What have we done lately?
We’re now 10 days into free agency after a combine that saw the stock of young hopefuls rise and fall; hello Ryan Tannehill! Free agency this year has yet to energize the Dolphins fan base but this may not be a bad thing as Jeff Ireland and his front-office put together a team for Philbin’s first season.
By no means am I a homer for the Fins’ present General Manager and, indeed, called for his sacking as opposed to former HC Tony Sparano’s when the season ended.
Alas, owner Stephen Ross differed with my reasoning and we now find Sparano coaching up the rival NY Jets offence.
Losing out on Manning and Flynn?
No doubt about it, we went all in for Manning but he simply wasn’t interested in plying his trade in South Florida. In fact, we had to visit him in Indianapolis and North Carolina whilst he visited the practice facilities of other suitors. (Brush-off or what?)
Whilst Peyton has now signed-on with best buddy John Elway in Denver we then turned to what many perceived as Plan B. Convincing the Packers’ Matt Flynn to come to South Flordia and reunite with his former offensive coordinator, and our new Head Coach, Joe Philbin.
Flynn instead joined the Seahawks but when reading respected journalists it is clear that Ireland didn’t want to pay the former National Champion the money he was after and that Philbin didn’t want him all that much. Outside of Green Bay, nobody else in the league knows better than Philbin as to what Flynn is capable of having coached him since the former LSU stand-out entered the NFL.
If Philbin didn’t push for his signing all that much then Ireland didn’t want to part with so much money; hence Rodgers’ back-up is in Seattle.
Short-term fix and what of the future?
After Flynn came rumours we might sign last year’s 49ers starter Alex Smith but then we went and got David Garrard for far less money. Garrard was a Pro-Bowler not so long ago and has impressive stats. He is somewhat underrated and I am of the belief that, between him and incumbent Matt Moore, the Dolphins can find a starter to guide us through next season to a respectable finish.
This brings us on to who the Dolphins will cultivate as the starter of the future. Our new offensive coordinator is former Texas A&M Head Coach; Mike Sherman. Last year’s Aggies starter, and rapid draft-board riser, is athletic passer Ryan Tannehill. Nobody in the NFL knows more about Tannehill than Sherman and it seems likely that 6ft 4in, 225lb specimen will be around when Miami picks at #8 and he is widely considered a top-15/20 pick.
I am of the firm belief that Ireland must resist the temptation to trade down and pull the trigger on this guy. The Dolphins cannot act as though they are consolidating their power when they have no power to begin with! Without a strong and reliable QB you aren’t going to win games consistently and therefore finding one must be the biggest priority.
Indeed, time for Ireland is running out and this fan base needs to find a reason to believe and have faith in his management if next season is not going to be an exercise in why Ross should have sacked Ireland before the off-season got under-way.
Trading away Brandon Marshall
I am still a Marshall fan. He brings an attitude and personality rarely found in the NFL that breaks away from the mould of the typical faith, family and football character so often preached by commentators as the type of man you should.
This complexity of character is intriguing and provides the NFL with the human depth and richness that it often appears to lack. It’s why I find Ricky Williams such an extraordinary athlete, why Matt Birk forms a joyous read and Ben Roethlisberger the anti-hero I have come to admire.
‘The Beast’ will be reunited with his favourite QB, Jay Cutler, and find himself in a situation where he could be challenging for end-of-season honours. Two third-round picks seems like we’ve operated a bit of a loss but, considering the fresh trouble he seems to be in, it doesn’t seem a bad price.
There are plenty of wide-outs in the mid-rounds who can contribute, the WR draft is very deep this year, and I believe it is the end of the alpha-male diva receiver era. Just look at Green Bay, New Orleans and New England.
A classless approach?
Jeff Ireland’s professional, as well as popular, reputation has not been good for a while now. In 2010 he asked Dez Bryant, a physical receiver with a troubled background, whether his mother had ever prostituted herself.
The tone of the question and the question itself was deemed highly offensive by Bryant and commentators smashed Ireland for asking questions that had absolutely no relevance to football.
Yeremiah Bell had been assured that, despite his high salary as a productive but ageing and limited safety, he would not be cut due to his value to the team as a leader and top-tackler. A week into free-agency and Ireland reneged on his promise and cut Bell which has surely meant Bell will sign on with someone else, or perhaps with us, at a lower price than the market would have otherwise set.
Re-signing Paul Soliai et al
One positively good bit of news was the new two-year deal nose tackle Paul Soliai struck with the Dolphins. NT stats may not be flashy but the former Utah stand-out’s ability to consume two blockers as well as provide pass-rush pressure are hugely valuable with such a combination very rare.
The 6ft 4in, 350lb d-lineman is versatile enough to play in a 4-3 as well as a 3-4 base defence. With new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle coming from a 4-3 background such ability is hugely coveted.
A loss on the d-line was defensive end Kendall Langford departing for the Rams but fellow DE Merling was re-signed and last year’s first round pick, Jared Odrick, is coming on leaps and bounds after a rookie year that displayed flashes of his enormous talent and infamous Pee-Wee Herman dance.
Other notables include the signing of utility defensive back Richard Marshall to a 3-year contract. He’s 5ft 11in and 195lbs and know for his physical style of play. Also possesses the ability to play a bit of free-safety as well as his more conventional corner position. Might be used as a nickel back too.
Utility back and special team stud Lex Hilliard has joined the Vikings whilst the Fins have signed swingman Artis Hicks on the o-line. Speedy back Steve Slaton has also signed-on for another year as has ‘The Amoeba’ Ryan Baker. Former Jet and outside pass-rusher Jamaal Westerman has joined as has former third-round corner Jonathan Wade.
Former starter Chad Henne has joined the Jags and long-time corner Will Allen has joined the rival Patriots. Miami man through and through, Vernon Carey, has yet to find a new home.
I, like many other fans, am disappointed with Ross’ decision to keep Ireland and disillusioned with the current state of the programme. I think Philbin is a good hire and the only Ireland can do right by him, and perhaps save his own skin too, is to draft Tannehill should he be there at #8.
Going into the new season with Garrard/Moore and a developmental late-round QB will not cut the mustard. At the behest of Ireland I will “let the process play-out” but for me it is Tannehill or bust.