Playmakers? Don't Hold Your Breath.

Take a break from what you’re doing real quick and name three playmakers on the Miami Dolphins right now… Still thinking? That’s because there are not three playmakers on the Miami Dolphins and without fully knowing how far along Ronnie Brown has progressed in his recovery from a broken foot, it’s arguable Miami doesn’t have a single one.

To avoid any undue debate, let’s just go ahead and define some parameters. A playmaker has to be at one of the offensive skill positions or be a defensive stalwart. He can’t be getting up there in years and he has to back up his potential with on-the-field production. For instance Jake Long is arguably already one of the best tackles in football, but he certainly wouldn’t constitute a playmaker. By the same token, Cameron Wake shows tons of promise and had a good first season, but his lack of reps prevents him from earning the distinction.

There are certainly potential playmakers on the roster. Vontae Davis, Chad Henne and Wake for instance could all develop into game-changing players, but right now they each have a ways to go. So where are the playmakers and why are they so conspicuously absent?

When Bill Parcells arrived in Miami he did so with the task of reinventing the culture and rebuilding the team. He started with his typical M.O. rebuilding Miami’s lines and upgradingthe size and strength of the team. To the credit of the trifecta they have come in and drafted a good young quarterback, a fantastic young line and have assembled a promising young core on the defense. What they have yet to do is bring a playmaker to Miami…

Now comes the tough part, don’t hold your breath that it will happen this year.

Chances are the Dolphins won’t pull the trigger on a big trade and frankly, free agency doesn’t yield the type of dynamic offensive weapons Miami needs. I understood not going after Anquan Boldin, a 30 year old receiver that wants big money and has an injury history like Ronnie Brown is a risky investment. I get that Brandon Marshall is probably too costly for the risk.

In fact, at this point I don’t foresee any trade scenario where the Dolphins could bring in a top receiver. In my opinion, the right deal for Miami happened last season. The Dolphins could have sent a bunch of bums to Cleveland for Braylon Edwards like the Jets did. They didn’t even require draft pick compensation, just some back-ups and he could have been ours. It seemed like a fit too, he was almost a Dolphin once under Saban, he would be catching passes from his collegiate quarterback. It seemed like a fit to me. But it was too pricey or not the right move for Parcells and the Dolphins. Which is why in all honesty I really doubt Miami does anything to address the receiver position before the second or third round of the draft.

Face it, Bill Parcells doesn’t like spending a top pick on a receiver. If he won’t send a few back-ups for a potential number one, he sure as hell won’t send one of his precious picks. Especially when Miami’s needs at OLB and Nose Tackle are currently so pressing. That pushes the need for a receiver back a bit and I don’t look for Miami to be aggressive in filling that role. The Dolphins would like to have a top notch receiver, but historically the Tuna has considered that sort of player a luxury, and has even gone far enough to say he thinks a team can win without one.

The Parcells approach likes to use big backs, big lines, power football and solid defense. That’s what is being built in Miami right now. The product is fine when the defense works and the team doesn’t turn the ball over. If the defense isn’t on that day or there are some mistakes, the team is ill-equipped to come from behind. This is a pretty big problem but to me also represents the stubbornness of the trifecta. Perhaps by retooling the defense and improving it, the lack of a number one receiver will seem like less of an issue (as it did two years ago). But the fact remains the Dolphins offense remains incomplete and without playmakers.

In fact, think of whom Miami has brought in to play offensive skill positions since Parcells arrived. Aside from Anthony Fasano (who has more value as a blocker) the regime has brought in Ernest Wilford, Patrick Turner, Jalen Parmele, David Kircus, John Nalbone, etc… aside from that impressive group Lex Hilliard, Davone Bess, Lousaka Polite and Brian Hartline have all made contributions. But playmakers?

The fact is, the Trifecta has really not improved the offense beyond solidifying our lines and drafting a quarterback (which is less impressive considering they’re now .500 on drafting QB’s in the second round after Pat White). Really, how dramatically has the offense changed since the 2007 debacle? Subtract Jake Long and Chad Henne and you still have Ronnie Brown as the centerpiece, Patrick Cobbs behind him, Greg Camarillo and Ted Ginn Jr. catching passes and Dolphins fans regarding third-and-long’s as pre-cursors to punts. Arguably the Dolphins are worse at receiver than they were in 2007 when they started the season with Marty Booker and Chris Chambers. For as much of a defensive overhaul as the trifecta has pulled off, the offense is still pretty much the same as it was when they inherited it. New quarterback, new formations, same lack of dynamic offense.

And frankly, I doubt it changes this year. Sure, a team may take a flyer on Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins will happily get worse on offense in exchange for a first. But after the oft-injured tailback, Miami has nothing to strike fear into any defense. Beyond Ronnie the Dolphins next best player is Ted Ginn vs. The Jets (Ginn may be lousy the other 14 games of the year, but against the Jets he has 4 touchdowns in his last three games). That’s not saying much.

Bill Parcells is a bright guy, far smarter than I am. But I find aspects of this off-season troubling. I fear that Miami will use the draft to address their needs at Nose Tackle and Linebacker while ignoring their need at receiver until the later rounds. Get ready for Brandon LaFell in the second or for a second-tier player later in the draft.

But a splash? Don’t expect Miami to make one at receiver or probably even on the offense. Don’t expect new playmakers anytime soon.

