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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Time for answers to Miami's questions

Ok geniuses, you figure it out.

Your team is 0-4. Your defense can't stop the run. Your offense has an aging, inconsistent quarterback. Your special teams isn't special.

The roster is what it is so you can't really go out and trade for Tom Brady or Randy Moss or Kevin Williams.

So what do you do? How do you salvage what remains of this season?

And please don't tell me play John Beck because he's just not ready and that would be feeding him to the wolves at this point. In November, maybe, but not yet.

Ready? Go.

Zach inactive, live blogging during the game

I will be on the net with a play-by-play commentary of the game today so join me in the commentary section and let me know what you think.

This is a big day for the Dolphins defense. Today will tell us if there is any hope for this unit this year or if the decline is in full bloom. Why?

No. 1 The Raiders come into today wanting/expecting to run the ball. The Dolphins come into today wanting/expecting to stop the run. The Dolphins MUST impose their will on Oakland in this fundamental strategic portion of the game in order to give the Dolphins a chance to win.

No. 2 Daunte Culpepper starts for Oakland. He is a statue. So the Dolphins, which have been poor at applying pressure to the quarterback, should be able to do it against Culpepper. If they cannot do it today, they simply won't be able to do it this year.

No. 3 Defensive coordinator Dom Capers will blitz and zone blitz more today than he has all season. It's about time. The players must convince Capers they can be trusted so he'll continue to do this.

No. 4 Zach Thomas will not play today. He is inactive. Channing Crowder has to step up. It's a big day for him.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dan Marino still the greatest of all time?

Dan Marino was a great quarterback and, once upon a time, when the argument about the GREATEST of all time would come, I would always contend the Miami quarterback was the guy because, well, look at the numbers.

Sure Joe Montana had the Super Bowl rings, but Danny had the TD passes. And completions record. And yards record. You get the drift.

Unfortunately, Dan Marino will soon not be able to dominate the GREATEST of all time conversation like he used to. Brett Favre could pass Marino for career TD passes as early as Sunday -- the record Marino has told me he most prized. So it becomes impossible to state Danny was the greatest of all time as a fact.

Not only does he not have the stats, but he still doesn't have a ring. Favre will have both. And in about five years, barring unexpected circumstance, when Peyton Manning passes Favre, the Indy QB also will have both a ring (or more) and the stats.

By the way here's a comparison between Marino and Favre from my friends at STATS:

Starts: Marino 240, Favre 240.
Wins: Marino 147, Favre 150.
TD Passes: Marino 420, Favre 420.
Super Bowl victories: Marino 0, Favre 1.

So the obvious point is it can no longer be logically argued Marino is the greatest of all time without having good counter-arguments come back at you. Maybe he's among the greats, but he no longer has the GREATEST spot locked up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Porter needs to lead by example not exuberance

Joey Porter is a great interview. For the sake of the Miami Dolphins he needs to start being a good player.

Porter was on fire Wednesday. Surrounded by notebooks and microphones and cameras, he was waxing strong with the quotes and at one point delivered something of a guarantee about Sunday's game against Oakland.

"Write it how you want to write it," Porter said. "We will win on Sunday."

Well, this is how I want to write it. Make a play Mr. Porter. You've made no more than a handful of tackles since joining the Miami Dolphins. I appreciate the guarantee of victory. Can you guarantee a sack?

Porter, a fine player with the Steelers, often motivated his Pittsburgh peers with similar predictions. But he always led the charge in the making-plays department to make the predictions come to pass. So far, he's failed to deliver in Miami -- except when criticizing coaching strategy.

Which he did Wednesday when he implied defensive coordinator Dom Capers hasn't been utilizing players as they are most effective.

"The strength of our defense is going out there and letting us fly around, blitzing, getting after the quarterback, putting pressure on the quarterback," Porter said. "Let's not sit back there and let the quarterback have four or five seconds to dissect our defense. Let's let him have two seconds and hopefully we can make him make a bad decision."

Porter promises you will see a different Miami defense Sunday.

"We don't feel like we're an 0-3 team," Porter said. "We've played better. We haven't played to where we need to be but we know what we have on this team. We lost some games where things just fell apart and on defense we're doing things different from what we planned on doing. We've kind of adapted to them instead of letting them adapt to us."

OK, Mr. Porter, go lead the charge. Lead by example.

OK Dauntephiles, this is your day

I'm going to be brief and then let you guys have at it.

1. The Dolphins were correct to let Daunte Culpepper go. The guy today is still not 100 percent healthy and may start Sunday against the Dolphins only because Josh McCown, who is not exactly a stellar QB but beat him out anyway, is hurt.

