The Miami Dolphins will stay home tonight and take on the Carolina Panthers. Different teams but similar situations. The Panthers are trying to move forward after a dismal 2010 season that ended with the firing of HC John Fox and the hiring of first time HC Ron Rivera. While the Panthers are taking a step towards a new future, the Miami Dolphins are treading water with an uncertain one.
Individually, this past off-season shows that the Dolphins are making moves to better this team but if you look at the picture as a whole, you start to wonder if they are still building for the future, attempting to win now, or simply trying to excite the fans with better entertainment. It sounds harsh I know. When you look at the signings of Reggie Bush and Kevin Burnett you think the team has added veteran pieces to make each side of the ball better. If you look at the drafting of Clyde Gates, Daniel Thomas, and Mike Pouncey you think that the team has drafted players to eventually become stars. Taking a closer look and you have to wonder if the Dolphins are a bit more desperate than they lead on.
Before you can jump and look at the whole picture, you need to start back at the beginning. Before the NFL locked out it’s off-season. You have to go back to Brian Daboll.
Brian Daboll joins the team as the man who ran the 30th worst offense in the NFL last season. The Cleveland Browns. The Dolphins hired a man who ran a worst offense than they had last year. The question is why? Is Daboll the future of this teams offense? Is he a coach on the rise like a Jason Garrett or was he the best Miami could get considering the uncertain future of it’s management team and it’s head coach? They didn’t have to pry him away from the Browns, he was fired after the season. With the lockout looming at the time of his hire, it appears that the Dolphins are riding out the waves of a season that could easily end in the firing of it’s head coach…on the shoulders of an offensive coordinator who is unproven.
From Daboll we can look at the draft. The lockout is in full swing and no off-season camps will occur. The Dolphins bring in Mike Pouncey and Daniel Thomas. Two players who should make immediate impacts without the need for a full off-season of practice. Two positions that are on the easier side to learn at the NFL level. They add Clyde Gates, a speedy WR who can contribute on special teams. The one player they added that will need to get the extra work in is Charles Clay. A 6th rounder who will need to learn both the FB and TE position. Looking at the draft, the Dolphins made moves to contribute now rather than later. It’s also worth considering as the reason why the team didn’t appear to show much interest in drafting a QB.
Moving forward to free agency. The Dolphins signed Reggie Bush. Bush is not a replacement for Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams. He is a specialty player. In Miami’s offense he will see more passes out of the backfield than he will carries. He brings with him a hope for excitement. Something that Stephen Ross demanded be brought to the offense. His deal is for two years which tells me that he is being asked to help the team now and hopefully excite the fans as well. In other words, fill some seats.
Miami also signed Kevin Burnett who should help the team improve at the LB position where Channing Crowder used to operate. Burnett got the longest free agent contract of this off-season. Still, Miami failed to move forward on any deals with top free agent QB’s. Instead opting to sign Matt Moore to a two year deal and allowing the season to ride on the shoulders of Chad Henne. In fact, Moore seems to be viewed as a back-up rather than a challenger for the starting job.
Miami is in a state of flux right now and the moves that the team made this off-season seem designed to, well, I honestly don’t know. All of the moves appear to have different intentions and appear to be a part of mixed plans. It seems that the team is not building for the future, not doing enough to win now, and not doing enough to heighten the expectations of the fans. It’s almost as if they are going through the motions to find out what happens when the 2011 season is over with.
In a nutshell, while some of the moves this past off-season are decent on their own, as a whole it seems a bit confusing. It just seems as though there is no clear cut plan for this team. The Miami Dolphins 2011 season is truly riding on a lot of unknowns.