The Dolphins held up their end of the bargain, beat the Bills and they’d have an outside shot at the playoffs in week 17. Moments after time expired following their seventh victory, the Cincinnati Bengals (whom the Dolphins defeated earlier this season in Cincy) beat the Steelers and the Dolphins playoff chances were silenced.
It was a longshot to begin with, however it should be noted that when the season began, the Dolphins were playing without the traded WR Brandon Marshall, starting #1 Cornerback Vontae Davis, with a rookie head coach along with starting a rookie QB on a team that went 6-10 the previous season. So regardless of how this final game plays out, the Dolphins have taken a step in the right direction and this offseason becomes thee most important offseason in years for the Dolphins.
They believe they have found their franchise quarterback, now they begin the task of building the core of the team around him using plenty of draft picks in next April’s draft, and a lot of cap space.
MDD Staff Writer: Chad Pullen
Fantasy season is over for 99% of leagues, but there are some numbers to be followed for the Dolphins in the last game of the season. Reggie Bush needs 40 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season and become only the third running back in Dolphin history with back to back 1,000 yard seasons along with Ricky Williams and Larry Csonka.
Brian Hartline needs 40 receiving yards to secure a top 10 single season yardage record in franchise history at 1,053, and Cameron Wake needs 4 sacks to set the franchise record for sacks in a season. If the Patriots do not play their starters for a full 60 minutes, Miami may be able to accommodate each player with the exception of Wake who will need a little luck to record 4 sacks in a game.
Tannehill has already had the second best quarterback season for a rookie in franchise history behind Dan Marino in 1983 and he will look to finish the season strong heading into next season. He has thrown 5 touchdowns with no interceptions the last 3 games and has also began running the ball for bigger gains than early in the season.
Miami was extremely fortunate this season in the injury department as CB Richard Marshall was the only player that missed an extended period of time until OT Jake Long’s season ending injury last month. Unfortunately, that streak has caught up to the Dolphins now as they have sent several players to the injured list the past three weeks. Joining Marshall and Long on IR are RB Daniel Thomas, TE, Charles Clay, and K Dan Carpenter. Several key players are still banged up for this week and their status has still yet to be determined. They are WR Davone Bess – Back, OLB Koa Misi – ankle, CB Sean Smith – knee, and CB Nolan Carroll – knee. The secondary has been especially thinned out as training camp starters Vontae Davie, Sean Smith, and Richard Marshall could all miss the final game, in New England and Tom Brady, a tenuous position for the Dolphin defense. With Nolan Carroll also banged up, the Phins could be using waiver wire pickups against the Patriots this week, here’s to hoping the Patriots decide to rest their players rather than take out some of their frustrations on the Dolphins.
Two very interesting signings have taken place the past couple of weeks that may provide the Dolphins with some extra pieces to play with in the 2013 season. WR Armon Binns is 6-3 210 lbs and only in his second season in the NFL. He was picked up two weeks ago and has already been on the field and had a couple of catches for Miami last week. His first three games in Cincinnati this season; he was targeted 13 times and caught 12 of those for 157 yards and a score. For some reason he fell out of favor in Cincinnati and the Dolphins picked him up. He also managed 4 receptions for 41 yards against the Dolphins when Miami beat the Bengals October 7th.
Miami also recently acquired CB Dimitri Patterson who was let go by the Cleveland Browns and he was immediately inserted into the starting lineup against the Bills and held his own quite well. Patterson is 5-10, 200 lbs and had four solo tackles against the Bills literally learning the defense while on the field. Both of these players fit into areas of need this offseason, if they can show enough in practice and this final game, Miami may be able to move those needs back a pick or two while they address bigger concerns.
Instead of looking skill position in round 1, the Dolphins may be able to look at a DE opposite Wake, and then later on take a WR/CB in round 2 or 3 given that they have an extra pick in each round. If they feel good enough about Patterson in particular, especially with Marshall expected back next season and the possibility of re-signing Sean Smith, then Miami could bump corner to round 3 even and take an extra weapon in round 2 for Tannehill. By no means are Binns and Patterson the answers to Miami’s problems, but they may add more depth to their positions allowing GM Jeff Ireland to strengthen and deepen other areas of the team while still having a couple players for Miami coaches to develop that came relatively cheap and without having to give up any assets for them.