Low preseason ranking ruffles feathers in South Florida

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Some of you were surprised to see that the average vote of the PFT staff placed the Dolphins at No. 31 on the preseason power rankings.  That group included Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

As explained by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Ross was sufficiently concerned about the placement to pick up the phone and call coach Joe Philbin, who apparently said something along the lines of, “Those guys don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“I don’t think he knows the guys in our looker room or the guys that come to work in this building every single day from top to bottom,” Philbin said to Salguero, with the “he” actually being the “we” who voted on the best to worst franchises entering the 2014 season.

While Philbin can get plenty of mileage in the locker room out of the lack of perceived respect inherent to the ranking, he actually should be glad that expectations are so low.  The lower the expectations, the easier it is for a coach to exceed them and, in turn, to remain the coach.

While reasonable minds may differ on whether the Dolphins currently sit below every NFL team not located in Oakland, there’s plenty of reason to think the Dolphins won’t take a step forward from last year’s 8-8 finish, which was punctuated by a pair of losses in winnable games.  The organization showed serious signs of dysfunction in the early portion of the offseason, via multiple reports creating the impression that G.M. Jeff Ireland lost a power struggle with V.P. of football administration Dawn Aponte, who had reportedly aligned with Philbin after Ireland reportedly tried to get Aponte fired.  The perception that no one wanted to succeed Ireland as the team’s G.M. bolstered the sense that things aren’t going so well in South Florida.

Then there’s the aftermath of the Jonathan Martin situation, with Richie Incognito gone but Mike Pouncey still there, showing signs that he really hasn’t learned anything from the experience and that he blames the controversy on the media.  The Dolphins looked the other way on Pouncey because Pouncey is one of the best centers in the league.  And of course he’s now out through at least the middle of the season after hip surgery.

When the Dolphins finished 27th in yardage and 26th points and allowed 58 sacks, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman took the fall.  Which means that his former pupil at Texas A&M, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, has to learn and adapt to a new offense.  Which may or may not work out.

Receiver Mike Wallace was a malcontent last year, his first after signing a big-money deal to jump from Pittsburgh to South Florida.  The offensive line is a work in progress at best, especially with Pouncey out.  And the defense, which finished in the bottom quarter of the league in points allowed but near the top 10 for yardage surrendered, has a long way to go before it can win games without much support from the offense.

So with no teams other than the Raiders standing out as having deep and profound deficiencies, it made sense to put the Dolphins behind the likes of the Titans, Jaguars (who should have been higher than 29, in my own assessment), the Bills, the Vikings, and the Buccaneers.  Ultimately, that’s the task for anyone who disagrees with the Dolphins at No. 31:  Point out a team other than the Raiders that is currently in worse overall shape.

Again, that’s good news for Philbin.  It gives him a way to get his players to affix a chip to their shoulders, and it gives him cover in the event the Dolphins don’t make it to the playoffs this year.  If they do — or even if they get close but don’t qualify — Philbin will have overcome major talent and organizational challenges that hopefully the organization led ultimately by Ross will be able to appreciate and reward.

30 responses to “Low preseason ranking ruffles feathers in South Florida

  1. You guys have no clue about how good a team can be or not be, come back when you understand football. Bill

  2. So the acquisition of the best free agent left tackle who is an all-pro a top ten defense, and a team that was among the best in points allowed, beat 4playoff teams last year and was a game shy of missing the playoffs should stumble the way to the bottom of the league? While another team that has had 5 arrests this offseason and is in really no better situation than they were in last year blew the last 2 games of the season as well will jump all the way to the top ten? How is that possible?

  3. So while they were embroiled in bullygate and with a patchwork O-line they managed to go 8-8…. That gave them a better record than 13 other NFL teams. Yet you believe a year removed, they are going to be that much worse??

    Week 17 this team will be in the playoff hunt once again.

  4. Yes a team with 9 Pro Bowlers, that defeated Indy, Cincinnati, San Diego and New England (All playoff teams) just last season, with a young QB that improved all his stats with one of the worst O-Lines in Phins history…is the 2nd worst team? Give me a break.

  5. Strategyexpert is right. Who cares what the rankings are, it has no impact on the season. You are as good as your record says you are.

  6. I agree they aren’t 31 I have them at 27. No way they are worse than the Browns, talk about a joke 22 for the Browns, they will go 2-14, Raiders, Texans and Vikings.

  7. So… a team who went 8-8 with a terrible offensive line and the embarrassing richie incognito scandal is the 31st ranked team?!?

    Whoever ranked the 2014 Miami Dolphins 31st in the NFL should be fired or demoted to janitor.

  8. Sorry but this explanation still doesn’t justify the ranking. But whatever. Where did you guys rank the dolphins last preseason? I’m sure they exceeded your expectations and will do so again. I’m a homer but if we finish with less than 7 wins I’ll be shocked.

    PS- I’m sure if the Fins win week 1 at home vs the Pats you guys will only bump us up to #30 the following Monday. You just don’t respect Miami at all.

  9. Last preseason… I ranked the 2013 Miami Dolphins very high… AND THEN… big free agent signing tight end Dustin Keller went down for the season.

    They still split with new england.

  10. I turn on the internet
    There’s some cat on the keyboard
    Laying down a litany of excuses

    Nick Cave and the Bad seeds

  11. This is the same coach that before the last 2 games of the year the media was talking him up as coach of the year. Now he’s coaching the 31st best team in the league. The media tried to destroy miami last year and they rallied around it. Yes, they blew the last 2 games. But before that they’d played well and until the last game of the year controlled their own destiny. Everybody knows that if you control your own destiny all the way until week 17 then you didn’t have that bad of a year.

  12. Look at teams with worse quarterback situations for starters. Let’s begin with the first guy that really touches the ball. You feel better with the guy calling the plays in tenn, minn, St. Louis, hell… Even Dallas? Nah.

  13. Dolphins: 8-8 last year, made some serious improvements this offseason. Ranked 31st.

    Ravens: 8-8 last year, made very little improvement, 5 arrests. Ranked 7th.

    One is way too high, one is way too low. Hey, it keeps people talking about PFT though.

  14. One thing I don’t get, is that you continue to insist that Mike Wallace was a “malcontent” last year. Where are you getting this from?? This couldn’t be further from the truth. He was visibly upset after not being involved in the offense after the 1st game of the year, but was a model citizen after that. From week 2 on he said all the right things and was a team player. Saying that he was a malcontent last year is nothing more than an insincere attempt to discredit Miami even more.

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