Tuesday, July 28, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Miami Dolphins
2008 RECORD: 11-5
(1st in AFC East)
HEAD COACH: Tony Sparano
Key Additions: S Gibril Wilson (FA/Raiders) OL Jake Grove (FA/Raiders) CB Eric Green (FA/Cardinals) LB Jason Taylor (FA/Redskins)
Key Losses: CB Renaldo Hill (FA/Broncos) CB Andre Goodman (FA/Broncos) QB John Beck (FA/Ravens) DE Vonnie Holliday (FA)
Offense: Chad Pennington sure made the Jets look foolish for giving up on him as he led the Dolphins offense a year ago while Miami turned around from a 1-15 season in 2007 to go 11-5 last season.
Pennington racked up 19 touchdown passes with just seven interceptions while throwing for 3,653 yards and compiled a 97.4 passer rating, which was good for second in the NFL.
Ronnie Brown (916 yards rushing and 10 TDs) and Rickey Williams (659 yards and four TDs) combined to give the Dolphins a solid running game in 2008. That helped to keep the pressure off Pennington.
The wide receivers are many featuring leading receiver from a year ago Ted Ginn, Jr. (56 catches for 790 yards and two touchdowns), Greg Camarillo (55 grabs and two scores) and Davone Bess (54 catches for 554 yards and a touchdown). Tight End Anthony Fasano, who came over from Dallas, caught 34 passes (13.4 ypc average) and scored seven touchdowns. He became a favorite target in the red zone for Pennington.
And let us not forget the"Wildcat" offense, which had wild success a year ago and the Dolphins also added QB Pat White (West Virginia) to the mix with their second-round pick. White may be a perfect fit for the gimmick offense as he ran a lot of option-type plays while in college.
The offensive line was solid and features center Jake Grove (free agent signee from Oakland), guards Justin Smiley and Donald Thomas and tackles Vernon Carey and Jake Long.
Long was last season's top draft pick and had a solid rookie year, securing a spot on the Pro Bowl team as a backup at left tackle.
Defense: The Miami defense ranked in the middle of the pack a year ago (15th overall) and did much better against the run as opposed to the pass.
The Dolphins were lit up a few times through the air in 2008, allowing 228 yards per game by their opponents. The defense allowed 101 yards per game on the ground, which was good for 10th place overall in the league.
Miami plays the 3-4 defense, featuring Jason Ferguson at NT and Kendall Langford and Phillips Merling at the End positions.
The linebacking corps is led by none other than Joey Porter (weakside LB). Porter led the way for Miami with 17.5 QB sacks a year ago. As a unit, the Dolphins totaled 40 sacks. Not too bad Joey.
Jason Taylor, after spending a year in Washington, returns to Miami and will play the strong side LB spot. The inside LBs will be Akin Ayodele and Channing Crowder.
In the secondary, the Dolphins took some chances and intercepted 18 passes while giving up some big plays as well. The unit needs to step it up a bit in 2009 after ranking 25th against the pass last year.
The starting corners will likely be Will Allen and rookie Vontae Davis (1st Rd. pick from Illinois) and the safeties will be Yeremiah Bell and Gibril Wilson, who comes over as a free agent from the Raiders. Eric Green and Jason Allen will back up at cornerback while Courtney Bryan and Tyrone Culver add depth as well in the secondary.
OUTLOOK: The Dolphins stunned the entire league in 2008 by going 11-5 and winning the AFC East after going 1-15 in 2007. Wow!
But that was last year and now they have a first place schedule to deal with. It won't be easy, but second-year Head Coach Tony Sparano knows how to win and showed it big time least season.
Pennington enjoyed a great season and did not have the injuries either that seemed to plague him with the Jets.
Porter was a mad man for the defense evidenced by his sack total, which was second overall in the NFL.
The team also ranked number one in turnover differential, enjoying a +17 in this category.
For the Dolphins to enjoy the same success in 2009, that needs to continue. They will not be taken lightly and sneak up on people this year, like they did a year ago. Also, Baltimore exposed how to stop the vaunted "Wildcat" offense last season. The gadget offense seemed to stun some opposing defenses when first introduced.
Bottom line is that Miami will not be taken lightly in 2009 and they face one real tough opponent in their division... New England, which has QB Tom Brady returning from a serious knee injury.
Look for Miami, with the surprise factor now out in the open and a much tougher schedule this year, to finish 8-8, which will get them second place in the AFC East.
Week 1- at Atlanta (Sept. 13)
Week 2- vs. Indianapolis (Sept. 21)
Week 3- at San Diego (Sept. 27)
Week 4- vs. Buffalo (Oct. 4)
Week 5- vs. NY Jets (Oct. 12)
Week 6- BYE WEEK
Week 7- vs. New Orleans (Oct. 25)
Week 8- at NY Jets (Nov. 1)
Week 9- at New England (Nov. 8)
Week 10- vs. Tampa Bay (Nov. 15)
Week 11- at Carolina (Nov. 19)
Week 12- at Buffalo (Nov. 29)
Week 13- vs. New England (Dec. 6)
Week 14- at Jacksonville (Dec. 13)
Week 15- at Tennessee (Dec. 20)
Week 16- vs. Houston (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. Pittsburgh (Jan. 3)