New England Patriots AFC East Offseason Analysis: Miami Dolphins

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Dec 14, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) shakes hands with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) after thier game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 41-13. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins are in good shape with a franchise quarterback seemingly in place with Ryan Tannehill and some intriguing young targets for him to throw to this year. On defense, cornerback Brent Grimes and newly acquired defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh are cornerstone players who should anchor a strong defense. However, Miami still has a number of holes.

The secondary still is exploitable and there is very little depth. Beyond Grimes and free safety Reshad Jones, there is little established production. The linebacking group is solid if unspectacular and thin as well. While the defensive line is strong, defensive end/tackle Jared Odrick was emerging as a legitimate pass rusher and his production will be missed.

On offense the wide receivers have a ton of potential but are unproven. Beyond Jarvis Landry, the Dolphins are starting anew. Tight end Jordan Cameron remains a question mark with his concussion history and there is no other productive receiving threat at the position. Lamar Miller is a top running back but the weak play up front, particularly on the interior offensive line, could hamper his production in 2015.

Unlike the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins have the most important piece to challenge New England in the AFC East. As Tom Brady has shown over the past decade and a half, a great quarterback can cover many ills on a team. Tannehill took a giant leap forward last year and should be in line for a big season (depending on how the new receivers adapt to the offense). In Tannehill, Miami has a potential top ten NFL quarterback who can have a long, productive stretch in South Florida.

A rookie number one wide receiver coming off foot surgery, an unsettled offensive line, and a tight end with an extensive medical risk could derail the Dolphins in 2015. The average linebackers and potential liabilities in the secondary could waste an impressive front four on defense. To challenge the Patriots in the AFC East the Dolphins need some veterans to have a resurgence and a lot of improvement from young players on both sides of the ball.
While the Dolphins may be a playoff team in 2015, they are likely not in position the challenge the Patriots for dominance of the AFC East just yet.