Welcome to our End of the Season Retrospective! We’re going to be covering every team this offseason, analyzing last year and looking forward to the 2012-13 season. With every team we are going to look at highlights and lowlights from the past season, last year’s team MVP, position needs, and an entirely too early prediction for next year. Hell, there might be some other stuff we throw in just because we feel like it! We can’t predict what we’re going to do; it’s the offseason, I already miss football, and that makes me prone to unpredictable behavior!
This week we’re going to cover the AFC East because they are the first division listed in Tecmo Bowl. Ben and I drafted teams to talk about, and with my first pick I selected the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins, at first glance, appear to be a tale of two teams in 2011: the team that went 0-7 and the team that went 6-3. That team that went 0-7 sucked; boy, did they suck. And the one that went 6-3 was pretty good all-around. But when you look a bit closer at the Dolphins, I don’t think they were really that different. They played a lot of teams pretty well in those first 7 losses. If you ignore the Tebow game (good advice for all of America, really) and consider how close they were to beating the Browns and Giants, the Dolphins were very close to being a 9-7 playoff contender. Not bad for a team that spent most of the year battling the Colts in a suck-off.
Team Highlight: I think the Dolphins’ highlight was their 4th win of the season against the Oakland Raiders. It was a game of teams going in opposite directions, but it was also a game that Miami dominated on all sides of the ball. Reggie Bush had a 100-yard running game, which is as rare as LeBron James dominating a 4th quarter (NBA humor!). The defense held Oakland’s vaunted running game to 46 yards, and they also returned an interception for a touchdown. They were leading 34-0 going into the 4th quarter before they pulled a LeBron and stopped trying, letting Oakland score a couple of pity-touchdowns. I think that was the first time I realized that the Dolphins weren’t losing games anymore.
Team Lowlight: I have to take the easy answer and say the first seven games of the year. While they were playing close games and probably weren’t as bad as they looked, their defense was giving up almost 400 yards per game in that stretch. They also had at least one turnover in each of their seven losses. Their first win against the Chiefs was also their first mistake-free game of the year. Coincidence? Maybe!
Team MVP: It kind of hurts me to say this, but I think it was Reggie Bush.
The team didn’t really start winning until Bush got more carries and became more established in their offense. For some reason I can’t fathom, Bush became a beast at the running back position, putting up numbers he never had before. He ended up with his first 1000-yard season, which is impressive when you consider how much the Dolphins tried to use Daniel Thomas in the first half of the year.
Needs: Matt Moore’s okay. Chad Henne’s all right. But if the Dolphins are going to get back to the playoffs, they need a franchise quarterback. They need someone who can make Brandon Marshall more than just a good receiver. They need someone who can properly utilize his running backs out of the backfield. So without a doubt, they need to address the quarterback. Maybe Peyton Manning, maybe Matt Flynn (which would make sense considering his connection with former Packers coordinator and new coach Joe Philbin), maybe through the draft, but something needs to be done. The other prominent need is at both safety positions to shore up what is a pretty dismal passing defense. Dashon Goldson (if he isn’t franchised), Tyvon Branch, and LaRon Landry stand out as possible additions that would help tighten up the Fins D.
What’s in the Dolphins Fan’s Fridge: This category pretty much will explain what a Dolphins fan should be drinking and why.
The Dolphins fan is drinking plenty of Malibu Black; it fits the light and airy attitude of Miami while also packing quite a kick. And if the Dolphins start off as badly as they did last year, fans are going to need something to take away the pain.
Straight Cash Homey Meter:
As you can see, Randy Moss’s luxurious mane of hair resides at 6. The Dolphins could use a player like Randy, assuming two things: his speed is still there and they have someone to throw to him. If he can still run down the field, and if they can get Matt Flynn to throw bombs to him, that offense changes from a promising one to a dynamic one. I’d actually love to see that.
Entirely Way Too Early Prediction for 2012: 8-8. New coach Joe Philbin will probably make the offense better with or without the dream situation I laid out above. I expect the offense to be solid, but the defense to be what holds them back. Cameron Wake will have a great year, but unless they make a lot of moves in free agency on the defensive side, this team will stay at .500.
So that’s our first retrospective! Tomorrow Ben will be covering everyone’s favorite Canadian team, the Bills!