According to a statement released by the team, Jeff Ireland has assumed full control of all personnel decisions, and Bill Parcells has stepped down to a daily consultant position. The statement also claims that this was part of the plan from the beginning.
Not exactly the news Dolphins fans probably wanted to hear with less than a week before opening day. As far as the present goes, I don't think this effects much. Realistically, the foundation for this roster is already set in place, and with the season set to begin there aren't many roster moves left to be made.
So this may seem like bad timing and an unneeded distraction, but it appears Parcells is just stepping down at the end of the personnel calender. Make no mistake, his presence will still be felt around the team facility. He's going to continue to mentor and mold Ireland, as well as Sparano.
Could this be detrimental down the road? Of course. Parcells is one of most respected people in the business, and clearly knows the formula for success in this league. The Dolphins didn't transform from the laughing stock of the league to respectability over night by accident.
Parcells brought a change of culture that was as clear as night and day, and with him no longer in co-control there's a little more uncertainty heading forward.
I don't think the fan base truly trust Ireland yet. He obviously had some negative media attention with the whole Dez Bryant debacle, and despite the bringing in of two game changers on offense and defense with Brandon Marshall and Karlos Dansby, there have been a few head scratching moves made over the past year.
But if Ireland has learned anything from Parcells over the past three years, the Dolphins should be in good hands, it's just no longer a sure thing.
The key to victory might rest right here for both teams. The Dolphins and Bills both feature a surplus of talent in the backfield, and we should see a concentrated effort from both to get the running game going early and often.
Obviously the Dolphins possess one of the best duo's in the league with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, a.k.a. the R&R Express. The Bills, however, are a little more tricky. The talent is there, three deep I might add, but it's still somewhat a mystery how each will be used, especially considering we don't know how healthy Fred Jackson is yet.
Bills running game vs. Dolphins run defense
I mentioned it's still not definite how much action Fred Jackson is going to get with that broken hand. I'm not saying he's not a very solid back-he is. The guy surpassed the 1,000 yard milestone for the first time last season. I'm just saying anytime C.J. Spiller isn't on the field, it will be a little easier to relax.
Yes, the preseason is just the preseason, but C.J. Spiller looked the part of the next Chris Johnson- always a threat to take it to the house. Combine that with the fact Miami has struggled to set the edge and have really looked like a overall slow defense at times, and this division's first impression of Spiller could be a scary one.
The Dolphins can't get caught over-pursuing any angles, or it could be cut back and off to the races. We could also see a lot of Ikaika Alama-Francis on early downs, because Koa Misi didn't do a great job of setting the edge in the preseason. While Ike projects better in the department, I still have my concerns if he can set the edge quick enough against the world class speed of Spiller.
The Bills may have taken a little scrutiny for drafting Spiller in the first round, but I think the Dolphins are wishing they would have picked up an offensive tackle or quarterback right about now. I think that's exactly what Buddy Nix had in mind. Marshawn Lynch is also expected to get some touches, but considering the Dolphins have looked pretty stout up the middle, I'm less concerned about a bruiser type back like Lynch.
Dolphins running game vs. Bills run defense
It's no secret that the Bills struggled pretty heavily against the run a year ago, while the Dolphins put together the fourth best ground attack in football. The Bills switched to the 3-4 defense for a reason.
Will they improve in the area? In the long term I would say yes. But in the short term, and more specifically this Sunday, I expect to see some bumps in the road as they attempt to make the transition.
This isn't taking into account how shaky Miami's interior offensive line looked in the preseason, though. I'm not going to get concerned until we see the Dolphins struggle to run the ball in a real game, but if they don't get something going against a presumably mediocre at best run defense, it may be panic time after all.
But we really didn't see them pound the rock like they will in the regular season. There really was no reason to add any more wear and tear on Ronnie and Ricky. Expect the Dolphins to establish the run early and make the Bill's new look front seven prove they can stop it.
Because the Dolphins are as tight-lipped of an organization as they come, especially when dealing with injuries, the fans and media alike were forced to wait and see Jake Long's status when the team held their first practice of the regular season this morning.
As feared, Long sat out practice with a brace on his injured knee. He did ride the bike, though, so sitting out could be purely precautionary. We will have to wait to see how he progresses the rest of the week, and for the Dolphins to release their first injury report, because you should know by now that Sparano is going to tap dance his way out of every question regarding any injury.
Channing Crowder reportedly took part in pre-practice stretches, but didn't workout with the team. Crowder's status for Week 1 is still a mystery, but the Dolphins signing former Cowboy Bobby Carpenter today could have something to do with Crowder being out longer than expected.
Carpenter was the 18th pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, but never established himself as a starter in Dallas and was traded to St. Louis this May, where he was later cut on Saturday.
Carpenter isn't known for being much of a run-stuffer, but could end up getting some action in the nickel package, as he possesses some good speed and coverage ability.
To free up room on the roster, the Dolphins were forced to cut outside linebacker Charlie Anderson, who had also been cross-training on the inside.