2. The way the Dolphins executed the Culpepper exit was wrong. Coach Cam Cameron should have told Culpepper the team would do what was best for the team. Period. That way Culpepper wouldn't have been told he would have a chance to compete for a starting job -- which he never did. Cameron also shouldn't have embarrassed Culpepper by announcing, in front of the entire team, that Culpepper would not be playing again for the Dolphins.

3. The Dolphins should never have allowed Culpepper to go on the field that fateful minicamp day back in May only to then tell him he couldn't participate in all the drills. That led to Culpepper's infamous march off the field and the personal press releases from the QB that he handed out in the Miami locker room.

4. Why is it the Dolphins, more than any team seemingly, have players around the league that hate them? In Cleveland Brady Quinn and Braylon Edwards hate the Dolphins. Culpepper wants revenge on the Dolphins. Randy McMichael was so angry at the Dolphins when they let him go, he hung up on ME when I called him about it. He later called me back and did an interview but admitted, anything associated with the Dolphins (including this reporter) left a bad taste in his mouth. David Bowens wanted to play in New York because, of course, that gave him a chance to beat the Dolphins twice a year. Why can't we all get along?

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

One reason Miami's special teams aren't special

So now all of Miami's players are going to be made available to play special teams because, well, Miami's special teams are production-challenged.

I can understand the grand desire to search the entire roster for special teams help, but why didn't the Dolphins consider the special teams in the offseason. You know, that's when most of Miami's core special teams players went elsewhere.

Sammy Morris? He's in New England.

Travis Minor? He's in St. Louis.

David Bowens? He's in New York, the team that just returned a kickoff 98 yards against the Dolphins.

Jim Maxwell? He got cut in the preseason.

That's four guys that excelled on special teams for the Dolphins dating back to last year and beyond. You get rid of four special teams players out of 11 starters, you shouldn't be surprised you have issues.

Oh, and this doesn't even count the fact the Dolphins also decided not to keep punter Donnie Jones and returner Wes Welker, two moves I did agree with.

The point is the moves that seemed inconsequential when studied individually have added up to a troublesome issue for Miami's special teams when the entire picture is taken into account. The Dolphins need to think about that in the future.

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The coaching needs to improve also

Let me start out by relating the old adage about coaching: High school coaches adjust to things next game, college coaches adjust to things next half, NFL coaches adjust to things next play.

The coaching for the Dolphins right now is, shall we say, not getting it done.

As you saw Sunday, Dolphins special teams coach Keith Armstrong was pretty much out-coached by former Dolphins special teams coach Mike Westhoff. Not only did Westhoff get a TD out of his teams, it happened when Miami's kickoff team inexplicably had only three players on the side of the field where Leon Washington ran through for his 98-yard TD.

There were problems with the calling of a time out in the third quarter in what looked like an attempt to ice New York's kicker before a 21-yarde field goal, but really was caused because Miami didn't have the right personnel on the field. That's coaching.

There was also the now habitual penalty on Jason Allen that costs Miami field position. Why can't they coach this guy up?

And don't even get me started on that squib kick stuff. Squib the entire half until you get it corrected at halftime? That was Cameron's idea after Washington's TD.

To which I say, Brother, correct it on the sideline before the next kick.

Defensively, coaches seem to have resolved last week's arm-tackling troubles by working the first team offense against the first team defense in practice. But this defense is like an aging dam and when you patch one leak, another seems to spring up somewhere else.

So yesterday players were complaining about getting used to new positions along the line of scrimmage. Vonnie Holliday and Keith Traylor were playing defensive tackles -- even though Holliday is probably better suited for end and Traylor is a nose tackle. This while Jason Taylor and Joey Porter spent much of the day in three-point stances, when both have typically been successful as standup rushers in recent years.

It was a significant change. And it did not work.

Then there's the offense. The first reaction is that Miami is improving on offense. Ronnie Brown had his finest day. Things are looking good. Well, can I ask why it took three games for Cam Cameron to give Ronnie Brown the ball and end his infatuation with Jesse Chatman?

And even in a game when Brown is doing great work, why not feed him the ball on Miami's only drive of the third quarter. The Dolphins got the ball, down 24-13, and gave Brown the ball twice in a row, picking up a first down. Then Cameron passed three consecutive plays, the last one resulting in an interception.

The Dolphins didn't see the football again until 12:45 was left in the fourth quarter and they were down, 31-13. It's stuff like this that shows you Miami's coaching staff is still figuring out what it doesn't know.

But it's stuff like this that also costs the team a chance to win.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Live blogging action today during the game

The Steve Fifita experiment is over the Dolphins.

