August 10, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Michael Egnew (84) can not make the catch in the endzone as Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Jacob Cutrera (51) and defensive back Larry Asante (36) break up the play during the second half of the game at Sun Life Stadium. Tampa Bay won the game 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins need a big threat TE. Anthony Fasano isn’t it. Jeff Ireland has never been a GM in his short 5 years who will hang on to a player that he knows was a mistake. Michael Egnew should be worried. If Jeff Ireland’s words ring true, Egnew may have nothing to worry about at all.
"“I see a 6-4, 260-pound guy who runs a 4.65. I see a guy having vertical speed down the middle of the field. I see a big guy that moves well. I see a developing player with his hand in the dirt. I see a competitive guy. I can name several players at that position that did very little in their first year and became big time playmakers. That’s a position that develops differently. Other than quarterback, that position is the most mentally and physically demanding.”"
That is what Ireland told WQAM’s Joe Rose recently when Rose asked him about Egnew. Two things could be at play here. One, Ireland is playing the role of an NFL GM. He is not throwing a player under the bus, not tipping his hand to the future, and is keeping the youngsters spirits up. Or he could simply be blinded by yet another mistake in the draft that is the history of the Miami Dolphins.
As I said, Ireland isn’t so egotistical that he can’t see a mistake. He drafted WR Clyde Gates and cut him a year later. He made several free agent signings last off-season that never made the final roster. He cut Patrick Turner a year after he was drafted and Pat White was a goner after one as well. So why is Egnew so different?
For starters, if Ireland is targeting a top TE in this years draft, making any negative remarks about Egnew could be a tipping of the hand to his intentions in April. The same could be said about his plans in free agency if he were to be targeting a Jermichael Finley, Jared Cook, or Dennis Pitta…if they made it to the market.
The other side of that coin is seeing the potential in a kid that no one outside of the Miami Dolphins sees potential in. His appearance on Hard Knocks last year did him no favors and the “deer in a headlight” look is more plastered in fans minds than the myriad of dropped passes in practice. His end of the season activation was met as a joke and immediately labeled him a draft bust for a 4th round pick. He was not thrown a single pass and wasn’t even looked at by QB Ryan Tannehill.
Egnew’s play in that game and in practice wasn’t his only downfall and in reality was the least of his problems. At the conclusion of the season one of his own teammates called him an expletive and made it clear that he does not possess the talent or desire to be an NFL football player.
Recently it was reported (over the last week) that Egnew struggled to learn the playbook and continued to have problems learning the slides, blocking schemes, and routes…in December. Egnew has a lot of people that have a perception of him that is negative. Judging by his own actions, it appears his biggest detractor is Michael Egnew.
The prospect of Jeff Ireland feeling like this kid could still be a legit top TE in the NFL mocks what fans have seen with their own eyes. Still, it’s not like we all see what he sees but when a players teammates call you out as basically worthless, you have a lot, and I mean A LOT of growing to do in a very short window.
Michael Egnew may never get the chance to prove himself. His window of opportunity in the NFL may have already passed. Players can struggle with schemes in their rookie seasons, they can struggle with schemes in their sophomore seasons as well but when a player is labeled a “pussy”, a quitter, a guy who simply has no clue as to what is going on, late in the season at that, there is a bigger issue.
Many Ireland haters will use this latest information to further sink their faith in the Dolphins future, Stephen Ross’ decision to keep Ireland, and of course Ireland himself. If Ireland believes in him as much as he is leading on, then the Dolphins could be in a little bit of trouble unless an entire store of light bulbs go off at the same time. Otherwise, Ireland’s comments could and hopefully should be nothing more than protecting his interests and the confidence of a player who is teetering on the edge of complete failure.
The Dolphins will enter free agency with the ability to make a couple of trades, spend a couple of dollars, and draft a couple players. Where Michael Egnew fits into this equation is not known, but Ireland has an idea and whether or not he sees him as a viable future product or a name on the veil of secrecy is Ireland’s knowledge alone. For now.