In addition to bringing in Carpenter and disposing of Anderson, the Dolphins also revealed their practice squad:
OLB Chris McCoy
ILB Austin Spitler
S Jonathon Amaya
OG Ray Feinga
DE/NT Ryan Baker
WR Julius Priutt
TE Nathan Overbay
Everyone expect Nathan Overbay participated in Dolphins' training camp, with McCoy and Spitler being the team's seventh round draft picks. Overbay is a 6'5, 270 pound tight end from Eastern Washington. He spent training camp with the Denver Broncos before getting cut this weekend.
When the 2010 schedule was fist released I'm sure many fans looked at Week 2 at the Vikings, or the two prime time games against the Jets and Patriots as defining games for the new look Dolphins. Those games may serve as our biggest indicator of how good this team can be, but if you, even for a minute, think Week 1 against the Bills isn't a 10 on a one to ten scale of how important, you are of your mind.
Is it a sexy matchup? No way. But for the Dolphins, losing up at Orchard Park on Sunday could put them in a hole that becomes impossible to dig out of. Don't kid yourself, losing to the Bills on the road is always a possibility, no matter how good or bad each team is.
You can throw records and power rankings out the window whenever the Dolphins and Bills face off. Look no further than last year. Miami traveled up to northern New York in Week 12, very much in the thick of the playoff race. They led 14-7 heading into the fourth quarter, before the wheels came off. Buffalo went on to trounce the Dolphins 24-0 in the fourth, and wound up winning 31-14.
The Dolphins realistically remained in the playoff race until Week 16 and held on to some slim hopes in Week 17, but I think most fans would point to that loss at the Bills as the game that really cost them.
Looking at the schedule in the following weeks, makes Week 1 ten times more crucial. How about at the NFC runner-up Vikings, at home against the Jets and Pats before the bye week, then at Lambeau Field to take on the Pack, back to Miami to take on the Ben Roethlisberger led Steelers, then back on the road to face off against the Bengals and Ravens in back-to-back weeks.
That's got to be one of the toughest seven game stretches that I have ever seen. I don't know if the Dolphins will be favored in any of those contest. Could they get a few upsets after dropping to 0-1 against a team they should beat? I think they can. But they will make it substantially easier on themselves if they win the games they're supposed to.
Losing to Buffalo can't be the type of momentum the Dolphins want kicking off a make or break seven game stretch. My theory is, if the Dolphins can stay right at .500 for those first eight games, they will have a great opportunity to put together a nice run as the schedule gets a bit softer.
Which is more realistic, 4-3 in those seven games, or 3-4? Regardless of how optimistic you are heading into this season, you should know the answer to that.
None of this is even taking into account how the Dolphins have started the last two seasons under Sparano. 0-2/2-4 in 08' and 1-3 in 09' put this team in playoff, win or go home mode at about midseason. Did they rebound nicely? You better believe it, but last year showed that eventually slow starts will catch up to you, as the Dolphins ran out of gas down the stretch of the season.
With this division possessing three legitament contenders this year, they simply can't afford to start slow again, especially against an AFC East opponent.
The Dolphins have gone on record saying it starts in the division, that's how they won it in 2008. And Buffalo, regardless of how bad the media says they will be, accounts for two of Miami's six most important games just like the Jets and Pats do.
Are the Dolphins a better team than the Bills? On paper, absolutely. But as we all know, the games are played on the field, anything can happen. And looking at the games ahead and the team's slow starts the past couple years, the Dolphins are going to be in a world of hurt if they approach this game as an easy win.
A busy day at Dolphins' camp, just got considerably more newsworthy. Jason Allen, not Sean Smith, will reportedly open up the season as starting cornerback opposite Vontae Davis.
Smith had a disappointing training camp and preseason, while Jason Allen quietly came from nowhere. Allen got the nod over Smith against the Falcons two weeks ago, but reports suggested that was purely disciplinary. Give Allen all the credit in the world for having a huge bounce back camp after four seasons of playing like a bust of a first-round pick, but something tells me this is a really bad sign.
I don't think the Dolphins would halt the progression of Smith unless he is so bad right now they are beginning to question if he has what it takes to be a quality starter, or Jason Allen has emerged as a very solid corner. Has Allen improved? Sure. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
He's still done nothing, in my eyes anyway, that would suggest he's starting material. I'm not questioning the coaches in saying Allen is ahead of Smith right now. Maybe he is. But if that's the case, it likely has a whole lot more to do with Smith taking a huge step backwards, then it does Allen's transformation.
What does that mean for the secondary? When you throw Will Allen going on IR to the pot, it's probably going to take Mike Nolan working miracles with his exotic blitzes for this secondary to avoid finishing in the bottom half of the league again.
I hate to bring anymore negatively to a team who's been surrounded in it for most of the preseason, but it's just hard to see a secondary people expected to make huge strides this season fall apart like this on paper. On paper is the key word in this sentence.
You never know in this league, but you can't tell me your not licking your chops game planning for this secondary if your an opposing coach or quarterback. Maybe they will prove everybody wrong, maybe they won't.
And just because improvement may have to go on hold against the pass, it's no time to abandon playoff hopes before they even play a game. Despite a few lackluster performances, the offense still has the pieces to break out this year, and the front seven has all the potential in the world.
Let's just hope the secondary doesn't prevent this team from going places it's capable of.