Season Preview: Miami Dolphins

Season Preview: Miami Dolphins
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Sports Mole previews the season ahead for AFC East side the Miami Dolphins.

The Miami Dolphins head into the 2013 NFL season looking to reach the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, but have they done enough in pre-season to manage this?

Last season they were second in the AFC East, some way behind winners New England Patriots, but have made some good acquisitions. Still, it would be a huge ask for them to usurp the Patriots from the top and instead will likely to again be battling for second spot.

This will be head coach Joe Philbin's second season in charge and he will be tasked with getting the new arrivals up to the standard of their predecessors. They have a very tough start to the season, so if they manage early wins they could surprise some people this term.

Head Coach: Joe Philbin

Last season: 7-9

Review: The Dolphins' 2012 season got off to the worst possible start. Following a 0-4 in pre-season, they started by scoring just 10 points in a defeat to the Houston Texans. They recovered to beat the Oakland Raiders 35-13 but following narrow defeats to divisional rivals the New York Jets and then the Arizona Cardinals the Dolphins, at 1-3, were always playing catch-up.

It was a season full of narrow, low-scoring results and the Dolphins were on the right end of two in their next two games against the Cincinnati Bengals and St Louis Rams respectively. Halfway through the regular season the Dolphins were 4-4 and in with a realistic shout of the playoffs.

However, week 10 started disastrously with a 37-3 defeat to the Tennessee Titans. They won just three more games, with a final-day defeat to runaway AFC winners the Patriots rubbing salt into their wounds as they missed out on the playoffs despite being second-best in their division.

Notable ins

Mike Wallace: Wallace was regarded as the best free agent available in the 2013 pre-season and he chose to sign for the Dolphins. It was a big statement from the team who had one of the largest amounts available in their salary cap, and Wallace is their most high-profile signing for 2013.

Dion Jordan: The third overall pick in any Draft always comes with huge expectation. Jordan will definitely play a part in the Dolphins' season, whether as a starter or more likely an impact player. The Dolphins' defense is already tight but a lot is expected of Jordan so he could well be starting before 16 games are up.

Notable Outs

Reggie Bush: With Ryan Tannehill playing, the Dolphins managed just three divisional touchdown passes in 2012. Two of those were hauled in by Bush, who had now gone to the Detroit Lions. His ability to run and receive will be missed, so the replacements will need to hit the ground running.

Sean Smith: Smith started all 16 games for the Dolphins last season, which he managed in three of his four years at the club. Smith left to join the Kansas City Chiefs, which will mean that the Dolphins' pass defense will need some restructuring.

Key Player Offense: Mike Wallace

Key Player Defense: Philip Wheeler

Rookie to watch: Dion Jordan

Pre-season form: 2-2

Prediction: 8-8. The Dolphins look to be better than two of their three divisional rivals - the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills - but not by a long way. It would be a big shock if they manage to get the better of the New England Patriots, but the club certainly has a shot at the playoffs. They cannot expect to go too deep into the off-season, but their aim should be to qualify.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill on November 25, 2012
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