in free agency.
Of course, the biggest key of all on defense might be end Dion Jordan, who had a very disappointing rookie season and has yet to show signs of living up to his billing as the third overall pick last year. Jordan’s 2014 season is already off to a poor start. He was suspended last week for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and that’s not a good look for a guy who already had plenty to prove.
The Dolphins are hoping Jordan’s suspension isn’t the start of another long, rocky year on the way.
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