A lot of you asked me during the week why it was that rookie Paul Soliai was not active for last week's game while Steve Fifita took his spot. Well, today Fifita is inactive and Soliai is active again.

Truth be told, neither has been outstanding in giving vet Keith Traylor time to rest during games. On another front, as I reported earlier this week, cornerback Michael Lehan is starting in place of Travis Daniels who has moved to safety.

And, by the way, the Lorenzo Booker inactive streak is at three games now, which kinda stinks since the Dolphins season is only three games old.

I will be blogging live during the game.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

With Zach out, Crowder must step up BIGTIME

Zach Thomas missed his third consecutive day of practice Friday because of a mild concussion and is out for Sunday's Jets game at the Meadowlands.


We turn to Channing Crowder. He is the happy-go-lucky guy with the big smile and ready-quotes. And he is also Miami's best LB if Zach isn't playing.

So he's elected as the starting middle linebacker if Thomas cannot go. Either Derrick Pope or Donnie Spragan would likely go to the outside linebacker spot vacated by Crowder.

The loss of Zach is exactly what it implies -- a loss and a huge one at that. But the loss would likely come in that the cummulative talent of the Miami linebacker crew would drop, not necessarily at the MLB spot.

Dolphins personnel people thought earlier in training camp that Crowder was the best linebacker on the team. They annointed him the heir to Zach's spot and believe the dropoff will be minimal if any once Crowder takes the spot.

Sure, the Dolphins would lose the well-studied player Zach is. Had Thomas been a certain starter Sunday he would have been in the Dolphins facility studying Wednesday night. Don't know about Crowder.

But they would gain a slightly more physical presence. Speed is pretty much a wash between the two guys.

The problem comes in that neither Pope nor Spragan approach Crowder in talent or ability.

So the loss of Thomas hurts. But it hurts at the outside linebacker spot vacated by Crowder. It doesn't necessarily kill Miami in the middle.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why Jason Taylor and not Zach Thomas

As many of you know, I wrote a column in The Herald today suggesting the Dolphins should trade Jason Taylor. The column:

Anyway, reaction has been mixed with some fans calling me names on the Internet they wouldn't have the courage to call me in person. Other fans are understanding that, nothing personal, but football business is sometimes cold and the Dolphins need to do drastic things to get better.

Anyway, as you might notice in the column, there is no mention of Zach Thomas. None. Miami's second-best player is not mentioned in a trade scenario possibility for one simple reason: The Dolphins wouldn't get value in return.

While Taylor could fetch a first-round pick or multiple second-round picks, Thomas doesn't have the same value on the trade market. First he plays a position that is easier to fill either in the draft or free agency so he's not as valuable as a pass-rusher.

Secondly, Thomas is one year older than Taylor and his contract expires one year before Taylor's so his shelf life is shorter. Thirdly, Thomas is an over-achieving, high-RPM, film room addict. He is not prototypical in stature, weight or speed. So teams would be less likely to give up very much for him.

Zach's worth to the Dolphins is simply much higher than his worth on the open market. So he stays -- which can be either fortunate or unfortunate for him, depending on how you look at it.

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 17, 2007

A glance around the NFL must be painful to Dolphins

It hurts these Dolphins that they have problems in every facet of the game, with an offense that throws four interceptions, a defense that can't stop the run and a special teams that is anything but special.

But aside from their internal pains, the Dolphins must look around the NFL now and feel sick.

Miami, it seems, has done little right in making personnel decisions for quite a long time now. And that seed of bad decisions is starting to bring in a harvest of wrath.

Let's begin in Cleveland. The Dolphins in 2005 passed on receiver Braylon Edwards and went instead with Ronnie Brown. This after Nick Saban ordered then GM Rick Spielman to tell Edwards' agent the Dolphins were going to draft the Michigan star.

They didn't. Well, Brown is OK behind a challenged offensive line. But Edwards is more productive despite playing with an equally challenged offense. They both scored 9 TDs their first two years but Edwards seems to be finally nearing his potential this year, with 11 catches for nearly 200 yards his first two games.

Brown, meanwhile, was iced on the bench Sunday because he is not a favorite of coach Cam Cameron. Cameron went to different packages in the fourth quarter with 11 minutes to play and those packages included Jesse Chatman over Brown.

That is not the only place Miami's running back woes beg questions. Sammy Morris, whose rushing average was practically equal to Brown last season, was let go in free agency. Well, he's in New England now as the backup. He's outgained Brown this year while playing only part time. And, in fact, his 105 yards is only 22 yards behind Miami's team total rushing yardage so far. Yikes.

