Subscriber Services

Friday, November 30, 2007

The possibilities for Miami's first overall pick

Based on the events of the last week, it is becoming clear the Dolphins will have a grand opportunity to pick up talent in next April's NFL draft and will have a choice how they do it.

With coach Houston "Sometimes I feel like a" Nutt leaving Arkansas as the head coach, it practically guarantees that junior running back Darren McFadden will pass up his final year of eligibility at the school and enter the NFL draft. Thus McFadden will join LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long, Virginia defensive end Chris Long, and possibly one of the available QBs -- either Matt Ryan or Brian Brohm -- as candidates to be the first player selected.

Assuming the Dolphins have the first overall pick -- I can't believe I'm covering a team awful enough to have that pick -- they will have the option of using the pick on the highest rated player on their draft board or trading and turning it into multiple picks for lower rated players.

So how do I know the Dolphins will have a choice? Because I know of at least one trade partner they will have, assuming egos don't get in the way.

The Dallas Cowboys, holders of two first round draft picks, would love McFadden. Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones graduated from Arkansas. He was in the stadium when McFadden rushed for over 300 yards in one game earlier this year and has assigned a scout to each and every Arkansas game this year. And I am told by a Cowboys source, Jones believes adding a star as bright as McFadden to his offense could make the Cowboys unstoppable.

It would give them a triple threat at QB, WR and RB much in the mold of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

But the Cowboys, you say, already have two good running backs in Julius Jones and Marion Barber. And that is true blogbreath. But McFadden has the chance to be GREAT. And here's the interesting thing: Jones is unsigned for next year and there have been no talks between the parties about an extension.

And while the Cowboys have time between now and the start of free agency to deal with Jones, it is just as likely they will go in another direction because Barber is already the better of the two and they believe they can draft a complimentary back even if they don't get McFadden.

So here is the question: If the Dolphins have an opportunity to take McFadden with the first pick, should they do it? Or should they trade with the Cowboys or the highest bidder, and go for multiple picks?

Understand that the Dallas first rounders won't be very high. The Cowboys, following last night's victory over Green Bay, are in position to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and absolutely no one outside of Green Bay would be surprised if they're in the Super Bowl. That means their pick would be no better than No. 31. Even if they falter in the playoffs, the pick would be no better than 24ish.

The other pick they own belongs to the Browns. Guess what? The Browns might get in the playoffs also and, even if they don't, their pick will come in the 16 range.

Personally, I would love it if Miami could get the two first-round picks and, at least, a third this year, and the Cowboys first rounder -- again likely to be a late pick -- next year. Improbable? That's what the draft trade value chart says it will take to even out the deal.

I just think quantity is necessary over quality right now. The Dolphins have needs at NT, DE, WR, LB, CB, TE, RB and OT. McFadden would fill one of those needs with a great prospect.

But idea of filling several of those needs with good prospects somehow seems more inviting.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kareem Brown a Jet, but what did Dolphins know?

The New York Jets quietly picked up defensive end Kareem Brown off waivers from the New England Patriots this week. The Jets were one of several teams putting in waiver claims on Brown because, with no exceptions, those teams believed he can develop into a fine defensive end in the 3-4 scheme.

That's what the Patriots believed when they drafted him in the fourth round out of the University of Miami. And that is apparently what the Jets, Ravens, and 49'ers thought when they put in claims on him. Brown is a prototype 3-4 end at 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds. He is built in the Kevin Carter mold except he's 23 years old and still learning the position after playing inside in college.

And it's not like the Patriots simply wanted to lose the time invested in him because I'm told they wanted to put Brown on their practice squad and were disappointed when Brown garnered so much interest around the league.

So what is the point? Well, the Dolphins did not put in a waiver claim on Brown. Because they have the worst record in the NFL, they have first dibs on waived players which means any player they claim, they get.

But it seems odd to me that a team in such need of talent on the defensive line, a team that supposedly wants to run the 3-4 scheme in the future and needs big-bodied defensive ends would not bite on Brown.

This can go one of two directions: Maybe the Dolphins know something about Brown the other teams don't -- be it about on the field talent or off the field behavior. Maybe they just don't think Brown is that good, although teams better than them, with better histories of picking talent than them, disagreed. I hope this is what happened.

Or maybe somebody just missed the boat. The Dolphins, despite their proximity and ties to the University of Miami, haven't exactly tapped that football factory for players in the past five or six years.

While the Patriots drafted Brown and Vince Wilfork and Brandon Meriweather; while the Jets signed Brown and drafted Jonathan Vilma; while the Bills drafted Kevin Everrett and Roscoe Parrish and Willis McGahee; the Dolphins have largely not tapped Miami's talent.

Vernon Carey is the only Dolphins player from UM.

So it bears watching whether Kareem Brown becomes a player in the future -- he's got about 10 years to figure it out -- or just another footnote on the waiver wire. If he is the latter, the Dolphins apparently did know something the Jets, Ravens and 49'ers didn't.

But if his production begins to match his potential, then the Dolphins truly missed a good opportunity to improve their defense without giving anything in return.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Some of Cam Cameron's questionable decisions

Monday night's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was disappointing in that it was another game the Dolphins might have won were it not for one play here or there, one coaching decision here or there.

We all know, and grudgingly accept, that Miami's talent misses opportunities to make plays. That cannot be addressed until more talent is drafted or acquired through free agency or trade. But the frustrating thing is some of the coaching decisions that are made never seem to help the team.

Normally, I accept coaching decisions because these guys know more football than the rest of us. They are professionals. But this season, Miami coach Cam Cameron has made it practically a habit to make questionable decisions, decisions that don't seem to pay off in loss, after loss, after loss.

It has become habitual to the point that I am not really concerned you readers will think me second-guessing when I point them out to you. So what follows is a log of some of Cameron's questionable decisions he has made this regular-season and what their results wrought. I am not including ALL the questionable decisions because, frankly, not every decision affects the game's outcome.

Here are the ones that did, in my opinion:

Pittsburgh 3, Miami 0: Tied 0-0 the Dolphins are faced with a fourth-and-15 from the Steelers 31 yard line. Instead of attempting a 48-yard field goal or punting to pin the Steelers deep in their territory, Cameron goes for it. John Beck is sacked for an 8 yard loss.

Later, in the first minute of the fourth quarter actually, the Dolphins drive to the Pittsburgh 20 where they attempt a 37 yard field goal. It misses, but a delay of game penalty gives Miami new life with a fourth-and-11 at the Pittsburgh 25 yard line. Instead of trying a 42 yard field goal, Cameron goes for it and Beck is sacked and fumbles. The Dolphins do not score in the game.

Philadelphia 17, Dolphins 7: The Dolphins trail 17-7 with 6:45 left to play. They have a fourth-and-1 situation at the Eagles' 1 yard line. So Cameron calls a timeout.

