They’ll be a lot of people from now until training camp breaking down the current Miami Dolphins roster, but who better to give an evaluation of the Fins current state rather than the men who once donned the aqua and orange on a regular basis.
Over the past week, the Finsiders have talked to several Dolphins greats, including Jimmy Cefalo, Chris Chambers, Nat Moore, and AJ Duhe. The Dolphins legends spoke about the current crop of Fins players and what they believe the future holds for this group of Dolphins.
Of course, the player at the center of attention during the 2013 and for the foreseeable future in Miami is quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and several of the former players had very strong opinions on the Dolphins franchise quarterback. Jimmy Cefalo believes that Tannehill should get a lot more credit than he’s gotten, and that with stronger pieces around him, Tannehill could follow in the footsteps of a quarterback in his draft class.
“What does Ryan Tannehill not have that Russell Wilson has? The answer is absolutely nothing,” said Cefalo. “He has a stronger arm, he’s extraordinarily smart, he seems to be a really wonderful leader, he can run the football, and he’s mobile.”
“Quarterbacks are 1/22nd of a team. Do they weigh out a little heavier than that, sure they do. But football isn’t basketball where one player like LeBron James represent 20% of the entire team on the field and can turn a game, and can turn a season.”
Former Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers was also impressed with Tannehill’s development. While the Dolphins struggled late in the season, Chambers looked at Tannehill’s season as a whole, and he thought he progressed nicely for his second year under center.
“Ryan he didn’t take a step back this year, I thought he took a step forward,” said Chambers. “To see that in his second year, you see guys like Cam (Newton) took a step back and my man Robert Griffin took a step back. Now Ryan is showing poise and they were able to do a little bit more with him.”
Tannehill does need to work on several aspects of his game however, as he did struggle hitting the deep ball consistently, with Mike Wallace being the intended target most of the time. It was the biggest criticism of the two, but Dolphins legend Nat Moore thinks there was more to it than just the two not being on the same page.
“We saw the plays where he was not able to hit him. We didn’t see the plays when he wanted to go to him and he got sacked. We didn’t see the plays where at times you don’t get the separation. I think it’s something that both of them have got to work at,” said Moore.
“I’m a strong believer that the deep ball, that’s a ball that needs to be caught somewhere within that 30-45 yard range so that the quarterback has more efficiency. When you start trying to throw it 50-60 yards, the ball is in the air a long time, and with defensive backs being as talented with great recovery skills, that that is a long time for the ball to be in the air. It just makes it tougher to complete those kinds of passes.”
Wallace was just one of the major acquisitions from the Dolphins’ spending spree in the 2013 offseason, and its safe to say that all involved expected a bigger year from the Pro Bowler. But he wasn’t the only underwhelming addition from the new crop of free agents according to former Dolphins linebacker A.J. Duhe.
“Three guys that didn’t fit the expectations of a fan and probably of the coaching staff and that would be Mike Wallace, (Dannell) Ellerbe, and (Philip) Wheeler,” said Duhe. “Those were the three guys, three blue chip signings last year and a lot of things were expected of them, and I don’t think they lived up to par. I’m not going to say they didn’t have good seasons, but when you go out and spend that kind of money, those guys have to be your blue chippers, the guys that are called to arms every Sunday and have to answer the bell.”
There was one free agent acquisition for the Dolphins however that received universal plaudits from basically everyone around the league, and that was the pickup of Brent Grimes. The pint-sized cornerback showed tremendous cover and recovery skills all season long, and showcased his incredible and unique athleticism through the Dolphins 2013 season. Duhe believes that it’s imperative for the Fins to re-sign Grimes, and to a long-term contract as well.
“On the defensive side of the ball, Brent Grimes obviously was a great acquisition. He paid huge dividends,” said Duhe. “Now will we sign him to a longer contract? Hopefully we do because I think he’s probably a stand up guy that’s going to be a lockdown corner for several more years.”
Jimmy Cefalo is in agreement with Duhe, as the Dolphins radio broadcaster believes that keeping Grimes is the first step to bringing this speedy defensive unit with guys like Cam Wake and Dion Jordan on it to the next level.
“You look at Brent Grimes and hopefully the Dolphins re-sign him. He’s got great speed at the corner. Football teams are built from the outside in,” said Cefalo. “So that’s the way I would try to build a team. And it looks like the Dolphins are in pretty good shape in that area. If Dion Jordan is the guy we think he’s going to be, he settles one spot. Cam Wake, we know what he can do. Grimes again, I think he’ll be signed at least I surely hope so.”
There is one glaring need for the Dolphins that pretty much stands out to everyone close to the organization. Nat Moore really puts the Fins biggest weaknesses into perspective, saying that the play at the line of scrimmage has to get much better for Miami to become an elite team in the National Football League.
“I think everything starts up front. You win football games on the line of scrimmage. If I play on your side of the line of scrimmage and I’m offense, I’m going win,” said Moore. “If you play on my side of the line of scrimmage and your defense, you’re going to win. It starts with the horses up front.”
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.