After starting at tight end for the Washington Redskins for the past eight years, the team has moved on from Chris Cooley. The Redskins officially annouced his release on Tuesday.
This move doesn't come as a surprise to many with 2008 second round pick Fred Davis finally earning a starting role with his impressive production a season ago. Despite missing the final four games of 2011 due to a suspension, Davis racked up 796 yards on 59 receptions to go along with 3 touchdowns.
Although Cooley is no longer a fit in the Redskins offence, he still believes he's good enough to be an NFL starter. Drafted as a third round pick in the 2004 draft out of Utah State, Cooley became a consistent contributor and was a reliable target for each quarterback who dawned the burgandy and gold. He was also a Pro Bowl tight end twice during his tenure in Washington.
Over two of the past three seasons, Cooley has been plagued by injuries and failed to play in more than seven games in a single year. With him out of the lineup Fred Davis took full advantage, forcing Cooley to convert to a fullback in order to remain a Redskin. Cooley's most recent full season came in 2010 when he was one of the most productive tight ends in the league, totalling 849 yards on 77 catches.
Cooley's release has already caught the attention of several teams including the Miami Dolphins. It's true that at 30 years of age Chris Cooley is passed his prime and his durabilty is a concern however he is arguably a better pass catcher than any player currently on the Dolphins roster.
Miami's recievers have not performed well this preseason and offensive cordinator Mike Sherman recorded 8 drops against the Falcons. With the execption of Davone Bess none of the Dolphins recievers have yet to earn a spot on the roster, meaning the team is required to look elsewhere. Jeff Ireland must sign replacements for the current recieving core and signing Chris Cooley would be a great start to ensure the Dolphins are competitive this year.
A veteran of Cooley's calibre would provide major assistance to rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill who is in desperate need of a security blanket. Unforunately for Miami, a variety of suitors will be fighting for Cooley's services. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported earlier that in addition to the Dolphins, the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders will also pursue the veteran tight end.
Miami's front office will have to act fast if Chris Cooley is to take his talents to South Beach this season and his veteran presence alone will pay dividends.
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Dolphin’s nation it’s time to a big deep breath, yesterday the Dolphins finally had luck on their side as it appears Jake Long’s ankle injury is only a minor tweak and he should even be ready to go for the opener although that has yet to be fully confirmed.
The offensive line would have been quite the mess with rookie Jonathan Martin moving to left tackle in practice as without the presence of their leader and all pro left tackle.
The scare did shed some light as how fragile this roster is and how 2012 might not be the one where the Dolphins breakthrough. While I refuse to be to negative before the season even starts it is interesting to note that the Dolphins roster isn’t even as good as it was coming into training camp.
As Omar Kelly noted : Garrard injury, Chad Johnson released, Vontae Davis traded, special teams stud Julius Pruitt released. While all moves were made by management the moves might have been more in preparation of building this team long term than improving the roster for this season.
With a Super Bowl both not very likely and the playoffs and a winning season even seeming like a stretch, personally what I would like to see from the 2012/2013 is that the Dolphins have found their franchise QB.
Hopefully despite what might be a hard season to endure, the result will have led to the Dolphins discovering that Ryan Tannehill is the right guy to lead this team for the next 10-15 years.
That being said in order to help Ryan Tannehill’s development come along, I think it is necessary the Dolphins add a vet and proven WR, whether it be through the waiver wire or through a trade, the Dolphins need to make Ryan Tannehill’s life easier.
While I don’t know how I feel about the long term approach of trading for Dwayne Bowe or others, the idea of James Jones does make sense. That being said like discussed before anything more than a 4th round pick for Jones would seem to be too expensive for my taste. The Dolphins draft twitter account also listed Jacbory Ford who is often injured but has the talent and big play ability this team can use.
The Dolphins are clearly in a rebuilding mode, which is OK because I believe it is necessary with the current roster however I still believe it is important to add to the receiving corps for today as Tannehill’s development is the key to this franchise finding success.
I believe the Dolphins can find the right balance in planning for today while preparing for tomorrow, that being said it certainly isn’t helping the odds for success this year when you trade all your assets away.
In what could prove as a pivotal move for the Miami Dolphins, Jeff Ireland traded away 4th year corner back Vontae Davis for a Second Round pick in 2013 and a conditional Sixth Round pick in 2013.
Vontae Davis struggled to climb up the depth chart this year with off season conditioning issues such as being ready for training camp, a lack of motivation to be a leader, and showing why the Dolphins selected him in 2009 as their first round choice.
Currently, Dolfans around the world of Twitter are not rejoicing for this move calling the move a sign of the Dolphins rebuilding and a willingness to alienate fans further by taking away talent and planning for future talent.
Experts such as Armando Salguero are quoted on Twitter saying that the Dolphins got "WORSE" today.
