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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jason Taylor on Miami QBs in Sports Illustrated

Jason Taylor, the Dolphins most dominant player and one of the few guys whose opinion management worries about, is the subject of a Sports Illustrated profile this week in which he talks about trying to increase his presence in show business and even the newfound accord he has with wife Katina.

It's an interesting look at what Taylor is trying to do to follow his good friend Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson from athletics to show business.

But to Dolphins fans, perhaps the most interesting thing Taylor talks about is his opinion of Miami's recent decisions with quarterbacks.

On the moment the Dolphins passed on Brady Quinn to take Ted Ginn Jr. in the draft: “I was sick to my stomach,” he tells SI. “On draft day I had just played golf with [Dan] Marino and was doing a radio show in Miami [by cellphone] as I was driving home. Atlanta had just picked, the Dolphins were on the clock, and I said [on the air], ‘Just walk up there and pick Brady Quinn —it’s a no-brainer.’ Right as I pulled up in my driveway, the commissioner got to the podium and kind of paused before he read the name, like even he couldn’t believe it. I was like, Oh, s---, I’m going to look like an idiot.”

Then, a week before the Dolphins completed a June 6th trade with Kansas City for quarterback Trent Green, who missed eight games following a severe concussion last September and turns 37 next month, Taylor tells SI: “This is off-the--record—oh, what the hell, it’s on the record: He’d better not get hit. One big hit, and he could be scrambled eggs.”

Jason Taylor will eventually tow the company line and talk about having confidence in Ginn and Green. But this offers you a glimpse of what he really thought of the decisions.

Your thoughts?

Monday, June 18, 2007

A look at Trent Green's deal

The Trent Green contract has finally been submitted to the NFL Players Association and what follows below is a breakdown of the deal that will be worth $13.5 million over three years, assuming Green will be in Miami the entire length of the contract.

Here's the deal:

Year/ Base Salary /Sign Bo. /Roster Bo./ Work Bo. /Cap #
2007/ $1.5M /$1M /$3.4M/ $100K /$5.33M
2008/ $2.8M/ --/ $500K /$100K/ $3.73M
2009 /$3.5M /-- /$500K/ $100K/ $4.43M

What I see here is a huge commitment to Green this year with that shrinking each year, making it more likely he'll be a cap casualty as the contract (and the player) ages.

For instance, the Dolphins would be on the hook for a $666,334 cap hit next year (plus whatever bonuses accelerate from this year) should they decide Green is no longer their guy and someone else, such as John Beck, needs to be the starting quarterback. The team would save approximately $3.1 million in cap charges by cutting Green before next season's bonuses start coming due.

In 2009 the cap savings after cutting Green would be even greater -- approximately $4.1 million -- in a year Green will be 39 years old.

Now that does not guarantee Green will be cut next year of the one after. There are performance factors on both his part and Beck's that will be weighed before that decision can be made. There are other variables as well such as which direction the franchise takes between now and then and who is driving the ship.

In that regard, assuming Green is playing at top form, the Dolphins are winning, and you guys are happy, this contract is not a bitter pill that Miami would hate to swallow in 2009. It's a good job by Miami's negotiating team of walking the line between a rosy future and one that is less so.

In other words, the Dolphins have protected themselves should Green tank or Beck boom in that they can cut Green pretty easily as early as next year. But they have also shown foresight to be able to keep Green if he plays out of his mind this year and beyond.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Your first round pick is ... a return specialist

The Dolphins hope for great things out of Ted Ginn Jr. and that's understandable because he is, after all, the team's first round pick and a high pick at that.

But during this offseason the team showed its hand on a strategy for breaking in Ginn that may continue through training camp -- or at least the early part of camp.

Seems Ginn is a punt and kickoff return specialist. No more, no less. That's it for now.

“We have a plan and that starts as a punt returner and a kick returner and then taking every day one day at a time," Coach Cam Cameron said this week. "...Then you go through training camp and you just grind away and grind away and grind away. I don’t know any other way, I think we made some progress as a punt and kick returner for sure.”

That is not a problem if you believe the Dolphins did right in using their first-rounder on a returner.

But what Cameron is not telling you is that Ginn is simply not yet ready to be an NFL-caliber receiver. His routes are not crisp, he obviously doesn't know the playbook (which is expected), and he has NO CLUE how to get off the line of scrimmage against press coverage.

It will take some time before all of that sinks in for the rookie. At best, it will be late in the season before Ginn starts to make a mark at receiver. More likely it will take him his entire rookie season to figure it out and we'll have to check back with him next year at WR.

Worst case?

The guy is Desmond Howard, a speedy, smallish, collegiate playmaker whose skills translated from the Big 10 to the NFL on special teams but not so as a receiver. I cringed, by the way, when Cameron mentioned Ginn and Howard in the same breath recently.

Howard was an OK player, but if I remember my draft history correctly, he was a bust because he was taken with the No. 4 overall selection. That is way overpaying for a special teams guy.

