13-3...that was the amazing turnaround that one San Francisco Bay Area team had under a new regime with Jim Harbaugh and his sidekick from college Vic Fangio.
Fast forward to offseason 2012, when things were looking pretty bleak for the Miami Dolphins despite the new coaching change and promise of an NFL experienced staff with Coach Mike Sherman and Coach Kevin Coyle; and not landing the Franchise QB in Peyton Manning or anyone with a passer rating higher than 90.
Coach Joe Philbin in 16 days will be ready to lead this team through training camp and prepare the Dolphins for 16 games and a chance to play 19 games.
The expectations are high because Steve Ross places high expectations on all of his investments. While his real state business has done well, his ownership of his team has yet to outperform the rest of the AFC East. Steve Ross wants this team in the playoffs and he wants it to happen now.
Which is why Philbin has a plan that the Dolphins players will follow.
Knock on wood, but there have been no arrests this offseason. There has been almost 100% participation by all players in the aqua and orange.
Distractions of contract holdouts, abrupt retirements, and an incomplete roster have been minimized greatly!
When players such as Reggie Bush have griped about the fast paced offense that doesn't allow time to collect oneself, the implication by Reggie is that this offense will be difficult to stop and keep the rest of the NFL on their toes. Offense. Something that has not been seen since the likes of...some QB drafted in 1983.
History tells us as fans not to buy into this idea of an OC becoming a great coach in Miami, in fact, it has yet to happen...but let's look at the future in Miami as being bright, not because of one player or coach, but because of a collective understanding of 53 guys and 20+ coaches that will make this team go. Not to mention a front office that is skilled with evaluating talent with Jeff Ireland and Brian Gaine. (Fans will gripe about the lack of execution by Ireland, but they have never been a GM and are only basing their intelligence off of fantasy football.)
The question is, can the Dolphins win this season to satisfy the insatiable thirst for victory that Steve Ross sees around him as he enters the airspace of South Florida?
Two words: Joe Philbin.
If you've started reading this with the expectation that it is Daniel's writing, you'll probably be highly disappointed. Filling in for him is J.P., (@PhinsRock on twitter). I'll try and write this blog with as much knowledge and intellect that Daniel does.
I've been so wrapped up in so many different things over the last few weeks that I didn't even realize today is already July 10th. Training Camp is just two and a half weeks away and, as usual, the Dolphins have plenty of questions all over the field. Miami, presumably, has a 3-way competition at QB, (although I doubt the staff is stupid enough to split reps between 3 people for any significant period of time), several young WR's battling for just a couple of roster spots, an open competition at RG and RT, a lot of bodies at TE and RB, and a defense which scheme-change naturally leaves for some competition.
Before getting into the battles and my predictions for those starting and back-up spots, here is what we think we know right now:
Jake Long, Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey make up 3/5 of the offensive line. Hartline and Bess are locks to be "starters" in Miami's base 3-WR set offense, and Reggie Bush is an obvious starter at RB. Defensively, the DL will be Wake, Starks and Soliai, with Odrick playing DE in a base 43. When Miami shifts into their sub-packages on passing downs, Odrick will replace Soliai inside, and Vernon will take Odrick's place on the edge. McDaniel will rotate as well. Dansby and Burnett make up 2 of the starting LB's, while Smith, Vontae and Marshall will all "start" in every package. Now to the battles...
Quarterback - SHOCKER!!!! The Dolphins aren't going into camp with an established starter. While there are three players who have been told they have a shot at starting, it's likely a two-horse race. Unless Tannehill surprises the staff early on and earns first team reps, the battle for the starting spot is between Matt Moore and David Garrard. It's an interesting battle because Moore has the respect of the locker room and is probably the better player at this stage. That said, Garrard's skill set fits the system much better and with neither being anything more than average, the system-fit will likely win Garrard the job.
Runningback - Bush, Thomas and Miller are locks to make the roster. The battle is between Jerome Messam, Steve Slaton and undrafted rookie Jonas Gray for the 4th RB job, (if there is one). With Messam having Off Season surgery, Slaton not providing anything last year for Miami, and given Gray's potential, I'd expect Gray to win this job. In fact, I think in 2013 we'll be talking about a backfield featuring Gray and Miller, rather than Bush and Thomas.