Coming out of the time out he elects not to kick the field goal. He elects to run the ball with running back Jesse Chatman, who has a sprained ankle. He elects to pitch the ball back to that injured player at the 7 yard line, effectively turning a 1-yard run into a 7-yard run, and he does it, knowing the play calls for no blocking on defensive end Juqua Thomas. Instead of getting out of position, Thomas is waiting for Chatman and tackles him for a 13-yard loss. The game effectively is over because Miami gets no points in a two possession game and doesn’t get the ball back until 13 seconds remain.

The next day, Cameron admits the fourth-down call was a “risk."

Buffalo 13, Dolphins 10: Cameron ignores calls from fans and media to start John Beck. He goes with ineffective Cleo Lemon. But even before the game, Cameron sensed Beck was ready and said he was, “the most prepared to play, even against Buffalo.”

“I saw that early in the game in the warm-ups," Cameron says the day AFTER the game. "I just sensed that had he gotten an opportunity to play in the Buffalo game he would have played well.”

So Cameron sensed his future quarterback would have played well but didn’t make the change. Instead Lemon plays the entire game and doesn't throw a touchdown or interception while managing a poor 66.9 quarterback rating, his second lowest rating in five starts.

It doesn't end there. The Dolphins lead the game 3-0 at halftime and the Bills fail to score on their first possession of the second half. But Miami is pinned at its 2 yard line. Does Cameron do the conservative thing and run the ball out of the shadow of his end zone? No, he passes on second-and-7 from the Dolphins 5 yard line and the pass falls incomplete.

On third down, he calls a slow developing pass play with a five step drop. Lemon, in his own end zone, holds the ball too long and is sacked for a safety. Momentum shifts.

Houston 22, Miami 19: The Dolphins are leading 16-13 with 6:30 to play. Starting quarterback Trent Green is out of the game and backup Cleo Lemon is in for the first time in 2007. The Dolphins are marching using Ronnie Brown, who has gained 33 yards on four carries and has delivered three first downs.

So on second-and-9 from the Houston 30, in a game Jay Feely has already kicked three field goals, does Cameron ride his emerging and hot running back or does he put the game in the backup quarterback’s hands? He picks the QB.

And so on second down, Lemon holds the ball and is sacked for an 8-yard loss. Then on third down he completes a pass for no gain. Instead of being in position to kick a field goal, the Dolphins must punt.

Surely a lesson learned right? Wrong. With the game tied at 19, the Dolphins have a second-and-9 situation at the Houston 38 yard line. Coming out of the two minute warning, do the Dolphins give the ball to Brown to get within field goal range and also milk the clock? Nope, they pass. They pass incomplete on second down, then incomplete again on third down, eating only nine seconds off the clock.

The stage is now set for defeat. Houston gets the ball at its own 3 yard line and drives 59 yards in 1:32 to win the game with a field goal.

Jets 31, Dolphins 28: The Dolphins offense is playing well but the special teams coverage unit is struggling, allowing a 98-yard kickoff return to Leon Washington in the first quarter.

Apparently stunned by the return, Cameron doesn’t get his coaching staff to adjust their coverage right then and there on the sideline. but rather orders kicker Jay Feely to squib kick each of the next two times the Dolphins kick off before halftime. The coach later says the kickoff adjustment, which might have been made on the sideline, was eventually made at halftime.

The problem is one of the two squibs Cameron orders, gives the Jets the ball at their own 43, setting them up for a 59-yard TD drive in the final 1:34 of the half. The scoring drive proves crucial as the Jets win by three points.

There you have it. I didn't mention the blown timeout situation before the half in Washington or the lack of urgency in trying to mount a comeback against the Giants in London. I also didn't mention using Marty Booker on a QB sneak in that London game -- yeah, he fumbled. Those plays didn't affect the outcome of the game.

But the list of decisions that did affect games is staggering. And depressing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Jesse Chatman well enough to start after all

Jesse Chatman's apparent miraculous recovery from his ankle injury is such that he will indeed start against the Steelers tonight.

As I reported earlier this afternoon, Chatman was all but assured he'd be a backup for this game behind Ricky Williams when he started feeling significantly better. Well, he's good enough that he's going out there for the Dolphins first.

Williams, active and ready to go, is nonetheless expected to get playing time tonight. He is active.

Donnie Spragan will start for Derrick Pope, who missed part of last week with an unspecified illness that caused him to go to the hospital.

It is raining cats and dogs here this evening. The field has been covered but I don't think that will help much during the game because it doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon.

I will be blogging live during the game through at least the third quarter. Join me in the comments section for that.

Chatman now better, RB starter in air again

[MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE] Last night when the Dolphins went to bed here in The Burgh, it was pretty well known among players and coaches that Ricky Williams was going to get his first start all of seven days after his first Dolphins practice.

Well, while that may still hold true, the situation has become more fluid in the past couple of hours. Seems regular starter Jesse Chatman, limping on a bad ankle since the Philadelphia game last week, has been telling coaches he feels much better now and wants to play.

So now, although it looks like Williams will still figure prominently into Miami's plans, the resurfacing of Chatman -- who did not practice full speed even once this week -- could change how Cam Cameron handles the RB situation.

Now Cameron must weigh not only which player looked best and is healthiest the past week (Williams) but how the ego of another player (Chatman) could be affected by his decision on who starts.

Regardless of which direction Cameron finally leans, Ricky will likely run for the Dolphins again tonight. And it should be interesting to see how he does given his time away from the game, the fact he is 30 years old now, and his relative lack of practice time.

One thing working in Ricky's favor is that this offensive line is perhaps the best and most effective he has run behind since he's been with the Dolphins. Yes, I realize he gained 1,853 behind Tim Ruddy, Jamie Nails, Mark Dixon, Todd Perry and Todd Wade in 2002.

But within 18 months of helping Ricky establish that team-record individual rushing season, all of the players on that line were either off the roster or out of the league altogether. This Miami line helped turn Ronnie Brown from an also-ran to a likely Pro Bowl performer had he remained healthy.

It will be interesting to see what that line does for Ricky.

On another note that could have far-reaching implications, Zach Thomas is traveling with the Dolphins although he is not playing. Why?

Well, the specialist he has been seeing since suffering a concussion against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 is in Pittsburgh. So Thomas traveled to Pittsburgh with the team to see the specialist again. I am told the visit is significant because Thomas is at a cross-roads and wants to take one direction or another during this visit.

He is hoping he gets clearance from his specialist so he can resume practicing with the goal of playing again this season. If he does not get clearance, he will consider shutting it down for the remainder of the season.

