Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Phins Interested in Trent Green?

The Sun-Sentinel posted an article reporting that a source at the NFL Scouting Combine said the Dolphins would have interest in acquiring Trent Green from Kansas City if he was placed on the trading block.

Although Kansas City has not yet put Green up for trade, the possibility of them doing so increased with the recent re-signing of QB Damon Huard to a three-year, $7.5 million contract. Huard played well for the Chiefs last season, going 5-3 after taking over following Green's concussion. If the Chiefs decide to go with Huard as their QB, the team would likely put Green on the trading block. Other factors for parting ways with Green would be his age (he will be 37 going into next season) and his salary of $7.2 million.

As far as his fitting in with the Dolphins, Green played for Cam Cameron while with the Redskins from '95-'98, and with new Dolphins QB coach Terry Shea for four of the past five seasons in Kansas City. With Harrington to be released or traded by the end of this week, Miami will have an opening for a QB on the roster. If he was made available, should Miami pursue acquiring Green?

I suppose the answer comes down to what the Chiefs' asking price for him would be, and what role Green would expect to have with the team. I think that Daunte Culpepper should be given every chance to make a full recovery from his knee injury and show what he can bring to the team as its healthy starter. However, with such a devastating injury, no one can be sure that he will ever return to his former self, or if he will be ready to start this coming season. If Cleo Lemon isn't the answer as a starter, then having a guy like Green would be a huge help in giving the team at least a fighting chance. Miami should not think about giving up any draft picks for Green, unless they are very low.

A huge concern with bringing in Green would be his age. Obviously a 37 year old is not the long-term answer at QB. For the sake of argument, however, while Green is a 13-year veteran, he did not play in a single game in 5 of those seasons, and in one season he appeared in one game, attempting one pass. From 2002-2005, Green posted four consecutive seasons with a passer rating over 90, playing in all 64 games. That streak was broken up last season after not fitting in with Herm Edwards' new offense and going down with a severe concussion. So, while he may be old, it's clear that he is still able to play at a high level.

Would he accept playing a back-up role to Daunte if Culpepper is able to get healthy? That much is unknown. At the right price, he would certainly be great insurance to have on the team and he is clearly familiar with Miami's offensive coaching staff. All this being said, I don't think Green will be in Miami next year. The Dolphins should look to the draft for their third QB and begin grooming some solid youth at that position. Realistically, Miami does not have a great chance of going far next year, so having Green as the starter would be taking experience away from another younger QB. I don't think it would be a bad move if the Phins were to get Green, but it wouldn't be the best move, either.


In other news, LG Jeno James is still recovering from right-knee surgery, but his agent said he expects James to make a full recovery by the start of the season.

Heading into free agency, the impending release of RG Seth McKinney will save $4 million, and cutting Bennie Anderson will save $2.1 million.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cameron as HC and OC: Cause for Concern?; Free Agent Updates

The Miami Herald reported this weekend, that when asked at the scouting combine if he felt he could handle the duties of both the Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, Cam Cameron said he could. The question has been raised since Cameron has yet to add an OC to his staff. He has already made it clear that he will be calling the offensive plays on game-day, but now he may also be handling the coordinator duties as well. Ten head coaches in the NFL call their own plays, but none of them does so without an OC on the team. Cameron would be the first. The question then must be asked: Is this the right thing for a first-time head coach to do?

Well, that's tough to say. There is no precedent to look back on and judge past successes or failures in this situation. Although Cameron has not declared that he will not hire an OC, in the event that he does not, I feel that the existing offensive coaching staff is large enough and experienced enough to collectively step up and fill the responsibilities of an OC. Realistically, the OC would not have many duties that the existing staff could not handle, since Cameron will be calling the plays. With guys like Mike Mularkey and Hudson Houck, Cameron can be sure that he will be getting useful feedback and support from his staff. While a dual HC/OC may seem dangerous, it is hardly that. It will simply require more work from the coaching staff. Cameron deserves this chance, and perhaps it could be the innovation that Miami's offense sorely needs.


The Dolphins are preparing to clear some cap space before free agency begins on March 2. The Sun-Sentinel reports that the release of QB Joey Harrington, G Seth McKinney, and G Bennie Anderson is due by the end of this week. That much was to be expected. However, DE Kevin Carter will also be released on Thursday if he can't agree on a restructured contract with the team. In a past report, Carter had said that he fully expected to return to the team next season. Carter would be a big loss for Miami's stout defense, but his release would give Matt Roth a chance to step into a starting role with the team. Hopefully, the two sides will be able to come to an agreement on a restructured deal.

In other news, LT Damion McIntosh's agent said he expects his client to test the free agent market. In a free agent pool lacking in offensive tackle quality, McIntosh will represent the best of the available talent and will likely be quickly snatched up by a team with more spending ability. Last season McIntosh was released by the team before free agency began but was not signed by anyone. I expect that situation to be different this year with the shallow pool of available players coupled with McIntosh's respectable performance this past season.

Although McIntosh is not a superstar, his departure would definitely hurt Miami. If they can't re-sign McIntosh now, I don't think they will have the ability to pursue other available free agents like Leonard Davis. The position will have to be filled either by L.J. Shelton who filled in adequately once converted to RG but failed as the team's LT last season or by 2005 fifth-round draft choice Anthony Alabi. Given those two options, I would rather see Alabi get a chance. Shelton proved to be serviceable at RG and should probably stay there. Alabi has potential, but at this point is still an unknown factor. If the team is not content with either option, it will have to look to the draft for help in the form of someone like Penn State's Levi Brown.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Phins Add Marshall, Sign Chatman

The official team site reports that Miami has added Marvin Marshall as an offensive quality control coach. Marshall spent the 2006 season as an offensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers making him familiar with Miami Head Coach Cam Cameron.

