Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist
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For over 30 seasons
Dolfans were spoiled.
Summer would come,
training camp would open, and your Miami Dolphins would kick things off knowing
(knowing!) they had a guy under center who could deliver the goods.
First it was Hall of
Famer Bob Griese, he of three straight Super Bowl appearances and two World
Championships, one of only three Dolphins to have their jersey retired.
Next came the combination of David Woodley and Don Strock.
“Woodstrock”, we called them. Strock came up under Griese and pitched in relief
of Woodley on the occasion when the kid from LSU didn’t have his best stuff. According
to Jimmy Cefalo, who caught a TD from Woodley in Super Bowl XVII and played
with Griese, Strock, and You-Know-Who, it was Woodley who had the strongest arm
of course, be one Dan Marino…he who need not be named. Another Hall of Famer, “he”
was arguably the greatest QB ever to play, and certainly the best passer of the
football in history. “He” was a once in a lifetime player.
Since “he” retired,
the Dolphins have flailed at finding “next”.
You remember the
pretenders…mainly Damon Huard, Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese (who
deserved a longer look), Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington.
Pass the aspirin, please.
OK, now fast forward
to today and the current brain trust of Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller. Cameron
is an offensive and quarterback guru. Mueller has a proven nose for quarterback
talent and stockpiles good ones for evaluation and trade.
It’s their job to fix
the QB problem.
So we’re surprised
that the first thing they do to address the situation brings them a load of
criticism and controversy. The nerve!
I am referring, of
course, to passing on highly rated Brady Quinn and instead opting for John Beck.
Defying Mel Kiper, Mueller and Cameron are convinced that it is Beck who is the
It’s a huge gamble,
but a well-informed one. Still, Cameron and Mueller won’t be laughing (or
perhaps employed) if Quinn becomes the next Tom Brady and Beck flops. For now,
Cameron and Mueller deserve the benefit of the doubt.
But it doesn’t end
there. No sir.
Returning is one
Daunte Culpepper, Pro Bowl quarterback extraordinaire, acquired from the
Minnesota Vikings in 2006 for a 2nd round draft pick. You know his
Soon to be arriving
on a plane from Kansas City is one Trent Green, 37 years old and carrying a
concussion history with him. Not exactly a spring chicken, but a fine player.
Many have speculated
that when Green arrives, Daunte leaves. The argument is that the Dolphins will
simply write off the 2nd rounder by cutting or trading him. Either
he doesn’t fit Cameron’s system, or his knee will never allow him to be the
player he was.
The quandary begins
with Culpepper professing that he will be 100% ready for the start of training
camp. If his knee is right, he has what the Dolphins need to go to the next
There is no question
that Green, apples-to-apples, is a lesser talent. One cannot help but be
reminded of another Gus Frerotte walking through the door when Green arrives in
exactly heart-pumping stuff.
So, does Cameron
shrug off Culpepper before the guy can prove himself worthy again?
don’t…necessarily”, noted Cameron rather cryptically.
“Necessarily” is the
conditional word here.
Does this mean that
Cameron is all for a healthy QB competition provided that Culpepper is healthy and is willing to approach things in a
positive, non-disruptive manner? After all, it was Green who said that he hadn’t been promised the starting job.
And, it is guys like Zach Thomas and
Jason Taylor that are lobbying for Culpepper to get a shot.
Fair enough. Just
don’t blame Cameron and Mueller for wanting to bring in Green at least as
insurance. What if (horrors!) Culpepper’s body betrayed him again? Ditto Green.
You don’t want to be in a position to have to rely on Cleo Lemon or John Beck
to win, do you?
In the midst of all
this second guessing, Cameron will have to render a verdict. And, despite calls
from the media to the contrary, there is no immediate rush when it’s the first
week in June and there’s nothing to be gained by making a decision today.
All this changes once
camp opens July.
We know that in a
world where the Dolphins retain three quarterbacks on the roster, a healthy
Green and rookie Beck are locks. That
leaves Culpepper and Lemon vying for one job with Gibran
Hamdan hoping to somehow crash the party.
We know that Lemon is
still cap-friendly trade bait. That changes if he signs an extension with any
sort of substantial signing bonus. If Culpepper stays, Lemon is a goner.
We know that the
Dolphins are unlikely to get much for Culpepper in a trade. Not after last
year’s fallout. They may even have to waive him outright.
The last thing the
Dolphins need heading into the season is for a quandary to become a
controversy. That could be what the Dolphins would invite by keeping Culpepper
and Green for any lengthy period of time.
But do they have a
If Culpepper goes,
you pray on a thick rug that Green doesn’t get his bell rung again. Don’t
forget that Vernon Carey is your left tackle in 2007, a position he hasn’t proven
he can play as a pro.
I won’t even delve
into the rest of the line, a group that will be fielding five new positional starters overall. That’s scary stuff for any QB,
but especially one with a history of concussions.
It really is a heck of
a fix the Dolphins are in. Makes one long for the good ole days.