Let's stay with the Pats for a second. Both Miami and the Pats went out and signed a high-priced outside linebacker in free agency this offseason. The Dolphins signed Joey Porter who has like four tackles and has made zero impact plays so far.

The Pats signed Adalius Thomas, who is already paying dividends on his deal, having intercepted a pass and returned it 65 yards for a TD Sunday against San Diego. Now, I know the season is still young. But is there anyone out there who believes Porter will outplay Thomas this year? Anybody? Speak up!

Finally, I ask you to take a quick scan of the first round of the 2006 NFL draft. Top to bottom it was a very good class as there are only a couple of players that don't contribute significantly to their teams right now.

One of those players? Miami's Jason Allen who plays only on special teams on Sunday after serving as a scout team player during the week. This doesn't mean Allen cannot be a contributor five or seven years down the line when he finally figures things out. But right now, when Miami needs young talent to step up, he's nowhere to be found.

So look around the NFL and pick out any player in that first round class and wonder what might be if the Dolphins had picked them instead.

It hurts.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Live blog today during the game ...

Before I give you the latest news, I should tell you that I will be blogging live during the game. So all of us with no friends to sit around and watch the game with can sit around together in cyberspace.

Today's inactive offers one interesting move:

Rookie defensive tackle Paul Soliai, who played a lot last week behind Keith Traylor, is inactive today. Veteran Steven Fifita will be the backup NT.

Rod Wright, Abraham Wright, Lamont Thompson, Andre' Goodman, Lorenzo Booker and John Beck as the third quarterback are the other inactives.

Terence Newman is not going to play for the Cowboys, making Miaim's matchups throwing the football more attractive. Nathan Jones, a fourth-year guy out of Rutgers, will start in Newman's place.

Remember I'll be updating and blogging live right at kickoff. My comments will appear in the comments section.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Has Porter done enough to stay on the field?

The biggest story of last week's lockerroom, after the loss to Washington, was Joey Porter complaining loud and long about not being on the field in overtime when the game was on the line.

At first, it didn't sound right that Miami's signature free agent signee wouldn't be in the game when Miami needs him most. It sounded like a coaching staff out-smarting itself. But further review tells us that Porter agreed to come out when he was approached about the idea earlier in the week.

Dolphins coaches, not wanting to over-extend Porter after he missed the entire preseason after knee surgery, told him he would come out in nickel and dime packages. Porter agreed.

"I got the heads up going into the game I was going to play in certain packages,'' Porter said. "But I didn't think about it until it was happening and when it was happening, they were finding a way and a mismatch and that was getting us in nickel and running the ball against us. And it was alright to deal with it in the first half but as the game got on the line, me being the competitor I am, I don't ever want to be on the sideline when the game's on the line."

So why did Miami coaches decided on this tact? They were forced to by Porter not knowing all the nickel package assignments he's supposed to know. So Miami coaches had no real choice removing a player that didn't have the best understanding of the assignment from the game.

What were they supposed to do -- let Porter remain in the game and not know what he's supposed to do?

It's up to Porter to understand that it is his responsibility to learn the playbook and give coaches no option but to put him in the game.

"I can't blame anybody but myself because if I new the playbook like I'm supposed to and me missing the preseason, if I had known something like that would happen, I would have tried harder to be on the field," Porter said. "I'm going to do whatever I can to put myself in a situation so I won't be in the situation I was in last week."

That, of course, leads me to this question: Why wasn't Joey Porter trying his hardest BEFORE this happened? Why didn't he know the playbook BEFORE the problem arose?

Your thoughts?


Thursday, September 13, 2007

How Trent Green is going to deal with this adversity

So how is Trent Green going to deal with dropped passes?

You saw Sunday that he had plenty of opportunities to react to balls placed in receiver's hands that were dropped. Years ago, Dolphins fans would see Dan Marino spew expletive punctuated poison whenever receivers would run bad routes or drop easy catches.

Green had five passes dropped on him last Sunday. And as he says, "Everybody's got their own thing. You got quarterbacks that are in your face guys. You have pointers, screamers, yellers. But that's not me."

Green is apparently one to nurture his receivers, to build up, to encourage.

"What you do is try to encourage and try and lead and say, 'Next time I'm coming back to you.' And that's what happened with Chris [Chambers]," Green said. "After he had that drop, the very next play he stepped up and made that catch over the middle.

"Sometimes you can't get back to them on the next play, but if they get back in the huddle, you say, 'Hey come on, I'm counting on you, that would have been a first down.' But it's never in a negative way. I've never approached it that way. If I'm screaming, yelling and pointing fingers, for me that doesn't work, because I'm not going to be perfect. And I wasn't perfect in the game Sunday.''

