The offseason for the Miami Dolphins did not go the way that many fans had hoped it would. Just a month after wide receiver Brandon Marshall was named Pro Bowl MVP, Marshall was abruptly traded to the Chicago Bears. The Dolphins were also once thought to be the front-runner to attain future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, but the trade of Marshall left Manning disinterested. Miami made no real significant moves in the offseason and fans became so displeased at one point that they held a mini protest outside the office of general manager Jeff Ireland and yelled, “Fireland!”. But for the Miami Dolphins, 2012 has the potential to be a better year than 2011 for many reasons. Here are five reasons why the Miami Dolphins will be better than most people think in 2012:
1. Momentum from Last Year
The Miami Dolphins took themselves out of contention early after an 0-7 start, but rather than folding in the tent, Miami finished the 2011 season strong. The Dolphins won six of their final nine games including a come-from-behind victory on the final Sunday of the regular season to knock the rival New York Jets out of playoff contention. The hot finish for the ‘Fins wasn’t close to enough to land Miami a playoff spot, but it could have instilled some confidence in a relatively young team and hopefully given them some momentum heading into 2012.
2. How Competitive Miami Actually Was in 2011
The Miami Dolphins not only finished 2011 strong, but were competitive throughout. The 0-7 start gave the feeling that the Dolphins were one of the two or three worst teams in the league, but only record-wise. Not only did the Dolphins win six games last year, but on four other occasions, Miami led late in the final quarter and could not pull out the victory. Those four games however, do not even include a 27-24 loss on Christmas Eve to the New England Patriots in which Miami blew a 17-0 lead before falling in the fourth quarter. That’s five very winnable games the ‘Fins lost in the waning moments with three coming against playoff teams including the eventual world champion New York Giants. Miami was just a handful of plays away from recording double-digit wins, but had the Dolphins been able to squeeze out even three of those five games, they may have snuck into the playoffs.
3. Matt Moore
Matt Moore went 6-6 as a starter for the Miami Dolphins in 2011 and helped resurrect their season. While Moore will have to beat out veteran and former Pro Bowl quarterback David Garrard, Moore has proven himself to be a more than capable NFL quarterback. Moore completed better than 60 percent of his passes a year ago and his touchdown-to-interception ratio was nearly two to one. Moore’s 87.1 quarterback rating was also fifth in the AFC behind New England’s Tom Brady, Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans, San Diego’s Philip Rivers and Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
4. The Emergence of Reggie Bush
After being little more than a scat back in five years with the New Orleans Saints, Reggie Bush proved in 2011 as a member of the Miami Dolphins, that he can play every down in the NFL. Bush recorded his first 1,000-yard season with the Dolphins in 2011 rushing for 1,086 yards and averaging a career-best five yards-per-carry. Throughout his career, Bush has also always been a very good receiver out of the backfield. As a rookie in 2006, Bush caught 88 passes and has caught more than 40 balls in five of his six NFL seasons including last season with Miami when he caught 43 passes. With Brandon Marshall heading to Chicago, Bush could be utilized more in the passing game. It would not be a surprise to see Bush get close to 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2012 and possibly make his first Pro Bowl.
5. The Schedule
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Dolphins will be better than most think in 2012 is their favorable schedule. Only five of Miami’s 16 games come against playoff teams from a year ago. The Dolphins will also play arguably the weakest two divisions in football in the AFC South and the NFC West. Miami also will make just one trip to traditional cold weather cities after November 15th and that won’t come until the final week of the regular season when the Dolphins visit the New England Patriots.
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