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Monday, October 29, 2007

The time to play John Beck has arrived

LONDON -- The argument for keeping John Beck under wraps has been pretty compelling until now.

The idea has been to let the rookie mature and learn the game while running scout team and, lately, second-team plays during practice. The idea has been not to ruin the kid by putting him in a situation to fail. The idea has been not to simply sacrifice him in a game whose speed he's not ready for, especially with a leaky offensive line in front of him to protect him.

The idea has been to be very, very careful with this valuable player so that when it is his time he can worry about all the right things and not the wrong things. The idea is to keep him from forming bad habits -- quirks in his game that might take much time to undo.

I get all that.

And having said all that, the time to let the guy play has definitely come. His apprenticeship needs to start now because the Dolphins have two weeks to prepare for their next game. Give him a heads up that the Nov. 11 game versus Buffalo is his time and let him spend his free time brushing up on the playbook.

When the Dolphin return to the United States, give him as many practice snaps with the first team as possible. And then put him out there against a team that is good, but by no means great. Put him out there at home where most fans will be rooting, praying, for his success.

Put him out there Nov. 11 because you can't script a better time to do it.

This Dolphins season is shot. It's not about what might happen this year anymore. This is all about the future, and it says here Beck should be inserted so he can get a jump on that future. He has to play eventually. He has to go through the uncomfortable growing pains most rookie quarterback experience. Let him do it as a rookie instead of next year when he'll be 27 years old and playing in a season that might actually mean something.

Treat these last eight games as Beck's time to grow and learn and improve. That time has to come sometime.

If he's as good as the Dolphins believe, then he should be good enough to take this step without falling on his face. Will he have missteps? Sure. He's a rookie. But must he be forced to at least take those steps? He has to sometime.

Now is that sometime.

So am I missing something? Is there a bigger reason to continue to keep this guy undercover? If there is, I don't see it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Live International blogging today

LONDON -- Wembley Stadium is amazing. It is cavernous, modern, and unlike most new stadiums that separate the fans from the action, the stands are quite close to the field here.

So it is very, very loud.

The Dolphins have announced their inactives for the game. They are: Travares Tillman, Zach Thomas, David Martin, Anthony Bryant, Vonnie Holliday, Sam Rayburn and Quentin Moses.

This means Lorenzo Booker, the secret weapon, will finally be active today for the first time. It remains to be seen whether he'll play or not -- maybe on kick returns. Jason Allen makes his first NFL start today so his clock is running. He must play well the final nine games of the season to keep from being labeled a bust.

Justin Peelle starts for Martin, who is out with a groin injury. It's amazing that Trent Green came to the Dolphins with the concern he had had a concussion and he suffers a concussion. Martin came to the Dolphins with a history of suffering minor muscle injuries such as groin and hamstring problems. So, of course, he's got a groin injury now.

Anyway, we will have live blogging today as during every game. When the game begins at 5 p.m. (London time) you can meet me in the comment section for the in-game commentary. Wear a jacket as it is cold and drizzly.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The mistakes Huizenga has made

LONDON -- Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga has taken the blame for his team's woes a handful of times since he's been here.

During a 40-minute meeting with South Florida reporters Friday he uttered the words, "I take the blame," and "The buck stops here," and "I take that one," too many times to count. It was encouraging and sad at the same time to see Mr. H take the blame so often when not all of the Dolphins problems are his doing.

As he said, "I can't win from the owner's box."

But then I read a column in the Sun-Sentinel by my friend Dave Hyde who wrote, in part, that Huizenga has really only made ONE mistake -- that being the hiring of Dave Wannstedt. And while I like both Mr. H's (Huizenga and Hyde) I feel compelled to make the record clear.

Huizenga has done a million things correct for the Dolphins. But he has made multiple bad moves that have led the franchise to its current difficult state. These are those missteps:

*He cannot be blamed for hiring Jimmy Johnson the first time. But the second time? Absolutely. After J.J. quit for 24 hours following the 1998 season, Huizenga rushed over, ignored the obvious signs Jimmy didn't want to coach anymore, and convinced Jimmy to return. The owner offered to have J.J. coach only home games if he wanted, encouraged him to make more time for his family, and generally forced Jimmy to do something he didn't want to do.

Jimmy responded by staying another year in which he missed meetings, had the WORST DRAFT OF HIS CAREER in the spring of 1999, feuded with Dan Marino, melted down after every loss, and bullied Kippy Brown into running a dumbed-down offense. It was a joke. And it was Huizenga's doing for forcing Johnson to stay.

*Huizenga himself blamed himself for hiring Dave. That was one mistake I assume everyone blames Huizenga for. But it was actually three mistakes rolled into one. First, Huizenga allowed JJ, who had just failed in every way imaginable, to convince him to hire Dave. That's failing to recognize you have the wrong people giving you bad advice, which is one mistake.

Then he hired Wannstedt knowing the guy had just failed with the Chicago Bears, an undertaking he would soon continue with the Dolphins. Two mistakes. Then after the 2003 season, upon realizing Wannstedt had lost all resonance in the locker room, upon realizing Wannstedt was inept at drafting talent, he demoted Wannstedt, taking away his GM powers, but kept him as coach. Kept him! Even after he knew Wannstedt wasn't the right guy.

Huizenga has told me he looked around but couldn't bring himself to ditching Wannstedt because the guy had won 10 games in 2003. Another mistake. The Dolphins started out 2004 winless in six games and Huizenga basically fired Wannstedt after that.

