We’re moving right along in our All-Time Miami Dolphins series, and now we’re ready to tackle the linebacking corps. Before we ignite the Nick Bouniconti versus Zach Thomas debate, let’s take a quick look at the top outside linebackers in team history. The Dolphins haven’t had any Hall of Fame caliber outside linebackers, but some very solid players nonetheless.
Keep in mind 4-3 outside linebackers aren’t the pass rushing dynamos that 3-4 studs like Cameron Wake are. Instead, 4-3 OLB’s are usually responsible for containing the edge and dropping back into coverage. These four players did that very well and more for the Dolphins’ defenses of the 70s and 80s.
1. A.J. Duhe (1977-1984): The Dolphins made Duhe the 13th overall pick in the 1977 draft, and he wasted no time making an impact. Duhe won the starting job from the get go and was named UPI AFC Rookie of Year by season’s end. In the same manner he made a grand entrance as a rookie, Duhe ended his career with a bang, earning a trip to the 1984 Pro Bowl.
He was one of the most versatile players in franchise history, as he was moved all of the field to create mismatches, spending time at both linebacker and defensive end. But it was what Duhe did in the 1982 AFC Championship Game for which he emerged as a Dolphins legend. In a game that became known as the Mud Bowl thanks to a torrential downpour before kickoff, Duhe picked off New York Jets’ quarterback Richard Todd three times in the second-half of the Dolphins’ 14-0 victory. Taking into account the significance of that game and who the opponent was, it’s easy to see why many fans consider it the greatest performance by a Dolphins’ defender in team history.
This month, next month, this week, next week, today, tomorrow! NO ONE and I mean NO ONE truly knows when free agency is going to begin. The lockout is a pure guessing game but with the recent optimism it’s looking like free agency might be only 2 weeks away. Seeing as there is no date set in stone as to when free agency will start I thought it was a little premature to try and put out a depth Free Agency preview, that being said for those fans curious who are the top guys out there, it’s our job here at phinsphocus.com to hook you up. Without any particular ranking, this list is here to inform Dolphins fans the players I think they should pursue as well as the top NFL free agents available. Now we don’t know what rules will be set on free agency, so this list is based on the fact that the 4 year rule will be in place.
Top 10 guys Miami Should Potentially Pursue *Note this list doesn’t include players that might become Free Agents; this list does not include players like Vince Young, Reggie Bush, and Carson Palmer who the Dolphins might pursue
1) DeAngelo Williams RB (Possible landing spots: Denver, Miami, Carolina)
2) Ahmad Bradshaw RB (Possible landing spots: New York Giants, Miami, Green Bay)
3) Ronnie Brown RB (Possible Landing spots: Miami, New England)
4) Manny Lawson OLB (Possible Landing spots: Miami, San Fran, NYG)
5) Matt Hasselbeck QB (Possible Landing spots: Seattle, Miami, SF, Arizona, Min)
6) Eric Weddle S (SD, Mia, Phi)
7) Peyton Manning QB- had to do it for fun! (Landing Spot: Indi)
8) Marc Bulger QB (Possible landing spots: Ari, Min, Miami)
Top NFL Free Agents on the Market
• Note: In no specific order
QB: Hasselbeck, Bulger
RB: Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Joseph Addai, DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw, Cadillac Williams, Michael Bush, Darren Sproles
WR: Santonio Holmes, Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice, Malcolm Floyd, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards, Plax
OL: Matt Light
TE: Owen Daniels
Defense: Cullen Jenkins, Nnamdi Asomugha, Ike Taylor, Barrett Rudd, Chad Greenway, Antonio Cromartie
Most of the speculation around Carson Palmer possibly being traded to the Miami Dolphins has died down with Cincinnati owner Mike Brown’s unrelenting stubbornness. Despite Palmer threatening retirement, Brown has been adamant all offseason that the Bengals won’t be entertaining any trade talks.
Its clear Brown doesn’t want to be pushed around by Palmer, but now that the Bengals have his likely successor in TCU’s Andy Dalton, it only makes business sense to get some value from Palmer and move on. Former Bengal Pro Bowl receiver and Sunday Night Football commentator Chris Collinsworth, who knows a thing or two about the organization, echoed those thoughts to The Rich Eisen Podcast.
"Mike's a businessman, and I think Mike Brown is probably the guy that is holding up the idea that Carson Palmer is going to be traded -- A) he doesn't like somebody to dictate terms to him in the way that Carson has done it," Collinsworth said. "But now with the drafting of a quarterback, I think that Mike will get what he can for Carson Palmer, and I do think there's going to be some interest."