Wide Receiver - There are two battles here. The first is Chad Johnson vs. Legedu Naanee for the 3rd WR job. The winner may as well be considered a "starter" while the loser will likely get cut. My money is on Chad Johnson. While Naanee could provide special teams help and an ability to stretch the field, Johnson seems highly motivated and provides the bigger short-term upside. The second battles is between Clyde Gates, Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, Jeff Fuller, BJ Cunningham, Rishard Matthews and Julius Pruitt for the last 2-3 jobs. From what I have seen over the years, Moore simply can't play in the NFL. Same with Wallace. While they have some talent, they don't have NFL fluidity; they're awkward, plain and simple. Pruitt made headlines at minicamp, but he did the same last year...and the year before...and the year before that. I'd expect him to finally get cut. Given that Clyde was a 4th round pick just last season and given that he's the only burner on the roster, he'll be given more than a fair chance to win a starting job. I also think Matthews wins a job because of his special teams ability. The battle then becomes Jeff Fuller vs. Cunningham; they're similar receivers, but Fuller isn't trustworthy and is likely just a nice transition-piece for Tannehill to work with at the bottom of the depth chart. I think Gates, Matthews and Cunningham win the last 3 spots.
Tight End - I'll say this; if Egnew is as good as Ireland thinks he is, (personally, I don't see it), and can show that early in August, Fasano might not make this team. That said, I think it's unlikely that Egnew is good enough early on to steal Fasano's starting spot. The only real question here is whether Les Brown will make the 53 man squad as a 4th TE, (very unlikely given their desire to keep 3 QB's, 4 RB's and 6 WR's), or be put on the practice squad...if he clears waivers.
RG and RT - I'll make this one short and to the point. John Jerry will get first crack at the job. If he blows his chance, (a very safe bet), Artis Hicks and Nate Garner will likely battle it out, with the winner being Hicks. At RT, Murtha will get a "chance" to start, but Martin should beat him out for two reasons: 1) They need Murtha as a swing tackle. 2) Martin was a high 2nd round pick; at that position, you better start from day 1. Look for there to be changes as the season goes on along the OL though.
LOLB - I have no idea what Miami plans on doing if Dansby or Burnett get hurt. They literally have no depth at the position. That said, they may not even have a 3rd starter. Koa Misi's best position, in my opinion, is an OLB in a 43, hopefully dropping some weight from his days as a pass rusher. But Koa is extremely unreliable and it seems from the outside that the organization is losing patience with the former 2nd round pick. Still, I think he'll win the job simply from a lack of competition. Gary Guyton is the only other player worth mentioning, and he was kicked to the curb by the worst defense in the NFL.
Safety - The only other starting battle on Defense is at safety. I expect Richard Marshall to start at FS in a base 43 Defense. He'll likely then move to CB in the nickel and dime. When he does though, Sean Smith will likely take his place at Safety, and Nolan Carroll will then play the boundary corner position. Regardless of how they work the combinations though, I'd be surprised if Miami didn't have either Smith or Marshall at safety at least 50-60% of the time. It seems that Jimmy Wilson is thought of as a hybrid safety-corner, and will likely be used as a situational player. Culver has been solid in the past, but I think the staff is looking for more upside. Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones should be the pair out there when Marshall and/or Smith are at CB. I'd expect Jones to be the SS when Smith or Marshall are at FS. He's got more versatility and better ball skills than Clemons, which I think are the two attributes the staff will look for.
What's great, (and bad for my predictions), about having a new staff is that we really don't know anything. Hell, they could move Reggie Bush to a full-time WR for all we know. Between the camp battles and Hard Knocks, it should be an entertaining August.
After reading Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald three main points came to mind regarding Ryan Tannehill and his chances of being the quarterback this season.
First, Jackson mentions that because Ryan Tannehill did not receive enough reps during mini camp and went to both Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and Coach Joe Philbin for an explanation and more reps.
The fact that Tannehill, as the article suggests went to both coaches shows that something already is not right as far as his fit as the QB of this franchise. Going to the coaches implies immaturity and a me-first mentality.
Next, Jackson mentions that even though Garrard is the clear favorite to be the starter in Miami, Matt Moore has a leg up in his rapport with the players on the team from last year. Barry outlines some new information that most Dolfans might not know in that Moore is a horrible practice player and therefore has never looked good to the media. However in games, Matt Moore can show a lot of guts and can lead a team. On the other hand, Garrard can win this job, but yet has had an erratic career and demonstrated a laissez faire attitude when it came to his days in Jacksonville after a huge contract. He was "fat and happy" according to various team sources with the Jaguars. Not to mention a surgically repaired back has not been battle tested and Garrard has to prove he is healed after taking a hit.