Thomas, I am told, is optimistic the news will be good and he'll be back practicing later this week. We shall see.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pope with the Dolphins in Pittsburgh

Quickie update: Despite his mysterious hospital stay that forced him to miss practice Saturday, linebacker Derrick Pope flew with the team and is in Pittsburgh for Monday's game against the Steelers.

“I didn’t feel well and thought I needed medical attention," Pope said in a statement released through the team. "Everything checked out and I feel better.

“I appreciate everyone’s concerns. I know our team physicians have been in touch with the hospital medical staff and are satisfied that everything is in order.”

While it is assumed Pope will play, his official status remains uncertain.

I'm sure whether he plays or not will make a big difference in the outcome of the game.

More important, perhaps, is the fact safety Troy Polamalu and receiver Santonio Holmes will not play for the Steelers.

Join me here tomorrow evening for a live blog during the game

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ricky could start while Chatman worse, Zach out

Four days into his latest return to the Dolphins, Ricky Williams is back playing the position he held the last time he played for the team in 2005.

Starting running back.

Williams took a majority of the first-team snaps in practice Friday while second-year running back Patrick Cobbs took the repetitions Williams did not. Regular starter Jesse Chatman was extremely limited in practice with an ankle injury.

Although Chatman is listed as questionable and coach Cam Cameron continues to talk as if the player will be pretty close to healthy by Monday, in this reporter's opinion, Chatman seemed slower Friday and the limp was more pronounced than it was two days ago when I last saw him during the early portion of practice.

"We can't get ahead of ourselves in this situation," Cameron said, playing this hand close to his vest. "We'll see where Jesse is. Jesse is an extremely tough guy. He's a competitor. He'll do everything he can to be full speed by Monday night.''

That, of course, does not mean he'll even play. If the game was Saturday, he probably would not play.

And as I explained to you in an earlier post and is evident from the practices, the more significant the injury to Chatman, the greater the likelihood Ricky Williams will be activated for Monday night's game against Pittsburgh.

I simply do not fathom the team going into a game against the NFL's top-rated defense with a limping Chatman and inexperienced Patrick Cobbs. Nope. Ricky is pretty certain to be activated if the current course continues. And, again, he would be the starter if the game were today.

One reason the Dolphins can do that is because Williams continues to show fresh legs during the portion of practice the media is allowed to watch. Cameron is simply calling Ricky's practices, "solid." But, in fact, Williams has shown a burst not expected of a player away from the game since 2005.

The team continues to consider the danger of pushing Williams too hard, too quickly. That can lead to a strained or pulled muscle or more serious injury. But Miami's need is serious, and as one poster contributed, Ricky may be less likely to hurt himself because his practice of yoga may shield him somewhat from that danger.

On another matter, you can officially scratch linebacker Zach Thomas from Monday night's game. Thomas, who has missed five games already, is missing his third day of practice this week and did not enjoy a miraculous recovery from his post-traumatic headaches -- at least not this week.

Defensive end Matt Roth, who is doubtful with a groin injury, also will not play although the Dolphins are not confirming this.

Call in today and talk to Salguero live

It is the day after Thanksgiving and everyone is several pounds heavier. Welcome to middle age, people.

Anyway, before I head over to Dolphins camp this afternoon, I will be doing the morning drive show on Miami Herald radio partner 790 The Ticket. Sid Rosenberg, the usual morning host, is on vacation so I will be in today from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Why should you care?

Well, seems a lot of you have much to say to me via cyberspace -- some of your comments even make sense. So this is your chance, should you want to take advantage of it, to call in and talk to me LIVE. And yes, we have a seven-second delay so the same rules apply there as here -- NO CURSING.

You can call 888-790-3776 and we can talk about the Dolphins, some other SPORTS or perhaps some other topics. It doesn't matter if you're in South Florida or not as the show will stream live on the web at and I'm pretty certain the number I just gave is a toll-free nationwide number.

Do with this what you will. I'll be back later in the day, with a Dolphins update.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The latest news on Ricky Williams

You should know that Jesse Chatman is hurt. He has a right ankle sprain that limited him today in practice. He tried to take some snaps in individual drills but was hobbling noticeably. On one pass attempt, he actually pulled up lame and sat out the rest of the drills for a while.

So, barring a quick recovery, Chatman will likely be limited through the week of practice.

That means today Patrick Cobbs took much of the work as the starting running back and Ricky Williams primarily took second-team snaps. Lorenzo Booker is taking the third-team snaps and Samkon Gado is running scout team.

Anyway, if Chatman cannot play or if the chances of him aggravating the ankle injury are high, Williams will be activated off the exemption list and will be the backup against Pittsburgh. If Chatman recovers by Monday -- and remember he has six days -- then Williams likely won't be activated.

If there were no injury at all, it would be unlikely coach Cam Cameron would activate Ricky because he doesn't want to risk having the RB pull a hamstring or strain a groin after having so little football activity the past 18 months.

But Chatman's injury has thrown a wrench in those plans. That is the reason Cameron was eyeing the running backs with particular, almost unusual, attention today. He stood right there as they caught passes and took handoffs early in practice.

One quick anecdote: Ricky caught a couple of passes cleanly and looked to have his usual burst. But then he dropped a pass right in front of Cameron. Well, instead of dropping his head and moping back to the line for his next scheduled repetition later, he rushed back and got in line ahead of the next guy to take the next repetition.

And he caught the next pass cleanly. That, no matter what you think of Williams off the field, is the type of guy a team loves on the field.

I have been told by sources who watched the entire practice that Williams looked GREAT. I am told he was easily the best RB on the field.

"I haven't played football in a year and then to get on the field and feel it all come back so quickly was a little surprising," Williams said afterward.

Cameron, meanwhile, admitted that Williams had zero problem picking up the Dolphins offensive system because he played in a similar system for Norv Turner. Glad Camaron is realizing Williams is very bright.

Get the feeling he'll soon realize he's very good, too.

What if Nick Saban had stayed another year?

Nick Saban should have waited one more year, should have buckled his proverbial chin strap and stayed with the Dolphins and struggled and suffered through one more season. And if he had everyone would be better off.

Yes, I just wrote that. Everyone, Saban and Cam Cameron and the Dolphins and LSU and Michigan, would be better off for 2008.

How would Saban be better off? Well, the fact is he is in deep do at Alabama now coming off back-to-back losses to Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe. His team is underachieving and fans once loyal to him are getting the idea the guy is something of a strange bird based on comments he made Monday.

Saban described the humbling defeat against ULM inappropriately, mentioning the 9-11 terrorist attacks and Pearl Harbor in talking about how his team must rebound like America did from a "catastrophic event.''

"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event,'' Saban said. "It may be 9-11, which sort of changed the spirit of America RELATIVE TO catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event.''

Well, the losing and analogy hasn't gone over well in Dixie.