If accurate, that just opens up an extra avenue for the Dolphins to potentially solve their quarterback woes once the lockout is over. Personally, I wouldn’t give up anything more than a second-round pick, but I do believe Palmer would be the best solution for the Dolphins. Just another headline to monitor once we’re back in business.
Pennington sitting out 2011, will commentate on FOX
Chad Pennington, who has been contemplating retirement all offseason after tearing his ACL playing basketball in March, will reportedly call games for FOX Sports this fall. A great pickup for FOX as Pennington has the tools to be a great commentator with one of the best football IQ’s around.
I have to say this is a loss for the Dolphins, though, simply because Pennington is the type of leader you want in the locker room. Many fans were hoping he would stay in Miami and assume some role however big or small on the coaching staff. But it should be a joy to hear Pennington in the booth. Unfortunately, though, he didn’t take a job with CBS, so he won’t be calling many Dolphins games.
Brandon Marshall hasn’t attended any player-organized workouts
I think it’s safe to say that Brandon Marshall and quarterback Chad Henne weren’t on the same page at times in 2010. For those hoping a full offseason of work would help improve their timing and chemistry, don’t expect much improvement this year. Davone Bess told the Palm Beach Post that Marshall hasn’t attended any of the team’s player-organized workouts.
Obviously, the lockout has prevented the normal offseason routine with no minicamps or OTA’s and Marshall has had himself a tumultuous offseason with the ongoing saga with his wife. And it’s important to note that this could all be a moot point, as the Dolphins’ 2011 starting quarterback may not even be on the roster yet. Ideally, though, you would like your star receiver and supposedly one of the leaders on offense participating with his teammates in these workouts.
BIG, STRONG, NASTY and did I mention BIG, these are some of the main attributes you hear when speaking of talented defensive tackles around the league. Defensive Tackle is a position on the field where if you want to succeed you need to be a dominant figure. Although the Dolphins haven’t sent any D tackles to the Hall of Fame, there are a couple of names that have left their imprint in Dolphins history.
1) Bob Baumhower- (1977-1986)
Some of you young kids (I’m 22 an old man) out there might not have ever heard of Bob, but Baumhower was a HOF caliber player. Perhaps not the most well known defensive tackle in team history, Baumhower was certainly the most impactful. Most would consider Baumhower the anchor behind the Dolphins Killer “B’s” defense. Throughout his career Bob made 5 different pro bowls and was considered an elite DT during his playing years. Baumhower helped lead the 82 Dolphins to the Super Bowl. During that run the Dolphins D was ranked number one in the NFL. Baumhower then again helped lead the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl in 85 but was past his prime at the time and we all know what happened next.
Probably a little better known then Bob, Manny was also a dominant force for Miami as a member of the most historic Dolphins Defense ever. (NO NAME Defense) There is a saying that big players play big in big games (LEBRON anyone? If you’re remembered by how you play on the biggest stage then it’s almost impossible not to remember Manny Fernandez. In Super Bowl VII, Manny had maybe the greatest game by a defensive tackle ever, racking up 17 tackles and a sack in a truly remarkable game for him. Dolphins Hall of Famer, Nick Buoniconti said, "It was the game of his life–in fact, it was the most dominant game by a defensive lineman in the history of the game, and he would never be given much credit for it. They should have given out two game balls and made Manny Fernandez the co-MVP with Jake Scott." Fernandez was able to put up good numbers in the following Super Bowl, recording 5 tackles and 1 sack against the Vikings. The 2 time Super Bowl winning Defensive Tackle was named to Pro Football Weekly's and USA Today’s All-Time Super Bowl team. Manny will certainly be remembered for how he showed up when it mattered the most.
3) Tim Bowens - (1994–2004)
Bowens was a player that everybody the loved. The fans, the players, the coaches everybody loved Tim. When you saw big 95 on the field you knew exactly what you were getting. Tim was strong, smart, and quick and an ideal fit for Miami. Bowens didn’t waste any time leaving an impression on the organization being awarded Defensive Rookie of the Year in 94. Bowens also a two time Pro Bowler was great friends with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas which was part of the reason why the Dolphins D worked so well together in the 90’s. Bowens unfortunately was never part of a Super Bowl team however but will be remembered highly by Dolfans.