However, Jackson does give the edge to Garrard with a better 4th quarter completion percentage and TD-INT ratio than Matt Moore.
Lastly, the main point that stuck with me is that Tannehill does not have much experience and will not get that experience because in training camp there is not enough reps for three quarterbacks. Even Jackson takes quotes by the Dolphins running back Reggie Bush in that Tannehill will essentially learn from the vets before he steps on the field. The vets being both Moore and Garrard, who have to make an impact in the preseason to show that this team and coaching staff have gotten better with OTAs and mini camp.
So, there you have it. Tannehill bottom line is very green and inexperienced. He has no pull just because he knows coach Sherman and the offense and he appears to be the last resort when it comes to being the starter.
As a rookie, he should accept the challenge and not speak to the media about it nor react in such a way that makes him look selfish.
If there is anything that one would want to see from Tannehill in the preseason, it would be to have a rapport with those third string guys, handle the blitz, and earn that playing time by being accurate and ready to take the job when the time comes.
One thing I wonder about is why didn't Tannehill take the initiative by having his own workouts like Andrew Luck has and Matt Ryan did in his first season? The reason is because there are already two QBs fighting him for the same spot and it would have looked deathly unprofessional.
The most obvious reason why the Dolphins don't want to put Tannehill in the spotlight is that they are not in rebuilding mode and they want to win now with an experienced QB.
However, the coaching staff might not have a choice if Steve Ross decides that Tannehill plays sooner rather than later.
This morning Sebastian M. Christensen mentioned that David Garrard is the early favorite. If you read Spanish, then this link is worth the read and echoes the sentiments exactly of who is on the fence with Garrard, Moore, and that Tannehill is clearly not ready as evidenced by his minicamp performances.
This offseason for a Miami Dolphin fan has been filled with a bevy of emotions. First, there was the entire Peyton Manning fiasco ending with a good amount of animosity directed toward Jeff Ireland and Owner Steve Ross for not landing Manning.
Enter David Garrard, a free agency signing that seemed to be the major news in Miami, although it wasn't. Then the Dolphins drafted considerably well and took a chance on quarterback Ryan Tannehill to be the future of the franchise in the first round.
Let's back up a couple of years and recall that the Miami Dolphins under Parcells, Ireland, and Sparano went into training camp with Josh McCown as the starter. As soon as he hit the field, the Dolphins were the favorite to finish dead last in the NFL at 0-16. However, Brett Favre happened and then the Jets got Favre and released Chad Pennington.
Fast forward to 2012, Garrard ends up in Miami as the starter with Moore the back up and Tannehill waiting in the wings.
Garrard clearly gives the Dolphins that Pennington type potential to be a competitive force in the AFC. He first and foremost is a quarterback and he has that "kill" gene that Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel talks about. Have you seen the games he's one with Jacksonville? Game against the Texans with Mike Thomas making a winning touchdown catch. A run for a first down v. Pittsburgh in the playoffs that showed his toughness. In addition, Garrard gets rid of the ball quickly and in this new offense, he will thrive in two and three step drops and receivers will benefit in everything he does. Garrard is a tough QB provided his surgically repaired back holds up...for one season or more.
Am I shocked? Not a bit. Can Garrard lead this season? Yes!!!
Garrard is the most proven quarterback of all quarterbacks competing for the starting gig. He has playoff experience and has won games. Hard fought games. He digs deep. Not to mention, Garrard was picked by Ireland because he's the model quarterback for this season. If anyone is going to learn from Garrard it's Tannehill. I don't see Moore fitting this team anymore than McCown did back in 2008.
Bottomline, it will eventually be Tannehill's team. You don't give a guy 15 million in a signing bonus to have him carry a clipboard!
Today the Miami Dolphins promoted Brian Gaine to Assistant GM and will work jointly with Jeff Ireland. This position in the NFL varies as many roles seem to change based on the upper management. Sometimes the assistant GM works with college scouting and NFL scouting. Gaine, a former practice squad tight end in 1996 has moved up in the ranks.
However, Ireland called the promotion of Brian Gaine a "Very deserving promotion." Ireland praised Gaine's "attention to detail and professionalism" that has led to his growth and development.
It is not yet known what this promotion means for the Dolphins front office. At this point, one is left to speculate that either Brian Gaine is another man in Ireland's corner or it could be a scenario where Brian Gaine has been promoted and will be groomed to eventually take over as GM should Ireland depart or get fired in the future.
Brian Gaine participated in selection process of free agents and has been the director of player personnel for the Dolphins.
