Wednesday, September 30, 2009

K.C. Asiodu added to practice squad

The team made an adjustment to its practice squad today, releasing LB Danny Lansanah and signing LB K.C. Asiodu.

Asiodu (6'3, 240) was an undrafted free agent out of Central Oklahoma this year who spent training camp with the Rams.

The Dolphins practice squad now looks as such:
  • DE Ryan Baker
  • CB Will Billingsley
  • LB J.D. Folsom
  • WR James Robinson
  • WR Julius Pruitt
  • TE Kory Sperry
  • T Andrew Hartline
  • LB K.C. Asiodu

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Phins trade for Tyler Thigpen

Looking to replace Chad Pennington, who was placed on Injured Reserve, the Dolphins traded an undisclosed 2010 draft pick to the Kansas City Chiefs in return for QB Tyler Thigpen.

The success of this trade depends in large part on what round pick the Dolphins gave up to get Thigpen. The Chiefs had been asking for as high as a fourth round pick for him earlier this year, and it would be ridiculous for Miami to pay that much for him. I really hope they simply traded back to the Chiefs the "future considerations" (aka probably a 2010 7th round pick) that the Chiefs gave to Miami in last year's draft.

But let's get to know Tyler Thigpen.

He's a third year veteran out of Coastal Carolina who is 25 years old. He stands 6'1, 224 lbs.

He is essentially a spread QB, much like Pat White. When Thigpen took over in Kansas City last year, the team implemented its "Pistol" offense - essentially a shotgun formation where the QB is in a shorter dropback position. Counting the pistol and shotgun snaps together, Thigpen took an astounding 359 of 420 pass attempts away from center (85.5%). And to little surprise, the Chiefs performed significantly better from these formations than when Thigpen operated from under center.

Thigpen is known to throw a lot of short passes, but he's got a strong arm and he's a good scrambler. He ran 62 times last year for 386 yards and 3 TDs, and a 15.2% DVOA. But he also finished with a below-average passing DVOA of -6.2% and a horrendous completion rate of 54.8%.

Football Outsiders also found a disturbing trend in Thigpen's performance by quarter. His DVOAs for the first, second, third, and fourth quarters were 25.1%, -6.6%, -10.5%, and -25.2% respectively. That means that he regularly started off games extremely hot and proceeded to regress to horrible play by the fourth quarter.

Thigpen isn't going to challenge Henne for the starting QB of the Dolphins. But his skills are so similar to Pat White's that he may end up becoming the backup before season's end since he has more experience. He's still just 25 years old so he has plenty of room to grow and he will need to if he wants to stick around.

For those interested, here are Thigpen's KUBIAK projections for this season (assuming 16 games played):


Thank you, Chad; Hello, Chad

In just a little over one year, Chad Pennington managed to become one of my favorite Dolphins players ever.

Now, it's very likely that his latest shoulder injury (torn capsule) is going to knock him out for the rest of the season. That's sad news for anyone, but even more so for a guy who has triumphantly made his way back from two prior surgeries on the same shoulder already. This has got to be demoralizing for him. Whatever his future may hold with this franchise or any team, I wish him the best of luck.

I think Ethan Skolnick may have summed up Pennington's impact the best:
What he did was bring respectability back to the franchise, and give fans one of the most unexpected, enjoyable seasons in South Florida history. He didn't do it alone, but he had a large part in it. And in my 14 years in this business, I have never covered an athlete who better understood what his responsibilities were, to the organization, the public and the media.

Pennington's a true class act and a great player - the kind of guy it's always easy to root for. Thanks, Chad.


Hello, Chad. Chad Henne, I mean.

Now's the time when we see if this team will be able to return to contention next year, or if more years must be wasted as this franchise continues to search for its franchise quarterback.

Had Pennington's injury not been so severe, the team would have faced a decision as to how to move forward with the choice between Henne and Pennington, but that decision has been made for them. It's Henne's team right now and for the rest of the year - 13 games to put it all on the table.

