Previewing The 2014 Miami Dolphins Schedule

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The Miami Dolphins took one step closer to getting back to the playoffs in 2013, but a lack of a consistent rushing attack and shaky pass protection led to an inconsistent season. In 2014, the Fins will make another push to finally get back into the playoff mix, and a strong run in free agency could help them pull it off.

Getting to the playoffs will be easier said than done for Miami, however, as they’ll have some brutal road matchups against the potent Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears, while facing the Lions in Detroit could also be a problem. The Dolphins shouldn’t have too difficult of a time against the Raiders and Jaguars, but still will have to worry about tough division road trips to New England and New York.

Things aren’t exactly going to be a walk in the park at home in 2014, either, as Miami will welcome tough opponents like the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. The Minnesota Vikings are the only “easy” home matchup for Miami outside of the division, as the Miami Dolphins schedule as a whole should prove to be quite the challenge.

All 2014 Opponents

Home: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

Away: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions

For a look at all team’s 2014 match-ups, click here.

Recapping the First week of Free Agency for the Dolphins

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The first week of free agency is officially over, the Dolphins signed 5 guys this week, each one filling a hole on the roster. Last year Miami threw money around at not only players they needed (Wallace) and players who were viewed as “upgrades” (Wheeler & Ellerbe) that didn’t pan out so well.

The Dolphins started the week by signing Branden Albert, everyone saw this happening. The Dolphins made a great move. Albert gave up one sack every 200 snaps last year, the combination of Mckinnie and Martin gave up a sack every 80 snaps.

The Phins then signed Earl Mitchell who spend the past four years on the Houston Texans, he spent most of the time playing nose tackle in a 3-4. In Miami he will be playing along side Jared Odrick and Randy Starks. Mitchell is viewed as a 3 down tackle, while Soliai was mostly used one first and second down.

Randy Starks was re-signed on a two year $12 million deal. Starks has good play making ability and was the Seventh best defensive tackle according to PFF. He was also top ten in QB hurries, stops and tackles. With the rotation of Starks, Mitchell, and Odrick, Miami has a very aggressive defensive front.

Shelley Smith was also signed on a two year deal to help improve the offensive line. While Smith didn’t play a lot, he averaged a sack every 185 snaps (even though he is viewed as a run blocking guard). In comparison, Incognito and Brenner gave up a sack every 109 snaps. The 4th best run blocking grade among guards doesn’t hurt either.

The Dolphins finished the week by signing Cortland Finnegan, a fiery corner who spent the last few years on the Rams. He hasn’t been playing at a high level the last few years, having nagging injuries sure doesn’t help. Finnegan was the rams #1 corner, in Miami he will possibly be the #2 or even the slot corner depending on Taylor’s progress.

The Dolphins are off to a good start, hopefully they are able to sign a right tackle  before the draft. Hickey has said his goal is to be able to draft the best player available come draft time.

Dolphins sign safety Louis Delmas

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The Dolphins  signed veteran safety Louis Delmas  to a one year $3.5 million contract.  A solid player but has had his issues with injuries.

Delmas spent the 2013 campaign on the Lions where he had a 2.0 PFF grade. This is a great move for GM Dennis Hickey and the Dolphins.  They were able to get Delmas for about the same price as Clemons last year.If he can stay healthy, he would  be an upgrade from Clemons.

The Dolphins also cut Dimitri Patterson, expect them to make a run for a solid cornerback early in free agency. I would not trust Will Davis, Jamar Taylor, or Jimmy Wilson starting across from Brent Grimes for 16 games.

State of the Franchise: Dolphins before Free Agency

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So close, yet so far is the perfect way to describe the Miami Dolphins in 2013. Miami’s biggest issues last year were protecting Ryan Tannehill and stopping the run. Tannehill has done enough to prove that he can be the guy for the Dolphins. Last year he was sacked 59 times, if you take away half of those (30 is around league average), The Dolphins could of arguably won 2-3 more games. It is clear that the Dolphins will go after linemen, specifically left tackles, Eugene Monroe and Brandon Albert being the two “prizes”.

With Randy Starks and Paul Soliai on the way out, the Dolphins will need to find another tackle to start next to Jared Odrick. Linvall  Joseph would be a solid fit, young and room for improvement.  Aaron Donald out of Pittsburgh would be another great option, he may be gone before the Dolphins pick at 19 in the draft.

The Dolphins had a great start to the off season by locking up Brent Grimes, (one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks) to a very fair contract. Other than Grimes, I don’t see the Dolphins focusing on any of their own free agents. Starks and Soliai are focusing on getting one last big payday and I think it is time to move on.

Players like Nolan Carroll, Chris Clemons, Tyson Clabo, and even Bryant McKinnie could all be back next year on team friendly contracts for depth.  With the Dolphins having enough money to make another big splash in free agency, it is likely the Dolphins will look for upgrades from all these players.

