Miami Dolphins

First glance: The Dolphins are primed to be a major force in the AFC East this season, with multiple additions at key positions, including Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. That said, they’ll still have their work cut out for them with a division that is stacked with talent, and they could be hard pressed to earn a playoff spot if they are unable to stay healthy through the majority of the year.

2009 Record: 7-9 (3rd AFC East)

Key Additions: WR Brandon Marshall, G Richie Incognito, G Cory Procter, DE Charles Grant, DE/DT Marques Douglas, ILB Karlos Dansby, ILB Tim Dobbins

Key Losses: WR Ted Ginn Jr., G Justin Smiley, NT Jason Ferguson, DE/OLB Joey Porter, DE/OLB Jason Taylor, ILB Akin Ayodele, ILB Reggie Torbor, CB Nate Jones, FS Gibril Wilson

Draft Picks: DE/DT Jared Odrick, DE/OLB Koa Misi, G John Jerry, ILB A.J. Edds, CB Nolan Carroll, S Reshad Jones, DE/OLB Chris McCoy, LB Austin Spitler

Analysis: Last year was a disappointing season for the Dolphins, as they failed to make the playoffs one season after shocking the world with a tremendous run through the AFC East, but this year should prove to be a much better one, especially with the addition of Marshall to their offense.

Still, their overall level of success in this campaign is heavily dependent on the play of quarterback Chad Henne, who took significant steps in the right direction last year, and is expected to pick up where he left off. If he struggles early on, the Dolphins could find themselves in an early hole, making it extremely difficult to make up ground as the season progresses.

The offensive line should be even better this year, although it’s still up in the air as to how well offensive guard Richie Incognito will play in his first season with the team, given his tendency to meltdown in epic fashion when things don’t go his way. If he can hold it together and eliminate the mental mistakes, Miami’s running attack will be a major force once again this season, with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown leading the way.

Defensively, the Dolphins made multiple additions during their off-season to shore up the starting 11, via the draft and free agency, none bigger than linebacker Karlos Dansby, who should be a stalwart up front in shutting down opposing rushers and passers alike.

The big key lies though with Miami’s secondary, which has to be improved to have a shot at competing in the pass happy AFC East this season. The talent is there with cornerback Vontae Davis and rookie Sean Smith, but the depth in the group leaves a lot to want, making it imperative that the starters stay healthy all season long.

The coaching staff should be improved as well,with the arrival of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan from Denver, who brings a wealth of knowledge in running the 3-4 defense and a passion for the game. Head coach Tony Sparano will once again do what he does best, pushing his team to succeed through the power of motivation, and allowing his coordinators to go to work with little interference.

Overall, the Dolphins should be one of the better teams in the league by seasons’ end, and could wind up making a run towards the Super Bowl, just as their division rivals in New York did last year, if they can avoid the injury bug and play together as one team when it matters most.

It won’t be easy, but in the end their talent and strong coaching staff should be enough to get them into the post-season, where all bets are off and anything is possible.

2010 Projection: (10-6, T-1st AFC East)


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