Dolphins youth movement is on the march
So it was interesting after Sunday's game how Booker, standing alone in the Miami locker room while knotting his tie, could see this team's future unfolding.
“We got some young guys that are taking advantage of opportunities," Booker said looking over at a huddle of reporters around John Beck. "Pretty soon, going into next year, that’s your nucleus, that’s your core guys.
"The main thing now is to get those guys in and get them experience and let them build their confidence and let them see how it is. Once you go over to next year, you put everything in their hands and let them grow and let them do what they do.”
That is, of course, what the Dolphins are doing now. They are playing out 2007. But they are playing for 2008. This year is lost. The only thing left to salvage is avoiding a winless record.
So take the rest of this season for what it is worth. It is all about next year and how players and coaches position themselves for that coming campaign.
Before yesterday's game, Miami public relations man Harvey Greene was excited to share the note that never in Dolphins history had the team opened a game with four rookie starters on offense. It didn't happen in the expansion season and none of the 40 years that have followed.
Well, it didn't happen yesterday either as the Dolphins opened in a double-tight end formation, leaving Ted Ginn Jr. on the bench for the first snap.
But the excitement that young players are playing, and contributing, and learning and growing, should not be diminished by the fact Ginn missed that first snap. Eventually he returned a punt for a TD and led the team in receptions.
Jason Allen, only in his second season and making his fourth start this season, had two interceptions. Rod Wright, in his second season, played well along the defensive line. Samson Satele and Reagan Mauia blocked well.
The future is upon us, folks. And although there hasn't been a payoff from playing these younger players yet, eventually quarterback John Beck will get the offense in the end zone, eventually Wright will get to the quarterback consistently, eventually Allen may take an interception back for a touchdown.
This team is about to turn over and even a veteran such as Booker, who likely will not be on the team next year, sees the evolution under way. He knows it is inevitable.
And considering the veterans on the Dolphins haven't been good enough to make a difference for half a decade now, it is a good thing.