Another 8-8 season in Miami will most assuredly be the last for head coach Joe Philbin who has turned in consecutive 8-8 marks after going 7-9 in his initial season in 2012. Team owner Stephen Ross wants to win and wants to win now. He showed he was serious as the Miami Dolphins went out in the free agent market this offseason and nabbed arguable the league’s best defensive lineman in Ndamakong Suh. Miami signed the former Lions DT to the richest contract (6 yrs., $114M) for a defensive player in the history of the league. The Dolphins also added a solid pass-catching tight end in Jordan Cameron, a speedy wideout in Kenny Stills, and a veteran pass catcher in Greg Jennings. Those three as well as first-round draft pick DeVante Parker out of Louisville will give Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill a flurry of weapons to use on offense. Tannehill was one of the league’s most improved passers in 2014 improving his completion percentage from 60.4 in 2013 to 66.4 last season.
With the new player additions, "Phin" fans are expecting a turnaround season in South Florida however bookmakers are not so confident that will happen this year as Super Bowl odds for 2016 at sportsbooks have listed the Miami Dolphins as +3300 underdogs to win the championship. NFL predictions to win the AFC conference have also posted the Dolphins as +1400 longshots and +400 to win the AFC East. Miami gave up on wide receiver Mike Wallace, the speedster who starred in Pittsburgh. Wallace never panned out, became a distraction, and was eventually benched late last season by Philbin. The Dolphins also lost TE Charles Clay to Buffalo in free agency and WR Brian Hartline to Cleveland. Still, there is plenty of talent at wide receiver to go with Tannehill and RB Lamar Miller who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. The addition of Suh makes the Miami defense much better, but how much is the question that will need to be answered. There is no doubt what Suh is capable of, but he cannot do it alone.
Defensive end Cameron Wake, who led the team with 11.5 sacks in 2014, is one of the league’s most underrated at the position. The combination of Suh and Wake should instantly make an impact on the defensive side of the ball in the 2015 AFC East division but whether it will be enough to make a drastic improvement, enough to increase Miami's regular season win predictions (8½), still remains to be seen. The team’s 2015-16 schedule features just four games against teams that made the playoffs a year ago. The secondary is solid with veteran Louis Delmas at safety and cornerback Brent Grimes. Grimes has played in the last two Pro Bowls. The Dolphins were sixth in the NFL last year against the pass and 12th overall. Should those numbers improve and the offense continues to produce, Miami might be in a position to contend for a playoff berth but to defy Super Bowl odds and win the championship or even the AFC seems unrealistic.
Dolphins Update (9/8/15): Miami are now +2500 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +1200 to win the AFC Conference and +350 to win the AFC East.