Don't mistake nurturing and encouragement for acceptance. Green says that while he may not yell at his receiver after a drop, he's definitely not going to let the drop simply go unnoticed.

"I never ignore it because I believe it's something that needs to be talked about," Green said. "Like what happened with Dave [Martin]. Immediately he goes to the bench and sits down and obviously he's disappointed. He's more mad than anybody else could possibly be because he knows he let himself down, he let his team down. So I see him go sit down and everybody is giving him his space. Nobody's sitting near him.

"So the first person I went to is Dave and said, 'Hey are you OK?' And he said, 'Yeah I got to make that catch.' And I said, 'You're good, we call that play again, I'm coming back to you. We need to make that catch, you know that, I know that. But that's not going to make me stop throwing it to you.' That's what works for me."

Your thoughts?

The importance of a good start

If the Dolphins are to have any chance of being a halfway decent team this year, a team that sniffs playoff contention, they have to beat Dallas on Sunday.

That's not me saying that. That's history.

In the past two seasons, only one team out of 24 that made the playoffs, recovered from an 0-2 start to make it to the postseason.

Kansas City started last season 0-2 and still made the playoffs. Of course, the Chiefs had a quick exit when Trent Green played poorly against Indianapolis. But I digress.

San Diego, Seattle, New Orleans, New England, Indianapolis, Dallas, Chicago and Baltimore all started out 2-0 and went forward. The Jets and Giants, and Philadelphia, started out 1-1 and had a good season.

The point is if it isn't happening for the Dolphins as soon as this week, it isn't happening.

And I can hear you snickering right now. You're thinking the Dolphins stink and this season will prove it.

But I say, maybe not. Maybe the Dolphins lost against what will be a pretty fair Redskins team in overtime while on the road. We'll see.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dolphins move at safety says a lot

The Dolphins were very active Tuesday, as I told you here first, signing Donovin Darius and Lamont Thompson.

But after taking a second to digest the addition of two veteran players who were on the street for a couple of weeks as recently as 24 hours ago, one must consider what it says about the depth of the Miami secondary, and the players that comprise that depth.

Understand that starting today, Travares Tillman, Darius and Thompson will likely be competing for the starting safety spot next to Renaldo Hill. Understand that Tillman has a heavy advantage in that he knows the defense, knows the calls, knows all he should know to make this competition moot.

But Darius and Thompson, unemployed as they were two days ago, may be better players than Tillman. And so even if Tillman wins the start for the Dallas game Sunday, it doesn't say much about his chances of keeping the job because, well, eventually Darius and Thompson will learn the system.

The moves today also speaks to Jason Allen's worth on the team. When Nick Saban drafted him in the first round last year, one of the values Allen brought to the table, or so we were told, was that he could play either safety or cornerback, or both.

"I can play anywhere they want me to play," Allen told me after the draft. "I can hit like a safety, cover like a corner, play nickel, dime. Anything they want."

Turns out Allen washed out at safety, hasn't been good enough at corner to get on the field consistently, and wasn't even a serious option to help his team with a move back to safety in a time of dire need.

I learned long ago not to worry too much about what coaches said about players because coaches make statements with an agenda in mind. They are either protecting the player by not ripping him or trying to motivate the player by criticizing him.

he Dolphins current coaching staff doesn't criticize. So you're not going to hear quotes from Cam Cameron admitting Allen wasn't good enough to consider or that Tillman's days as a starter -- assuming he gets some -- are numbered.

Instead you have to understand what Cameron and his staff really think by what they do.

So what statement do you think Miami made about a couple of its players today?

Miami's options for replacing Bell all bad

They lost the hardest hitter in their secondary. They lost a quiet leader. They lost a physical presence. And now the Dolphins must replace Yeremiah Bell with ...

Travares Tillman, who failed at the position last year?

Jason Allen, who didn't have a chance to fail at the position because he couldn't learn the position?

Donovin Darius, who's been cut by two teams in three months?

Travis Daniels, who's never really played the position and is a starting cornerback until Andre' Goodman's shoulder finally recovers?

Nope, the Dolphins don't have too many good options for replacing one of the few young, ascending players on their defense. So this is going to have to be a moment where Miami picks the best of several bad options.

The team will work out Darius today to see if, at 32 years old, he still has some gas in the tank. To see if he can still run following multiple season-ending injuries the past couple of years. To see if he remembers any of Dom Capers system from the time the Miami defensive coordinator was Jacksonville's D-coordinator from 1999-2000.

