Monday, April 30, 2007

It was the heat of the moment...

The Dolphins were on the clock at No. 9, and it was as sure a thing as there ever could be. Miami was about to get its long-awaited quarterback of the future - the successor to Dan Marino. But for some reason Brady Quinn wasn't smiling wide while talking on his cell phone. He was sitting quietly and anxiously at his table. Surely Miami would be calling him real soon to let him know the good news. And then things started to look really fishy when, with only three minutes left for Miami to make their pick, Suzy Kolber sat down to ask Brady some questions about how he was feeling. Obviously he wouldn't be answering questions if he had a team on the line. What was going on? Randy Mueller just had to be exhausting all the time alloted to him to be absolutely sure about the choice. And he did use all of the time. As the fifteen minutes expired, Commissioner Goodell strode to the podium, and I was still certain Brady Quinn would be the next person to walk out on that stage.

"With the ninth pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select wide receiver Ted Ginn, Ohio State."

Bombs went off. I stared helplessly at the television for only a split second before loudly proclaiming what a mistake the team just made. I was vehement. I was angry. I was upset. And I was wrong. Drafting Ted Ginn was the best move this team could have made - and that's not just spin.

If anyone is as big a fan of South Park as I am, they will recall the season five episode "Kenny Dies" in which Cartman goes before the United States Congress in an attempt to get the ban on stem cell research lifted. Standing in front of a packed house, he softly starts singing the song "Heat of the Moment" by Asia. Members of Congress slowly join in until the entire assembly is swaying in motion and singing the words "It was the heat of the moment." Well, fellow Dolphins fans, I think after the name "Ted Ginn" slipped past the lips of Roger Goodell, our hasty and vicious reactions were done in the heat of the moment and not based on the sound judgment that this front office displayed. I pride myself on being grounded and rational, so I am embarrassed that I let what should have been a moment of elation become clouded over by one of disgust and anger.

Cam Cameron got the guy he wanted. If anyone knows quarterbacks, Cam does. That is what he has made his name with. Brady Quinn was not his guy. Looking back after being removed from all the pomp and circumstance of draft day, it's much easier to see why. Brady Quinn is a very average passer. Don't get me wrong. I think he will be productive in the NFL, but he is not special. But with a name like Brady, handsome good looks, a coach descending from the Belichick tree, and a starting gig in the spotlight of Notre Dame, he was elevated to become something he's not. And he is not a QB worth the No. 9 pick in the draft. I asked myself where he would have been selected if he came out for the draft last season, and it was crystal clear. He wouldn't even have been considered until Vince Young, Matt Leinart, and Jay Cutler were all off the board and probably would have been drafted in the late first round or even early second. That is what he is worth, and Miami wasn't going to sacrifice money and value for someone who wasn't worth it. But a much weaker draft class this year vaulted him into the limelight and his value skyrocketed as a result.

Cameron values accuracy above all things when it comes to evaluating a quarterback. I previously wrote that Quinn's often severe lack of accuracy was something that could be coached up. I was wrong. In an interview, Cameron had this to say about quarterbacks who lack accuracy: "You kind of teach guys that are accurate to be even more accurate. Can you teach someone that isn't accurate to be accurate? I haven't had any luck doing that." Thankfully, he and Terry Shea won't have to since the QB they drafted in the second round, BYU's John Beck, is about as accurate as they come. If it's true that Beck was rated as high, if not higher, than Quinn on several teams' draft boards including Miami's then the front office should be doubly commended not only for passing on Quinn at No. 9 but also for resisting the urge to sacrifice valuable picks to trade back up into the first round to pick him as the Browns did. The fact that Beck was sitting there for the taking at #40 validates the composure and foresight of the Miami brass.

I'll be honest, I hadn't seen much of Beck before the draft - just some highlight tape clips here and there. His accuracy is well-known, but for some reason he is criticized for his arm strength. While he may not have the arm of JaMarcus Russell or Michael Vick, he's certainly no slouch, and his arm is definitely stronger than Quinn's. To top it off, Beck has shown tremendous toughness and he's just as much a natural leader as Quinn - the general populace just never got a chance to see it. I have great confidence in Beck becoming a very good quarterback for a long time in Miami.

A bigger source of dismay for Miami fans, however, was not the QB they chose, but the player who took the spotlight from the guy everyone wanted Miami to choose. Ted Ginn has received a lot of flack. I for one didn't think he was worth the No. 9 pick. It would have been nice if Miami could have traded down to the 13-17 range to pick him, but there was talk that Houston was prepared to take him should Miami pass. Ginn was Miami's guy and they could not let that happen. Perhaps he came off the board a bit early, but it's nothing drastic.

Ginn is a spectacular talent, pure and simple. Never mind his foot injury; he'll be healed up in time for training camp and he has said that if the team played today he would be able to go. Do yourself a favor and go watch this video of Ginn highlights. I've stared incredulously at those clips over and over with a gaping mouth. Miami hasn't seen this kind of speed in a long time - probably not since the days of Mark Duper. Every time Ginn steps onto the field there is a great chance that he is going to be far and away the fastest guy on it. That in and of itself is a serious weapon. We all know what he is going to bring to the team in the return game. Granted, he's not yet polished as a receiver, but just lining up in three receiver sets is going to open up this offense. Few teams are going to risk covering Ginn with just a cornerback. That means a safety is always going to have to shade over on him, likely taking a man out of the box. Running lanes will open easier, and if a safety bites on a play-action fake, there's no chance that he catches up to Ginn. No rookie receiver can step in and dominate immediately. Ginn shouldn't be expected to either. Given the time and coaching, he will be able to develop into as big a pure receiving threat as he is in the return game.

And boy is this kid coachable. He already knows several members of the team and he isn't a flashy player. He's the kind of quiet guy who gets the job done and then hands the ball to the referee. You have to love that. In fact, I find very little about Ginn not to love, and Miami fans should be ecstatic about his selection. I know I am.

Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron, you are to be commended. It was not fair for us fans to praise your abilities prior to the draft only to curse you for not making the pick we wanted. That's not how it works, and of course, you were right. Please forgive our misguided rage - it was the heat of the moment.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The 2007 Miami Draft Class

Here it is, the 2007 Miami Draft class. Check back throughout the week, as I will be analyzing the players selected and grading the draft as a whole.

Rd.1 (9) - WR Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State
Rd.2 (40) - QB John Beck, Brigham Young
Rd.2 (60) - C Samson Satele, Hawaii
Rd.3 (71) - RB Lorenzo Booker, Florida State
Rd.4 (108) - DT Paul Soliai, Utah
Rd.6 (181) - FB Reagan Mauia, Hawaii
Rd.6 (199) - C Drew Mormino, Central Michigan
Rd.7 (219) - LB Kelvin Smith, Syracuse
Rd.7 (225) - P Brandon Fields, Michigan State
Rd.7 (238) - DE Abraham Wright, Colorado

Saturday, April 28, 2007

NFL Draft Day 1: Live Thread

It's here ladies and gentlemen. The first day of the NFL Draft. For a struggling team like Miami, these next two days are our Super Bowl. Here's hoping the front office can turn their ten picks into a strong foundation for years to come.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day with my thoughts on the draft.