No one should be anointing Henne as the franchise QB yet because quite honestly he hasn't proven anything. I'm certainly not sold on him. But the potential is definitely there. I do believe that.

As Dave Hyde declared:

Quarterback of the future? We'll see. He's the quarterback of the present.

And that's how we, as fans, must approach this. He's the QB of the present looking for a promotion. Nothing's guaranteed.

For those interested, here are the KUBIAK projections for Henne this season (based on 16 games played):


If he could produce at that rate over the course of the rest of the season, I think it would have to be seen as a major success. The numbers aren't spectacular but they would show that he likely isn't going to be a bust, and that's the most important thing to find out now. The significant leaps forward will hopefully happen next offseason. Right now, he just has to show that he's not another John Beck or A.J. Feeley.

By the way, for comparisons sake, a 5.5% DVOA would be akin to the performances put up by Matt Cassel, Joe Flacco, and Sage Rosenfels last season. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely something to build on.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Week 3 @ Chargers Recap

I got an email right before the game on Sunday which read:
"If the Dolphins fail to win against the Chargers, at what point do you consider giving Henne a shot?"

Well, it looks like that question has been answered for us.

With Chad Pennington likely to miss at least a game and probably more than one with his shoulder injury, Chad Henne's chance to establish himself as this team's starting quarterback is starting right now.
But before I get into a discussion of Henne, let's talk briefly about the game.
  • Even with all of their significant injuries, the Chargers were still the better team - and it wasn't really close either. That's a bit scary and shows just how much of an aberration last season was and how much farther this team still has to go.
  • The offense consistently bogs down in the redzone because the threat of a pass to a wide receiver is laughable in those areas. Who on this team is honestly a threat down near the goal line? No one. And so while Ronnie and Ricky might be able to carve out huge chunks of yardage between the twenties against most teams, their job gets a whole lot harder down inside the ten. It also doesn't help that Anthony Fasano has essentially disappeared this year, which is very disappointing after such a fantastic season last year.
  • The middle of the field is still wide open against this defense.
  • The run defense did an excellent job bottling up Sproles and preventing him from seeing any kind of daylight.
Now I'm going to veer away from the game talk for a bit because I'd just like to point out how hypocritical a lot of writers and fans are who write about and comment on this team. In the offseason, all I heard from pretty much every Dolphins blogger or commenter was how strong this team was across the board. I was amazed at how easily some pretty obvious areas of concern were simply whitewashed and explained away. (ex. Gibril Wilson might struggle in his switch to FS? Pish posh! He played FS for a team that won the Super Bowl - he must be great!; or, Ted Ginn is in his third year and we all know every WR in his third year suddenly becomes elite, despite the fact that nothing in his statistical profile would support that notion; or CB Eric Green will make a fine CB for this team - all he needed was a new environment and a chance to show what he's really got, etc.)

(Please note the dripping sarcasm in the previous examples)

I strive to be as honest as possible about the team and I'm not afraid to call out problem areas when I see them, even if it's the offseason and I'm simply projecting what is likely to happen. And see, that's the problem. Far too many fans (and writers who are fans) are so clouded by blissful ignorance that they can't accept that something might be an issue until the season rolls around and slaps them in the face with a proclamation of, "HEY, THIS HAS BECOME AN ISSUE!" Anyone can watch a game and see what is happening and then choose to react to something negative after the fact. It takes a tad bit more prescience and willingness to suspend hope in favor of reality in order to get a sense of these things before the season rolls around.

Now I'm not saying that I'm always right about the predictions I do make. But I'm certainly more accurate than the majority of writers and commenters who meet every story with a stamp of approval and who find ways to overvalue every player on the roster. What's the point of even talking about the team during the offseason if everyone's automatic response to any personnel move or bit of news is met with an unthinking, "Yup, that's a good move," or "Wow, according to every player interview I've heard, it seems like the entire team has made great leaps forward in their abilities. I smell Super Bowl!"