The fact Darius is on the radar screen speaks to Miami's poor in-house choices.

Allen? He failed at safety last season because he didn't know the calls well enough to make them fast enough and then actually play them without getting burned. So the team ended that experiment this year by turning him into a cornerback ... who still isn't good enough to get on the field.

Tillman? He is a solid special teams player but was exposed last year as a starter. Remember that tight end running untouched for a TD in the Pittsburgh game? Where was he? Remember the interception that slipped through his hands in the Green Bay game?

That one went seemingly through Tillman and straight into a Green Bay receiver's hands for a game-deciding TD. At Houston? Tillman was always around the ball, but never really made the play. Tillman's inability to win onfield matchups was the reason Bell was put into the starting lineup in the first place.

And then there's Daniels. That experiment might work if the Dolphins had a full complement of cornerbacks. If Goodman was healthy, if Allen was good, if, if, if. But Miami's hands seem tied on this front at least for several more weeks.

Sooo ... We shall see in the coming days how the Dolphins make the best of some really bad options.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Little playing time in the preseason not the issue

I'm already starting hear grumblings from e-mails and radio callers that the Dolphins lost Sunday's game because they were out of shape.

I'm hearing fans say that because Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Keith Traylor and Joey Porter didn't play very much in the preseason, they got tired late in the fourth quarter and in overtime against Washington. I'm hearing them blame Cam Cameron for not working his stars harder during this training camp.

I cannot believe what I'm hearing.

While it is true, the Miami defense indeed wilted in the second half against Washington, it is not because the players were out of shape.

"I'm not tired," Taylor said afterward. "I can play for another hour. I wish we could go right back out there and start over again."

The folks making the points about guys not playing enough in the preseason obviously don't want to think about Randy Moss. He played zero plays in the preseason. He caught nine passes for 183 yards Sunday.

So give me a break on the preseason stuff. These guys were practicing, some of them twice a day. They ran, they biked. They are in shape.

Were the Dolphins tired late Sunday? Sure. Was it because they're out of shape? No, it was because they were overmatched by a bigger, better bunch of players.

Guess what? Traylor was giving ground in the fourth quarter, but he was giving ground in the first, second and third quarters also. He didn't plug the middle as he usually does, but that can have something to do with him being 37-years-old and not that he's out of shape.

Joey Porter didn't make a bunch of plays. It wasn't because he was tired or out of shape. He simply didn't factor as much as one would expect. Even Taylor, whose motor revs high throughout a game, didn't make big plays in the first half ...

... When he supposedly wasn't tired.

Ginn Jr., Chatman Miami's kick returners today

I will be doing a live blog -- as in during the game -- today. So check back for my updates between significant plays.

Meanwhile, I have learned Ted Ginn Jr. and Jesse Chatman will be returning kicks this afternoon against the Redskins.

So much for all the fanciful ideas of putting Ronnie Brown back there, or putting Marty Booker back there, or putting even Lorenzo Booker back there.

(Noon update) the Dolphins inactives are Lorenzo Booker, Andre Goodman, Courtney Bryan, Abraham Wright, Steve Fifita, Rodrigue Wright, Rob Ninkovich, and John Beck is the No. 3 QB.

By the way, it's kind of interesting to me that receiver Greg Camarillo, who was added to the roster on Sunday is active for this game.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Ricky's reinstatement date wasn't really in Sept.

When Ricky Williams had his date for reinstatement moved last April most media outlets reported he could seek a return to the NFL in September.

Well, it's September and nothing on Ricky.

Until now.

Turns out those September reports were erroneous. Williams cannot, in fact, seek reinstatement until sometime in October. When exactly in October is "nebulous," according to an NFL source because it depends on feedback from the clinicians scrutinizing the matter.

Williams is currently going through counseling in the drug program -- has been for some time in fact. Depending on what the clinicians say later this month, the decision will be made to either request a reinstatement or not.

Williams, meanwhile, is said to be in "good spirits," according to someone close to him and, "anxious to play again." Whether that ever happens with the Dolphins is unclear, but unlikely.

Best case scenario, it seems, Williams will not be on any NFL roster until November the earliest. That timetable alone makes it highly unlikely he can play this season because most teams aren't going to disrupt their chemistry by adding Williams that late in the year and then wait on him to get into football shape.

Sad isn't it, how this once-promising career has fizzled?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Go away Nick Saban, just go away

Why can't Nick Saban just go quietly into the night?