The Dolphins can take solace that they have in Ginn a player that will contribute immediately. Maybe the guy can actually a break a couple this year on special teams. But unless he turns into the second coming of Devin Hester, folks will be wondering how soon Miami will get more out of Ginn to live up to his draft pedigree.

And this is remembering that Chicago did not need a first round pick to take Hester.

So here's hoping Ginn Jr. overcomes his growing pains and learns to be a top receiver sooner rather than later. Because even the No. 9 overall selection is too high a price to pay for a special teams player.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Front office heavy-handed and right-thinking

I was in the flock of reporters surrounding Daunte Culpepper Friday when he was talking about his walk off the field and how he was basically lied to about getting a chance to compete and all that.

I am also aware that Saturday the Dolphins former quarterback handed out a release at his locker updating everyone about his situation and talking about how he is seeking NFL Players Association intervention on the matter.

Both times, as reporters surrounded Culpepper, there were half-a-dozen players who were also listening to Culpepper and watching his every move. They wanted to know his thoughts. They were gauging his reaction to how he's handling this unseemly situation.

And this is where we have an issue.

You see, I really like Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron on a professional level. Fact is, I think all but maybe one move they've made this offseason have been well-reasoned. I didn't say all their moves will be right, but I can understand the reasoning behind ALL of them save cutting of Randy McMichael and replacing him with David Martin.

Having said that, not every move has been very well executed.

Having Daunte Culpepper go on the field Friday was a slip because everyone within the Dolphins knew he wouldn't be allowed to take significant practice snaps which would lead to the dramatic scene of him walking off the field that was on SportsCenter and everywhere else.

It sends a bad PR message to fans, that frankly, I think the Dolphins are willing to burden. But more importantly, it sends bad vibes to the other players in the locker room that the Dolphins have obviously underestimated.

Now, I am no GM or coach, but it seems to me you never alienate your players -- you know, the ones the Dolphins are relying on to win games this year and beyond? Those guys that remain are kind of important.

And those very guys have now seen how Culpepper has been unceremoniously amputated as Miami's signature arm.

Those players also saw how Olindo Mare was left to twist in the wind for weeks while the Dolphins at once signed his replacement and tried to trade him. Mare was working out with the Dolphins for weeks, knowing his future would not include the Dolphins.

You think he was saying complimentary things to his teammates about how he was being treated? You think Culpepper, who still has the ears of most of his receivers, is saying nice things now?

Players that have no future with the Dolphins need to be expunged quickly so they don't poison the locker room and the players that remain. Don't get rid of them quickly and, mark my words, the seed will be sown in every player's head that the Dolphins are a heavy-handed organization. Keep them around and you'll have players thinking Miami can do to them exactly what happened to guys like Mare, Culpepper, McMichael, and others.

Having said all that, it is only the execution of the plan that needs tweaking, not the plan itself.

If you tell me that Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller decided to get rid of Culpepper, I say that is their decision to make. If they want to get something for him, I applaud them because it is the responsible thing to do. If they want to bring in another guy that the coach has a history with and who knows the offense, I say go for it.

In that respect Mueller and Cameron are doing everything they can to make YOUR team better. They're not doing this with the intent of screwing things up. They are making strong, decisive moves to shake up the status quo, which I remind you has not been so great lately.

Give them that. Appreciate them for that. They are in the ring and they're fighting for improvement of YOUR team.

But they should also realize they can soften some of the blows (by not embarrassing players in front of other players) so that when this fight is over, they haven't bloodied themselves as well as their opponent.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Culpepper and Dolphins at odds

Daunte Culpepper left the practice field earlier today while the rest of the team, including new QB Trent Green, continued its work.

"They wouldn't let me work so I left the field," Culpepper said minutes ago. "I was told I couldn't work."

The Dolphins informed Culpepper he would not be allowed to practice in team drills. They also made it clear to him -- during an announcement in front of the whole team, in fact -- that he would not be with the team this season.

Culpepper has come to terms with this.

"I'm going to handle myself in a first-class manner and do my work to continue getting better physically," Culpepper said.

But ....

The Dolphins are intent on trading Culpepper so they can get something for their one-year investment in the quarterback. Culpepper is intent on being released so he can pick which team he will go to.

"I definitely expect to be released. I will not be traded," Culpepper said. "I will not agree to any trade. If I'm traded, my contact has to be restructured. And I'm not going to restructure."

The way Culpepper can stand in the way of a trade is by refusing to restructure his contract. That refusal makes a trade practically impossible because no team is likely to take on Culpepper's current contract and that's exactly what has to happen unless Culpepper agrees to restructure.

"That isn't going to happen," Culpepper said. "All I can say is any team interested in my services, sit tight, because I'm not going to agree to a trade."

And he's right. Nobody will pay him $5.5 million this year when he's unlikely to be the starter -- unless, of course, Al Davis is having a geriatric moment and makes that move.

So it will be interesting to see who blinks first -- the Dolphins by releasing Culpepper or the player by agreeing to a restructure with whatever team might be interested in him.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The words right from their lips

You guys know by now that Trent Green was introduced to the South Florida media Wednesday. Here is a transcript of that press conference, courtesy the fine work of the Dolphins media relations department:

I suggest you scroll to the question's subject (in parenthesis) that interests you most and see how the coach or quarterback answer. Then draw your own conclusions.


