Preseason Power Rankings No. 31: Miami Dolphins

For most of the offseason, it looked like the Dolphins were on the way to better days.

They signed Branden Albert and drafted Ja’Wuan James to shore up their sickly tackle position and hired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in an attempt to ratchet up the production in quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s third season. After losing their final two games to miss the playoffs in 2013, it looked like the Dolphins were making strides toward a better result this time around.

Then came word that center Mike Pouncey will likely miss the opening weeks after hip surgery and that free agent signee Knowshon Moreno needed to have an operation on his knee. A four-game suspension for 2013 first-round pick Dion Jordan handed down last week made for three steps backward for a team that can hardly afford them.

Our PFT panel thinks those steps backward will be costly enough to drop the Dolphins all the way to No. 31 in our Preseason Power Rankings. We’ll discuss some of the reasons why in our preview of the 2014 Dolphins season.


The Dolphins may not get any immediate help from Jordan in the pass rush, but they are still in good shape in that area. Cam Wake and Olivier Vernon combined for 18.5 sacks last season to help the Dolphins finish in the Top 10 in points allowed and both should still be big threats off the edge this year.

Miami lost Paul Soliai in free agency, but they re-signed Randy Starks and have Jared Odrick on hand to step into a larger role. They’ll need better linebacker play to improve against the run, but the defensive line is in good shape in Miami.

Cornerback Brent Grimes bounced back from a lost 2012 season with a great year for the Dolphins and Miami was able to bring him back before another team could nab him as a free agent. The Dolphins will need to be defensively sound to compete for a playoff spot this year. Grimes helps a lot in that regard.

While the offensive line remains a major question mark, there’s no doubt that the Dolphins upgraded with the addition of Albert at left tackle. His presence should give Tannehill a bit more time to throw the ball after being sacked 58 times last year and he’s shown promise when afforded such an opportunity. It will take more than promise to make him a bona fide strength, but he’ll have to struggle behind a halfway decent line before he can be deemed a weakness.


At the risk of belaboring the point, the offensive line still has more red flags than a Chinese Olympic Team pep rally. James is a rookie and the guards will likely come from an underwhelming group that includes Shelley Smith, Daryn Colledge, Dallas Thomas and third-round pick Billy Turner. Whoever replaces Pouncey will be a major downgrade and the team will be trying to build a cohesive unit with no returning starters. Maybe the changes to the locker room and the coaching staff lead to a quick turnaround, but it’s a better bet that some of the same problems hinder the team this year and that the Dolphins struggle to consistently put points on the board.

Moreno’s injury and lack of fitness left Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas to do most of the running during spring practices. Both players have failed to grab opportunities to take the job in the past and neither one has looked good enough to thrive with a mess on the line in front of them.

The Dolphins shuffled up their linebackers last season, but neither Dannell Ellerbe nor Phillip Wheeler did a particularly good job. Ellerbe is moving out of the middle this season, swapping spots with former strong side starter Koa Misi , in hopes that Year Two bears more fruit.


Lazor’s arrival to run the offense has people in Miami hoping that Mike Wallace can make more of the big plays that brought him stardom in Pittsburgh. With Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and Charles Clay around as possession options, a return to form for Wallace would be a major boon to Tannehill’s hopes of making the next step in his progression as a quarterback.

However those strides come, they have to come this season or the Dolphins will have to rethink their long-term plans on offense. The unit collapsed with a playoff spot on the line last year and the problems were so widespread that Lazor’s got a big job to do if the Dolphins are going to get back on track.

Grimes was a bright spot of the secondary last season and the Dolphins made a couple of free agent moves in hopes that he won’t be the only one. Safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Cortland Finnegan come with questions about their health and ability to perform at a high level, but they’ve both been good in the past and that’s more than you can say about most of the other options in Miami.

Camp Battles.

Matthews and Gibson will compete for snaps after Matthews took advantage of Gibson’s injury to make his mark as a pass catcher. Both should play, though, and the same is true at tight end where Dion Sims could push Charles Clay over the summer.