11:55 - I've got my Taquitos and a cold drink, and I've settled into the couch. I just saw the Virginia Tech tribute. I understand all the bad press that Michael Vick has been getting of late, but come on people, don't boo a guy who is representing VT in a tribute. Boo him as much as you want later, but not then.

12:00 - It's high noon, time to get this thing started. On a completely random note, whichever team gets Brady Quinn is going to see an increase in fan attendance - not only to see Brady, but also to catch a glimpse of his sister in the crowd, too.

12:10 - The Texans should feel embarrassed after that Reggie Bush Madden commercial. Which team will make the biggest blunder this year?

12:21 - Well, that was to be expected. Congrats, JaMarcus. That pick slightly hinders the chance that Quinn falls to Miami, but we shall see. It's all up to what Cleveland does.

12:26 - Matt Millen may be completely inept, but at least it looks like he's making the right call of taking Calvin Johnson. Just like in baseball, a hitter doesn't go up to the plate and let the fact that he struck out in his last at-bat affect his current at-bat. Two failed first-round WRs can't affect the selection of Johnson.

12:33 - The Browns are on the clock. This pick could determine a large part of Miami's future. Hopefully they pass on Quinn. Quinn was looking really happy in that last shot - could mean he's heard from the Browns, maybe not.

12:43 - YESSS!!! Browns take Thomas! Come on Quinn, fall to Miami, baby. (note: I just jumped around the room yelling in delight. Hopefully it will be worth it and Quinn is picked by Miami.)

12:55 - Bucs take Adams. Slide, slide, slippity slide.

1:04 - Well, Levi Brown is off the board. He might have been Miami's back-up plan if Quinn was off the board. Let's see if Miami trades up or stays put.

1:15 - looks like the Redskins are taking Landry. Now the only hurdle for Quinn to pass is the Vikings.

1:27 - Adrian Peterson to the Vikings. My goodness, Quinn might be a Dolphin! The pressure/excitement/tension is tangible now. This is what makes it exciting to be an NFL fan.

1:34 - Rachel Nichols is very right. We need to give a lot of credit to Randy Mueller right now. He avoiding giving up picks to move up in the draft and now it looks like a very good chance that Quinn is landing in Miami. It's so nice to have a great GM.

1:52 - WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED? I am so pissed right now. I like Ginn, but he is not worth the No. 9 pick. How could the team pass on Quinn? I am at a loss for words. That was crushing. They were a second away from finally getting a young stud QB prospect. Knowing that we passed on Quinn is going to make it really hard to accept a later pick of one of the second-tier QBs. I really hope that Mueller knows something that we don't. Ginn better be really good at breaking really long kick returns, since that is probably going to be our best chance to score.

2:28 - I am still very bitter. I hope Marshawn Lynch is prepared to get stuffed by Miami's defense twice a year (hey, at least I can still be hyped up about our D).

4:17 - There goes Quinn at No. 22. Man that was a slide. Look for Miami to grab a QB in the second.

4:53 - Ted Ginn better watch out if he is on the ground when he plays the Pats. Merriweather might get the urge to go on a stomp-fest again.

6:08 - I just watched Cam Cameron's press conference where the fans boo him and start chanting "Bra-dy". Wow, what a way to start things off. It's okay, though. He assured every fan that not only did the Dolphins draft Ted Ginn, but we drafted the entire Ginn family. Well that's certainly reassuring. The scouts must think his father can throw a good deep ball for us at QB.

7:09 - John Beck is Miami's future QB. I really like this pick. It makes the Ginn selection go down a bit easier. Also, a few teams apparently had Beck rated higher than Quinn prior to the draft - I guess Miami was one of them. He has the potential to start sooner than expected given that he's already 26 years old after spending 2 years on a Mormon mission. He's going to need to be coached up quite a bit though. Fortunately, we have the coaches who can do that.

8:47 - Our next pick is the one that we got from New England so I'm hoping that whoever is chosen there turns out to be a home-run hit partly out of spite. Ryan Kalil is still on the board. He'd be a good pick at 60.

9:00 - damn, Kalil went right before us at 59. Let's see where we go now.

9:08 - C Samson Satele - good pick. Looks like Rex Hadnot might be moving to guard.

9:55 - the Phins wrap up Day 1 by going with RB Lorenzo Booker. Although this guy is smallish, he's very quick - that's what Mueller wanted right? I see him as a good third down type back. I really hope that this selection doesn't mean that the team is going to get rid of Ricky Williams. I think a RB corps of Ronnie, Ricky, and Booker would be very good. Barring any trade-ups back into round 3, the Phins certainly made an effort to restock the offense with all four picks on that side of the ball.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New England Draft Prospects

Just to clear up the title of this post, I am going to be looking at potential draft prospects for Miami who come from New England schools - I didn't want you to think I was analyzing the Patriots' draft options.

New England's my home sweet home, so these are the schools that I get to see the most on television. Most of the schools can't stack up against the top programs, but a few players always find a way to produce in the NFL and it's important to look at everyone (also, I want to give some hometown love). So, here's a few prospects from New England colleges to look out for this weekend:

Boston College

BC probably has the best prospects of the New England schools in the upcoming draft. Two guys that Miami could look at include G Josh Beekman and OT James Marten.

* G Josh Beekman - Beekman is probably one of the top-5 guards in the draft and should get selected on the first day. If BC is known for anything in the pros, it's producing solid offensive linemen and Beekman looks to continue in that mold. He has good size at 6'2", 315 pounds and excels at run-blocking. His technique is sound and he is not injury-prone. As for weaknesses, he lacks good speed and his pass-blocking needs improvement. Miami should definitely take a look at this guy with their late second-round or third-round pick.

* OT James Marten - this guy is in the top 6-8 offensive tackles in the draft, and he has tremendous size at 6'7" with the accompanying long arms that are so important for tackles. He also has experience playing at LG in college, so he would have the versatility to be moved around the line. He would probably have trouble at LT in the NFL since his footwork leaves something to be desired and he struggles if left on an island against a speedy pass-rusher, but he could contribute elsewhere along the line. My guess is that he gets picked on the first day, so Miami could look at him in the third round.

Brown University

New England is also known for its Ivy League schools, and Brown's LB Zak DeOssie will likely be taken somewhere between rounds four to six. You may remember his father Steve who played in the NFL for the Jets and Patriots among others.

* LB Zak DeOssie - this guy has good speed for a linebacker, posting a 4.62 40-time, and he never gives up on a play. He's good in pass coverage, but would need to improve on stopping the run. In the NFL, I see this guy as a special teams ace and a backup who can play all the LB positions. He is also a long-snapper and that will most assuredly help him latch on and stick with a team. It's possible Miami takes a look at this guy if he's still around in the sixth-round, but don't be surprised to see the Pats take him - he's exactly the kind of player Belichick loves.

