For the most part, I like all of the local Miami Dolphins beat writers and when they talk about the team I tend to believe they are expressing more than just a fly off the cuff opinion. Most of them anyways.
When I clicked on the Palm Beach Post article by Ben Volin regarding Miami’s roster, I simply believe that his opinion is an informed one. Right now, Volin is saying that the Miami Dolphins roster is pretty much set to head into this season.
And I say, you have to be freaking kidding me.
Earlier today, one of our staff writers, Gene Hauze, pulled out an old Huey Lewis and the News song, and asked “If this is it”. His opinion of course based on the signing so far. I personally found it a little premature given that free agency only officially started last night.
Now, I’m not so sure and to be honest, maybe asking “if this is it” is a legit question to ask because if this roster is set to head into the season, I’m not impressed.
Ben Volin put a lot of quotes in his article from Stephen Ross but no direct quotes from Jeff Ireland. While that may change the scope of reality, the other side of reality is that these “beat writers” have their reasons for making a statement. Where I have to devise an educated opinion comprised of what they hear, I hear, and other hear, I am not zeroed in on the likes of Jeff Ireland. I don’t stand in front of him when he is speaking to a contingent of media. So if someone like Volin expresses his thoughts I assume they are based on internal facts he has culled from the team.
Volin concedes that there could still be a surprise cut or two…I’m thinking Vernon “the Matador” Carey and his 5 plus mill a year contract would be a nice place to start, and he also concedes it’s “possible” that they add another free agent. With Miami still roughly 7 mill under the cap, they could add a name if they so desired. Volin however believes the team will start looking at depth. They are currently at 80 players and can carry 90 max until cut downs begin. He also says they may opt to spend that money on extending some of their veteran contracts.
Volin says that the Dolphins felt or feel that QB Matt Moore is as comparable, yet cheaper, as any other QB that was available. Yes that includes Kyle Orton. He also said that the Dolphins wanted to improve in two key areas, team speed and the running game. And that’s where I start to wonder what they hell they are doing in Miami.
If we look at the “speed” aspect of the team, something that everyone knows was so slow last season offensively, we see they added Reggie Bush and Clyde Gates. That’s it. Two players. One a rookie WR and the other a 15 carry RB who will return punts. Of the two, one of them is the “prize” catch of this early off-season. Reggie Bush.
The second part of that “want” was the running game. They lost Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and Patrick Cobbs, or rather they haven’t re-signed any of them. They added Daniel Thomas and the aforementioned Reggie Bush along with the flex positioned TE/FB Charles Clay. The Dolphins are expecting all of their top four rookies to be key contributors on this years team. That’s a lot to rely on heading towards an opening home game against the New England Patriots.
There is a lot of things that can be debated about last years offense and how it basically was nothing more than a get into field goal range system. Be it Chad Henne‘s play, Dan Hennings play calling, the complete lack of speed from inside out, or perhaps one area of the team that hasn’t been addressed this off-season. The offensive, as in VERY offensive, line.
Last years offensive line simply was non-existent. They couldn’t pass block, they couldn’t run block, and their top money earner, Jake Long played with his shoulder tore to hell. They had more movement of players from position to another that the winning center was a guard who hadn’t snapped a football to a QB since HS. And he was the best option. Granted, the Dolphins drafted Mike Pouncey in the first round, and while he isn’t in camp yet, he should be soon. Pouncey should be the number one center and his play should help to solve some of the interior line issues. But the Dolphins lack a true starting right guard and there is way too much lack of intensity from Vernon Carey to have the running game effective to that side.
Defensively, the team added Kevin Burnett. I think this move is a big upgrade over Channing Crowder. But it did not complete the need for another outside LB or a safety. An area that has been a concern of the Dolphins for a few years now. I realize that you don’t build a team from the free agent market or from trades. You build it through the draft. As in with the 8 picks you had this year where only three of them were taken before the 6th round.
I guess what I am asking is what is it that Jeff Ireland sees in his free agent and trade bounty that makes them feel they have done enough to take a 7-9 team into the playoffs? Or for that matter challenge for the division?
Ben Volin states that Tony Sparano believes that Chad Henne will be better because they improved the talent around him. That improvement is a 4th round WR who will run fly patterns, a FB/TE, a new center, and a pass catching runner who will split time with a rookie. How is that improving the talent around him? Daniel Thomas vs. Ronnie Brown is a push because Thomas is a rookie. R. Williams vs. R. Bush is a push because they are very similar and Bush less successful as a runner but younger. Gates vs. whatever guy that bounce off the team to make a roster spot? Lousaka Polite Vs. Charles Clay? Both can’t stay can they?
I wasn’t expecting flash or fireworks, but I was expecting something more than a couple of marks who sign two year deals and an ILB who will make a defense better but does not improve the scoring of the offense, unless your playing field position.
For the record, I’m not knocking the players that have been brought in by Ireland. Bush should be a fun to watch addition, I think the rookies have a potentially great future, Kevin Burnett is a hard hitting tackle machine, and Matt Moore, believe it or not, has had some impressive moments. More to count than Henne if truth be told. But I don’t see how relying on 4 rookies to change your game up offensively is smart considering so many jobs could be on the line this season.
For the sake of the team and what we all can expect with this years performance I hope that Ben Volin is wrong and that this is more of a perception than anything he may have heard spoken from someone within the team. I’m not a pessimistic person by any stretch, but if, as Hauze said earlier, “this is it”. Then I’m a little concerned. To put it frankly, if this is indeed “it”, Brian Daboll better have one helluva an offensive strategy. I just can’t believe that the play of the Miami Dolphins offense last season, simply needed a few puzzle pieces more to complete the picture.
Topics: Ben Volin, Brian Daboll, Chad Henne, Channing Crowder, Charles Clay, Clyde Gates, Daniel Thomas, Jeff Ireland, Kevin Burnett, Kyle Orton, Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins, Mike Pouncey, Palm Beach Post, Patrick Cobbs, Reggie Bush, Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Stephen Ross, Tony Sparano