Frank Doyle looks at the year ahead for Miami – is another flop in store for the fish?
Pop quiz: what have these fifteen guys got in common? Damon Huard, Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, AJ Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen, Chad Henne.
They’ve all been named starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins in the twelve years since Dan Marino retired. Quarterback is the most important position on the field and it’s a gap that the Dolphins just can’t seem to plug.
The Dolphins have made only one playoff appearance in those twelve years too – 2008, when they sprung the wildcat on the world in Tony Sparano’s first season. But things haven’t been good since.
The luckless Chad Pennington is now in the commentary booth, the wildcat has been de-clawed and the fans are calling for Chad Henne’s head every time he checks down, which is a lot. Those fans that bother to turn up in the first place, that is.
It’s a long way to fall for one of the NFL’s premier franchises over so many years. So are there any signs of hope this year?
Well, Henne isn’t that bad. He has a good line to work behind, a deep threat in Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush in the backfield. If Bush is ever going to step up in the NFL he has to do it now, in Miami. Henne using his arm more can open the lanes for the Dolphins running game.
On defense, the news is better. The Dolphins run a 3-4 defense under former Niner head coach Mike Nolan and they have the single most important component of that scheme in place. Nose tackle Paul Soliai tips the scales at 355 pounds and whatever about anyone going around him, there’s nobody going through him.
Behind Soliai the Dolphins are blessed with one of the CFL’s great gifts to the southern league, outside linebacker Cameron Wake, who was good for fourteen sacks last year.
In terms of NFL betting, the Dolphins are +750 to win the AFC East, +2500 to reach the Super Bowl and +5000 to win it. The over/under for total wins is set at eight. Whether they win eight or not, betting the under in every single Miami game could be the way to go unless Henne begins to trust his arm and judgement a little more than he has thus far.