Central Connecticut St.

* RB Justise Hairston - this guy spent his first three years buried on the depth chart at Rutgers before transferring, so not a whole lot is known about what he can do. He's a strong and pounding runner who can pass-block, but he doesn't have top-end quickness. Since he's still a relatively unknown commodity I wouldn't expect him to be drafted any earlier than the seventh-round, but he has the potential to surprise someone.


* FB Deon Anderson - if Miami is still looking for a long-term answer at FB they could consider Anderson, who won't get picked until the sixth or seventh rounds, if at all. He's simply average as a blocker, but he has good hands. The major problem is that he has character issues that forced him to miss the 2005 season. I doubt Miami takes a chance on him - he just doesn't have enough of an upside to warrant taking a chance on him.


* SS Daren Stone - Stone is a big (6'3", 220 lbs) physical tackler who could make an impact on special teams. He's big enough that he could play LB in some schemes. He would probably be a liability in coverage since he lacks good speed. He also has some character concerns, but he could be worth a seventh-round pick or free agent signing as a project-player.

New Hampshire

* WR David Ball - This is the guy who broke Jerry Rice's all-time NCAA TD reception record with 58. He was a high-jumper for the track team so he has good leaping ability. Unfortunately, he's just too slow (4.70/40) to break away from coverage in the NFL. He'll do anything asked of him including going over the middle and he has good hands, but I just don't see him converting his college production into NFL success. I expect him to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round or picked up as a free agent.

* CB/KR Corey Graham - Graham is a really smart player who excels in zone coverage. He struggles in man-coverage, and he needs to be more physical when coming up to stop the run. In college, he proved himself as a leader. He returned kicks and could make an impact on special teams. Corey could be an intriguing sleeper pick for Miami to look at in the seventh-round or as a free agent pickup.

Well, there you have it. Dolphins fans should definitely keep their eyes on the two BC offensive linemen as possible first day selections. Other than that, the New England schools offer a bevy of intriguing late-round/free agent sleeper picks and projects who could make some team happy.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Booker on the block; Culpepper speaks out

Citing an unnamed source, the Sun-Sentinel is reporting that WR Marty Booker is being shopped around. Booker has been a very consistent (probably the most consistent) receiver that the Dolphins have had over the past two seasons. He is a great possession receiver and has shown an ability to stretch the field on deep passes. However, he is by no means indispensable. If the price is right, the front office should not hesitate in sending him packing if it can get a good draft pick in return. Fair compensation, in my opinion, would be a fourth or fifth-round pick in this year's draft, maybe even a third-rounder if a team was desperate enough but that's stretching it.

The article speculates that Booker could possibly be used as part of a deal for QB Trent Green. This makes sense because the Chiefs have a strong need at WR. However, unless Kansas City was adding draft picks of their own to the trade, I don't think it's worth it to give up Booker to the Chiefs. As I've said before, Miami just needs to wait this out and force the Chiefs to release Green and avoid giving up draft picks or in this case, a contributing player.

There is also discussion that trading away Booker would clear that path for Miami to select WR Ted Ginn Jr. in the first round of the draft. I'm not against drafting Ginn, but I am against drafting GInn with the No. 9 selection - that's just too much of a reach. If Miami clearly doesn't have the opportunity to land QB Brady Quinn or RB Adrian Peterson, then trading down to a spot more suitable for the selection of Ginn would be an acceptable move. It's definitely not my favorite idea, but it would net the team an extra pick or two later in the draft.


In a self-released statement to the local media, QB Daunte Culpepper tried to clear up the confusion about his knee injuries and ongoing rehab. That letter can be seen here. For the most part, Culpepper is reiterating the series of events that have brought him to this situation while maintaining that the rehab is progressing steadily and he believes will again be able to play at a high level.

He did say that his doctor told him to begin easing into things on May 1. To me, "easing into" things means he'll be able to start taking snaps in minicamps or at least getting some real throwing in. He only has two months at most left in this rehab. The team cannot give up on him now - unless, of course, they receive a trade offer that can't be refused. But to me, releasing him right now should be out of the question. May 1 is only five days away. Yes, it's after the draft and Miami might not want to keep Daunte around if the team trades for Trent Green, but Culpepper is right on the cusp of being able to at least resume football activities instead of just riding a stationary bike. Getting rid of him before the new coaching staff has a chance to see him doing something other than watching from the sidelines would be a bad move. Patience is a virtue - hopefully the front office will continue its current trend of exercising it.

Spragan re-signed; RB coach added

OLB Donnie Spragan was re-signed to a one-year contract. Since joining the Dolphins in 2005, Spragan has appeared in all 32 games, starting 18. I would have been upset if Spragan was being brought back to man the starting strong-side linebacker position since he has shown a lack of play-making ability during his tenure. He was particularly poor at rushing the quarterback. Fortunately, OLB Joey Porter was signed earlier in the offseason and Spragan will serve as his primary backup. Spragan makes an ideal backup. He's never injured and he knows the scheme of the defense well. Also, his starting experience will be valuable if he has to fill in for an injured starter. He can be expected to make a solid contribution to special-teams as well.


After firing RB coach Bobby Williams, the team has added Bobby Jackson to fill the vacant position. Jackson, 67, has 20 years of NFL coaching experience, and he coached with Cam Cameron from 1994-1996.

In other RB news, Ricky Williams is now officially eligible for reinstatement and the commissioner has 60 days to make a ruling.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Draft Profile: Brady Quinn

Draft week is finally here! If you are like me, you're probably getting pretty excited with anticipation for the events of this Saturday and Sunday. I absolutely love the NFL Draft. I soak up every minute of it like a sponge - yes, even the seventh-round excites me. These guys are the future backbone of this team. They will play by far the largest part in deciding Miami's fortunes in the coming years. Having a GM like Randy Mueller fully in charge for once only adds to the promise, although to be fair, I was very impressed with Nick Saban's first draft, which netted the team RB Ronnie Brown, DE Matt Roth, LB Channing Crowder, and CB Travis Daniels. Getting four players of that caliber who can contribute immediately is every team's goal, and hopefully Miami can find even more of those guys this year with their abundance of selections. For the first time since 2003, the Dolphins have more than the alloted 7 picks to use. This means Mueller has plenty of ammunition and options to move up and down throughout the draft if he deems it necessary.

Of course, the spotlight for the Dolphins will be on their first-round pick which stands at the No. 9 spot right now. The team has a bevy of needs, most notably QB and OL. Other areas that will most likely be addressed in the draft include WR, DL youth, and the secondary.

