By Abraham Gutierrez
There are a few things that need to happen in order for the Miami Dolphins to turn their season around following Joe Philbin and Kevin Coyle’s firing. Heading into the bye week, the first order of business has to be getting key players healthy and ready for what will likely be the toughest challenge of their professional playing career. In particular, there are three Dolphins players that must heal up and start producing, as new interim coach Dan Campbell will need all hands on deck in order to climb out of this 1-3 hole.READ MORE: Arrest Made In Fort Lauderdale Double Shooting
Even though through four games, the 2015 Dolphins have been incompetent on both sides of the football, statistics show that Miami’s biggest problems are found on offense. Heading into the bye, the Fins rank 31st in rushing yards per game (69.2), 30th in points (16.2), 25th in total yards (314.8) and 16th in passing yards per game (245.5).
Based on those disappointing rankings, two of the three key players on this list are members of the offensive unit. Furthermore, because the running game and the aerial attack both depend on the play of the offensive line, the first key player that must get healthy enough to produce is none other than offensive tackle Branden Albert.
The 2013 Pro Bowler has not only been slowed by a lingering hamstring injury that’s caused him to miss the last two weeks, but a balking knee also landed hum on the team’s IR prior to the season opener at Washington. Nevertheless, there are encouraging signs coming out of the Dolphins training facility.
As Coach Campbell continues to make the necessary adjustments to prepare this bunch to salvage the 2015 NFL campaign, the eighth-year man out of Virginia is doing everything in his power to ensure he will be healthy and ready to go for the team’s Week 6 clash at Tennessee.
“I’m staying here to keep getting better, keep getting my health better,” Albert told reporters after asked if he would leave town during the bye as many of his teammates did. “[I want to] keep getting better and come back to being the Pro Bowl left tackle I know I could be.”READ MORE: Costco Drops Mask Mandate For Fully Vaccinated Employees, Shoppers
The second player on this list is a fellow 2013 Pro Bowler, as tight end Jordan Cameron will also be instrumental in this team’s hopes of a turnaround. The former Brown has also been dealing with a lingering injury over the past two weeks, as his groin has limited his contributions for this club.
In his fifth-season out of Southern California, Cameron has recorded just 12 receptions for 170 yards and has yet to break into the touchdown column. Given his close relationship to tight-end coach-turned interim manager, Campbell’s promotion – along with some additional rest time during the bye – might be what the Los Angeles native needs to regain his Pro Bowl form.
“[Coach Campbell] brings a lot of energy, a lot of passion. He loves this game,” said Cameron, who was promoted to first-string tight end following Deion Sims concussion. “Every time he talks about football he gets the chills. You can see it on his arms. He loves football and it’s a guy that you can get behind and like I was saying before, everybody would run through a wall for Dan Campbell.”
The last key player on this list is defensive end Cameron Wake, who is perhaps the most important piece in a defense that went into the bye ranked 32nd in rushing yards allowed (160.5), 30th in total yards (399.5), 20th in points per game (25.2) and 15th against the pass (239). The four-time Pro Bowler appeared on the Dolphins NFL Week 3 injury report due to problems with one of his hamstring.
And while his name hasn’t been penciled into the team’s IR since then, his production suggest he’s nowhere near 100 percent. Prior to J.J. Watt’s ascend into stardom, Wake was widely considered the best defensive lineman in the game, and that was just a few years back.
He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and with good reason. In those stellar seasons, Wake recorded 57 tackles and 14 sacks, 53 (tackles) and 15 (sacks), 37 (tackles) and 8.5 (sacks), and 38 (tackles) and 11.5 (sacks) respectively. Through four games in 2015, Wake has all but a single tackle and has yet to record a single sack.MORE NEWS: Miss USA Asya Branch Could Make History In Sunday's Miss Universe Competition At Seminole Hard Rock Hotel And Casino
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.