Five Reasons to Get Excited About the Dolphins Preseason Opener Tonight
Tonight is the Dolphins' first preseason game as they travel to Atlanta. Unfortunately, Miami fans, we no longer have a LeBron-sized blankie to help us feel better come November when shit in the South Florida sports world starts to turn south due to that annual rite of passage we've unfortunately come to recognize as the Dolphins yearly Heart-Stomping, Face-Punching, Drano-Gulping Suckfest.
There is no assured Heat Shangri-la to return the childlike glow to our faces, but there are (maybe!) a few things to look forward to this Dolphins season. Here are a few reasons to tune in tonight and give this team a chance:
1. The Offensive Line Is Completely Rebuilt! (Except Most of Them Are Now Injured)
Richie Incognito? GONE. Jonathan Martin? He's on the 49ers now. Tyson Clabo? GLUE FACTORY. Instead, the Dolphins completely revamped last season's historically terrible offensive line, with the exception of alleged douche-nozzle-but-pretty-damn-good-lineman Mike Pouncey. AT LAST! SOME REAL PROTECTION FOR YOUNG TANNEHILL TO MAKE PLAYS DOWNFIELD! NO LONGER WILL OUR INEPT O-LINE EMBARRASS US AGAI -- What? Oh. Pouncey won't be back till possibly midseason, we are starting a questionably drafted rookie at right tackle, our guard positions are being held down by names -- Shelley Smith, Dallas Thomas, and Billy Turner -- that sound like they're straight out of a 1950s movie about street toughs, and we brought back Samson Satele to play center?
Shitsticks. Well, it couldn't be any worse than last year's o-line, which led the league with 58 sacks allowed to go along with Tannehill's 101 knockdowns. Early reports from camp are that the running game is better, and Coach Philbin has vowed to find a starting five early (as opposed to the past few years' Spaghetti-O's approach) and stick with them to allow them time to gel. Still, this is the unit the Dolphins spent the most energy (and money) on in the offseason, so there's reason to hope it will be a strength this season once players return from injury and the unit has time to become more cohesive.
2. Tannehill Is In His Third Season, So Now's the Time to Get His Shit Together
Your Peyton Mannings, Tom Bradys, Matt Ryans -- all of these QBs posted impressive year three numbers -- the benchmark by which all QBs are judged. This should be the year when Tannehill puts all of those physical gifts together with a more elevated mental game that eschews overthrowing the ball into the martini of the Weston socialite hanging out on the club level rather than into Mike Wallace's hands for a touchdown. Signs from camp thus far are that Tannehill has been rather up-and-down from practice to practice and the chemistry issues that seemed to plague Wallace and Tannehill last year have continued in this year's training camp (and made worse by Wallace missing time due to a nagging hamstring injury).
However, the hope here is that a new offensive system, renewed running game, one of the better wide receiver groups in the NFL on paper, and perhaps better use of his natural athleticism will reap dividends for Tannehill. GO GET 'EM, TIGER.