Monday, October 18, 2010

Miami is Hungry

October 18, 2010

Submitted By: Gabriel Marquez

A lot of things happened way back in 1993: Cheers' production ended, Pablo Escobar was killed, Michael Jordan retired and - most relevant to us - Bill Parcells was hired as the head coach of our rival New England Patriots. During Parcells' stint as the Patriots head coach he had a modest 32-32 record and led them to a Super Bowl in 1996, in which they lost to the Green Bay Packers. Shortly after, he decided to leave New England behind the statement "If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries." This referred to the fact that he, as a head coach, was expected to win games but was limited in the player and personnel decision-making process. It was a luxury that he was granted here in Miami. Minus the actual coaching duties.

That leads me to this, Parcells was allowed to do all the grocery shopping here in Miami for three years and did pretty decent (but not amazing) in my humble opinion. I feel he missed out on some great skill players that were traded for chump change to division rivals (Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie), missed on some players in the draft and drafted some poor picks (Earl Thomas, Philip Merling), got rid of some players he shouldn't have (Zack Thomas, Jason Taylor--twice) and missed on some free agents as well (Antrel Rolle, Ryan Clark), but I digress. The purpose of this article really isn't to bash the hard work, research and talent evaluation skills that Parcells is known for, after all he turned the team from a joke to a division winner over one offseason. The purpose is to discuss his departure from the role.

Parcells resigning in the fashion he did before the season opener truly raised some eyebrows. It seemed like he didn't approve of the direction in which the team was moving and decided to wipe his hands of the mess. He downgraded his role from Executive Vice President of Football Operations to just a consultant now. Jeff Ireland will now assume the real role of NFL General Manager. Hopefully he's not as selective as his predecessor was when it comes to grocery shopping and adding players that can truly benefit our team.

The grocery needs can be viewed in several different ways depending what you fancy, but in my opinion the Fins should be shopping for a few things. They are as follows:

Tight End
First, I'd love to see us have a Tight End who is an actual threat and not afraid of contact. Anthony Fasano isn't bad, but he just isn't someone defenders fear or have much trouble bringing down. His hands are decent but he's shown spurts of the "dropsies" and usually comes down after initial contact. Brandon Marshall's presense should eventually open things up for him, but he's just not cut from the cloth of a threatening tight end. Some better blocking from the tight end position would be great too. Ideally, someone like Dallas Clark or Dustin Keller would be a great fit in Miami.

Running Back
Second, I know most people here in Miami are fans of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams who are experienced, smart backs, but I'm just not sold on them as a long-term solution. Ricky is getting long in the tooth and plans on retiring soon while Ronnie has barely been above average and struggles to stay healthy. Problem is both seem like good second running backs in a two-back system. I'd really hope the Fins end up with a scatback-style running back. Someone with serious breakaway speed and can be a big threat on screen plays. Someone who can be the number one running back with Ronnie being the other half of our two-back system. That is if Brown stays with Miami since he's in a contract year. Think of a back molded in the same way as Chris Johnson or Maurice Jones-Drew.

Extra Goodies
There are also a few other areas of concern that might need to be addressed depending how the current players here pan out. Those positions are free safety, cornerback, outside linebacker, and to some extent wide reciever and middle linebacker. Here's why.

Free Safety
As I previously mentioned, we missed out on two free safeties during this past offseason that could have helped out a lot. Instead of those two, we decided to stick with Chris Clemons who was an unproven second year safety out of Clemson. He's been our starting safety this season and has been less than stellar. He's definitely played better than Gibril Wilson did last season, but hasn't forced turnovers and been as aggressive as required by a Mike Nolan-led defense. This past draft we selected Reshad Jones in the 5th round, which was considered a steal by many. His college stats and tape speak for themselves, and I would love to see him play somewhere other than special teams. Plus he packs a hard hit that could fire up our defense and serve as an emotional boost to energize the fans and the team. If Jones doesn't play well enough to be a game-changer or even a starter, I'd like for the Dolphins to upgrade over Chris Clemons in the near future. You see, since Mike Nolan runs a blitz heavy defense, the corners and safeties have to excel in coverage and producing turnovers. I don't know if I can trust Clemons to do those.

