It’s a valid question. One that has been asked for some time actually. Since 2002 the Miami Dolphins have rarely spent tons of money on top free agents. Even back in the days of Dave Wannstedt albeit because our cap situation prevented it. Under Cameron and Mueller the biggest FA was Joey Porter and that almost looked like a horrible waste of money. So once again we spend the first weekend of free agency asking…
“ARE THE DOLPHINS DOING ENOUGH”
Last year fans of the Phins watched as some of the top guys left the market while the Phins bought names like Smiley, Torbor, Wilford, and Starks. This year, the Phins have bought names like Berger. That’s it. Sure the Phins shored up some of their holes by re-signing (thats for you Joe!) key free agents of their own. Carey, Crowder, and of course Yeremiah Bell. They also landed street FA Gibril Wilson the day before FA started.
Still, you look around the rest of the AFC East, not the NFL, and you wonder if the Phins can really compete. Yes we thought the same thing last year but at some point the changes that are being made in NY and NE has to make them better. In NE we find that once again they will have a boat load of picks on day 1 of the draft. 4 at present count. 1 first and now 3 2nd’s with the Matt Cassel trade. So the Patriots are getting younger quick and filling not only holes but the youth movement is securing there depth for the eventual departure of their older veterans.
In New York a different approach has brought in some of the top talent at their positions, albeit at a premium cost. Last season NY brought in Al Faneca, Damian Woody, Calvin Pace, and a few others. This year they have already landed LB Bart Scott and are the likely landing spots for Corey Ivy and Jim Leonhard. The Jets still have some issues on the offensive side of the ball though.
For Miami however it’s a different state. They have yet to address their offense line outside of Berger and in doing so are believing that either Berger can and will beat out Samson Satele for the starting center spot, a very big upgrade need or challenge last years rookie Donald Thomas who himself is still a big question mark outside of the injury recovery concern.
There is still no hit WR which Tony Sparano calls a luxury instead of a need and while the RB’s are pretty much set with Brown, Williams, and Cobb, it’s apparent that none will do much outside of the “WildCat” unless the offensive line drastically improves. So has the offense gotten any better? The answer to that is no. Not even close.
On defense it’s worse, much worse actually. Sure Channing Crowder will be back and enter his second season in the system at interior LB but the defensive line is still anchored by aging Jason Ferguson and two still unproven DE’s in Merling and Langford. Questions still remain at the outside LB spot opposite Joey Porter who has questions about his stamina as well and the other middle LB spot that appears to be Akin Ayodele.
In the secondary is where the real problem is. Aside from CB Will Allen, the Dolphins have no one to play the position. The depth is nothing special either. The Phins did lock up to safety’s that should make the deep secondary stronger but the lack of a corner is very troublesome especially when you look at Allen and realize that while he is serviceable he is no longer in his prime and will need replacing in a year or two as well.
Free agency is only 3 days old and the big name movers have punched their tickets to financial freedom and now the prices begin to drop some as the mid-2nd tier guys and lower start to get looks. It’s here that the Dolphins will shop. Walmart instead of Macy’s or Kohl’s.
With the draft still almost 2 full months away, the Phins will have 3 day 1 picks to find their future gems. With the team needing a legit center, only two stand out as first day picks and both are round 1 talents. Max Unger and Alex Mack. The team needs a big time corner and they are usually off the board in round 1 as well. Defensive LB’s are usually plentiful but the top 3 guys are projected to be off the board before Miami picks at 25.
What do the Dolphins address first? LB if one is there and bypass the only solid up front centers, or a center and miss possibly the chance at a top shelf LB? Do they miss out on both and turn to CB or do they draft a tall speedy WR and address the rest with their round 2 picks.
The regular season schedule is one of the toughest in the NFL next year, the Dolphins may not find 11-5 as easy as they appeared to find it last year. With holes still popping through the roster there seems to be more questions than answers. The Dolphins are still in the process of a rebuild and roster turnover is expected and the lack of big name talent is expected as well as the team follows it’s plan to build this team through the draft. One winning season, one division title doesn’t change that.
Expectations are high for this team regardless of the schedule and the changes being made elsewhere in the AFC East. And it’s because of those expectations that we ask that same question again, “are the Dolphins doing enough?”
Perhaps, perhaps not.