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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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These are not your father’s Dolphins.

 

Yes, it’s basically the same group as last year’s bunch, save a handful of starters. And, yes, it will be odd not seeing Yeremiah Bell quarterbacking the defense and the steady Vernon Carey absent from the offensive line.

 

But whenever you keep the base core of your roster intact, yet manage to change almost everything else around them, it isn’t a rebuilding; it’s a remodeling. That’s what’s really up with the 2012 Miami Dolphins.

 

New coaches, new offensive/defensive systems, and new ways of doing things have the players’ heads swimming and the pace of practice at an almost break neck pace; right now the Dolphins are cramming twice as many plays in to a practice as they’d see in a game/

 

That’s the way rookie head man Joe Philbin likes it. He’s nothing…nothing…like Tony Sparano. That’s neither bad nor good from a personal standpoint; both are fine football men; Philbin just brings a totally different style and approach to the table.

 

Whether or not his way will be better than Sparano’s groove remains to be seen. For now, just remember there isn’t a coach alive who can win without horses, and this is where this remodeling project really began.

 

April 26, 2012 to be exact, Day 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft.

 

It’s still on paper of course, but GM Jeff Ireland and his team delivered what appears to be his best batch of rookies since he arrived in Miami back in 2008. The message from this crop creates hope for the future, which is sorely wanting around these parts.

 

 “If our draft board was right, we killed it.”, Ireland boasted.

 

Yes they did, on various levels.

 

Start with the drafting of QB Ryan Tannehill, who doesn’t lack for confidence or ability. Even though he’s raw, this is a man to be reckoned with sooner or later. He prefers it to be sooner.

 

“I feel like I’m in it”, Tannehill said in reference to the four QB competition amongst himself, 2011 MVP Matt Moore, veteran Pro Bowler David Garrard, and second year man Pat Devlin. “Maybe I am being naïve, but the coaches haven’t given me any indication that I’m not, so I’m going to go out there every day and do my best to get better every day and hopefully win the job.”

 

Music to a Dolfan's ears.

 

Fact is the Dolphins would be fine if Tannehill sat for a year and learned. I agree though it would have been an easier give with Peyton Manning in the fold. For now consider Tannehill the football equivalent of Boston pork butt; smoke it slow/low to get really tasty pulled pork. Rush it, and meal could be ruined.

 

No need to hold off on the rest of the rookie haul, starting with ex-Canes DE Vernon Olivier and RB Lamar Miller. Both should make a nice impact right away. And Stanford OT Jonathan Martin stands a good chance of starting at RT on opening day. Already he appears to be a solid upgrade over the thankfully departed Marc Colombo, and he will have a great mentor to learn from in Jake Long.

 

“I’m so excited to play the opposite of (Long)”, gushed Martin. “He’s going to be a Hall of Fame left tackle. He’s someone I model my game after for years. I’ve been a fan. I’m excited to play. I’ll play left. I’ll play right, wherever the team needs me.”

 

Safe to say Philbin will have better weapons to work with than Sparano did. And Philbin will use those weapons differently in what yours truly believes is the Dolphins first pure foray into the West Coast offense. This transformation will be handled by veteran O-boss Mike Sherman.

 

Defense will look different too as new D-boss Kevin Coyle junks the 3-4 base scheme and moves to a predominately 4-3 approach. Fortunately the Dolphins have the personnel on hand to make it work, with Pro Bowler Cam Wake playing the role of Jason Taylor at DE.

 

So there’s the pace of play, and the new playbook, the new coaches, and a new way of doing things. Seems like a matter of time before these players absorb it all and stop thinking and start instinctively doing. But they don’t have long to get it down before the games start counting.

 

“That’s what this part of the year is all about, training camp”, explained G Richie Incognito. “There’s a lot of install. You’re installing your whole offense in a very short period of time, a matter of days. What you really want to do is make this second nature. You run through the baby steps in the process so many times, (like) foot work and hand placement. It takes time.”

 

So that’s the on-field remodeling: big moves and “baby steps”. Wrap all of that now in a new and refreshing environment of reasonable transparency and accessibility and you get a better, more fan-friendly product.

 

That’s the way owner Stephen Ross wants it, and why he won’t let you hang a rebuilding label on his club.

 

“I always look at every season as I want to win and that’s really the only way I can look at it”, explained Ross. “It’s great, it’s kind of like a fresh start, but I think that we have a lot. The coaching staff and all of the parts that they put together, I think I’m looking to win.”

 

“I told (the players what I believed”, Ross continued. “You know, why I bought the team. What my vision was for it and tell them how excited I am. Really my position as an owner is to support the team and do everything we can to produce a winner. And letting them know that there is a tradition here in Miami. It’s a great place to play. There’s a responsibility both to the team and to the fan base, and the impact on the community. As you know, it hasn’t really been encouraged in the past. So it was kind of a new beginning if you would.”

 

New is good, because the old way wasn’t working. But not all of the old needs fixing up.

 

Now about that logo change, Mr. Ross…

 
     
   
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