So it is clear with every report that the NFL and the players are still apart on some issues but definitely moving closer. Like when you date a girl for the first
time and she tells you that she normally doesn’t believe in kissing on the first date as she starts breathing hard…. This lockout and the issues behind it are on life support and the season is going to start probably on Monday, 25 July. And the Hall of Fame Game might even just make it on time for 9 August.
Separately, there have been less legal problems and arrests this off-season than I can recall in awhile. Last season there were about 3 different such issues for the Miami Dolphins but right now it appears that Brandon Marshall’s wife is about the only one getting into trouble (at least in the news). And that’s a good sign. The only thing we’ve been reading about is the work for NFL charities and the practices that Chad Henne and other team leaders have been holding.
Ok, but what happens when the whistle blows again and every team is again on the clock? Well right now every NFL team is short of players for their training camps. Some are closer than others but the Dolphins probably need to add between 35-45 free agent players to come in and practice and push the veterans and hopefully some of them will pan-out and become contributors to the teams success. How will Jeff Ireland proceed once he gets the call to go-ahead? He’s got a clearly-defined pattern since the Tuna (Bill Parcells) has left. He will be conservative and try to get the maximum value for the money and effort. So I believe he will look at players with speed and possibly some CFL players and most of these will have a medium (or low) price tag. Will there be any high-dollar picks? You’re not a Jets fan, remember; you’re a Dolphins fan. This management team and ownership has done a couple big deals but generally likes to be low-key. So you can rule out Plaxico Burress (age 34 and hasn’t played in 3 years) and probably other Diva receivers. Ireland will probably pick up a QB from somewhere and re-sign Tyler Thigpen because he knows the system. The QB from somewhere will not be Kevin Kolb or Matt Hasselbeck or Marc Bulger. I’d love to see Matt Flynn get pulled away from the Packers but don’t expect this at all. But, there will be another QB and not Chad Pennington.
You can expect that the Dolphins will want to keep at least 1 of the Ronnie/Ricky tandem. This is because the off-season slowed training possibilities for the draft picks and the Offense is changing and (especially) because there is no more guarantee that a new person will succeed more than Ronnie Brown will: remember that Ronnie is a proven RB who has produced and taken hits and scored touchdowns in the NFL. And that’s just still very different than having a rookie out there.
I think that you can reasonably expect an improved offense and improved defense this season because 1. The offense cannot be much worse and 2. The defense always has the upper hand when training time is reduced (it’s easier to run and tackle people than to form an offense and execute plays). Chad Henne will not have restraints on him this time around, so he’ll either grow and thrive or throw and die by interceptions.
The team can and will be better but you’re not going to see the solid high-level play from most teams until week 4 or so of the season. But we saw only glimpses from this Dolphins team all year! So, nowhere to go but Up!