Finnegan is likely to fill a prominent role with Grimes at cornerback, but things are unsettled from there. Jamar Taylor and Will Davis were both non-factors as rookies last season, which may have helped convince the Dolphins to add Walt Aikens in the draft this year. They’d benefit from one of those players stepping up as both a third corner and an alternative if Finnegan doesn’t rebound from a poor 2013 season.

Moreno’s offseason injury and reported lack of fitness are both troubling, but he can probably still move back to the top of the running back rotation with a good camp. If not, Miller’s speed will likely keep him in front of Thomas.


It’s likely going to come down to the offense. If Lazor can get Tannehill and Wallace going while settling on a workable mix in the backfield behind a competent offensive line, the Dolphins should be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Those are a lot of ifs for a team installing a new offensive system, though, and the defense doesn’t look quite good enough to carry the team through growing pains on the other side of the ball. Head coach Joe Philbin probably needs significant improvement to keep his job in 2015, but it is hard to see where there’s enough talent to provide it.

95 responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 31: Miami Dolphins

  1. I can think of at least a couple of teams who are starting this season in worse shape than the Fins. That team has a lot of issues but I think 31 is a tad low.

  2. WOW! I can name 10 teams that are definitely worse the Dolphins by FAR, and another 10 that are probably worse. The author of this must be a Jet’s fan that’s the only way this article makes any sense. Miami goes at least 7-9 in a weak division. This is the last PFT article i’ll read for a while. Get a clue clue guys.

  3. How are the Vikings not listed at 32 or 31? Both the Raiders and Dolphins would destroy the Vikings. Just like any other team in the league would destroy the Vikings.

  4. 8-8 last year, and you admit that if they work on the offense that we could, “hunt for a playoff spot”… And yet we’re #31… Huh???

  5. Odds are Miami goes 7-9 or 8-8. No way they’re 31st in the league. PFT hates the Dolphins because of Finnegan.

  6. The O-Line will be no worse than it was last year.

    Dion Jordan barely played last year, and he’s only out for 4 games. He will have an improved role in the defense once he’s back.

    Miami’s OC last year was Mike Sherman, who proved to be incompetent once again. Lazor can only go up from there.

    Last year’s record = 8-8
    No. 31 ranking = a joke.

  7. Unbelievable! This team is primed for a playoff season, with Tannehill whose growing as a QB. Their secondary is also one of the best in the league! These rankings are awful

  8. They’re ranked this low because besides their defensive line, they have no chemistry, no leaders, a top-10 draft pick QB who has done zippo going into his 3rd season, an overpaid WR who likes to yap and can’t produce, and no respect for their coaching staff. Philbin lost the locker room in a big way and that team needs new leaders all around.

  9. WOW… this site lost all credibility. Fins are not a top 10 team but 31? Worse than the Jags? The Rams? The Titans? Cleveland? Insane, Fins have some talent and with an improved O-line and Tannehill reaching potential this year (make or bust year), Fins should be much better than their 8-8 record last year… which made them an average team.

  10. To say that Miami (who was 8-8 last year) is the 2nd worst team in the league is absolutely ridiculous. Based on the free agent signings and draft Miami will be a better team this year than last year and 9-7 may get us into playoffs.

  11. and just a reminder:

    last year (with all the Martin/Ingognito craziness) Miami beat:

    1. Colts
    2. Falcons
    3. Bengals
    4. Chargers
    5. Steelers
    6. Patriots

    They are hardly the 2nd worst team in the league.

  12. No way Dolphins are #31, except if you’re talking about managment (since Cleveland is worse and Dallas is at the same level).

    But as a football team they’re better than at least 6 teams only in the AFC, I would place them around 20-25.

    Wow, the bullying scandal has really left a bad impression from Miami

  13. this is a joke……this team, even with all its short comings, was 1 win away from a playoff berth. even with the incognito scandal and no offensive line to speak of, only 1 win away… even if we cut every o lineman and resigned with people off the street, miami is atleast 10 spots higher than cleveland, no matter how you stack the dice.

  14. Well I’d say this list is 0 for 2 right now. I’d say Browns 32nd, and Jags 31st, or vice versa, point being it isn’t the two teams they have named thus far.

  15. How are the Dolphins ranked lower than the Vikings? Tannehill is better than any QB anywhere near the Vikings’ roster. No Jared Allen on that D anymore? Good lord, they are going to be TERRIBLE!