In two seasons with the Dolphins, it's hard to think of one outstanding decision Saban made to help the team. Let's see, he didn't really start rebuilding when he should have, setting the franchise back at least one year. He blew off the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES to go to a team meeting. He drafted Jason Allen in the first round. He kept Yeremiah Bell on the bench until the media just about had a fit. He signed the wrong quarterback. And then kept playing that QB until every coaching staff in the NFL except his own realized the guy was immobile.

Oh, and he lied.

Having said all that, I can understand why Saban left to go to Alabama and defend his right to do so. I just think he handled it very poorly.

But it doesn't matter, right, because he's gone and forgotten, right?

Well ... no.

For some strange reason Saban this week sent many of his former Dolphins players greeting cards wishing them a successful season. The cards arrived in the locker room Thursday and caused something of a stir.

Four days before the regular-season opener.

So let me get this straight: The guy hasn't the decency to face his players and tell them he's leaving. He hasn't the courage to look players in the eye and speak the truth to them after he continually preached doing things the right way for two years. And now he's writing them postcards?

That's like dumping a girlfriend for her sister, then calling her when you're lonely to say, "Hey."

Will Allen was visibly angry at the thought Saban would send him a postcard Thursday. "It better have a return address because it's going right back to him unopened," Allen said.

Look, Wayne Huizenga has shown more class on the matter of Saban than I would think humanly possible. The Dolphins organization has shown tremendous restraint in not completely expunging Saban from a proud franchise's history. General Manager Randy Mueller took the high road when Saban threw him under the bus soon after getting the Alabama job, saying he would have fired Mueller had he stayed in Miami.

But this is just too much.

Somebody in the Miami organization should call Little Nicky and set him straight. The guy was a social misfit when he was here. He didn't want people saying hello to him in the hallways. He hired a henchmen who would curse at employees. And his rah-rah collegiate gamesmanship started falling on deaf player ears when Saban showed he had no second act.

So now someone should tell him to mind his own business and leave Dolphins players to current Dolphins coaches. Someone should politely suggest an alternate place to put his postcards next time he thinks about putting them in the mail.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Why Dolphins can, should get out to fast start

In Thursday's Herald I write about how imperative it is for the Dolphins to get out to a fast start this year and how that hasn't been the case for the team, at least not the past three years.

Here's the column:

Anyway, I'm sure you folks have an opinion on this but before you are allowed to post that opinion you have to read mine because, well, it's my blog.

A look at Miami's first six games this season offers not only games the Dolphins can win, but games they should win.

Sunday at the Redskins? Let's see they start Jason Campbell at QB. No matter how few points you think the Dolphins are prepared to score, there is no way Campbell against the No. 5 scoring defense in the NFL from a year ago should be a matchup Miami loses. 1-0.

Sept. 16 vs. Dallas? I'll give you the Cowboys were a playoff team a season ago and they didn't graduate anyone. But Wade Phillips is a new coach, too and the Dolphins are home in September where the heat should be a considerable advantage. Nonetheless I understand Dallas has more overall talent so Miami loses. 1-1.

Sept. 23 at the Jets? The Jets swept the Dolphins a season ago and they've addressed needs in their secondary and at running back. So? The Jets were a mirage a season ago and I say they fall back to the pack this season. They're offensive line is not good and that means their running game can't be so great regardless of whether they have Thomas Jones or Tom Jones dancing around back there. I also say the Jets defense is light up front and can be had. So I'm picking a surprise here. Miami is 2-1.

J-E-T-S, lose, lose, lose.

Then comes a heavenly stretch with Oakland at home, at Houston and at Cleveland. If the Dolphins don't sweep these three games, this season is going nowhere. But I think Miami will do as it should and beat the snot out of these opponents. The Dolphins, by the way, have an especially fine outing if Daunte Culpepper is the starting QB for Oakland. Can you imagine him trying to get away from either Jason Taylor or Joey Porter? I don't think so.

So there you have it, Miami is 5-1 or 4-2 after six games.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cleaning out the notebook of all tidbits

The Dolphins practice week begins Wednesday so I'm going to make it a habit the rest of this season to share stuff I have in my notebook that didn't make any of my columns in the paper.

