New England Patriots AFC East Offseason Analysis: Miami Dolphins

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Nov 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) runs to scores touchdown during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Detroit won 20-16. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2012 it was the Buffalo Bills who coming off a 6-10 season and paid a record contract to Mario Williams to be their premier pass-rusher and team with #3 overall pick Marcell Dareus to create a top defense. They also went out and signed pass rush specialist Mark Anderson away from the Patriots and had nose tackle Kyle Williams returning from injury to create a monster defensive line. A healthy Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller on offense had the media analysts around the country declaring the Bills the offseason darlings and the new favorite to knock-off New England in the AFC East. Instead the Bills repeated at 6-10 in 2012 and for a third consecutive season in 2013 despite their big free agency spending.

Finally, in 2013 it was the Miami Dolphins coming off a fourth straight season of 7 or less victories when they decided to spend outrageous amounts of money to surround second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill with dynamic offensive talent. In came top free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace and slot receiver Brandon Gibson. Tight end Dustin Keller was plucked from division rivals the New York Jets. Veteran offensive line players Lance Louis and Tyson Clabo were signed and guard Dallas Thomas was drafted to upgrade the weak offensive front.

On defense the Dolphins paid top dollar to import linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe to replace and upgrade incumbents Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. In the draft the Dolphins traded up to the number three overall pick to grab pass rushing defensive end Dion Jordan. It was unanimous by almost all major media outlets: the Patriots’ Reign in the AFC East was over for sure in 2013. Instead the Dolphins finished 8-8 in 2013 and again last year..

Now heading into the 2015 season the New England Patriots will face another round of new challenges in the AFC East. The Dolphins have reworked their offensive weapons and spent big in free agency yet again to challenge the Patriots. The Jets have spent millions and millions on reworking their secondary and adding players to the offense. Finally, the Bills have made a number of big moves to improve including trading for Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy.

All three teams in the AFC East have improved on paper with flashy moves via trades and free agency. However, will any of the teams be in position to overtake the Patriots in 2015? A three-part series looking at what the opponents in the AFC East have done this offseason will examine who is capable of challenging the Patriots. The analysis of those moves began with a look at the second place team in the AFC East in 2014: the Buffalo Bills. Next up is the Miami Dolphins:

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