I guess it was too good to be true. A day after optimism was dominating headlines in regards to negotiations between the owner and players, so much so that some were projecting a deal to be in place by early July, talks took a turn for the worse today. ESPN reported that talks almost “blew up” and now an unnamed source is saying that its “borderline insane” to think the new deal will be done in two weeks.
It’s important to note, though, that the consensus still is that progress is being made and expectations are that a compromise could still be reached shortly after July 4th, which would give teams ample time to complete free agency before training camp kicks off as scheduled. But we should probably take everything we hear with a grain of salt. We’re far from out of the woods and getting your hopes up before we are would be premature.
Rest assured, though, whether or not free agency is right around the corner or we’re in this thing for the long haul, we’re going to continue to try and keep interesting reading material a daily product here at Phins Phocus. We’ve brought you interviews with Dolphins’ players like Charles Clay, Kory Sheets, and Davone Bess and NFL Network Analysts Charles Davis and Michael Lombardi. In the midst of so much turmoil in the present, we’ve also been taking a refreshing look back at the past in our “All-Time Miami Dolphins” series.
We finished up the offense on Monday so it’s time to kick off the defense tonight. Seven of the Dolphins’ eight Hall of Famers reside on the offensive side of the ball, but that doesn’t mean this franchise hasn’t produced some great defenses led by great defensive players. Whether it was the “No Name Defense” of the 70’s, the “Killer B’s” of the 80’s, or the very solid defenses of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, defense has played a huge role in enabling the Dolphins to boast two Super Bowl titles, five Super Bowl appearances, thirteen AFC East championships, and the league’s highest regular season winning percentage.
Let’s kick off the D with defensive end, which could arguably end up being one of the stronger positions on the roster. Note that we are going by a 4-3 defense here because that’s what the Dolphins have run for the majority of their existence. That means our defensive ends are the pass rushing type, not the run stuffers we see on the current Dolphins defense.
1. Jason Taylor (1997-2007, 2009): The Dolphins made one of their best draft selections in franchise history with the 73rd pick of the 1997 draft. Jason Taylor quickly put all doubts to rest about whether or not he could make the jump from the MAC conference to the NFL, as he won the starting job as a rookie and registered five sacks and forced two fumbles in the process.
Taylor’s future continued to brighten in year two when he added nine sacks to his rookie total. In his third season, Jason firmly established himself as one of the league’s premier pass rushers with a dominate 14.5-sack campaign that earned him his first trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. In 2002, Taylor put together his most productive season getting after the quarterback by setting a team record with 18.5 sacks. But it wasn’t until 2006 that he was finally rewarded with Defensive Player of the Year honors, as JT put together his most all-around effort, getting to the quarterback 13.5 times, forcing nine fumbles, recovering two, and returning both of his interceptions for touchdowns.
2006 was the peak of his career. Things have gotten ugly and somewhat controversial since. Following the Dolphins’ miserable 1-15 season in 2007, Taylor was shipped off to Washington for second and sixth round selections, in a deal in which the Dolphins flat out robbed the Redskins. After the Dolphins won the AFC East title in 2008 without him, Jason followed his heart back to Miami where he signed a one-year deal. He had a solid year individually, but the Dolphins stumbled to a mediocre 7-9 record and chose not to resign the aging veteran last offseason.
That’s when the unthinkable happened. Jason wound up signing with the New York Jets, the team he’d openly hated for the duration of his career. Some sympathized with Jason because the Dolphins were unwilling to resign him, but to me anyway, he let his pride get bigger than his heart. I won’t go as far as to call him a trader, but I’m not going to jump to his defense when I hear other Dolphin fans label him that.
But I’m sure time will heal some of those hard feelings between the fans and Taylor and between Taylor and the Dolphins. He did far too much for this franchise to not forgive and forget. He’s undoubtedly going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and when he’s inducted the loyal fans should flood Canton with aqua and orange and embrace JT as arguably the greatest defender in franchise history. He certainly has the credentials for that honor.
He’s tied for 8th on the all-time sack list with 132.5, he’s picked off eight passes, broke up another 66, forced 39 fumbles, and returned an NFL record eight fumble recoveries for touchdowns. He’s also been selected to six Pro Bowls, been named to three first-team All-Pro rosters, and was voted to the 2000’s All-Decade Team.