It's Tidbit time:

  • When the depth chart comes out Wednesday, you likely see L.J. Shelton as the starting right tackle and that might be reason for the veteran to feel pretty good about himself. He shouldn't. When I congratulated Cam Cameron for milking passion and professionalism out of Shelton during a one-on-one interview Monday, Cameron told me, "We need to get more out of him than we have."
  • The addition of Cory Lekkerkerker means the Dolphins now have in their midst a tackle with experience in Cameron's system and a player that the coach likes. This means the Dolphins have options now. They can keep Lekkerkerker at left tackle where he's currently the backup or they can give him a try at right tackle. If he's better than Vernon Carey on the left side, Miami can move Carey back to the right side. If Lekkerkerker is better than Shelton on the right side -- a more likely scenario -- then Shelton could be headed back to the bench.
  • Same deal with Gene Mruczkowski at guard. Neither Chris Liwienski nor Rex Hadnot should get the idea they are set as the starters for the rest of the year.
  • A quick congratulations to you, the readers and contributors of this blog, for making Dolphins Indepth the most popular sports blog at The Miami Herald. Last month alone, this blog had over 108,000 page views which was the best month it has had since its inception. Only Dave Barry's blog is more popular at The Herald. Again, thank you.
  • Don Shula on his secret to developing young quarterbacks: “What you have to do is put them in as many game situations as you can on the practice field and then do the best job you can in the meetings to bring them up to speed so when they actually see it on the field, they're prepared. And they have to do a lot on their own. You have to demand they make a commitment to improving on their own time. They have to want to be the best. They have to put in the work on and off the field and show that they want to succeed and are capable of doing it."
  • Remember that Shula had Dan Marino call his own plays in practice his rookie year. Why don't today's coaches try stuff like that?
  • Trent Green on why he thinks he's a good leader: : “I feel like I can relate to just about everybody in the locker room. I’ve been in just about everybody’s position, from being a late-round draft pick, to being cut and on the street, to being traded for a first-rounder, signing as a free agent, being on injured reserve, coming back from injured reserve. There’s a long line of different things I’ve gone through in my career and so I feel like I can relate to everybody, and what their given situations are. And when you’re able to communicate that way, I think that just comes across. And then my personality is such that I’m not a standoffish guy, I feel like I’m comfortable talking to anybody. That’s part of the way my leadership comes across, and why I’m comfortable with it.”

The notebook is empty now folks. Be sure to listen to my radio show every weeknight 7-8 p.m., either on 790-AM in South Florida or online at You are free to call in with your comments.

And as always, you are free to post your thoughts now.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Preparations for the real deal begin in earnest

While many of you are having a relaxing Labor Day by the grill, the Dolphins are preparing for the start of their regular season.

And things are truly different.

Ronnie Brown wasn't returning kicks in practice. So much for that preseason head game.

Anthony Alabi, the preseason starting right tackle, was working with the scout team today. L.J. Shelton is back to his starting role at right tackle, where he is still not a great player but simply the best Miami has right now.

"We still need to get more out of him," coach Cam Cameron told me today.

Cameron has confirmed what I wrote last week about the running back competition: Brown and Jesse Chatman will share the load this year, regardless of which one starts from week to week. In that regard, the committee meeting of the Dolphins running attack is in session.

"You need two backs in this business," Cameron said. "You can't interpret that as a negative. But you'll see both those backs in a game."

For those of you worried about the fact the Dolphins only kep two tight ends on the roster, Cameron points out that the third tackle -- Alabi -- will serve as a tight end that can report eligible.

"We've got more tight ends than you're going to see on the depth chart," Cameron said. "We're not going to throw it to 'em."

Finally, Joey Porter is very much on track to play Sunday against the Redskins.

With the exceptions of cornerback Andre' Goodman and rookie Drew Mormino, who is slated for shoulder surgery soon and is out for the year, the Dolphins are healthy.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Salguero's predictions for the 2007 season

OK guys, you read it here first. I think YOUR Dolphins are (drum roll please ....)

10-6 this year. That is with the usual caveat that a hail of injuries doesn't befall the team.

I know you're thinking I'm crazy, but what the heck, it's my opinion. And no opinion is wrong except the one that doesn't agree with ME.

OK seriously, here's my column about why I think 10-6:

Read it if you like then let me know what record you think the Dolphins will have this year and WHY.

I have other predictions not in the column for you to mull so here they are:

Ronnie Brown: 1,020 rushing yards this year.

Jesse Chatman: 740 yards.

Trent Green: Completes 57 percent of his passes. 2,900 yards. 16 TDs. 9 ints.

Jason Taylor: 11 sacks. 2 forced fumbles. 2 recovered fumbles. Zero interceptions.

Joey Porter: 6 sacks. 1 forced fumble. 1 interception.

Matt Roth: Breakin' out with 8 sacks. Looking for big things out of him.

Zach Thomas 147 tackles. 1 interception.

Ted Ginn Jr.: 27 receptions. 2 TDS. I'm up in the air about his returns so you tell me.

Chris Chambers: Big rebound year. 64 receptions. 950 yards.

Marty Booker: Solid as usual. 45 receptions. 600 yards.

Offensive line sacks allowed: 18.