The site also reports that Miami signed RB Jesse Chatman and allocated him to NFL Europe this spring. Chatman is a four-year veteran in the NFL, spending the first three years of his career with the San Diego Chargers before serving short stints with the Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints. The site provides the following description:
During his tenure with the Chargers, the 27-year-old Chatman played in 41 games, all in a reserve role, and rushed for 428 yards and three touchdowns on 79 carries, a 5.4-yard average per attempt. He also caught 10 passes for 115 yards and returned six kickoffs for a 20.0-yard average. He had his most productive season in 2004 when he played in 15 contests and compiled 392 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 65 attempts, a 6.0-yard average per carry. This included a 103-yard, 1-TD rushing performance (11 atts.) on October 10 against Jacksonville.
Thus far, the team has allocated three players to NFL Europe: WR P.K. Sam, DT Steve Fifita, and now RB Jesse Chatman.


In other news, DE Kevin Carter said his agent, Harold Lewis, will meet with the organization this week to discuss restructuring his contract. Carter also said that he fully expects to be with the team again this season. Carter is scheduled to count $6.5 million against the 2007 salary cap so the team clearly will want to restructure that to provide more room beneath the cap. The team has also initiated talks with LT Damion McIntosh about possibly returning next season.

According to the Palm Beach Post, three sources have said that offensive guard is expected to be a top priority of the team heading into the offseason. The team is likely to target a guard like Kris Dielman, since the Dolphins don't know when Jeno James will be healthy again, after suffering knee injuries the past two seasons. James is a potential player whom the front office might ask to restructure his contract. Also, the team has told G Bennie Anderson that he will not be back with the team this season. Seth McKinney, who is set to make $4 million, may also be a cap casualty.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mueller's Draft Strategies

The Sun-Sentinel posted a nice article talking about the strategies that Mueller uses when considering draft picks. Check that out here. It's very encouraging to see that he places such a high premium on stockpiling young QB talent. Even if it may not be necessary right now, that is a position where it is crucial to have good young talent waiting in the wings.

I also really like his views on taking the best-available player whenever possible instead of reaching for a need-pick. The NFL is far too unpredictable to sacrifice several draft picks just to get a player who is thought to fill a need. Not only is every player in the draft a risk to some extent, but any position that a team thinks it is set at could turn into a position of need with the tear of a ligament or failure of a drug test. Knowing that, it's nice to know that Mueller is not averse to add depth at positions that are seemingly set if the player chosen truly represented the best talent available. One great example that I can think of is the Chiefs' drafting of Larry Johnson when they had Priest Holmes who was playing fantastic. That move was widely questioned at the time, but today it looks to have been a pretty good move taking the talent instead of reaching for a need. Now, I realize that no GM is going to come out in the media and propose "reaching" for a need pick as his strategy, but GMs clearly do publicly distinguish between need picks and best-player-available picks. Mueller is quoted in the article as saying
The ideal situation is to have the most talented guy to be there at a position need for you and when you strike that you have a pretty good fit. I think you get in trouble when need becomes so paramount, you reach and don't take talented and good football players.
I think ultimately, with the unpredictable nature of the NFL, that the best-player-available is almost always the correct choice.

The article also points out that Mueller places a priority on speed. He also likes pass rushers on defense. And, while he is looking for playmakers on offense, he has not ruled out drafting an offensive lineman with the team's first-round pick. In 1997, while with the Seattle Seahawks, Mueller chose offensive tackle Walter Jones with the sixth overall pick. That is good news, since there is a possibility that Levi Brown may be the best player available when Miami makes its selection.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dolphins Re-Sign Holliday

The Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins have reached an agreement with DT Vonnie Holliday on a four-year, $20 million deal. This move prevents Holliday from becoming a free agent on March 2. The contract includes $10 million in bonus money, and Holliday will earn $7 million in base salary and bonuses in the first season. This deal puts Holliday in the top-ten highest-paid defensive tackles in the league.

He finished fourth on the team in tackles with 66 and most impressively notched 7 sacks. Jason Taylor praised Holliday for being an integral part in helping him win the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Holliday entered the league in 1998 as a first-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers. Since signing with Miami in 2005, he has played in all 32 games, recording 122 tackles and 12 sacks.

As I wrote about yesterday, this was a tremendous move since Miami prevented Holliday from entering the free agent market, where his price probably would have been significantly higher than what Miami paid. This signing solidifies a position of need going into free agency. While he may seem old at 31 years of age, he still has several good years left in him.


In other DT tackle news, Manny Wright's father stated that his son fully intends to report to offseason workouts with the Dolphins. This is good news, and it will be interesting to see how he readjusts to life in the NFL and if he meshes better with Cameron than he did with Nick Saban.

