Here's My Take

Now that the 2011 NFL Draft has settled in with me a little, I’m starting to like what the Miami Dolphins did.  Yes, I was upset they didn’t take a QB, and for a brief second I was even thinking it was going to be Mallett in the third round.  Yes, at first I didn’t like trading up to get Thomas in the second round, I thought they gave up to much.  I liked the Pouncey pick, the major drop off  in the run game last year had a lot to do with the performance of the Line.  Pouncey, should immediately improve a line that I think will be better than most.  I absolutely loved the Gates pick in the 4th, didn’t really know who Clay was…..and I darn sure didn’t know who the final two picks were in Kearse and Wilson.  But I am really starting to like the fact that Ireland and Sparano stuck to their plan.

They have a plan for what they want to put on the field, and I think they are executing that plan pretty well so far.  They didn’t budge on their philosophy, even though most of the Dolphin fanbase was screaming for a big splash during the draft.  This translates to a GM and Head Coach doing things their way.  They know their seats are warm heading into this season, but they also know if they stray from what they have been trying to build over the past 3 years they will fail.  They have stuck to their plan, and as long as they win games next year, who cares how flashy or exciting they play.  Here’s my take on what we may see next year.

Let’s start with the offense.  In 2009 the Miami Dolphins had one of the best running games in the NFL.  Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were one of the best running back tandems in the NFL, and the O-Line ranked near the top.  When you take a look at the 2010 version of the Miami Dolphin running game, two things really stick out.  First, the O-Line was nothing like it was in 2009.  Justin Smiley was gone, as was Jake Grove.  Nate Garner also missed 2010 with an injury.  I don’t care how good a line coach you are, replacing 3 starters on an offensive line takes some time.  I don’t see Miami making that many changes this year, and Sparano has said that himself.  When you look at all the good lines in the NFL, they have usually played together for a few years.  This year John Jerry will be healthy, and have a year under his belt.  Richie Incognito played pretty well last year, and I look for him to be better this year.  Getting Nate Garner back will be a huge plus, his run blocking was sorely missed last season.  Add in Pouncey, who I believe will play well from the start, and the Miami Dolphins line should rank near the top of the NFL.  The second thing that stuck out to me was how Brown and Williams both seemed a step or two slower than they were in 2009.  Brown tip-toed around a lot, finding holes that closed before he got to them.  Williams just didn’t have the speed to get around the edge anymore, and when he ran up the middle holes closed early like they did with Brown.  If the Dolphins look to improve in 2011 they have to get some fresh legs, and they did that with their second round pick Daniel Thomas.  He isn’t flashy, but he’s a powerful runner.  He doesn’t have many miles on his legs either, he’s only been a running back for 2 years.  He has his fumbling issues, but I’m hoping the better coaching he’ll get in the NFL will help solve that.  I think that fact that GM Jeff Ireland says he likes his play speed says that this guy will hit the holes quick.  He catches well, and I think, like Pouncey, he will do well right from the start.  Look for Miami to add another back through free agency.  Many are saying it will be Deangelo Williams or Darren Sproles.  If Miami gets either one, the running game will have improved by leaps and bounds over 2010.  If they don’t go after either one, it means that Miami really likes Kory Sheets.  Sheets is a speed running back that was in line to earn the return duties last training camp before he got placed on IR with a torn achillies. 

My favorite pick of the draft was fourth round pick Edmund Gates.  The major thing missing from the Miami Dolphin passing game in 2010 was the deep ball……ah…..deep threat……ah….deep anything!  The passing game was just brutal last year.  Blame Henne and Henning all you want, I did all season.  But not having a speedster or a running game had to have had a bad effect on the passing game last season.  Look back to when Miami had Ginn.  He drew defenders towards him, even though the highlight of his season was the deep play action pass he caught from Henne against the Jets.  Just the fact that he threatened the defense most of the year enabled Henne and the offense to do better.  Gates is that missing piece to this passing game.  If he takes a defender or two with him down the field, Brandon Marshall will reak havoc over the middle.  The lack of someone going over the top of the defense allowed defenders to key in on Marshall.  He was tackled way too quickly on most of his catches last season, get him some space and he will make plays. 