(Opening Remarks) – “I want to take just a couple of minutes to, at first, just thank Randy Mueller. I can’t tell you over the last few weeks how much effort and time has been put in to getting Trent (Green) here. I also want to thank Carl Peterson with the Chiefs. Obviously Trent has a long relationship there. I’ve known Carl for quite a while myself and both of those two guys, regardless of what you’ve read, those two guys were able to get this thing done. Trent and I go back, I think we were talking 12-13 years, and obviously we have a special relationship that I just – it’s nice to have someone here that understands what this business is about. He’s a hard worker. He understands what competition is about. He knows how to win in this league and as we were given the privilege to start talking several weeks ago, we started talking about hopefully this day becoming a reality and here it is. But I think again, he would agree, we both owe a lot to a lot of other people making this happen and we’re both very appreciative. So with that I’m going to introduce Trent, then I’m going to be able to take a few questions and then when I’m done then I’ll just leave you here with Trent and you can have him basically as long as you guys need him. So Trent Green.”


(Opening Remarks) – “Thank you. I appreciate that Cam. First off, to echo what Cam said, I want to thank Randy Mueller for his diligence and patience in getting this deal done. Also, Carl Peterson for working with Randy and getting this thing worked out. This is something, like Cam said, we’ve been talking for several weeks and the excitement for us has been building for some time to be able to get back together. We spent a couple years together in Washington and just the excitement of this offense and what we know this offense is capable of doing. We’ve been talking a lot about the personnel, the new guys that the Dolphins brought in and I’m just excited to be down here and looking forward to the minicamp this weekend, the OTA’s the following week and getting to know my teammates and get to be a part of something really special.
“I think everybody knows what this defense has done here over the many years and it’s time that the offense catches up. I’m just excited that I’m going to try to be a part of that and just really looking forward to that. I also want to take some time to thank Kansas City, thank the Chiefs, thank Carl Peterson and the Hunt family. It was a great six years there. One place that was very special to me and one that my family appreciated greatly. We had a great run of six years and it was a situation where they wanted to move on and go younger. I understand that and I had asked Carl if I found an opportunity to move forward with that. So I’m excited that Carl was able to follow through with that and that Randy, like I said, had patience enough to get it done. So I want to thank the Chiefs organization for that time there and for the six years that I had there. It was a great six years for me and my family, but the thing I want to mostly get across is my wife and I are extremely excited to come down to Miami and make this our home. We’re going to be looking immediately to find a home to move down. I always think that’s an important part of being a quarterback is to be a part of the community. It’s something that I’ve done in the different teams that I’ve been in. It’s important to live there. It’s important to get your family involved in the community. It’s important to have your kids in school there. It’s important to be involved in community work and that is something that is very strong in our hearts and something we want to get down here as soon as we can. So, we’re just excited about it. The kids are excited about it. My wife’s excited about it. We’re looking for a fresh start and to be a part of something really special. Having played Miami the last two seasons, I know what there defense is about and I’m excited about being a part of turning the offense around and putting a winner on the field for the fans of the Dolphins.


(On how this trade affects Daunte Culpepper) – “Well first, this press conference is about Trent (Green) and his family, Julie. Many of you will get to know their family. He’s got two sons and a daughter. So we’re going to keep the focus of this press conference on Trent and his family and him being here. Now with that being said we did meet this morning with Daunte at length. Daunte, Randy and myself and Randy and I are still working through some things and I would say by Friday we can probably lend a little more light on that subject. But today is about Trent Green being a Miami Dolphin and welcome his family here.”

(On what characteristics he identified in Trent Green when they were Washington) – “Well we’re going way back but I believe, as many of you know and he knows, it’s a leadership position. In this system guys that are extremely bright and tough and, I am probably get a little technical, that are extremely quick with the football have had a tremendous amount of success in this system. But you have to remember – and Trent was joking today with Coach (Bobby) Jackson because Trent used to be the guy that we’re sitting with and say ok, ‘Trent you go down with Coach Jackson and do the ball handling’ – and again, you have so much respect for the quarterbacks in this business, especially the guys like Trent who have come up the hard way. Trent has never been given anything. He’s earned everything that he’s gotten in this business and I think those guys, guys that have developed like Trent has developed, they just have a resolve, they have a toughness. They have some characteristics that their teammates respond to. I can remember back, even further then when we were together in Washington, when I was an assistant coach at Michigan and I watched him take a scrawny little Indiana team up and down the field against us and I was wondering who is this guy taking these other ten guys. We were a good football team, and I just remember putting it in the back of my mind, there’s just something to this guy. When he became available we picked him up in Washington. I think just that competitive toughness, that resolve goes a long, long way at that position in this business.