This season seems to be going amazing for Vontae Davis. I believe he was a great first round pick and we could see him turn into one of the better corners in the league (and he's only in his second year). But to succeed on defense, you need two good cornerbacks and his counterpart has not been a consistant one this season. During the training camp and preseason, much was expected from Sean Smith, a 6'4" second-year cornerback drafted the same year as Vontae, but instead he lost his starting job to Jason Allen (who was considered a complete letdown 'til now). Allen has played decent and secured three picks thus far, but has played very inconsistantly in between - constantly losing his footing, blowing coverages, and drawing penalties. Will Allen has also been injured a lot and is no longer trusted in Miami. This past draft the Fins selected Nolan Caroll in the fifth round. He looked pretty good during the preseason and I'd like, and expect, to see him play a bit at corner opposite of Vontae at some point soon. Again, this defense a secondary that can provide exceptional coverage, and if we don't have that corner on our roster we should look for one soon. Champ Bailey may be a free agent after this season and might be worth a look, but if Ireland "consults" with Parcells on this one, he probably won't even take a look at him (despite Bailey being a very feared cornerback in this league).

Outside Linebacker
During this past offseason the Dolphins let go of Jason Taylor and Joey Porter. Taylor was a good but older linebacker who was loved by Miami as a player and a person, but was shoved out of town by a younger, stronger, and potential-filled Cameron Wake (who has played outstanding thus far). On the other end, we let go of Porter to bring the unwanted rubbish to an end. He was a locker room cancer and was becoming a less and less affective player each game. This past draft we selected Koa Misi in the second round (Coach Sparano had a close look at him in the Senior Bowl and liked what he saw). Misi has played well but not amazing. I'd like to give him this year to develop under his belt and closely monitor his rookie season. If he doesn't look like he can become a great linebacker, then I'd love to see us upgrade over him quickly as well.

Wide Receiver
Now before everyone freaks out over this, I'm not saying Brandon Marshalls sould be replaced or isn't good enough. On the contrary, he has been great. I feel he can be even better than he was in Denver if we surround him with a better cast. Aside from a better Tight End and Running Back who's a receiving threat it would be good to see another good reciever opposite of Marshall? Now, Davone Bess has been very productive but he is a true slot reciever. Hartline is good as well, but again he's built like a slot reciever. If we had a true number two reciever the defenses would struggle to cover them all. We can find recievers from a lot of different places and hopefully add one soon. Vincent Jackson was available, but the Fins didn't make a move despite the possibilities his presense on the field would present.

Middle Linebacker
Just to get to it quickly, Karlos Dansy has been outstanding and even better than I thought he'd be. Channing Crowder has been, well, absent. He's injured. Again. I don't know if I'm the only one who's getting tired of seeing him injured and inactive. He reminds me some what of Porter because he's a loud mouth (and has actually thrown some teammates under the bus before) that hasn't lived up to his talk. When Crowder has been healthy he's blown coverages and been run over by some RBs in the league. I'd like to see him get healthy and stay that way so we can see how he works out in the new aggressive defense alongside Dansby. I think this should be the year where we decide wether or not Channing is a permenant starting LB for us. If not, I'd like to see us move on. A.J. Edds was drafted this past year but blew out his knee during training camp so it'll have to be atleast another year before we get to see him. I think Crowder is on a put-up-or-shut-up basis this season.

No More Bargain Shopping
I'm a firm believer in the saying "you get what you pay for" and for the most part in football the higher quality players cost more. The mathematics are simple, you pay the better players more, they perform and provide you with their services, and you win games. Simple. I know we have a salary cap and all but we once paid Jake Grove a lot of money and he's no longer on the roster. So if we should research more effectively to eliminate those costly mistakes in order to eliminate "Grove-like" blunders. If you notice, you rarely hear the Colts, Saints, Ravens, Steelers, Patriots, or other playoff winning teams suffer a salary cap blunder or sign a player who completely flopped. They barely even make poor draft choices. Most of them find immediate starters and impact players late in the draft. However, we have failed to do those things (aside from Brian Hartline, really). Also, those teams don't win just because, they do so because they've surrounded their offense and defense with several impact players. They're flooded with pro bowlers. We need to spend more money at the grocery store for better quality goods.

This is the simple economic concept I hope Jeff Ireland will follow. Miami is hungry and it's time for Ireland to deliver the goods.

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