start of a new season is upon us. Always the wellspring of hope, itís the time
when paper dreams become reality. Itís the anticipation of achieving great
yet there is a lingering malaise, an absence of wide spread excitement, that
greets the 2007 edition of the Miami Dolphins. Itís understandable; the sour
taste from last seasonís disastrous 6-10 result, the bust that was Daunte
Culpepper, the blatant lies and betrayal of one Nick Saban, the pass on Brady
Quinn, the tortured acquisition of Trent Green, the continued disappointment in
a stoned Ricky Williams, various player transgressions, a home game to be
played in London, and an increase in ticket prices that have some Dolfans in a
fairly disgusted state.
is only one elixir that will wash away the bad feelings: winning.
good news is that the 2007 Dolphins have what it takes to win more than they
lose. And yes, they are talented enough to make a run at their first playoff
berth in five years. But luck must also play a big part for the 2007 Dolphins
to achieve success, given that Head Coach Cam Cameron and General Manager Randy
Mueller are taking several risks which need to pay off in a handsome way.
so, on the eve of the 2007 season, hereís my annual Top 10 list of things to
look for. Not surprisingly, most of the questions fall on the offensive side of
How long will it take for the Dolphins to grasp Cameronís offense?
playbook represents Miamiís
fourth new system in four years. The good news is that this will be last one
the offensive players will need to learn for the foreseeable future. Yet few
things can be as disruptive to short term productivity as adapting to the ways
of a new coach. The sooner the Dolphins can function instinctively well in
Cameronís system, the higher their chances are of realizing a winning season
and, possibly, a playoff berth.
Carey make the transition to Left Tackle?
is the single biggest personnel question. Cameron and line boss Hudson Houck
believe Carey can make the move from RT, where he is coming off his first good
season, to LT. On paper and in drills, Carey has demonstrated the athletic
ability and technique needed to play the position well. Translating that
ability to the playing field is the key. The last time the Dolphins tried Carey
at LT was when he was a rookie. The result was predictably poor. Now, as a
fourth year veteran, Carey has matured and refined his game. If he makes a
successful transition, the Dolphins will have solved a huge piece of the championship puzzle. If not, theyíll have a huge problem
with no palatable alternative to turn to.
Can Trent Green stay healthy?
is a Dolphin for three important reasons. One, he is a veteran starter who
knows Cameronís system and has been productive in it.† Two, he can win games nowÖan important
consideration with a veteran defense at the crest of their powers. Three, he is
a bridge to the day when John Beck is ready to play. Of course, none of this will
matter a lick if Green is physically unable to perform. Thatís the risk the
Dolphins have accepted by going with a 37 year old QB with a prior concussion
history, playing behind an offensive line with five new positional starters. If
the Dolphins lose Green for more than a game or two, their season could get
ugly very quickly.
Can Ronnie Brown follow L.T.ís act?
would LaDainian Tomlinson, the fine RB of the San Diego Chargers. As the
Chargersí offensive coordinator, Cameron built his game plans around Tomlinson
and his multi-dimensional skills. As the Dolphinsí de facto offensive
coordinator, Cameron will ask the same things from Brown, his best offensive
player. Brown has everything Cameron desires in a RB: size, speed,
intelligence, maturity, good hands, and toughness. Aside from being a
productive runner and receiver, he is also exceptional in pass protection.
Cameronís system may prove to be an epiphany for Brown, who has yet to realize
his full potential.
5) Is Samson
Satele ready for prime time?
is not too surprising to see Satele vying for a starting job on the offensive
line. It is, however, surprising to see the Dolphins angling him for the
starting Center position, rather than first trying him at Guard. Normally it is
the Center who is responsible for reading defensive fronts and making line
calls. Asking a rookie to take on this responsibility is a huge leap of faith.
Perhaps the job of making the line calls will continue to fall on Rex Hadnot,
now the teamís starting RG, until Satele is deemed ready. Nevertheless, having
a solid Training Camp will be vitally important to Sateleís on-field success in
2007, perhaps more so than for any other rookie.
6) Who is TE
Martin is mystery Dolphin #1. The feedback from his
time in Green Bay
is very much mixed. On one hand Martin could be the second coming of Antonio
Gates, a guy who can run, jump, and catch like a WR while (with some help from
Houck) becoming a force on the edge in the run game. On the other he could end
up continuing his history of being injury prone, a player who will continue to
fall short of realizing his full potential.
7) What about
depth at Defensive End?
Taylor, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and 3rd year veteran Matt
Roth are the starters. Behind them is a collection of unproven and unknown
talents. What is defensive guru Dom Capers planning when the Dolphins line up
in a 3-4, and JT shifts out as an OLB? Will it be Vonnie Holliday at DE? What if
the injury bug strikes? This is an unsettled situation at best. Mueller should be opportunistic if a solid veteran comes
available at the right price.
8) Can Brandon
Fields overcome his penchant for inconsistency?
has the leg strength and accuracy to be a serious field position weapon.
Consistency is his problem; one bad shank could flip field position and cost a
win, especially in the parity-filled NFL. The Dolphins are working hard with Fields
†to smooth out his technique and make it
repeatable, predictable, and dependable.
Thereís a lot at stake here as a team with a dominant defense and a developing
offense relies heavily on a good punter to create opportunities that can win
games. Can Fields be that guy?
Lorenzo Booker be a better as a pro?
Jetsí Leon Washington, Bookerís former teammate at Florida State,
underachieved in college. So did Booker. Some believe that they were not
properly utilized by former FSU offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden. This may be
true, but the players themselves are also to blame. For Washington, his game has really blossomed as
a pro; quite frankly, the Jets would not have made the playoffs without him. The
Dolphins are hoping that Booker realizes the same success.
10) How close
is Ted Ginn, Jr. to becoming a starting WR?
is not a matter of ďifĒ as of ďwhenĒ. When a team is fortunate to have a player
of Ginnís ability, it is in their best interest to have him on the field as
much as possible. Before that can happen, Ginnís game needs to be further polished.
There are conflicting reports as to how far along Ginn really is with his route
running and technique versus the press, though it is clear from the Dolphin
OTAs that he is not as raw as some have reported. Unfortunately, his foot
injury kept him from working on his game as much as he would have liked this
offseason. Expect him to get plenty of work on offense during the preseason