(On why Trent Green fits this offense better than Daunte Culpepper) – “As you know, I’m not a guy that compares guys. You guys know that. I mean, I don’t compare guys. I’ve never gotten into that business. I think every guy’s unique. Whatever quarterback you’re dealing with, you take what he does best and you do everything you can with the people around him to help him be successful. So I’ve just never gone down that road because I’ve had, whether it be a Trent Green or an Antwaan Randle El, or whoever, Philip Rivers, 6-0, 6-5, 6-3, 5-10, it doesn’t matter, You take whatever quarterback you have and highlight the things he does best.”

(On how beneficial it is to have a quarterback he hand-picked for the offense) – “I don’t know. We didn’t hand-pick Drew Brees in San Diego.”

(On if it was important to make the deal now as the team heads into its last minicamp of the offseason) – “We didn’t have control of the timing, obviously the timing was really controlled on the other end. There was no way we could have predicted that this was when it was going to happen. When you’re dealing with another team you never know. It could have been two months ago, it could have been this week, it could be month from now. So there’s some coincidence involved here. There really is. You guys know me, I mean you pretty much take what you can control and find a positive way to work in it. It is positive that he’s here. We have minicamp coming up that we had scheduled and a few more OTA’s. I think Trent knows he can benefit from those, but had it not worked out this week it could have worked out down the road as well.”

(On if he had Trent Green in mind when he took the head coaching job) – “He was the quarterback of Kansas City Chiefs at that time. So a lot of things just took place over the course of time and I think in any business you need a little good fortune and obviously he becomes available and then here he is.”

(On if he is concerned about the effects of Trent Green’s concussion) – “Well no, number one is, I think we all kind of experienced that with him. I think everybody in this league, but competing against him and obviously he wasn’t there the first time we played Kansas City, but I’ve seen him and he’s healthy. There are no concerns on our part. I know you guys can address that with him as well, but no.”

(On what changed in the negotiating to get the trade completed) – “I think it’s like any negotiation. Again, Randy (Mueller) and Carl (Peterson), and obviously both of them have a lot of things going on, they were just kind of working through the process. As you’ve heard us say, several times, this is a process. This situation was no different. Kansas City’s got to do what they feel is right for them. We’ve got to do what we feel best serves the Miami Dolphins and getting two teams to work together sometimes just takes more time. We all know in this business everybody tends to get a little bit ahead of themselves, but Randy and I never really set any timetable with it. It was just a matter of getting it done and it’s done.”

(On his telling Daunte Culpepper the team intends to trade him contradicts earlier remarks about Culpepper) – “Well number one, I think to say that there’s not competition here because one person, one individual is not here is one way to look at it. I obviously met with Cleo Lemon this morning and you guys will get a chance to watch us practice this weekend and competition and, I believe it and I know Trent believes this, we all benefit from competition. It’s good for veteran players. It’s good for young players and there’ll be plenty of competition.”

(On him saying in the past that he would not make a decision Culpepper until he was 100 percent healthy on the field) – “I’m not sure I worded it quite that way. I don’t know that I’d say I wouldn’t make a decision and there’s still some things that are taking place and again, I’ll probably address that better here in a day or so because there’s some things that Randy and I are working on.”

(On if Culpepper participated in practice on Wednesday) – “He was still in rehab, in a rehab mode today.”

(On if he expects Culpepper to be in minicamp this weekend) – “I think the thing that we really started off saying with this press conference is it’s about Trent and Julie Green and their family. We’re thrilled that Trent is here and we’ll welcome his family to the Miami Dolphins and to this area and I think he spoke to that and he’ll be able to handle all those questions. Randy and I are working on some things. I’ll be able to shed more light on that with the minicamp because I’m going to get a chance to visit with all of you in the minicamp this weekend and be more than happy to answer those questions starting Friday. But today, men and ladies, is about Trent Green and his family. I think at some point in time, we’ve got to respect that. Let’s just go in that direction, if we could.”

(On Trent Green being a mentor for John Beck) – “Trent knows this, and I think I’ve talked to you guys a little bit, we’ve shared this a little bit, the environment we try to create in our quarterback room is one where all the guys are working together. I think that’s critical. I think we don’t take a starter and put him on a pedestal. We have everybody working together. Trent knows what it’s like to be the fourth, then the third, then the backup and then be the starter. So he understands. He has sat in every seat in that room so he knows the value of having being a mentor, he knows the value of being able to learn from somebody else and we do, along with Terry Shea, we create that environment because every guy has got to develop the mindset that they’re one step away. Now, the veteran quarterback doesn’t have all this time to spend with the younger guys. Sometimes they just need to open their eyes and it’s more about what a veteran quarterback does, I’ve always thought, for the young guys than what he necessarily says. If a young quarterback is willing to open his eyes and just watch and study, there’s nothing like a picture for a young guy to learn and I can’t think of a better one than Trent.”

(On Terry Shea having worked with Trent Green in Kansas City) – “Again, we talked about whether you call it luck, fate, good fortune, whatever you want to call it. We kind of chuckled about it. Terry Shea was hired and there was no knowledge of Trent Green being available. Then here this comes together. So obviously they have a great relationship. He can talk to you about that. I think that is a plus. Again, the Chargers, the Chiefs, the Rams, there’s several teams that are running this system so there’s probably a 10-15 percent difference but that will be good for he and Terry to kind of translate some of the changes that I’ve made over the years in the system. So I think that’s going to help us and Terry Shea will be a big part of that.”