Now, back to blaming Henne.  I really wanted Miami to take a QB somewhere in the draft.  Once they passed in the first round, I was really hoping for them to take Greg McElroy in the later rounds.  I just think he will be good, he’s smart, and he wins games.  Since no QB was taken, Miami has to go after someone in FA, once it starts.  As of right now, Henne is the starter, and not much is behind him.  Tyler Thigpen is expected to leave once a new CBA is in place and the FA rules are announced, that leaves Tom Brandstarter.  If Miami goes into this season with Henne as the starter thats fine, but they have to have a veteran come into camp and give us fans something to look forward to if Henne starts to struggle.  With the improvement of the running game, the addition of a speedy WR, and a solid O-Line, Henne will have no excuses.  I don’t care who plays QB next season as long as that person wins games, and all the pieces are in place to do that.  This offense has no reason to not score next season. 

I think another reason this offense will be better for Miami is because they gave new OC Brian Daboll pieces to be successful, much like they did with the then new DC Mike Nolan the draft before.  I had my doubts about this hire, but I think it will work.  I know the Cleveland offense last year was nothing exciting.  They had Hillis and not much else.  Their QB situation was worse than Miami’s, and their receivers couldn’t really compare to what Miami had either.  What they did do well was gameplan, especially against Miami’s biggest division foes in New England and New York.  They completely manhandled the Patriots in New England, and they dominated the Jets in NY as well, even though they came up short of the victory in overtime.  Take it how you want, but his less talented offense played well quite frequently last season.  Think Ireland and Sparano didn’t notice that last season? 

With this draft and some great FA signings, this offense will be better next season, as should the defense.  Miami used their last two picks on defense, but they are also getting their first and fourth round picks from last year’s draft back from injury as well.  Adding Odrick will make the D-Line even stronger, and Edds should help Miami cover a tight end for once.  With another season under the guidance of Mike Nolan, the defense should be one of the best in the NFL.  The turnover margin should improve as well, there is no way they will drop as many INT’s in 2011 as they did in 2010. 

I think Ireland and Sparano are pretty happy right now with what they are going to put on the field next season.  I’m looking forward to it.  I think Miami has a chance to be much improved.  They will have a nasty defense, and they should be able to impose their will on offense.  If they can get some production out of the QB position, and I know that is a big “IF” right now, the 2011 version of the Miami Dolphins should be in the thick of the playoff race at the end of the season, and they are going to do it by sticking to their plan!

Phins Up!


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Tags: AJ Edds Brandon Marshall Brian Daboll Chad Henne Cleveland Browns Dan Henning Daniel Thomas Darren Sproles DeAngelo Williams Edmund Gates Frank Kearse Greg McElroy Jake Grove Jared Odrick Jeff Ireland Jimmy Wilson John Jerry Justin Smiley Kory Sheets Miami Dolphins Mike Nolan Mike Pouncey Nate Garner New England Patriots New York Jets Peyton Hillis Richie Incognito Ricky Williams Ronnie Brown Tedd Ginn Tom Brandstarter Tony Sparano Tyler Thigpen

  • Shula knows

    You are more optimistic than I am.

    First of all, Henne is not a very good QB.

    As to Dabol, You should read some of the articles from journalist in Cleveland about him. One compared him to a high school coach. Very predictable and limited in his abilities as a coordinator. Hence, Cleveland had the 2nd worse offense right behind Miami.

    I believe miami is counting on revitalizing the wildcat since the Pat White debacle. Big mistake. It is a drive disruptive gimick offense. They will dink and dunk either way and settle for mostly FG’s once again. Did you know that their new QB coach has never coached a QB before? Not surprising. This is a collection of idiots.

    Lastly, this years opponents are vastly superior to last year. We play Dallas, Phili and the Giants. Dallas should be back on track and all three should be able to beat Miami easily. The Patriots should be able to sweep and Buffalo and Jets should split if we are lucky. This is being optimistic. I see a scenarios where we loose all 6 division games. Regardless, staying optimistic, with the splits and against NFC, leaves us at 3-7. The non-divisional afc opponents, I see us loosing the KC and Chargers on the road, Houston (who will be a playoff team) and Celveland on the road and beating Denver at home and 50/50 on beating improved Raiders. That’s another 2-4 at best, for a final prediction of 6-10. Not enough for Luck, but lets hope these dummies don’t trade away our picks next year so that our new coach and GM can improve the team.

