I am a Dolphins fan. I have been a Dolphins fan for as long as I can remember. I am not old enough to have ever seen the Dolphins in the Super Bowl (I was only 2 when they played in Super Bowl XIX), but for the longest time the Dolphins have been a consistently fine team. In my early years of following the Dolphins Dan Marino would lead the team to the playoffs before losing to a team like the Bills. After he retired the Dolphins were supposed to be awful, but instead they actually still played well. Thanks to defensive talent like Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Patrick Surtain, and Sam Madison they were always in the game. This Dolphins team was known for quick starts before falling apart in December. Friends used to joke up about how the Counting Crows song “A Long December” was the Dolphins theme song. It was disappointing watching sure-fire playoff teams fade every single year.
I look back fondly on those days. Things were looking up in 2006 as Sports Illustrated in all its infinite wisdom picked the Dolphins to go to the Super Bowl. It has been pointed out by both the Tuesday Morning Quarterback (Gregg Easterbrook: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/071016&sportCat=nfl ) and the Monday Morning Quarterback (Peter King: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/peter_king/10/21/mmqb/4.html) that Dolphins are 6-17 since SI picked them to win the Super Bowl. Most articles I read both locally (the Miami Herald) and nationally are talking about how awful the Dolphins are and how there is a possibility they go 0-16. It is a depressing time for Dolphins fans, but in the NFL there is always hope. With that being written here is my analysis on the top 10 reasons why the Dolphins are terrible and how they can improve each weakness:
- Quarterback: The Dolphins have given up a 2nd round pick for AJ Feeley and another 2nd round pick for Daunte Culpepper. They have trotted out names like Ray Lucas, Jay Fiedler (who I actually liked), Brian Griese, Daunte Culpepper, AJ Feeley, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, and Joey Harrington in the past few years. I am somewhat optimistic with the current starter Cleo Lemon, but maybe that is only because I was incensed the Dolphins would trade a draft pick to pick up Trent Green. No offense to Trent Green, but a 37 year old quarterback with a history of multiple concussions is not the answer for a team that needs to rebuild. The fact of the matter is that the Dolphins do not have a starting quarterback right now and that is the number 1 reason they are a losing team. The teams with winning record more often than naught have above-average quarterbacks. Solution: Is it Cleo Lemon? Probably not. From all indications he looks like an adequate backup, but not a starter. Is it John Beck? Dolphins players, coaches, fans, etc will never know until he plays in the regular season. It doesn’t take a genius to know that Cam Cameron should start John Beck. He is already 26 years old and you took him the 2nd round (another 2nd rounder used on a quarterback), so he must have talent. If that isn’t enough the Dolphins management passed on Brady Quinn because of their love John Beck. The great thing about this is that the solution for the Dolphins number 1 problem is the easiest one. Play John Beck for the next year and a half and see if he is any good. If he isn’t then draft a quarterback (Tim Tebow?) in the 2009 draft. Either that or find the next Matt Schwab. Personally, I am blindly optimistic again about this 2nd rounder (Beck) being the answer.
- Secondary: Everyone mentions how stupid Little Nicky Saban (who if you check his name in spell-check one of the options is Satan) was for passing on Drew Brees for Daunte Culpepper. That was a dumb decision. Another dumb decision that never gets brought up is Jason Allen. Who is Jason Allen you might ask? Jason Allen is the Dolphins 2006 1st round pick, who has a total of 15 tackles in his entire career. The Dolphins can’t seem to figure out if he is a bad safety or a bad cornerback. He is indicative of a secondary that makes Braylon Edwards look like Jerry Rice in his prime. A secondary that looks like high schoolers trying to compete with Randy Moss. They don’t have quality and they don’t have depth:
Solution: Address the secondary in the draft. Depending on where they pick they could look at Kenny Phillips from Miami of Florida. If not then the Dolphins should look to use both of their 2nd round picks on a cornerbacks (hopefully Aqib Talib from Kansas) and a safety.