*Huizenga also conducted a long-winded, wide-ranging search for a GM in 2003. He interviewed Phil Savage, who helped build Baltimore and is now doing good work in Cleveland. He interviewed Ted Thompson, who has rebuilt Green Bay. He interviewed and got advice from Ron Wolf, who built Green Bay's Super Bowl teams of the late '90s.

Having done all this legwork, Huizenga hired .... Rick Spielman. That's a HUGE mistake that cost the Dolphins an entire draft.

*Finally, Huizenga realized sometime before the 2004 season how disconnected he was from the team. He realized how little he knows about football. So he decided to go get a football man that was also a man he could trust to be his liaison with the team, his eyes and ears so to speak. The guy would go to meetings, watch film and, as Don Shula has famously said, "evaluate the evaluators."

Huizenga realized all these flaws within himself and the organization and to correct them he decided Dan Marino was the right man for the position. He got a "yes" from Marino after talking to him for only two hours. And instead of letting Marino sleep on the decision, maybe talk to Claire Marino about it, Huizenga hurriedly called a press conference to announce the hiring. (Remember Spielman saying he didn't know anything had happened until he was told to go home and put on a suit for a press conference?)

So Marino is introduced and a week later, after thinking about it, he quits, giving the organization another black eye. The execution of that drama was a MAJOR mistake.

And that's not the worst part of that mistake. Having had this epiphany that a football man was needed near the top of the organization, a man who would report directly to Huizenga, the owner never went back to the idea after Marino walked away. What, Marino was the only guy who could do that job?

Now the team is about to embark on this self-analysis in which everyone will be evaluated. Except who's doing the analysis? The football people will be evaluated by folks whose expertise is not in football. The evaluators are fine head-hunters and great lawyers and contract men, but by their own admission, they can't evaluate the Xs and Os.

Huizenga needs that football guy he longed for all those years ago -- that guy he never really tried to find after Marino walked away. And failing to return to that specialist it seems to me, is just another mistake.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dolphins about to evaluate themselves

LONDON -- Last week I wrote in The Herald a story saying the Dolphins will do a self-evaluation during the bye week and running through the end of the season.

You'll be hearing more about that evaluation in the coming days because Wayne Huizenga today confirmed that process is about to begin when the team returns to South Florida.

Per Huizenga, the length and breadth of this evaluation process will go beyond the typical self-scouting most teams do during the bye week. It will evaluate coaches, pro and college scouts, and personnel decisions as well as players.

The idea is this: The Dolphins believe they are about to enter a pivotal offseason in which they will own more draft picks and higher picks than most teams -- the Dolphins already own three picks in the first two rounds. The team also expects to have a lot of cap room for free agency, between $20-25 million.

So Huizenga doesn't want to squander that on decision-makers he has no confidence in. That is the reason the evaluation is starting now. Simply, Huizenga doesn't want to start figuring out if he needs to whack some people in January because he might either be in hiring mode or getting a jump on free agency and the draft mode at that point.

At the end of a gathering with reporters in which he announced this evaluation, Huizenga asked reporters if they had any suggestions. I stayed quiet because I wouldn't want to share my ideas with the other writers.

But this blog is an open forum, so by all means, tell me how you would evaluate the Dolphins problems. Where do you think they need change? Where do they need to stay the course? And what mistakes have you seen THIS YEAR that you believe need addressing so they won't be repeated next year.

Let's see how many of you are insightful and how many are, shall we say, obtuse.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Only the weather and time are different here

LONDON -- I'm heeeere!

Flew in this morning and boy are my arms tired.

Here are some random thoughts from across the pond:

I almost fell off my chair reading the item my colleague Barry Jackson had about Jimmy Johnson. In the span of 10 paragraphs Johnson says he won't give Wayne Huizenga any more advice because he told the owner Nick Saban was a good hire and, "screwed up," doing so.

Then he goes on to say the Dolphins should draft a cover corner, keep Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas, and play John Beck immediately if not sooner. Do you see why Huizenga has been wrong so often with this team? He listens to and relies on the wrong people to give him advice.

Why is Huizenga accepting advice from Jimmy Johnson? Because he's on TV?

Jimmy Johnson is the same guy who agreed to return to the Dolphins for the 1999 season after he'd already quit in his heart. He's the guy who tried to alienate Dan Marino that final season and play Damon Huard. He's the guy who, having failed to deliver on the promise to take the Dolphins to the Super Bowl in three years, then convinced Huizenga to hire Dave Wannstedt. I know the guy won at Dallas and The U, but he was a failure and a flake with the Dolphins.

Remember 62-7?

And Huizenga was still listening to him when the Saban hiring became an issue? That alone is reason enough for Huizenga to realize he's listening to the wrong folks.

Speaking of Huizenga, he was the NFL headquarter hotel here today, the Landmark Hotel, to help pump interest in Sunday's game. I think NFL folks were surprised by how blunt and candid Huizenga was about how bad his team is.

I know it's hard to feel bad for a BILLIONAIRE, but I have compassion for the guy because of his attempts to make the Dolphins better. I know he's made mistakes listening to people who no longer know what they're talking about -- one example of which is above -- but you can't complain about his well-placed intentions.

Anyway, I wrote about Huizenga's presser in my column for Friday. It should be online within the next hour or so.

The weather here, by the way, is Northeast gray and rainy. It's in the low 50s. It's a nice change of pace, actually. But given my choice, I'd rather live in that slice of heaven called South Florida.