Also, Keith Traylor has committed himself to playing another year in the NFL. He will be a free agent come March 2, but he has spoken with the Dolphins. It seems that if he has committed himself to coming back for one more year then Miami has probably expressed some interest in bringing him back. He would be a great addition to the DT rotation, as he is a monster in the run-stopping game.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Countdown to Free Agency Part II: What to Watch for on Defense

In the second part of my review of possible free agency moves available to Miami, I'll look at the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive Line: This will be a very interesting unit to keep an eye on come free agency. The moves that are made will most likely tell a lot about the players currently on the roster. There is no doubt that the defensive line has been a strong point for Miami for some time, but with that expertise has come undeniable age. DTs Vonnie Holliday, Keith Traylor, and Jeff Zgonina will all be unrestricted free agents unless the team re-signs them before March 2. It is uncertain whether Traylor and Zgonina will even choose to come back for another NFL season or hang up their cleats after a long career. If they do decide to come back, it will be a tough decision for Miami whether they want them back. Keith Traylor would be 38 years old and entering his 16th NFL season with recurring knee problems, but when on the field he was such a dominating run-stuffer and lane-clogger at 340 pounds that it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring him back as part of a rotation. Zgonina had much less of an impact, and with his age I would not expect Miami to bring him back. Holliday, on the other hand, finally showed signs of why he was a first-round pick, notching 7 sacks in 2006. Of course, that number will likely attract several suitors willing to pay him the money that Miami simply can't afford. It would be great if Miami can find a way to retain Holliday for a reasonable price. The most important decisions, however, will concern the progress of Miami's bountiful group of youngsters on the D-line. Through free agency, we should get a good sign of whether the coaching staff believes the young talent on the roster will make an impact or if it is necessary to bring in new talent. With guys like Kevin Vickerson, Manny Wright, Rodrique Wright, and Fred Evans, I would think that at least one of these guys can step up and find a way to contribute as part of the rotation. If Miami doesn't go after anyone in free agency, that probably means that Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is ready to unleash the youth along the D-line and get them more experience. If we do go after some guys that may mean that the young talent has not matured as hoped. So, lacking the insight into these young players' development that is necessary to judge what moves should be made, I will wait until free agency starts to analyze the situation further.

Linebackers: Zach Thomas and Channing Crowder are proven starters, that much is for sure. But with Miami running more 3-4 schemes, at least one more bonafide talent must be added to this unit. Donnie Spragan has been a solid starter, but he tends to get lost in the action, and he certainly has not shown the ability to make the big play. He doesn't seem best suited for the 3-4, so it's probably best to part ways with him. With Lance Briggs being franchised by the Bears, Adalius Thomas is the best LB on the market. His price will be high, but it will be worth it. He brings an unparalleled utility that makes it difficult for opposing teams to game-plan for. I believe that Miami should look seriously into acquiring Thomas. They should also look to pick up a solid depth LB in free agency - someone who can blitz well out of the 3-4, and who could possibly contribute on special teams.

Secondary: After losing his job to Yeremiah Bell, I don't think Travares Tillman will be re-signed by Miami. The play-making ability of Bell was crystal clear once he took over the starting safety gig. That is the kind of game-changer that Miami desperately needs in the secondary. Bell will be a restricted free agent, and Miami should make every effort to retain him. Renaldo Hill was solid opposite Bell, but hopefully this season Jason Allen will prove he deserves Hill's starting role, with Hill transitioning to the nickel or dime package. Corner back is a position of need, although free agents like Nate Clements will be far too overpriced for Miami to consider. It would be better if Miami addressed this position through the draft.

So, come free agency, I expect the Dolphins to make mainly depth acquisitions with hopefully one or two signings of high-end players like Adalius Thomas, or as I talked about yesterday, Kris Dielman. There's no sense in Miami breaking the bank on a mediocre player, who then causes cap woes in subsequent seasons. This is especially true this offseason, since the new labor agreement has produced a glut of money for some teams while the available talent is shallow. Many undeserving players will most likely be overpaid, and the Dolphins should try to avoid following that trend.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dolphins sign two coaches and a punter

I'm trying out a new font and size, since I received some suggestions to make the writing larger. I hope this helps.

The team's official site reports that Miami has signed Terry Shea to be the quarterbacks coach. They also signed Brad Ohrt to be the assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Shea comes to the team with 40 years of coaching experience between the collegiate and NFL levels. Last season, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. Recently, he has been tutoring Brady Quinn in preparation for the NFL Draft. Should Quinn be available when Miami makes its selection at number 9, the inside information that Shea can provide could prove invaluable.

This will be Ohrt's first NFL experience.

The team also signed P Ryan Flinn. Flinn, 26, played in the final two games of 2005 for the Green Bay Packers. In these two games, he punted 6 times for a 36.3 yard average with a long of 42 yards. This is purely a move to establish depth for camp. Donnie Jones has shown his ability and his spot on the team is secure.

Countdown to Free Agency: What to Watch for on Offense

Free agency is fast approaching (the FA period begins on March 2), and it will undoubtedly prove to be a critical period for the near and future success of the Dolphins. It will be necessary for Cam Cameron to bring in a few guys capable of making an impact on either side of the ball, but there is no need (and more importantly not enough cap room; John Clayton at ESPN reports that Miami has $13.1 million in cap room heading into free agency) to bring in a bunch of FAs or to overspend on any one of them. FAs can be a good boost to a team with an existing foundation, but it is difficult to base a team's foundation on free agents. Doing so at the expense of the draft will usually lead to failure. So, while the temptation to trade up in the draft to obtain some coveted first-rounder may seem like a good idea, it is not worth sacrificing the ability to stockpile the young talent that will make this team a contender down the road. There are no quick and easy panaceas.

