The Dolphins didn't wait long to find Phillip Merling's replacement. Earlier today, they agreed to terms with former New York Jet Marques Douglas. The deal is reportedly for two years and is worth $2.5 million. The 6'2, 290 pound eleven year veteran probably doesn't have much left in the tank at 33 years old, but is a nice stop gap solution to the depth concerns that come with Merling's season-ending injury.
Perhaps the last remaining weakness on an offense potentially destined for greatness, is the tight end position. Tight end was actually a strength on the 08' team, though, as Anthony Fasano put up a solid 454 receiving yards and was a dangerous red zone target, accounting for 7 touchdowns.
09' was a completely different story. Fasano had a disastrous opening day in Atlanta, when he lost two fumbles that essentially gave the game to the Falcons, and never fully recovered. He stumbled to a mediocre 339 receiving yards and only 2 touchdowns.
Now that the Dolphins have a complete receiving core, they won't likely need to rely on much receiving production from their tight ends. Blocking may define Miami's tight ends this year, but nonetheless, the front office could be tempted to add a receiving tight end next offseason, as the offense potentially moves to more of a pass first scheme with Ronnie and Ricky's 2011 status up in the air.
Anthony Fasano: If Fasano can somehow return to his 08' form, him and Brandon Marshall could produce a lethal redzone duo for Chad Henne to play with. Even if he doesn't, though, he's value as a run blocker can't be ignored. He may not be a true receiving tight end, but he is arguably one of the better run blocking tight ends in football. Considering, the Dolphins still want to be a run-first offense, I would say Fasano is still the man for the job, and if the long-term vision of the team is to remain run-first, he could earn himself a nice multi-year contract to stay in Miami.
Joey Haynos: At 6-8, 270 pounds, you would think Haynos would be a more dangerous receiving threat, especially in the red zone. He produced some in his second season, with 169 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, but was still primarily used for blocking purposes. If he continues to be solid as a blocker, he could be a part of the Dolphins plans for years to come as a decent backup, but any emergence of receiving skills would highly benefit this offense, and could possibly translate into a competition for a starting role with Fasano.
As expected, Phillip Merling's recently revealed Achilles' tendon injury will sideline him for the 2010 season, the Miami Herald has confirmed. The Herald's Armando Salguero opened up some speculation about how Miami plans to replace Merling, saying a source close to the team suggested the front office could turn their attention to Dallas' Marcus Spears before training camp concludes.
Spears was selected in the first-round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Cowboys under Bill Parcells, but has since fallen out of the team's good graces, and was even on the trading block before this year's draft. Spears has been somewhat of a letdown in Dallas, but there's no arguing he would provide much needed depth, while being a possible challenger to rookie Jared Odrick.
The question marks surrounding the Dolphins' defense make it difficult to predict just how improved, or not, the unit will be under Mike Nolan. Those uncertainties are not void of hope, however. Outside linebacker is no different. The upside of this group is promising, but just the fact that their will be an unproven starter on both the strong and weak side, is enough to induce some stress for those depending on Nolan to transform one of the lower ranked defenses in football, to one of the better ones, in the same fashion he did in Denver.
The pass rush has to come from somewhere, after all. Vontae Davis and Sean Smith are expected to make strides in year two, but they can't cover all day. No, they will be in dire need for pressure on the quarterback, not only to improve a bottom-feeder pass defense, but to start becoming the ball-hawking tandem they are capable of becoming.
One of the biggest factors to Nolan's transformation in Denver was the emergence of Elvis Dumervil. The undersized outside linebacker accounted for a league-leading 17.0 sacks last season, a year after only notching 5.0. Give some props to Dumervil for becoming an elite pass rusher, but also give some credit where credit is due. Mike Nolan's aggressive scheme got the most out of him, and for the Dolphins to have similar success, they could sure use an elite pass rusher to develop overnight.
The most likely candidate is none other than Cameron Wake. The "Earth Wake" dazzled fans with flashes of dominance on pass rush situations, but needs to fine tune the other elements of his game to earn an every down role in training camp. Opposite Wake, Miami will likely be trusting rookie Koa Misi to start on the strong side.
If we indeed do get a Misi-Wake starting duo, the potential is not lacking, but experience won't be the unit's strength. The Dolphins need both to live up their expectations. If not, fans will be left asking why the front office let Jason Taylor walk to the team's most hated rival.
Koa Misi: Misi was thrown into the fire for most of the offseason, getting reps with the first team right away. He doesn't have the pass rushing ceiling that Wake does, but he projects to cover and stop the run more effectively. There were contradicting reports this spring about how well he performed with the starting defense in OTA's, but none of that really matters now.