And that leads me to the reason everyone would be better off if Saban had stayed. If he had stayed, and I remind you it was HIS choice to leave, Saban probably would be struggling with the Dolphins this year. But he would likely be preparing himself for a return to LSU if/when Les Miles flies the coop for Michigan.

Think of it. If Saban were Miami's coach, Miles would almost certainly become Michigan's coach because the folks at LSU would gladly let Miles out of his contract in order to get Saban back. And it is that contract, which has a $1.25 million buyout clause if Miles goes to Michigan, that is the only thing that might keep Miles at LSU.

If Saban went back to LSU, he would be returning to a program stocked with talent -- which Alabama was not. He'd be returning to a place where he is adored and his foibles are embraced -- which he is finding Alabama is not. He'd be going back to an open and seemingly unlimited checkbook.

So Michigan would get the coach it wants and LSU would get the coach it wants.

So how would that make things better for the Dolphins? As I just stated, Saban would be struggling with the Dolphins this year as any coach would. But do you think he'd be winless? His Miami teams started slow both years, but they hit a stride midway through the season. It didn't last and it didn't make them good long-term or short-term.

But they were not WINLESS. Not even close.

And I don't think they would be winless this year under Saban. And how would that be better for Miami long-term?

Well, it was clear last year that the big-name coaches the Dolphins coveted initially -- Pete Carroll and Bill Cowher -- were not ready to move or get back into coaching. Those close to Cowher believe he'll be ready to return to coaching this year. And if the Dolphins were in the market for a coach this year, following Saban's departure to LSU, I am certain they would be players in the chase for Coach Chin.

Furthermore, I put to you that had Saban stayed in Miami this year, held out one more inglorious season, Cam Cameron would be better off as well. If Saban had stayed, Cameron would still be in San Diego in some capacity because he had only one other head coach interview last year and Arizona didn't ask him back for a second talk.

So he would not have left San Diego. He would, worst case, be San Diego's offensive coordinator, which given the talent there is pretty attractive. And if things had played out as they did, Cameron would almost certainly have inherited the head coaching job when Marty Schottenheimer was fired.

So Camerons would be San Diego's head coach and the Dolphins would be in good position to hire a good head coach with a winning track record because they could chose between a semi-retired Cowher and an unemployed Schottenheimer as their next coach.

So to recap if Saban had stayed in Miami this year, the Dolphins might not be winless and in 2008:

Saban would be coaching LSU.

Cameron would be coaching San Diego.

And either Cowher or Schottenheimer could be coaching the Dolphins.

That's better all the way around, I think.

Discuss ...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A conversation leading up to a bad decision

It is fourth down and the Dolphins are on the Eagles 1 yard line. So the Dolphins coaching staff, with nothing to lose in this winless season, decides to go for the TD in a 17-7 game. Sure there is 6:45 yet to play and the game is far from over, but we're going to gamble on getting a TD because we may never, ever get on another team's 1 yard line again.

So here is the conversation the Dolphins might have had in the next two minutes after the team breaks the huddle.

Cam Cameron (over the team's headsets): What are we doing? I'm not sure about this. Call timeout!!!

John Beck at the line of scrimmage: What are we doing? I'm not sure about this. Oh, coach called time out. Time out!!!

(On the sideline now)

Cameron: I think we should go for touchdown. Let's put some pressure on those guys.

Beck: So what play do we call?

Cameron: Well, we're only one yard from the goal line. So let me see here ... What play on my sheet do I have that will pitch the ball six yards back to move one yard forward? HMMM. Got it. Let's call $%^& @#$ %$+_!&. Let me talk to Jesse Chatman about this.

Chatman, over at the sideline now: Yeah, coach?

Cameron: Jesse, we're going to give you the ball on this one because we have confidence in you now that you don't overeat anymore.

Chatman: I'm ready. Up the gut, straight at them, right coach?

Cameron: Not quite. We believe they're going to blitz so we're going to pitch it to you wide.

Chatman: OK, quick pitch, right coach?

Cameron: Not quite. We've got this special unorthodox pitch that makes Beck look like he's physically challenged and pitches like a girl. We'll try that pitch. Now, the ball's on the 1 but you'll be at the 7 yard line when you get the ball on this ridiculous-looking pitch.

Chatman: Really?

Cameron: Yeah, trust me LaDainian Tomlinson used to love this play and you're as good as he is.

Chatman: I am?

Cameron: I say you are and I'm an offensive genius so believe in me because everything else I've said this year has been correct and has come to pass -- like when I told Wayne Huizenga we'd be a good team, and when I had Randy Mueller trade for my son Trent Green, and when I ordered that squib kick against the Jets and when I signed off on playing Joey Porter at defensive end.

Chatman and Beck: OOOOKAAAAAY.

Cameron: One thing, Jesse, when you get the ball on the 7 to gain 1 yard, you'll have to beat one defender.

Chatman: I can do that coach. Who's blocking that guy for me?

Cameron: Stupid question, Jesse. You're freakin' Jesse Chatman. You don't need a lead blocker. You're a career backup who was out of the league last year. You can make any man miss. You're on your own, son. Make that defensive end who is bigger and stronger and quicker than you miss. Beat him!

Chatman: But ...

Cameron: No buts. Have faith that even if you beat him, that quick reacting Philadelphia defense won't recover in time to run to the football and tackle you before you get in the end zone. Tomlinson used to do it. You can do it!

Official: We're coming back coach, get your guys on the field.

Cameron: Thank you Mr Zebra. Now remember men, you must succeed. I admit to you this is a grand risk of a call and I will admit that to the media in my press conference tomorrow. But we have just burned a timeout and discussed this long and hard and this was the best play I could come up with in this situation. Boy I wish I hadn't shown the Statue of Liberty in the preseason. Anyway, get out there and remember I have confidence you will fail forward fast.

Announcer: Chatman on the pitch. Thomas is unblocked. Has Chatman in his sights. Chatman is tackled for a 13-yard loss. Philadelphia ball.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dolphins youth movement is on the march

Marty Booker is Miami's most accomplished offensive player today. He is the only player on the offense to play in a Pro Bowl. He's had multiple 1,000 yard receiving seasons. And he's smart.

So it was interesting after Sunday's game how Booker, standing alone in the Miami locker room while knotting his tie, could see this team's future unfolding.

“We got some young guys that are taking advantage of opportunities," Booker said looking over at a huddle of reporters around John Beck. "Pretty soon, going into next year, that’s your nucleus, that’s your core guys.

"The main thing now is to get those guys in and get them experience and let them build their confidence and let them see how it is. Once you go over to next year, you put everything in their hands and let them grow and let them do what they do.”

That is, of course, what the Dolphins are doing now. They are playing out 2007. But they are playing for 2008. This year is lost. The only thing left to salvage is avoiding a winless record.