That being said, let's take a look at the moves that are available to the Phins in free agency, and which ones are worth exploring:

Quarterback: While the most important position on the field may be an unsettled one for the Phins right now, the answer certainly does not lie in free agency. Aging journeyman Jeff Garcia showed flashes of brilliance after taking over for an injured Donovan McNabb, but overpaying for a 37 year old stop-gap QB would be unwise. Trade options like Jake Plummer and David Carr would not improve the talent already on the roster. As long as Daunte Culpepper continues to get healthy, he should be able to win the starting gig. The QB position is not one that the Phins should be spending precious FA money on. However, I do believe Joey Harrington will be cut to save cap space (he has a $3.5 million cap number), clearing the way for Miami to draft a QB prospect.

Offensive Line: Right behind QB, the O-Line is the most important aspect of a football team. It requires precise coordination among all five players, and poor play from any one man can sabotage the efforts of all the rest. It will be important for Miami to continue its trend under OL coach Hudson Houck of improving OL play. Of course, Houck can only do so much with the talent he is given. While a top-tier line cannot be built entirely through free agency, Miami can certainly make a move to acquire at least one solid starter and perhaps some depth. It is my belief that upgrading at the left tackle position (the most important position on the line) is not possible through free agency. Any upgrades will be minuscule. This is because teams simply don't let dominating or even above-average left tackles hit the market - they are too precious a commodity. The available free agents, the recently released Luke Petitgout and Leonard Davis, define mediocrity. A strong effort should be made to re-sign Damion McIntosh. While certainly nothing spectacular, the talent available would not be a significant upgrade. Re-signing McIntosh will bring some stability to the line and Miami will avoid overpaying. Going after a top-notch guard like Kris Dielman makes a lot of sense. He is a high-end linesman who would bring some tenacity to the Miami line. Also, he has worked with both Cameron and Houck while in San Diego. If Miami were to go after one top-notch player in free agency, it should be Dielman.

Running back: Regardless of what happens with Ricky Williams, Miami should not consider spending any significant money on a RB. Ronnie Brown has proven that he can be a feature-back, so paying for a free agent like Chris Brown or Ron Dayne seems worthless. I don't think they would bring anything to the table that Sammy Morris didn't have. Both Morris and Travis Minor are unrestricted free agents, so if Williams were to return as I believe he will, then one of them will become expendable. They are both core special teams players, but Morris provides better RB depth. Either way, Miami seems set at the RB position.

Wide receiver/Tight end: GM Randy Mueller has said that he wants to add speed to a relatively slow Miami receiving corps. The idea is a good one, but the options available may not make it feasible to accomplish. Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, and Wes Welker all posted adequate stats this season, but the fact is that Miami needs a game-changer at wide-out. Ironically, I think that Chambers can be that player. He has shown what playing in the slot can do for his performance, so it amazes me why he is always lined up outside. Unfortunately, Welker is not built to play outside, so all of his snaps came from the slot. If moving Chambers back to the slot position means getting rid of Welker then perhaps that is what needs to be done. However, I love Wes Welker and the guts he has showed on the field. Not only did he lead the team in receiving this season, but he offers a level of utility not often found in players. It would be a shame to have to part ways with Wes. Perhaps moving him to the fourth receiver position, while concentrating more on his return duties would work out well. Free agent options include Donte Stallworth and Kevin Curtis. The free agent WR pool is shallow with Stallworth representing the best of the bunch. He's certainly worth a look, but if teams get into a bidding war over him, Miami should steer clear. I don't see the need to spend any free agent money on the tight-end position.

In relation to the WR corps, Realfootball365 posted an article arguing that Miami's wide-outs are not as bad as people make them out to be. I generally agree, but every effort should be made to move Chambers to the slot position.

If you saw a theme with my analysis, it's that Miami should not overspend for any of the mediocre players that will be available. Priority should be given to adding solid depth and perhaps targeting one high-end player at a position of need like Kris Dielman.

Tomorrow I'll look at the possible defensive free agent moves that Miami can make. Happy Presidents' Day!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dolphins to interview Bobby Turner

The Sun-Sentinel reports that the Dolphins will interview Denver Broncos running backs coach Bobby Turner this weekend for the open offensive coordinator position.
" Turner, 57, has established himself as one of the NFL's top position coaches since joining the Broncos in 1995, with Denver featuring a 1,000-yard running back in all but one of the past 12 seasons."
Because Turner has no experience as a quarterbacks position coach, his candidacy for offensive coordinator seems to indicate that Cam Cameron is willing to split the quarterbacks coach and OC positions between two people, rather than combining them. It is possible that Terry Shea would be hired to be the quarterbacks coach.

The article also says that Clarence Shelmon could be a possibility for OC. Shelmon has been a running backs coach for 16 seasons in the NFL, spending the last five seasons with the Chargers. Shelmon was promoted to OC after Cameron's departure, but with the firing of Marty Schottenheimer, his future with the Chargers is uncertain.

The one similarity that I like between Turner and Shelmon is their extensive background working with running backs. The success of Miami's offense needs to be predicated on the running attack, and I think it would be a good idea to have an OC who knows the running-game very well. Cameron showed how much he liked the running game in San Diego, and having an OC under him who can expertly teach and implement it would be beneficial.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Assorted Dolphins News Nuggets

There were a few minor news stories today:

The Miami Herald reports that Cam Cameron is not considering his former boss and recently fired Marty Schottenheimer for any of the Dolphins' open coaching positions.
This shouldn't really come as a surprise to anybody. There was very little chance that Marty would accept a subordinate job to his former offensive coordinator.

