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  Offseason Observations
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Some general thoughts and observations as the Bill Parcells regime approaches the start of its first training camp in about a month:

 

  • After an offseason of workouts, OTAs, free agency, and the NFL Draft, the situation at quarterback is as unsettled as ever. Did throwing thousands of passes and changing his throwing motion really help John Beck? Is there any indication, any at all, that Josh McCown will be any better than his previous six seasons have shown? And is it too much to expect a rookie quarterback (Chad Henne) to come in and start in today’s NFL? We’ll get answers to these questions very soon.
  • I am in favor of competition at all positions. But is there any position where an early decision is more beneficial than at quarterback? Expect the press to aggressively feed off of this situation until a decision is made. The longer it goes on, the bigger a distraction it will become.
  • Quietly, the Dolphins have put together the makings of one of the best young offensive lines in the league. This plays to the strengths on offense, namely Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. It is also conducive to the development of a young quarterback. Vernon Carey and Jake Long may just be the best tandem at tackle in over a decade. Center Samson Satele was one of the league’s best offensive rookies in 2007. Justin Smiley is an upgrade at guard. Will one of the young rookies at guard earn the starting job, or will it be veteran Steve McKinney (Seth’s older, more talented brother)?
  • I’m not yet convinced that the 2008 defense will be any better than the 2007 version, though they will be better conditioned. I wonder if any of the new faces at LB can replace Zach Thomas’ productivity. I wonder if Jason Ferguson will prove to be a capable replacement for Keith Traylor. How will the recent injury to Michael Lehan affect his performance in 2008? Lehan was just coming off of his best season as a pro and seemed ready for a real breakout year. And, of course, will the Dolphins’ best player, Jason Taylor, be on the team in 2008?
  • Speaking of Zach, could the Dolphins have blundered his departure any worse than they did? Where was the class that has always been a hallmark of the Miami Dolphins? Zach deserved better than a lame statement from GM Jeff Ireland.
  • Speaking of Taylor, when will he shut down his ego trip and report for work? He danced well, he had fun, he may (may) turn into an actor, but for now he’s a football player. It’s time for him to get back to work before he begins to undue his legacy in South Florida. I, for one, don’t want to see that happen to him.
  • Head coach Tony Sparano comes off as a no-nonsense tough guy. I like that in a head coach, especially on a rebuilding team. His style is just what these Dolphins need.
  • Unfortunately, Ireland comes across as aloof and cold, though I concede that my initial impression could be completely wrong given the limited public appearances he’s made and that I haven’t yet met him in person. I hope I am wrong, especially when it comes to his co-workers. No one likes a jerk, no matter how talented they may be.
  • Just remember, nothing on the football side happens without Bill Parcells’ blessing. Nothing.
  • I don’t get it when team watchers claim the Dolphins need a deep threat at WR. News flash: there’s a guy on the team named Ted Ginn, Jr. Ever heard of him? He’s pretty good. Of course it’s a different story on the opposite side. Will Ernest Wilford be the answer? Is this the year Derek Hagan emerges?
  • Speaking of Ginn, I expect big improvement from him given a full and healthy offseason, and tutelage from crack WR coach Karl Dorrell.
  • Good to hear positive reports about Ricky Williams for a change. But do the Dolphins trust him? I wouldn’t. Then again, with the rising of Ronnie Brown, does it matter?
  • Perhaps the biggest regret the Dolphins may have this upcoming season is not making a serious run at G Alan Faneca. Aside from his blocking acumen, can you imagine the influence he would have provided to Jake Long and Samson Satele starting on either side of him? Instead Faneca will be plying his trade for a division rival (J-E-T-S).
  • One thing the Dolphins won’t regret is the strong focus on upgrading the coverage teams. After the offseason OTAs, the talent upgrade is very clear.
  • I like how the new regime wasted little time in addressing the conditioning problem the team had last year. Yeah, lay some blame on the departed Cam Cameron, but lay the rest on the players themselves. There’s this thing…it’s called “professionalism”.
  • Maybe Parcells doesn’t like the fact that K Jay Feely is outspoken. But won’t he care less if the guy kicks like he did last season?
  • On the other hand, Parcells is reportedly enamored with P Brandon Fields. Hey Brandon, no pressure OK?
  • There will be times this season where you’ll swear that Dave Wannstedt’s “wad ball” offense has returned.
  • I’m not convinced that the Patriots improved themselves this offseason. Then again, they didn’t need much.
  • The Jets made an enormous financial bet on 2008 with the mountain of free agent money they spent. That was the easy part. Getting the chemistry right is the thing now. Many have tried to buy a winner. Most fail. If they don’t win, the current regime will be tossed and the Jets will be saddled with a salary cap problem for years to come.
  • Tough to read the Bills right now. They could take the next step with a healthy Paul Posluszny and continued improvement from QB Trent Edwards and RB Marshawn Lynch. But there are so many unknowns right now, starting with Jason Peters’ contract situation and the loss of Nate Clements. This could be a playoff team or a sub-.500 ball club.
  • The NFL schedule makers finally exhibited some sense. The good guys visit Foxborough in September and play the Bills in Toronto (under a dome) in December. Let’s just hope the season finale in New York doesn’t carry too much weight, though the Dolphins will have chance to set the Jets season off in the wrong direction in the season opener at home on September 7 (Think HOT!).

 

 
     
   
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