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2007 Season Previews
Miami Dolphins (Last Year: 6-10)
Veteran Additions:
FB Cory Schlesinger, TE David Martin, OT Mike Rosenthal, OLB Joey Porter, K Jay Feely.
Draft Picks:
QB John Beck, RB Lorenzo Booker, RB Reagan Mauia, WR Ted Ginn, C Samson Satele, C Drew Mormino, DE Abraham Wright, NT Paul Soliai, ILB Kelvin Smith, P Brandon Fields.
Major Subtractions:
RB Sammy Morris (NE), RB Travis Minor, RB Darian Barnes, WR Wes Welker (NE), TE Randy McMichael (STL), OT Damion McIntosh (KC), G Bennie Anderson, G Kendyl Jacox, G Jeno James, G Toniu Fonoti (ATL), C Seth McKinney, DE Kevin Carter (TB), DE David Bowens (NYJ), DT Jeff Zgonina (HOU), DT Dan Wilkinson, P Donnie Jones.

Offense This Year: Miami seemed to spend all of its energy trying to acquire Trent Green this offseason. I had one question the entire time: Why? The Dolphins were finally successful in landing Green from the clutches of Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson. However, all of Miami's work will probably be for nothing.

Green's definitely not the same quarterback who led the high-octane Chiefs at the beginning of the decade. He was hit hard the first week of the 2006 campaign, and after coming back from injury, he threw more interceptions (9) than touchdowns (7), compiled more than 200 yards only once and commanded an offense that averaged merely 19.7 points per game when he was under center. Damon Huard was much more efficient (22.9) when he was calling the snaps.

Dolphins fans can blame the injury on Green's declining production all they want, but there are two things to consider: First, Green turns 37 on July 9. He's far too old and has way too much mileage to be an upper-echelon quarterback in the NFL. Second, I've maintained that Green has been extremely overrated for years. He's had great success with an offensive genius for a coach (Dick Vermeil), two premier running backs (Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson), the top tight end in the game (Tony Gonzalez) and the best offensive line in the league. With Vermeil gone and the front in shambles, it's no surprise Green struggled last year. Remember, he was ineffective in a Week 1 matchup against the Bengals, even before he got hurt. Green has also never won a postseason contest.

Quite honestly, I think Green will struggle more with Miami than he did with Kansas City last year. First of all, he'll be playing behind a much worse offensive line. L.J. Shelton cannot block and will be forced to play right tackle, thanks to the departure of Damion McIntosh, who coincidentally, will be blocking for the Chiefs in 2007. Guards Chris Liwienski and Rex Hadnot leave much to be desired, while center Samson Satele is merely a rookie. It's going to get ugly when Miami's interior linemen have to go up against the Patriots and Jets' defensive fronts.

Going further, Ronnie Brown's obviously not as good as Larry Johnson. Brown barely eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau and was extremely inconsistent, though much of that can be blamed on his blockers. Green will also be lacking a tight end who even remotely resembles Tony Gonzalez; the Dolphins cut ties with Randy McMichael, replacing him with the lackluster David Martin.

One weapon Green will have at his disposal is Chris Chambers, an athletic wide out who caught 82 passes for 1,118 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2005. Chambers' numbers dipped in 2006, but that's because Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington are pure garbage. Like the Buffalo Bills, however, the Dolphins have only one reliable receiver. Marty Booker is mediocre; Wes Welker is gone; and Ted Ginn is just a rookie coming off an injury in the BCS Championship. First-year wide outs are seldom effective; Marques Colston is a rare breed.

Defense This Year: Miami's defense literally carried the team to a 6-10 record last season. The stop unit surrendered 17.7 points per game, which included a shutout of the Patriots, 10 points allowed to the Chiefs and the offensively high-powered Lions, and 13 to both the Bears and Jets. The Dolphins accumulated 47 sacks, ranked fourth against the run and restricted opposing aerial attacks to 3,007 yards for the season.

Despite those mouth-watering statistics, I think the Dolphins' defense will take a step backward in 2007, and I believe it will suffer for the same reason Tampa Bay's stop unit struggled last year. That reason is age. Miami has the oldest front seven in the league, as five of their starters are at least 30. Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor turn 34 and 33, respectively, in September. Keith Traylor's 37. Vonnie Holliday will be 32 in December. Joey Porter just hit 30.

It's hard to imagine Taylor having a sub-par season - and I really hope he doesn't because he's incredible to watch. Taylor led the team with 13.5 sacks and completely dominated most offenses, including the Bears' in Chicago's first loss of the year. However, the age of 33 is when most NFL players begin to rapidly decline. I won't be surprised if Taylor collects more than 10 sacks again, but if I had to bet, I'd definitely go under that total. Meanwhile, Miami brought in Porter to be a complementary pass rusher. They threw tons of money at him and gave him $20 million in bonuses, which seemed to mirror the Trent Green situation. All the Dolphins did was acquire an extremely overrated 30-year-old defender who was simply the product of a great system in Pittsburgh. I'll be shocked if Porter contributes anything positive with his new squad.