Cheerio, as they say here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Calling all British Dolfans and others ...

I am leaving for England today will arrive tomorrow morning. So here's what we're going to do:

1. Anyone reading this blog who is in England: Tell me where you live, tell me how you got interested enough in the Dolphins that you are on a Dolphins blog. Tell me if you're coming to the game. And give me your suggestions, using British slang if you like, about how to improve the Dolphins.

2. Anyone reading this blog who is in the US but has visited England: Give me your impressions of the British people and their country. Tell me when you were there, for how long, what your best and worst experience there was.

3. Anyone reading this blog who is from the U.S. but saved up and is actually going OVER THERE to watch the Dolphins play a home game: Tell me if you wish you weren't spending the money to go. Tell me when you made your travel plans. Tell me if you wish you could spend your dollars on something else now that you know the Dolphins are struggling or will you go to England happy that you're getting a vacation out of it, regardless of Miami's record.

4. And finally, those of you staying here and watching the game from OVER THERE: Do you care one iota this game is being played outside the country? Do you wish they were playing the game at Dolphin Stadium? Do you wish the Dolphins would just stay in Berkershirewilshire until they have completed their rebuilding?

This is a fun exercise and it will give me an idea about the actual interest in this game. I may be writing about your responses later this week so leave your actual name (not nomedeplume and stuff like that) and your city of residence.

Go for it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Let the free agent parade begin

The Dolphins added a young defensive end and a not-so-young safety Tuesday.

After working out several players Monday evening and Tuesday, the team added veteran Lance Schulters and rookie Quentin Moses to their roster.

Schulters, a 32-year-old safety, played for the Dolphins in 2005 after a career that took him to Tennessee and San Francisco. He was most recently on the Atlanta Falcons roster. Schulters signed Tuesday evening.

Moses, a University of Georgia All-SEC player in 2006, also signed Tuesday.

Moses was a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders this year but was cut by that team during training camp. He went to Arizona and lasted a few weeks there before being cut again. Now he's on the Dolphins radar.

Moses is 6-5 and 260 and might have been an even higher draft pick had he come out after his junior year at Georgia when he had 11.5 sacks. He slumped his senior season and is clearly something of a project now. The guy benched 225 pounds only 11 times in the Indy Combine last spring so he has to work on his upper body strength.

Anyway, the Dolphins were looking at safeties following the injury to Renaldo Hill. The signing of Schulters hopefully means Cameron Worrell won't be used as a pagan sacrificial offering to opposing receivers anymore.

Cameron needs to recognize what is important

I think Cam Cameron has the potential to be an elite head coach. But he has some growing and learning to do and one thing he has yet to learn is when to micro-manage and when to leave things he shouldn't worry about alone.

Earlier this year, when the defense was clearly in need of attention, he was way too slow in looking over Dom Capers' shoulder. Sure, Capers is reputed to be a good coach, but sometimes even the best of the best lose their way and need to be redirected. That's what a head coach is supposed to do with his coordinators and other assistants.

But Cameron was too busy being the offensive coordinator to correct the situation quickly.

Meanwhile, it baffles me some of the things Cameron does deem worthy of his attention. Take the publicity end of the business, for example. Cameron was upset earlier this season when a Jason Taylor press conference included Taylor's smoothie sponsor.

Cameron watched a press conference in which Cleo Lemon was wearing a blue tooth device in his ear and remonstrated with his quarterback about doing the interview with that device in his ear. He got involved with locker room setup, he watches interviews on the team's website.

And Monday, the day after his team lost 49-28 to New England, he was puzzled to the edge of being agitated when reporters laughed WITH HIM at some of the things he said during the press conference.

At one point during the press conference, Cameron was addressing the team's search for a safety and said the team is, "looking at any guy whose played safety in the NFL the last 50 years" as an option. That got a laugh.

In recounting the Zach Thomas auto accident, which Cameron drove by moments after it happened, Cameron quoted Thomas: "Coach, this is kind of the way this day has gone," Cameron quoted Thomas telling him following the accident that followed the New England whipping.

That brought laughter from reporters also.

But after saying these things that were light and got a chuckle, Cameron was not happy the media thought they were funny. So guess what? His comments that brought laughter were edited out of the Dolphins transcript. Look at it on the Dolphins website, if you can find it. The quotes I heard and wrote down are not on the transcript.

I cannot say absolutely that Cameron ordered the transcript edited, but I would not be surprised if he did. And that returns me to the point.

With his team teetering with a 0-7 record, with his team's best player now out for the year with a torn ACL in his right knee, with plenty of issues to resolve on defense, perhaps the coach needs to manage what he should manage.

And not worry about things that have nothing to do with winning and losing.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dolphins Ronnie Brown out for the season

The Dolphins have now confirmed what I reported four hours ago and that is that Ronnie Brown is out for the season. He will have surgery to repair a torn ACL in seven to 10 days according to coach Cam Cameron.

This following an MRI that confirmed the team's worst fears this morning.

So Brown will be out the rest of the season, but that is not the worst part. The affects of not having Ronnie Brown the rest of this season is minimal considering the team is 0-7.

The problem is what this means for Miami beyond this year. It means the Dolphins might not have the guy who would be their MVP perhaps into next training camp, and even then questions would persist about Brown's availability for the 2008 season.

Cameron said he expects Brown by next spring and that recovering from this type of injury is a virtual certainty at "90 percent," according to Cameron. But who knows? Things happen and often do to the Dolphins.