The disgusting thing is that the people who actually stuck their necks out and criticized certain moves and players during the offseason were themselves heavily criticized by the head in the sand crowd. Only now, it seems that almost all those people who wouldn't stand to hear any criticism of their darling perfect team back then have already made the abrupt switch in mentality when conveniently confronted with reality. Talk about a lack of conviction!


Also, after this game I read something that almost made me spit out the water I was drinking. The writer (I won't point them out specifically) wondered whether Miami's last two games might show that the NFL is in transition - from a run-oriented league to a pass-oriented one.

Are. You. Kidding. Me?

Actually, I shouldn't be all that surprised, since this is one of the most common (yet ridiculous) notions that a lot of fans have about the game. Too many people believe that the grinding ground games of the 1970s represent the traditional style of the NFL and that a pass-oriented mode of play is some new-fangled idea that is sweeping in a new era of play. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I'll let Football Outsiders explain it best:

Most of the current crop of NFL analysts came of age or actually played the game during the 1970s. They believe that the run-heavy game of that decade is how football is meant to be, and today's pass-first game is an aberration. As we addressed in an essay in last year's book on the history of NFL stats, it was actually the game of the 1970s that was the aberration. The seventies were far more slanted towards the run than any era since the arrival of Paul Brown, Otto Graham, and the Cleveland Browns in 1946. Optimal strategies from 1974 are not optimal strategies for today's game.

The NFL has been a passing league for a long long time. So the answer to that writer is "No." The league is not in a transition away from run-heavy tactics in favor of passing. That transition has already been made. Those teams (like our Dolphins!) who are based on pounding the ball on the ground as often as possible are the ones clinging to a past that doesn't exist anymore. And no disrespect meant, but it's no coincidence that the guy running the franchise (Parcells) is straight out of the era when run dominance was in vogue more than any other time in history. Unfortunately, that style of play may not mesh well in today's game.

Well, I've rambled enough for one post, but check back later when I get a post up about Chad Henne and what the Dolphins should do at QB for the rest of the year.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 3 @ Chargers Prediction

Unfortunately, my prediction turned out to be right last week, as the Dolphins fell to the Colts. So now I'm 1-1 on the season.

This week, Miami has to travel across the country on a short week to play one of the best teams in the league. Miami does get some relief, however, in the form of LaDainian Tomlinson, Nick Hardwick, and Travis Johnson all being ruled out with injuries. San Diego's monster nose tackle Jamal Williams is also out for the year and is being replaced by a practice squad guy.

Miami will have room to run, but in order to win, they'll need a vast improvement out of the defense, especially when it comes to covering targets in the middle of the field.

Against Philip Rivers, I'm not sure the defense can deliver. I'm picking the Chargers to win.

Also, after last week's loss, Miami's playoff odds now stand at 3.7%, a drop of 2.5%.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Reader Question: Looking ahead to 2010 Draft

Here's a question I received in response to my recap of the Colts game:

From what you posted about the Colts game, are you thinking linebacker with the first or second round pick in the 2010 draft?

Linebacker is clearly a concern for this team when looking into the future, and the team's struggles thus far this season with pass rushing and covering the middle of the field have only made the spotlight brighter.

The bottom line is that aside from Channing Crowder, the starting LB unit is ancient. Akin Ayodele (30 years old), Joey Porter (32), and Jason Taylor (35) are all past their prime and the team will see only diminishing returns from them from here on out. Matt Roth (26) can help this situation by returning to full health by Week 7 when he's eligible to be activated off the NFI list and proving that he's worth keeping around for another contract. But Roth alone is not the answer to Miami's real LB woes concerning pass rush and coverage.

Ayodele and Crowder are both useless as blitzers, and they both struggle in coverage as well. The same can be said for their backup, Reggie Torbor. The team is so desperate for inside linebacker help that they are resorting to switching Charlie Anderson's position! Good luck with that. The team desperately needs an infusion of talented youth on the inside that is athletic enough to both cover well and blitz. And yes, I believe the early rounds of the draft are where they should be looking for this.