Mueller has made it clear that he will adhere to a best-player-available strategy throughout the first day of the draft and then fill in some need areas with later round picks. This is a logical approach to the draft, as the team cannot afford to reach with its selections in the top rounds. As far as those who say that the team should pass over the BPA in favor of someone who fills a need, that approach is just plain wrong. It makes little to no sense to give up both present and future value in a player in order to fill a need. With the amount of turnover and injuries that teams sustain, there's no way of predicting what a team's needs will be. What seems like a strength can turn into a weakness with one unfortunate break or tear. I've used this example before, and it serves this point well. The Chiefs drafted RB Larry Johnson at a time when RB Priest Holmes was playing magnificently and unanimously considered one of the best running-backs in the league. At the time RB wasn't considered a need, and many Chiefs fans lamented the selection of Johnson. Well, looking back on that selection, I'd say the Chiefs made a pretty good pick. You can also look at our very own GM Randy Mueller, who, when he was with the New Orleans Saints, drafted RB Deuce McAllister when they already had RB Ricky Williams. The Saints then shipped Ricky to Miami for two first-round picks. Every player has value, and to sacrifice the total value of a team simply to fill a perceived need is harmful to the long-term success of that team.


Most Dolphins fans are well versed in the disaster that has been the QB position since Marino's retirement. Much of the misfortune is a direct result of the team's lack of QBs selected in the draft and its recent propensity to simply sign free-agent QBs or trade for other team's QBs. The only problem is that teams will never let top signal-callers escape - they are too scarce a commodity. If Miami is lucky, it will finally be able to remedy this situation with an elite draft prospect who the team can then groom for a year before taking over the starting gig. That elite prospect that I am talking about is Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. Although JaMarcus Russell is the better prospect, Quinn is the guy who has a real chance of falling to No. 9 or at least to the vicinity where Mueller would be willing to pull the trigger and trade up to grab him. To be honest, I wasn't a big fan of Quinn during his time at Notre Dame. There was such immense media hype surrounding him that he never lived up to my expectations or impressed me that much. Having said that, if Quinn is available at No. 9, there is no way Miami can pass him up. Unless RB Adrian Peterson is still somehow on the board at that time, Quinn has to be considered the BPA. I'm really pulling for Miami to land Quinn as its first-round selection. Let's take a look at his strengths and weaknesses:

* Standing around 6'4" and weighing in around 230 pounds, Quinn has tremendous size. He's tall enough to see clearly over the offensive line and to avoid having his passes batted down at the LOS. He's also sturdy enough to take hits, and he is not injury-prone. The best part of his size and strength is the ability it provides him to sit in the pocket and shrug off arm tackles, much like Daunte Culpepper could do.
* He has the footwork necessary to move around the pocket and avoid the rush.
* He's definitely the smartest QB prospect in this year's draft. That will help him quickly adjust to the NFL and to absorb a new playbook.
* Has incredible accuracy and good velocity on throws 20 yards and shorter.
* Mechanically sound; he won't have to relearn the basics of throwing the ball.

* While he has good pocket footwork, he has very little downfield rushing ability.
* His accuracy and overall effectiveness drops off sharply on long throws downfield. This will make it harder for the team to stretch the field with any consistency.
* Has shown a tendency to fumble
* Sometimes holds onto the ball too long as he tries to read the defense, this often results in sacks

Quinn isn't the can't miss prospect that a lot of people have him pegged as. However, he certainly has a much better chance to succeed than fail. I don't think he's a product of Charlie Weiss' system, and he'd be able to fit in with Cameron's offense rather easily, particularly if he can learn on the bench for a year behind Trent Green. His inability to throw a good deep ball is of some concern, and while his range downfield probably won't improve much, with some extra coaching, he should be able to improve his accuracy on deep throws. Also, it's great that he is such a receptive student of the game, but he will need to transfer that knowledge better in the pro-game, especially when it comes to reading NFL defenses. Overall, this guy would finally give Miami a long-term solution at QB. He would face the intense pressure of South Florida, but being in the limelight clearly hasn't fazed him so far in his career, and that's due to his intangibles. This guy is a team leader, pure and simple - and that is more important than any physical skills a QB can have (which he has plenty of).

Here's hoping that luck will fall Miami's way, and Quinn will be wearing the aqua and orange for years to come.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Williams draws interest; RB coach fired

Even though he has yet to be reinstated, RB Ricky Williams has drawn interest from the St. Louis Rams, whose head coach Scott Linehan was Miami's offensive coordinator in 2005. On Thursday, Linehan said that he would consider trading for Williams to serve as RB Steven Jackson's backup.

I would be against trading Ricky unless the compensation was too good to resist (a second or third-round draft pick) or if Adrian Peterson somehow fell to the No. 9 spot in the upcoming draft and QB Brady Quinn had already been selected. Neither of these options seems likely. Keeping Ricky has nothing to do with my assessment of Ronnie Brown. Brown is an excellent back and he should continue to improve. But in this day and age, a two-RB system is the only way to protect your workhorse from wearing out very quickly both during the season and over his career. Trading Ricky would leave a gigantic question mark as far as depth behind Ronnie. I know Ricky has proven to be less than reliable in the past, but it really seems that he has changed this time (call me gullible, but I believe him). Having a backup of his caliber and for his price-tag is irresistible. His presence allows Miami to protect its investment in Ronnie.


In a puzzling move, the team fired RBs coach Bobby Williams on Thursday. No immediate reasons were given. I'm sure this story will continue to unfold in the coming days. As for right now, it's all speculation.


Although it is highly unlikely that QB Cleo Lemon or SS Yeremiah Bell will receive an offer sheet from another team before today's deadline, Bell's agent said he will not immediately sign his one-year $1.3 million tender with Miami. Instead, he will look to sign a longer-term deal. Lemon's agent said that Cleo will likely sign the one-year deal, which will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jones allowed to leave; draft scouting continues

The Dolphins decided not to match the offer sheet given to P Donnie Jones by the St. Louis Rams. In return, the team will receive the Rams' seventh-round draft pick (#225 overall). I previously wrote that I was hesitant to let Jones walk for only a mid-seventh-round pick, but the contract he signed probably proved to be just a bit too large. There's no doubt that he has a booming leg and plenty of potential, but the question that remains to be answered is whether his normal production in the future will look more like the 2005 season where he played extremely well or the 2006 season where he saw a significant drop-off in his level of play and looked very average. Unfortunately for Miami, at this point even a very average punter is probably better than the only punter currently on the roster - Ryan Flinn.

The team brought in LSU punter/kicker Chris Jackson for a private workout on Tuesday. He could be a late round draft option or a potential undrafted free agent. Former Dolphins P Matt Turk is a veteran free-agent possibility.

Miami now has the following ten selections in the upcoming NFL draft:

Round 1 (9 overall)
Round 2 (40)
Round 2 (60, from New England)
Round 3 (71)

Round 4 (108)
Round 6 (181)
Round 6 (199, from New Orleans)
Round 7 (219)
Round 7 (225, from St. Louis)
Round 7 (238, from New England)


* RB Ricky Williams will be eligible for reinstatement on April 25, although the Commissioner has 60 days to review the request.

