2009 Miami Dolphins: Season Preview
By Wilson of Predictem.com
2008 Record: 11-5 (1st in AFC East) ATS 8-8 O/U 6-10
Stadium: Land Shark Stadium
Head Coach: Tony Sparano
Superbowl Odds: +5000
Training Camp Site: Nova Southeastern University in Davie
Training Camp Dates: August 2 – 20
Intro: Bill Parcells wasted no time getting his ball club in line during his first year as the Executive vice president of football operations for the Miami Dolphins. Head coach Tony Sparano guided his Parcell influenced squad to the top of the AFC East last season.
The 2009 Dolphins will not add too many new faces as they look to develop and season the talent they already possess. For a team that was picked by some experts to finish dead last a year ago they certainly made waves in Miami and hope to continue the push in 2009.
Whos New? DE Jason Taylor (Washington Redskins) CB Vontae Davis (Illinois) CB Eric Green, C Jake Grove, OLB Cameron Wake, S Gibril Wilson
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Whos Gone? CB Andre Goodman, S Renaldo Hill, DE Vonnie Holliday, C Samson Satele
Offense: The Dolphins introduced the Wildcat formation last season which caught the league by surprise but you can bet that they will be prepared for the scheme this year. Miami drafted a perfect candidate to operate the wildcat in Pat White out of West Virginia. White will likely see more and more time as he develops and gains comfort with the wildcat formation.
The coaching staff is incredibly creative and with offensive coordinator Dan Henning in control anything is possible as he has plenty of experience. Between the wildcat and the stellar play of Chad Pennington, who is a get the job done type of QB rather than a fancy highlight reel, the Dolphins offense should be more than ready to put some numbers this season.
Pennington is well aware that this may be his last hurrah and he will likely submit the QB job to backup Chad Henne, who was a second round draft pick in 2008 out of the University of Michigan. Henne has a golden arm and started all four years for the Wolverines which screams volumes for a coaching staff that appreciates hard work and top- notch preparation. But for now it will be Pennington who runs the show, and he runs it quite well.
The running game in Miami will do well as long as everyone can stay healthy. RB Ronnie Brown recovered after his torn ACL by performing well in 2008. He definitely lacks a step but he makes up for it with his savvy for the game and his toughness to run through attempted tackles. Ricky Williams appears to be dialed in once again on the game of football. He has had injuries but it has not stopped him from producing. Williams has trimmed down as well which will help the Dolphins rushing game especially late in the season.
Miamis receiving crew could be better but they will probably not show much improvement this season. There is really no go to guy for the Dolphins when it comes to a third and long, or third and short for that matter. Ted Ginn Jr. is most likely the leading candidate for the No. 1 WR slot but even he needs to toughen up and read defenses better. Davone Bess (undrafted out of Hawaii in 08) may have the best hands as he rarely dropped a pass last season both from the slot and wide-out positions. Also, the Dolphins may convert Pat White as an option slot receiver. TE Anthony Fasano will be in front of the more athletic David Martin simply because he can hold onto a ball, but both TEs have issues blocking.
The Miami Dolphins offensive line will be steadied by the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 Jake Long, who earned a spot as an alternate to the Pro Bowl last season. Long will need to step up his pass protection as he tends to get beat by speedy defensive ends, but hey, hes still young, and made the Pro Bowl his first year- Im sure hell figure it out. Overall the O-line will do well with the likes of Vernon Carey, and the return of OLG Justin Smiley.
Defense: Miamis defense runs a traditional 3-4 system and they have invested a lot of time and cash into this scheme. Like most defenses, the Dolphins will look to fill holes and stand up would-be blockers. We all know that the key to a good offense is a great defense, and in Miami they are preaching this sermon continually. The coaching staff wants their defense to dictate the game.
The Dolphins have struggled in the past with pass rushing and sealing off receivers on outside routes. Hopefully DEs Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling have developed more experience after their first year in 2008 to add more pass pressure. Aging Jason Ferguson will also contribute at nose tackle where his quickness can help get good position on opponents.
The Dolphins linebacker crew will be solid with Joey Porter albeit not getting any younger but he will lead on the field. Porter is fast around the ends and has a heat-seeking missile-like ability to track the ball. Joining Porter will be the welcome-back Dolphins fan favorite LB Jason Taylor, who will certainly provide some desired pass rushing. Also onboard is new comer from the Canadian Football League, OLB Cameron Wake, who earned MVP defensive honors the last two seasons. Wake is expected to be extremely fast and can rush the passer as well.
Special Teams: Special teams can be an issue for the Dolphins this season. Last year they were not efficient in punt or kick returns as Ted Ginn Jr. never displayed a consistent approach. Devone Bess was asked to field punt returns due to Ginns inability to perform. Overall, the Dolphins may get burned in this category if they dont find the right guys.
PK Dan Carpenter and P Brandon Fields are young but coming along.
2009 Miami Dolphins Schedule:
September – 14 at Atlanta Falcons
September 20Indianapolis Colts
September 27 at San Diego Chargers
October 4Buffalo Bills
October 12New York Jets
October 18 BYE
October 25 New Orleans Saints
November 1 at New York Jets
November 8 at New England Patriots
November 15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
November 19at Carolina Panthers
November 29at Buffalo Bills
December 6 New England Patriots
December 13 at Jacksonville Jaguars
December 20 at Tennessee Titans
December 27Houston Texans
January 3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Betting Odds and Projections:
Miami managed to top out their talent from last year but they will continue to rebuild. The sun will shine like usual in Miami but it may even be brighter now that they appear to be towards the top of their division. With a tougher schedule the Dolphins will likely drop a couple more games this season but still make the playoffs.
The Las Vegas Sportsbooks and most offshore casinos have the Dolphins at +5000 to win the superbowl, but you never know in the NFL. With an 8-8 ATS record last season sports bettors may be on the fence, but their 6-9 O/U might balance out in favor of the over if they can get their receivers involved and open the door for more TDs. Luck to ya.