In other coaching news, the Denver Broncos assistant strength and conditioning coach Cedric Smith interviewed last week for a position on the Dolphins staff.


The Herald also reports that the team will raise its ticket prices at a comparable rate with last year's 12% increase. "The Dolphins say their $59 average ticket price was among the eight lowest in the NFL in 2006." Price inflation is to be expected, but the team must make sure not to alienate the core of its fan base. Team owner Wayne Huizenga justified the increase in club-seat prices by saying that those fans who bought their season tickets 20 years went for several years without any escalation in price. I'm not too concerned with how much people have to pay for club-seats, but rather with the average fan who just wants to see his/her team in person once a season or so. Unfortunately, whenever I am able to watch Miami play at home on television, the home crowd in the stands always looks a little thin. This should be an issue that the ownership seriously looks at. Having full crowd and noise support can only boost this club's confidence.

This article then includes a short blurb saying,
"The Dolphins told impending restricted free agent Cleo Lemon they expect he will compete for playing time and discussed a new contract this week, agent J.R. Rickert said Tuesday."
It's encouraging to see that Lemon will get a fair shot to show his abilities. Depending on who the team drafts, I expect him to move into the number 2 spot on the depth chart. Cam has some prior experience with Lemon, so he knows what to expect to a degree.


In personnel news, the Sun-Sentinel reports that the Dolphins signed TE/long-snapper Aaron Halterman. Halterman spent a brief stint on the Miami practice squad in October before signing with the Chargers where Cameron was then OC. Halterman also played at Indiana University under Cameron.

Also, OL Tony Pape, a 7th round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2004, signed with the Chargers. Pape was on the Miami practice squad in 2006.

[Update: 10:36 PM] The official team site reports that WR Chris Davis, S Jack Hunt, and S Norman LeJeune were waived.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Shea/Quinn Connection

The Palm Beach Post's Greg Bedard wrote an interesting article linking possible offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach Terry Shea with possible draft pick Brady Quinn. Shea, who was recently interviewed by Cam Cameron, is currently tutoring Brady Quinn in Phoenix to help him get ready for the NFL draft. The article states that
"Under former coach Nick Saban, the Dolphins spent time looking at Quinn last year before he opted to return to Notre Dame for his senior season. Though General Manager Randy Mueller now calls the shots in regard to personnel, the Dolphins remain intrigued."
The most likely scenario is that Quinn will be selected before the Dolphins make their pick at the number 9 spot. But as recent drafts have shown (Aaron Rodgers sliding to the 24th pick in 2005 or the Texans selecting Mario Williams over Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and Vince Young in 2006) anything can happen. It is also possible that the Dolphins may consider drafting up, but I'm not a big advocate of doing so. For a team trying to reestablish itself, it is important to have as many quality draft picks as possible. But Miami must be prepared for the chance that Quinn is available when they make their decision. Interviewing Shea, who is familiar with Quinn, will surely provide some additional information and insight into the type of player he is.

Shea has a reputation for developing quarterbacks. In the college ranks, he helped develop Jeff Garcia and Mike McMahon, while in the NFL he has worked with Trent Green and Damon Huard.

The article then goes on to say that

"Shea and Cameron both like the same style of offense, one that emphasizes short and medium-range passes. The only major difference is the terminology each uses with the offense.

Shea and Cameron came away from their meeting confident that they could work together, according to two sources close to the situation."

Good chemistry will obviously be important, and any additional information about prominent draft possibilities like Quinn is a definite plus. I will reserve my judgments on Quinn until the draft gets closer and more extensive analysis is made available after his workouts, but I would imagine that if he is available at the number 9 spot then he would be the best value pick. I expect Daunte Culpepper to be the Dolphins' starter for at least several more years, but with a major injury like he had, it would be wise to invest in a true backup plan. And like San Diego showed, even if a high-end quarterback (Philip Rivers) is drafted to a team that is seemingly set at that position (Drew Brees), having several seasons to learn on the bench can be quite rewarding. Of course, all things concerning the draft will change immensely in the coming weeks and months, so keep an open mind.

If anyone is interested in a scouting report on Brady Quinn, check out this site.


In other news, the Miami Herald reports that it is "almost a certainty" that the Dolphins will subtly redesign the team's uniforms in order to make the numbers more distinguishable from afar.

And, if you have the chance, check out this article about Joey Harrington. It talks about how Joey coordinated efforts by businesses to help a family who had their moving van containing all their possessions stolen from them. Harrington personally visited the family and gave them among other things a computer and a $3,000 gift certificate from Nike.

