Camp 101: offense is expected to trail defense early on.
football, and itís especially true when a new system is combined with new
positional starters, as many as nine on the Dolphin offense. As such, drawing
hard conclusions in early August is a foolís errand and a general waste of time,
especially with the first preseason contest yet to come.
the first depth chart of the season is out, mandated by league rules, but coach
Tony Sparano quickly warns that it isnít worth the paper itís printed on. At
several positions, players are clearly misplaced, or placed via non-performance
criteria (e.g. QBs ranked by seniority).
there are definite signs of things to come, some good, some not. Thus far, two
general themes have emerged.
first is that the team seems very committed to a 3-4 defensive alignment, and
they indeed appear to have the players to employ it, especially on the
second is that the Dolphins will have to rely heavily on the ground game and
short pass as the primary mode of offensive attack. The strength of the
offensive line, and the talent at RB, are biased in this direction.
3-4 defensive scheme will indeed work because Jason Ferguson, manning the
all-important NT position, is a load while Paul Soliai, who reportedly dropped
30lbs. during the offseason, is now a different player and is thus having a
thereís Vonnie Holliday, who has surprised by working into the multiple DE/OLB
role that Jason Taylor played so well. While itís too early to know if this
experiment will work, the 6í5Ē, 285lb. Holliday has, thus far, looked credible.
rookie DE Kendall Langford has impressed and is getting his chance with the
first team defense. Others, such as Randy Starks and Phillip Merling, will be
in the rotation. As for Matt Roth, it appears as though his tenure at DE has
indeed gone bust. Failing to produce, the former second rounder acquired from
the Patrick Surtain trade is now being worked as an OLB. Whether Roth can be
effective there is yet to be determined, but it appears as though the Dolphins
are now in salvage mode with him.
for the ground game bias, the Dolphins really donít have a choice. It could be
as high as a 65-35 run-pass split once the games start counting. Thatís how bad
the passing game has been thus far, and how slim the prospects seem to be for
considerable near term improvement.
pessimism starts with the play of the quarterbacks who, on the whole, have been
one point during last weekís scrimmage, Dolphin QBs combined for a 2 for 22
passing effort. Dan Marino, retired now for eight years and in attendance at
that scrimmage, was probably the best passer there. Thatís not a good thing.
WRs, on the whole, havenít helped either. Derek Hagan, a former third round
pick, has been the bright spot, making the tough catches and consistently
getting downfield. The light seems to have finally come on for him, and thatís
encouraging. The others have been so inconsistent that further comment is not
seems inevitable that a personnel acquisition of some sort will have to happen.
Thereís really no choice when things are so bad that a defense could show an
eight man front and probably get away with it.
would be puzzling if this comes in the form of Terry Glenn or Quincy Carter,
simply because neither player is likely to make this team appreciably better. Rather,
expect the Dolphins to keep an eye on the waiver wire, or on a trade that has
high value, to shore up this very serious weakness.
closing, there are several other players who are having a good camp thus far
and deserve specific mention.
Jason Allen looks to have finally come out of the wilderness. Whether it is the
new system or sufficient professional growth, he is playing more instinctively
now. The result is a first round safety playing at that level. Itís going to be
hard to deny him a starting job.
Fields is going to be a serious field possession weapon, the best punter
theyíve had since Reggie Roby. He is unopposed in camp and figures to stay that
way. Heíll be an important part of whatever success the team enjoys this
Boomer Grigsby is blocking and catching very well, and will bring an added
dimension to an offense badly in need of it. This looks to have been a good
free agent pick up.
guard Donald Thomas, a sixth round pick, has been lining up as the first team
right guard for over a week now and isnít coming out anytime soon. Given the
pressing need on the offensive line, this is a welcomed surprise.
chestí is what I call him. ĎHeavy chestí," said Ferguson. "This guy is strong. That's
all I can tell you. His punch is really brutal. He can move (people) and help
(center) Samson (Satele) out in the middle.Ē
Sparano, ďWhen a defensive player says, 'Really heavy,' he doesn't mean heavy
in size, he means heavy when he hits you, and when he leans on you and those
are good qualities to have in an offensive lineman when they're big and they
play big. That was encouraging. It was good to get him out there and let him
compete against some of the first team players out there and see how he