The Miami Dolphins are certainly one of the more pleasant surprise stories as we reach the NFL midseason in 2012. Many people were not sure what would happen with the Dolphins this season, but the majority agreed that it would not be a year to remember. Miami was beginning all over with a new coaching staff, a rookie quarterback who was viewed as a project and an overwhelming roster from a big name standpoint. It seemed as if the Dolphins would be playing in 2012 for another high draft pick in 2013.
Who knew at the half way point in the 2012 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins would be fighting for a playoff spot?
Believe it or not, that is the case. In fact, if the NFL Playoffs kicked off today, the Dolphins would be in as the No. 6 seed with a record of 4-4 through their first eight games. What may be even more telling is that had a couple of bounces gone differently for Miami, the Dolphins could just as easily be 6-2 right now and leading the AFC East. That is how close a few of their losses have been.
But that is to be expected when you have an entirely new coaching regime implementing a new offense with new players, many of them either rookies or players who have not seen the field all that often. What is generally not expected is the fact that they figure so many things out so quickly, but that has been the case in Miami.
You can credit a lot of that to first year head coach Joe Philbin, who has things running as smoothly in Miami as they have in quite some time. I am still not ready to change my opinion of Stephen Ross or Jeff Ireland, as I feel this team is winning in spite of them, not because of them. It is Philbin who has done a fantastic job with a team of players who many did not even know before their appearance on the HBO series Hard Knocks this preseason. You know, when Philbin proved that winning comes before entertaining, meaning there was no room for Chad Johnson.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill also deserves credit for steering this ship in the right direction. No, he is not Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. But he is improving. The main thing for a rookie quarterback is to make sure that they know that they do not have to win every game, but that they cannot lose them. Tannehill may have thrown only five touchdowns so far, but he has also thrown only six interceptions. Considering some of the veteran signal callers who have thrown far more, Tannehill’s numbers are fairly impressive.
Especially when you consider that he played more games as a wide receiver than a quarterback under Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman in his collegiate days with the Texas A&M Aggies. Here is a look at some of the other offensive statistics for the 2012 Dolphins.
Ryan Tannehill: 142 completions of 241 attempts for 1,762 yards with 5 TD and 6 INT
Reggie Bush: 122 carries for 534 yards with 4 TD
Daniel Thomas: 57 carries for 192 yards with 3 TD
Lamar Miller: 24 carries for 133 yards with 1 TD
Brian Hartline: 41 catches for 662 yards with 1 TD
Davone Bess: 38 catches for 483 yards with 0 TD
Anthony Fasano: 24 catches for 188 yards with 3 TD
Reggie Bush: 20 catches for 171 yards with 0 TD
Overall, Miami ranks 20th in passing yards and 13 in rushing yards per game. Brian Hartline had a monster game, but has been relatively silent since. The Dolphins still lack a big threat receiver, and must be addressed this offseason for Tannehill to take the next step forward. For now, he will have to make do with the current roster.
Defensively, the Dolphins have stepped up their game. Not against the pass, but against the run. Trading Vontae Davis right before the season may have hurt Miami more than they may have expected, as the Dolphins rank 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. They have tried to make up for that with an excellent run game, placing 3rd in the league in stopping the run. Cameron Wake continues to be a beast up front for Miami, anchoring their defensive line.
Overall, in a season where many people were unsure if Miami would win four games all season long, let alone at the midway point, the Dolphins deserve a grade of C+ through their first eight games. With an up and down schedule remaining this season, it may be challenging for Miami to compete for a playoff berth. But finishing with a record of 8-8 is not outside the realm of possibilities. If they can do that, then this season would have to be viewed as a success.