* Ryan Tannehill. Throughout the year Tannehill showed progress. Week in and week out he demonstrated moxie and mental toughness. The situation never seemed too big for him. He made some big-time throws that made you stand up and take notice. Tannehill was excellent taking care of the ball. 8 of INT came in three games. He had multiple long streaks without a pick. RT also showed great ball handling skills. I am huge fan of the play action pass...we should see that even more in the future. He might be the most athletic QB Miami has had. Big and strong, RT showed excellent athleticism. With that said, RT did his best work within the pocket.
* Reggie Bush was a leader by example. From the training camp stories of him working late to making a physical run, Bush had a nice season. He was one of the few players that could make the "wow" play.
* Mike Pouncey had a great year. His strength in the pivot was matched by his athleticism pulling for the RB.
* Brian Hartline came through big. I remember as the regular season neared, we were all bemoaning the fact our offensive weaponry was weak. I was scorned for stating that the best "pickup" was Hartline returning from the calf injury. Score one for those who thought the same. Hartline showed consistency and it was great to see him go over 1,000 yards. At 26, he is emerging as a legit NFL receiver.
* Davone Bess' work out of the slot was solid once again. Making important catches on 3rd down to extend a drive, seems routine to him. Reliable hands and seems to be in spots where the QB expects him.
* I wanted to give props to Anthony Fasano's 4th down catch on 4th down at SF. One of the best catches in the league this year.
* Richie Incognito waving goodbye to the Jets
* Matt Moore is ultra professional. He was ready in a relief role vs the Jets and was money coming in cold. Good QB and even better pro.
* It was good to see some young pups get forced into duty. From Jonathan Martin moving to LT, to Rishard Matthews playing more along with Lamar Miller to Olivier Vernon getting more snaps...some young players got some valuable playing time.
* Cam Wake. Monster of player. Active, athletic, strong, physical specimen, man of character, selfless. Best player week in and week out. Dominated on the edge. Great vs. the run.
* The DT's of the Fins, Starks and Soliai, were very powerful vs. the run for most of the year.
* Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett were excellent this year. Good versus the run and strong in coverage. TE's were actually not killers vs. the Fins this year. Part of the reason were the comveage skills of the tandem.
* Sean Smith's play vs. physical receivers. His play vs. Larry Fitzgerald and A.J. Green was fantastic.
* The D was #1 in the Red Zone.
* The 3rd down D statistics were excellent for most of the year.
* Reshard Jones. Cutting Yeremiah Bell was questioned by some...myself included. However, the decision was dead on. Jones improved to a point where he was a playmaker.
* Marcus Thigpen turned out to be a quality returner. He did make some boneheaded decisions in the punt game letting balls hit without a fair catch. However, his play overshadowed any negatives. I liked his speed and fearlessness. I loved his mental toughness after booting a ball vs. SF, he came right back and got the ball to midfield for his team.
* Joe Philbin coached with a steady hand. His fake punt call vs. the Rams was a thing of beauty. His game day management got better as the year went.
* Mike Sherman. He is a point of debate for people around here. I get it. However, his work with RT is invaluable. He was handcuffed between the lack of speed and misfits along the line. I like his offensive design and at the very least he never tried to hide his rookie QB.
* Jim Turner did a good job this year. He got a lot out of John Jerry. He was working with a rookie RT...playing RT for the first time. It could be argued that Jerry, Long and Incognito were misfits in the zone blocking scheme. Yet, Turner got the group to play well with each other. Don't forget that Nate Garner played decent in his four games for the most part (excluding Week 17).
* Kevin Coyle called outstanding games on many occasions throughout the year. Masked some deficiencies esp. among the DB's.
* Ben Volin. A positive all year. His weekly breakdowns educated fans. He is not a homer nor Mr. Negative. Good insight and he has a future in the business.
* Whether it was a lack of foresight or overrating the talent, the lack of playmakers at the receiver position is inexcusable. How Jeff Ireland came to the conclusion of having a rookie QB and limited weapons is beyond me. Not replacing Brandon Marshall with something was pure nonsense.
* The CB situation was just as brutal. The DB's compiled had limited ball skills and there were not enough in number. The Vontae Davis trade is still not final depending on Davis' future performance and the actual production of Miami's second 2nd rounder. However, again, the number of CB's and talent was severely lacking. Jimmy Wilson being pressed into duty after Richard Marshall's injury was not good.
* Lack of Turnovers. Will never win with the lousy amount of TO's
* Lack of pass rush opposite of Wake.
* While the sack total was good, the pass rush was not consistent and did not making game changing plays.
* While on the pass rush, many times the pass rush lost contain when rushers were undisciplined pass rush lanes.
* Lack of Red Zone targets. I complained at the start of the year there were not taller targets for the QB's to throw to in the money area.
