1. Will Ryan Tannehill do enough to end the Dolphins’ five-year playoff drought?
He showed real improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. But Tannehill needs to take another leap to become a top-15 quarterback, which the Dolphins will probably need to return to the postseason.
2. Have the emotional wounds from 2013 given way to a kinder, gentler locker room?
It’s rarely a good thing when the ‘Today Show’ is going live from a practice. Things have been much calmer, so far, in 2014, and owner Stephen Ross and coach Joe Philbin are intent on keeping it that way.
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3. Speaking of Philbin, will he still be coach of the Dolphins a year from now?
If history is any guide, he needs to make the playoffs. Only two Dolphins coaches have returned for a fourth year after missing the playoffs the previous two: George Wilson and Don Shula. And Wilson didn’t make it to Year 5.
4. The entire offensive line is new. But is it improved?
The tackle position (Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James) is a clear upgrade. But the interior line is a mess. Both Daryn Colledge and Samson Satele were unemployed in late June. Both will likely start in Week 1. Hurry back, Mike Pouncey.
5. Can Tannehill and Mike Wallace finally figure out the deep ball?
More than two out of every three passes thrown 20 or more yards by Tannehill last year ended in failure. Only a handful of quarterbacks were more inefficient throwing deep. They both know it’s a problem. Time will tell if they have fixed it.
6. The Dolphins’ secondary: crafty veterans or just plain old?
If everything falls right, Miami could have one of the league’s best defensive backfields. Cortland Finnegan is a former All-Pro. Brent Grimes went to the Pro Bowl. And Louis Delmas can knock your head off. But all have scary injury histories.
7. Can the 2013 rookie class finally live up to the hype?
Dion Jordan has looked great in camp. Too bad he will miss the first four games because of a failed drug test. Jamar Taylor and Will Davis are both improved, but can they crack the starting lineup? Probably not.
8. Can the defense carry the offense while the Dolphins figure out Bill Lazor’s offense?
You can make statistics say most anything. For instance, the Dolphins allowed the most yards since 1988 a year ago. And yet, they were in the top 10 in points allowed for the third season in a row. They must make it four in a row.
9. Lamar Miller or Knowshon Moreno at running back?
The smart money is on Miller — but he will probably have a short leash. The new system seems perfect for his skill set, and Moreno has injury concerns. But Moreno rushed for more yards in 2013 than Miller has in his career.
10. Will the run defense get figured out?
The Dolphins allowed nearly 2,000 yards on the ground last year — unheard of for a team long known for its stinginess. Koa Misi at middle linebacker better work out.