As an analyst and not a day by day news reporter for the Fins, I’m put to the test sometimes by slow periods during which there is not necessarily much to talk about.
But right now is not one of those times. Despite the fact of the NFL lockout still being upheld (owners locking-out players) and no trades happening during what should be the peak of the off-season or the start of the pre-season, however you want to look at it, there is definitely some news and happenings to look at. Plenty of players available as free agents if this all transpires and Brandon Marshall recovering from the domestic problem he’s still got, by the way. Many teams are having workouts organized by the players and the Fins are doing this also and our entire NFL Football sport is being severely threatened to go the way of Major League Baseball or NBA Basketball due to the salary situation and a basic, unfounded assumption by the NFLPA (or The Organization Formerly Known at The NFL PA) which now is merely a “trade organization” attempting to bring Football to it’s knees so that certain players – not even all of them, mind you – can become even wealthier and share in some of the billions of dollars that the owners make through network television. By the way, does that sound like a good idea to you?
First, Chad Henne recently stated in the news that he is, “not going to change the way I play” and this is really going to be a problem for everybody if
he doesn’t except for the Fins opposition and whomever is planning to take over once Henne is eventually cut or traded. Henne cannot; cannot have the same level of play and the same approach that he did to the game last season. Ask yourself the question. Go ahead! Do you think that Henne can simply “not change the way I play” and still keep his job? Do you think the Dolphins will go anywhere if he continues? I think Henne was clearly mistaken and trying to assert his own “rightness” about his play thus far, rather than an honest appraisal of his skills and situation and what needs to be done.
But I’ll tell you this: the offensive play calling was terrible and the pass plays selected tended to also be horrible and there were some serious situation with the offensive line which is what led (you’ll remember) to having within a 1-2 game stretch, Henne injured, Pennington out for the season and then Tyler Thigpen getting sacked and beat up and injured also. Basically, the protection broke down and we didn’t get lucky the way that the Chicago Bears managed to survive repeated sacks on their QB Jay Cutler. Cutler continued playing despite multiple sacks and at least 3 different injuries last season including concussion. But he was still out there and the Bears were playing in the post-season, unlike the Dolphins. I’m not saying that was why the Bears continued nor am I saying the the Fins would have done much better. But certainly I’m saying that was a major problem mid-way through the season; can anybody disagree?
Ok, bottom lines are that a “scatback” type player who can hopefully return kicks and display blazing speed is needed. So is leadership and playmaking from the Quarterback. The Fins must start coming up with Interceptions and Fumble recoveries on Defense (mainly more INT’s are needed) as they kept dropping potential interceptions in the backfield, and the passing game overall must improve about 250% in order for these Miami Dolphins to be worthy of their Miami heritage. Again, 1. Fast RB/multi-purpose back, 2. QB Leadership and play-making, 3. Interceptions and Fumble Recoveries, 4. Improved Passing Game. Those are the missing parts for the Dolphins to become a contender and potential Champion.
In addressing each point above, let’s break this down. The Fins acquired a promising young RB named Daniel Thomas. But he’s slower than many backs and not known for being a break-away guy. Ronnie and Ricky still may have the touch, however. But probably Ronnie more than Ricky at this stage. But they may both be gone and I’m stating right here that I believe Ricky will be gone for certain – I think he’ll try to go another 1-2 years at good money and then retire. So this point is not solved. Lot’s of potential on the Free Agent market. But there is no free agent market right now. So there we sit.
The QB situation is just not adequate. There were tons of dropped balls by receivers last year. And several poorly executed routes and incorrect passes. And there was the robotic, I-am-going-to-throw-now play of Chad Henne who walked off the field looking beated and discouraged many times. I saw this in person toward the end of the season so this is not just hyperbole. Our QB needs to be the leader of the team and demonstrate toughness and the ability to fight back and win. In short, we need Matt Flynn. More on this in next article. And stability on the O-line must be gotten right away!
The Defense was markedly improved and needs to improve further. And they will do that this year. But one thing that must occur in a “Robber”
scheme is that the defensive play-makers have to catch the football. New Defensive Coach Tom Nolan put players in the right places to make plays. Some did, some didn’t. Vontae Davis needs to step up and all of the defensive backs need to start taking the ball away more; vis-a-vis start catching the balls thrown right into their arms. How many more games would we have won if that had occurred? How much more respect would the league have for the Dolphins?
Vontae Davis has the skills and ability and the past experience to be a game-changing, shut-down Cornerback. Now he needs to take the next major step and prove that he is that player. This year. Now.
Lastly, the overall offensive passing game must be improved. How about acquiring another big-name receiver like Vincent Jackson of the San Diego Chargers, who may just be available. Or even take a chance on somebody else who can for sure stretch the field. Good on drafting this kid, Gates. But we have not yet seen him with pads on in a game situation or even in training camp yet. He could easily turn out to be a complete bust! No way of knowing right now. So let’s bring in some added insurance and competition. What do you think?