The 2012 season was the beginning of a new era for the Miami Dolphins. A new coaching staff and a rookie quarterback were all brought in to try and change the direction of a downtrodden franchise.
Head coach Joe Philbin, along with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, helped to usher in a new attitude and culture to Miami. But the biggest decision was made when the Dolphins selected Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick, making him the quarterback of the future for an organization that has had a revolving door of signal-callers since Dan Marino retired.
MDD Staff Writer: Garrett Baker
The summer was interesting, as the team was featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks series. There was the whole Chad Ochocinco saga, the Les Brown experiment, and the quarterback competition which was eventually won by Tannehill.
The team lost all four preseason games, but growing pains were evident and there were signs of encouragement. In a week-by-week sense, the Dolphins were really streaky. After a loss to Houston in the opener, they played six very solid games, with four wins and two overtime losses over that span.
But then they lost a heartbreaker to Indianapolis, and followed that up with two poor performances against Tennessee and Buffalo.
In their hardest stretch of the season, Miami went and beat Seattle in arguably the team’s best effort the season, only to follow it up with two hard-fought losses against New England and San Francisco.
After beating Jacksonville and Buffalo, Miami crumbled in the last game of the year against New England, getting shut out for the first time all year.
A 7-9 record, with two losses coming in overtime and another two losses by a combined eight points, should be very encouraging to Miami fans.
Joe Philbin should get all the praise in the world for drafting Tannehill, starting Tannehill, and obviously doing a good job grooming him throughout the season. With one of the weakest receiving corps in the league, Tannehill finished with 3,294 passing yards and 12 touchdowns.
He should cut down on the interceptions as he continues to develop, and his completion percentage should increase with time as well. He showed maturity and leadership, along with good instincts and a strong arm, which is very promising for the future.
The rest of the offense is a little more in limbo right now. There should be upgrades at the receiver position, and the futures of running backs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas are up in the air after underwhelming performances this season.
The defense, on the other hand, is in relatively good shape. They were a top-10 run defense all season, and if Richard Marshall hadn’t gotten injured, would have been a little better against the pass as well.
Cameron Wake was dynamic as ever, registering 15 sacks on the year. Reshad Jones had a breakout year, and Karlos Dansby finally played at a level worthy of his big contract.
Miami will look to add a cornerback, and maybe two, depending on how they feel about Sean Smith, who had an up-and-down year. It seems like there is no real consensus on Smith; some think he’s a shutdown guy, others find him overly inconsistent and mentally unreliable. For my money, he’s better suited as a No. 2 cornerback than as the top guy, where he played this year for Miami.
Jake Long is the other big question mark for the Dolphins. After struggling to adjust to the new zone-blocking scheme, Long was injured and missed the last few weeks of the season. His contract is up, and it’s not clear about how interested Miami is in bringing him back.
Overall, there were a lot of things to like about Miami’s season. Philbin seems like he has a clear idea of how he wants to run the franchise. Tannehill has the makings of a franchise quarterback. Rookie Jonathan Martin showed promise at both right and left tackle. The defense needs another piece or two, but performed valiantly throughout the season.
Losing record aside, Miami definitely exceeded expectations and showed a lot of potential. With a good offseason this spring, there’s no reason to think they won’t compete for the playoffs in the coming years.