1) The Offensive Line Will Be a Story From Now Till the End Of the Season Even If They Sign Evan Mathis
This Dolphins offensive line is an utter disaster as we sit today on August 9th. I know some will say I am overreacting and hitting the panic button too soon, but to me this is just facing reality. Yes, it's early August and a lot can change but looking at the players we are dealing with, I don't see much changing within the next month. On the two-deep depth chart only Juwan James and Mike Pouncey can be counted on right now and that is a very scary sign. Branden Albert walks with a bad limp and while the coaches say he should be ready by Week 1, anytime Albert talks he is less optimistic about the situation. When the best back-up offensive tackle on the right and left side is Jason Fox (who is also dinged up and injured by the way) then you know you have depth issues. Moving onto the Guard situation....we all know the Dolphins have 3 guards fighting for 2 spots and it's not exactly a battle of champions. It's a Who's Who of WHO? Billy Turner gets abused every day in practice by this defensive line. Yes, Suh is great but Suh isn't the only person beating Turner badly on plays. Earl Mitchell, Jordan Phillips, CJ Mosley, Anthony Johnson all use Turner as a Turnstile. Dallas Thomas...look we all know the story here so I won't waste any time, the kid can't play a lick. Jamil Douglas seems to be coming along as a 4th round rookie should be coming along. Not awful, not great. Holding is own and doing ok showing slight improvement each day. I'm not knocking him at all, but the fact is the sad part is "OK" at guard on this roster means you are a savior. Which is very very scary!
The Dolphins need more than just Evan Mathis.Sure Mathis fills a huge void at one starting guard spot, but this offensive line needs quality back-ups at this point as well because at best they will be starting 1 question mark at guard (probably 2 honestly) and have a less than 100% Branden Albert at left tackle. If Branden Albert can't go come September it's gonna be a nightmare scenario. The Dolphins don't have a capable back-up tackle to save their life. If the Fins open the year with Jason Fox and Jamil Douglas on the left side of the line Washington and Jacksonville are going to tee-off on Tannehill. And Miami might be better than both teams on paper, but on the field those games might be ugly to watch. If Albert has to rush back and play at 75% or 80%...that's not good either.
Dennis Hickey, Joe Philbin, and Mike Tannenbaum failed in addressing this offensive line this offseason. They put all their eggs in the Billy Turner basket and that basket is about to be dropped and those eggs are gonna crack and it could be a mess. While Jordan Phillips might end up being a nice player, the Fins probably should have went offensive line in Rd 2 of the draft. And the Fins should have done more than sign JD Walton and Jeff Linkenbach two journeyman players who bring little to the table.
2) Ryan Tannehill Will Continue his Improvement in 2015
Each year Ryan Tannehill has little by little improved his play. Each year the mistakes get fewer and the strides get bigger. From the early looks of it in training camp this will continue and we may see the biggest leap of his career in 2015. Putting the offensive line issue to the side for a moment because we just discussed it; Tannehill has everything in place weapon wise. A revamped group of WR's who fit his skill set better. Bigger and Faster players with a larger catch radius. Guys who can and will go up and fight for the ball. He now also has a big redzone threat at TE in Jordan Cameron to go along with a group of WR's that goes 5 or 6 deep on the depth chart with quality. With all of these new weapons and all of this improvement you can see a new and clearly improved Ryan Tannehill thus far in camp. Better accuracy, better ball placement with his throws, better footwork, and oh yeah better at throwing the deep ball. If the offensive line can be fixed or at least patch-worked together to be just "decent"....the sky is the limit for young Tannehill.
3) No More Excuses Philbin
You read the training camp reports you see highlights every day online. You see what took place at the scrimmage and you hear the players speak about the talent on this roster, and you come to this brutal truth in 2015; NO MORE EXCUSES FOR JOE PHILBIN. While this 2015 Dolphins team has warts and flaws, this team is good enough to win 10 games. Philbin looks more like an accountant than a NFL Head Coach but this will be year 4 for him and another 7 or 8 win season won't cut it. The defensive line is as good as there is in the NFL. The secondary while not loaded with talent has a lot of good to slightly above average corners on this roster. CB depth isn't an issue. You have a QB who is continuing to improve and who has a lot of weapons around him that are very talented. The skill position talent on the Dolphins is as good as it's been since the 90's and when Marino was here in Shula's last years. Sure the offensive line looks horrendous and the linebackers might not be any good, but too bad. No team in the NFL is perfect, so earn your paycheck and work around it.
The success of the 2015 season is less about the talent on the field than it is about the Head Coach on the sideline. Philbin is at that fork in the road of his career. He can go in one path and be the next Tom Coughlin take off and adjust his ways a little and take that next step towards being a quality head coach. Or he can take the other path and not change and be the next Rich Kottite.