The Miami Dolphins will spend this offseason rebuilding the franchise, but first the team’s coaches and executives must understand what went wrong in 2012, which led to a 7-9 season.
Sun-Sentinel Dolphins writers Omar Kelly and Chris Perkins take a glance at a few of the issues and give their take on what the team’s priorities should be moving forward.
Biggest Disappointments of 2012:
Kelly: The 2012 draft class didn’t meet anyone’s expectations. Ryan Tannehill, a quarterback everyone thought needed time to develop, didn’t disappoint much. But he got blown away by his contemporaries. Jonathan Martin was ranked by ProFootballFocus.com as the 76th best offensive tackle in the NFL. That means backups were better. Defensive end Olivier Vernon sparingly provided any pass rush. Tight end Michael Egnew couldn’t get on the field because of his limited toughness. Tailback Lamar Miller showed promise as a runner (4.9 yards per carry), but there are obvious holes in his game (pass blocking). And everyone else was filler.
Perkins: Cornerback Sean Smith, left tackle Jake Long (tie). Smith’s two interceptions barely bested defensive lineman Randy Starks' one interception. Smith started off well but tapered off midway through the season. Long didn’t make the Pro Bowl for the first time in five seasons and ended the year on injured reserve for the second consecutive season. You expect more from guys in the final year of their contracts.
Biggest Surprise of 2012:
Kelly: The Dolphins offense wasn’t anything Joe Philbin advertised it would be. It was slow, lumbering, methodical, lacked interchangeable parts and creativity for much of the season. The Dolphins spent all offseason and training camp selling an up tempo, fast paced offense then delivered a limp attack.
Perkins: PR/KOR Marcus Thigpen. The rookie was fifth in KOR average (27.4 yards) and fourth in punts returns (12.2). He became the first Dolphin to score a touchdown on both kickoff and punt returns. The offense badly needed his help. WR Brian Hartline (1,083 yards) deserves mention but he only had one touchdown. Every other receiver with 1,000 yards had at least four touchdowns.
Kelly: Turnovers. The Dolphins finished minus-10 in the turnover ratio. We’re all aware the Dolphins had a small margin for error, and typically lost every game where the offense turned the ball over. But the defense rarely provided an assist with interceptions (10) and forced fumbles recovered (six). Turnovers make the game easier for everyone.