I've said before on this site that Joey Harrington is an absolutely tremendous person. He proves time and again that his character is second to none. Forget whatever opinions you may have about his performance on the field and take a moment to appreciate how lucky Miami is to have a guy like Joey representing them.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pro Bowl Props

In this slow time of year for football news, I'd just like to devote some space to the two Dolphins that can really never get enough praise from us fans - Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor. As the team's two perennial Pro Bowlers, these guys have been the backbone of the team for over a decade now. In today's league, it's rare that top players finish out their careers with the team that drafted them, but it's clear that these brothers-in-law truly bleed aqua and orange. One would be hard-pressed to find two more deserving players in the NFL who should get a chance to play for a Super Bowl ring. Unfortunately, for the majority of their careers the Dolphins have been mired in mediocrity or worse. And yet even if the team was 1-14, I would be shocked if they didn't both play their hearts out for another win. These guys have never been a distraction, and they devote every ounce of their energy and focus to doing whatever they can to make the team succeed. As much as it is a pleasure to see them routinely representing the Dolphins in Honolulu, I know that they would each give up any personal honors for a chance to play in the Super Bowl. It must be acknowledged that both Thomas and Taylor are entering the twilight of their careers (despite still playing as if they were in their prime) and the team's window to step up and help them get their much-deserved Super Bowl shot is quickly closing. Here's hoping that these two amazing Dolphins will get that shot.


In case you missed the Pro Bowl on Saturday, this video is a must-see. It was arguably the best hit of the entire season. Props to Brian Moorman for springing back up and congratulating Sean Taylor.

Sean Taylor jacks up Brian Moorman

And just for the sake of argument, let's compare that hit with the other top hit from the 2006 season:

Sheldon Brown jacks up Reggie Bush

Finally, to throw in some Miami love, here's one of the best Dolphins hits I've ever seen:

Tony Bua jacks up everyone


In other news, the official team site reports that the Dolphins have added Steve Hoffman as their assistant special teams coach. He spent last season with the Atlanta Falcons in that same position. Go here to see a full profile of Hoffman.

Should Cam be calling the plays?

Ethan Skolnick at the Sun-Sentinel has written an article about head coaches who pull double duty by calling the plays. This is the situation that Cam Cameron will be stepping into. Cameron has said that he will call the plays "until I can find someone who can do it better." Cameron still has not named an offensive coordinator making it clear that he welcomes the additional responsibilities of calling plays. As offensive coordinator in San Diego, he called the Chargers' plays with great success. So, now that he is a head coach, should he relinquish these play-calling duties? The article points out the pros and cons of play-calling head coaches:

The Cons:
"Now Cameron will try to maintain that excellence with new players while juggling the additional responsibilities inherent to the head-coaching position. Those include managing egos on three units, meeting often with the media, and appearing at events featuring sponsors and fans.

Offensive coaching is a two-part process: The game plan is designed during the week, then implemented and adjusted on game day. Head coaches frequently find themselves pulled in other directions in both situations. Other commitments keep them out of meeting rooms early in the week. Other units and clock concerns call for their Sunday attention.

The more tangible issue is time. Linehan says, "It's head coach and coordinator, so it's double the time; there's an argument that there's not enough hours in the day for that."

Gruden concedes the double duty can be "tough" and "taxing." Sean Payton, a play-caller who won NFL Coach of the Year in his first season, still called the heavy workload "a job in progress" that requires considerable delegation.

"You don't have enough time to do everything," Bills President Marv Levy said."

The Pros:
"Payton believes "maybe it's easier to be aggressive as a head coach" when the play-caller is the same person, since coordinator play-callers must look over their shoulders.

Most coaches are most comfortable with themselves."
I think that Cameron deserves a shot at calling the plays if it is what he really wants to do. He clearly has had success in play-calling, but it remains to be seen whether the burdens of being head coach will detract from his ability to do so. If he does feel that he cannot perform both duties, I hope that he will not delay the transfer of duties to whoever becomes offensive coordinator.


Speaking of the offensive coordinator, the Sun-Sentinel reports that the Dolphins have interviewed Terry Shea for their OC position. Last season Shea served as the Kansas City Chiefs' quarterbacks coach.

The article also mentions that Cameron will shift former OC Mike Mularkey to tight ends coach.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Crowder, Brown, and Carey: Future Pro Bowlers?

Realfootball365 has posted a series examining the possible future Pro Bowlers on the Dolphins roster. They have showcased Channing Crowder, Ronnie Brown, and Vernon Carey as the young talents on the roster that have the ability to make it to future Pro Bowls. Let's take a closer look at each one of them:

Channing Crowder
As the sixth pick in the third round of 2005's NFL Draft, Crowder has certainly lived up to and exceeded most reasonable expectations of him. Coming out of the draft, he was criticized as being injury-prone, so it has been very nice to see him play in all 32 games of his two year career. In his rookie campaign he recorded a very respectable 85 tackles and this season he topped the century mark with 104. This is quite impressive for a second-year player playing outside linebacker next to the human-tackling machine named Zach Thomas. From what I have seen of Crowder, he plays with incredible intensity. One problem with his production thus far, however, is his lack of big plays. In his two years he has only notched one sack and two forced fumbles. He has yet to get an interception. Tackling alone will not get Crowder into the Pro Bowl. He needs to show that he can make the big play. With a sputtering offense, the Miami defense is often on the field for long periods of time. This has a tendency to catch up with the unit as the season wears on, slowing them down. The young guys like Crowder can help change that by forcing more turnovers. If he can find a way to get the ball back in the hands of the offense, then Crowder has a good chance of one day seeing the Pro Bowl. However, that is a big "if."