We have done it again at PhinsPhocus! We’re proud to bring you another of NFL Network’s head analyst. Michael Lombardi is an NFL insider on NFL Network and a frequent contributor to NFL.com. Lombardi has a very impressive resume having worked in San Fran, Philly and Denver’s front offices. Lombardi is a go to guy for most fans for any breaking news around the league.
In my talk with Mike on the phone, we spoke about the Dolphins, the lockout, the offseason, and even a little bit about the Boss (Bruce Springsteen for those people not living on planet earth)
Daniel Eliesen: Being a former NFL exec, how do front offices around the NFL prepare during the lockout?
Mike Lombardi: Well, it’s the first time this has happened, so it’s important that the teams use their time wisely and evaluate players around the league and opponents. Teams also have to look into which college free agents to sign and start to get ready for the first couple of games of the season.
Daniel Eliesen: Organizations can’t speak with their players, but have GM’s around the league still been talking?
Mike Lombardi: I believe there is some communication, not on specifics though.
Daniel Eliesen: If they do indeed strike a deal before July 4th, how will it affect this NFL season?
Mike Lombardi: It will get work started right away; teams will start building chemistry of their players and will have to find players to fit their needs certainly.
Daniel Eliesen: You were a big supporter of Mallett to Miami; do you think they missed out?
Mike Lombardi: Well they made their choice based on what information they have on him and what is out there on free agency, so we’ll have to see.
Daniel Eliesen: What do you think Miami’s free agency approach will be? Big money RB or a vet QB?
Mike Lombardi: I don’t know. They clearly like Thomas trading up for him, so I think he will be a key part of their offense for them but I think they might go after a RB as a compliment to him but they have a lot faith in him and I am sure they will certainly look at what to do about the QB situation.
Daniel Eliesen: What kind of market do you think there will be for Ricky and Ronnie?
Mike Lombardi: Hard to say. It will be a quick market with teams moving quickly, and teams will be doing a lot of accessing but it depends on the overall interest in the RB market.
Daniel Eliesen: What do you think will be the first line of breaking news when the lockout ends? Kolb?
Mike Lombardi: I think it will be hectic, rapid fire and a lot of different free agents being signed right away. Kolb might take time because there is a lot involved in making a trade so free agents will go first.
Daniel Eliesen: I asked Charles Davis about the direction of the Dolphins and he said he expects them to be in the mix. Do you share his thoughts?
Mike Lombardi: Well they have a really good team. They need to avoid injuries and get strong play from their offensive line but at the end of the day if they have solid play from the QB they have the elements to be a very strong team.
Daniel Eliesen: In honor of Clarence Clemons, what is your favorite Bruce song?
Mike Lombardi: Too Hard! I could never say just one song. Impossible but if I had to pick a song in honor of Clarence I would go with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”no comments
It may have been difficult getting out of bed this morning for many of you Miami sports fans with the Heat’s collapse in the NBA finals still fresh in your minds.
But there’s no better cure for those wounds than getting back to some Miami Dolphins’ football, something that may be right around the corner as speculation is beginning to brew that negotiations between the owners and players are heating up and a resolution could be a mere couple weeks away.
The Dolphins, after all, are South Florida’s true love. Their mediocre run these past couple years and the media’s obsession with the Heat haven’t changed that.
Being number one in Miami wouldn’t be possible without some of the all-time franchise greats we have been honoring recently. Today, we’ve arguably saved one of the best positions on the entire roster talent wise for last offensively.
No, centers typically don’t get the credit they probably deserve and some of our younger readers may not even recognize the following names, but both centers on our depth chart are widely considered to be top ten players in franchise history.
1. Dwight Stephenson (1980-1987): Few will argue that Dwight Stephenson was the greatest center to ever play the game. For all the greats that have played for Miami, Stephenson is probably the only one who is legitimately regarded as the greatest ever at his respected position. You could possibly even make a convincing argument for Stephenson being the greatest Dolphin not named Marino.
The 1998 Hall of Fame inductee was selected to five Pro Bowls, five All-Pro first teams, was named to the 1980’s All-Decade team, and was honored with the 1985 Walter Payton Man of the Year. There wasn’t a defensive tackle in the league Stephenson couldn’t handle.
In probably the greatest example of how special of a player he was, Stephenson played a huge role in containing the ’85 Bears’ 46 defense, which schemed by attacking the interior of the offensive line, in the Dolphins’ classic 1985 victory over the Bears on Monday Night Football.
To make a long story short, Dwight Stephenson was truly a special player and the Dolphins were beyond blessed to have him in aqua and orange.