are my final grades and awards for the 2005 Dolphins. I have also listed the
players I believe the Dolphins will definitely retain for 2006. In the end,
expect somewhere between 25-40% turnover on the 2006 roster.
Comment: The play of
this unit was improved dramatically over 2004. Once again, credit Hudson Houck
and hard work by the players. Really, there is no way this team could have won nine
games without the improvement this group made. That being said, the offensive line
still needs a real talent upgrade…especially at left tackle.
Rex Hadnot, Jeno James, Vernon
Job Openings: 6-7
Comment: Ronnie Brown
proved his worth as the second overall pick in the draft. He’s only going to
get better. Ricky Williams proved that Nick Saban was right to welcome him back
to the team. It says here that Ricky will be a Dolphin in 2006 as his value to
the team exceeds the compensation they’d receive in a trade.
Comment: Starters Chris
Chambers and Marty Booker produced over 1,800 yards of receptions with Chambers
going from “decent” to Pro Bowler over the final six games of the season. The
grade here would be higher if not for all the dropped balls. Slot receiver and
return man Wes Welker once again proved his mettle; pound for pound, he may be
the best player on the team.
Job Openings: 3
Tight Ends = B-
Comment: Solid work
blocking, much improved over 2004. Starter Randy McMichael stepped up his game
over the last third of the season, better justifying his new contract.
McMichael, Lorenzo Diamond
Job Openings: 1
Comment: Gus Frerotte
was a good improvement over A.J. Feeley and Jay Fiedler. Expect to see Gus in a
Dolphin uniform next year, as a starter or as a backup; valuable vets like him
are tough to come by. Sage Rosenfels won two games in relief, canceling out his
horrid effort against the Browns. Nevertheless there will be at least one new
QB on the 2006 Dolphins, maybe two.
Job Openings: 2
Comment: From the
moment offensive coordinator Scott Linehan traded in his press box seat for a
sideline view, playcalling and production improved. The offense was the key to
the six game win streak.
Comment: Better than
expected production from this group as Keith Traylor, Kevin Carter, and Vonnie
Holliday proved to be terrific free agent pick-ups. Expect them all back next
season. Jason Taylor is a warrior, earning a Pro Bowl berth while fighting
through a painful foot injury and
learning a new scheme. Is there any doubt that he is the best defensive end in
Traylor, Taylor, Carter, Holliday, Manuel Wright, Matt Roth
Job Openings: 3-4
Linebackers = B
Comment: Pro Bowl MLB
Zach Thomas proved that he can play great football in any system. Channing
Crowder had an awesome rookie campaign and will be a Dolphin fixture for years
to come. Donnie Spragan was a solid free agent pick-up. With all of the other
needs this team needs to address, will Junior Seau be able to sneak on to the
(3): Thomas, Crowder, Spragan
Job Openings: 3-4
Backs = D
Comment: This unit
seemed to be on its heels all season long. Major changes are coming. Will Sam
Madison return? Can Will Poole successfully return from major knee surgery?
Will safeties Travares Tillman, Tebucky Jones, and Lance Schulters be retained?
Will Reggie Howard be released? Stay Tuned.
Comment: This unit
was much better against the run than the pass though they did tie a team record
for the most sacks in a season (49); only the Seattle Seahawks got to the QB
more (50). They also set a new team record for the most safeties in a season
SPECIALISTS = A-
Comment: Donnie Jones
had a solid season, earning Pro Bowl honors as an alternate. Olindo Mare was #3
in the league in average kickoff distance and in total touchbacks. Long Snapper
John Denney quietly turned in a solid year, silencing the ghost of Ed Perry.
(3): Mare, Jones, Denney
Job Openings: 0
Comment: Saban and
his staff made a lot of progress cleaning up the big mess that Dave Wannstedt
and Rick Spielman left behind. The 2005 Draft was a smashing success as every pick
made the team in one capacity or another. The Dolphins also got a good amount
of productivity from its free agent signings; for 2006, the salary cap is
expected to be in excellent shape ($12-15 million under). On the field, the
coaching staff was successful in translating new philosophies into wins. However,
there could be changes forthcoming as Saban re-tools his staff and other head
coaching jobs become available; Linehan will reportedly interview for the
Texans job while Will Muschamp was considered by MiddleTennesseeState.
Comment: All things
considered, nine wins is a major accomplishment this team should be very proud
of. Of special note is the team’s 6-0 record after a dismal 3-7 start,
including a 5-0 record during December and January, a sure sign of the mental
toughness that’s been wanting in the past. The only way this team could have
earned a higher grade (A+) was by making the playoffs. With another solid
offseason the Dolphins could return to the postseason as early as next year.
Player of the Year: Ricky Williams
Offensive Player: Chris Chambers
Defensive Player: Yeremiah Bell
Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Rex Hadnot
Outstanding Offensive Back: Ronnie Brown
Mention: Gus Frerotte, Ricky Williams)
Outstanding Wide Receiver/Tight End: Chris Chambers
Outstanding Defensive Lineman: Jason Taylor
Mention: Keith Traylor)
Outstanding Linebacker: Zach Thomas
Outstanding Defensive Back: Lance Schulters
Outstanding Special Teams Player: Wes Welker
Mention: Zach Thomas, Keith Traylor, Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers)