Saturday, September 27, 2008

Raking in the rewards

There is a valid complaint to be made that sports punditry in this day and age is excessively negative.

Commentators have a tendency to focus on things going wrong and spend less time talking about things that are going right. This doesn't happen everywhere and it doesn't happen all the time, but there is certainly a trend towards the negative.

On this site, I make it a priority not to sensationalize anything. Instead, I try to focus on the facts, and to talk about situations in a level-headed and rational manner. Of course, even when taking this approach, when given a subject like the Dolphins over the past several seasons, it's hard not to be negative.

I'm a huge fan of the Dolphins, but I won't let that bias affect my analysis of the team. That's why it's so nice to finally have a game where every Dolphins fan can truly be happy and proud for the team's accomplishments. What Miami achieved on Sunday against the Patriots can't be overstated, and that is why it is so nice to see all aspects of the team being honored with rewards for their performances.

In a time of media negativity (and the Dolphins have earned their fair share) let's all celebrate the positives they accomplished this week.

Ronnie Brown was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week and the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week.

Joey Porter was named the GMC Sierra Defensive Player of the Week.

And Tony Sparano was named the Motorola Coach of the Week.

Everyone enjoy the bye week and celebrate what your team accomplished last week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Parmele on practice squad; LB coach hospitalized

As hoped for (and expected), rookie RB Jalen Parmele was added to the team's practice squad after he cleared waivers on Thursday.

CB Will Billingsley was released from the practice squad to make room.

Here is what the team's practice squad looks like now:
  1. RB Lex Hilliard
  2. TE Matthew Mulligan
  3. LB Tyson Smith
  4. WR Anthony Armstrong
  5. DT Anthony Toribio
  6. LB Rob Ninkovich
  7. G Matt McChesney
  8. RB Jalen Parmele

In unrelated news, the Dolphins got some sad news on Wednesday when outside linebackers coach Jim Reid was taken to a hospital after practice. He underwent an undisclosed surgery on Thursday.

Defensive Coordinator Paul Pasqualoni will assume Reid's duties indefinitely.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Parmele released; other roster moves made

With a bye week this week, the Dolphins have some extra time to make roster moves and get a few new players acclimated to the system before they have to suit up for any games.

Looking to make some adjustments, the team has released RB Jalen Parmele and signed TE Joey Haynos. Parmele had not been active in the team's first three games. Still, I think he has a good amount of upside, and I hope he passes through waivers and the team finds a spot for him on the practice squad.

Haynos (6'7", 266 lbs.) was an undrafted rookie free agent this year picked up by the Packers. He went to college at Maryland and is 24 years old.

Here is an excerpt from his Prospect page at
Compares To: BEN UTECHT-Indianapolis...Haynos is a better position blocker than Utecht, but like the Colts' tight end, he has the long reach, large hands and body control to secure a catch in a crowd. Haynos uses his size to shield the ball from defenders and with his long running stride, he creates a mismatch for safeties attempting to cover him when running up the seam. He struggles some to gain leverage blocking in-line due to his size, but compensates with a strong hand punch and good hand placement. He works the sideline better than most college tight ends, showing urgency getting to the off-target throws and the reach and field awareness to make sideline catches seem routine.
The Dolphins also adjusted their practice squad, releasing TE Drew Atchison and signing G Matt McChesney.

According to the Sun-Sentinel:
McChesney began his NFL career as a defensive tackle with the Rams in 2005. He was signed to the Jets' practice squad midway through his rookie season before being activated to the team's 53-man roster for the final three games.

He spent all of 2006 on the Jets' practice squad before being converted to the offensive line during the 2007 offseason. McChesney spent the first two games of the 2008 season on the Jets' practice squad before being released.
Here is what the team's practice squad looks like now:
  1. CB Will Billingsley
  2. RB Lex Hilliard
  3. TE Matthew Mulligan
  4. LB Tyson Smith
  5. WR Anthony Armstrong
  6. DT Anthony Toribio
  7. LB Rob Ninkovich
  8. G Matt McChesney

Monday, September 22, 2008

No Comment...

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Boy, do we Miami fans sure know the meaning of that quote today don't we?

For a team coming off a 1-15 disaster of a season, and that had only won once in its last 21 contests, few outcomes could have been more satisfying than the 38-13 drubbing that the Dolphins laid on the highly superior New England Patriots.