So a season-ending knee injury to Brown casts a shadow into the draft. Suddenly a team that thought itself set at running back, might have to look to drafting another running back -- perhaps not necessarily in the first round, but definitely at some point.

This injury also raises another issue. The team was fully intentioning to get rid of Ricky Williams in the offseason, if he were to be reinstated by the NFL. Suddenly, the addition of Williams in November or December might seem more palatable in the absence of Brown.

It also might serve as a way of showcasing Williams for the offseason.

Brown finishes his third season -- the one in which he finally showed promise for the future -- with 602 yards on 119 carries. That is a 5.1 yard per carry average.

One more thing. With Brown down, this means Lorenzo Booker will be active in games from now on. It doesn't guarantee he'll play, but he'll be active.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Live blogging today during the game, yeah!

I'm excited about today's game against New England.

I am not a masochist. I enjoy good football and I'm sure we can all agree the Patriots play good football practically every time they take the field.

But my excitement goes beyond watching the Pats. I will be very interested to see how the Dolphins play, and particularly how the youngest Dolphins play. I wrote today that this is an exciting time for the Dolphins because, starting today, we finally see some up-and-coming players get a chance to show what they got.

Please read the column here:

In my opinion, Dolphins fans now have to watch games with a focus that stretches beyond the score. Let's face it, this season is lost. But even if the Dolphins continue to lose (and they will) it will be interesting to find out about Ted Ginn Jr. and Jason Allen and Lorenzo Booker and, eventually, John Beck. That interests me because it will give a glimpse of the future.

I hope it interests you also. I also hope you are interested enough to spend the game hanging out here, giving YOUR analysis of what is happening, getting mine, and generally having fun with other fans and readers. The live blog starts at kickoff.

The Patriots have already downgraded five players as being out. They are LB Eric Alexander, S Mel Mitchell, RB Sammy Morris, TE Benjamin Watson, and DE Mike Wright.

I'll be back later, though, with the inactives and any pregame update.

(Update: Lorenzo Booker, who worked some at receiver this week, is not active today. Here wee go)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Class wins out in Green-Cameron disagreement

Quarterback Trent Green is on injured reserve as of a couple of hours ago and that signals the Dolphins know what they're doing on this front.

As you may know, two days ago I wrote an column about the little drama playing out between Green and Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron. Green, talking about being recovered from his Grade III concussion, was putting the Dolphins in something of a tough position because he wanted to get back on the field and they had zero intentions of letting him play again.

I wrote that Cameron and Green -- two classy individuals and friends -- disagreed on the course of action for the vet the rest of the season. While Green wanted to play, Cameron didn't want the player anywhere near the field for myriad reasons including the fact he's concerned about Green's and the team's health.

The team's healthy, you ask? One reason I should have mentioned it was bad for Miami to let Green play again this season is he could then creep closer to the 70 percent playtime figure that would cause the Dolphins to send Kansas City a fourth-round instead of a fifth-round draft pick. Another reason the Dolphins would have been hurt is it would have stunted the growth of Cleo Lemon and John Beck as quarterbacks.

I'm happy to report the two sides now have come to an agreement. Green, despite not getting his way, is showing the personal class and respect for Cameron I would have expected.

“I appreciate the way the organization has handled this,” Green said in a statement. “I realize this is in the best interest of my long-term health and I want nothing but the best for the team. Right now I haven’t made any decisions about my future, but I talked with the Dolphins about staying involved in some capacity the rest of the season.”

This has been a good week. The Dolphins on this front come out smelling like a rose -- a rose in an 0-6 flower garden, but a rose nonetheless.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jason Taylor outta here? Not so fast ...

All of sudden everybody is thinking that Jason Taylor could be playing his final couple of months with the Dolphins. What a novel idea, right?

I think it was last month when I wrote a column stating the Dolphins should trade Taylor -- for his sake and theirs -- either at the trade deadline or after the season.

Since writing that column two things have happened: Everybody else caught on to the idea. And I've talked to Dolphins insiders who tell me it's not an outrageous idea, but neither is it a foregone conclusion.

I've been told the Dolphins would rather rebuild with Taylor than without him. I've been told the Dolphins believe they can field a pretty fair team after another draft and free agency period and that Taylor would have much more to work with and be excited about at that point.

Will he win a championship with the Dolphins next season? Probably not. But the team shouldn't be the winless wreck it is now.

There are two forces at work beyond Miami's desires (or lack thereof) to trade Taylor.

If Taylor, depressed and feeling hopeless about the future, comes to the team and asks for a trade following the season, the Dolphins would almost be obliged to look around for a deal. Beyond that, some team would have to come with a very attractive offer to tear Taylor from the Miami roster.

We're not talking a third round pick or two third round picks or even a second round pick for Jason Taylor. We're talking a first round pick, knuckleheads. The team that just got a second-round pick for Chris Chambers is not settling for another second-round pick for Jason Taylor. It's going to take a first-rounder.

Understand that not a lot of teams would be willing to part with a first-round pick for a 34-year-old defensive end. It would have to be a team believing itself on the verge of a Super Bowl run, one thinking it's a pass-rusher away from a 'ship.

And so if you ask me today, now, whether I believe Jason Taylor will be with the Dolphins at this time next year, I would have to weigh everything I just told you and say yes. I would guess Taylor will be around.

Donovin Darius out, Jason Allen in

Donovin Darius sat out much of the Dolphins game against the Cleveland Browns last weekend because he was experiencing "flu-like symptoms," according to the team.