Ronnie Brown
Speaking of the offense, Ronnie Brown is its keystone. Big plays, particularly in the passing game, have slowed this unit down. Brown is leaned upon so much to get good yardage on first or second down to prevent the third-and-long situations. He is a tenacious player when he runs up into the pile, churning his turbine-like legs for every extra inch he can get. But he can offer this offense so much more than the tough yards that he gets so well. His physical tools are amazing, but they require a more efficient offensive system to truly blossom. Enter Cam Cameron. In no way am I comparing Brown to LaDainian Tomlinson, but Cameron sure showed that he knows how to best make use of a versatile running back. I expect Brown's catches out of the backfield to significantly increase this year since that is one of his strong points. He is this offense's biggest weapon, and thus it is important to get him the ball in a variety of manners. Ronnie certainly has Pro Bowl talent, but he has yet to post the numbers necessary to get him there. Last season he topped the 1,000 yard mark, but he will need at least 1,200 before he will get any serious consideration. His touchdown production will also need to improve. He has scored 5 TDs in both his seasons. There is no doubt that he is capable of much greater statistical numbers, but they will only come with more touches. Of course, if Ricky Williams is on the team in 2007, Brown will probably share significant touches with him (much more so than with Sammy Morris). This is not a bad thing for the team, only for Brown's Pro Bowl chances. Sharing the load with Ricky will increase Brown's longevity and increase his productivity at the end of the season as he will be running with fresher legs. So will Brown make it to the Pro Bowl? I think eventually he will, but not until he receives a lion's share of the carries and the offensive line proves that they can reliably open running lanes for him.

Vernon Carey
It has been a pleasant experience watching Vernon Carey rise up over the turmoil of his rookie season to become arguably the offensive line's best player in 2006. Dave Wanstedt really botched his progression as a rookie by moving him all over the line during the ugly 2004 season. There should be no question that Carey is a right tackle. That is where he is most comfortable and where he has played his best football. However, offensive line play more than any other unit in football requires the coordination of every member. This means that before any one lineman can be considered for such honors like the Pro Bowl, the unit as a whole has to prove that it is more than just average. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck has done a tremendous job with the talent he is given; he simply needs better talent along the entire line. Also, so much of getting to the Pro Bowl is name-recognition, which is hard for an offensive lineman, especially one on a unit like Miami's which has not shown itself to be anything more than mediocre. For these reasons, I don't see Vernon Carey making it to the Pro Bowl.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

OC and QB jobs still up in the air

Alex Marvez at the Sun-Sentinel recently reported that Cam Cameron is finding it difficult to fill his vacant Offensive Coordinator position. Both the Bengals QB coach Ken Zampese and the Saints QB coach Pete Carmichael Jr. have removed themselves from consideration. Zampese cited Cameron's intention to call the offensive plays himself as the reason for his lack of interest.

While it would have been nice to retain Jason Garrett on the staff and upgrade him to the OC position, that is no longer possible. I'm not overly concerned with who Cameron eventually chooses to fill the position, since they will be forced to buy into and teach the Head Coach's philosophy. Cameron clearly showed in San Diego that he is more than capable of calling plays and structuring an effective and efficient offense. My only hope for whoever is eventually chosen is that they are relatively young and committed to the team for a significant amount of time. One thing the Dolphins offense sure could use is some consistency, and part of that has to do with retaining the coaching staff.


In other news, Greg Bedard at the Palm Beach Post reports that Cameron has spoken to all three quarterbacks on the roster but is not ready to declare Daunte Culpepper the starter for 2007. Cameron did say, however, that he is impressed from his brief time with Culpepper, particularly with the hard work and dedication that he has shown in working to rehab his right knee. He added that Culpepper is not yet fully recovered, but he hopes for him to be able to play in time for the team's mini-camps which will start in April or May.

It makes sense that Cameron will not name a starter outright, since who will be on the team come the start of the 2007 season remains a question, not to mention the fact that he has only known these players for a few weeks. However, I fully expect Daunte to get the starting nod, and he deserves a shot to show what he can do when he is fully healthy, which he was not able to do last year after being pushed into the lineup too early in the season. I think the QB depth chart going into next year will be: 1) Culpepper, 2) Cleo Lemon, and 3) a rookie. I absolutely love the spirit and moxie that Joey Harrington showed this year, but it looks as if he will be the odd man out. He struggled too much with key turnovers and his cap number is too large to justify keeping him on. It's also time to give Lemon a chance to be the number 2 guy and keep his development progressing. Harrington really is an upstanding guy, and I hope that he is successful wherever he ends up.


And finally, the former Dolphins defensive line coach Dan Quinn has signed with the New York Jets to serve in the same position. Quinn, 35, is widely considered to be a promising coach in the NFL, so it's disappointing to lose that talent and potential. He wasn't willing to sign an extension with Miami though. I would rather have someone here who truly wants to be here and is committed to this team.

[Update: 11:04 PM] According the team's official site, the Dolphins named Diron Reynolds the new defensive line coach and Matt Schiotz as the strength and conditioning coach. Cameron has had experience with both coaches in the past. Reynolds was the defensive quality control coach for the Indianapolis Colts for the last five years. In 2001, he tutored the defensive tackles at Indiana University where Cameron was the Head Coach. Schiotz was the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the San Diego Chargers for the last five years, and served that same capacity for the Redskins in 2001.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

London Calling

Apparently, England has been clamoring to see the NFL experience first-hand. When the first regular-season match outside of North America takes place on October 28 at Wembley Stadium in London, the Dolphins and Giants won't be playing for a half-empty house. In the three days following the NFL's official announcement, more than 500,000 tickets were requested. The stadium will hold between 85,000-90,000 come game day.

