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  Fixing Offense is Job Number 1 for Cameron
    | Home | News Wire | Roster | Depth Chart | Schedule |  

by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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It doesnít take a rocket scientist or a hard core fan to understand why the Miami Dolphins keep ending up on the wrong side of the playoff cut line.


Itís the offense, stupid.


Why did Cam Cameron get the Dolphin job? Because he knows how to ring the bell against high caliber NFL defenses, thatís why.


Last time a Dolphin head coach personally the called the plays? Never.


Change is coming.


Good thing, because Cameronís success as Boss Dolphin will depend on his ability to put points on the board.


With defensive genius Dom Capers helping to mind the store, the offense is most of what Cameron needs to worry about. But first heís got a heck of a mess to clean up.


Right now Cameron is trying to complete his offensive coaching staff while educating himself on the talent he currently has. Thereís been no word yet as to whether or not Cameron will ditch the current playbook/terminology and start over with his own. This is no small matter given the learning curve required of a new system.


No doubt Cameron has already come to terms with the enormity of work that is needed to make the Dolphin offense Super Bowl ready.


First and foremost is the quarterback question, the 10,000lb gorilla thatís been on the Dolphinsí back since You-Know-Who retired. Between now and April 28, Cameron must decide what to do with this gorilla.


One gets the sense that this situation is not as cut-and-dry as some think. By this I mean that a healthy Daunte Culpepper is not a sure bet to enter camp as the #1 QB.


Given the disappointment of 2006, itís unlikely that Cameron and GM Randy Mueller will wait to find out if Culpepper can fully recover. For now, Cameron appears to be non-committal though itís probable that Culpepper will at least be in the mix when training camp begins. How could he not be, given the investment the Dolphins made in trading for him?


What about Joey Harrington, the starter for most of 2006? His situation will be an interesting one. Harrington likes Miami and wants to stay. Perhaps Cameron likes Harrington. But the Dolphins arenít likely to pay him per his current deal. Something must give here.


Then thereís Cleo Lemon, who some believe has a legitimate shot at winning the starting job. Iím not sure I agree, though Cameron did go out of his way to laud Lemonís work habits at his introductory press conference. That and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee.


Next comes the offensive line and nothing works on offense without a decent offensive line. Nothing.


Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Antonio Gates made Cameron look brilliant. But Marcus McNeill and Nick Hardwick, both Pro Bowlers, helped make those skill guys look brilliant.


Cameron knows it, too. Thatís why heís thanking his lucky stars that Hudson Houck is with him in Miami. After all, it was Houck that established the foundation for the excellent line play that the Chargers have enjoyed these past four seasons.


Itís my untrained eye at work here, of course, but it looks like only RT Vernon Carey is a no-brainer lock to keep his job in 2007. Everyone else is a question mark, and no other unit has more of them than this bunch does.


People praised the work that L.J. Shelton, a converted tackle, did at right guard. But does Shelton have an honest desire to return to a job he didnít sign on to do? And if he doesnít, are Cameron and Houck of the opinion that Shelton is the answer at LT? Does Shelton even get a say, provided the Dolphins honor his contract?


Is Jeno James worth keeping at his salary? With Seth McKinney returning from injured reserve, will Rex Hadnot be able to hold his job at center? Will McKinney even make the team? Can Joe Toledo play? Is Anthony Alabi really on the rise?


The wild card in all this may very well be LT Damion McIntosh. He wasnít overpowering but he can play. And he might have been better at LT than Shelton was.


All things considered, is replacing McIntosh in 2007 as truly an urgent need as some have suggested? Just keep in mind that the pool of quality left tackle talent that will be available is likely to be shallow.


Finally, there are the non-QB skill positions to be considered. Today, only running back is truly Super Bowl ready.


At wide receiver, there is a critical need for a true #1 playmaker. If Ohio Stateís Ted Ginn slides to the 9th overall selection, where the Dolphins are currently slotted to pick, there is a good chance that he could be tapped. This presumes, of course, that Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn will not slide to the Dolphins as draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. recently predicted.


Prudence demands that Chris Chambersí run as the #1 WR is over. Over and done. He isnít the answer.


Consider it a red flag if Cameron thinks otherwise.


Ditto for Randy McMichael. If Cameron is looking for a talent to do an Antonio Gates encore, he needs to go shopping.


Really, itís not out of the realm of possibility that Chambers and McMichael could end up as trade bait before this is all said and done. Both men occupy too much salary cap space relative to their contributions to date. Thatís a fact.


A 6-10 record and a five year playoff drought means that Cameron doesnít owe a shred of loyalty to a single guy on the current roster not named Jason Taylor or Zach Thomas. The Miami Dolphins have been wrong for far too long now, too long to justify sacred cows. And nowhere does this apply more directly than to the Dolphin offense.


How many recent seasons have been less than they should have for want of an effective offense? Too many. Thatís why Miamiís road to Super Bowl XLII must begin with the re-emergence of their offense. Itís Cameronís first, and most important, job.



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