Dolphins Discussion: Season Review

It's been a week since the Dolphins saw their 2008 season come to an end with a playoff loss to Baltimore, a Baltimore team that now will be playing for the AFC Championship Game. No matter how you look at it, the Dolphins season was a great success. We checked in with Adam Caplan, national NFL reporter and Sirius NFL radio host, to get his thoughts on the Dolphins.

Q: What lasting impression of the Dolphins will you have when you look back at the 2008 season?

Adam Caplan: I'd say just the surprise that they actually made the playoffs and won the AFC East — two things I didn't think they could achieve based on the personnel they had.

Q: Do you think the Dolphins more realistically were the team that went 11-5 in the regular season or the team that lost by 18 points in the playoffs against Baltimore?

AC: Probably more toward the team that lost by 18 to the Ravens. The lack of playmakers really showed up in that game and that's something they'll look to address in free agency and in the draft.

Q: How surprised were you that Tony Sparano did not win NFL Coach of the Year honors given the team's turnaround after the 1-15 disaster?

AC: Really, you could make a case for him, Mike Smith and John Harbaugh. Any of the three would have been deserving. But the job Sparano and his coaching staff did with the players they had to coach was amazing.

Q: Heading into the offseason, what do you see as the team's biggest area of need?

AC: I would say getting help at receiver is the biggest need at this point. Ted Ginn is an emerging player, but he still needs to make a lot of improvement.

Q: Which of the Dolphins' eight free agents — Vernon Carey, Andre' Goodman, Yeremiah Bell, Channing Crowder, Renaldo Hill, Al Johnson, Derek Smith, Tab Perry — would you consider the biggest priority in terms of re-signing?

AC: I'm not sure if there's one that really stands out, but losing Crowder could be an issue since they don't have anyone in back of him that's ready to step in. Some would argue that Ell, Goodman and Hill's solid play in 2008 might been a result of the scheme and they might be replaceable in some respect.

Q: Are there any free agents expected to be on the market you would expect the Dolphins to make a big run for?

AC: I'm told they will be looking for three positions on offense heading into free agency and the draft:

• Wide receiver — Obviously, on offense, this is the biggest need. They have to upgrade here opposite Ginn. Even if Greg Camarillo is ready to go for next season, he's more of a possession receiver. They need a physical receiver who can draw double teams. There are only two good receivers that are currently going to be free agents — T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Antonio Bryant. Bryant, of course, had some issues with Bill Parcells, so I'm not sure if that would be a match, but Bryant had a great season and is still only turns 28 in March. He's the kind of physical presence they need and he runs well for his size. Houshmandzadeh is more of an inside receiver and they already have Camarillo and Davone Bess to fill that role.

• Tight End — Antony Fasano and David Martin did a decent job this season, but they could use an upgrade here. Only veteran that makes sense is Bo Scaife. It's supposedly a good draft for tight ends.

• Center — Believe it or not, I've been hearing that they think this has been a position of need for the last two years and that's through two different coaching staffs. Starter Samson Satele still has two years left on his contract, so it will be interesting to see what they do here. The three who could draw their interest are Matt Birk, Jeff Saturday or Jason Brown. Birk and Saturday would be stop-gaps because of their age, but Brown would yield a significant contract.

Q: Everybody talks about how difficult it will be for the Dolphins to repeat because their schedule will be considerably tougher in 2009; do you buy into that line of thinking?

AC: Schedule aside, I'm not sure if they can repeat their success again because the talent seemed to overachieve for whatever reason. I look at their personnel and I marvel at their achievement. And now you throw in a harder schedule and I don't see them doing as well again.

Q: Would it be too much to expect for Chad Pennington to be able to duplicate what he did in 2008 or even come close?

AC: He has a great feel for the game and keep in mind he'll have a full off season with the receivers and tight ends, so he could do well again.

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