- Linebackers: The good news is that Zach Thomas is still very productive and Channing Crowder has the talent to dominate. However, the group on a whole has been very disappointing this year. Joey Porter has been a no-show so far and looks like a wasted free agent signing. Zach Thomas has been hampered with injuries so far this year, and Crowder hasn’t lived up to his talent.
Solution: The Dolphins should have drafted Patrick Willis from Ole Miss instead of Ted Ginn Jr in the draft. They need to get younger and Willis would have been the perfect talent to learn from Zach Thomas. As the situation stands right now they should look to trade Zach Thomas at the end of the year. Traditionally the Dolphins do a poor job drafting linebackers (Eddie Moore, Morlon Greenwood), etc, so this situation might take a little luck. Since they are so bad I would go with a quantity over quality approach. For the Dolphins I would use late round picks and pick up cheap free agents and see if they can hit the lottery with any of those players. Either that or I would go back in a time machine and draft a decent linebacker like DeMarco Ryans or Pattick Willis.
- Defensive Line: The Defensive line is old and as the saying goes they aren’t getting any younger.
Solution: Defensive tackles are a dime a dozen. Draft some big bodies, sign some big bodies….it doesn’t matter as long as they are young and have some talent. For the defensive ends the Dolphins are fine on one side with Jason Taylor and have a need on the other side with Matt Roth. They should look to trade Jason Taylor for two young defensive ends and hopefully get a little more balance.
- The Draft: The Dolphins can’t draft. I wonder if anyone in the Dolphins organization ever plays fantasy football or Madden. If so, do they draft players like Tarvarias Jackson and Bobby Wade in the 2nd or 3rd round because they read a 1999 article on how great the Vikings passing game is?
Solution: Draft sure things. Don’t draft players with injury concerns or other question marks. Don’t draft players with a ton of upside, but not much production. Draft players that you know will be on your team in 5 years Stop trying to hit the home run and start trying to hit some singles and doubles.
- The Coaching Staff: Does anybody thing Cam Cameron is the answer? He doesn't inspire confidence in any aspect of being a coach. He was fired from Indiana University after going 18-37 despite have Antwaan Randle-El as his quarterback.
Solution: I know it is early, but fire Cameron. Seriously. Get rid of him. Try to get Bill Cowher or someone else to coach the team.
- Nick Saban: He messed up with the Drew Brees,/Daunte Culpepper decision Jason Allen, and a ton of other decisions.
Solution: Thankfully Little Nicky took care of that himself.
- The Offensive Line: This has actually been a bright spot this year. They have run blocked pretty well and the quarterback usually looks to have enough time to complete a pass. Solution: Keep the same line in tact, so they can learn to play with each other. Maybe draft someone like Jake Long, but overall this unit needs time to continue to improve.
- Wide Receivers: The Dolphins don’t have a true number 1 and from the looks of it they just have a bunch of young slot receivers.
Solution: Besides getting in a time machine and not trading Chris Chambers, they Dolphins should look to develop the talent they have. Derek Hagan and Ted Ginn Jr. need to be the answers because drafting receivers is usually a crap shoot.
- Running Back: This isn’t something I thought I would have to address, but I just read that Ronnie Brown is going to be out of the year. That leaves Jesse Chatman as the Dolphins starting running back. Seriously the Dolphins starting backfield have first names of Jesse, Cleo, and Reagan. If you read those names out loud most people wouldn't know if you were talking about a football team or a girls band. Solution: Ricky Williams.
Things will get better. The Dolphins just need to have a plan. Trade away any old players. Draft sure players (Jake Long, Glenn Dorsey, etc), start John Beck, fire Cam Cameron, keep the offensive line together, get younger and better on defense, and have a little faith.
They just had a Sportcenter promo on MNF that asked the question: What is more likely the Patriots going 16-0 or the Dolphins going 0-16? I am trying my best to be optimistic.