Have you ever woken up and knew that it would be a good day?
Miami has been waiting 2356 days for another playoff appearance from their beloved Miami Dolphins and it looks like they won’t have to wait much longer. The Dolphins held their minicamp June 16, 2015 and everyone was upbeat, joyful and energetic.
Linebackers Kelvin Sheppard and Chris McCain helped set the cheerful tone with their dancing after making big plays. Meanwhile, Greg Jennings and Joe Philbin stepped in later and stole the show. Jennings got a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses from an intern and playfully demanded that coach Philbin put them on. The atmosphere seemed very pleasant and welcoming as ownership, management, coaches, former players, as well as a fifty media members were all smiles watching the often mundane camp experience.
Let’s put it this way, you know you’re team is on the right path when a Hall of Famer is at minicamp. Dan Marino was in attendance and looked very pleased with the progression of the roster. A lot of new blood has been brought in and it looks like a new culture is about to get established. Here are five things we learned from Dolphins minicamp.
1. The Dolphins Have Moved On…
Finishing with another 8-8 season and missing the playoffs last year hurt. Seeing a rival in New England (who the Dolphins defeated 33-20 on opening day) win the Super Bowl hurt even more. But you couldn’t see the pain of not making the postseason from the way they practiced and that’s a good thing.
On a Miami summer day where it was 93 degrees outside players who were inside of the air conditioned bubble started to race each other outside for practice. No one was hurt as they ran through small rotating doors. Everyone was ready for a new challenge though. Later in the week coach Philbin cancelled the last day of minicamp to what many people thought was a day off. Instead of having a spa day in the beautiful Miami sun, players found themselves in what they would call the most difficult workout of their lives on the beach executing Navy Seals training.
“The Navy Seals team training we just did is the hardest thing Ive ever done. If you’re a Navy Seal you are a better man than me, no question” said defensive tackle A.J. Francis on Twitter.
2. It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Suhperman!
If you’ve never seen Suh play you won’t miss him next year. The 6’4 305 pound athletic behemoth is difficult to miss. You can’t describe his impact until you actually see him play.
In simple terms, he’s the real deal and he’s going to help stop the run.
“It’s very disrespectful for a team to ever run the ball very heavily on you. This is a passing league, so for somebody to really run the ball on you heavily that’s really embarrassing” said Ndamukong Suh. If you take away one thing from this, let it be Suh’s word. The All-Pro defensive tackle has brought a brand new attitude with the defense. Be prepared to watch a destructive line on Sundays. With names like Earl Mitchell, Jordan Phillips, A.J. Francis and the newly acquired C.J. Mosley (Suh’s former teammate in Detroit), it’s safe to say that run stopping won’t be an issue.
Let’s also add in the fact that Oliver Vernon and Cameron Wake are on the ends.
3. Ryan Tannehill Is Closer To Becoming Elite
“Ryan Tannehill just continues to rise and he’s going to be one of the great quarterbacks” said Kim Bokamper.
A lot of people can call Bokamper a homer. A lot of people can also accuse him of speaking the truth. Tannehill has gotten better each of his first three seasons in the league. Why wouldn’t his fourth season be better? Is he elite? Does that even matter? There’s only a handful of players at quarterback that are. The better question is can he be the reason you win a Super Bowl? That answer is yes.
Tannehill’s last step in his development is his leadership and from the looks of the offseason, he’s started to take more responsibility. Someone should have told him the regular season hasn’t started yet because he was helping lead the entire practice. Whether he was coaching up Jordan Cameron on the sideline, or instructing the huddle, he was all over it. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also been throwing well too.
***Speaking of throwing well Josh Freeman also performed great. He should make a roster spot and compete for the backup QB position.***
4. Bill Lazor’s Offense Will Improve
The Dolphins made it clear last year that they wanted to push the tempo and go after big plays, but in a controlled way. The Dolphins will take chances with big plays by getting their best players in open space. Tannehill’s going to have a great season because the offense will allow him to have running lanes from the pocket. With his athletic ability it will help with the overall team success.
Additionally, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi and LaMichael James are going to make an impact on this roster. The more touches they get the easier the game becomes because the wide receiver core will get defended more in single coverage. With weapons like Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Rishard Matthews and Greg Jennings who all can create separation there will be a lot of touchdowns going around.
Last season Miami was 21st in the NFL on red zone touchdowns and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has decided to make that a huge priority this year.
“We’ve put the responsibility on me to evaluate the guys that we have and to use each of them the way they can best be used in the red zone. That’s the promise I’ve made to them” said Lazor.
5. The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts
In the NFL there are no perfect teams. If you’re looking for a team in the league without a flaw then you’ll be looking for the rest of your life. However, if you’re looking for a team that’s near completion and can win the AFC East than look no further south past Miami.
The entire roster of the Dolphins is pretty strong and they nearly have quality starters at every position. From the wide receivers, quarterbacks, running backs, defensive line, offensive line, linebackers and cornerbacks there are at least two or more capable starters.
If players like Jelani Jenkins, Chris McCain, Jordan Phillips, Jamar Taylor, DeVante Parker, Billy Turner and Lamar Miller all step up than the fish can take a huge step forward. All of their impacts are very crucial for the Dolphins ability to make the playoffs. If the entire roster works together this year then they will achieve more together than separately.