Commentary

Dolphins camp preview: Still a long way to go

Updated: August 18, 2008, 7:37 PM ET
By Eric Karabell | ESPN.com

Editor's note: These camp previews are up to date as of the start of preseason games. For the latest changes since then, check our updated rankings, projections and profiles.

Well, let's just say 2007 didn't go well. The team won a game -- one game -- then cleaned house. Bill Parcells has fixed franchises before, and he'll likely fix this one as well, but the first thing this team has to do is forget about last season and realize Rome wasn't built in a day. Believe it or not, pieces are in place in South Florida for a competitive season now that Parcells has made the obvious decision to start building the lines.

[+] EnlargeBill Parcells
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesBill Parcells got out his shopping list for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins are rebuilding and shouldn't expect to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001, but they do need to take stock of what they have. Until Ronnie Brown tore his ACL, he was one of the league's top rushers even though the team was consistently losing, and he'll have competition this year from Ricky Williams and a few others who came in the draft. The team brought in Chad Pennington, and he's a leader, if nothing else. Fantasy owners are mighty interested in Brown, and they should be, but there could be some other pieces to look at as well.

Parcells has the time to change the culture of losing in Miami, and he might need a few years to do it. But make no mistake: Fantasy owners can't simply ignore this team. The defense probably will struggle, but offensively, things should improve.

What to look for in camp

Miami Dolphins

Jake Long will lead the remade offensive line in the hopes of improving the ground game.

Key Additions
OT Jake Long
WR Ernest Wilford
DT Jason Ferguson
G Justin Smiley
QB Josh McCown
QB Chad Pennington
Key Losses
LB Zach Thomas
RB Jesse Chatman
WR Marty Booker
RB Lorenzo Booker
Probable Lineup
QB1 Chad Pennington
RB1 Ronnie Brown
RB2 Ricky Williams
WR1 Ted Ginn Jr.
WR2 Ernest Wilford
WR3 Derek Hagan
TE1 David Martin
K Jay Feely
Preseason Schedule
TB Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m.
@ JAX Aug. 16, 7:30 p.m.
KC Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m.
@ NO Aug. 28, 8 p.m.
All times ET
Key position battles: Though Williams will push Brown at running back, this team likely will employ a power running game that could make both of them relevant in fantasy. The running game looks promising, and the offensive line surely has been upgraded, but the team will need Chad Pennington to stretch defenses, which is no guarantee. It's been quite a while since the Dolphins had a major threat behind center -- Dan Marino, anyone? -- and Pennington will get the chance to prove himself. If he fails, this season's second-rounder, Chad Henne, or last year's starter, John Beck, will get the looks.

Fitting in: Ted Ginn Jr. was last season's first-round pick, a move that was mostly panned, and it's about time he gets a chance to show his ability on more than returning punts and kicks. Ginn did catch 420 yards worth of passes. That's 5 yards more than Chris Chambers, who was sent to San Diego at midseason, and isn't too far behind leading receiver Marty Booker, who is now a Bear. Ginn should emerge, and joining him will be former Jaguar Ernest Wilford, a possession receiver who got a bit lost in Jacksonville. Here he should start and immediately complement Ginn, which is a good thing. Though Ginn is the home run threat, Wilford should become an instant goal-line option because of his size and the attention defenses pay to Ginn.

On the line: Something had to change here. In retrospect, it's a bit hard to believe how well Brown was running before getting hurt, considering the problems on the line and the necessary overhaul. By virtue of having the NFL's worst record, Parcells had the first pick to play with, and he chose Jake Long from Michigan. He should start at left tackle right away. Fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy could start at right guard, and signing Justin Smiley from the 49ers was another wise move. This revamped line should be better than most when it comes it run blocking, and that's the type of offense Miami wants anyway.

On the defensive line, Jason Taylor is headed to Washington, which obviously makes this unit weaker. The team will miss the pressure he puts on quarterbacks. Two defensive ends were taken in the first three rounds of the draft, and former Cowboy Jason Ferguson should help shut down the run. Make no mistake, however, this is not an attractive fantasy defense, and it'll miss Taylor.

The bottom line

This is Parcells' team: He brought in the coaches, he's making the big decisions, and he shopped for the groceries, so to speak. No other NFL squad can say its top executive -- vice president of football operations, officially -- is more recognizable than any of the players. Maybe that's not such a bad thing when you come off a 1-15 season. Though the Dolphins should have a pretty good running game, assuming Brown continues his recovery from a torn-up knee and Williams can help him out carrying the ball more than six times, the focus will be on how well Pennington adapts at quarterback. He could decide whether this team sinks or swims.

Eric Karabell is a senior writer for ESPN.com fantasy. You can e-mail him here.

Eric Karabell | email

ESPN.com Senior Writer