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Catching up with … the Dolphins

06.20.12 at 3:28 pm ET

Part of a continuing series that takes a look at what some of the Patriots’€™ biggest competition in the AFC is doing this offseason. We’€™ve already looked at last year’€™s playoff teams: Ravens, Steelers, Broncos, Texans and Bengals. In addition, we’ve broken down the division with looks at the Jets and Bills. We wrap it up today with the Dolphins.

When we last saw the Dolphins, they were rebounding from a hideous 0-7 start to finish the year with six wins in their last nine games (two of those defeats to end the season were by three points or less). They allowed them to finish with a 6-10 mark — not bad at all after the awful beginning. The Patriots swept them in 2011, winning the regular-season opener 38-24 in Miami and beating them 27-24 on Christmas Eve in Foxboro, 27-24.

Who they added: In addition to new head coach Joe Philbin (a former Green Bay coordinator who is also a former assistant with Harvard and Northeastern), the Dolphins signed quarterback David Garrard as a consolation prize after losing out on Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith. They added versatile defensive back Richard Marshall in free agency, and picked up wide receiver Chad Ochocinco after he was cut loose after one season with the Patriots. Other free-agent additions include former Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton and safety Tyrell Johnson, formerly of the Vikings. In the draft, they picked up quarterback Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) in the first round, who has already been anointed as the signal-caller of the future.

Who’€™s gone: The Dolphins dealt No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall with the Bears for a pair of draft picks, and didn’t really replace him. They also released safety Yeremiah Bell a week into free agency … after telling him they weren’t going to cut him loose. Defensive end Kendall Langford (to St.Louis) and quarterback Chad Henne are also gone.

What they think of the Patriots: “I’m getting back to what we’re all used to seeing, the basic fundamentals of how I came to what I am. I think I kind of lost that. Now, I’m looking to go back to Chad Johnson, just making it live again.” — Ochocinco, speaking with reporters after a workout with the Dolphins this week

Analysis: The Dolphins certainly finished the 2011 season on a optimistic note, but an offseason filled with misses (particularly when it came to their attempts to land a free-agent quarterback) makes you wonder if they can continue that momentum into the 2012 campaign. At receiver, the switch from Marshall to Ocho is a step down, while two well-respected vets in Langford and Bell will be missed on the defensive side of the ball. Many believe the selection of Tannehill give them some hope for the future, but right now, it’s looking like a tough season on South Beach. Based on the offseason moves of both teams, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bills surpass the Dolphins in the AFC East standings in 2012.

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