With the Super Bowl in the rear-view mirror, it's now officially the NFL offseason. In other words, it's the time of year when the Miami Dolphins have to try yet again to find a way to haul their legs out of the mediocrity mud they've been stuck in for what feels like forever. This year can be different, though! Maybe.
So what are the Dolphins' biggest issues to address this offseason? What will Dennis Hickey and new Dolphins czar Mike Tannenbaum cook up to take this team to a place it hasn't been in years?
Here are the biggest weak spots the Miami Dolphins must address this offseason if fans are to have any hope for 2015.
5. Figure out how to get Dion Jordan on the field more often.
Enough is enough with this coaching staff's use of Dion Jordan, a guy for whom the Phins traded a second-round pick to move up to No. 3 overall to draft. It's time to stop making excuses and start being creative with using him in this defense. Jordan did himself no favors last year by getting suspended for four games for violating the league's PED policy, but the Dolphins had been wasting his talent long before that hiccup in judgment and continued doing so after he returned. Jordan should be standing up more, whether he's rushing or dropping in coverage, but the Dolphins refuse to be creative with him -- rather they prefer to try to make him into something he never was, a traditional hand-on-the-ground rusher.
Wasting resources like that is how you remain far behind the Patriots in the AFC East every year.
4. Work on getting more creative with Mike Wallace, not on getting out of paying him.
Mike Wallace quit in the team's last game against the Jets, and there is no defending that fact, but fans have to wonder how he got to that breaking point. Wallace was in the wrong, but that doesn't mean the Dolphins need to cut ties with their best playmaker on offense -- the relationship is not beyond repair. The team should look on the bright side: Wallace is that hungry to make plays that he'll embarrass himself when he can't make a difference. The Dolphins are paying Wallace the kind of money that says they think he is an elite player, so it's time to make him put up or shut up.
Next season is a make-or-break year for nearly everyone, front office and players alike -- so if you are gonna go out, go out guns blazing.
3. Get Brent Grimes some damn help.
The Dolphins' star cornerback had an up-and-down season last year, starting well but fading toward the end of the year. And not coincidentally, that fade coincided with the rest of the secondary imploding around him. The Dolphins put way too much faith in the thought that Will Davis and Jamar Taylor could improve drastically, and it backfired. Add in the fact that Cortland Finnegan was a predictable bust of a free agent signing, and it all equaled a disaster of a secondary.
One of the top priorities for the Dolphins this offseason should be finding capable NFL-caliber cornerbacks, as in plural, multiple cornerbacks. The Dolphins cannot enter another season with the kind of depth at corner they brought into last year.
2. Make Lamar Miller a bigger part of your offense, and complement him with a bruising running back.
Lamar Miller was one of the few bright spots to come out of the 2014 Miami Dolphins season. He was a legit lead running back after Knowshon Moreno went down for the year. By now the Dolphins should have figured out what the fans already know: Miller needs to get the ball in open space more often, because he's one of the most explosive backs in the league when he gets blockers out in front of him.
It would be nice to see the Dolphins add a running back who can pound the ball into the line on a third-and-one, leaving the light, more freelance type of work to Miller on the earlier downs. It seemed like Miller got tired deep into games because the Dolphins used him in situations that do not suit him best.
1. Surround Ryan Tannehill with an offensive line that won't get him killed.
Tannehill is entering his fourth year, and many of us still have no idea who he is, mainly because he's had entire years wasted away getting up off the turf. Tannehill made a huge leap midseason this year -- the light bulb went on and he looked terrific for a long stretch -- but as his line crumbled around him, things got less impressive. Playmaking is no longer the issue for the Fins QB. A lack of experience is no longer a problem. It's time to give the kid everything he needs to prosper.
Tannehill will get a fourth-year option that should pay him north of $15 million this year, and the Dolphins need to make sure that investment is protected. If he spends another season picking his ass up off the ground, the Dolphins will find themselves looking to give a guy a $100-million-plus contract with not much to show for it as far as proof he can lead a team.
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