Of course, you wouldn't know the Patriots were the better team from watching this game. And that's the beauty of it. In almost every phase of the game (with the exception of kick coverages) Miami outplayed and outcoached the Goliath-Patriots.

And I don't care that New England was without its star Tom Brady. Even without him, that is still a very dangerous Patriots team - one that this ragtag Miami bunch arguably had no business beating in the manner in which they did.

When initial expectations are low, outcomes like this are made all the sweeter.

This win instantly gives credibility to the job that Tony Sparano, Jeff Ireland, and Bill Parcells are undertaking. The players now have tangible evidence to help them buy into the program if they hadn't already. The team doesn't have to play in fear every week like it did last season as it tried to avoid infamy. No, this team is past infamy. Now it can work towards respectability.

I'd say this win goes a long way towards garnering some respect. Keep earning it boys.


Other quick thoughts on this game:
  • It felt great to finally send another team's fans heading en masse toward the exit gates with almost a whole quarter left to play in the ballgame.
  • Ronnie Brown, kudos to you. You deserve it.
  • Joey Porter - you certainly got that flywheel going pretty smoothly. I'm lovin' it.
  • And let's not forget the offensive line. Great job both opening those holes and protecting Pennington.
  • To the coaching staff - brillaint, absolutely brillaint.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Joey Porter = Rick James?

Let me go back for a second and lay out Joey Porter's comments over the past two days.

WEDNESDAY (on how Matt Cassel compares to Tom Brady)
I just know he's not a Tom Brady. So if it's not Tom Brady, it shouldn't be that hard. . . He's only had one start in the NFL. Take that for what it's worth. He won it, but if you compare him to Brady, there's no comparison.
THURSDAY (attempting to clarify his comments from Wed.)
You all took my quote around and turned it into something else. What questions you all going to ask me today that you're just going to make sound different?
...followed immediately by:
Same thing I said the other day, he's no Tom Brady. That was documented.
After hearing Joey Porter's comments on Wednesday about Matt Cassel and his claim on Thursday that they were taken out of context followed immediately by him restating his Wednesday remarks, I couldn't shake the notion that Joey Porter sounds a lot like Rick James.

See for yourself (particularly 1:14 - 1:47): Link

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reader Question: Thoughts on John Beck

I received a follow-up question from my last response about the Henne/Pennington situation. It has to do with the notion of John Beck seeing some starts later in the season.

Here's the question (Also, feel free to send me any other questions you've got):
There has been some chatter about maybe John Beck starting a couple of games late this season so the coaching staff can get a better look at him. Any thoughts? Also, as a comparison between Dolphin QB's when did Dan Marino get the starting job?
Thanks for the questions.

To put it simply, I'm not against seeing Beck start a few games at the end of this season - under certain circumstances.

First off, in order to avoid a situation like last year, Pennington should be the only guy starting until this team gets a win. You'll remember that last year, the coaching staff abruptly switched out Cleo Lemon in favor of an unprepared Beck even though it was clear that Lemon offered the team the best chance to win.

Even if the Dolphins go on an extended losing streak, Pennington will still be the QB who offers the team the best chance to get a victory. There's just too much of a shaky adjustment period that comes with switching to a young guy midway through the season.

So Beck shouldn't see the field at least until this team has a win. Even after that, it's questionable when an appropriate time would be to turn to him. Currently, he is third on the team's depth chart, and the coaching staff clearly likes Henne much more than Beck. It is obvious that they are banking on Henne as the future starter and not Beck. Therefore, a majority of the developmental reps should go to Henne. But as I wrote on Monday, Henne needs to be protected on the bench for most of this season. What if Pennington gets hurt and is forced to miss some games before week 12 or so? That's too early in my opinion to turn the keys over to Henne. That would be a perfect opportunity to get Beck some work.

Essentially, think of Beck like a long reliever in baseball. He should be used to come in and soak up some innings (games) if the starter (Pennington) just isn't getting it done in the early innings in order to preserve the arms (in this case, development) of the more valuable bullpen guys (Henne).

Other than that, though, I don't see this coaching staff going out of its way to get Beck a start or two as they clearly don't think that much of him.

Of course, if the rumors of Beck being on the trading block this preseason are true, it might not hurt to get him some game reps and provide other teams some more game film on him that might entice them to send a draft pick this way for his services.

As the season wears on, this QB issue will certainly be interesting to watch.

