The Miami Dolphins were fined an unspecified amount prior to the start of the official off-season, before the lockout and labor mess took over the news lines, when Chad Henne and new OC Brian Daboll met to go over the new playbook. It was during that time between the Super Bowls end and the league new year.
Since that time, 90% of the Miami Dolphins offense have been meeting at least once a week to learn the playbook and workout together. The unofficial team workouts have been led primarily by Miami’s two Michigan men. Chad Henne and Jake Long.
With the lockout spiraling towards a final conclusion that some believe may happen in the next two or three weeks, it’s been reported that 85% of a new deal has been agreed upon, the question that will first come to mind is whether or not the Dolphins offense will be ahead of the proverbial curve when real workouts resume.
The Dolphins do not have a starting running back on the roster but Lex Hilliard has been to the workouts. I have not heard if rookie tailback Daniel Thomas has made it south to Miami to work out with his new teammates. With both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown heading towards a free agent future, likely soon, the Phins contingent has been without, for most of the off-season, a running back.
The RB position, which also includes soon to be FA Patrick Cobbs is only a partial issue. The team has also been without it’s number 1 WR Brandon Marshall for most of the workouts. Marshall’s excuse is justified considering he spent much of the past few months recovering from a stab wound. But the other WR’s have been there.
The fact that the Dolphins offensive players have been together to learn the system is a bonus and while some NFL teams have only recently taken up the player organized training, the Phins were one of the first and most consistent in doing so.
Whether or not this translates to success on the field will remain to be seen but the fact that key members of the unit have had this time to prepare and learn the wrinkles of the new playbook will only help the team adjust when real training resumes, hopefully later this month or early July.
Chad Henne may not be the number 1 choice by fans to run the Dolphins offense, new or old, but he will be the most familiar. Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland has stated recently that the team intends to bring in a veteran QB off the FA market to compete but with time ticking down to the start of training camp, the season opener is looking more and more like Henne behind the engine.
It’s his time to prove he is the leader that he states he needs to be.
Free agency will take on an entirely different look as it will last approximately 4 to 5 weeks and end with the start of training camps. New players for new teams will have a short window to learn new systems and acclimate themselves to their new environments and teammates. Making the player organized workout much more important. Thanks to Henne and Jake Long, the Dolphins have had a good 3 months to learn the system. Now they just need the coaches directions.
The Dolphins are expected to entertain free agent running backs, linebackers, quarterbacks, as well as a few other positions for depth. Jeff Ireland originally said the team would be active in the process. With the start of training camps looming, it’s uncertain how teams will actually approach the free agency period once it starts.