* In addition to P/K Chris Jackson, the team has recently scouted the following players:
  • BYU QB John Beck (met with the team earlier this month)
  • Ohio State WR Ted Ginn Jr. (visited Miami today)
  • Penn State LT Levi Brown (visited Miami today)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Depth signings made at RB and C

After working out with the team on a tryout basis during this weekend's minicamps, RB Ray Perkins and C Johnathan Ingram signed with the Dolphins.

Perkins (5'10", 205 pounds, 24 years old) was an undrafted free agent of the Chargers in 2005. He spent all of the previous two seasons on the Chargers' practice squad. Even though Miami is looking for a backup running back, I think Perkins is only being brought in as training camp depth. His chances of making the team seem small.

Ingram (6'2", 290 pounds, 26 years old) was an undrafted free agent of the Chiefs in 2003. He split time between the practice squad and as an inactive member of the roster. In 2005, he played in 4 games for the Chiefs. Ingram could possibly make the roster as a backup lineman, although it's more likely that he will serve as training camp depth.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Green trade talks resume; Weekend minicamp wrap-up

Citing an unnamed source, the Palm Beach Post has said that a deal for Kansas City QB Trent Green is "imminent." The article says that a deal should materialize before the April 28-29 NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see what compensation Miami gives up for Green. I wrote a previous article saying that Miami should wait until Kansas City releases Green and thus avoid giving up a draft pick, but Miami's front office must see a need to bring him in earlier. Whatever draft pick the team gives up must certainly be a second-day pick and hopefully it's no higher than a sixth-rounder.

If and when Green arrives in Miami, I hope that the team doesn't immediately release Daunte Culpepper. If they find he has good trade value and can move him, fine. But the team should be in no rush to rid themselves of the injured QB. The chances of him remaining with Miami after the addition of Green are astronomically small. Still, the team owes it to itself to truly find out whether he can get healthy. They've held on to him throughout his entire rehab, so why cut ties with him when he is right on the verge of finally being able to play? It would be a shame if another team reaped the rewards of a healthy Culpepper simply because Miami got impatient.


Weekend Minicamp Wrap-up

* WLB Channing Crowder and SLB Joey Porter were the defense's nickel linebackers. This is a good move that will give MLB Zach Thomas additional rest during the season while also having better coverage linebackers on the field during pass plays. Thomas is still unquestionably a star linebacker, but he is slowing down a bit and can be a liability in pass coverage. Crowder and Porter are faster and they will be an upgrade over Thomas when dropping back down the field.

* QB Daunte Culpepper and CB Andre' Goodman did not participate due to injury. DT Dan Wilkinson was the only player not present at the minicamp. His locker and number 95 were given to DT Chase Page, which pretty much spells out Wilkinson's future with the team - he has none. If he does decide to play again, which very well could happen after training camps are over, hopefully the team can find a way to trade his very large and very lazy ass.

* QB Cleo Lemon showed a lack of accuracy, going 2-8 with 2 INTs. While obviously not a good sign, his performance should not be highly criticized as this is the first action of the season.

* LT Anthony Alabi and LG Joe Toledo struggled against DE Jason Taylor and DT Vonnie Holliday.

* The secondary looked good (most would against the QBs that were out there), with CB Will Allen, CB Michael Lehan, and S Renaldo Hill looking particularly good. DT Fred Evans also looked impressive.

* P Ryan Flinn struggled a bit on Sunday. Granted their were some strong winds, but I don't see this guy as the team's answer at P if indeed Donnie Jones is allowed to leave for the Rams.

* RB Jesse Chatman, who had been allocated to play in NFL Europa, instead took part in the Dolphins minicamp because he couldn't get a passport in time to travel overseas. If RB Ricky Williams is brought back to the team following his reinstatement, Chatman will likely battle RB Patrick Cobbs for the third running back roster slot. Cobbs saw some work at FB during the minicamp.

The Dolphins players currently participating in NFL Europa are:
DT Kevin Vickerson - Cologne Centurions
DT Steve Fifita - Frankfurt Galaxy
CB Shirdonya Mitchell - Frankfurt Galaxy
WR P.K. Sam - Rhein Fire

Sources: Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tillman re-signed, Rosenthal signed; Mini-camp news

Lots of news items to go through today. Here's a rundown of the latest:

* S Travares Tillman (pictured at left) re-signed with the team. He received a one-year contract worth $720,000. Tillman was a disappointment when starting at safety over the past two seasons. Last year, he was benched in favor of Yeremiah Bell. Tillman is being brought back to compete for a reserve safety role and as a special teams player.

* T Mike Rosenthal (pictured above), a 8-year NFL veteran who spent the last four seasons in Minnesota, signed a one-year contract worth $720,000. He only started 3 games for the Vikings last season, but has started 58 times in 89 career games. Originally a fifth-round draft choice of the New York Giants in 1999, Rosenthal has experience playing both left guard and right tackle. He is 6'7", 320 pounds and is 29 years old. I would assume this is purely a depth signing. After looking at his stats, Rosenthal has a propensity for committing penalties (14 penalties in 15 starts over the past two seasons) and for allowing sacks (6.75 sacks allowed in those 15 starts).

* FSU LB Lawrence Timmons and Michigan State QB Drew Stanton visited the team's facilities this week. Ohio State WR Ted Ginn Jr. will visit next week.


Minicamp News

* During a media session, QB Daunte Culpepper said that the timetable to return from his last surgery is 4-6 months. He is currently at the 4-month mark of that rehab, so his return is slated for June. While this revelation stands in stark contrast to Nick Saban's statement that the surgery was minor, it is no excuse to give up on Daunte. According to that timetable, he will be ready for training camps. Culpepper rode a stationary bike while Cleo Lemon took the starter's snaps at QB.

* The first-team offense was:
LT Anthony Alabi - LG Chris Liwienski - C Rex Hadnot - RG L.J. Shelton - RT Vernon Carey
QB Cleo Lemon - FB Cory Schlesinger - RB Ronnie Brown
TE David Martin - WR Chris Chambers - WR Marty Booker
I would expect before long to see Joe Toledo get an opportunity to work with the first-team offensive line. It's also nice to see the coaches sticking with Shelton and Carey on the right side and giving Alabi his shot at LT. Reports say that Cleo Lemon was not very sharp today. Obviously that's not good to hear, but let's keep it in perspective - this is the very first minicamp. WR Kelly Campbell impressed with his quickness. Hopefully his oft-injured hamstring can find a way to not continually sap his potential.

*The first-team defense was:
LE Matt Roth - DT Keith Traylor - DT Vonnie Holliday - OE Jason Taylor
SLB Joey Porter - MLB Zach Thomas - WLB Channing Crowder
CB Travis Daniels - S Yeremiah Bell - S Renaldo Hill - CB Will Allen
That's one menacing defense. It's interesting to see that Daniels got the starting nod over CB Andre Goodman, although Goodman has a shoulder injury and only worked on the side. Daniels said that he is close to being fully recovered from off-season ankle surgery and that he expects to battle Goodman for the starting job opposite Will Allen. Jason Allen worked primarily at cornerback. As I wrote in a recent article, it should be no surprise that he is not a starter yet as his versatility can still be a great asset. In practice, he saw time in the nickel packages.