Are you kidding me? The guy was out of the game while Cameron Worrell got wore out because he had the sniffles? Or maybe his throat was a little sore? Or perhaps he was feeling a little stuffed up?

No wonder Donovin Darius and his "flu-like symptoms" got cut Tuesday. Talk about not wanting it.

I remember watching Michael Jordan play in a playoff game once with a fever of 101. The guy had phlegm (I love that word) flying out of his nose and down his chin but he scored like 63 points in the game and the only folks feeling ill when it was over was the other team.

"Flu-like symptoms?" Get real. So this ridiculous chapter in Dolphins history is now thankfully closed and we move on with some real business.

Which brings me to Jason Allen.

Remember Cam Cameron stating last week this is "make or break" time for Allen? Well, make or break starts Sunday against the Patriots. Allen is going to be playing in Miami's dime (6 defensive back) package against the Patriots. He and Courtney Bryan are going to get snaps against arguably the best passing offense in the NFL.

"It’s time for those two guys to step up and play," Cameron said Wednesday. " I told them that in the meeting today, and Jason as well. I thought both of them did a nice job today in practice. It’s time for them to step up and play and help us out.”

I hope it works out for Jason Allen and Courtney Bryan. I will especially be interested to see what Allen does because, frankly, that's where the Dolphins have the biggest investment. If he can compete against the Patriots passing offense, he can play against anyone.

And trust me, the Patriots will make sure they test Allen. Take today for example: Bill Belichick will read this blog and find out Allen is in Miami's dime package. How long before he orders the offense to rewrite the game plan so as to be in four-wides the entire game and go after that guy wearing No. 32?

It should be interesting.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The real importance of the Chris Chambers trade

You will be reading plenty of opinions about the Chris Chambers trade in the next day or so. If you care about mine, which is a fair assumption since you're on my blog, I am ambivalent about the move.

Why, you scream? How is this possible? Where's your passion about what it means for Ted Ginn Jr. and Derek Hagan? What are your thoughts about whether it means the Dolphins have given up on this season?

Who cares?

I don't give a hoot about what it means for Ted Ginn Jr. and Derek Hagan. And I don't really care about what it means about the rest of this season.

I only care about what happens with that second round pick. Nothing more.

If I am a Dolphins fan I am instantly hoping the Chargers lose the rest of their games. You see, the more the Chargers lose, the higher that pick will come in the second round.

More importantly, what are the Dolphins going to do with that second round pick? That's the main thing to care about. It doesn't matter if Miami goes offense or defense (they better not feed us the we're drafting a returner junk again). What really matters is that the Dolphins turn that pick into a starting-caliber player that contributes, like, soon.

One thing I found out when I suggested the Dolphins should explore trading Jason Taylor is that not many of you are confident Miami would do the right thing with a draft pick if such an exchange were made. Based on the history of the past five or so years, I kind of see your point -- which leads me to wonder whether the Dolphins can translate the pick they got in return for Chambers into good player.

I believe in Randy Mueller. He doesn't just sit around and wring his hands. He works to make things better. Does it always work out? No. This just in: The guy is not perfect. But at least he has a plan.

His plan going forward is obvious. He wants the Dolphins to become a second-level offense while adding playmakers to the defense, which it sorely needs as evidenced by the current third-down efficiency rate.

Mueller is tired of a popgun offense that gains yards in 4, 5, 6-yard clips when it's going really good. He wants an offense that gets to and beyond the secondary with some sort of consistency. He wants players that deliver 30, 40, 50-yard plays. That's attacking the second level.

On defense, he badly needs a shutdown cornerback. The Dolphins don't have a corner that will come up with a turnover, much less an interception return for a touchdown. Pat Surtain was that type of player. Sam Madison for a while was that. I remind you both those guys were second-round picks.

So don't get too caught up in what the trade means now. This season is toast, in case you haven't noticed. The importance of this trade, the meaning of this trade will be decided on draft day 2008. And hopefully the Dolphins will find an impact offensive or defensive player with San Diego's pick

Monday, October 15, 2007

Food for thought on a Dolphins morality play

The security camera tape of Joey Porter and his posse beating up Cincinnati offensive tackle Levi Jones in Las Vegas this offseason is disgusting.

It's not so much that Porter shows his violent unruly side; it's that there is no sportsmanship in a fight in which Porter and three thugs jump Jones while he is alone. The 4-on-1 blitz isn't a fair match and consequently isn't much of a fight.

The tape was leaked, no doubt by Jones or one of his lawyers, to Fox Sports, which aired it over the weekend. On Monday, Dolphins coach Cam Cameron was asked if he had seen the tape and expected to further discipline Porter, who happens to be Miami's strongside linebacker.

"I have not seen it and in my view he has handled it exactly the way you would want a guy to handle it," Cameron said. "The league has ruled on it. It’s over. It’s done.”

Well, not really. You see, the Dolphins have generally been a class organization in dealing with off-field incidents. The team seemed to occupy the moral high ground when dealing with off-field incidents involving Kelly Campbell and Fred Evans this offseason, even to the detriment of the roster in the releasing of Evans. And, obviously the club condoned the NFL game-check sanctions on Porter when he did his misdeed.

So given that stance, one could understand the team's silence in dealing with Ricky Williams. It is pretty much assumed if Williams is ever reinstated from his jillionth drug suspension the Dolphins will wipe their hands of him somehow, because everyone assumes, Cameron doesn't want that kind of questionable character on his team.

