Photo by Brian Miller

Ronnie Brown Likely Out Vs. Carolina...Season Perhaps?

Photo by Brian MillerIf Ronnie Brown is done for the year, how goes the Miami Dolphins?  The Phins today listed Brown on the NFL mandated injury report with a foot injury and not the ankle sprain that had most fans worried.  Apparently, the ankle will be fine, the foot?  Not so fast.  (After the Ronnie Brown information, I have some info on the Joey Porter benching.)

It is looking more and more likely that the Dolphins will be without their number 1 runner for this short week game against the Carolina Panthers.  The question is what is this foot injury and what does it mean long term for Ronnie Brown?  Last season the team lost Donald Thomas for the year to a LisFranc fracture to his foot.  He stayed on the field and played most of the game before limping out of the locker room later only to placed on IR soon after.

Should the Dolphins risk being without another RB?  Consider that tonight free agent trouble maker Larry Johnson is in Cincinnatti for a likely signing.  Should the Dolphins act quick and call his agent and say “not so fast…we have a starting spot for you”?  This is a big question if RB can’t go.  Ronnie Brown’s foot injury suddenly becomes the most important question for the Dolphins heading into the final season stretch.  What happens if he is gone?  The team already lost Patrick Cobbs for the year to a knee injury and the team is still trying to figure out how best to capitalize on the WC, something that Brown is an integral part of.

Carolina has a very good but not dominating defense and the short work week won’t help Miami get prepared when they have to put in the game-plan behind a street FA or a guy like Lex Hilliard who will see increased opportunity if Brown is out for any period of time.  For now, fans, media, and in all likelihood the Miami Dolphins, will only await word from the doctors, something that I have to believe they already know but won’t tell.  The secrecy of course to throw off the Panthers.

His immediate future is a question but the long term affect is the bigger issue.  Knee injuries are almost common now-a-days in terms of recovery.  Advancements in medicine and surgical techniques make it almost a given for a player to physically return to the game, but a foot injury can be a different demon all together.  Given the severity and lack of actual muscle in a foot, a foot injury can have lingering effects for a long time, OJ McDuffie suffered turf toe that changed his game and cut his career short, a foot injury could potentially have the same effect on a running back.  And so we wait word on the nature of Ronnie’s injury.

Joey Porter was benched on Sunday for actions that are being kept tightly sealed in the confines of Miami’s training facility.  When asked today about his one game sit down, Porter had this to say.

“At the end of the day it was never about me. Last week proves it’s not about me. You guys make it about [me], and that’s fine. As long as we’re winning everything will take care of itself,” said Porter, who has contributed 12 tackles, 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble in his seven games. “I learned that formula a long time ago. When you’re winning things take care of [themselves]. When you’re losing you kind of go through the tough times.

“It’s really not about what I’m doing. If we were 3-5 and I had the same 10 sacks I had at this point last year ya’ll wouldn’t be asking me about [my performance],” Porter continued. “Ya’ll would be asking me about what’s going on with the team. Let’s not make this about me. Let’s not make this about how well or good I’m playing, if I have 10 sacks or four sacks….Let’s keep it real.

“Let’s not act like ya’ll are worried about me having 10 sacks compared to two and a half. That’s not what it’s about. That doesn’t really matter…. Right now we’re 4-5 trying to get back to .500.”

Saying also, “it’s all behind me”.

The comments made by Joey indicate that Sunday’s benching comes so that Cameron Wake and Charlie Anderson could get more playing time against a team that the Phins should be able to beat without their starting OLB.  On Saturday night, a group of Miami Dolphin “webmasters” had the opportunity to talk with several members of the Dolphins organization including both GM Jeff Ireland and HC Tony Sparano.  The very subject of Joey Porter was brought up.

For those of us in attendance on Saturday, we were informed of the news during our tour of the Dolphins training center when George “Muck” of got an “text message” from a friend who heard about it.  Muck was standing next to me and simply said, “hey Porter’s been benched.”.  When the Jeff Ireland came to the front of the team meeting room, Muck asked what was going on with Joey Porter and his benching.  Jeff Ireland smiled and said, “It’s a coaches decision”.  Period.  Nothing else on the subject and no one else asked.

Ireland was however asked before the Porter subject about Cameron Wake, by another member of the crowd, and the fact that Wake’s stats are comparable to Porters but in only 11 plays, to which Ireland smiled and said, “You read the same stats I do.” When asked by another member of the group when we might see Wake more often, Ireland simply said “soon“.

Enter Tony Sparano.  When the subject came up, Sparano simply said, “it was a coaches decision, that’s it”.  While the few words were hardly insight, his stern voice made it clear that there was absolutely no doubt that Sparano was the one calling the shots.  For whatever reason Joey Porter was benched, Tony Sparano made the call.

Speculation was running rampant that evening when a group of “webmasters” sat by the hotel pool.  Why wasn’t Joey Porter playing?  While Sparano and Ireland stressed only a decision by the coach, it was brought up by several of this group that there may have been more to it that simply a numbers game and a stats game to get Cameron Wake and Charlie Anderson more reps.  For all intent and purposes, it’s just as easy to achieve that goal with Porter active.

So was the coach sending a message to the veteran?  Maybe.  Let’s face it, Porter has hardly been a standout this year and the continued development of Wake is already making some ask if this may be Porter’s final season in Miami.  Listening to Porter’s comments, it surely sounds on the surface like he was benched for poor performance but at the same time, isn’t a team like Tampa just the spark a veteran may need to get back on track?  Maybe.

There was also speculation that maybe Porter was simply injured and the Phins were masking it.  This is one of those items of possibility that I summarily dismiss.

That leads me to the topic of discipline, a popular reason by the group of webmasters.  Was Joey being benched for his attitude?  Consider that his benching came late in the week which is nothing special as these matters are kept internally.  Still, it’s likely that Porter was spoken to about his “jawing” leading up to the NE game in which he had zero tackles and zero assists and according to Tom Brady was the inspiration to the team.  So Sparano calls Joey in and tells him to cool it down…if Sparano is one thing it’s honest.  You can add deliberate and controlling as well.

So Sparano says enough, Porter gets mad, they argue and Sparano proves his point.  If this did in fact happen, and it’s not out of the world of possibility, then it is likely nothing like his outburst against Cam Cameron in front of the team.  This was a topic that was much discussed and it was the one item that many in the end felt as the most likely scenario.

Can the Dolphins really afford to sit Porter against anyone so they can evaluate younger talent?  No, because they risk too much.  The team can do that by simply letting Wake and Anderson play more and keep Joey on the bench until and if you need him.

Can this be the result of an undisclosed injury?  Absolutely not.  While Sparano and company play everything close to the hip, they don’t cheat and non-disclosure is cheating.

Could this be  a disciplinary action that was brought on by an exchange of words between Porter and his head coach or maybe someone else in the organization?  Very well could be, but no matter what anyone believes, it’s pure speculation and nothing more.  Call it deductive reasoning given the other possibilities.

If there is one thing that has been made very very clear is that regardless of the reason, the official word is still, and always will be, “A coaches decision!”

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Tags: Jeff Ireland Joey Porter Miami Dolphins Ronnie Brown Tony Sparano

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