Happy New Year, Miami Dolphins fans!
The 2013 season is officially in the books, and Miami finished with an 8-8 record. The Dolphins were an average team last year. But here are five New Year’s resolutions for the team to welcome in 2014.
1. Figure out who goes and who stays
Analysis: This will be the talk of South Florida sports for the next couple of weeks. The Dolphins, and particularly owner Stephen Ross, have some tough decisions to make after this season’s epic collapse. Miami underachieved by missing the playoffs and did so in embarrassing fashion by getting blown out by two division opponents to end the season. It appears head coach Joe Philbin is safe, but assistants such as offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and offensive line coach Jim Turner should be worried. General manager Jeff Ireland also is on the hot seat.
2. Find an identity
Analysis: I’ve watched the Dolphins virtually everyday since last spring’s organized team activities. Month later, I still cannot tell you what was the Dolphins’ identity in 2013. They were not a defensive team. They were not an offensive team. They were not a great passing or running team. It was week to week. Miami’s coaching staff must figure out what the strengths are for the Dolphins and build from there. Having a clear identity could go a long way to winning more games.
3. Fix offensive line
Analysis: The Dolphins were 27th in rushing and set a new franchise record with 58 quarterback sacks allowed. Needless to say, Miami’s offensive line needs a major upgrade. Center Mike Pouncey made his first Pro Bowl this season. Buy there are questions at every other spot on the offensive line. Starting guard John Jerry and offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are free agents. Suspended guard Richie Incognito also is a free agent and not expected to return. This is the perfect time for a complete makeover up front.
4. Re-sign Brent Grimes
Analysis: The Dolphins made a terrific move last offseason by signing Grimes from the Atlanta Falcons. Grimes became arguably Miami’s most consistent player and qualified for his second Pro Bowl. Grimes will be looking for long-term security and won’t come cheap. The Dolphins should pay up to secure one of their cornerback spots. Grimes will be Miami's biggest free-agent priority.
5. Improve Ryan Tannehill’s deep ball
Analysis: Two years in, it’s still difficult to say whether Tannehill is Miami’s long-term solution at quarterback. Tannehill set new career highs in yards (3,913) touchdowns (24) and passer rating (81.7), but still were some flaws in his game that could hold him back. One major flaw for Tannehill in 2013 was his inability to throw the deep ball. Tannehill missed speedy receiver Mike Wallace on many occasions in what could have been game-changing plays. Tannehill has a good arm and can make most of the throws. He needs to put more work into his deep ball in 2014, especially with Wallace in fold.
If the Dolphins accomplish these five New Year’s resolutions, the team will be well on their way to a better 2014. Thanks again, Miami fans, for the continued support of ESPN.com’s Dolphins page throughout last year. We look forward to an even bigger year covering the Dolphins in 2014.