2011 Miami Dolphins Team Preview and Prediction
Odds to win the AFC East +600
Odds to win the AFC +2000
Odds to win the Super Bowl +4000
Win Total 8
Since Miami’s breakout season in 2008 when it made a complete reversal of fortunes by going 11-5 after posting just one win in 2007, the team has languished in mediocrity with back-to-back 7-9 seasons. Some of this has to do with playing in the same division as the Jets and the Patriots, but most of it has to do with a lack of consistency on both sides of the ball. One week this team looks like it can beat anyone in the world and the next it lays down against a team it was a double-digit favorite to beat. Tony Sparano enters his fourth season as head coach with a team that is at a crossroads between a winning season and possible return to the playoffs or a return to obscurity and a high pick in next year’s draft.
The biggest problem on the offensive side of the ball mirrors the whole problem with this team; the inconsistent play of quarterback Chad Henne. In his defense, Henne has only played three years in the league and just two as a starter, but his overall body of work evokes far more questions than answers. He did throw for 3,301 yards last season but had just 15 touchdown passes verse 19 interceptions. He did complete 61.4 percent of his passes, but ended the season with a very pedestrian 75.4 passer rating, which happened to be exactly the same as his 2009 rating. Miami appeared ready to pull-off a deal with Denver to bring in Kyle Orton, but the talks stalled and the deal died. Unless Sparano decides to go with former Carolina QB Matt Moore, who was recently signed to a two-year contract, it looks like Henne will remain the starter for this team.
Miami did go out and try and build a better supporting cast around Henne through the draft by selecting OL Mike Pouncey in the first round, RB Daniel Thomas in the second, WR Edmond Gates in the third, and TE Charles Clay in the sixth. Pouncey should immediately make an impact on a very average offensive line, while Thomas may also get a shot to start with free agent RB Ronnie Brown signing with Philadelphia.
The defense has been another source of frustration as mental errors, breakdowns in coverage and missed opportunities all combined to cost the Dolphins more than just a few games over the past two seasons. Overall , last season’s numbers do not look that bad as Miami was ranked 14th in points allowed and sixth in total yards, but it struggled to create big plays through turnovers with just 11 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries that resulted in only one score. Oddly enough, the Dolphins have been extremely quiet in this area and no real moves were made to bring in a couple of playmakers that can turn these numbers around.
Unfortunately for all the die-hard Fin fans out there, it looks like it will be more of the same for this team in 2011. Both the Patriots and Jets went out and made some moves to create even more distance between themselves and Miami, which adds up to at least four losses in the division. With the NFC East on the schedule this year, you might have to add three more losses to this total, while road games against San Diego and Kansas City will not help the cause.
2011 Prediction: 6-10 and third in the AFC East
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