  16. Is this some kind of reverse phycology?? To get everybody to read your list you make it absurd I hate the Dolphins but no team with a top 15 defense is #31

  17. can’t do much but move up .its good to be underdog no one pays attention to you till you beat them

  18. I don’t think people realize how good Cleveland is at every position other than QB. WR is iffy, everywhere else is stout.

    I can see Miami at 31. On paper they are as weak as anyone. But 6-7 teams are interchangeable.

  19. Well can’t go no where but up from here…I rather be underrated than overrated… so bring it we will change your mind… there is room on our bandwagon…Indeed…

  20. 8th in scoring defense and with a better O they would have won 12 games last year. This is really stupid, fins are going to be good this year

  21. IF you’re going to rank an 8-8 team #31 then you need to explain why they got worse.

    But all you did was point out the weaknesses upon which they improved.

    So, why the giant backward leap?

  22. Wow! I’m a Bills fan and wouldn’t rank the Fish that low. I can only assume the Bills are next on this list. Fins are in better shape than the Jags, Browns, Titans, and perhaps Houston. They’re on par if not a little better than the other middle tier teams. What’s next?
    15. Jacksonville
    14. Cleveland
    What a joke!

  23. I humbly disagree with the first positions of the two NFL teams placed at 32 and 31. I can see the Raiders winning anywhere from 3-7 games and the Dolphins 4-8. Not the two worst teams in the league.

  24. Vikings vs. Dolphins

    OC = Vikes
    QB = Vikes
    RB= Vikes
    WR Corps = Vikes
    T.E. = Vikes
    Kicker = Vikes
    Returner = Vikes

    I don’t care where you look. Dolphins aren’t better than Vikes lol. Look longgg and hard. lol

  25. Last year the team was 8-8. They have improved the offensive line, drafted a pretty good receiver, improved their secondary, front 7 should be about the same, running game will be the same if not better, and same quarterback.

    Sounds to me like the team got better this offseason and you put them at 31. Looks like whatever unbiased reporting this site had left has gone away. Glad to see.

  26. The way you guys are just making obscure comments to get a reaction out of people leads me to believe you’ve some how secured Skip Bayless’ services for the upcoming season.

  27. @dan1919….

    Cleveland going 4-12 is like winning the SB for them. If they are ranked higher than 30th this ranking is bogus.

  28. This is borderline trolling at this point. I beg you to take money on these predictions. You will be out of a job in 10 seconds and I would be rolling around in your money.

  29. The anti Miami agenda that the mothership promotes has rubbed off on you. They win one of two at the end and they are in the playoffs despite the issues from last year.

  30. i hate flipper with a passion, but i think they will be middle of the pack at least.

  31. The Vikings are elated right now that they’ve miraculously avoided the bottom 2 spots on this list. All real football fans know that they’re easily the worst team in the league and it’s not even close. SKOLOL!

  32. AFC East is absolutely atrocious….. virtually guarantees the Pats (who are not a great team) a playoff slot every year… and if the weak AFC, who knows….

    Miami, Buffalo, Jets… Pats….. oh my!

  33. The vikings are easily the worst team in the league and really have no business still being in the NFL. No Super Bowls in their pathetic existence – 10 loss seasons every year.

    Send the vikings to the CFL.

  34. “and just a reminder:

    last year (with all the Martin/Ingognito craziness) Miami beat:

    1. Colts
    2. Falcons
    3. Bengals
    4. Chargers
    5. Steelers
    6. Patriots

    They are hardly the 2nd worst team in the league.”

    And a reminder…even beating all of those teams, they ended up going 2-8 vs. such world beaters as the Jets, Bills (twice!), Bucs and Browns…

  35. London must be thrilled to get that #31 vs. #32 matchup this season! At least it’s early enough that both teams will still be mathematically alive for the playoffs at kickoff!

  36. “And a reminder…even beating all of those teams, they ended up going 2-8 vs. such world beaters as the Jets, Bills (twice!), Bucs and Browns…”

    Yes, and overall their record came out to 8-8 which is miles away from #31…

  37. Bills fan here … and no way I disrespect the Dolphins this much! They have their issues, but they also have a few strengths going for them.

