Miami Dolphins season preview: Stuck in the middle

*Around The NFL's season preview continues in the AFC East. *

Change we can believe in

We believe in new coordinator Bill Lazor's offense to the extent that he was a finalist for our offseason "Making the Leap" countdown. After watching Mike Sherman's uninspired offense the past two years, it will be refreshing to witness Lazor's uptempo attack, which borrows from Chip Kelly, Joe Gibbs and Mike Holmgren.

As Eagles quarterbacks coach, Lazor was the guiding hand behind Nick Foles' 2013 breakout season. That bodes well for the development of Ryan Tannehill, who has been magical outside the pocket but miserable inside it as a pro.

Biggest concern

It's the same concern as last season. The Dolphins overhauled the offensive line only to watch Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey go under the knife to repair a hip injury. Pouncey's early-season absence isn't the only issue. Dallas Thomas was penciled in as the starting right guard until Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy made a piñata out of him last week. The other guard spot is also unsettled with Shelley Smith and rookie Billy Turner in the mix.

After watching Tannehill absorb a league-high 58 sacks last season, the Dolphins' coaching staff can't be feeling too confident about their quarterback's pass protection entering September.

On the other side of the ball, the linebackers are a question mark. Koa Misi was moved to the middle, leaving Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler as coverage liabilities against tailbacks, tight ends and slot receivers.

Training camp surprise

Notable Madden ratings


Knowshon Moreno was signed to compete with Lamar Miller for the starting running back position. He ended up spending the entire offseason and the majority of training camp recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and working his way back to his ideal playing weight. The Dolphins can't expect a major contribution early in the season.

On a positive note, second-round wide receiver Jarvis Landry has been the biggest rookie standout in summer practices. Now rotating with veteran Brandon Gibson in the slot, Landry could emerge as a reliable, strong-handed possession receiver for Tannehill.

What we'll be saying in February

The organization needs an iconic figure in a leadership role after the directionless regimes of Tony Sparano and Joe Philbin over the past half-decade.

Around The NFL's predicted finish: Second place in AFC East, No. 24 in Around The NFL's Power Index

The latest "Around The League Podcast" recaps all of the action from the second week of the preseason.

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