That figure is amazing. I think that a lot of people, myself included, have underestimated the overseas interest in the NFL and the possible markets they can provide. I think it's great that Commissioner Goodell has realized this and is actively looking to spread the brand that is the NFL. As a Dolphins fan, however, it is unfortunate that the team will have to give up one of its home games. Aside from the often ridiculous ticket prices, this move overseas serves as one more obstacle for the average fan to see their team in person. For those of you who decry this move as unfair for the Dolphins, it's not. For the next five years, it was voted that up to two games will be played outside the United States each season. I would imagine that each team will have to go abroad before it's all said and done, and I would rather have the Dolphins get it over with sooner rather than later while our expectations are still relatively low. This way, once the team has reestablished itself as a power, it will not have to sacrifice the advantages and comforts of a home game.


In other news, it looks like the league has listened to the advice of players like Jason Taylor and Champ Bailey concerning the punishment for substance abuse. Both Taylor and Bailey publicly argued that players caught violating the league's banned substance policies should not be allowed to earn postseason honors. Commissioner Goodell and the head of the players association Gene Upshaw have agreed to implement this punishment next season. It only makes sense that a player caught cheating in this manner should be barred from any awards or honors, and it is nice to see the league listening and responding to the concerns of its players. Of course, much of this controversy began when Shawne Merriman was suspended for four games and then went on to be selected for the Pro Bowl. I don't have anything against Merriman, and I'm sure he would have made the Pro Bowl without illegal supplements, but the fact remains that what he did was cheating and in doing so he compromised the integrity of the game. I'm glad that Taylor has smoothed things over with Merriman while the two are spending time together in Honolulu, and hopefully they will have a great game and lead the AFC to a win.

7 Players Signed

According to the team's official website, 7 players were signed on Tuesday. They are:
  • DT Steve Fifita
  • LB Akbar Gbaja-Biamilla
  • QB Gibran Hamdan
  • LB Bobby Iwuchukwu
  • K Matt Prater
  • TE Jason Rader
  • WR P.K. Sam
Both Rader and Sam had seen time on the Dolphins practice squad, and Fifita was with the team during training camps. Both Fifita and Sam will be allocated to NFL Europe this spring.

Gbaja-Biamilla played two years with the Raiders and last year he played for the Chargers. In San Diego he played in three games recording only one tackle. Hamdan last played in the 2003 season for the Redskins. He played in one game, going 1 /2 for 7 yards. None of the other players have NFL game experience.

I don't see these guys being anything more than training camp fodder, with the possible exception of Rader. He showed some potential this past preseason, and may be able to challenge for a backup spot.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Welcome to "Phinaticism"

Greetings, fellow Dolphins fans and general football lovers, and welcome to my new blog - "Phinaticism."

Let me introduce myself. I am a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, who happens to live in beautiful New England. As someone who has lived here my entire life, I have seen almost every Patriots game since I started actively following the National Football League. Yet, something happened very early in my introduction to the NFL which led me to forsake the hometown team and embrace their bitter rivals. This "something" happened to be Daniel Constantine Marino - or Dan The Man, as I like to call him. My earliest memories of watching games on TV were of this gunslinger confidently leading his team up and down the field with the fiery intensity of a true leader. I was most amazed by his ability to weave his way untouched and unfazed around a collapsing pocket and fire a bullet to his receiver with incredible accuracy. He did all of this, of course, with a gigantic brace attached to his creaky knee. I knew at that young age that this was someone that I wanted to root for, regardless of the fact that he played for the enemy. And so began my fond relationship with the Miami Dolphins.

Unfortunately, just as I was beginning to really understand football and enjoy it as a true passion, Marino's injuries really began to take their toll on the legend, forcing Head Coach Jimmy Johnson to declare him inactive on game day on several occasions. It all fell apart in January 2000 during the playoffs, when Marino and the Dolphins were dismantled by the Jacksonville Jaguars to the tune of 62-7. Dan The Man retired before the 2000 season, and the team has struggled to find an adequate replacement ever since. (By the way, CBS Sportsline recently published a great article making the argument that Marino is the greatest quarterback of all time.)

Others who are in my situation will know that rooting for the rival of the hometown team offers a unique fan perspective. The trash-talking from my friends whenever the Patriots succeed is to be expected. It doesn't help, however, that the greatest accomplishments of my beloved franchise took place before I was even born. The incredible recent run of success and Super Bowl wins by the Pats only adds to my resentment and jealousy of them. That could have been my team! But it is not, and I don't regret it for a second (honestly). Being a Phin-fan in New England has only strengthened my loyalty. People who root for the hometown team can easily become complacent and take their team for granted. They don't have to face much criticism since they are surrounded by people who think as highly of their guys as they themselves do. People like me, on the other hand, have to defend rather than boast about our team. Also, it truly makes me appreciate the weeks when the Miami games are broadcast in my area.

I have chosen to ironically title my blog "Phinaticism." Too often, fans brazenly go about proclaiming themselves to be football geniuses and making bold (and usually ignorant) proclamations about the latest news and happenings concerning their team. My goal is to provide the latest Miami Dolphins news along with balanced and rational analysis. Optimism can be good, but unbridled optimism creates misconceptions and leads to disappointment. Dolphins fans know that these last few years have been difficult, but one thing this rare down stretch should have taught us is that true fans are loyal through the thick and the thin. Heck, even the Patriots were awful for a time before they started making winning Super Bowls seem easy.

I hope you enjoy the blog, and please feel free to leave any comments, questions, and/or ideas for posts.