(On if the Dolphins offense is similar to Kansas City’s) – “It is. The base system itself is the same. Like Cam just touched on, it’s probably about 80-85 percent the same terminology. It’s all the same offense. It’s like part of the country calls it soda and part of it calls it pop, that kind of how it’s evolved. When you go Norv Turner, Ernie Zampese, Joe Gibbs, Mike Martz, Cam Cameron, Al Saunders, they all kind of put their own little twist on it. There are different variations that come with the offense, but the base part of the offense – the fundamentals, the reads, the shifts, the movements and those types of things – those aren’t different. I know when we moved from Washington to St. Louis, Mike and I did, there was some things that we had to change just to make it easier for the linemen to understand the protections based on what they had done in previous years. From St. Louis to Kansas City, Al Saunders got with the offensive coaches and said, ‘this is what we call it.’ They said, ‘well, in our system we call it this,’ so we tweaked it a little bit. It’s going to be the same thing. I don’t see it being too much of a problem. It is going to be more the terminology, but the base fundamentals of the offense have maintained the same.”

(On how unsettling the Dolphins offensive line is to him with there possibly being a new starter at every position) – “I guess you can look at it two ways. Maybe it’s an untapped resource that people don’t realize how good it is. The other thing is maybe there is going to be a learning curve. We’ll just have to see. I know that Cam excited about the changes that have happened on the offensive line and I trust him. That is one of the things that we talked about over the last several weeks. We went through some changes in Kansas City last season and there were some growing pains with the guys we had. I asked him about the changes he was making on the offensive line and what direction he was going to have to go and I feel comfortable with that. I feel comfortable knowing Cam as an evaluator and Cam as a play-caller to put people in position to have success. You look at what he was able to do last year as offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers and started a rookie left tackle and it ended up being one of the best offenses, if not the best offense, in the league last year. That was with a rookie left tackle. It’s getting different now with the shift to the right tackle position, but the left tackle position for most teams is the most important spot. His talent as a play-caller and a talent evaluator, I have the utmost confidence in so I feel good about that.”

(On if he has had a chance learn the Dolphins playbook while waiting for the trade to be completed) – “None of that had taken place. I was still a member of the Chiefs so by no means did they give me a playbook. I just had conversations with Terry (Shea) because frankly we only live about a mile apart in Kansas City and Carl (Peterson) had left the door open in terms of conversations taking place. I have talked with Cam and I have talked with Terry. Terry had just expressed to me, ‘Trent you are not going to have a problem when you get here because it is about 80-85 percent the same of what we’ve done in Kansas City.’ Now there is going to be a learning curve like I mentioned. Some of the terminology is a little bit different, but like I said we tweaked it a little bit going from St. Louis to Kansas City. Other than them just expressing that it is not going to be a major overhaul for me – I just had a minicamp two or three days ago in Kansas City and had to call plays and run plays there. I wasn’t studying the Miami playbook because that would not have done me any good having success in the Kansas City camp. I am looking forward getting started on that.”

(On there was ever a point when he thought the deal would not get done) – “Like I said in some previous comments, I kept my mouth shut until the draft because at that point in time there were some things said from Carl and from the Chiefs that this would be done by the draft and we would do everything we could to have it done by the draft. When it didn’t happen, then yeah, some frustration mounted. That’s when I started to have doubts about whether it would go through or not. That’s when I make my first public comments as to how the whole thing was being handled. I’m just glad it’s done. I’m glad I’m here. I am looking forward to what we are going to do this season and years to come. I think Cam has put together a great staff. A lot of guys on the staff I’ve worked with in the past – or played against – so I know a lot of what they can do and I am just excited to be here.”

(On if there was a sense of urgency for him to get here before this weekend’s minicamp) – “There has been urgency on my part since the Chiefs made it known they didn’t want me back. So yeah, I’ve had some urgency for a while. It’s kind of awkward going into a facility to train everyday when I know they are going in a different direction. They’ve made that quite clear. There has been urgency on my part for quite some time.”

(On if Cam Cameron has told him what his role will be) – “We haven’t talked about Daunte’s role if that is what you are referring to. He hasn’t talked about how that situation is going to be cleared up. From what he said here, he and Randy (Mueller) are working on things and that will be cleared up Friday. They do expect me to come in from a leadership role as far as mentoring. It seems like when you look at my career I’ve been in all the different positions, like Cam said, four, three, two, one, back to two, back to one, injured, not injured, so I think from a leadership standpoint, I bring a lot to the table because I can relate to guys, whether they are undrafted, they are street free agents, they are first-round picks, whatever they may be, I’ve pretty much experienced it.”

(On if he expects to start) – “I expected to start when I went to Washington and was behind three other guys. I have always had that expectation. Always set the bar high. I tell my kids that all the time. Set your goals high and your expectation level should always be high. If you are shooting to be third best then you have to rearrange your priorities. My ambition and my goal are to be the starter and to help this offense be the best it can be. We all know what the defense is, it’s about getting the offense better and making us better as a team.”