One could have zero problem with this logic until now because, after all, a coach has the prerogative to determine the character of his team by picking, or not picking, certain players.

But now, given the terrible portrait of Porter we see in this video, one has to wonder how the Dolphins can sincerely make a case to not reclaiming Williams based on character issues while keeping Porter who apparently has different and more disturbing character issues.

Understand that Williams is a flake and obviously has an addiction problem. But he has never violently attacked anyone and certainly hasn't done so in an unfair 4-on-1 mugging. He may not fit the Dolphins any more based on aptitude, but his attitude when he's around the team has been exemplary.

And so the Dolphins have a decision to make. Maybe they don't keep Williams because his value is diminished or the team simply wants to move on. But following this Porter tape release, the Dolphins have no moral grounds to stand on if they're going to argue character is the reason for not bringing back the running back.

Fans want to hear from Mr. Huizenga

The Dolphins know you, their fans, are feeling uneasy now. They know you want to hear something that will ease the sting of 0-6. They know you want to hear none other than the team's owner, Wayne Huizenga, say something, anything, that will carry you through the rest of this slippery slope of a season.

But you might not hear from the team's owner until the week ending Oct. 28.

That according to Miami's media relations department which has been swamped by requests to interview Huizenga, but so far has not turned those requests into, you know, an actual interview.

The thinking is since most of the media outlets that regularly cover the Dolphins will be in London with the team for the Oct. 28 game, that might be the most convenient time for Huizenga to knock out all the requests since he will be there as well.

Of course, this doesn't account for the idea that all the media outlets that regularly cover the Dolphins are here in South Florida. NOW.

Anyway, it is clear fans have the right to want to hear from Mr. Huizenga. You want to hear that he is hurting every bit as much as you are. You want to hear that there will be a full accounting of this team done after the season and the mistakes made (several as I see it) will be addressed so that they are not repeated. You want to know whether or not to expect changes among the personnel and coaching staff.

You want to know what the heck happened between him telling everyone the Dolphins were "Not rebuilding," and "looking at the playoffs," and the current winless situation.

I am told Huizenga will address all those questions. But you might have to wait a while longer.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Live blogging action today during the game

First let me tell you the Dolphins today are trying to avoid their ninth consecutive loss dating back to last year. If they are not successful, it would mark the first time in franchise history that they have lost nine consecutive games.

Having said that, this is the healthiest the Miami defense has been in a month.

Channing Crowder will be back in the lineup at weakside linebacker today. Obviously Zach Thomas, who missed a couple of games, is back. Donovin Darius, who was missed last week when Cameron Worrell played (poorly) in his place, is also back today.

The only major missing player is Vonnie Holliday, who is still nursing a fractured ankle.

The No. 2 quarterback today is John Beck, which marks the first time he is on the active roster on game day. The Dolphins are going with only four receivers active today for the first time this season.

Anyway, refer to the comment section for live blogging. Join me there.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Porter update and a (failed) attempt at positive news

Before I get started on today's subject, I want you to know that I did follow up with Joey Porter yesterday and wrote about what he said. Here's the column, in which Porter says he understands your frustration that he's not producing and pretty much throws Dom Capers under the bus for the way he's being utilized:

Amazing, this team.

Anyway, I was hoping to give you some positive news today because, what the heck, it's Friday. You're gearing up for a Fall football weekend and I'm just plain tired of telling you how awful YOUR Miami Dolphins are.

So I figured I would write about the offensive line.

Believe it or not, the unit that was a grave concern during the offseason and training camp is kinda, sorta coming together. Now, they're not the '72 Dolphins O-Line by any means. But they are not the biggest worry on the team, either.

There is hope in there somewhere.

Line coach Hudson Houck has done a good job bringing this group together. Ronnie Brown has pieced together three consecutive 100-yard games so obviously the blockers must be doing something right.

So I asked to speak with Houck so he could tell me -- and by extension you -- what the players are doing better, how he got them to improve, where they need to tweak to get better still, positive stuff like that.

Houck refused to be interviewed.

Resisting the strong urge to bag the whole thing because there are so many negative issues to explore and write about, I asked Cam Cameron about the line. I asked Cameron what they're doing well now that maybe they were still working at attaining in preseason.

"Hudson is so good at just being consistent in how he teaches and his preparation," Cameron said, beginning his answer. Great, so I ask about the players and he tells me about the coach who doesn't want to talk.

"He is just grinding on them the fundamentals over and over, and now you’re talking about switching game planning," Cameron continued. "Now you’re going from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3, and you’re having to make adjustments from week to week. I think those are things where they can grow together. There were some things last week I think they learned. We had a couple of tendencies we knew about Houston, and we didn’t really use them to our advantage the way we could have. That’s one thing Hud and I noticed – we saw a little tip and it was right there for them to see. All you need is to have one guy see it and communicate it, and you can take advantage of it. I think they learned a valuable lesson last week that when you have a tip on somebody, it doesn’t do you any good if you’re not going to use it in the game, and it doesn’t take five guys to all see it. One guy sees it and communicates it, so I think little things like that, they can continue to grow with.”

Do you see what's going on here? I ask what the heck is being done right by the players and get an answer of how well the coaches found a "tip" on Houston front. Then I'm told the players failed to recognize this "tip" following a week of being coached about it. And not just one player failed to see it, but all of them failed to see it.

