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2011 Team Report: Miami Dolphins

Quarterbacks

Starter: Chad Henne
Backup(s): Matt Moore

Starting QB: Chad Henne was a disappointment last year for the Dolphins. He had somewhat high expectations going into his 2nd season as the starting quarterback but failed to deliver and had an inconsistent campaign. The Dolphins have been rumored to be going after veteran quarterbacks such as Vince Young and especially Kyle Orton but so far have only inked Matt Moore, who is not as talented as Henne. For Henne to claim this starting job once and for all, he needs to complete 62% of his passes, climb his YPA to at least 7 and throw more touchdowns than interceptions. He did have three 300-yard passing games last year displaying he can throw the ball down the field with some success. At home last year Chad Henne completed 65% of his throws. Unfortunately he threw more interceptions than touchdowns and went 1-6. Without question this is the season that Henne must perform / elevate his performance or his window of opportunity may slam shut.

Backup QB: The Dolphins have picked up Matt Moore to compete for playing time this season. He has had some nice moments in his career including a 4-1 record as a starter in 2009 when he tossed 8 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions. However he had a terrible 2010 season with the Panthers, tossing 10 interceptions against 5 touchdowns and averaged a miserable 6.0 YPA.

Running Backs

Starter: Daniel Thomas [R], Reggie Bush
Backup(s): Lex Hilliard, Kory Sheets
Fullback(s): Lousaka Polite, Charles Clay

Starting RB: Two years ago, one of the strengths of the team was at halfback with the tandem of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams doing great things against the opposing defenses. It shows you how fast the NFL can change as both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are gone and in their place is a rookie 2nd round power back, Daniel Thomas from Kansas State and veteran Reggie Bush. The Dolphins are looking to pound the ball between the tackles and Thomas is capable of that plus he has surprising agility for a player his size. If he can learn the offense quickly, he'll have a chance at 300+ carries on the season. The second "starting" running back for the Dolphins is free agent pickup Reggie Bush, formerly of the New Orleans Saints. Bush is the perfect complimentary player for the Dolphins because of his unique skills sets. The Dolphins are planning on giving Thomas most of the carries this season but Bush will be an outstanding 3rd down back and probably get 90% of the targets at the running back position. He is an ultra-talented receiver out of the backfield or slot and he'll help the Dolphins passing game in 2011. He has missed too many games throughout his career but has averaged 5 receptions per game and scored 29 touchdowns.

Backup RBs: There is very little proven talent behind Thomas and Bush. Lex Hilliard is a battler with minimal offensive skills. Great size at 240 pounds he had some decent moments in 2009 but nothing in 2010. He is a special teamer that should not see the ball often in 2011. If pressed into duty however, he will give it 110%. Kory Sheets has a single NFL carry on his resume. He did some good things for Purdue in college and can catch the football.

Fullback: Lousaka Polite is an excellent blocking fullback who can open nice holes for the tailbacks on the team. Another claim to fame is the ability to convert on 3rd / 4th and short. His fantasy value will always be negligible but he is an important part of the team. Rookie Charles Clay may see time at FB or TE.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline
Backups: Clyde Gates [R], Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore

Starting WRs: The Dolphins were ecstatic to trade for Brandon Marshall last year. Marshall put up some monster statistics in Denver and his talents are undeniable. Unfortunately his attitude at times turns sour and he has been into troublesome situations. However he is a competitor driven by a need to be the best at his craft. Last year he did manage to catch 86 passes for 1014 yards but managed a miserable 3 touchdowns and really failed to make the impact the team expected. Expect similar reception numbers but at least a few more touchdowns in 2011. Davone Bess has emerged as a real threat for the Dolphins. He is the ultimate slot receiver capable of picking up first downs and he had 79 receptions and 5 touchdowns last season. Much like fellow small receiver, Wes Welker, Bess has too much quickness to contain the underneath routes and he will have another similar season this year. Brian Hartline has enjoyed excellent moments in his first two seasons and he has a nice blend of size and quickness. He finished with a respectable 615 receiving yards last year but managed just a single touchdown. He'll have a role within the offense again this season.

Backup WRs: The Dolphins drafted Edmund Gates in the 4th round from Albelene Christian and he adds an element of blazing speed that the team needs. He will get some action this year and probably score a couple of touchdowns. The rest of the depth is special team fodder that should see little action. Marlon More did catch a 57 yard touchdown against the Raiders last year.

Tight Ends

Starters: Anthony Fasano
Backups: Mickey Shuler, Jeron Mastrud, Dedrick Epps

Anthony Fasano has caught 31, 34 and 39 receptions over the past three seasons and scored 13 touchdowns, including 7 in 2008. He has good size, runs crisp routes will once again approach the 40 reception mark with 4-5 touchdowns. The backups in Miami appear to be special teams fodder at this time and very little in terms of production should be expected.