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  • KOdy

    i have been a long time dolphin fan and a giant chad henne fan. and looking at some of the mock drafts and this article i feel the same as most. The team does need a big reciever like Brandon Marshal or Dez Bryant and the Defense could use a great pass rusher and i think that cam will live up to the expectations but still people say that the dolphins need a OLB. As much as i would love for the dolphins to use the 12 pick on a big flashy player i think it will be on NT. it doesn’t matter who can get a sack or INT on defense or a TD on Offense. NT is the most important part of the defense and with out it we will be worse. i feel like this team is almost there but won’t be surprised if we don’t make the playoffs next year.

  • Ken

    Everyone agrees with the Phins need at WR, but is it our biggest hole on the roster? I don’t believe it is. If you look at the losses we suffered last season, a true number 1 wr may have helped a couple of times, but the defense was by far, the reason for the poor record. Everyone says we have no big play ability. Did anyone notice the 300 plus yard passing games? What happened in those games? Well, the defense gave up around 24 points in the first 20 minutes of the game, the offense came back and made the Phins competative, and the defense gave up one final TD for the loss.

    I say, lets find some playmakers on “D” and rebuild this defense first!

  • KCPhins4Life

    I would consider Yeremiah Bell a playmaker – except last year he had to makeup for Gebril Wilson.

    I’d also somewhat consider Davone Bess a playmaker as he keeps moving the chains….but his fumbling was an issue this year.

    Ronnie Brown is only a playmaker out of the WC otherwise he’s not a good RB. IMO

    We NEED Dez Bryant. I don’t care what anyone says – these 2nd tier guys are nothing compared to what and how Bryant plays.

  • Jake

    I agree 100 percent with this article. The offense has been neglected and is behind in development. What they have achieved has been through over-achievement and sheer luck. Think what they’d have looked like without the wildcat yardage. Think what record they would have had in 2008 without the experience of Pennington scotch-taping the players together into a functioning unit. What if Bess wasn’t a lucky surprise? Who would have caught the the ball when Camarillo slipped out of production? What if Polite wasn’t around to pick up those 3rd downs? I’ll tell you what would have happened. Ronnie Brown would have been pushed back at the line, we would punt, and the defense would come straggling back on the field. (And the scoreboard would show a goose egg). Don’t tell me that the trifecta betted on those new players showing up! That was just good fortune.

    So as bad as the offense is, with the deliberate moves made by the trifecta, it could have been so much worse.

    This year, I expect more neglect.

  • Brian Miller

    I believe that we our biggest gaping hole is on offense and that is WR. Sorry. OLB is a need as is NT and FS but FS can be filled by a free agent or a draft pick. OLB can be filled by free agency or a draft pick and their are some to be had. NT is a bit more difficult but in reality we have the number 12 overall pick and we should address it there. So that means of all the “need” positions, the one we can’t just “pick-up” is WR.

    Our offense is ugly. Ted Ginn drops passes, Brian Hartline has taken over for Camarillo and Davone Bess can’t progress out of the slot. Our TE’s are nothing special but I think Haynos will get better as he is still really young. Outside of that we have nothing and our gimmick on offense, the WC, isn’t a surprise anymore. We need a top WR and that means we have to either get lucky in round 2 and draft one or we need to trade for one.

  • Brian Miller

    Oh yeah, my favorite Dave Wannstedt Quote goes like this:

    “You run the ball to win games. You pass the ball to score points”.

    Ummmm, don’t you need points to win? A WR will get you throwing the ball so you can really pound out the running game. Dave Wannstedt is an idiot!

  • Phillip C

    We haven’t had a playmaker since Dan Marino. Tuna needs to understand you are not going to win a championship with just a good running back. You need receivers. Look who was in the Superbowl last year. If we have the same receivers we had last year, expect the same record. Go after Brandon Marshall, he would be worth our first round pick. We can’t even hit the 1000 yard mark with one of our receivers. It is the same old crap every year.

  • Phillip C

    Ricky Williams is a play maker. He wasn’t the one hurt last year. He may be old, but if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have won 5 games. I would take him over Ronnie Brown anyday. He is tougher and a stronger runner.

  • dolfan13

    everyone says we need to take a WR first round, really? there are plenty of hit or miss WR taken in the top 15 picks, remember where Ginn was drafted, thats who you all want? we need to pick the best player with the least chance of busting at 12. whether that be a NT, LB, WR or FS. Who was the Saints number 1 WR, Colston, who they drafted in the 6th round. you guys are all begging for T.O or Marshall, how did their teams do last year? Sparano is crying over not having a chunk yard guy but when you are conservative on offense and you play to minimize mistakes, that affects your big play capability, big risk big reward, little risk little reward, so even if they draft Bryant , he won’t be utilized in the way that he needs too to break a big play. I will be perfectly happy if we have 4 good WR’s as there have been plenty of teams without a true number 1, who was the number 1 guy on the patriots first 2 superbowl winners(pre Moss)? the Saints had a 6th round pick as their top wideout so you can get them lower in the draft, how about the Ravens? Didn’t the Bears get to the SB with NO WR’s? before Favre got to the Vikings they didnt have any great recievers, remember when the Titans drafted Chris Johnson, everyone said that they needed a WR, the fans all booed and the analyst blasted them, how did that work out (maybe we can get spiller and put him in the slot) the list goes on and on.

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