    There is a good sized list of teams I’d place below Miami in any current power rankings.

  38. Read the article and the comments.

    First, I disagree with the ranking.

    Second, I don’t understand all of the comments about my Brownies being #32 or #31. I think people are just frustrated with the Dolphins ranking and the first team that comes to mind is the team with two media-craving divas, Manziel and Gordon.

    Browns were a top 10 defense last year and upgraded the defense even more. The offense improved even with Gordon getting suspended. We are a better football team on paper than last year. Manziel doesn’t even factor into this equation.

    Now, I’m not saying the Browns are better than Miami. I’m just saying the Browns are not your substitute team to be #32 or #31.

    You can make the case that the Browns are #25-30 and I will not argue though.

  39. hate to burst your bubble but fins are playoff bound this year.Ranked 31 out of 32 teams????they were one win away from the playoffs last year with everything they went through the whole year.

  40. It reminds me of where I work. Every team has grade A stand out players, and then you have the Ryan Leafs, all BS, no show on gameday. If I lived and played in Miami, distractions would be huge, kind of like the above the naval below the chin huge of the cheerleaders on the sideline. There is a bright side, its a no lose situation, you get paid to play in paradise!

  41. Coming up with a firm list from 1-32 is impossible even after the season–essentially it’s the draft order. (Last year Jets won tiebreaker for 2nd in division yet somehow still picked before the Dolphins) A tier system would give you guys much more credibility (but less stories and less clicks/money–I get it). An argument can be made for the top 10, bottom 10 and middle 12 (where I would put the Dolphins). The Dolphins are a middle of the road team that could be a playoff team. They are a better team than last year and they beat several playoff teams from last year with one of the worst O-lines in league history and a huge media driven scandal hanging over their heads. With merely average play from the o-line and typical QB improvement from yr 2 to yr 3, the team will have a better run game and a more consistent passing attack. Another implosion is possible but improvement is more likely. That is not the second worst team team in the league.

  42. Miami will be in playoff contention. They have assembled the most talent that the team has seen in the past 15 years.
    Losing Pouncey to injury is a very bad blow but there is no way that the Dolphins are rated the 2nd worst team in the NFL.
    There is an agenda by certain reporters to discredit this team, its owner, its coach, its new GM and the players. The bias is blatant. Whenever there is an opportunity to pile on the Dolphins, it is reported with glee. There is also an agenda against the Browns and the Jets. In contrast, there is never any negative reported on the Patriots.

  43. Biased much. Who did you all put at 32? You needed someone at 31 and felt Miami was good for it. You need your whipping boys but NE is never in the mix. The media goes out of their way to distance that team from all that is negative about them. No credibility whatsoever.

  44. Seriously? #31 out of 32?

    This isn’t 2008 after 1-15 guys. Yeah, the drama and late season collapse were terrible last year. But “next to last in the league” bad? Really?

    I know my chosen team isn’t exactly coming off a Super Bowl victory or Division Championship, but this is a joke.

    I typically look forward to rankings articles, but this is one of the few times I’ll join the chorus of those who say this is a terrible article.

  45. Las Vegas (the people that actually put their money where their mouth is) has the Dolphins right in the middle of the pack. For win totals, they are predicting 13 teams to win fewer games, 11 to win more, and tied with 7 others to win 8 games. So the odds-makers have the Dolphins ranked between 12th and 19th. Put your money where your mouth is PFT.

  46. Not a dolphins fan, but live in Miami and this team is primed for a run, but at the very least is a middle of the pack team. To have them as bottom of the barrel in pre season rankings smacks of no knowledge of the NFL.

  47. “Then came word that center Mike Pouncey will likely miss the opening weeks after hip surgery and that free agent signee Knowshon Moreno needed to have an operation on his knee. A four-game suspension for 2013 first-round pick Dion Jordan handed down last week made for three steps backward for a team that can hardly afford them.”

    So let me get this straight – Miami was primed for a run this year, but losing Pouncey for a few games, losing a backup running back potentially, and 4 games lost by backup DE – all that is changing the prognosis of Dolphins from playoff contender to competing for #1 overall draft pick in ’15?

    So its not about Tannehill and whether he emerges as good NFL QB this year?

