Even close to making playoff, Dolphins are still average

The prolonged mediocrity of the Miami Dolphins has shifted the perspective of the fan base. The glimmer of hope that this past season showed worked to mask the overwhelming failures that pervade the organization.

Yes, there are positives. The defensive line — anchored by Cameron Wake and Paul Soliai — has been a main reason why the Dolphins kept so many games close. Brandon Fields has cemented his claim as one of the top punters in the league. Tight end Charles Clay seemed to prove himself to be one of the better draft picks of late.And cornerback Brent Grimes, although signed to a one-year contract, was a great surprise.

And sophomore quarterback Ryan Tannehill may well be the second best player at his position in franchise history, behind Dan Marino. Tannehill has one of the highest quarterback ratings in Dolphins history, joining the ranks of Marino and Chad Pennington (and current back-up Matt Moore). As well, only Marino has more 300-yard passing games in a single-season. He is the only quarterback in franchise history who has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in each of his first two seasons with the team.

But past those rays of light, much of the team has been a crippling disappointment.

The old guard of Bill Parcells & Co. received much mockery for their perception of the importance of the offensive line. Many critics disagreed with their approach.

But regardless of perception, that was their plan. And in a baffling turn of events, the Dolphins’ offensive line has turned into one of the worst in the league. With a proclivity to collapse into itself, the O-Line has given Tannehill minimal support. In essence, it has diminished his ability to play well.

More than the offensive line, the running backs have also been severely underwhelming. In football, a sickly running game has a tendency to infect the passing game. A healthy running program can facilitate play-action calls and can trip up the defense. But, with the Dolphins, offensive play is fairly one-sided.

Tannehill has been put in a position where it is easy to fail. And, to his credit, he has not failed. He has persevered in spite of his teammates, not because of them.

The rest of the team has been exceptionally average — an interminable purgatory in sports. And, in all fairness to the upper management of the Dolphins (who, at the time of this writing, still have their jobs), it is not entirely their fault. But, at some point, the time has to expire for hiding behind Parcell’s mistakes.

The front office’s attempts at fixing the team have fallen flat — especially with their linebacker additions (Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler). They inherited the sinking ship and they have had trouble righting it. It hasn’t sunk yet, but it sure isn’t floating very well.

Even though the team fell one win away from making the playoffs, many positions could use a thorough shakeup. The job that Tannehill has done (in spite of his mediocre teammates) exemplifies how much better this team could be. Despite the team’s record that lies at an even .500, the negatives outweigh the positives. There’s still time to rebuild, of course, with free agency and the draft upcoming, but there has been little evidence that the team is capable of doing that. They haven’t done it yet. Preston Michelson is a freshman at the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism and is a graduate of Palmer Trinity School. He is a frequent contributor to this newspaper and the opinions he expresses are his own and not necessarily those of the editors and publishers. Contact him on Twitter at @PrestonMich or by email at <michelsonpr@gmail.com>.

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