Here are the other areas of critical need that must be addressed early in next year's draft:
  • Nose tackle
  • Wide receiver
  • Coverage linebackers
Luckily, it seems as if each of those needs will have a good amount of top prospects to choose from.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 2 vs. Colts Recap

Here are some thoughts about last night's game:

  • Despite the outcome, it's undeniable that that was a great game to watch. Highly entertaining.
  • Gibril Wilson looks awful, and he's quickly turning into another major free agent bust. One thing I heard a lot after Miami signed Wilson, just a year after Oakland jettisoned him after signing him to a huge contract, was that Al Davis is just a clueless guy who doesn't know how to value players. And in most cases, that's true. But one area that Al Davis has proven to be quite knowledgeable is the secondary. And if he thought it was worth it to bail on the Gibril Wilson experiment after a single year, then that scares me about what Miami got itself into. Remember, the team handed him a five-year $27.5 million contract this offseason. As it stands now, I can't see him even keeping his starting job this whole season if he keeps playing like he has. The bottom line is that he can't cover - at all. He's like Roy Williams back there, except he's playing free safety instead of strong, which exacerbates the problem that much more. And let's drop the ridiculous logic that, "Well, he played free safety for the Giants team that won the Super Bowl, so he must be good." Yeah, because every player on every Super Bowl team has been a good player.
  • Miami's coverage issues go further than just Wilson sucking it up. The linebackers absolutely cannot cover tight ends either. The middle of Miami's defense is just screaming to be attacked right now. The only way to counter this would be to substitute a corner like Vontae Davis in for a linebacker and have him cover the tight end, but that will weaken the run defense.
  • Ted Ginn's stats look a bit better than he actually played. He makes almost all the routine plays, but he has shown no ability whatsoever to make a big play in the passing game when it really matters. On his first missed TD opportunity, he simply didn't realize where he was on the field and ended up letting the pass sail beyond his arms. On the second missed TD, he just had the ball clank right off his two hands. That was devastating. The corner was there with him, but it's not like he had his hands disrupting Ginn's catch. Ginn just flat out missed it.
  • Lex Hilliard is a beast on special teams coverage.
  • No one should expect that kind of rushing output to continue week in and week out. That was against a Colts defense that is terrible against the run, never mind that they were without Bob Sanders.
  • The clock management at the end of the game was horrendous. Even still, this loss is not at all Chad Pennington's fault. He played a solid game. The horrid defensive showing deserves all the blame.
  • Kudos to the South Florida fans for showing up and making a real home field advantage. I've never seen the stadium that full or loud before.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Week 2 vs. Colts Prediction

Well, I'm 0-1 to start the season off with my predictions.

I thought Miami would be able to take advantage of Atlanta's weak defense, but they made it look like an elite unit instead.

So, suffice to say, I don't have any confidence that the Dolphins can beat the Colts on Monday night. The only chance they'll have to pull this one out is if they revert to last year's near-turnover free offensive performance. It will also help if Chad Pennington can get the receivers involved out wide and down the field to open some room inside for the running backs.

Prediction: Colts win

Also, in these weekly game prediction posts, I'll put up Football Outsider's playoff odds for Miami. After Week 1, they had a 6.3% chance of making the playoffs.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Andrew Hartline added to practice squad

The Dolphins made an adjustment to their practice squad by adding rookie T Andrew Hartline and releasing G/C Mark Lewis.

Hartline (6'5, 287) was an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan this year.

Here's one analysis of what Hartline brings to the table:

Hartline has been a durable and productive college blocker. He lacks the physical skills to start at the next level, yet his mental makeup and understanding of the position plus his versatility could help him find a spot as an inexpensive utility blocker.

