The Miami Dolphins need help. There needs to be a lot more change then just a player or two which is what the Dolphins decision makers thought when they brought in two major free agents for the 2010 season. Marshall and Dansby have been solid additions but the $100 million commitment didn’t put them even close to the top teams and somewhat handicaps them. So what needs to happen in order to take the next step in 2011.
It’s also going to take more then just player upgrades as I outline below for the multi-prong changes that need to occur to compete with the best teams.
The front office needs to change its attitude and tactics. I don’t doubt for a second that Jeff Ireland loves his job and works really hard to do the best he can but there have been too many wasted opportunities. Look at New England as an example: How many high priced free agents have they brought into the organization vs. the draft? They build thru the draft by cleverly acquiring draft picks better then any other team and fill in with veterans with low salaries that still have what it takes to compete.
When some of their stars get to making big demands for salary and the organization thinks it can get equal return it will trade those players for draft picks while they have value. New England’s 17th pick in this draft and the 3rd round pick are from Richard Seymore and Randy Moss.
If you look at many of our players that are making tremendous contributions for other teams there was value to be had for them if properly positioned. Matt Roth comes to mind. In addition you will find payers that are starting and contributing for many teams that we judged as not good enough. So New England is rebuilding this year with the youngest defense in the league and has 6 draft picks in this years draft compared to our two. How do you catch up when they are out maneuvering our front office? We simply have to do a better job of making our players have value and getting something for them. The evaluation of talent is also questionable. (Ex. Pat White, Turner, Murphy(cost 2 picks), and Henne). The first three rounds have to be players that will make the team. Take chances on 5 thru 7th round picks where they have an extreme gift but played in a sub conference. How does New England get Edelman in the 7th and we get White in the 2nd. Clearly they had similar skill sets but Edelman just beat us up in the 38 to 7 loss while White is out of the league.
Coaching and coaching philosophy has to improve and that means a few coaches have to go. The philosophy of playing not to lose and keep the game close so we can win it in the 4th quarter is problematic since many of the teams Miami has played has made sure to win it down the stretch and our quarterback in the last 2 years has not been able to do that for the most part.
With the scoring power of teams you have to try to win by as much as you can and that means Miami needs to get a high octane offense and not try to play to win it at the end of the game. That is a philosophy for teams that are playing against superior competition and hope to keep it close and have some luck at the end. That is not what this team needs to be. The high octane offense also makes it exciting for fans and puts them in the stands. Our 2 minute offense is a joke and an indication of the inability to be a fast paced strike fast team. This is not a new development. Since this management group came in we have been way below the average in long plays due to the conservative nature. Parcels philosophy has not won a championship in 30 years. It needs to change. When you lose to the Browns, Lions, and Bills in crunch time then those teams have past you. We lost 5 of 8 in the easiest part of our schedule.
The offensive coaching needs to change and that requires a change in the play calling and offensive sets. With talent equal it then becomes the scheme and execution of it that can make the difference. But, you have to create mismatches with your shifts and sets so that on occasion during the game you force a mistake by the other team. Is there anyone that doesn’t know what we are going to run for the most part? Lose the wildcat unless you have a gifted thrower that can also run. Brad Smith from the Jets would be a great pick up for this but I would prefer a regular set. I include the shotgun as a regular set as some of the highest scoring teams in the league use it and still run the ball really well. If your quarterback does not want to run it then you have the wrong quarterback. I think it is time for Henning to retire and get an aggressive coach on offense that will put pressure on the defense.
I am also disappointed in the offensive line play. There was a coaching change but maybe it wasn’t effective. He certainly is more polite but sometimes you need to quit hiring your friends and go find the guy producing the best offensive lineman and hire him. Based on the line evaluation and line play this position may need to go if he helped decide who to keep.
The quarterback coach did not get much improvement from that position. Not sure if it is the coach or the players but there needs to be a change at one or the other.
The special teams made some improvements but the coaching still allowed some long returns. Part of this is the instability on the special teams by Ireland and some is on the coach/philosophy.
The dolphins are about 8 players away still from having what they need.
The offensive line needs to be reworked for the 4th year in a row.
