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Friday, June 02, 2006

Recounting Rick Spielman's legacy

Rick Spielman's year as the Dolphins general manager was a nightmare and fans and media mock him for his mistakes of inexperience and desperation he made.

But every coin has that other side and, taking a cue from Minnesota's recent hiring of Spielman as their vice president for player personnel, I endeavor today to give you both the heads and tails of the yearlong stint Spielman had as Miami's GM.

The idea here, Dolphinheads, is to leave you with the COMPLETE picture of the Spielman year rather than a tainted, slanted negative view. Now after reading the following, you might still think Spielman was a GM bust, but at least you will think that after weighing both good and bad.

The negatives:

*Yes, he made the A.J. Feeley trade and that was a debacle. That trade was still affecting Miami this offseason because Feeley wasn't even good enough to be Miami's backup. So the Dolphins had to invest a sixth-, and potentially a fifth-round pick, on Joey Harrington to be the backup.

*Spielman also traded away a 2004 fourth round pick to Minnesota to move up one spot and pick Vernon Carey, which was a move of desperation and inexperience. Moreover, he picked Carey ahead of University of Miami nose tackle Vince Wolfork, who was rated higher on the Miami draft board, an example of picking for need rather than talent.

*He also got snuckered on the Lamar Gordon trade, which was also born of desperation because the Dolphins didn't have a running back on the roster good enough to start when Ricky Williams went AWOL before the season.

*He picked Tony Bua in the fifth round. Bua, a better at partier than professional football player, was too slow to play safety and too small to play linebacker. That seemed OK because he was picked to be a special teams wizard. He supposedly reminded Spielman of Larry Izzo. Except Izzo was a Pro Bowl special teams performer and he didn't cost Miami a draft pick, having been signed as an undrafted free agent.

*He signed Reggie Howard and paid him like a starter.

The positives:

*He drafted Rex Hadnot, who is a starter.

*He signed Jeno James, who is a starter.

*He resisted the tempation to re-sign Todd Wade, who has become something of a bust in Houston.

*He picked Derrick Pope in the seventh round, which was a good pick.

*Finally, and perhaps most controversially, he made the Adawale Ogunleye trade. In hindsight,, this trade has been OK for the Dolphins. Yes, they gave up a young dominant defensive end and those are extremely difficult to come by. Ogunleye led the Bears with 10 sacks last season.

But the Dolphins got serviceable starter Marty Booker in the deal plus a draft pick that turned out to be Channing Crowder. So would you take Booker and Crowder over Ogunleye? It's probably a push right now, but you should also consider that the trade allowed the Dolphins to shift part of their salary cap funding toward the offense, where it was lacking, and away from the defense, which is where Dave Wannstedt and Jimmy Johnson had it so unevenly for such a long time.

The trade also separated Ogunleye from Jason Taylor, who at times in 2003 seemed to have a strained relationship.

So there you have it, both good and bad. Now you decide if Spielman was as awful as you thought, or has hindsight absolved him of a bad legacy?


Anonymous DolphinTuna said...


I love you, but you still can't convince me Spielman did any good. In 12 months he set the franchise back five years.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

yeah he's still as awful as I thought. rex hadnot is a starter and a decent player, but nothing to put on a resume. and we paid at the time, jeno james as if he was a big time LG when he's a reliable but never one who'd be confused for pro bowl caliber guy. Which would put him in the same caliber as Wade pretty much which he rightly resisted paying the same amount to just about. The Adewale trade would have worked out better as well if we had a QB to throw Booker the ball. Which puts us at his legacy which is the Feeley trade. 3rd stringer for a 2nd rounder. Should be a rule against that. And the thing that makes it even worse is that he was giving horrible logic even as an analyst for ESPN. Had me wondering how he ever got a GM job in the NFL in the first place and to continue to rehired in that role or similar ones just has me scratchin my head. The guy sucked to be blunt and if I was a chicago, green bay or detroit fan I'd love the hire by the Vikings.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Armando, I must disagree with you on the evaluation of the Todd Wade and Adewale Ogunleye decisions as being positives.

WADE: 1) The Dolphins downgraded themselves when they allowed Wade to leave. Not one guy who has played at RT since has matched Wade's level of play. 2) Wade's departure precipitated the drafting of Carey, costing the Dolphins first and fourth round picks, picks that could have been used elsewhere. 3) Wade's departure forced the Dolphins to spend money on FOUR guys (Carey, "Turnstile" St. Clair, Damion McIntosh, and Stockar McDougle) versus just paying Wade. 4) As for Wade's level of play in Houston, I daresay that his situation would be a lot different right now under Hudson Houck's tutelage. 5) If the Dolphins were committed to not meeting Wade's price (which they essentially did anyway in paying Carey, et. al.), they should have tagged him so that they could have netted something in return. Good teams don't let good offensive linemen walk away.

OGUNLEYE: 1) You cannot include Crowder in the mix. The Dolphins could have gotten him independently of the trade. We must weigh only the acquisition Booker and Gordon. 2) While I agree that Booker is a good player, Spielman touted him a comparable in value to a first round pick, which is what the Dolphins were entitled to as compensation (plus a third). No one who knows football would ever agree with that assessment. As for Gordon, a flat out bust in Mike Martz's system, the Dolphins basically got nothing for the third rounder they spent for him. In the end, Spielman pretty much gave Ogunleye away (no disrespect meant to Booker).