    • Bruce

      No way this team only wins 6 games next year.

      • dodgeguy

        no way we go 6-10! the o-line will be dramatically improved, not just from pouncey, but from injury alone.we can’t keep having bad luck with injuries every year!the main reason for that is depth. our offense will be greatly improved as well, and we’ll get the t.d.’s instead of f.g.’s besides our D contributing,i hope this guy don’t watch any games as i’m a true believer in fans even at home can have a dramatic effect on a team’s success! we need to help our guy’s this year more than ever! anyone who thinks we can’t hang wit’ san diego or ‘da raidis is sick in ”da head!

  • marc christophe

    Henne may not be the next Marino but he is not as bad as Henning’s stupid offense made him look. We need an OC who is not scared to pass over 2 lines (this is football, not hockey) and who can treat football as a game rather than a near-death experience.

    • Randy

      Tampa Bay’s Head Coach Raheem Morris recently said that his QB Josh Freeman, “Enjoys winning more than he is afraid to lose”. That is the kind of QB we need.

      Dan Henning called games like he was afraid to lose and he programmed Chad Henne to be afraid to lose. Brian Daboll’s first job is to deprogram Henne into “Enjoy winning more than he is afraid to lose”. If he can do that, Henne can be a top ten QB.

  • thomas loy

    Another option to signing Deangelo Williams or Darren Sproles is Mario Fannin. Miami worked him out at auburn and reports are he runs a 4.37, also weighs 230. Plus he’s undrafted. With the addition of pouncey and thomas, Miami’s power rushing attack should be back, and with the addition of gates and clay, plus marshall reportedly working on his speed in the offseason, I want to see the offense play this year. and you’re right, the defense should be loads better than last year, with returning injures and a year of experience in nolans system. Miami should sign Pat Devlin as an undrafted free agent. Josh Portis is also undrafted. I would rather see Miami sign an undrafted QB than part with draft picks.

  • Shula knows


    I respect others opinions and thanks for commenting on mine, but no one ever thinks their team is ever that “bad” in preseason….the eternal optimist lives in every fan.

    Did anyone expect us to go 1-15 with Cameron a few years back?

    I really see this as the perfect storm. We possibly have one of the toughest schedules in the league and Suprano on borrowed time. No competition for Henne. No quality FA available and Ross is not going to mortgage the future on any QB trades.

    Plus everyone thinks the deffense will be better. Actaully, 2nd year, teams have an opportunity to figure out your schemes and I see them regressing a little

    ….look at our schedule. Aside from Denver, there are no “easy” games this year. The Bills might have actaully surpassed us. Fitzpatrick is a better qb than henne.

    5-11, 6-10 or 7-9 at best

    • http://hotmail j

      i am surprised you were smart enough to survive childhood

      • Shula knows

        another internet coward with nothing to say named “J”…figures.

        • http://hotmail j

          still surprised

  • Shula knows

    Andrew Perloff of Sports Illustrated predicts the Dolphins will pick at 13 in 2012 wihich should equate to 6 or 7 wins

    Many exoect the Dolphins to regress even further in 2011.

    • Randy

      The Fins progression or regression will depend on….

      1. Brian Daboll’s ability to…
      (a) Be innovative & unpredictable
      (b) Be daring & aggressive
      (c) Utilize the player’s talents correctly
      (d) Teach Chad Henne to be more daring, NOT play “afraid-to-lose”

      2. Bring in a QB better than Chad Henne….
      (a) Sign free agent Matt Hasselbeck
      (b) Sign free agent Marc Bulger
      (c) Trade for Carson Palmer
      (d) Trade for Kyle Orton
      (e) Trade for Kevin Kolb

      I do not want Vince Young, Kyle Boller, Brodie Croyle, J.P. Losman, Matt Moore or Seneca Wallace.

      Would you give Matt Leinart or Alex Smith a chance?

      IMO, Carson Palmer would take the Fins to the playoffs this year.