I think the Dolphins are on the right side of 8-8, a solid off season will push Miami to have the potential the be a playoff team.

With Ireland out and Dennis Hickey as the new General Manager, I expect the Dolphins to focus on holes and not trying to improve on positions the Dolphins are already solid at. I also expect Hickey  to put the Dolphins in a situation where they can draft the best player available in the draft.

Richie Incognito Smashes His Own Ferrari

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Well not that many Dolphins fans want to hear the name about to be said (Richie Incognito) but he is at it again. This time, obviously showing signs of anger management. TMZ Sports was the first on the scene when finding out that Incognito smashed his own Ferrari with a baseball bat.

Another tale that looks like will go into this disturbing case. If you need a refresher (which I doubt you do), Johnathan Martin left the Miami Dolphins on October 28th, due to bullying in the locker room. The leader in the harasment and bullying, Richie Incognito.

So far no one has heard word back from Incognito instead of police. Incognito told the police it was him who smashed the Ferrari. It is starting to look more and more clear that Richie Incognito will not be getting another shot in the National Football League.

No matter how many Ferrari’s he smashes…

Brandon Sweeney is Co-Editor of the Gab Network. Follow him on Twitter @NFLNSTUFF, Like him on Facebook , add him to Google+, and Trust him on Sulia.

CB Brent Grimes Feels He’ll Be Back In Miami In 2014

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Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes said today he’s optimistic but not certain that he will re-sign with Miami, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports.

He said his agent Ben Dogra has spoken to the Dolphins a few times.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. “They said they like me here and want to have me back. Hopefully, it happens sooner than later, and I don’t have to worry about it.”

Grimes said the Dolphins have not discussed slapping him with the franchise tag, which likely will top $11 million. “Nobody wants to get franchise tag, another one-year deal.”

The deadline to use the franchise tag is next Monday. But even if a player is given the tag, negotiations on a contract can continue, and the tag can be lifted, until mid-July.

Evaluating the Miami Dolphins roster: Running Back

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In 2013 the Dolphins running backs were like the Dolphins as a whole, inconstant. The combination of Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller combined for the 26th ranked rushing game in the NFL at 90.0 yards a game. These two got no help  from the offensive line, but I think Daniel Thomas has to go, Miller is still unproven and I think he can be a good  NFL running back.

Daniel Thomas had only 5 good games according to pro football focus. Not 5 good games in 2013 either, five in his entire career. He was on the roster because he was a good pass pro running back aswell…. He didn’t have one good  game in pass pro, according to PFF. In his career he has only two 100 yard rushing games, he has twice that many averaging one yard or less in a game. He has averaged 3.6 yards a carry for his career, I think it is time for the Dolphins to move on.

Lamar Miller has shown enough upside to where I think he can be a good running back in the NFL. Part of the reasoning behind his struggles is because he had to share carries with Thomas, poor play calling doesn’t help either.

Miller averaged 4 yards a carry in 2013 with two touchdowns. When he got 10+ carries he averaged 60 yards a game and 3.8 yards a carry (this includes a game with an average of 0.3 and 0.8 yards a carry) . When he carried the ball less than ten carries a game he averaged  24 yards a game with an average of 3.6 yards a carry.

According to PFF he had more good games than Daniel Thomas and even was better in pass protection.  His pass catching needs work though as he finished the season with a -0.5 grade. Miller should get the starting job at running back in 2014, the Dolphins should also sign someone.

Donald Brown and James Starks are two names that pop  out at me as good fits for the Dolphins. They would both be relatively cheap and would be experienced back ups. It would also be wise for the Dolphins to sign a real fullback. Some teams can survive without one, if the Dolphins want to run the ball in 14 I think a football is a must.

Dolphins Won’t Commit To Using Franchise Tag On CB Grimes

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Cornerback Brent Grimes was arguably the best player on the Dolphins defense last season but that does not mean the team is willing to use the franchise tag to keep him according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Tagging Grimes would cost the Dolphins $11.3 million in 2014, which is an awfully big gamble for a corner who will turn 31 in July.

Grimes himself seems to want no part of the franchise tag. The veteran gambled on himself by accepting a rather paltry one-year deal to play for the Dolphins last offseason and responded with one of the most stellar seasons of his career, grading out as the No.2 corner in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

He would like to land one more long-term, big-money deal but the Dolphins likely do not want to commit long-term money given his age.

That does not necessarily mean that Grimes will not end up in Miami again next season. The front office is negotiating with his agents and are likely gambling that Grimes will not find an offer anywhere near $11.3 million on the open market.

Grimes does have some leverage of his own as the Dolphins can not afford to lose him. Grimes may be the best corner in the free agent market this offseason.