(On if there are any residual effects from the concussion he suffered last season) – “No, no residual effects. That’s one of the things I would like to thank the Chiefs on. I think they set the bar on how the league should handle concussions. The fact that they gave me the amount of time to recover that was necessary – I was anxious to get back weeks earlier than they let me. What they did that I think should set a trend around the league is they handed it over to the neurosurgeon and said, ‘you tell us when he is ready to come back. If it’s up to him he’ll come back a lot quicker,’ because that’s just the way most football players are. And I did. Three weeks prior I was like, ‘I need to get back, I need to get back on the field.’ They handed it all over to the neurosurgeon. They said when you give us clearance to start practicing, to start running, to start lifting, to take contact, we’ll go on your guidelines. I commend them for that. They handled that situation great.”

(On if that was his first concussion and if he has any loss of memory) – “It was my first concussion. As far as loss of memory there is about a 20-25 minute window they said I won’t ever recover. From the moment I was knocked out on the field, the first thing I really remember was the ambulance ride to the hospital. They said that was a 20-25 minute window. Other than that I remember everything.”

(On if he is fearful that there will be lingering effects) – “There isn’t because I have had one. I think the majority of those studies that have been done are on multiple concussions and on recurring concussions happening in a short time frame – guys come back too quickly. It’s called stacking when you get a concussion stacked onto another one. The fact that I had eight weeks to recover, extensive testing in a number of different areas, I don’t have that fear. The neurosurgeon, the neurophysiologist that I dealt with in Kansas City and the ones that I dealt with in Pittsburgh told me there was no documentation as far as long-term dementia, Alzheimer’s, neurological issues if you, number one, let yourself heal properly, which I think they allowed me to do and number two, don’t get them stacked. Usually the problem with stacking is returning too fast. None of those problems occurred so I don’t anticipate them being any problems. The number one thing for me coming back to the field, because I know how scared my family was when that whole thing happened, was I had to have insurance from the doctors that I was at no greater risk going back in that Raider game as I was going into the opener against Cincinnati. They gave that assurance based on the fact that everything was clear for at least three weeks. The fact that there were no symptoms, I had passed numerous neuropsych tests, that they gave me those assurances and I have not had any problems and I don’t anticipate there being any more problems.”

(On if he feels for Daunte Culpepper) – “I have been in this situation a few times. I do feel for his situation. It’s no fun. I went through it, obviously, in Kansas City these last few months. In St. Louis I got hurt, Kurt (Warner) came in, did a great job, obviously with MVP seasons and everything else, but I knew I had to move on and find a place to play so I completely understand it. The thing that gets missed in a lot of this – we play football, Daunte does that for a living, I do it for a living – you factor in the family part of it. That’s where the frustration came for me the last couple of months because I knew that I wanted to move down here, I wanted to get my family situated, I wanted to find an area, get involved in the community and all those things I touched on earlier. So I know Daunte is going through similar things having a family and those are issues you want cleared up. You don’t want it to drag out and that was something that there was potential for this to drag out that long. There was potential for Kansas City to take me all the way to training camp and see what happens. That is really what I didn’t want. I did not want to be a mid-August release or trade because then you are really put in a tough bind from a player standpoint. Like Cam said, that is going to be addressed here in the next couple days. I know they met with Daunte this morning, Randy (Mueller) met with him, and hopefully things will get cleared up quickly for him. I know it’s no fun. The whole hanging in limbo thing, that is not fun for anybody, but especially the stressed that it puts on your family. The football part of it, that’s our job and that’s what we do for a living, but he family part of it is something you deal with on an everyday basis. The emotions of dealing with your children, your spouse and your family members, that is tough on everybody.”

(On how he feels about grooming John Beck) – “It’s a little unusual. I’ve never really looked at it that way. It’s similar to what I went through last year with Brodie Croyle. The way I’ve always approached it, and Cam touched on it a little bit as well, is it’s not my job to pull him aside and teach him the offense. That is what Terry Shea is here for. That is what Cam is going to do. I think the best thing for him to do is to watch how I prepare, watch how I study tape, watch how I practice, how I interact with other players and then he has to develop his own way. I said the same thing to Brodie. I told him the same thing I’m telling you, once you see how I do it, once you see, in Brodie’s case, once you see how Damon Huard does it, you have to develop your own way to be a leader. You have to develop your own way to interact with guys in the locker room and take charge in the huddle and those kinds of things. You have to be your own personality. Don’t try to being me or don’t try being Damon. So I think John, number one, is watch and learn as much as he can. The other thing I told Brodie is I will answer anything you want to ask from an offensive standpoint – reads, progressions, shifts, movements, all those kinds of things – and I’ll tell John the same thing when I see him. Don’t hesitate to ask. I’m not trying make it a big secret. I remember a conversation I had with Bubby Brister and he was telling me one of his first few years in the league he was trying to learn and the veteran quarterback at the time, Bubby asked him a question, and he just kind of patted him on the rear and said go get him rook, you’re on your own. That doesn’t do anybody any good. Fortunately, Bubby was strong enough to overcome that and have a career. I’ll do what I can to help him. I am not going to hold his hand, but hopefully he can learn through that.”


