The good news for Miami Dolphins fans: the 2014 regular season kicks off at home. The more challenging news: the first team on the Miami Dolphins schedule is one of the top teams in the AFC, the New England Patriots. The Dolphins will get an early test on both offense and defense as they aim to find out whether their revamped offensive line and secondary are up to the task. But while pessimistic fans in Miami may be tempted to simply pencil in the opening day Pats game as a loss and move on to week two already, there is some reason to believe the Dolphins have a fighting chance in their first game of the year.
The two primary reasons for hope in Miami are the arrival of a new offensive coordinator and the departure of four fifths of an inept offensive line. Bill Lazor takes over play calling for Mike Sherman, who looked like he was coaching in the wrong century for the past two seasons, largely misusing young quarterback Ryan Tannehill and having no idea what to do with speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace. Lazor will attempt to import at least some of the college style offense he had been helping run with the Philadelphia Eagles, and while the adjustment may take some time, the results can’t be worse than Sherman’s nonsensical approach.
But while coaching can only take a team so far, a major revamp of the O-line gives the Miami Dolphins a fresh start at a position that had been an embarrassment both on and off the field. Bullygate perpetrator Richie Incognito and victim Jonathan Martin are both gone, as are underperformers Tyson Clabo and John Jerry. Only Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey remains from last year’s starting five, and he’ll be joined against the New England Patriots by newly acquired star Brandon Albert and first round draft pick Ja’Juan James among others. That should give Tannehill more of a chance to remain upright, and the running game a fighting chance, particularly with the addition of Knowshon Moreno. The catch: neither Pouncey nor Moreno is a lock to start the season after both undergoing offseason surgeries.
So the Miami Dolphins chances against the New England Patriots on Opening Day 2014 could come down to a matter of medical issues and recovery timeframes. If week one is a failure, the Miami Dolphins schedule does get easier with the Buffalo Bills on the road in week two. The Dolphins faces the Patriots on September 7th 1:00pm local Miami time.