The Dolphins practice squad now looks as such:
  • DE Ryan Baker
  • CB Will Billingsley
  • LB J.D. Folsom
  • WR James Robinson
  • LB Danny Lansanah
  • WR Julius Pruitt
  • TE Kory Sperry
  • T Andrew Hartline

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reader Question: What happened against ATL?

To recap that mess of a game on Sunday, I'll just get right to a reader's question:

What happened to the Dolphins offense on Sunday? They were horrible. The defense did its job, just the offense couldn't move the ball hardly at all. They did have a few opportunities to put some points up, just couldn't capitalize. I hope that a better Dolphins team shows up for the Colts game. If the team that played Atlanta shows up its going to be a long day.

Well, you're absolutely right about the Dolphins offense. They played like absolute crap. But the defense made plenty of mistakes as well, so I'm not letting them off the hook.

But let's start with the offense. The name of the game is turnovers. Miami was so successful last year because they turned the ball over at a historically low rate. No one should have thought that kind of production would be the norm going forward. In fact, Miami's playoff game against the Ravens was somewhat of a correcting force in that matter and it certainly brought the team's season-long numbers back into reality. So more turnovers are to be expected. Of course, that many turnovers in a game is more than just a regression to the mean - it's just poor, sloppy play.

The good news is that the guys who committed the turnovers (Pennington and Fasano) don't have a track record of playing sloppy. I don't expect that kind of carelessness from them to become a trend. If it does become a trend, get ready to say hello to a top ten draft pick next year.

The offense was also put in awful field position all day due in large part to horrendous blocking on kick returns. Miami's average starting position was the 22 yard line.

The offensive line also deserves a huge chunk of the blame. They played like crap, pure and simple. I'm not really worried about Jake Long at this point. I am worried about Jake Grove though.

Some people are blaming the use of the Wildcat and Pat White packages as another reason why the offense stalled, but I'm not buying that. We should all know by now that the Wildcat (and I'm assuming the Pat packages) are the home run plays. They're like Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard - going to hit a bomb or strike out trying. And I'm fine with that because this offense is going to have a hard time finding its big plays elsewhere. So if we want the huge plays that come with these packages, we have to be prepared to accept it when they gain little or nothing.

Now, as for the defense, I want to give huge props to the run defense, and Phillip Merling in particular. It's a shame Merling doesn't put on the same display in practices as he does in games, otherwise the coaches would be more comfortable starting him and getting him more game snaps. But he's proven to this point in his career that he plays better than he practices. Hopefully, with more experience and added maturity he can begin to show the coaches more in practice so that they have more confidence in him come game time.

But the problems on defense came from the secondary, particularly the safeties, and particularly Gibril Wilson. I do not trust Wilson as a coverage safety whatsoever. I know how incredible he is in the run game, but he's a free safety now and is being asked to do less of what he's good at and more of what he's bad at, which as we saw against Atlanta is covering tight ends and wide receivers down the field. This defense is going to have quite a hard time getting off the field on third downs when even long third downs are hardly a challenge for the opposing offenses.

Phins remaking "The Notebook"?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

2009 Season and Week 1 Predictions

With the Dolphins' season beginning tomorrow afternoon, now is a good time to post my predictions for the team's season as well as for their week one game versus the Falcons.

For the season, I'm predicting a 7-9 record and falling short of the playoffs. I think Miami will finish second in the AFC East behind the Patriots.

But a losing season after Miami's magical 2008 campaign doesn't mean this season would have been a lost one. All the young players need to show significant improvement and I think they'll get every opportunity to do so. If they do, Miami should set itself up in prime position to compete in 2010.

There's just too much riding against Miami this year. They have the fourth toughest schedule in the league according to opponents' projected DVOA; their immaculate health from last season will regress to the mean; and Miami's historically low turnover rate will inevitably rise. It may be too much to expect two straight seasons of complete health from Chad Pennington. It's also been shown that teams that win four or fewer games one season and ten or more the next season go on to drop an average of 2.7 games the following year. At this point, I don't see why Miami would be the exception to the rule.