* RB Ray Perkins and C Johnathan Ingram are participating on a tryout basis.

* Absent players for the first minicamps include P Donnie Jones (who recently signed an offer sheet with the Rams), DE Jason Taylor (accepting an award), and DT Dan Wilkinson. Jason Taylor arrived in time for the afternoon practices. It's unclear whether Wilkinson will return to the team, but I doubt that he will.

* MLB Zach Thomas has bulked back up to 238 pounds after losing some weight last season.

* Joe Toledo is working at left guard.

Sources: Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post

Donnie Jones to sign offer sheet with Rams

P Donnie Jones, a restricted free agent, has been offered a 5-year contract worth $5.9 million, including a $1.175 million signing bonus from the St. Louis Rams. Jones is likely to sign the deal today. Miami will have 7 days after he signs to match the Rams offer. If they choose not to match the offer, Miami will receive the Rams seventh-round draft pick.

According to Jones' agent Drew Rosenhaus,
"The Dolphins won't match because we really haven't had any productive discussions with them about an extension.''

I'm all for stockpiling draft picks, but in this case I would rather keep Jones. The contract that the Rams are offering is slightly more expensive than I think Jones is worth, but a mid-seventh round pick doesn't seem worth it. Parting ways with Jones would simply create another hole on the team that needs to be filled. The team currently has P Ryan Flinn on the roster, but he's only played in 2 games in two seasons in the NFL. Jones showed the potential he has during the 2005 season when he led the NFL with a 39.3 yard net average. However, his play slipped a bit last season. It's tough to say at which level of play Jones is more likely to perform at, but his youth and potential are promising. The free agent market is bare, and there are more pressing draft needs than punter. Another important consideration was Jones' use as the holder on field goals. He did a good job in that role and his departure will result in a 2/3 turnover in the long-snapper/holder/kicker unit. Nevertheless, at this point it appears as if Jones will be leaving. Hopefully Miami scouts out some college punters who could end up as undrafted free agents.


- Miami's other restricted free agents, S Yeremiah Bell and QB Cleo Lemon, have signed injury waivers which will allow them to participate in the team's first minicamps which begin today.

- Miami had scouts at Ohio State University on Wednesday to scout WR Ted Ginn Jr.

Ellis Rainsberger, a scout for the Dolphins, told The Columbus Dispatch that Ginn was limping at times and wore out at the end of his workout, which included running routes and catching passes."It was a heck of a feat for him to do what he did [while still recovering from his injury]."
I'm not comfortable with the Dolphins taking Ginn with the number 9 pick. He's too much of a risk at that spot. If Miami can't land Quinn and decides to trade down, then Ginn becomes more of an option.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Schedule Analysis

Now that the schedule is out, let's take a look at the road Miami must travel. Before I begin, I must caution that any speculation regarding the schedule at this point in time is exactly that - speculation. There's no chance that the standings from last year will end up the same at the end of next season, meaning that some teams will be better than we think, and some teams will fall off. Having said that, I'm going to break the schedule down into quarters in order to see which portions of the season bring which challenges.

Weeks 1-4 (First Quarter)
@ Redskins, vs. Cowboys, @ Jets, vs. Oakland

The team begins its season on the road, but fortunately its against a mediocre team with a young QB under center (Jason Campbell). The first game of the season is always a crapshoot (anyone remember Denver in 2005?), since all the teams are just getting acclimated to real game speed, and it's the most likely week for an upset. It's hard to say which team winning would be the upset, however. Both teams seemed to be matched in mediocrity, so it will be important for Miami to get a win and gain some confidence heading into the much more difficult match against the Cowboys. I for one, am not looking forward to the circus that will inevitably follow Terrell Owens into this game. Obviously the most critical matchup in this first quarter is the division game versus the Jets. Unfortunately, it's an away game and the Jets proved last season that they are dangerous. Capping off the first four games is a home game against the lowly Raiders. Again, the Dolphins will be facing a team that most likely will have a youngster starting at QB. If that QB is a rookie, Miami's defense will have an excellent opportunity to cause havoc for him.

Worthless Prediction (2-2)

Weeks 5-9 (Second Quarter)
@ Texans, @ Browns, vs. Patriots, vs. Giants (in London), BYE week

By the second quarter of the season, Miami should be fully up to speed and settled in for the long haul. Luckily, the first two games are against average teams which are again led by inexperienced and young signal-callers (that makes 4 out of the first 6 games against young, green QBs). These two games also mark two Sundays away from Miami. The sign of any good team is that it beats the teams it is "supposed" to beat. Well, the three game stretch versus Oakland, Houston, and Cleveland seems like a stretch that Miami "should" sweep. But, as Dolphins fans have learned the past few years, these are exactly the kind of games that cannot be overlooked. Houston, in particular, has proved pesky and I can guarantee that Miami is looking to finally beat them, as well as to repent for their awful 22-0 loss to Cleveland in 2005. Then comes the first game of the matchup that I most look forward to every year - Dolphins vs. Patriots. As a Dolphins fan in New England, these games always bring the most excitement for me. If the pattern continues as it has in recent years, Miami plays a very strong game and wins its home game in the series. Unfortunately, while Tom Brady has struggled mightily in Miami, the Phins have had one hell of a time coming away from Foxboro victorious, but that game comes later on in the season. Miami finishes up the first half of its season playing a "home" game in London against the Giants. The Giants were a mess last year, but this game will be a toss-up. Going to London is going to throw each team out of its normal routine. Luckily, Miami has its BYE week following its overseas trip. By this time, it will be much needed.

Worthless prediction (3-1), (5-3 overall)

Weeks 10-13 (Third Quarter)
vs. Bills, @ Eagles, @ Steelers, vs. Jets

This is a tough section of the season. With an extra week to prepare, Miami will take on the division rival Bills at home. After that game, Miami faces both the Eagles and Steelers on the road. The Steelers game is Miami's lone chance to shine in the national spotlight. Hopefully, Joey Porter comes ready to wreak havoc against the team that let him go. Miami caps off this quarter with an divisional game against the Jets at home.

Worthless Prediction (2-2), (7-5 overall)

Weeks 14-17 (Fourth Quarter)
@ Bills, vs. Ravens, @ Patriots, vs. Bengals

This is another tough stretch of games. The second half of the season definitely seems tougher than the first half. If Miami is somehow still in the playoff hunt at this point, they will have to play extremely well to beat these teams. Playing both the Bills and Patriots on the road will be hellish (if hell was blanketed in snow) at this point in December. The Ravens will be tough, too. The Bengals game is hard to predict. Either team could be out of the playoff hunt or the Bengals could even be resting its starters if it has a good enough season. That one's a toss-up (just like they all are at this point).

