Miami Dolphins fans aren't exactly in the mood for good news right now. Their team will miss the postseason this season for the sixth straight year, guaranteeing they will live through a 14th straight year of witnessing no Miami Dolphins playoff wins. That sucks, but not everything sucks; nope, some things actually went right this year.
The Dolphins season may be coming to a disappointing end after this week's game against the New York Jets, but there is still some reason to feel as if this season accomplished a few things that may help the team succeed in the future -- not something you felt like you could legitimately say after some recent years.
Here are five things Miami Dolphins fans should feel like went right in 2014 that could be a big part of taking the team to the next level in 2015.
5. Ryan Tannehill proved he is the best Miami Dolphins quarterback since Dan Marino; the decade-and-a-half search for a QB is over.
Last Sunday's four-touchdown performance was the icing on the cake; Ryan Tannehill is the answer at the quarterback position for the Miami Dolphins. Tannehill needs 224 yards against the New York Jets this Sunday to top the 4,000-yard mark, by far his best season as a pro.
At some point this season, the switch flipped on for Tannehill and he bagan to put it all together. Was it Joe Philbin publicly insinuating that he might turn to backup Matt Moore? Was it the addition of Dan Marino in the film room and on the practice fields more often? Who knows. What Dolphins fans do know is that moving forward, the team can safely look at other holes to fill and feel confident that the man under center is capable at the very least of not being the reason they lose games.
4. Rookie wideout Jarvis Landry showed he is the real deal and is so much damned fun to watch.
Jarvis Landry has made a splash in his rookie campaign, totaling 79 catches, 703 yards, and five touchdowns in 2014. Landry is a feisty, confident, sure-handed wide receiver -- something it feels like the Dolphins haven't had in years. Dolphins fans have become all too used to their team pissing away second-round picks, but Landry put an end to that conversation; he's as legit as they come.
Landry is a big reason why Mike Wallace has been able to score a career-high ten touchdowns this season, as teams have had to account for him underneath in the red zone. The Dolphins wasted no time getting Landry involved this year, and it will be fun to see just how much better he can get with an NFL offseason under his belt.
3. Dennis Hickey proved to be a monumental improvement over Jeff Ireland -- shocker!
Hickey came to Miami without too much in the way of expectations; he was about the team's fifth choice to fill the general manager position, after all. Hickey was able to rebuild a leaky offensive line on the fly, sign a few solid veterans at discounted prices, and succeed in not completely blowing the draft, like his predecessor, Jeff Ireland, did so often.
With another year to shape the roster to his liking, Hickey should be able to continue molding the Miami Dolphins into a team that better represents what he's looking for in a roster. With Philbin returning for the last season of his contract, it seems as if Hickey better make his second year count -- because if the team fails, there likely won't be a third.
2. Rookie tackle Ju'Wuan James was a much better pro than many draft experts expected, meaning the Dolphins have one less hole to fill in 2015.
Prior to the draft, many draft experts had James going much lower in the first round, and some even had him as low as a second-round pick; but he proved every bit worthy where the Dolphins selected him this year. James was terrific at right tackle before Brandon Albert was injured and serviceable at left tackle when the team asked him to man the other side.
With Albert returning next year healthy and Mike Pouncey moving back to center, the Dolphins can be fairly confident all they need to do is find decent guards to make their offensive line a strength of the team. It's only taken a decade-plus, hundreds of millions of dollars, and multiple high picks -- but the Dolphins might very well be on their way to putting together a solid offensive line.
1. Lamar Miller stayed healthy, proved capable of being a lead back in the NFL, and showed signs of putting it all together this year.
Lamar Miller can get to 1,000 yards with a 79-yard effort this Sunday against the New York Jets, to go along with his seven touchdowns on the year. When Knowshon Moreno went down, the Dolphins were forced to re-sign ex-bust draft pick Daniel Thomas, but Miller's play proved to be more than what the Dolphins needed from that spot in the backfield.
How the team used him was a different story, as it got away from him when he was hot many times throughout the season. Miller is just 23 years old and figures to factor into the Dolphins' backfield plans for many years to come. The Dolphins are likely to look to add a running-mate partner this offseason -- or bring back Moreno -- but it's good to know if need be, Miller is capable of handling the duties all by himself.
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