  48. Reesesteel23:

    Jul 7, 2014 4:11 PM
    Vikings vs. Dolphins

    OC = Vikes
    QB = Vikes
    RB= Vikes
    WR Corps = Vikes
    T.E. = Vikes
    Kicker = Vikes
    Returner = Vikes

    I don’t care where you look. Dolphins aren’t better than Vikes lol. Look longgg and hard. lol

    QB: Dolphins
    WR: Dolphins
    TE: Dolphins
    DLine: Dolphins
    CB: Dolphins
    FS/SS: Dolphins

    The only thing I would admit the Vikes have on Miami is RB but AP will be leaving soon enough leaving you without a paddle.

  49. I like the Dolphins and their fans, so I don’t mean too much disrespect when I say this… But their epic meltdown last year to allow my Chargers to effectively “back-in” to the playoffs was pathetic and we thank them for it.

  50. Miami was 8-8 last season, not great but not horrible. What did they lose to make them drop 5 or 6 wins?

    They’ll be in the 6-10 to 9-7 range, hardly the 2nd worst team.

  51. Seriously? Not a phins fan, but how aren’t they rated higher than my Brownies or the lowly Jags, or Bills, or Vikings, or Jets, or Titans, or Texans, or Dallas. And possibly the Chiefs just due to their offseason.

  52. Who is the brainbox behind these rankings?
    Some of the press just have to write rubbish about the Dolphins all the time. Most of it isn’t worth reading. I guess they have nothing sensible to write about, so they just guess.

  53. Awww viking fans getting upset because packer fans are picking on them. But it’s okay when every viking troll does the same thing. Smh

  54. People dont get to upset over this its their jobs to spark a reaction, putting the Dolphins in their rightful position at around 3 or 4 would not have drawn much intrest.

  55. It is comical to read the comments saying the Vikings should be a bottom 1-2 team…. I am ok with having them be the bottom team in your Pre-season ranking system….. Based on last years team, no doubt!! But understand this going forward…….
    We have eliminated arguably the worst coaching staff in NFL history..,, and have upgraded numerous positions…., this team may not be contenders this season, but, they will be a top 5 team going into next season with Super Bowl aspirations going into 2016! They are getting stacked where it matters and the depth it’s getting scary good!!

  56. You know, its easy to get all worked up over this terrible power ranking, but since there’s such parody in the NFL, teams that were great one year, fell apart the next year ie Houston Texans, so who cares what one biased writer thinks of the phins “Power ranking.” I will say this though, the Chiefs were given this ranking last year before the games began, and they went to the playoffs, so take it with a grain of salt. I think Miami will be another middle of the pack team with the ability to win some surprise games and to lose some shockers as well. This writer just took the way we finished our season and did not look at the season as a whole or the factors that directly impacted our record. I’d say the phins improved from last year, as did a great many other teams, so could we be the 31st ranked team, sure, but we could also be the 12th best team (ala playoff berth) in the NFL. I can’t wait to see which teams that played so well last year fall apart this year, could be the Eagles since everyone has a year of tape on Chip Kelly now, or it could be New England who is just a Tom Brady injury away from a lost season/franchise.

  57. “I don’t care where you look. Dolphins aren’t better than Vikes lol. Look longgg and hard. lol”

    Dolphins 8-8
    Vikings 5-10-1

    Not great, but better than the Vikings. Well, that was easy.

  58. It’s truly funny to listen to all these Dolphins fans whine and scream about the ranking the Fins got. I’ve been a Fins fan for over 40 yrs, and I think they’re a joke too! I don’t know how they’re ranked as high as they are! I’ve never seen a bigger joke (save one Jerry Jones) than I have Steve Ross. I’ve never seen an NFL team with a more pathetic excuse for a backfield than with Miller and Thomas (neither of who could start -let alone play) for any other team (and that goes for college too, ROFL)!! “I can name 4-5 other teams right now that are worse than the Dolphins…” No, YOU CAN’T!!! LOL, they SUCK! They WASTED a 1st round draft pick on the 2nd coming of stringbean jason taylor (jordan), have NO offensive line, and no coaches.
    Remember I said this: Dolphins 2014 record>>> 6-10.

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