Worthless Prediction (1-3), (8-8 overall)

Finishing 8-8 overall will be an improvement from last season, although a somewhat disappointing improvement. In reality, Miami's success depends so heavily on the quarterback play and the ability of the offense to establish an identity early. As for the general patterns in the schedule, Miami absolutely needs to capitalize on its opportunities against young QBs in the first half of the season. If they can establish momentum in the first six games, they can carry that into their important divisional games. Overall, the schedule is very fair. There are only two times that Miami has to go on the road two weeks in a row, and having the BYE week after the London game is perfect. Also, Miami is one of 8 teams who does not have to face an opposing team coming off its BYE week all season. That means that no team Miami faces will have two weeks to prepare for them.

And in the spirit of High Fidelity, here's my top 5 list of Miami games for the 2007 season:
  1. Both New England games (although seeing Wes Welker in a Pats jersey will be sickening)
  2. Monday Night Football vs. Steelers - hopefully Miami shines in the national spotlight and earns a flex schedule appearance
  3. Jets/Bills games (I know, that's four games, I'm greedy)
  4. Eagles - let's see how the team performs against top competition
  5. Cowboys - hopefully T.O. gets shut down, and Romo gets knocked down

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

2007 Miami Dolphins Schedule

The Sun-Sentinel has obtained Miami's 2007 schedule. Here it is (all games are listed in Eastern time):

Week 1 - Sunday, September 9
AWAY vs. Washington Redskins 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 2 - Sunday, September 16
HOME vs. Dallas Cowboys 4:05 PM (FOX)

Week 3 - Sunday, September 23
AWAY vs. New York Jets 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 4 - Sunday, September 30
HOME vs. Oakland Raiders 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 5 - Sunday, October 7
AWAY vs. Houston Texans 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 6 - Sunday, October 14
AWAY vs. Cleveland Browns 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 7 - Sunday, October 21
HOME vs. New England Patriots 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 8 - Sunday, October 28
(@ Wembley Stadium, London) vs. New York Giants 1:00 PM (FOX)

Week 9 - BYE WEEK

Week 10 - Sunday, November 11
HOME vs. Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 11 - Sunday, November 18
AWAY vs. Philadelphia Eagles 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 12 - Monday, November 26
AWAY vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 8:30 PM (ESPN)

Week 13 - Sunday, December 2
HOME vs. New York Jets 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 14 - Sunday, December 9
AWAY vs. Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 15 - Sunday, December 16
HOME vs. Baltimore Ravens 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 16 - Sunday, December 23
AWAY vs. New England Patriots 1:00 PM (CBS)

Week 17 - Sunday, December 30
HOME vs. Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 PM (CBS)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Hold Off on the QB Overreactions

Contrary to a former report, QB David Carr will not be making a visit to South Florida. On Friday, he agreed to a two-year contract with the Carolina Panthers. Some Dolphins fans are upset that Miami didn't land Carr, but I don't really think he was ever in serious contention for Miami's QB job. If anything, Miami's stated interest in Carr was simply a way to gain leverage for making a deal with Kansas City for QB Trent Green. Everyone can agree that much of Carr's problems in Houston derived from their absolutely awful offensive line. That problem obviously limited him from nearing his full potential, but let's be reasonable here; in five seasons, Carr compiled more interceptions (65) than touchdowns (59). At some point, the blinders have to be taken off, and fans need to see that perhaps Carr just wasn't worthy of the number one overall pick in the 2002 draft. Bringing in a QB who has more INTs than TDs smacks of Miami's previous failed signal-callers like A.J. Feeley (11 TD/15 INT), Brian Griese (5 TD/6 INT), and most recently Joey Harrington (12 TD/15 INT w/Miami, 72 TD/77 INT for his career). It should be obvious to everyone, that a QB who exhibits this extreme inefficiency is not a viable option as a starter. Miami's offense stalls enough as it is without having to endure more turnovers than touchdowns. No team can consistently win with that kind of production. "Losing out" on Carr is not a problem for Miami.

Another "problem" that has recently arisen is Cleveland's entry into the market for Trent Green. The way I look at it, Green will end up in one of two places for the 2007 season - Kansas City or Miami. Writers are saying that Cleveland's interest in Green is providing Kansas City with leverage over Miami. That's not true. Green does not want to play in Cleveland. He wants to play in Miami. Because of this, he can refuse to negotiate his $7.2 million base salary if he is traded to Cleveland. That means that one of three things will happen:
  1. Miami trades for Green.
  2. Miami waits for Green to be released and signs him as a free agent. Miami won't need to worry about competition for Green's services in free agency if Green's stated desire to play in Miami remains true.
  3. Miami does not engineer a trade for Green, and Kansas City decides to keep him.
At this point, I highly doubt that Kansas City retains Green. Thus, the best strategy for Miami is to just wait it out. The front office has shown an incredible patience so far this offseason, and there's no reason to change that now. Play the waiting game and force Kansas City to part ways with Green without having to give up a draft pick. It's not a big cause for concern that Green may have to miss time with Miami's offense in this scenario because he already has a good grasp of it, having played under Terry Shea in Kansas City. If, for some reason, Miami finds it necessary to trade a draft pick for Green, they shouldn't go any higher than a sixth-rounder. The team doesn't have a fifth-rounder in the 2007 draft, and a fourth-rounder is far too much to give up in return for a soon-to-be 37-year old. Kansas City GM Carl Peterson is crazy if he thinks Green is worth a second-round pick at this point in his career.

And let us make no mistake. Acquiring a QB in the draft should be Miami's top priority in terms of that position. Swinging a trade for Green should in no way hamper Miami's ability to select one of the top rated passers in the draft. Miami will be doing its due diligence this week when it meets with top prospects JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn. While it seems certain that Russell will be long-gone by the time Miami makes its selection, there remains a distinct possibility that Quinn will either fall to Miami at 9, or to the point where Miami would be willing to trade up in order to select him. If GM Randy Mueller thinks he can use the pick that would otherwise have been sent to Kansas City for Green to move up and take Brady Quinn then he should hold on to that pick. While getting Quinn at No. 9 would be the best possible situation in the first round, Drew Stanton and Trent Edwards remain possibilities for a first-day selection.

Staying in line with the general theme of this article, there is far too much overreaction concerning the announcement that Daunte Culpepper will not fully participate in the team's first minicamp next weekend. This is just good sense. Look what happened when Nick Saban forced Culpepper to start last season far before his knee was ready. We should be happy that the team is acting cautiously with this situation. There's no dire need for Culpepper to fully take part in minicamps. If he isn't prepared to participate by training camps and the preseason, then there may be a legitimate cause for concern - but not just yet. Take solace in the fact that Daunte is running (albeit not at top speed) and making every effort humanly possible to get healthy again and take over the reigns of the Dolphins offense. Until he proves otherwise, I consider Culpepper a part of this team's future. Perhaps the team brings in Green to start the season and lets Culpepper continue to get stronger or drafts a QB and lets Cleo Lemon start the season. Either way, the team cannot give up on Culpepper yet.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Draft prospect visits continue; Carr also expected to visit

Miami continues to interview and hold workouts for prospective draft picks. Recent meetings include:
  • Michigan State QB Drew Stanton as well as University of Miami TE Greg Olsen, LB Jon Beason and WR Ryan Moore had workouts this week with the team.
  • Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn and WR Rhema McKnight will have a private workout with Miami on April 10.
  • Northwestern G Ryan Keenan interviewed.
The team is currently working on a contract extension with C Rex Hadnot.

