The Miami Dolphins appear to be a team more on the verge of a roster dump than on the turnaround from a decade of losing. Gone are Brandon Marshall and now so is last years starting CB and first round pick Vontae Davis. The fans in Indianapolis are complaining, they think Jim Irsay way overpaid for the corner. A second round pick which should easily be a top 3 or 5 in next years second round and a 6th rounder. It will go along with the extra 3rd the team got from Brandon Marshall trade.
Dolphins fans want to point the finger at Jeff Ireland and shake it hard in his face, once again calling him everything from “idiot” to “jackass”. As pointed out by several in the local media however, the decision to move Marshall and Davis, along with the signing of Chad Johnson and the addition of Hard Knocks, is no Jeff Ireland. Instead, it’s the head coach himself, Joe Philbin.
Unlike Tony Sparano and Cam Cameron, Joe Philbin is running this team. He is making the decisions on the players that are on his roster and he is exercising his right to do that. After we have seen the recent activity one has to ask, “Is he wrong?”.
There is no doubt that this is Philbin’s team and he has an idea of the type of player he wants on it. He doesn’t want the DIVA receiver and the alleged incident with Marshall and the fracas outside a NY nightclub that involved him punching a woman, was enough to ship him out of town. It sent a message. The desire to give Chad Johnson a shot, turned out to be a one month stint after he was shipped off immediately to the unemployment line after head-butting his wife, posting a double digit middle finger salute on his Twitter page, running an “F-Bomb” laden press conference, and basically being Chad Johnson.
This time around it’s Vontae Davis who after taking pee breaks during practice, showing up out of shape and lazy, with a history of issues last year including the drunk arrival at practice, Philbin saw an opportunity to move him out of the locker-room. When you look at the fact that Karlos Dansby isn’t exactly Philbins favorite after calling him out over the Chad Johnson release, is he next on the train ride out of town?
Clearly Philbin is sending a message that his team will act a certain way, play a certain way, and that the entire team is a concept first and foremost. It’s hard to argue with that approach except for two things. One, two of your best players are out the door and one penciled in starter followed them. Two, he has never been a head coach before.
I don’t have a problem with the Marshall trade and see through that forest with no regrets. Even given the current state of the Dolphins WR’s. Marshall was a cancer who repeatedly mocked his team and his QB’s. Marshall is and always will be about Marshall. There was no team leader inside of him. His two off-seasons with the Dolphins were spent away from the team as he dealt with personal off-field issues. Davis is very similar. I like Vontae Davis. I have met him. Rode an elevator to his hotel room floor and carried a bag for him. He is a nice guy. But he has several issues.
Davis is erratic. He is cold then warm and then cold again and rarely does he ever get hot. He isn’t a leader by example on the team instead he tends to become his own enemy. He showed up late to practices, is out of shape, showed up drunk last year. This year he was berated by his coaches for very poor play, was heard telling another player, a player who was beneath him on the depth chart that he had to “act” like he knew what he was doing. While the Phins spent a first rounder on the CB, he never lived up to that status on the field…but more importantly off the field and in the locker room. Getting a return of a 2nd round pick is a good trade.
Richard Marshall will now step into that outside corner role and Marshall, while not showing anything spectacular this pre-season has the ability to play the position and play it well. More importantly Marshall gives the team what Davis did not. Someone the younger players and even the veteran can go to. At the very core of this team, is a major lack of leadership.
We all like to look at the inside LB or the QB or the Safety to be the leaders of a team. In reality, each position should have a leader and there should be players who stand out as the guy other can turn to. In last weeks “Hard Knocks” we see Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby, and Jake Long talking to Philbin about a “Players Council” that was met with a lukewarm reaction by Philbin who told them he “liked” the concept but wanted to wait until the 53 man rosters was decided upon.
Looking at the offense Jake Long stands out as a leader. Ryan Tannehill is trying to learn how to become a leader. Reggie Bush is trying to step into that role as well. Outside of those three, there isn’t anyone close to stepping up. Defensively it’s far worse. Karlos Dansby may be part of the council trio but his actions, calling out his teams coaches and management publicly, is not what leaders do. Is there anyone else on the defense that is a leader? No, and Vontae Davis was nowhere close to becoming that either.
It is difficult to look at Joe Philbin and understand what his plan is. So far it seems to be more about getting rid of starting yet under-performing veterans or guys that don’t fit some mold he has in his mind. Is he building a team or his tearing one apart? It’s a valid question. Fans don’t want to hear the word re-build but that very well may be what is going on here. Is it addition by subtraction?
One thing is for certain, while Philbin may be given two or three years to make this team better, his moves thus far are not selling tickets. Winning will do that and if he wins without the Marshall’s, Davis’, and maybe even the Dansby’s then no one will care that they are gone. If he loses, they will be pointing their fingers directly at those types of moves as an indication of why this team is mired below mediocrity. The funny thing is if any other coach made these decisions, Belichick, Payton, and the likes, no one would question them. That is what you gain by winning and as they say, winning isn’t everything but perception is.