I'm telling you all this so you understand how sometimes serving that group of fans that want something positive to chew on is pert near impossible.

It can't be done often anyway because, well, the team is winless in five outings. But even when there is good news, the Dolphins sometimes derail it by, refusing to talk about it as Houck did or changing the subject to another problem as Cameron did.


Anyway, let it be said Miami's offensive line is playing better. It is playing above most expectations. Vernon Carey has done the improbable and gone from being a good right tackle to a good left tackle. Anthony Alabi was good in entering the game as a guard when Samson Satele got hurt. They accomplished all this against the No. 6-rated run defense.

There. Somebody had to say it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jason Allen done, Joey Porter next

Yesterday I wrote about Jason Allen, who happens to be the biggest draft day disappointment the Dolphins have had since, let me see here ...

I would say since John Avery, who they took in 1998. That you'll remember was the year Jimmy Johnson was sitting in position to take Randy Moss, but traded down with Green Bay and took Avery instead.

Anyway, the Allen column is here in case you want some encouraging and depressing news at the same time:

Today, meanwhile, I'm letting you in on a little secret. I plan to approach the next biggest disappointment on the Miami defense right now -- Joey Porter -- and ask him what the heck is the problem.

Porter, as you know, is a very confident guy. Yesterday he debunked the idea his matchup with Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow was a battle because as he said, "It ain't a battle until the other guy wins one." Porter claims he has dominated Winslow in the four meetings they have had dating back to the days Porter was in Pittsburgh. You know, the days Porter was a productive player.

I'll ask him simply, "How do you think you're playing?" and "Why aren't you being more productive?"

I want to do this because, jeez, the guy got $20 million in guaranteed money for the Dolphins this offseason, and I don't see any return on that investment.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Changes along the defensive front

The Dolphins will soon announce the signing of defensive tackle Sam Rayburn, a five-year veteran who has played with San Francisco and the Eagles.

Rayburn is 6-3 and 303 out of Tulsa.

The reason he's with Miami now is that Vonnie Holliday is clearly not ready to play yet despite sounding an optimistic note on the possibility earlier this week. Add to that the fact Rodrique Wright is nursing some undisclosed injury that kept him out of practice today, and you now understand the need for a healthy body.

I'll have more details for you after practice.

By the way, Samson Satele did not practice today as he nurses a neck injury. Obviously Trent Green wasn't out there either. Rex Hadnot is working at center while Anthony Alabi is working at guard.

As for Miami's QB depth, receiver Marty Booker is expected to take some snaps there as Miami's No. 3.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Why didn't Miami see this train wreck coming?

A week before the Dolphins completed the Trent Green trade on June 6th, Jason Taylor was talking to Sports Illustrated about the rumors of the Dolphins acquiring a 37-year-old quarterback with a concussion history.

“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.”

So Jason Taylor saw it coming.

In the many weeks leading up to the trade that saw Miami give up a draft pick for Green, I told anyone who would listen that getting Trent Green wasn't such a great idea.

"Trent Green is not the answer," was the headline on this blog on March 21.

On March 27th I wrote: "You guys know how I feel about adding Trent Green. I just don't think renting a 37-year-old player who spent most of last year injured is such a great idea, regardless of his history with Miami's coaches and his desire to be in Miami. There's a million ways bringing Green to Miami can fail while there is only one way it can succeed -- if he's healthy, rejuvenated and the starter."

So I saw it coming.

And you guys pretty much agreed with me.

"I think all of you who think we should give up anything for Trent Green are CRAZY!!!!! Why would you risk any pick for a possible concussion case!!!" That was written by blog contributor JDizzle on May 24th.

So my questions to you are these: Why didn't the Dolphins see this coming? Why is it the experts who are supposed to know football, couldn't figure out this guy was one hit away from being a really bad idea?

This is what Cam Cameron said at the press conference introducing Green when he was pressed about the concerns everyone else but him had: “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.”

I think that says it all. Your thoughts?

Monday, October 08, 2007

And the new quarterback is ...

In a couple of hours when Cam Cameron has his Monday press conference, subject No. 1 on my agenda will be the quarterback position.

It's not about Trent Green anymore as his concussion likely will keep him sidelined for a while. I would think it might keep him on the bench a lot longer than we think.

But where does Cameron go from here? Does he simply go to the next rung on the ladder and hand the offense to Cleo Lemon? Or does he give in to fans, call it a season, and give the ball to John Beck.

I believe he will give it over to Cleo Lemon. We'll see if I'm right.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Live blogging during the game now

So you should already know that Rod Wright is starting for Vonnie Holliday, Derrick Pope is going for Channing Crowder and Cameron Worrell is starting for Donovin Darius.

On the bright side for Miami, Zach Thomas returns to the starting lineup for the first time in two weeks.

For Houston, Andre Davis will start for Andre Johnson and Ron Dayne will start for Ahman Green, who is not active.

I will blog live during the game.

The comments will update in the comments section.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The list of guys playing well for the Dolphins

Today I am taking a break from the pitchfork and torch-carrying mob making its way up the castle steps wanting to kill Dolphinstein.

As you know very well, the Dolphins are winless but they've put up a fight in a couple of games so everything can't be completely horrible. So I will attempt in this post to tell you the players who are actually playing well.

It will thus be a short post.

This list comes from a Dolphins coach who took me into his confidence this week. Typically coaches on this staff don't say who is playing well or poorly for fear of offending -- something I never understood because it ruins their credibility when they say things like a receiver who dropped five passes is working really hard to get better.

