If you were one of those fans who thought that the Miami Dolphins would look a lot different today than yesterday, you would be wrong. If you thought that the little blurb from Jeff Ireland at the end of last Tuesday’s Hard Knocks episode was the calling card to a major shake-up at WR, you would be wrong. If you thought that turning over the bottom of the roster for four players off waiver wires was going to put the Dolphins in a better position to compete this year, then yes, sadly, you would be wrong.
The only thing that happened yesterday is the Dolphins second free agent period (day after final cut waivers) provided fans with little hope for 2012.
The Phins signed a free safety, Troy Nolan who had one tackle in the entire pre-season. They signed a LB named Sammie Brown who most people have never heard of. They added a cornerback in R.J. Sanford. Perhaps the best you can hope for with that selection is that Sean Smith knows him and thinks it’s a great move for the team. Yet before all that happened, the trade of Steve Slaton for Anthony Armstrong, the big trade rumor from the day before, finally went down.
The Dolphins were awarded the speedy Armstrong off waivers and to make room, released RB Steve Slaton. There is no way to know if the rumors of the trade were real, but it’s obvious that the Dolphins would rather send a player packing if they can’t get what they want in return. Or maybe it was the Redskins who were asking for more.
Several members in the media pointed out that if you are claiming four guys off waivers, it does not mean you have a good football team. While I don’t share that line of thinking simply because it’s a cop out when your talking about a bad football team, I will agree that adding four waiver wire claims is not going to make your team better. Armstrong could provide the Dolphins the downfield threat they don’t have currently on their roster but despite Ireland’s HK comment that “The WR corp is going to look a lot different after we cut to 53″ is not the player most fans had in mind.
Of the other three waiver claims, CB R.J. Stanford is promising. As Sean Smith “tweeted” immediately after it was announced, “Lil Bro…Now we got action!!!” We will see how Stanford plays out, not on HK but game days.
The Dolphins approach to this off-season seems to be a bit confusing. It was thought that the team would pick up the pieces to fit the WCO and new defense that was being installed. Yet free agency came and for the most part I think they hurt themselves by waiting so long for Peyton Manning. The trade of Marshall wasn’t a bad move by any means and a lot of fans point out that Ireland didn’t have a back-up plan. A source close to that period informed a local media guy that the Dolphins were set to make a big move at the position. Unfortunately that never materialized and in the span of 24 hours or so, the free agent WR market was dead.
Many fans and a lot of media expected the Dolphins to have a very busy Labor Day weekend, and they still might but things are not looking as promising as they were on Thursday. Matt Moore a hot topic of trade talk may still find another team but the issue here is that two promising back-ups hit waivers and went unclaimed. Kafka of the Eagles and Hoyer of the Patriots. It has reduced the demand for Moore at least as far as what the Dolphins may be seeking in compensation. Which may leave the Dolphins holding on to Moore until a team loses their QB to injury later as the season moves along.
The real issue though, for once, is not QB. It’s WR and CB. The Dolphins gutted their secondary on Friday leaving them with three pure corners and Jimmy Wilson who is a safety/corner hybrid. While they added Stanford, they cut veteran Tyrone Culver at safety for Troy Nolan. At this point Nolan is a bottom 10 roster guy at best and Stanford is still a developmental player.
Lost in yesterday’s wait and see was the fact that the Dolphins haven’t filled out their practice squad yet. Not one person has signed to the PS. The Dolphins are not the only team to do that but the fact that they have not attempted to retain any of their cuts, Jeff Fuller, Chris Hogan, or anyone else is a bit surprising. There is a clear message being sent out of Miami that most are missing right now. It’s not “we are rebuilding” we all know that. It’s a message that Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland are working very closely to rebuild this teams image with the right players and the right attitude. The question really is “can they actually accomplish it?”.
Ireland isn’t exactly regarded as capable in most circles and not enough is known about Philbin outside of what has been done on HK.
The dust for this weekend hasn’t settled, and it won’t. Mainly because there was no dust created. The Dolphins cuts were not shocking and I think most fans would agree that any number of other cuts could have been made and they too wouldn’t have surprised anyone. That is the true mark of a bad team. For seven years the Dolphins have been gutting this roster. Saban gutted Wannstedt’s, Cameron gutted Saban’s, Parcells gutted Cameron’s, and now Ireland is gutting what remains of Parcells and portions of his own. The revolving door needs to stop.
2012 isn’t looking all that rosy and to be honest with ourselves it’s hard to feel optimistic when the starting QB is a rookie. His introduction to the NFL is not a few quarter in pre-season. His introduction to the NFL is going to come over the first month when his body begins to feel the aches and pains from four full quarters of getting knocked around. The good news is that succeed or fail, the position was finally addressed with a real prospect and not a hand off from someone else’s roster or third option draft pick in later rounds.
The Dolphins may not be creating any new fans with the moves they have made this off-season and they may not be making what fans they do have happy with this weekends uninspired waiver claims, but maybe the dead weight they are getting rid of now will give them something of a base later. Of course we have all thought and said this before.
The good news is, and yes there is good news, Joe Philbin is doing this in his first year. The off-season may not have worked out they wanted, but imagine if they went through the season and then realized they didn’t have the right players to fit Philbins ideals? We would be one year down and doing this again. Hopefully, we get it right and the young guys progress through this season.