Miami Dolphins: Five Things to Look Forward to in 2014

The Miami Dolphins season is on the horizon and another shot at greatness is within reach. A fresh football season comes with new opportunities and a renewed hope for glory. Let’s take a look at 5 things we can all get excited about this upcoming Dolphins season.

1. Improved Offensive Line – It shouldn’t be news to Dolphins fans that, last year, Miami’s anemic O-line allowed a league-worst 58 sacks. The front line struggled mightily on and off the field. As if the 3.6 sacks allowed per game weren’t disappointing enough, the Dolphins organization was also rocked by a now infamous “bullying scandal” that wound up costing the team Richie Incognito at guard and Jonathan Martin at offensive tackle. Look for things to shape up this season for Miami’s front line. With newcomers like first round draft pick Ja’Wuan James, or as I like to call him, Ja’Wuanny Football, and veteran stalwart Branden Albert both signing with the team this offseason, Miami should have a good portion of their pass-blocking issues shored up going into 2014. This means that Tannehill should be given more time to work and the run game, including key offseason addition Knowshon Moreno, will have a better chance of breaking through to the secondary. The catalyst for any team’s offensive success begins with a sturdy offensive line and the Dolphins franchise, as well as their fans alike, hopes to see a moderate improvement in that area this upcoming season.

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2. The Tannehill – Wallace Connection – Up and coming franchise QB Ryan Tannehill and speedster Mike Wallace could never seem to get, or at least stay, on the same page last season. Balls to Wallace were often overthrown by Tannehill (albeit he was under constant pressure to get rid of the pigskin) and Wallace seemed confused about routes and play calls. As the 2013 season went on, the duo seemed to become more comfortable with each other, connecting on a few bombs that were sights for sore eyes for Fins fans everywhere. With another year of learning each other’s tendencies, studying the playbooks and building a relationship, these two look to be on the same page early and often in 2014. Wallace finished last season with less than 1,000 receiving yards, — somewhat of a letdown after high expectations for the former Pittsburgh wide out. With an improved O-line and more fluid offensive chemistry, the Tannehill-Wallace connection should have no problem hooking up for more big plays and improving on their 2013 numbers. Fingers crossed!

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3. Jarvis Landry – Speed. Agility. Toughness. Talent. Those are all words used by coaches and teammates to describe rookie Jarvis Landry’s game. Landry is coming off a season where he led LSU in both receptions and receiving yards in 2013. Jarvis will likely get some action as the 4th wide receiver on the depth chart but looks to make a bigger impact right away in the return game. The Miami Dolphins just cut consistently average return “specialist” Marcus Thigpen and handed the return-game reigns over to Landry. He is faster, more explosive and has a knack for making big plays, all areas in which Thigpen could never seem to deliver. Thigpen averaged 7.8 yards per return last season, which is maddeningly pedestrian. Look for the former LSU Tiger to have a strong season in 2014 and wow fans and teammates with his playmaking abilities.

In the meantime, check out this nasty 48 yard return for Jarvis Landry against the Atlanta Falcons.

4. New Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor – This offseason, the Miami Dolphins parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who was quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s OC in his Texas A&M days. After a disappointing season in which the Dolphins finished 27th in Offense, Miami turned to Bill Lazor to fill the vacancy. Lazor was the quarterbacks coach for that high-flying Philadelphia Eagles team last season. He successfully helped trained Nick Foles into a star after he replaced Michael Vick. Foles went on to turn the Eagles’ season around and win them the NFC East. Let’s hope Lazor can have similar success with Ryan Tannehill this season, who is certainly poised for a breakout year.

5. A Distraction Free, Post-Bullying Scandal Season —The #1 thing the Dolphins can ask for this season is a chance to focus on football without internal distractions weighing the team down. Last season, the unfortunate Incognito-Martin bullying scandal gained national attention and proved to be a major focus-breaker for an offensive line that was already under intense scrutiny for vastly underperforming. Miami’s front line had to battle a relentless media frenzy, constant alterations in positioning and opposing D-Lines that. Frankly, made them look like they didn’t belong in the NFL. All of that is in the past now. Ask any veteran or coach — locker room issues can become the bane of a team’s existence, crippling a squad from the inside out. This year, look for a more focused and disciplined football team that will attempt to capitalize on the addition of some new weapons, new coaches, and new offensive schemes. In 2014, the Miami Dolphins can look forward to focusing on what matters most — the game itself.

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Notable Mention:

The Cornerback Tandem of Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes –Finnegan and Grimes are looking forward to turning some heads this year. Grimes is becoming one of the most exciting young defensive weapons in the AFC and Finnegan is a proven veteran with an aggressive style and a never-let-up attitude that coaches and teammates love. They will certainly make their presence felt in the secondary.