Remember, and this according to Pro Football Talk, Gaine interviewed for the GM position of the St. Louis Rams earlier this offseason.
So, while this move does not exactly excite the Miami Dolphins fan base, the Dolphins (Steve Ross) is perhaps finding a way to keep good people in the organization.
(Photo Credit: MiamiDolphins.com)
- @DolphinMick on Twitter
Just this morning, as reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN Percy Harvin could be available via trade with the Minnesota Vikings. In hindsight this seems like many teams in the NFL will want to trade for the playmaker slot receiver. Not so fast if you are a Dolphin fan. Here are 5 reasons why the Dolphins should steer clear of Percy Harvin.
1.) Percy Harvin is not a team player. Harvin truly is about himself only and how many chances he gets to score touchdowns. I don't think I've seen Harvin block for anyone nor have we seen him win many games when the game is on the line.
2.) Migraines. Harvin has a problem with Migraines. Not just a problem, but it's an epidemic. He misses practice due to migraines. He misses games due to migraines.
3.) Past trouble with drug use. This is a biggie for Miami because they don't need another guy who has a history of drug use in college, that could have carried it over to the NFL. Harvin missed considerable time at Florida because of injury and he was also benched by Urban Meyer because of apparent drug use. Miami does not need another Ricky Williams distraction.
4.) He's fast and quick, but the Dolphins have Reggie Bush. Speed kills yes, but ask the Raiders if that ever worked out for Super Bowl wins. I don't see Harvin as a fit. It's like putting Tebow out there when you already have a QB...oh wait the Jets are trying that now.
5.) The Dolphins do not need to hold another Florida Gator Day. No more Gators on the roster to give Mike Dee any great marketing ideas.
So there you have it. 5 reasons that spell trouble for Miami.
UPDATED : Note that the Vikings GM did say that he has no intentions of trading Harvin.
Happy 3 Day Minicamp!
The Dolphins got under a three day minicamp yesterday, which usually comes with very warm weather and a tone of speculation. It’s always exciting see the boys heading down to Davie and hitting the practice field. The 3 day camp invites all media members so gives us a little insight on how this team is developing on the practice field. While some members of the media get more excited about certain players than other it is important not to read too much into every piece of information received as it is still very good to figure who is winning which off season positional battle. The roster will only most likely be settled after the 3rd preseason game is over with so there is no need to make any rash decision rather you’re better off sitting back and just paying attention to what is going on.
There are three buzz items out there on the twitter universe that I would caution fans to overreact about as there is a lot of practice to go around still this off season.
1) The Dolphins QB battle
- While David Garrard does appear to be in the lead right now, we can’t look too much into the fact he has got the majority of first team reps early on. As Philbin noted every QB will get a shot with each unit and all the QB will be given a shot to battle it out.
- That being said for those in support of Garrard should be encouraged. Garrard does have the most NFL success behind him of the 3 options in Miami and RIGHT NOW appears to be the man in the lead. Sun Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly is willing to go to war to prove to fans he believes Garrard will be the man week 1.
- Note today Moore took the snaps with the 1st unit and looked good in the process. It is way too early to declare a winner in this race but it is certainly far from over. That being said it does look like the rookie Tannehill is a bit behind the two vets however I wouldn't put too much stock in that. Tannehill obviously has a lot of work ahead of him being a rookie.
2) Chad Ochocino’s strong start
- While Chad so far has impressed in his first few practices as a Dolphin it is still not a 100 % lock that Chad will make the team. Chad’s work ethic, leadership and likeability has probably made him the player that has impressed the most early on but that being said Chad will HAVE to impress should he want to crack this starting roster.
- Early on it appears Chad is in good shape and wanting to contribute this year but you never know with Chad and it’s too early to assume he will automatically be going back to his Chad Johnson days of old as a pro bowl WR.
Chad tweeted today,
" I look good... I feel good... I can breathe again... I'm walking with my head high... not questioning myself... damn he's back..
-Side note on the WR position is that word is Davone Bess had a very solid today out there and that Hartline is still dealing with personal issues that has kept him from seeing the field.
3) Excitement over individual plays
- You will be hearing from the Dolphins beat, one player made a spectacular catch, or one player had a dominating sack. It is important to take a step back when reading these tweets. While you should be encouraged as the news is good but the thing the Dolphins coaching staff will be looking for this offseason will be the ability to consistently impress. Dolphin’s fans will be able to witness this first hand when the Hard Knocks HBO show debuts.