In my opinion, Spielman was oustanding in organizing player and pro personnel. He knows how to scout players and to organize information. I believe he'll do well in Minnesota in that capacity. HOWEVER, his inability to process the data and make consistently good decisions from that data is a critical weakness.

12:10 PM  
Blogger CubanCulebra said...

Oh Mando, Mando, Mando... you really love to stir up hornet nests don't you. lol You are in the perfect profession my friend. Let me tell you, you might not get much feed back on this one though. After all, people can't really type after their heads explode.

3:32 PM  
Blogger PhinFanatic said...

Mando, spielman and wanny are still bumbs no matter how you suger coat it. As previously mentioned they set us back five years. Wanny ruined the bears and he messed us up. Now he's taking the U of Pitt into the toliet. Spielman will also screw it up at Minnesota and in a year they will be looking to take him ice fishing and he will be the bait.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Hal said...

Armando, Spielman's record in Miami only gets worse the more you look at it:

1) With the pick we handed the Eagles for Feeley, they drafted Reggie Brown. Think we'd have needed to trade for Booker if we'd spent that pick on a WR? Think we'd have needed to draft Hagan this year, even? Brown caught 43 passes as a rookie and will be McNabb's go-to guy this year.

2) There's no excuse, none, for giving away a third round pick for a guy the Rams were clearly about to cut anyway, Lamar Gordon.

3) That pick we just handed Minnesota? They took Mewelde Moore with it. Think we would have been desperate for a Gordon-level RB if we'd have kept that pick and taken Moore?

4) The "successes" you mention are 6th and 7th round picks, where the bar is clearly a lot lower. You cannot make up for blowing 1st and 2nd round draft picks on nothing with 6th and 7th rounders unless those 6th and 7th rounders are, say, Zach Thomas and Mark Clayton.

5) Furthermore, while Wanny gets all the blame for the decisions made from 2001 to 2003, which also mostly sucked, Spielman was his second in command and had a hand in them. For example, the immortal Taylor Whitley was reportedly a pick Spielman was highly recommending.

Spielman started trying to cover himself after Wanny's decisions blew up in his face, but you can't tell me that Spielman had nothing to do with these decisions.

Wannspiel blew a golden opportunity to win with J.J.'s defensive nucleus and then sent his franchise back to 1997-98 Chicago Bears. There's no way to make his record here look any good. I feel for the Vikings fans.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Although I think Spielman was a bum and hurt the Dolphins with his actions, someone hired him. Part of the blame should be sholder by Mr. H.

Look at it this way, if Mr. H was going in for an operation, let's say Heart Surgery, would he select a Doctor with many years of experinec and a solid track record or someone who dabbled in this type of surgery.

Spielman cut the Dolphns apart and could not stop the bleeding

12:43 PM  
Blogger The Dude said...

I'm with Cuban Culebra. I had to stop reading half way thru this because my head WAS about to explode.

But I don't fault you, Armando. This is the slow time of year. After this weekend, we can mercifully move on ...


1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

armando.. i am big a dolfan since 1969, por favor, dont mention those to ham and eggers! I am barely recovering from their dismantling of my beloved franchise. aye que dolor de maseta tengo. jaja

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

por favor.. dont bring up those two ham and eggers.. aye que dolor de maseta me das!! jaja

1:29 AM  
Blogger calimoreno209 said...

mando! por favor.. dont bring up these two ham and eggers.. aye, que dolor de maseta me das..

1:34 AM  
Blogger burghPhinfan said...

I thought the 3rd round pick in the Ogun deal was later used to get Gordon???

10:06 AM  
Blogger burghPhinfan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous The Cuban Assassin said...


I too tend to disagree with you man. You candy coated these two guys with artificial sweetners. Bottom line is no good. I started reading your comment and I thought for a second you were joking. The fact should not be overlooked that Spleenman sucked and still got hired by the Vikes. Kudos to him.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous JJSlim said...


I'll try and give anyone the benefit of the doubt, but nobody can convince me that his tenure was positive.

The blunders easily outweigh any positives.

By the way what is "snuckered", Mando? The Herald is paying you to make up words? Perhaps you combined "suckered" and "snookered". Either way, both words equally apply to Spielman's deal.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Ronan Jimson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:49 PM  
Blogger AnJaka said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no he's is still the worst if thats the best argument for him

2:06 PM  
Blogger Cesar said...

I am sorry but Spielsuck was the worst thing to happen to the Fins since, well, Wanstank ... Ok, maybe he was the worst thing that ever happened ... the guy was clueless and practically gave away assets (picks, money) to and for players that had no freaking clue ... what a disaster ...

2:38 PM  
Anonymous where's the fish said...

Well, then we're all agreed. I think he would have done a lot better if he hadn't been under so much pressure to win the Super Bowl immediately. AND, things would have been very different IF he had only used the 3rd in the Ogunleye trade to get the other available RB: Larry Johnson... but it's always like that in sports: "close" is pretty darn far away...
As for Wannested, he did no better and no worse than Jimmy Johnson until the last year... except, he never should have been allowed anywhere NEAR the draft room... I agree the guy who hired him made a BIG mistake by giving him GM duties when he had already flunked at Chicago...

9:58 PM  
Blogger Shara said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mando, I personelly know speilman. His hands were tied by his superiors. He did the best with what he had to work with.

11:01 PM  

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