If Miami's sack total decreases, which is something I predict, the secondary is going to have tons of trouble, especially against the revamped Patriots offense. I'm not a fan of Will Allen's, and I think Andre Goodman is a complete abomination. It's hard to believe that they're the top cornerbacks on the roster. Free safety Renaldo Hill also sucks. Jason Allen, last year's first-round selection, has yet to crack the starting lineup and beat out Hill, which is completely shocking to me. The lone bright spot in the secondary is strong safety Yeremiah Bell, who played well the final two months of the 2006 campaign.

The Dolphins' defensive line also looks like it'll be problematic. The unit lost four members this offseason: Kevin Carter, David Bowens, Jeff Zgonina and Dan Wilkinson. As I mentioned earlier, Traylor is nothing more than a fossil at this point. I also have no problem with Holliday, although his age (32) is starting to be a bit of a concern. However, Matt Roth, the third member of the front, has yet to start a game in his NFL career. Luckily, the other member of the front seven who isn't past 30 is pretty established; inside linebacker Channing Crowder was second on the team in tackles with 103.

Schedule and Intangibles: Although last year's numbers aren't a good indication, Miami is almost unbeatable in September, as the team is an amazing 34-15 since 1992. The Dolphins also have one of the top home records in the AFC since 1995, owning a respectable 62-34 mark. Combine those two together, and Miami is nearly invincible in September afternoon home games, thanks to the city's scorching heat and humidity. The team gets to enjoy two such contests (Cowboys and Raiders) this season. ... Olindo Mare hit only 1-of-6 from beyond 50 yards and was booted out of South Beach. Replacing him is Jay Feely, who was 6-of-9 from 40-plus. ... Wes Welker is gone, but the Dolphins probably won't experience a decline on special teams because Ted Ginn is an electrifying return specialist. Let's just hope Miami's "top-10 prospect" isn't too banged up from the BCS Championship. ... The Dolphins' schedule isn't too bad at first, but look at their final seven games: at Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh, Jets, at Buffalo, Baltimore, at New England and Cincinnati.

Additional Reading: Dolphins Fans Upset With My Projected Record For Miami
More Dolphins Feedback

Positional Rankings (0-4 stars):
Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Secondary
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams
Receivers
Linebackers
Coaching


Divisional Rival History:
Buffalo Bills: One of the rare rivalries where the better team almost always wins. Buffalo has claimed five of the past six battles.
New England Patriots: It's amazing how much the visiting team struggles in this heated rivalry (host has won eight of 11). New England always melts in the Miami sun, while the Dolphins have a habit of freezing to death at frigid Foxboro.
New York Jets: The Jets have dominated this series for years. Try 14 of the last 18.

Fantasy Football:
Trent Green: I'll be shocked if Cleo Lemon and John Beck don't see action this season.
Projected Stats: 2,400 passing yards. 13 passing TDs. 60 rushing yards. 0 rushing TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 222.

Ronnie Brown: Defenses will continue to stack the line of scrimmage against Ronnie Brown because the Dolphins don't have an aerial attack. Miami's offensive line stinks.
Projected Stats: 1,100 rushing yards. 310 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 177.

David Martin: Way to replace Randy McMichael with a guy whose career highs are 27 receptions, 224 yards and three touchdowns.
Projected Stats: 325 receiving yards. 3 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 50.

Chris Chambers: It's a real crime that Chris Chambers has never played with a legitimate quarterback during his entire career.
Projected Stats: 900 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 120.

Marty Booker: Not much to like, fantasy-wise. Marty Booker's an average receiver with a sub-par quarterback throwing to him.
Projected Stats: 750 receiving yards. 4 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 99.

Ted Ginn: I wouldn't recommend drafting any rookie wide out this year, with the exception of Calvin Johnson. They're just too unreliable.
Projected Stats: 500 receiving yards. 2 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 62.

Jay Feely: I have a feeling Jay Feely will get to kick tons of field goals, given that Miami's offense will undoubtedly have trouble getting into the end zone.
Projected Stats: 29-34 FG (2-3 50+). 25 XP.
Projected Fantasy Points: 124.

Miami Defense: Miami's defense did well last year, but for reasons I mentioned above, I think it'll struggle in 2007. Still worth starting against Washington (Week 1), Oakland (Week 4), Houston (Week 5) and Cleveland (Week 6).
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Spot-Starting Defense.

Analysis: I could be wrong about Trent Green. I might off regarding my predicted decline of Miami's defense. Perhaps new head coach Cam Cameron will get his team to overachieve, much like Eric Mangini and the Jets. I really doubt it though. What I see is an offense that hasn't improved, paired with an aging defense that is bound to take a step backward this year. I think it's going to be a long season in Miami.

Projection: 2-14 (4th in the AFC East)


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