And as for Dan Marino, it doesn't do much good to compare anyone to him because no one will ever match up. But for comparison's sake, Marino got his first start in Week 6 of his rookie season, after seeing some mop-up time in two prior games. The rest, they say, is history.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reader Question: When Will Henne Start?

It's time to look in the mailbag once again today, as I've received a few questions pertaining to that disgusting excuse for football that the Dolphins just played in Arizona.

Before I get to the questions, I'd just like to remind everyone that you can email me any questions, comments or ideas you may have. They're always appreciated.

These questions come from Herb. He writes:

I didn't get to see the second half of the game. I was surprised to hear that Henne was playing. How did he do? In the first two regular season games it doesn't look like Pennington has been able to light the fire for the offense. Do you think Henne will be the starter later this season? As for the Pats game next Sunday with Brady gone for the season do you think the Dolphins have a good chance of beating them? It doesn't seem like the Pats are the same high powered offense without Brady. In years past the Phins have matched up well against them.
Good questions, all.

Let's start with an assessment of what Henne showed us in his limited time against the Cardinals.

Not much.

Sure, his numbers look good enough. He was 7 for 12 for 67 yards, and led the team on its lone touchdown-scoring drive which lasted 18 plays and over 7 minutes. But all that was was garbage-time production against a defense playing loose prevent coverage and giving up all the underneath passes without a fight. It is imperative not to read too much into that one drive. John Beck played well in garbage time in Week 17 last season against the Bengals, but that didn't turn into much did it?

Taking what little you can out of this mop-up performance is that Henne looked comfortable and his arm looked strong. That's about all that can be learned about him from this game, and those are things we already knew. But it's nice to get confirmation in an actual NFL game.

Still, this is Chad Pennington's team...for now. And deservedly so. I've tried to stress all offseason long that this season isn't really about this season, per se, it's about 2009 and 2010. Pennington very likely won't be this team's starting QB by the time it's ready to contend. After all, that's why this regime invested in Chad Henne. But Pennington does serve an important role for the future of this team, as he is the bridge between now and then.

Henne doesn't need to start playing right now. I would argue that it's very much in his best interests not to be starting this early in his career. I'm of the belief that most rookie QBs are well served with a season of learning from the sidelines. We all saw what happened when John Beck was unceremoniously cast to the wolves last season with little to no preparation and a laughable supporting cast. Those games seemed to really stun Beck and set him back in his development. That's not something that this team can risk with Henne.

I wouldn't be averse to seeing Henne get a few starts at the very end of the season if (who am I kidding? "once") this team is eliminated from playoff contention. Those would be lower pressure environments where making mistakes wouldn't hurt him so bad.

Pennington needs to be starting right now not only to protect Henne's development, but also to keep this young offense together with some leadership. Not only does this team need to develop its young QB, it also needs to develop its young receivers, and Pennington, for the most part (with one notable exception) is able to do that. The WRs are not going to be able to develop unless they have a consistent and reliable QB throwing them the ball. Henne may have the physical tools, but at this point, he still lacks consistency. Throwing him in the games now would hurt the progression of his pass-catchers. Pennington may have a lot of shortcomings, but at least he's consistent and accurate. The young WRs should benefit some from that.

Of course, that one exception I mentioned is a potentially big one and it's a situation that scares me a little. I'm talking about the progression of Ted Ginn. Ginn's biggest asset is his electrifying speed. He is most dangerous running deep routes and stretching the field. Pennington simply cannot throw those routes with any consistency or effectiveness. So now Ginn is essentially handcuffed into running the short routes that he is not best suited to. It's a tough situation. While I think keeping Pennington as the starter ultimately benefits most of the receivers the most, I can see it hamstringing Ginn's development a bit. Having Henne's arm strength behind center would open things up a bit more for Ginn, and the entire offense for that matter.

As for the Pats game, Miami doesn't stand much of a chance, even sans Brady. Brady may have been the ultimate catalyst for that offense, but he wasn't the only cog making that machine run. The Pats are a very good team even with Matt Cassell under center. The offense doesn't need to be high-powered for them to win - just look at the last two weeks. Their defense and short passing game are efficient enough to do the job. Of course, I never lose all hope when Miami plays the Pats. Cassell is prone to game-changing mistakes if Miami's defense can force him into some pressure situations.