(On being the latest to try to fill Dan Marino’s shoes) – “Well that’s a great honor. I’m a huge fan of professional football and the NFL. You’re not going to find anybody to replace Dan Marino. What he’s done for this community, number one, the charitable work that he and his wife have done, there aren’t many people that can say they’re even close to that level. As a player, his numbers speak for themselves. So I’m just going to try and be myself and try and lead the best way I know how and be a part of a winning football team and not trying to fill anybody’s shoes and trying to be Dan Marino or be anybody else for that matter. I’m just going to prepare as hard as I can, play as hard as I can and hopefully that comes across to the fans and comes across to my teammates and people realize that that’s what I’m about. I’m just about trying to help this team win and find a way to get in the end zone, score points and like I said win football games.”

(On how much longer he thinks he can play especially considering he has not played as much football as one would expect from a 37-year-old) – “My body feels great and you answered the question. The other 37-year-old quarterback in the league right now has played probably 100 or so more games than I have. So I feel from the body standpoint, I feel really good. Whether it’s two years, three years, four years, whatever it may be, as long as I feel good and I feel like I’m playing at a high level and I’m contributing to help this team win, I want to keep playing. I don’t want to put any sort of label on, ok I’m playing two more years, four more years, whatever it may be because I enjoy doing this. I enjoy coming to work everyday. I enjoy the mental part of it. I enjoy the physical part from training, the locker room atmosphere, there’s just a lot that I enjoy about it and I’m not ready to stop and I look forward to many years of playing and whenever it’s time, it’s time. But I’m not going to put any sort of restriction or cap on it.”

(On if he would continue playing if he was a backup) – “You know what, I’m just not there mentally right now. If I were I would have stayed in Kansas City. My mindset is to be a starter and I still feel like I can play at a high level. I still feel like I’ve got a lot of football left in me and I guess when that time comes when I have to make that decision there’s a lot of quarterbacks that have made that decision and have held on for three, four, five years in a backup role and done that. But right now that’s not my mindset and if it was you guys would be really worried. If I had that mindset, like I said, I would have stayed in Kansas City because that was a role they wanted me to take. I can’t say anymore than that.”

(On him not playing well after returning from his injury) – “Well I think the injury obviously has a lot to do with it. Anytime you take two months off and then try and return, it’s going to affect you even though I had practiced for a couple of weeks. The timing was different. I think a lot that had changed was our offense. Our offensive philosophy had changed – new head coach, new offensive coordinator. They had tried to maintain the offense in the preseason and then I get knocked out in the first game. So the focus really changed on offense and then kind of our approach. So when I came back I was coming back really to a new offense. Just kind of how I fit into it and how it was run, how it was called, how we all just kind of meshed together, we just never really got in sync. We did have a couple of games here and there – the Cleveland game, the Jacksonville game, series from time to time, but there never was really any continuity or fluid sustained drives. There was just a comfort zone there that was missing. But like I said, any time you miss a couple of months during the season and try to come back it makes it hard. But there was definitely a change in the atmosphere on the offensive side.”

(On what he thinks of the Dolphins offense) – “I think the potential is great. Chris Chambers obviously has been to a Pro Bowl and has played at very high level. I’ve know Chris for a couple of years. I don’t know him from the football sense but I’ve been with him at different functions and so I’ve gotten to know him and I think that I like what I read. He’s had some quotes about last year was disappointing for him and so I think anytime you come off of a disappointing season it gives you a little bit more fire, a little bit more desire and everything I’ve heard and even watching some tape today, he’s playing at a very high level and excited about what this offense is going to do and be a part of this year. Then you look at some of the young guys, Ronnie Brown and Lorenzo Booker they brought in. Did I say that right? Is it Lorenzo? I am trying to learn everybody. I know Marty Booker. I’m just trying to get everybody’s names down. You can go down a who’s who of the running backs I’ve been with, but Ronnie, I guess his rookie year, he had about a 70-yard run against us when we were here for that Friday night game. He went about 65-70 yards to open up the second half so I’ve seen it first-hand what he can do. After watching film today, he has a lot better hands than I thought. They’ve never really utilized him in that standpoint, but he did a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield from what I saw. I’m excited to work with him. There’s a lot of good, young talent and I’m excited. Like I said earlier, Cam does a great job of calling plays and putting guys in position to have success. There’s a talent that comes to calling plays and putting guys in position to have success and he has that. He’s proven that in San Diego and so I’m looking forward to that combination of things to happen.”

(On if he said he has watched film and what he has watched.) – “I’ve already watched an hour or so of the practices that have been going on the last few days just to kind of get to know my teammates. This is what this guy can do. This is what you need to work on with this guy. This is some potential plays we can do with this guy and you just start looking and evaluating and figuring out guys. I love that part of it. I spent some time today doing that.”