LT is set with Jake Long but a quality backup needs to be developed.
LG is a problem and the solution is not on the roster unless Feinga who is a bit large to be a pulling guard can do it. The other option is Nate Garner but he makes a great right tackle. They will have to find a free agent or draft a guard that can move.
Center. This is a problem and they should draft a solution and compete with Incognito for the position.
Right guard is a problem but I suggest getting Carey on a strict diet down to 320 and moving him to guard, the position he played in college. He can be a pro bowler there and create movement. His knees will continue to be a problem with his weight and it is tough for the tackles.
Right Tackle. If you move Carey to guard there are a few solutions. One is Nate Garner who is a powerful run blocker and solid pass blocker. If we can get a second round pick back we may be able to get a good right tackle in the draft.
Running Back. We need some speed and elusiveness. Someone that can take a screen and go the distance. No one fears our backs. Ronnie is too hesitant for this scheme. If the scheme changed where he was able to set up blockers then his dancing may be ok but for what we paid him he did not produce enough. He may be worth 3 million a year. He was not used enough in the passing game. He is capable of being split out and running slants and crossing routes. We will have to draft a breakaway back. Cobbs is a solid contributor but he is not the answer. We need two in the draft or 1 with a few undrafted free agents.
Wide receiver. Hartline is fast enough to get deep but we did not have the deep ball accuracy to ever hit him. Moore is fast enough to get deep. Pruit is fast enough to get deep. I think quick twitch players are better at receiving then big players. Separation is better then the big guy that says throw it into double coverage and I will go up and get it. Look at the Patriot receivers. They all have the fast moves to get separation. They don’t need to be big, just ferocious. Speed/quickness kills the linebackers. We need guys like Edelman or equal. Draft one and sign an undrafted free agent. Ginn was not the answer as he has the speed but not the quickness.
Quarterback. The pay of Henne cost us three games. He is an ok quarterback but needs several more years of practice to work out the kinks in his game. Thigpin had more long throws in the last part of the Patriot game then Henne has had for most of the year. Henne is afraid. Thigpin is not. We need a fearless leader. Put a line in front of a guy like Thigpin and he will win a lot of games. We still need a better quarterback. Who is available in the first round when we pick may determine if we trade down or not. Based on what Josh Freeman is doing I would take Newman if he was there at 15. Otherwise I would trade down and take a lineman like Pouncey late in the first or the Mississippi Tackle.
One defensewe need 2 3 things. A new linebacker with speed to replace Crowder. Edds may be it but would draft one if available in 4th or 5th. I actually thought Eric Walden should have been kept for inside backer. With the speed of receivers and running backs we need a very inside backer. If you go with size everywhere then you lose the coverage ability you need. We need some speed.
We need another quality corner back/kick returner. A fast guy that can cove the slot guys like Welker. Not big but tough and quick. (He has to be able to catch)
We need a new safety that can get the ball. It could be Jones, but I think he is better to replace Bell in the next year or so.
So my draft would look like this.
Top quarterback at 15(Newman) but more likely move down and take Pouncey or a tackle.
Second round a quarterback
3rd round a running back
4th round a tackle/center/guard depending on 1st round.
7th 2 picks speed returner/ running back/ receiver/ corner.
Free agency: An affordable but quality lineman if available.
A speed tight end if available.
A quality inside backer if available that can run and cover.
Possible pickups BRAD Smith of the Jets(3rd quarterback /returner) David Harris of the Jets(inside backer) Mankins of the Patriots(left guard) Bennet of the Cowboys(fast tight end)
There are no tight ends with any serious speed in the draft. We may have what we need just under utilized by our sets. Shuler and Epps are both fast.
If we split our tight ends out then Wallace or Marshall can play that spot and would be serious mismatches for any linebacker. Wallace is very fast and athletic. He could add 15 pounds and be a good receiving tight end with 4.4 speed. I would always run sets with only 1 back and 4 receivers. It does not matter if they are tight ends or not. If they are then you have a lot of flexibility. Run the shotgun with 4 receivers and a speed back that is strong enough to pick up the blitz or better yet flare out to the side the blitz is coming.