Summertime is usually the time of the season when the NFL slows down until training camp ramps up in late July all across the country. Passionate football fans still are looking for their information about certain players, position battles or predictions on where their team will finish at the end of the year. I had a front row look at the 2012 version of the Miami Dolphins through organized team activities and a three day mini-camp last week and here are some of my thoughts heading into training camp.
1) Tempo is Fast! This is the one area that will immediately improve the entire football team in 2012. Head Coach Joe Philbin and his new staff have implemented an upbeat pace and tempo to everything that happens on the practice field, and if your not keeping up, you will be left behind! Multiple offensive and defensive drills running in succession but under control trying to simulate game like conditions from practice number one. This will only help this offense dictate pace and pressure to opposing defenses and also make the Dolphins defense play faster in September.
2) There is a battle at the quarterback position! The one position that matters most on a football team is the quarterback position and it will be decided throughout training camp and into the pre-season. Veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard showed flashes of why they believe it’s a two-way battle for the starting spot. First round draft choice Ryan Tannehill also flashed a strong right arm and made throws that made me take notice of his skill set and ability to play the position. Moore and Garrard adjusted to the differences running this offense quickly. They took charge at the line of scrimmage directing traffic and changing plays with confidence. Tannehill looked comfortable right away because of his previous knowledge of this offense from Texas A&M, and this will allow him to compete on an equal level with the vets moving into training camp.
3) Talent on Defense! It’s very difficult to evaluate how tough a defense will be without seeing them tackle or hit moving targets, but this side of the football will have speed and plenty of it. One of the first things that caught my attention was how good the linebackers looked moving around the field, especially Karlos Dansby. Moving from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense looks like it will help Dansby the most after watching a handful of practices. He looks in shape and ready to lead this defense. Corner backs Vontae Davis and Sean Smith looked fast and ready to dominate the edge for the Dolphins defense. Reshad Jones is looking to nail down one of the safety positions and was around the football consistently throughout mini camp.
4) Wide Receivers Emerging? This is the one area of the football team that everyone has question marks about, waiting for players to emerge and become playmakers. Davone Bess looked particularly sharp throughout and consistently makes the tough catch look routine. Brian Hartline absence gave players like Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore and Julius Pruitt extra repetitions to impress the new coaching staff and they didn’t disappoint! I really believe that Moore and Pruitt will excel in the west coast offense because of their ability to get in and out of routes consistently. They will have a legitimate chance not only to make the team but also compete for playing time in 2012. Players that will have to prove that they belong are veteran wide receiver Legedu Naanee and second year speedster Clyde Gates.
5) Get used to saying the name Charles Clay – Hopefully Charles Clay gets plenty of rest over the next four weeks because once training camp starts, Clay’s workload will start in earnest. This new offensive scheme will rely on players like Clay, running back Reggie Bush, and Davone Bess because they can all win one on one match ups, and then do something after the catch. Clay’s ability to line up in multiple positions and win verses a linebacker, safety or nickel gives this offense flexibility. The same goes for Bush who can beat you running the football or catching a three-yard pass and turning it into a 25-yard gain! Red Zone issues should be helped by formations and design that utilize these players’ strengths, especially Bess and Clay in the slot working option routes.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.