(On if he thinks he owes the jumpstarting of his career to Cam Cameron) – “He had a big part to do with that. He definitely did. I don’t know how much of the story Cams’ told you but in Washington there’s no indoor facility. So I went there in February of 1995 having sat out most of that year and spent a couple of weeks in Canada up in B.C. I said, ‘how are we going to do this?’ He said, ‘well there’s this little indoor soccer arena over here that the youth soccer league plays on.’ So we actually went over to this indoor barn and threw routes around there and I thought that was a little unusual, but that’s all they had at the time. He came back and talked to Norv (Turner) and Norv said, ‘what do you think?’ and he goes, ‘I think we should sign him,’ and Cam was a little shocked when Norv said okay, well let’s sign him. He just took him on his word and went from there. I definitely feel a connection to Cam and owe him a lot. Like I said, I think the world of him and his family. I think he stands for everything that’s right, just the values that he and his family have. I’m excited to reunite with him and hopefully do some great things for the Dolphins.”

Now tell me what you think.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Culpepper told he's outta here

Daunte Culpepper this morning sent me the following email:


This morning I met with Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron. They finally notified me that they are going in a different direction at the QB position. They would like to trade me in order to “get something for me”. However, it is my position that I have already been down that road and I am not interested in being traded. They have told me throughout the off-season that I am under contract to the Dolphins. Therefore, it will be up to them to either keep me under contract or release me. In the meantime I will continue to work out at the facility with the team and prepare myself for training camp, wherever it may be.


So what does this mean? It is going to get ugly, folks. Just as I predicted.

And oh, by the way, where are all the naysayers and journalism experts who said I was crazy when I reported in April that this was coming?

Also, read my post below because this definitely means Cam Cameron's words about having a competition at every position was bunk.

Finally, the Dolphins will be the subject of Outside the Lines on ESPN this afternoon. The network, no doubt, will tell you about Miami's inability to find a heir to Dan Marino after six seasons, countless wasted draft picks, a handful of dubious trades, and several misbegotten free agent signings.

In other words, ESPN will be shining an uncomfortable light on the franchise's darkness.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Dolphins soap opera at QB has now begun

It could be argued that after nearly three months of posturing and brinkmanship, the Dolphins and Chiefs finally ended their soap opera of sorts by finally getting the Trent Green trade done this evening.

But I would tell you the drama has only just begun.

It's going to get veeeery interesting around Dolphins camp as early as today. Green will be in town sometime Wednesday to take a physical and sign his new contract -- one by the way that pays him like a starter if he is the starter.

That means the Dolphins will have five, countem', five quarterbacks on the roster assuming Gibran Hamdan is not sacrificed to the waiver wire. That also means the Dolphins will have on their hands two quarterbacks who fancy themselves the team's 2007 starter.

And that means the Dolphins have a problem on several levels.

There is only one of two ways this can now play out. The Dolphins welcome Green while either releasing or trading Daunte Culpepper. Or the Dolphins welcome Green and hold on to Culpepper and let the two go at it in a legit may-the-best-man win quarterback competition.

There's trouble with both scenarios.

If the Dolphins let go of Culpepper, by either releasing or trading him, they effectively establish the pecking order for the quarterback position. They settle an unsettled position. But they also expose coach Cam Cameron as someone who was not sincere when he said that every position is open to competition.

If every position is indeed open to competition, you can't just waive or trade a player such as Culpepper without giving him a chance to, well, compete. And you really can't do it if he's not on the field and 100 percent healthy because that shows you had no intention of ever having a legitimate competition in the first place.

Aside from casting an aspersion on Cameron's word, such a move would also send a bad message to the players competing at other positions. How can they believe it when the coach says there's open competition if he just showed you he doesn't really mean it when he says it?

On the other hand, if Cameron decides that he has two valuable commodities on his roster and lets them actually compete, it saves his reputation and makes him seem true to his word. But it exposes the locker room, particularly the quarterback room, to an unnerving situation.

There simply isn't enough room on the Miami roster for two egos like Culpepper and Green, even for a short amount of time that would include the upcoming minicamp and training camp and preseason. There simply aren't enough practice snaps (assuming both are healthy) to make both feel comfortable. There simply doesn't seem to be a way to keep them both engaged while also avoiding the team from fraying into two camps.

And that's what would happen. One camp would back Green, the guy who knows the offense better. The other camp would back Culpepper, the younger guy whose been here longer and whose only sin in possibly losing his job has been to be injured.

I've seen such a split in the past -- when Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feeley were around, and when Gus Frerotte and Sage Rosenfels were around. I even saw some of it when Scott Mitchell and Steve DeBerg were around. (Yeah, I go back that far.)

The Dolphins will have to make the better of two tough choices in the coming days and weeks.

My prediction? Well, let's see, I reported sometime in April that once Green got here, Culpepper would be either released or traded. I believe that route is the one the Dolphins will travel.

Yes, it will make people question Cameron's credibility for a while. And yes, it will lead to second-guessing, especially if Culpepper winds up recovering from his knee injury and playing well for someone else.

That's why it looks like the drama is only now getting started.