“We are undefeated in 2016, it’s 2015 I’m disappointed in”.
The Miami Dolphins are 1-0 in 2016. En route to their 20-10 victory over the New England Patriots week 17, quarterback Ryan Tannehill outdueled Tom Brady, Dion Sims had more yards than Rob Gronkowski, and the bottom feeder Miami Dolphins out performed the reigning Super Bowl champs by gaining 242 more yards of total offense.
For the Miami Dolphins, their win at the start of 2016 may have sparked a glimmer of hope, and a positive outlook going into next season at the close of the current dreadful one.
The 6-10 Dolphins completed their 50th season finishing closer to the first pick in the upcoming draft than a spot in the playoffs; a spot in which owner Steven Ross envisioned the Dolphins being in after the off-season free agency signing of Ndamukong Suh. Possessing the worst record since the 2007 Dolphins (1-15) team, the front office and coaching staff paid the price, as one by one members of the staff from Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle, all the way up to GM Dennis Hickey were fired for their involvement in the self-destructing 2015 team.
During my preseason 2015 projection, I predicted the Dolphins would finish the season at 9-7. Looking back, I used a quote, which is far more suited for the current state of the Miami Dolphins franchise.
The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming. -Harvey Dent
For the Dolphins that new dawn starts now, with Joe Philbin and former staff removed, the Miami Dolphins have a chance to clean the slate.
Ryan Tannehill– Ryan Tannehill has his flaws; no one will deny that, but during week 17, the 26 year-old QB made a big statement to the next Miami Dolphins head coach: I can be your quarterback.
Tannehill finished the game with a season high 9.21 yards per pass, completed 66% of his passes (25/38 for 350 yards and 2 TD’s). Tannehill showed a pocket presence and leadership quality that he’s lacked throughout much of the 2015 campaign. The former Aggie even drove the Dolphins downfield in a 2-minute drill, which was capped off with a 15 yard TD to DeVante Parker. (I’m sure Miko Grimes wasn’t happy about that one).
Tannehill still has room to grow, but his 2nd consecutive 4,000-yard season and 24 to 12 TD:INT ratio cannot be completely ignored; Ryan Tannehill still has a chance to be the man in Miami.
DeVante Parker– DeVante Parker is another Dolphins player who ended his season on a high note. The former Louisville standout racked up a season-high five catches for 100 yards, and a touchdown. The rookie also made a spectacular highlight reel 46-yard catch, which saved a potential interception on a crucial drive. Since November, Parker has played at an extremely high level pulling in multiple catches, including 3 touchdowns during the last six games. With the possibility of Miami losing Rishard Matthews this off-season, Parker has staked his claim as the number two receiver in Miami.
Neville Hewitt– The undrafted rookie had the tall task of defending superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski and thankfully, Hewitt did exquisitely well in his first career start on the active roster. Hewitt recorded six tackles, one for a loss. With the help of Spencer Paysinger, Gronkowski was held to a season low 2 catches for 18 yards on 7 targets.
Andrew Franks– I have to pick a bad, so here it is. Andrew Franks put together a solid rookie year making 13 of 16 Kicks and 33 of 36 XP attempts. But Franks shanked a field goal on a crucial drive for the Miami Dolphins. Empty possessions on offense have been the Black Death of the 2015 season. Luckily, this play is the only to make the “Bad” list in week 17.
Patriots Offense– The Patriot’s offense was held to under 200 yards and gained 20 yards in the entire fourth quarter. Yes, Tom Brady was in the game, and no the Patriots were not “Tanking”. No other team has been able to hold the Patriots to 10 points this season. The cruel reality just may be that, without Julian Edelman and a good offensive line, the Patriots offense is not able to handle aggressive offensive lines.
Regardless, this was a poor showing for the number two offense in the NFL, and considering week 17 was the first game of 2015 in which Brady was unable to connect for a touchdown.