The Dolphins have a shot to beat the Pats - just like they have a shot to beat every team they play, but they'll need to be lightyears better than they were against the Cardinals. I see this team going into its bye-week at a nausea-inducing 0-3.

And I thought 2007 was in the rearview mirror...

Friday, September 12, 2008

TE added to practice squad

The team is reporting that it has released T Daren Heerspink from the practice squad and has signed TE Drew Atchison to take his place.

Atchison (6'6", 255 lbs.) was an undrafted rookie free agent out of William and Mary this past April. He was signed by Dallas but later released.

Here is an excerpt from Atchison's draft profile:
ANALYSIS: Atchison is a solid pass-catcher with reliable hands and a sense of timing. He offers potential as a third tight end in a west coast system.
Here is what the team's practice squad looks like now:
  1. CB Will Billingsley
  2. RB Lex Hilliard
  3. TE Matthew Mulligan
  4. LB Tyson Smith
  5. WR Anthony Armstrong
  6. DT Anthony Toribio
  7. LB Rob Ninkovich
  8. TE Drew Atchison

Sean Ryan released; lineman added

It appears that the addition of FB Casey Cramer as a true lead blocker has made TE Sean Ryan expendable.

The team released Ryan on Thursday.

To take his spot on the roster, the Dolphins signed T Kirk Barton.

Barton (6'5", 310 lbs.) was a seventh-round pick of the Bears this past April. He was a three-year starter at Ohio State. Here is an excerpt from his NFL Draft Prospect page:
Compares To: MIKE GANDY-Arizona...Barton is a lunch pail type who quietly goes about his job. He is effective at sustaining and widening the rush lanes and works well on combo blocks with his guards. He is more of a waist bender, which makes him look sluggish on pulls and traps, but he shows better quickness in his pass set to neutralize edge rushers. He needs to develop a stronger hand punch and has some slight durability concerns.

In other news, the Thursday practice report was issued and there were no changes made to it from Wednesday's version. Miami again had no players listed as injured.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday Phins-Cardinals Practice Report

Practice Report
Wednesday No injuries to report
Practice Report
Wednesday TE Jerame Tuman (hamstring)
Wednesday DT Alan Branch (ankle), DT Gabe Watson (knee)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thomas to IR

Well, I guess I should have seen this coming.

Donald Thomas was placed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, ending his season. The move was foreseeable once the team announced the signing of G Evan Mathis but did not announce that it had released anyone to make room on the roster for him. The room was made by placing Thomas on IR.

It's a bit strange that the team opted to place him on IR even though he was optimistic that he'd be able to play again. Apparently, he either didn't know the extent of his injury or the team was not willing to use up a roster space on injured player who wouldn't be able to contribute for an unspecified amount of time.

An injury like this is especially crushing for a team like the Dolphins because this season is all about rebuilding and getting young players ready to contribute in the near future. Promising rookies like Donald Thomas are the central components to that plan, and so it is particularly crushing to lose him for the season after just one game.

Ikechuku Ndukwe has been seeing the starting reps in Thomas' place, but I'd expect any of Shawn Murphy, Andy Alleman, or newcomer Evan Mathis to challenge him for that spot before long.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

FB and G roster moves made

After just one game, the Dolphins have decided that Boomer Grigsby is not cut out for the role of fullback on this team.

Grigsby was cut, and the team has signed FB Casey Cramer.

Cramer (6'2", 240 lbs.) was a seventh-round draft choice of the Buccaneers in 2004. He has spent time with Tampa Bay, the New York Jets, the Tennessee Titans, and the Carolina Panthers. In Carolina, he worked with current Dolphins' Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning and offensive line coach Mike Maser.

Cramer can play fullback, tight end, and special teams. He is 26 years old.

If this move was made as a result of Grigsby's inability to serve as a lead blocker on run plays, you have to think that Parcells and Ireland may have made a wrong decision in choosing Grigsby over Reagan Mauia. Mauia obviously lacked the ball skills of Grigsby, but he was undoubtedly a better lead blocker. I really don't think the coaching staff should have prioritized the fullback's pass-catching abilities over his primary duty of opening up holes in the running game. Mauia has since been picked up by the Bengals, so you have to wonder if the team would have liked a re-do when choosing who to take into the season opener as their fullback.