So take the rest of this season for what it is worth. It is all about next year and how players and coaches position themselves for that coming campaign.

Before yesterday's game, Miami public relations man Harvey Greene was excited to share the note that never in Dolphins history had the team opened a game with four rookie starters on offense. It didn't happen in the expansion season and none of the 40 years that have followed.

Well, it didn't happen yesterday either as the Dolphins opened in a double-tight end formation, leaving Ted Ginn Jr. on the bench for the first snap.

But the excitement that young players are playing, and contributing, and learning and growing, should not be diminished by the fact Ginn missed that first snap. Eventually he returned a punt for a TD and led the team in receptions.

Jason Allen, only in his second season and making his fourth start this season, had two interceptions. Rod Wright, in his second season, played well along the defensive line. Samson Satele and Reagan Mauia blocked well.

The future is upon us, folks. And although there hasn't been a payoff from playing these younger players yet, eventually quarterback John Beck will get the offense in the end zone, eventually Wright will get to the quarterback consistently, eventually Allen may take an interception back for a touchdown.

This team is about to turn over and even a veteran such as Booker, who likely will not be on the team next year, sees the evolution under way. He knows it is inevitable.

And considering the veterans on the Dolphins haven't been good enough to make a difference for half a decade now, it is a good thing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Live blogging from Philly (cheese steak) today

PHILADELPHIA -- John Beck's NFL debut will come on a cold and overcast day in this historic city.

The Beck clan is here. His father, mother, son and wife -- yes, only one wife wiseguys -- are in attendance for this one.

And while most of you will have eyes glued on Beck's performance, I suggest you also make an effort to watch the play of Jason Allen and Cameron Worrell as well.

Allen has had a successful first two games as the new starter at strong safety. Worrell, meanwhile, has recovered from the New England debacle that exposed him as a special teams player impersonating as a safety.

But perhaps circumstance as much as ability is the reason both have been OK the past two games.

Against the Giants, the safeties were not exposed because New York didn't try to throw the ball deep in a driving rain. Last week against Buffalo, the safeties faced a quarterback who didn't look deep all game long. And you must admit, J.P. Losman doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of opposing secondaries.

But today Miami's secondary and the safeties in particular face a veteran quarterback in Donovan McNabb who can pick the weak link of a defense as well as anyone. If he goes after Allen and Worrell, it will be interesting to see if they're up to the task.

The Dolphins don't have a third quarterback designated for today. The inactives are Kerry Reed, Samkon Gado, Jereme Perry, Tuff Harris, Zach Thomas, Anthony Bryant, Rob Ninkowvich and Matt Roth.

Derrick Pope starts in the middle for Thomas and Rod Wright starts at defensive end for Matt Roth.

And finally this: FOX studio analyst Howie Long on comparing Pacman Jones and Ricky Williams and how one was reinstated this week and the other was not: "Ricky doesn't hurt anyone. The only way Ricky hurts people is with second-hand smoke."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A very good week, draft for Randy Mueller

During a week filled with tons of news, even as echoes calling for the hiring of Bill Parcells as general manager linger, the Dolphins current general manager is quietly having a stellar week.

How else to describe what Randy Mueller has accomplished so far.

This week coach Cam Cameron named John Beck Miami's starting quarterback and that means five rookies will start for the Dolphins on Sunday, with four of them playing on offense.

Think about that sentence you just read. The Dolphins are starting five rookies Sunday -- receiver Ted Ginn Jr., center Samson Satele, fullback Reagan Mauia, punter Brandon Fields, and Beck.

This while rookies Paul Soliai and Lorenzo Booker get some fill-in duty as they get their heads out of their butts and try to catch on to the Pro game. Anyway, they're another post for another day.

The point is in the inexact science of NFL drafting, Mueller is already maximizing 50 percent of his 10 picks from his first Miami draft class. You've got appreciate the guy for making that happen.

Now, have there been mistakes? Sure. The Joey Porter signing is still curious. And I grant you, none of the rookies are Pro Bowl players yet. None are even rookie of the year candidates, although Satele will be somewhere in the conversation.

But all mentioned in that compelling sentence are already good enough that they are starting for their team by the midway point in their rookie seasons. I challenge you to find another NFL team that can match that.

I understand if the Dolphins were a great team, the talent level would be so high that it would be more difficult for a rookie to break into the lineup. But if Mueller comes close to matching his current success in future years, if he finds three or four starters in next year's draft, and three or four more in two years, the Dolphins will be a very, very, very strong team in three or four years.

Based on that future hope, which is based on this draft class's early accomplishments, you have to believe Randy Mueller is the right man to remain Miami's general manager. You have to believe that despite mistakes -- and there undoubtedly will be some -- Mueller can turn the Dolphins around.

Your thoughts?

Source: Williams OK to practice, will play

The much-anticipated meeting between Cam Cameron and Ricky Williams apparently went off without a hitch this morning and the running back has been told he can begin practicing and will be used in games this season.

Cameron told me today that Williams passed all his physicals and other tests.

Williams will not practice today. The session began this afternoon and he was watching from the player lounge. He will begin practicing on Monday. He is able to play starting the Nov. 26 game at Pittsburgh and the Dolphins apparently have plans to use him as early as then, but certainly in the season's final five games.

This is good news for the Dolphins because they will be able to evaluate him to determine if they want to keep Williams for 2008 or trade him in the offseason.

Wow, we're on a streak of good news and good decisions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dolphins should get as much out of Ricky as possible

Thinking about this long and hard, I have come to the conclusion that Ricky Williams is better than Samkon Gado.

You know Gado, right? He's the guy the Dolphins signed two weeks ago to be a backup to Patrick Cobbs, who is the backup to Jesse Chatman, who is the backup to Ronnie Brown.

So looking at this situation, it matters not one iota to me that Ricky has had a troubled past with the Dolphins. It matters to me not one shred that he is a little flaky or that some fans and players had their feelings hurt when he let the team down, not once, but twice.

Forget all that emotional baggage. All that matters to me is he is a commodity to the Dolphins and around the NFL.

So the Dolphins should look at his return coldly, dispassionately and make an assessment of the guy as a football player. And as a football player, they should put him to the best possible use.

That means they should allow him to bring the level of talent in the locker room up a significant notch. They should put him in the best possible position to succeed. And they should let him get after the teams on Miami's schedule starting with the Nov. 26 game at Pittsburgh when his reinstatement says he can finally play.

Why, you ask? Aren't the Dolphins simply better to walk away from the guy who has broken their hearts several times in the past?

I don't think so. Williams can bring something to the team now. Maybe that's a couple of good games out of him this season. Maybe that's a draft pick in the offseason. Whatever it is, the Dolphins owe it to themselves and their fans to milk Ricky for everything he's got to offer.

In this case, pride and the moral high ground (whatever that is) needs to take a back seat to pragmatism.

