Chemistry “Key” for Philbin, Dolphins

As teams get under way with organized team activities, one of the more intriguing teams to watch is the Miami Dolphins. General Manager Jeff Ireland and the new-look ‘Phins made one the biggest splashes in the off-season, acquiring big-name players like Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Phillip Wheeler, and Brent Grimes. The team also drafted key prospects in Oregon’s Dion Jordan and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor.

The 2013 campaign is considered to be a “win-now” season in Miami, similar to the big off-seasons turned in by MLB’s Marlins and the NBA’s Miami Heat. Suffering another disappointing record below .500, the 7-9 Dolphins hope they have added the weapons to contend in the AFC East.

Miami’s second-year coach spoke about his and Jeff Ireland’s plan this off-season, elaborating on the spending spree that was made to do so.

“We did do a thorough evaluation in ways that we can improve our football team, it wasn’t like, we are doing an extreme makeover, period. It wasn’t that we had to spend x-amount of money, or we have to get this player, it was an evaluation of what we did well in 2012 and how we can best improve this team.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin is optimistic that he has been given the tools to succeed in his sophomore season. With defensive concerns at the forefront, Miami went out and secured a number of high-profile players who could step in and make a big impact.

Perhaps his biggest strength is his linebacking corps, featuring Wheeler, Ellerbe, and Pro Bowler Cameron Wake.

“We are excited about these guys, we are just starting out, but they have made an excellent impression so far. We are throwing a lot at them, but I like what I see so far.”

Joe-PhilbinAfter the failed Reggie Bust experiment, Coach Philbin and co. are looking at a pair of in-house candidates as his successor. With no star players or veteran leadership in the backfield, second-year backs Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller are currently slated to get a bulk of the carries.

“It’s a good group. I like the way they are working. I am totally convinced that running backs need a lot of practice to see things,” said Philbin. “Running backs need to see fronts, the defensive calls that they are going to be running against, as well as finding their protection responsibilities. It will come down to the ability to stay healthy. We will know a lot more when we put pads on obviously.”

The biggest questions facing the 2013 Dolphins is going to be their ability to play as a team. Though players like QB Ryan Tannehill and Cameron Wake can lead their respective units, the team may be overly reliant on rookies and players not on the 2012 roster—an issue that the Dolphins Head Coach is not worried about.

“Chemistry of the football team is critical,” said Philbin. “The locker room is the most important room that we have in the building, the players are more important than the coaches, so when they can do some of that stuff on their own and we don’t have to orchestrate it, I think that’s great and I’m all for it.” Jokingly, Philbin told reporters that he wasn’t invited to any of it.

In a division featuring the New England Patriots, Miami has an uphill battle to compete in the divisional race. The AFC conference features stiff competition for their final Wild Card slots as well—teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts certainly come to mind.

With a number of complete, unified teams battling for Playoff spots, Miami could find themselves on the outside looking in. If professional sports have taught us anything, it is that a group of superstars can come together and win a title—especially in Miami. The biggest question for the newest group of Dolphins is whether they will collapse like the Marlins, or triumph like the Heat.

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