The team also added G Evan Mathis. This move is possibly a reaction to the sprained left ankle that RG Donald Thomas suffered in Sunday's game. Even though Thomas played through the pain during the game, he was seen on Monday walking on crutches with his foot in a protective boot. There have been some whispers that Thomas' injury could sideline him for the rest of the season. Thomas, however, refutes those claims, calling them "definitely an exagerration." He says he hopes to be able to practice on Wednesday and play on Sunday.

I don't think this injury will be season-ending, but don't be surprised to see him sit out the next week or two, after which the team has a bye week. That'd give him three full weeks of recovery. Shawn Murphy or Andy Alleman could probably step in for the time being.

Mathis (6'5", 305 lbs.) was a third-round draft pick of the Panthers in 2005. He is 26 years old. He has played in 25 games in his career, starting 15. His most extensive action came in 2006, working under Dan Henning in Carolina, where he started 15 games at right guard for the Panthers. In those 15 games, he was only flagged for three penalties and gave up 3 sacks. According to FootballOutsiders, the Panthers were ranked 22nd in the league in 2006 when running up the middle, with an Adjusted Line Yard of 4.12.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Quote of the Week

Joey Porter is usually good source material for quotes, and it was no different after yesterday's game.

Speaking on Favre's fourth-and-13 22-yard TD heave, Porter had this to say:
You don't practice, 'Close my eyes and just throw up a Hail, Mary.' I can't give him too much credit. The guy (Stuckey) made that play for him.
I couldn't agree more Joey. That play was all Stuckey's doing and yet Favre is going to get the credit for it. Maybe I'm just bitter (I am), but that play is just another example of Favre getting incredibly lucky and then hailed as a hero when the outcome turns out in his favor.

End rant.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dolphins-Jets Final Injury Report

Here's the final injury report for Sunday's game:


CB Michael Lehan (ankle)


WR David Clowney (shoulder)

CB David Barrett (shoulder)
WR Laveranues Coles (thigh)
DE Shaun Ellis (hand)
WR Marcus Henry (calf)
CB Justin Miller (foot)
T Damien Woody (shoulder)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ninkovich added to practice squad

The Sun-Sentinel is reporting that Miami has filled its practice squad with the signing of OLB Rob Ninkovich.

Ninkovich contributed 8 tackles and 2 sacks for the Dolphins this preseason.

The practice squad now looks like this:
  1. CB Will Billingsley
  2. T Daren Heerspink
  3. RB Lex Hilliard
  4. TE Matthew Mulligan
  5. LB Tyson Smith
  6. WR Anthony Armstrong
  7. DT Anthony Toribio
  8. LB Rob Ninkovich

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Two released, two added

The team is reporting that it has waived CB Joey Thomas and released WR Jayson Foster.

Taking Thomas' spot on the 53-man roster is S Tyrone Culver. Taking Foster's spot on the practice squad is DT Anthony Toribio. The team still has one open practice squad spot.

Here's some info about Culver from the team's site:
Culver, 25, was a sixth-round draft choice of Green Bay in 2006. He played in 14 games, all in a reserve role, with the Packers that year and was credited with six tackles on defense and three more on special teams. He spent all of 2007 on injured reserve with a shoulder injury before being waived on August 31, 2008. Culver was a four-year letterman at Fresno State (2002-05), during which time he played in 51 games with 26 starts and recorded 178 tackles, four sacks, three fumble recoveries and five interceptions.
The practice squad now looks like this (with one spot left to fill):
  1. CB Will Billingsley
  2. T Daren Heerspink
  3. RB Lex Hilliard
  4. TE Matthew Mulligan
  5. LB Tyson Smith
  6. WR Anthony Armstrong
  7. DT Anthony Toribio

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tyson Smith and Anthony Armstrong added to practice squad

The Dolphins added their sixth and seventh men to the practice squad today when they signed ILB Tyson Smith and WR Anthony Armstrong.

From the team's official site:
Smith, 26, was in training camp with the Dallas Cowboys before being released Sunday, and split the 2007 season between the practice squads of San Francisco and Washington. He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens in 2005 as an undrafted college free agent, began the 2006 season on the New York Giants' practice and was activated to the 53-man roster for the final nine games, four of which he played in.
The practice squad now looks like this (with one spot left to fill):
  1. CB Will Billingsley
  2. WR Jayson Foster
  3. T Daren Heerspink
  4. RB Lex Hilliard
  5. TE Matthew Mulligan
  6. LB Tyson Smith
  7. WR Anthony Armstrong