QB David Carr is expected to make a free-agent visit to Miami. No date has been set yet.

Sources: Miami Herald, KFFL

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Jason Allen's Dual Role: A Gift, Not A Curse

Dolphins GM Randy Mueller recently said that Jason Allen will see playing time at both the cornerback and safety position this season. The sixteenth overall pick in last year's NFL Draft, most people believed that Allen was selected to solely to fill the free safety position. He did see limited time at cornberback during the preseason, but a holdout from training camp coupled with a steep rookie learning curve set him at a distinct disadvantage throughout the season. During the regular-season, Allen played mostly on special teams and as a reserve safety.

In the wake of Mueller's statement, many people have quickly denounced Allen as a bust, arguing that he isn't filling the need that the team drafted him for and that the coaches are struggling to fit him into two positions. They say this is happening because he cannot excel at either safety or cornerback, and thus he can only be average at best. The fact is that Allen played both cornerback and safety in college, and he even preferred playing corner. In the limited game action he saw last year, he was able to show glimpses of what seems to be significant potential.

It must also be noted that at this point, the safety position seems to be in relatively good shape. That was not the case, however, at the beginning of last season. Renaldo Hill turned out to be one of the biggest surprises in the secondary as he stepped up and became the most consistent player in the whole unit. Also, after Travares Tillman was finally benched in favor of Yeremiah Bell, the team finally found a legitimate play-maker in the secondary. With Hill at FS and Bell at SS, maybe there isn't that strong of a need to force Allen into one of those positions. Cornerback presents a much more cloudy picture, and Allen's use in that department may very well help the team at a position of greater need. Among Will Allen, Andre Goodman, and Travis Daniels, the team has three solid corners, but no one standout player. Will Allen will most likely lock down one starting corner position, and given the reps in training camp, perhaps Jason Allen could push for the opposite starting corner. Although that situation seems unlikely, even if Jason found his way into the rotation as the team's nickel-back, he would still see significant playing time.

The most important point to consider, however, is one that ESPN writer Len Pasquarelli writes about in his recent article - versatility in the secondary is the newest defensive trend, one that teams will need to heed if they want to succeed. He writes:
A priority for every defense now is a safety with some cornerback-type cover skills, a guy who can move out and take on a wide receiver aligned in the slot. And coaches are again seeking cornerbacks who can come up in press coverage and play man-to-man.
He mentions the increase in no-huddle offenses and audibles at the line of scrimmage force defensive units to make due without many substitutions. In this type of game, a defensive player with versatility who can easily play multiple positions becomes a counteracting force. With Jason Allen's ability to play both safety and corner, the Dolphins would have the ability to adjust on the fly without having to substitute for him. So, even if Jason Allen doesn't emerge as a starter this season at either safety or cornerback, his ability to be the third safety in the rotation as well as seeing time at corner will be an important asset for this team. Don't write him off yet as a bust. Let's remember that he is merely entering his second season in the NFL. He has shown some exceptional athletic abilities and his role as a starter will eventually come. For now, the versatility he provides must be appreciated rather than criticized as a defect.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Bittersweet Sendoff: Mare to Saints

K Olindo Mare has been traded to the New Orleans Saints for their sixth-round (199th overall) pick in the 2007 draft. While a sixth-round pick may seem insignificant, the front office did an amazing job of getting any value at all, let alone something more than a 7th-round pick, for a player that was sure to be cut before the season began. The Saints must believe that other teams would get in on the bidding action if Mare were to be released outright.

Mare has always been one of my favorite Dolphins, partly for his strong decade of service to the same team and partly for his booming leg. One Dolphins moment that I will never forget was Mare's last-second game-winning field goal in snowy Denver to bring Miami's record to 5-1. A more recent memory was in 2005 when Mare was racing down the field (and as an aside, Olindo always seemed to have exceptional speed for a place-kicker) on a kickoff and managed to recover a fumble in the middle of a pile of bodies. His effort for this team can never be questioned. I'll miss you, Olindo. Good luck in the future.

Check out this article for a little more Olindo reminiscing.


With the addition of the Saints' pick, the Dolphins draft pick pool now looks as such:

Round 1 (9 overall)
Round 2 (40)
Round 2 (60, from New England)
Round 3 (71)

Round 4 (108)
Round 6 (181)
Round 6 (199, from New Orleans)
Round 7 (219)
Round 7 (238, from New England)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Preseason Schedule Announced

The 2007 preseason slate of games has been announced, and as usual Miami will be staying close to home. This will allow the team to avoid any unnecessary and lengthy traveling during the exhibition period. The schedule is as follows:

Saturday, August 11 @ 7:30 P.M. EST
HOME vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Thursday, August 16 @ 8 P.M. EST
AWAY vs. Kansas City Chiefs
(this game will be nationally televised on ESPN)

Saturday, August 25 @ 7:30 P.M. EST
HOME vs. Tampa Bay Bucanneers

Thursday, August 30 @ 8:00 P.M. EST
AWAY vs. New Orleans Saints


The release of the regular-season schedule, originally set for April 5, has been delayed. It will now be released sometime between April 9 and April 19.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

It's no April Fool's - Big Daddy trade voided

Well, the news in Dolphins-land has been slow lately to say the least. But there is some good news - it's now April and that means less than a month left until the Raiders go on the clock with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Draft analysis should really start picking up soon, and I will be covering the players who could potentially land in Miami.

As far as news goes, Dan "BIg Daddy" Wilkinson's trade to the Denver Broncos has been voided as a result of him not showing up to take a physical. The Broncos now retain their sixth-round pick that would have been sent to Miami in the deal. Miami retains the rights of Wilkinson. Unfortunately, it's probable that Wilkinson will retire. He showed his laziness last offseason by not signing a deal with Miami until the end of training camps. This guy wants to be paid the big bucks, but only on his terms. I can only imagine the dread that he must have felt over the prospect of going through training camps in the thin air of Denver. That would have been one large man sucking a lot of wind.

Maybe he thinks he's good enough to simply skip offseason training; after all, he was the number one overall pick in the draft. Only that was in 1994. Now he's a 34-year old, 13-year veteran who only mustered 14 tackles and zero sacks in 10 games last season. It's a shame that Miami couldn't get the draft pick for Wilkinson. Even if he doesn't retire, I can't see him staying on with the Dolphins. They re-signed DT Keith Traylor who is far superior, and they have young depth on the defensive line that should get an opportunity to show their ability. If the team decides to cut him, don't be surprised to see Denver sign him without having to give up a draft pick.