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Andy Cohen: So Much Uncertainty Heading Into Season 

Posted Sep 4, 2012

The 47th edition of the Miami Dolphins starts in earnest in a few days and does anyone really know what to expect?

The 47th edition of the Miami Dolphins starts in earnest in a few days and does anyone really know what to expect?
     
You’ve got a rookie quarterback in the opening day starting lineup for the first time in franchise history. What’s Ryan Tannehill going to do under this intense spotlight?
    
You’ve got a new head coach who has never been a head coach before, a man filled with ideas and who finally has the authority to unleash them. What are we going to get in Joe Philbin?
    
You’ve got a new look, hurry-up offense that only offered a glimpse of its creative options during the preseason. What is this offense going to really look like?
   
You’ve got an equally new 4-3 defense that never took a preseason snap with its two best linebackers, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, in the lineup together. How long is it going to take this group to jell?
   
You’re coming off an 0-4 preseason where very few real conclusions were formed, mostly because it was more about auditions than fine-tuning.
   
Get the idea? This is a Miami Dolphins team that is impossible to get a true handle on even with the regular season looming so close. How do you predict what you can’t figure out? How do you draw conclusions on a work in progress?
    
You can’t. You just have to see how it all comes together in the regular season.
    
What I do know is this: It has got to start with Tannehill.
    
If Tannehill can show the consistency, the maturity and the accuracy that so many believe he has then everything else becomes important. If he struggles, then does it really matter how well the wide receivers are playing or how well the line is blocking?
   
You don’t want to put too much pressure on the kid. But the position by nature and the status it comes with simply has enormous ramifications in what has become a quarterback driven league.
    
I believe Tannehill will be fine. I believe the positives will far outweigh the struggles and that we will all witness Tannehill’s own personal growth chart as the season progresses. We’ll soon find out if I’m right.
  
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Now for some other opinions, insights and thoughts heading into the regular season:
   
• I believe we saw just a small fraction of the offensive blueprint during the preseason. Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman had no intention of showing their hands when the games don’t really count. I fully expect some interesting combination of players on the field at the same time, as well as some different formations, beginning Sunday in Houston.
   
• And some of those could involve rookie running back Lamar Miller. We didn’t see much of Miller this preseason until the second half of the final game. But this is a multi-faceted player similar to that of Reggie Bush. I can really envision an effort by the offensive coaches to get Miller into one-on-one situations in the open field. Maybe Bush and Miller on the field together? Hmmm.
   
• There is nothing conservative about Joe Philbin’s offensive philosophy. We saw that in Green Bay and you’ll see it here. I can almost see him sitting in his office late at night, concocting plays and shifting around pieces like a scientist in a lab.
   
• As I evaluate this roster, running back might just be the strength of the team. The defensive line is also strong and deep.
  
• My biggest concerns? Probably the same as your biggest concerns. Not enough playmakers on offense. Depth on the offensive line. Depth at cornerback. Inexperience in key areas.
   
• By the way, Jonathan Martin will be just fine at right tackle.
   
• You think there’s a play where Tannehill goes out for a pass? Don’t forget he played receiver in college before quarterback. Haven’t seen a quarterback here this athletic since David Woodley.
   
• I’m going to miss Hard Knocks. Not sure whether the Dolphins will.
   
• Could the Dolphins have gotten a more difficult opening game opponent than the Houston Texans? After the way they played late last season and into the playoffs, this Houston team just has a feel about it, a feel that suggests they have a chance to go deep into the playoffs.
  
• Mission No. 1 has to be slowing down running back Arian Foster.
  
• Right behind that is trying to cover Andre Johnson.
  
• Then there’s that attacking Texans defense. Challenges everywhere.
  
• Interested in seeing the bag of tricks put together by new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. Word has it this is the most intricate set of blitz packages the Dolphins have had in quite a while.
  
• After Houston, there are home games against Oakland and the Jets. We’ll know a lot more after those first three games.
  
• Sean Smith is sure looking like a breakout season is in his plans. The talented cornerback has been making plays all summer long.
  
• Glad to see wide receiver Chris Hogan made the practice squad. There’s a kid who is easy to root for.

• Yes, the wait is just about over. We’re about to start getting some answers. Enjoy the ride.
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