All this being said, there's obviously still a decent chance that Miami could buck the trends two seasons in a row and make the playoffs again. After last year, I won't write anything off. But that doesn't mean I'm going to predict that that is what's going to happen.

As for Miami's first game against the Falcons, I actually think the Phins can and will find some way to pull this game out. Miami's defense is certainly going to face a really tough test against Michael Turner, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Matt Ryan. But Atlanta's defense is so putrid that Pennington should be able to carve it up with ease.

If this game were at home, I'd be much more confident about predicting a win. But I am in fact predicting a win regardless.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joey Haynos Song

Found this video on Omar Kelly's blog and thought it was fantastic.

If at first you don't succeed, you're not Joey Haynos.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Drew waived; Garner promoted

TE Davon Drew, who was picked up on waivers from the Ravens just a few days ago, was waived/injured with ankle issues.

In his place, the team promoted T Nate Garner from the practice squad, giving the team the more conventional nine offensive linemen.

To take Garner's spot on the practice squad, the team signed TE Kory Sperry.

Sperry is a rookie out of Colorado State who spent training camp with the Chargers. Here is's analysis of him:

Sperry is one of the better pass catchers in this years tight end class. His lack of speed as well as his prior injury will send up red flags gets. Sperry could make an NFL roster as a third tight end for an offense which consistently puts him in motion prior to the snap.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Recapping the weekend's roster cuts and moves

With the league mandating that all teams be down to 53 players by this past Saturday, let's look at who got cut in Miami:

  • S Courtney Bryan
  • T Brandon Frye
  • LB William Kershaw
  • WR Brandon London
  • CB Joey Thomas
  • DE Rodrique Wright
  • T Nate Garner
  • CB Will Billingsley
  • DE Ryan Baker
  • G Mark Lewis
  • LB J.D. Folsom
  • WR James Robinson
In addition, Matt Roth was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List. This means that Roth will not be eligible to play or practice for the first six weeks of the season.

TE David Martin was placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury that will likely require arthroscopic surgery. Many people think releasing Martin was a surprise, but I've been predicting it all offseason.

The team was also awarded TE Davon Drew off waivers from Baltimore. Drew was a fifth-round pick in this year's draft. This was's Pick Analysis of Drew after the draft:

The Ravens grab an athletic receiving tight end with good hands and ball skills. Drew has only spent a few seasons at the position, but he has flashed enough skill as a pass catcher that he is viewed a potential H-back as a pro.

The Dolphins also filled up their practice squad with the following eight players:
  • DE Ryan Baker
  • CB Will Billingsley
  • LB J.D. Folsom
  • T Nate Garner
  • G/C Mark Lewis
  • WR James Robinson
  • LB Danny Lansanah
  • WR Julius Pruitt
Six of the practice squad players were with the Dolphins during training camp. Lansanah and Pruitt are the new additions.

As far as my roster prediction went, I think I did a pretty good job. I put Matt Roth on it even though I knew he would end up ineligible to play for the first six weeks, which explains why I left off Lex Hilliard. I also incorrectly guessed that Brandon London and Brandon Frye would make the team and that Charlie Anderson would be left off. But I correctly called the David Martin release and got the rest of the roster spot on. Not too bad.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2009 Predicted 53-Man Roster

After going back through my series of training camp positional breakdowns which all included a predicted depth chart for each position, here is what my 53-man roster would look like. I had to substitute Brandon Frye for Andy Alleman on the offensive line since Alleman was traded.

I also put Matt Roth on the roster, although he very well might start the season on the PUP list, thereby opening up another roster spot. As it is, don't expect the very bottom of the roster to remain unchanged. The last few guys on are likely to get cut in favor of waiver pickups, just like last year.