Place Kicker

Dan Carpenter : Entering camp for the second straight year, long snapper John Denney, punter Brandon Fields and kicker Dan Carpenter are the only players at their respective positions on the roster. For 2011, Carpenter's goal of being needed less may initially seem odd, but in the team context it is probably the goal of every kicker, "We want to score more touchdowns. I think it's pretty safe to say the more points you score the better chance you have to win. There are so many games in this league that are settled by three points or less. But seven points is always better than three." If that happens however, he'd probably not duplicate last years numbers when the Dolphins were 5th in attempted kicking points... their first top five ranking in over a decade.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Clyde Gates, Phillip Livas, Davone Bess

Punt Returners: Clyde Gates, Phillip Livas, Davone Bess

WR Davone Bess is listed as both the top kickoff returner and punt returner on the initial depth chart. That will probably change. Although he may get a few returns, as could newcomer RB Reggie Bush, the bulk of the work will probably go to a rookie. Heading into camp, rookie WR Edmond "Clyde" Gates was the top candidate. After the preseason opener, undrafted rookie WR Phillip Livas is a contender -- he averaged 28 yards on kickoffs a scored a 75 yard game inning punt return TD. HC Tony Sparano noted, "That's obviously one of the reasons we brought him here. We're going to need that (speed) element to shorten the field... It was good to see him get his hands on the ball and not have big eyes, not have stage fright."

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Jake Long, LG Richie Incognito, C Mike Pouncey [R], RG Vernon Carey, RT Marc Colombo
Key Backups: Ray Felnga, Lydon Murtha, Pat McQuistan, John Jerry

Team Defense

Former NFL scout and current ESPN analyst Matt Williamson believes the Miami Dolphins have the talent defensively to a top five unit in 2011. On closer inspection, it is easy to see why. Firstly, the Dolphins regain the services of DE Jared Odrick, last year's first round selection out of Penn State after Odrick went down to an injury early in the season. NT Paul Soliai was franchise tagged by the team, and along with Randy Starks, Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford the Dolphins have a fearsome front. At the linebacker level, the Dolphins upgraded this offseason by adding Kevin Burnett from the Chargers to partner Karlos Dansby inside. Cameron Wake strikes fear into offensive tackles with his lightning-fast burst off the snap. Another double digit sack season is on the cards. On the back end, Vontae Davis is a fine cover corner and Yeremiah Bell is a solid veteran option at safety.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Kendall Langford, DE Randy Starks, NT Paul Soliai
Backups: DE Philip Merling, DE Tony McDaniel, DE Jared Odrick, DT Ronald Fields

Starting DL: The Dolphins don't have any big names up front on their defensive line and most of these guys aren't worthy of serious fantasy consideration unless you're in a very deep league. Kendall Langford is a good 3-4 DE who quietly gets the job jone week after week. Randy Starks was great in 2009 but regressed last year and will be looking to rebound. Paul Solilai is coming off a suprisingly productive season, but is still more likely to try and tie up blockers than make a play.

Backup DL: Philip Merling was a high pick who entered the league with some promise but he hasn't played well enough to earn a starting job yet. Tony McDaniel re-signed in Miami and is hoping to compete for a starting job. Jared Odrick was a 1st round pick last year who missed almost the entire season. Ronald Fields spent the past couple years playing in Denver so he has experience with the 3-4 defense the Dolphins use.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Karlos Dansby, ILB Kevin Burnett, OLB Cameron Wake, OLB Koa Misi
Backups: OLB Jason Taylor, OLB Ikaika Alama-Francis, ILB A.J. Edds, ILB Austin Spitler

Starting LBs: The Dolphins made a moderate splash in free agency last year with the addition of Karlos Dansby. While he didn't quite have the impact many expected him to, he remains one of the best playmaking linebackers in the league. He'll have a new playing partner inside this year as the Dolphins cut Channing Crowder and signed Kevin Burnett. Burnett excels in coverage so he should allow Dansby to play closer to the line of scrimmage and rush the passer more. Cameron Wake was a revelation from the CFL as he posted an amazing 14 sacks in his first NFL season. Koa Misi was a 2nd round pick out of Utah who looks like he can combine with Wake to give the Dolphins a very potent set of bookend pass rushers.

Backup LBs: The Dolphins added some veteran leadership with the re-signing of Jason Taylor. Despite limited playing time, he still managed to pick up 5 sacks with the Jets a year ago and should contribute in passing situations. Ikaika Alama-Francis is a converted DE who provides some extra depth outside. A.J. Edds was a 4th round pick last year known for his coverage skills who wound up missing his entire season with an injury. Austin Spitler joined the team after developing behind James Laurinitis at Ohio State.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Vontae Davis, CB Sean Smith, SS Yeremiah Bell, FS Chris Clemons
Backups: S Tyrone Culver, S Reshad Jones, CB Will Allen, CB Benny Sapp

Starting DBs: Vontae Davis is a former 1st round pick and a good cover corner, but he doesn't make enough plays or support the run enough to be a reliable fantasy option. Sean Smith is one of the biggest corners in the league but he's also very frustrating to watch as he doesn't play to his size often enough and makes a lot of mistakes. Yeremiah Bell has put together three straight years with great production and is one of the most valuable fantasy safeties in the league. He doesn't make the flashy plays that a Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed can make, but is a safe bet for 100 combined tackles and a handful of big plays. The free safety spot is up for grabs but Chris Clemons is the favorite to win the job. A 5th round pick out of Clemson in 2009, Clemons started last year and looked impressive at times although he doesn't appear to be a typical free safety.

Backup DBs: Tyrone Culver is an experienced veteran who should provide depth as the third safety and be ready to step in if either starter gets injured. Reshad Jones is a developing player who could earn a bigger role with a strong training camp. Will Allen is 33 years old and didn't play at all last year but was re-signed to offer some veteran leadership. Benny Sapp was acquired via trade and should be able to beat out Allen for the nickel corner job.

Last modified: 2011-08-19 05:14:51

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