Cam Cameron, who will make a call on Ricky after talking to him today, might not be inclined to embrace Ricky as Nick Saban did. He certainly has not sounded enthusiastic about Ricky to this point. But he owes his football team the professionalism to make a sound football decision regardless of any personal feelings he may have.

Finally, let me leave you with what I believe is the most compelling reason to welcome Ricky back now and let him play a lot if he's in shape to do so.

Jesse Chatman is unsigned and a free agent after this season. The more opportunities the Dolphins give him to succeed the remainder of this season, the more he likely will attract attention. And that means the more money he will ask, and likely get, in free agency. Why should the Dolphins showcase Chatman, possibly so another team can fall in love with him and snatch him away?

Instead, the Dolphins should showcase Ricky. Letting Ricky and Chatman share snaps would limit Chatman's numbers while increasing Ricky's numbers. Then in the offseason, Miami can either keep Ricky with the idea that he is still valuable. Or they can trade him, perhaps for a higher pick, after letting the rest of the NFL see he's a still a pretty good player.

It may sound cold, but so what? It's smart decision-making. And that's how the Dolphins should approach this emotional situation.

The next step with Ricky Williams

Ricky Williams has been reinstated by the NFL.

I told you in an earlier version of this post the reinstatement comes with stipulations: The stipulation is that Williams cannot play until the Nov. 26 game against Pittsburgh. That means Williams is out until Week 12.

Williams can, however, begin attending meetings, practicing and working out at the team's facility immediately.

So what do the Dolphins do with their new running back?

I am told Cam Cameron's first step after announcing Ricky's reinstatement which I am already announcing here, is to sit down and with Ricky and simply talk. Based on that conversation, and subsequent conversations the Dolphins have among themselves, a decision on Ricky's future will be made.

The point is it is not guaranteed the Dolphins will welcome Ricky back. And it is not guaranteed they will discard him.

If you know anything abou the Dolphins you should understand that Ricky is eccentric and easily turns people off with his goofiness sometimes. And Cameron is so straight-laced and driven, he sometimes can grate on players and turn them off as well.

So you have two opposing personalities -- a flower child and a Bobby Knight disciple -- talking, trying to find common ground. Wish I could be a fly on the wall for that one.

If, however, the two come to find some common ground -- and they can because they both love football -- then Ricky Williams might be coming back to the Dolphins backfield within a couple of weeks.

It would mark a good way for the Dolphins to showcase him for a possible trade because I have serious doubts Ricky is in the team's future for 2008 and beyond.

Anyway, this is my second post of the day, so I'm taking the rest of the day off. It's hard slaving over a hot computer.

Rookie John Beck to start against the Eagles

The John Beck era has arrived.

The Dolphins will announce later this afternoon that Beck, the team's rookie second-round draft pick, will make his first NFL start against the Eagles Sunday according to a source. Beck will replace Cleo Lemon, who has started the past four games after replacing Trent Green, who is out for the season with concussion issues.

Beck will make his debut in one of the NFL's unfriendliest environments against the blitzing, pressuring defense Eagles defensive coordinator Jimmie Johnson likes to run. Earlier this week coach Cam Cameron said the venue would not determine which quarterback he would pick as his starter.

Cameron's criteria for picking his starter has been which quarterback is most prepared and deserving of having the job. Cameron has said it would be the player who, "gives us the best chance to win."

Despite this Lemon had been unable to win any of his four starts since taking over from Green, who did not win in any of his five starts. The Dolphins are the only winless team in the NFL.

Now it falls to Beck. But in handing the keys to the Miami offense to the Beck, Cameron has transitioned to the player the team is hopeful will hold the job for years to come.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What to expect from Beck once he starts

I know everyone is calling for John Beck and you might finally see him this week because, as we speak, Cam Cameron is giving the decision some deep thought.

But when (not if) when Beck finally starts this season do not expect Dan Marino.

Marino, as many of you Dolphinphiles may remember, was a stud from the moment he stepped on the practice field at the old St. Thomas University training camp and his studliness (I jsut made up a word) continued into his first start, all the way through the end of his career.

John Beck is NOT Dan Marino. So don't expect him to come in when he finally gets his chance this year and turn the NFL's worst team into a dangerous club. The chances that will happen are simply not that good.

Peyton Manning wasn't great as a rookie. Drew Brees wasn't good his first couple of years. Derek Anderson bounced around before this season with Cleveland. Even Tom Brady struggled for, OK never mind, bad example.

The point is unless Beck is SuperQuarterback he is going to struggle coming out of the gate. Most rookie quarterbacks do. If his first start is against Philadelphia's blitzing, attacking defense, his deficiencies will look much bigger because he'll be constantly under pressure and duress.

So all I am asking you is not to expect the Dolphins to simply become a fine team once Beck is inserted. Don't expect tooooooo much of him because you've been asking, begging, demanding that he play.

If he struggles when he gets in there, it doesn't mean he's a bust. If he has flaws in reading defenses it doesn't mean he's slow. If he doesn't make great decisions right away it doesn't mean he is dumb. All it means is he's a rookie.

So be happy that Beck is getting playing time to work those kinks out now. But be patient, because all those kinks are likely to be quite pronounced at first.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Special teams are in need of more attention

This is a fact: The Dolphins DO NOT spend as much time on special teams work as they do on offense and defense. They don't meet for as long a period of time. They don't conduct walk-thru work for as long a period of time. And in the offseason they discarded special teams anchors such as Travis Minor and David Bowens.

That's not the worst of it. While I cannot vouch for what other teams and coaches do to invest time on special teams, I do know what the Dolphins used to do. And under Don Shula, the Dolphins spent more time on special teams than they currently do. Under Jimmy Johnson, the Dolphins spent more time on special teams than they currently do. Even under Dave Wannstedt his first couple of years, the Dolphins spent more time on special teams than they currently do.

So it is any surprise that special teams now cost the Dolphins games?

From my count this is the second game the Dolphins have lost because of special teams. On Sunday against the Bills they had a touchdown -- that would have been the difference in the game -- called back because of a holding penalty on Greg Camarillo. They also gave up a 40-yard return to Roscoe Parrish that set up the Bills for the game-winning field goal.

This while the memory of that kick return TD against the Jets still looms as the reason Miami lost that game.

So here's the question: If the Dolphins are continually outplayed on special teams, if that third of the game is constantly hurting Miami, why doesn't Cam Cameron do something about it. He addressed the loss of good players on special teams by forcing starters into spot special teams duty.

But nothing has been done to increase the time spent working on special teams. Nothing has been done to increase the time special teams players meet and break down their assignments. Nothing has been done to address the problem that continually hurts Miami's chances to win a game.

