What’s not to love about Miami? The weather is incredible, the city is one of the best in the country, and its basketball team has been to three straight NBA Finals. But this year, there is something different – the football team that calls Miami home is on the rise.
The Miami Dolphins arguably made the biggest splash in free agency this offseason, signing big-name players such as receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Brent Grimes, and linebacker Danelle Ellerbe. So, do these signings alone make Miami the new favorite in the AFC East?
“Ahem, Rishi, I think you forgot about New England?” I did not. As much as some hate to recognize it, New England’s so-called dynasty of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is declining. Losing Wes Welker certainly helps Miami’s cause.
But just the free agent signings alone don’t give Miami a better chance to win their division, but that, along with player development and a strong incoming draft class, do.
The key to success in 2013 is based on the right shoulder of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. His development as a passer and chemistry with new and returning receivers can make or break Miami’s season.
Tannehill was an average quarterback who showed flashes of excellence in 2012 with a below-satisfactory receiving corps. Now, Tannehill should be able to stretch the field with newcomer Mike Wallace. This season, Tannehill can not only take his team to the playoffs, but also prove that he was worthy of a top 10 pick.
Wallace has the capability of taking the top off a defense any given Sunday. Although experts may question his consistency, I believe he will evolve into a solid number 1 target for Tannehill.
A common cliché of football is the saying that “Defense Wins Championships.” In 2013, Miami’s defense could help them secure a division title.
The addition of Brent Grimes reinforces the secondary. Although he is coming off an Achilles’ tear, he should be able to step in right away as a starting corner and produce.
Danelle Ellerbe is an underrated player at the linebacker position, having been overshadowed by Ray Lewis in Baltimore. He should only improve, and expect him to be a tackling machine. He is more than a viable replacement for Karlos Dansby.
I especially liked the aggressive move to trade up to No. 3 overall and select Dion Jordan to play opposite Cameron Wake on what now looks like a menacing defensive line. Jordan should contribute right away alongside Wake.
Miami’s defense looks legitimate. So does the team. They will surpass the Bills and Jets in the division, but their one obstacle is the Patriots. On paper, New England seems to be the better team. On paper. On the field could be a different story.
Watch out, New England.