Anyway here's the list:

1. Ronnie Brown. The guy has strung together consecutive 200-all-purpose-yard games and leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage. That TD in which he plowed the Oakland safety was magnificent.

2. Rex Hadnot. It stands to reason if Brown has holes to run through, somebody is creating those holes. Hadnot is not a Pro Bowl guy, but he's playing as well as he has in his career.

3. Donovin Darius. He took over for an injured Travares Tillman last week and is already an upgrade at his safety spot. It says here Tillman will not get his starting job back from Darius unless Darius gets hurt. Darius has also, after one start, returned a physical toughness to the deep secondary that coaches thought was lost for the season when Yeremiah Bell went down.

4. Derrick Pope. He is a career special teams player but upon getting a chance to play D when Zach Thomas got hurt and Channing Crowder moved to the middle, Pope has surprised folks enough that he has moved past Donnie Spragan in the linebacker rotation.

5. Jay Feely. He has to be on here because, well, the guy hasn't missed this year. He's 7-for-7 on PATs and 7-for-7 on field goals. I didn't even realize the Dolphins had scored that much this season, but Feely has delivered every time he's had the opportunity.

That's it. That's where it pretty much ends right now. Hopefully the list expands after the next few weeks.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The owner can make a difference

The reaction to my column in Tuesday's Herald was fast and, sometimes furious. A large majority of readers agreed the Dolphins need to get more expertise out of their experts and that owner Wayne Huizenga cannot be excused from responsibility for the current state of the team.

I have long applauded Huizenga's commitment to winning. That commitment is unrivaled in the NFL when one considers the Dolphins are always allowed to spend to the NFL salary cap limit, they continuously update their facilities including the Nick Saban memorial bubble, and now the stadium is undergoing significant improvements.

But what I have come to realize is there is a difference between being a good hands-off owner and an owner who is far too uninvolved.

Huizenga has slid from being the former and is now, too often, the latter. Sure, he talks to coach Cam Cameron during the week. Sure, he meets with team officials on a semi-regular basis to catch up on the financial operations of the team.

But he simply is not around enough to know for himself what is right and wrong with the crown jewel of his business empire. He is told by others what is right and wrong so whatever opinions he has about the team are based on what he is told rather than what he sees.

He is not around enough to form HIS OWN opinion, without getting it from employees who have an agenda in what they tell Huizenga.

{That agenda, by the way, is usually finding a way to keep one's job}

If you study the teams who have won the Super Bowl lately -- say, since 2002 when the Dolphins started their string of playoff absences -- you see teams whose owners are around and engaged.

Robert Kraft in New England? He's on the job and around the team practically every day. Dan Rooney in Pittsburgh? The Steelers are his passion and, in a new book, he confesses he made a mistake in 1983 by not making a stronger case to his personnel department about drafting Dan Marino.

Twenty years later, he refused to make the same mistake. "I couldn't bear the thought of passing on another great quarterback prospect the way we had passed on Dan Marino in 1983, so I steered the conversation around to (Ben) Roethlisberger," Rooney writes in My 75 Years With The Pittsburgh Steelers And The NFL.

Guess what, the owner steers the conversation a certain direction, the personnel department picks the object of that conversation.

Tampa Bay's Malcolm Glazer hasn't been very close to the Bucs since a stroke hampered his health in 2006. But Glazer's sons Bryan and Joel are very much involved in the daily operations of the team. They know the rights and wrongs of the team based on daily contact.

Indy owner Jim Irsay began working for the Colts in 1982, first at the ticket counter and in public relations. He was named general manager in 1984 one month after the Colts moved to Indianapolis and assumed day-to-day management of the team after his father's stroke in 1995.

Irsay is not the general manager of the team anymore as he wisely hired Bill Polian for that job. But ask him what his job is, ask him what his business is, ask what his professional passion is, and his answer to all three questions is the same.

"The Indianapolis Colts."

I am not saying Huizenga should be running the organization, or sitting in on team meetings or drawing up plays. That's ridiculous. But it is equally ridiculous for an owner to lean so far in the other direction as to lose CLOSE contact with that which should be MOST important to him.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Green experiment blowing up in Cameron's face

When I first heard the Dolphins were interested in Trent Green, I figured they were looking for a backup quarterback with experience.

Then Cam Cameron explained that Green is a solid leader, a man who has not lost any of the skills he showed while going to three Pro Bowls, a guy who acts his age in taking care of the football while still showing a spry ability to make plays.

That's cool, I figured.

If Green would play as advertised, even if he could act like a caretaker QB that doesn't ruin things, then the move would be palatable.

Problem has been Green has played horribly two of the last three games and is now tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions. Seven interceptions!

And that's not even counting the A.J. Feeley-like pass he threw right in Fred Smoot's bread basket that the Washington cornerback dropped.

Look, Green is bright and I think he's a good leader. And I don't expect the guy to throw 30 TD passes. But he's on pace for 28 interceptions right now.

And as I wrote in my column today (read it here: Green has been doing things smart, veteran players in their 14th season have no excuse doing.

He's been pressing. He's been throwing off his back foot. He has put passes in the air that had no business leaving his grasp. He has not been a wise decision-maker.

Obviously, with 12 games remaining, Green can turn things around. But to do that he has to remember who he is. He has to play like a savvy veteran instead of an overmatched first-time starter. He has to play like the guy the Dolphins said they acquired when they traded for him.

He has to stop impersonating A.J. Feeley.