* Tannehill had some ball placement issues that hopefully can be cleaned up as the game slows down for him.
* Daniel Thomas. He is just not progressing as hoped.
* Lamar Miller needed to be used more.
* The entire Reggie Bush benching after the fumble was an unneeded distraction for the team.
* Charles Clay did not make progress.
* Jake Long. The injuries and him being overpowered was disconcerting. I still cannot get out of my mind, Shawn Merriman knocking him on his ass on a run during the Thursday Night game at Buffalo. Maybe five years ago, I would not have thought anything of it, but Merriman is a shell of himself now...and he blew up big Jake.
* Sean Smith seemingly playing way off of his man.
* This still might be the best part, rightly or wrongly, of the season:
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* This is the biggest offseason perhaps since Don Shula was obtained as coach or Dan Marino was drafted. From getting more athletic in the defensive backfield, to more offseason weapons, to more pass rush, to re-signing our own...this offseason is HUGE.
* Finding FA's that are in their mid 20's is a good philosophy. Finding players between ages 25-27 will allow the team to grow together. I like the idea of Greg Jennings and I know he will be 30 by the fall. While I can live with an exception, sign your own and other team's FA's that are in their mid 20's.
* The pass D must be of focus for this upcoming year. Looking at the 2013 sked, Miami faces some great QB's. Improving the pass rush and the coverage abilities in the secondary has to be of the utmost importance.
* The lack of turnovers generated by the defense has to be corrected. It was great to hear Joe Philbin highlight that in his postseason presser. I love that.
* Finding weapons is important. However, the skill is finding weapons with the skill set to match what Ryan Tannehill does well.
* Playing Ryan Tannehill from the start was the right move. I admit I thought he was going to be over his head and it was best to let him marinate on the sideline until Halloween. I was WRONG. This year was so valuable to his maturation. Props to the staff for having the faith in starting RT from day one.
* While people poo poo it here and start with the "cornfed" comments, do not dismiss having a plan for the offensive line. RT must be protected and his best games happened when the running game was in high gear. Resources and picks still must be invested here.
* The lack of depth on this team is alarming. It must be enhanced. The team was incredibly healthy until December. They will not be that lucky next year. Getting good backups and versatile subs is a must.
* The coaching staff is a plus for this team. The team looked prepared each week and were put in spots to succeed. Think how the next guy up was ready after an injury. I give credit to the staff. for that.
* Joe Philbin is a good coach. Did he make some mistakes? Of course he did...and there was nothing wrong with that. It was to be expected. Overall, he is a good coach and one of the best things Miami has going for it.
* With that said, Joe Philbin's honeymoon is coming to end. Throughout the year, Miami's shortcomings were never on Joe. It was Jeff Ireland, Mike Sherman, Bill Parcells, Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby etc. Joe is not going to get the hall pass next year. However, we should not knee-jerk and throw the pendulum the other direction. Joe Philbin needs TIME to build his program. Next year is NOT playoffs or bust...maybe for Jeff Ireland, but Joe needs to be allowed to create a foundation of success for this team. I think he can, but he needs time to do that.
* We should take more time to respect the work and play of Cam Wake. While his career will not be as long as past Dolphin greats based on when he started, he is an amazing player.
* Kevin Coyle is a really good coach. I am a big Mike Nolan guy. I thought he was a huge loss and was sketchy with Coyle's hire. While Nolan is a great DC (and deserves to be a HC again), Coyle did excellent work. I feel the D is in good hands with him.
* Killing the Jets in NY was the best win of the year
* The blowout loss to Tennessee was the worst.
* Losing three games in the crucial month of November was a killer.
* The regular refs suck as bad as the replacements. Cannot convince me otherwise.
* Hard Knocks was a wash. It was not a good promotion or representation of the team yet was not a major distraction by opening day.
* The new logo will be of major debate amongst Dolphins fans.
* Omar Kelly is ****ing bad.
* Adam Beasley was a terrible addition. I am still waiting for Ireland to "swing for the fences".
* This year's team did better than I thought they would. I thought they were a 3-5 win team. I ecstatic with 7 wins. I was happy with wins over playoff teams, the Bengals and Seahawks. I was impressed with competitive losses versus the Pats and Niners. With the imperfections of this team, getting 7 wins is actually a solid year.
* I said on many occasions this year on this site's debates, the year was about making progress. That the year was a process. IMO, mission accomplished. The team got better as the year went. The coaching staff learned the strengths and weakness of the players. Ryan Tannehill seemed more and more comfortable as an NFL QB. Some younger players started to show they had playmaking ability. The coaching staff is a positive force for the franchise. Remember this is still a process. Continue to build effectively and methodically. Yes, we need to see improvements in many areas. However, make targeted strikes in free agency and draft quality football players. If this is done, the Miami Dolphins will become a consistent winner in the NFL in the years to come.