And yes, I said, one game.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Live blogging on Buffalo game today

Bumped into Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga in the elevator as I was on the way to the press box this morning. He was fiddling with his pass into the stadium which was interesting to me because, you know, he's the owner of the team. And the stadium.

So I asked him, "You don't need that pass do you?"

"They won't let me in," Huizenga said.

But, but, but you own half of Miami Gardens.

"Maybe if we win a game they'll let me in," Huizenga said smiling.

That's the mood today as the Dolphins go for their first victory of the season. There is hope the Bills are a flawed team. There is hope the Dolphins will be breathing fire coming off a bye week. There is, simply, hope.

We'll see.

Anyway., here are the inactives for the game: Kerry Reed, Travares Tillman, Samkon Gado, Jereme Perry, Zach Thomas, Anthony Bryant, Derreck Robinson and Rob Ninkovich.

Lorenzo Booker is active and I've noticed he got some significant repetitions during the week of practice. So maybe he'll get some work today. Again, there is hope.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dolphins apparently don't need the work

For the record, I stayed in England a few days after the game against the Giants because, what the heck, I was there and it was an opportunity to see some sites. So I didn't make it back until Thursday of the bye week.

The Dolphins were done with their work week by then. And that's the point.

On a week the team had a bye, had extra days to hone and prepare and work on the things that needs to be worked on, the Dolphins practiced one time. One time! On Wednesday.

Players were off Thursday. Players were off Friday. Players were off Saturday. Players were off Sunday.

I can appreciate the need for people to get away from the stress of an NFL season and decompress and rest and recover. But four days? So much for the bye week advantage in preparing a team.

Now, it should be said that coaches didn't get four days off. They had Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. But why would a young team in need of as much practice time as possible not take two or three days off instead of four?

I could even buy that veterans didn't need to work those days -- although they also aren't exactly lighting things up with their play this year. Why didn't the team have a rookies and young vets work day Thursday?

Didn't have to be anything physically punishing. But I think Ted Ginn Jr. could use an extra day of polishing his routes, which are still not great. I think Jason Allen could use an extra day of studying on his calls at his new (again) position of safety. I think Derek Hagan could work on holding onto the ball by catching a few more passes. I think Paul Soliai could use some more tutelage on his run-stopping technique.

I think John Beck could use an extra day of throwing to receivers he's probably going to be throwing to for the next two or three years, to get comfortable with them, to get some timing and chemistry down.

Point is if the schedule offers you an extra week to get better without having to go out on Sunday and get beat up, why would the Dolphins turn that into just one day of practice?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

John Beck won't start this week but ...

The much debated question about when John Beck starts could become something of an afterthought if the rookie doesn't start -- but plays anyway.

The Dolphins are preparing for the contingency Beck could get playing time in small increments before his first start, with the first of those increments coming as early as this Sunday against Buffalo.

Coach Cam Cameron has come under a lot of criticism for not starting Beck, but everyone seems to forget that easing the rookie into a series or two is not out of the question.

Getting Beck into his first game via the back door so to speak could help the rookie in that he won't be anxious an entire week before his first game, knowing he's starting. Letting him come in as a reliever would probably be easier on the kid's nerves.

Also, the Dolphins have pretty much put starter Cleo Lemon on notice that if he doesn't perform to a certain standard, he could be replaced by Beck. So there are three scenarios for Beck playing: One as relief of an ineffective Lemon, two as a change of pace to get some work, three as a garbage time fill-in should either Miami be blowing out of some team (fat chance) or be getting blown out (more likely).

Again, that could happen as early as Sunday against Buffalo.

There is no guarantee it will happen then. But with Beck getting half the snaps with the first team in practices, he is expected to get better and closer to playing with each passing day. And while that might not mean he's ready to be introduced among the rest of the starters Sunday, he just might be ready to see his first NFL action, very, very soon.

One more thought for you to consider. In 1983, Dan Marino started nine games as a rookie. But he played in two games prior to that without starting those games. I'm not saying Beck is another Marino. All I'm saying is easing the kid in might just be the best way to do it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dolphins grade poorly according to

Every magazine, website, blog, newspaper and radio show uses the turn at the halfway point in the NFL season to deliver its midseason report cards., the cyberspace outpost for the Sports Illustrated mother ship, is no different. And in his midseason grading, writer Don Banks, who I've known for 25 years and covered the Florida High School basketball state finals with two decades ago, takes the Dolphins to the woodshed.

Per Banks, the Dolphins win, er, lose by claiming the worst coaching hire award. He picks Cam Cameron and reasons it thusly: "The Dolphins are a train wreck, and it's certainly not all Cameron's fault. But at 0-8, you can't claim his presence has been a difference maker."

Cameron is not the only casualty of Banks' strafing run. His worst acquisition in the entire NFL so far? Joey Porter. "The Dolphins gave the mouthy ex-Steelers linebacker a five-year, $32 million deal, including $20 million guaranteed. It's those kind of calls that has Miami in the desperate condition it's in."

The runner up for worst acquisition? Banks picks Trent Green, who will be costing the Dolphins a fifth-round draft pick in April even though his only contribution was to lead the NFL in interceptions until he went out for the season with a concussion.

The Miami front office gets something of a reprieve in the worst front office category because Banks picks the San Francisco front office as the worst so far after signing duds Tully Banta-Cain, Darrell Jackson, Michael Lewis, and Ashley Lelie. But the reprieve is short-lived as Banks picks the Dolphins front office as the runner up for worst in the NFL.

It sounds harsh, but that is the national view of the Dolphins. And you thought this local guy was tough on the team?

No news on Ricky Williams is bad news

[Armando's Note: Before I begin, let me congratulate everyone because Dolphins Indepth is again The Miami Herald's No. 1 sports blog, with over 120,000 page views in October. Eye on the U was second with 114,000 page views. So thank you for your response to my blog. Thank you for visiting even during this difficult season. And tell your friends and enemies about the blog so we can continue building on this success despite my obvious flaws. Now to the news and opinion.]

It should strike a curious chord with Dolphins fans that while the NFL is settling many matters of personal misconduct at the season's halfway point, you've not heard a peep about the Ricky Williams matter.

While Tank Johnson's suspension expired in Dallas, Koren Robinson was allowed to return from suspension in Green Bay, and Chris Henry's suspension is over in Cincinnati, Williams' indefinite suspension for violating the league's substance abuse program has not been publicly addressed although Williams applied for reinstatement in October.


This clearly means Williams likely will not be reinstated anytime soon because, if things were sailing along smoothly and there were no issues with the reinstatement, it likely would have been addressed by now. The Dolphins were hoping Williams would be reinstated before the mid-October trade deadline so they could trade Williams. That obviously didn't happen.

ESPN reported Sunday the NFL was actually doing the Dolphins a favor by not reinstating Williams before the end of this season because that would help the team avoid a public relations problem. NOTE TO ESPN: Miami's PR problem has little to do with Williams and everything to do with 0-8.

