Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist
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Some general thoughts and observations as the Dolphins
prepare for the 2010 season:
- There’s an
awful lot of hype surrounding Chad Henne. Many are expecting him to have a
breakout year, especially now that he has WR Brandon Marshall to throw to.
Obviously, the Dolphin brain trust is convinced as well or they might not
have traded for Marshall.
Me? I’m still in wait-and-see mode. I want to see if Henne has improved
his touch passing under the pressure of a live pass rush. For some QBs,
this is a difficult skill to develop. I also want to see improved decision
of touch passing, there’s no one better than Chad Pennington. He doesn’t
really have a shot a winning the starting QB job unless Henne is lost to
injury, which is as it should be. But what if Henne has a miserable
preseason and Pennington plays well? With the heavy investment the
Dolphins have made in acquiring Marshall,
is it conceivable that Sparano could make a switch? I wonder.
- I know it
was a business decision, but I don’t like how Marshall (and perhaps the Broncos)
concealed his hip issue from the Dolphins. Maybe it ends up being nothing
of concern. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a whole lot of something. How will
hold up over 16 games of pounding, especially given the number of touches
he’s expected to get? I admit I am a bit wary about this.
- I’m tired
of talking about Matt Roth and I hope you are, too. Look, Roth went bust long
before the Dolphins cut him. The current regime tried to salvage his
career as an OLB in the 3-4 defense, but it was all too clear that he just
wasn't good enough. Let me say it again: he wasn’t good enough. The worst
of it, besides the lack of trust in him, was the need to constantly hide
him on passing plays. He was going to be a liability in the big games
against Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees,
Philip Rivers, and any other good QB standing between the Dolphins and the
Vince Lombardi trophy. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy for Roth in that he
is finding some success in Cleveland.
Good for him. Sometimes a change is what a guy needs. But the dude was
d-o-n-e in Miami.
of change, it will be interesting to see how WR Ted Ginn fares in San Francisco. I
can’t help but wonder if the Dolphins gave up on him too soon.
- We’re in
Year 2 of Jake Grove’s tenure at center and the concerns about his ability
to stay healthy and on the field have clearly followed him to Miami from Oakland.
The record shows that Grove missed six starts last year and the signing of
former Cowboys G/C Cory Proctor tells us that Grove’s health issues are
not forgotten. Was Proctor’s signing an admission by the Dolphins that
they erred in signing Grove? Or, is it an attempt to create legitimate
competition for Grove in addition to veteran Joe Berger?
- Life is
funny sometimes. How else do we explain Ricky Williams winning the team
MVP award? Let’s see a show of hands…who thought Ricky would be MVP of
anything except smoking marijuana and strange behavior five years ago?
Anyone? Didn’t think so. Then again, only Ricky Williams, a person sui generis, could pull off this
type of a turnaround. Should we be proud of him for how he’s seemingly
fixed his life and career, or apprehensive of another fall from grace? I now
chose to be proud of him, because what’s he’s accomplished thus far is,
objectively, pretty uncommon. Personally, I didn’t expect this. I’ll bet
you didn’t either.
- If he can
stay healthy and productive, I think Ricky will sign on for 2011. He
understands now how hard it is to find a job in the real world that pays
anything close to what he can make in the NFL. Given all the income he
lost out on during the troubled phases of his career, I’d be surprised if
he passes on an opportunity to make up for it. Then again, I suppose I
should stop being surprised when it comes to Ricky.
second year safety Chris Clemons is convincing the Dolphin brass he is the
solution to the team’s free safety concerns. As a rookie, he showed us his
speed and nose for the football. He also showed us the tentative play that
most rookies suffer from. It’s very early, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen from
him thus far in the non-contact OTAs. Defensive back is one position where
a guy CAN show his stuff to the level necessary for coaches to start drawing
some hard conclusions. Said coach Tony Sparano, “I see speed, I see range.
These two things have showed up out here (in the OTAs). Speed, range, and
he knows, he understands. He’s been pretty vocal
and those are all qualities that your free safety has to have”. The next
step? Tackling. “Probably the next part of this process when we get into
some of these—in the training camp with the pads on and the preseason stuff
to watch Chris making tackles”, continued Sparano. “Because, that guy has
to be a good tackler back there. So, that’s the next step…the range, the
speed, the mental awareness right now and where he is with our defense is
what leads me to believe that the guy can be a good player for us.”
- For me, the
reconciliation of Jake Scott and Don Shula was about more than two men
setting aside a long worn out grudge; it was about two of my boyhood
sports heroes finally making a family whole again. Now Scott will join his
peer and friend Dick Anderson on the Dolphin Honor Roll. Now Scott will
finally be able to gain a full share of the credit he deserves for helping
the Dolphins to three straight Super Bowls and earning a rare defensive
MVP in one (Super Bowl VII). You must know that Shula was behind Scott’s
elevation to the Honor Roll, likely a one phone call/one meeting effort.
Even now, Shula’s shadow is long.
- From a
purely talent perspective, were the Dolphins wrong to let Jason Taylor sign with the
NY Jets? His situation mystifies me because I think the Dolphins are going
to be hard pressed to mount an effective pass rush this season. If Taylor is good for 8 sacks in 2010, wouldn’t it have
been in the Dolphins’ best interest to have that productivity in Miami? What is the
untold story here?
- LB Zach
Thomas recently re-signed with Dolphins for the purpose of retiring with
the only team he loves. In making this possible, GM Jeff Ireland redeemed
himself somewhat from the clumsy way he shoved Zach out the door in 2008. Maybe
is finally “getting it”. Or, maybe, owner Steve Ross is insisting he “get
- Can anyone
remember a recent first round pick receiving less attention, and generating
less excitement, than DL Jared Odrick? Keeping in mind that we’ll learn a
lot more about him once the hitting begins, I find the current lack of buzz
surrounding his game a bit unsettling. Maybe it’s nothing, but I certainly
hope the Dolphins aren’t regretting their draft day decision to trade down.
this: rookies are a clueless lot when training camp begins. Physical
ability is generally not the issue at this stage of the game; they’re all
talented enough to compete or they wouldn’t be Dolphins. It’s the ones who
study the hardest and the ones who grasp the concepts of the pro game the
fastest who earn the trust of coaches the quickest and make an early contribution.
- Some guys
make better assistant coaches than head coaches. Cam Cameron is one. Mike
Nolan is hopefully another.
tells us that we’d better be patient with RB Ronnie Brown as he recovers
from his foot injury. Brown’s foot injury could have been a potential
career-ender. It was that serious, and the Dolphins know it. This is a big
reason why they are taking a wait-and-see approach before offering Brown a
new contract. Personally, I don’t expect to see him anywhere near 100%
until October at the earliest.
have been reported as saying that QB Pat White is the “most improved”
player from last season. The say that, aside from bulking up, his accuracy
on his throws is greatly improved. Good news for a player who could use
some. White is a player I will be watching very closely when training camp
opens. His talents as a college QB cannot be questioned. But can he
translate that ability to the NFL? If he does, the Dolphins will have a
very dangerous weapon for the Wildcat offense. It could literally become
indefensible with the running game and Brandon Marshall factored in. It
could also depress the value that Ronnie Brown has to the Dolphins as the
- I’m not
overly worried about the unsettled situation at guard. The Dolphins have
some solid options at the position. I’m very comfortable that Sparano and
line boss Dave DeGuglielmo will figure it out. If they can’t, there isn’t
a pair in the NFL who can.