And of course, the timeline of any Dolfan wouldn't be complete without the strong presence of #FIRELAND as the hash tag serving proof that fans feel disappointed and misled on who the Miami Dolphins are of 2012, not to mention immense anger toward Jeff Ireland!
In reality, and on paper, the Dolphins now appear limited at the corner back position. The "shutdown" corner duo of the Dolphins, Davis combined with Sean Smith, is gone now. With only Sean Smith remaining of the Smith and Davis duo, the Dolphins are left with Richard Marshall a 2012 free agent signee and Nolan Carroll to play on nickel packages.
Now comes a time where the Dolphins will attempt to turn the page by taking their draft picks and be able to have 5 picks in the first 40 slots of the draft and retool this team.
Vontae Davis had his chance, he showed the Dolphins four interceptions last year. However, when the interceptions came, the Dolphins season had gone by the wayside. Davis never showed a Pro Bowl caliber season and had a difficulty staying healthy. Even though the Dolphins signed Richard Marshall in the offseason and he may not be the answer, the Dolphins are willing to move forward from 2012 to 2013.
In addition, while Ireland pulled the trigger on the trade with a new, but yet savvy GM in Grigson of Indianapolis, I believe that Joe Philbin in his conversations with Kevin Coyle realized that Vontae was not a fit with the management and coaching style of the Joe Philbin Miami Dolphins. The move could have been orchestrated by Philbin with Ireland and owner Steve Ross' blessing.
Now as Dolfans, we will soon find out if this move in the pre season turns out to be a blessing for the future of this team or a curse for years to come in the cellar of the AFC East.
First Brandon Marshall, Yeremiah Bell, and now Vontae Davis, what's next for Miami?
As Dolphins fans had their palms covering their faces watching the receiving corps drop pass after pass, one has to start to think how much is this group of receivers going to hold this team back.
Before I go into the receiving group let me note that Fasano usually sure handed did not really lend a helping hand either. The Dolphins who have lacked playmakers season after season seem to have got no further in solving their very blatant hole. After Davone Bess, the Dolphins are now struggling to even field 2 or 3 NFL caliber WR's.
Mike Sherman says of the WRs, "I think we’ll keep Bess. I can pretty much guarantee that, but there’s only one of him."
The late round draft picks and undrafted free agents have one by one failed to step up and prove they can contribute. Brian Hartline doesn't seem to be getting in the lineup any faster
and it has got to the point where this group of wide outs could damage Ryan Tannehill's development. Putting the kid out there with out much help around him almost defeats the purpose of letting him get in there and learn.
Whether it's Wallace, Gates, Matthews or Moore, none of these players have been able to step up and provide quality and consistent production.
August 28th should be a wake up call for this group as players around the league will be getting cut and the Dolphins will surely be looking to improve the current group which have not come close impressing. It's not like the Dolphins to make big deals, so I wouldn't expect the Dolphins trying to deal for Reggie Wayne or Mike Wallace or any other sexy name that most fans are hoping for. James Jones might be a candidate to be dealt however I find it unlikely a SB hopefully Packer team would deal the depth they have built up incase of an injury.
The more likely scenario for the Dolphins would be the free agent market of cast offs from other rosters after the player cuts. What ever route the Dolphins choose to go, it would be very concerning if the Dolphins decided not to adress the position. At this point the fans have to sit back and relax and hope that the right player falls in the Dolphins lap. Here are some players that might be on the roster bubble which could be options for the Dolphins at WR.
Deon Butler and Mike Williams - Currently on the Seattle Roster
Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch and Donte Stallworth - Currently on the New England Roster
Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson - Currently on St Louis
Joe Morgan- Currently on New Orleans
Ruvell Martin- Currently on Buffalo, played with Philbin in GB
Arrelious Benn - Currently on Tampa Bay
Louis Murphy- Currently on Carolina
Donald Driver and Jarrett Boykin - Currently on Green Bay
Mark Clayton - FA
Mohamed Massaquoi - Currently on Cle
After the Dolphins 23-6 loss to the Falcons dropped their preseason record to 0-3, it is evident that the team still has plenty of work to do with just over two weeks before Miami kicks off the regular season in Houston. Although many areas of concern remain for this young Dolphins squad, last nights exhibition game provided Joe Philbin and his staff with several positives to build on going forward.
The pass rush that has been non-existent in the Dolphins first two preseason games was bolstered by the return of Cameron Wake to the lineup. It didn't take long for Wake to make his presence known as he recorded a critical third down sack, forcing Atlanta to attempt a 44 yard field goal. Wake was at it again this time teaming up with rookie third round pick Olivier Vernon to bring down Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and end the first half. The Dolphins secondary also showed flashes of their full potential with cornerbacks Sean Smith and Vontae Davis making many key tackles to stall what looked to be a promising drive. Davis' performance will go a long way in his efforts to win back the starting CB job from free agent acquisition Richard Marshall. Overall the Dolphins starting defense who were without Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett looked sharp, holding a potent Atlanta offence to long field goal attempts and only allowing nine points heading into the break.