Even though he's expected to start, he still needs to bring it from day one in camp. A lackluster camp, and Charlie Anderson could easily steal his spot if he doesn't take care of Wake on the other side.
Cameron Wake: Potential is one thing. Actually living up to the expectations that come with it, is another. In reality, we haven't seen enough of Wake to know if he can be a Pro Bowl caliber pass rusher, or not. He showed signs in 09', but who knows if he can even maintain that pass rushing pace with every down reps.
People around the media are starting to throw his name out there as someone who could break out this season, and that is all well and good, but he needs to win a starting job before we can even begin to go that far. Because, honestly, if the Dolphins had to play the Bills today, Charlie Anderson would get the nod. Anderson got the first-team reps for all but a couple practice sessions that were open to the media. That likely says more about Wake's stagnant progress in coverage and run defense than Anderson's ability to be a quality starter.
The Dolphins probably need to see significant improvement from Wake in those aspects, to trust him on first and second down. And you could argue, Mike Nolan needs those improvements to become a reality if he has a chance at turning around this defense in one season, like he did in Denver.
Charlie Anderson: I would love to be wrong about Anderson, but from what I've seen, he isn't a quality starter, only a solid backup. He had one productive game last season, when he notched two sacks against the Buc's in relief duty for the disgruntled Joey Porter, but it's going to take a whole lot more than one game to prove he has what it takes to be the guy.
If he does win the job, however, I will be convinced it's because Cameron Wake has no clue how to do anything but pass rush. If that happens, how in the world can you justify letting Jason Taylor go?
When it rains it pours. And for all intents and purposes, the bad news keeps pouring on Dolphins' defensive end Phillip Merling. Two days after officially being charged with a felony, stemming from allegedly hitting his pregnant girlfriend, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting that Merling has suffered an Achilles' tendon injury.
The severity of the injury has not been specified, but the nature of Achilles' tendon injuries are extremely serious, regardless of it's a sprain, tear, or rupture. Obviously, Merling's 2010 status was already up in the air as he faces a likely suspension from the league and a possible release from the Dolphins. This latest news all but closes the book on Merling's season, and possibly his career in Miami.
Although, the source is reporting that the injury could be non-football related, which would make sense because we didn't hear of him getting hurt in any OTA or minicamp workout. If that's the case, the Dolphins could choose not to pay his $600,000 salary this upcoming season.
Putting Merling on the IR without pay, while his legal issues and any disciplinary actions by the league are worked out, could be enough incentive to keep him around. But then again, Merling's whole situation has gotten just about as ugly as it gets. Now, is as good of time as any to cut ties and move on.
A day after the Dolphins locked up their third-round pick John Jerry, the Miami Herald is reporting that the team has already offered contracts to first-round pick Jared Odrick and second-round pick Koa Misi.
While most teams wait for the slotting process to take it's course, this front office appears set on getting everybody signed and in camp. Which could be a necessary move, considering both Odrick and Misi may be called upon to start right off the bat. Neither will be handed anything, but both are favored to win their camp competitions.
Misi doesn't have much to beat out talent-wise, as Charlie Anderson and Quentin Moses are probably nothing more than decent backups, and Phillip Merling's felony charges, which should warrant at least a suspension, but could lead to his flat out release, significantly bolster Odrick's chances at cracking the starting lineup.
The fact that Miami is likely relying on Odrick and Misi's immediate production, is undoubtedly playing a large role in getting their offers on the table so soon, but really, this regime has always handled their rookie negotiations this way.
The Parcells' regime has yet to allow an ugly, lengthy rookie holdout, which would do nothing but distract the team in a portion of the season where team mending is of utmost importance.
This team is flying high after a brilliant offseason of personnel moves, and expectations haven't been this high in years. A rookie holdout by a player who is also a likely starter, would do nothing but halt some of that momentum.
So, let's just hope these reports are indeed true, and both Odrick and Misi are seen battling it out for a starting job come that first practice session. If that's the case, how can you not love the way this regime does business? Just another reason to be thankful for the men who are running this team, and to be confident they are taking the Dolphins in the right direction.
Earlier today, the Dolphins agreed to terms with third-round selection John Jerry. The deal is reportedly for four years, and worth $2.64 million with a $858,000 signing bonus. This latest rookie singing leaves the Dolphins with only two unsigned draft choices from this year's class. First-round pick Jared Odrick and second-round pick Koa Misi still remain unsigned, but negotiations should begin to heat up in the coming days.
Jerry is thought to be in the competition at left guard, and many feel he's the favorite to beat out Cory Procter. He reportedly had a fantastic offseason, but as we all know, things can change in a hurry when the physical part of the game comes into effect, especially for an offensive lineman.