1st String
2nd String
3rd String

Chad Pennington
Chad Henne
Pat White
Ronnie Brown
Ricky Williams
Patrick Cobbs
Lousaka Polite

Anthony Fasano
Joey Haynos
John Nalbone
Ted Ginn
Davone Bess
Patrick Turner
Brian Hartline
Greg Camarillo
Brandon London
Jake Long
Andrew Gardner

Justin Smiley
Brandon Frye

Jake Grove
Joe Berger

Donald Thomas
Shawn Murphy

Vernon Carey

Kendall Langford
Phillip Merling

Jason Ferguson
Paul Soliai

Randy Starks
Tony McDaniel
Lionel Dotson
Jason Taylor
Quentin Moses
Matt Roth
Channing Crowder
Reggie Torbor

Akin Ayodele

Joey Porter
Cameron Wake
Erik Walden
Will Allen
Vontae Davis
Jason Allen
Sean Smith
Nathan Jones

Yeremiah Bell
Chris Clemons

Gibril Wilson
Tyrone Culver

Dan Carpenter

Brandon Fields

John Denney

Ricky Williams signs extension

Ricky Williams has made it clear that he intends to retire after the 2010 season.

And now it looks like that final year will be played with the Dolphins. The team signed Ricky to a one-year contract extension running through 2010. Ricky will make $3.4 million this season and $4.35 million in 2010. It's unknown how much of that money is guaranteed.

That's quite a bit of cash for a 32-year old running back, but a lot of it could be tied to incentives. In any case, it will be nice to see Ricky retire as a Dolphin.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Training Camp Roster Breakdown 2009: Specialists

The final segment of the training camp positional breakdowns looks at the specialists. Tomorrow, I'll go back through the previews and compile my predicted depth charts to see what my predicted 53-man roster will look like (trimming or adding players as necessary).

Dan Carpenter
If you look only at field goal percentage, then yes, Dan Carpenter had a nice rookie season. But as I've written here many a time, it's been shown (by Football Outsiders and the New York Times among others) that field goal accuracy is almost entirely random from year to year. Kickoff distance, on the other hand, is extremely consistent from year to year. So when trying to predict what Carpenter will do in his second season, you can pretty much toss out his 84% on field goals, and instead focus on his 64.1 yard average kickoff distance - a poor number that is only made worse when squib kicks are taken out of the equation. According to FO, Carpenter had the 29th ranked gross kickoff value over average in 2008, better than only four other kickers in the league. That kind of performance on kickoffs is simply not acceptable, especially with such a leaky coverage unit. It makes one pine for the days of Olindo Mare, who once again led the league in gross kickoff value, and who is perennially among the very best in that category. (I still wish the team hadn't gotten rid of him.) Carpenter's lack of leg strength showed up on offense too, as the coaching staff would simply not let him attempt a field goal over 50 yards. He only attempted one field goal from that distance all season. Field goals from that distance are admittedly difficult, but to simply not have the option is undesirable. I hope he can improve his leg strength this year, but the research makes that a bleak proposition.

John Denney
A perfectly fine long snapper, I don't recall him botching any snaps this year. He also tacked on four special teams tackles. The coaches haven't brought in any competition for him since they got here, so he must be fine.

Brandon Fields
Once again, Fields was one of the very few players in training camp who had no competition. His numbers last year were essentially the same as his rookie year, trending slightly upward in average distance (43.2 yds to 43.9 yds) but trending slightly downward in net average (36.6 to 35.5). Where he really improved was placing his punts inside the 20 yard line and forcing fair catches. He put 24 punts inside the 20, and forced 15 fair catches. Fields does have a booming leg, but he can sometimes out-kick the coverage, leading to a big return. He's still not as consistent as I'd like to see. It hurts that Miami traded away Donnie Jones for the draft pick that was used to take Fields. Jones is one of the best punters in the league and finished 3rd in the league last year in gross punt value over average. At this stage, Fields is just an average punter.


There's no competition for any of the spots here, so this will be easy:
K - Dan Carpenter
P - Brandon Fields
LS - John Denney