While in the midst of a quarterback competition between Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore the Dolphins neglected the running game in the first two preseason tilts. The gameplan chenged for Friday night as the Dolphins backs carried the ball 13 times for 61 yards in the first half. Starting RB Reggie Bush picked up where he left off last season and opened the game with an 18 yard dash through the gaping hole provided by the left side of the offensive line. Bush gave way to Daniel Thomas in the second quarter who rushed for 26 yards on 5 carriers and showed why the Dolphins traded up into the second round to select him in the 2011 NFL Draft. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill also showed off his athletism as he scampered for a 15 yard run to keep the chains moving. For the Dolphins to have any success this season they must rely on their strengths and the run game is certainly one of them.
Kicker Dan Carpenter put all the doubters to rest as he drilled a 52 yard field goal for the second consecutive game. He has rebounded nicely after missing two field goals in the week one preseason loss to Tampa Bay. With the Dolphins not expected to light up opposing defenses this season, Carpenter will be relied on to put up points therefore strong play from him is crucial.
The Dolphins most glaring need was on display once again. Miami's wide reciever core didn't do Tannehill any favors last night and made his final stats of 11 of 27 for 112 yards and 1 INT look much worse then they actually were. In total the Dolphins wide recievers dropped six passes. The usually sure handed Anthony Fasano dropped two including one in the end zone, Legedu Naanee dropped two of his own and Charles Clay and Julius Pruitt each dropped a pass from backup Matt Moore. The Dolphins leading reciever Davone Bess was one of the lone bright spots in the offence as he made four receptions for 59 yards and proved that he is the only legitimate wide reciever currently on Miami's roster. General Manager Jeff Ireland must work quickly to acquire another weapon for Tannheill whether it is via trade or a waiver wire addition.
The great thing about the preseason is that it's merely a test run and like every other NFL team, the Dolphins have yet to lose an actual game. With several positives to build on there is still reason for Dolphins fans to be optimistic about this season and beyond. Miami will take on the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday in their final preseason game and even though it doesn't count, a win will provide the team with some momentum entering the regular season.
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In the third and perhaps the most crucial preseason game the Miami Dolphins will host the Atlanta Falcons at Sun Life Stadium. Both teams enter Friday's contest with identical 0-2 records however their weaknesses thus far are complete opposites. The Falcons first team looks to be in peak mid-season form and are establishing a reputation that their starters are amongst the best in the league. Unfortunately for Atlanta their backups have struggled mightily and have allowed opponents to mount a comeback in the second half.
On the other end of the field it's the Dolphins starters who have been mediocre to say the least while their second, third and fourth team units have kept games relatively close. As the Miami offence stuggled to put up points, the defence was on their heels seemingly unable to force a punt or turnover.
Last Friday against the Carolina Panthers, Ryan Tannehill started for the first time in his young NFL career finishing 11 of 23 for 100 yards including an impressive 67 yard drive capped by a Daniel Thomas touchdown run. Although these aren't exactly stellar numbers from the rookie quarterback, it was more than enough to win the starting job from incumbent Matt Moore. It's worth monitoring how Tannehill performs in two days time seeing as it will likely be his last game action before taking on the Houston Texans in week 1 of the regular season.
One of the main issues for the Dolphins in the matchup against Carolina was the play of the offensive line, specifically the right side where rookie Jonathan Martin was getting beat for most of the night. Once Jake Long and second year centre Mike Pouncey exited the game, the offensive line gave Tannehill very little time to operate resulting in three quarterback sacks. Martin still has a lot of work to do if he plans to be a starter this season however he has showed signs of improvement this week in practice.
Another concern for Miami is the wide reciever core which lacks a bonafide No. 1 option. Sitting a top the depth chart, Legedu Naanee and Davone Bess will get the start and are in tough against a talented Falcons secondary. In the first two games Naanee has been virtually invisible but has earned a spot on the first team thanks to strong showings in practice. Naanee will be one to watch as his performance under the lights will be key for the coaching staff in determining his role on the opening day roster.
Switching focus to the defense, it was surprising how little pressure the Dolphins pass rushers generated on the Panthers. Cam Newton completed over 70% of his passes and averaged over 10 yards per attempt. The lack of pressure isn't a concern yet, Miami did play without the likes of Cameron Wake, Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby. Expect the pass rush to improve significantly with Wake and Burnett making a return to the lineup while Dansby remains doubtful.
This is by far Miami's toughest test of the preseason as the Dolphins starters will be challenged on both sides of the ball. Although preseason games have absolutely no impact on the regular season a win at home against the Falcons would instill confidence into the players going forward and provide the fan base with glimmer of hope. In order for Joe Philbin to win his first game as an NFL head coach, the starters will need to perform to their abilty.