Anyway, this delay in being reinstated (and rest assured, Williams will definitely be reinstated at some point) doesn't affect Miami now but could lessen the running back's value on the trade market after the season.

What market, you ask? There will almost definitely be one and the Dolphins may very well get a fifth or sixth round pick for Williams. Don't be surprised if the Patriots come calling about Williams as former Miami coach Nick Saban loved the player and almost certainly will pass that fond opinion to friend Bill Belichick -- just as he passed along his love for Wes Welker.

Finally, a lot of you keep asking about the $8-plus million judgment Miami won against Williams, the one that practically forced Williams to return to Miami after he retired in 2004. Once he's reinstated, the Dolphins will temporarily invoke their claim to that money. Then they'll trade him, or failing that, terminate Williams while simultaneously dropping the claim. I am unclear whether that claim will pass to Williams' new team, assuming he's traded.

The Dolphins could continue to pursue collection of the judgement if they want. But they are likely to drop it as a way of effectively closing the book on the Williams saga. And, if you ask me, it is definitely a saga that begs a finale.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Get used to the idea of Lemon as the starter this week

The chorus of fans and consensus of media opinion-makers has been that John Beck should be Miami's starter Sunday when the Buffalo Bills visit Dolphin Stadium.

Sorry, but coach Cam Cameron has gone with Cleo Lemon. Fact is, Lemon today, right now, remains Miami's starting quarterback. Cameron confirmed this about an hour ago. And unless something changes between now and Sunday, Lemon will be the starter versus the Bills.

So Cameron has heard your opinions, weighed all the facts, and ignored sound thinking. And his is the only opinion that really matters.

Seems the Dolphins coaching staff has convinced itself into believing Lemon is getting better as a player. You hear stupid, ridiculous things like "Cleo is starting to do some nice things with his feet," as one reason for keeping Lemon as the starter.

Never mind that Lemon is a free agent after this season and all Miami is doing by giving him more playing time is giving him an opportunity to showcase his nice feet for some other team.

Also part of the decision-making process is that the coaching staff apparently doesn't think John Beck is quite ready yet. That the second-round pick, at 26 years old, is not ready for action after nine weeks is kind of disappointing.

But disappointment is something the Dolphins have mastered this season.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Not too early to think about the draft

It says something about the Dolphins current state that I have started looking at the possibilities for the April draft. I don't believe I'm alone.

On the bye weekend, a weekend in front of the TV for me, I watched a lot of football and I have come to this conclusion: The Dolphins, should they have the first overall pick, would be wise to try to trade out of their pick and augment their chances of filling holes in several position rather than just one position with their first-round pick.

This, of course, is not scientific and could change 15 times between now and April.

But that doesn't change the fact ESPN's Chris Mortensen "reported" today that Miami will have multiple first-round picks coming to them if they get the first overall pick as they seem capable of doing. That's because at least one team with two first-round picks, the Dallas Cowboys, have a serious player-crush on Arkansas RB Darren McFadden. McFadden rushed for 323 yards Saturday while Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a former Razorback, was in the house.

It's possible the Cowboys would yield their two first-round picks for the right to draft McFadden.

So why would this be palatable to the Dolphins, considering the Cowboys' picks are likely to be middle of the pack at best considering they're a good team and the Browns, whose pick they also own, are also playing well.

Maybe the Dolphins could swindle a 2009 second round pick out of the deal also.

So why is this palatable for the Dolphins? First, the Dolphins have soooo many needs, one player isn't really going to turn things around for them. They need a DT to replace Keith Traylor, a pass-rushing DE to replace or add to Jason Taylor, a shutdown CB because they don't have one, a TE because David Martin's history is always being hurt, and help at MLB to guard against Zach Thomas's decline. Oh, and they need depth just about everywhere.

So the more picks Miami has, the better.

Also, tell me what sure-fire superstar will be available at No. 1? McFadden maybe but if the Dolphins have a good feeling about Ronnie Brown's return and re-sign Jessie Chatman, they can get by at RB.

LSU DT Glenn Dorsey? He played great against Nick Saban and Alabama Saturday, but he's generally thought to be up and down. Matt Ryan, the BC quarterback, is quite talented but he didn't exactly light up the Seminoles and the Dolphins have a pretty high pick already invested in quarterback John Beck. OT Jake Long or DE Chris Long? Don't know either is a first overall pick type of player.

So as we get started on the second half of the season, the Dolphins have eight games to consider their situation -- because they already are on the clock.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The sting of the Culpepper saga is numbed

Realizing the Dolphins aren't playing this weekend, I'd like to update you on a topic that has been both popular and loathed on this blog: DAUNTE CULPEPPER.

Have you heard? He's being benched by the Raiders this weekend.

Let me repeat for all the Dauntephiles who thought the Dolphins made a major blunder by getting rid of him: He's riding the pine in Oakland now behind Josh McCown. Seems after Culpepper torched the Dolphins defense (who doesn't these days?) with three short running TDs, he came back to earth.

The Raiders have lost three consecutive games with Culpepper as the starter. He has thrown four interceptions in those three losses and fumbled SIX times. Oh, and he's been sacked 14 times in four starts, which is an improvement from the 21 sacks he took in four games last year, but is still way, way, way too many.

So what is the point? Simply this: The Dolphins had a choice of two bad choices this offseason.

They could have gone with an aging QB who had an injury history but at least knew Cam Cameron's offensive system. Or, they could have gone with a younger QB who didn't know the system, was still on the mend from a catastrophic knee injury, and who wasn't even close to healthy, as it turns out, until week 4 of the regular season.

They went with Trent Green but had they stuck with Daunte Culpepper, trust me, the Dolphins would be in no better shape today.

Now, for the record so you knuckleheads don't start making up facts that are not true: I applauded the Dolphins getting rid of Culpepper, and his total body of work so far this year proves he wasn't going to turn things around in Miami or get back to the Pro Bowl anytime soon. My only problem was the manner in which they got rid of him, promising to let him compete, letting him go on the field only to tell him he couldn't practice that one day in May, letting it get kind of messy. That's all.

Getting rid of him good. How they executed not so good.

Anyway, a lot of you thought Culpepper should have been here and took his performance against Miami in September as a cue for ripping the Dolphins. I hope those of you who had that opinion can rethink it now.

Bottom line is there was no right answer for the Dolphins if they intended to go with a veteran quarterback this year. Trent Green was the wrong call. Daunte Culpepper would have been the wrong call.

That should give you more confidence in Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron because now they cannot be blamed for cutting Culpepper. That should lessen the pain of the loss to Oakland in which Culpepper completed all of five passes. And it should numb the sting of the current QB situation.

Have a great weekend.