By Pat O'Rourke
The Miami Dolphins loaded up this past offseason, signing free agents Mike Wallace, Dannell Elerbe, Dustin Keller, Brandon Gibson, and re-upping with Brian Hartline, the team’s leading receiver in 2012.
With a reloaded team in 2013, the premise is simple – the Dolphins are gunning for division rival New England Patriots, who have won the AFC East ten times in the last twelve seasons. Miami has finished ahead of them just one time over that stretch, when the teams finished with identical 11-5 records in 2008, the Dolphins winning the division via tiebreaker.
“I was brought in here to help knock them off,” Ellerbe told Mike Freeman of CBS. “That doesn’t mean we will, but we feel like we can. Like I said, we just have to prove it. You have to actually go do it.”
Ellerbe, signed to a 5-year, $35-million deal after he helped bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore last season, knows a thing or two about the Patriots. The Ravens and Pats faced off six times in Ellerbe’s four seasons in Baltimore – including three times in the postseason. He feels the Patriots offense has taken a big hit in the offseason, having lost Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez, and Danny Woodhead, four of the team’s top five receivers.
“Losing a starter always hurts and losing a starter as good as [Hernandez] was will really hurt,” said Ellerbe on Hernandez, who was released from the team June 26th following his arrest for his role in a murder. “I don’t think you can say the Patriots are the same as before after what happened to Hernandez.”
Ellerbe acknowledges that the Dolphins will need to walk the walk and not talk the talk if they want to finish ahead of the Patriots for the first time in five years and win more games than New England for the first time since 2000.
The Patriots and Dolphins square off twice in the regular season, on October 27th (Week 8) at 1:00 in Miami, and December 15th (Week 15) at 1:00 in Foxboro.