We’re almost halfway
through the preseason and the Dolphins are making the case for longer, rather
than shorter, exhibition schedules.
Yes, there’s that
much work needed before the opener.
Start at quarterback,
where A.J. Feeley and Gus Frerotte continue to slog it out. Neither man has
been more than mediocre at best, a less than exciting preview of what could be
when games start counting.
with Dan Marino still so fresh in our minds.
Quite frankly, the
best looking throwers thus far have been “the other guys”: Sage Rosenfels and
At 33, Frerotte is
not the future in Miami; he is a stop gap solution at best. His level of play
simply isn’t good enough right now to justify burning up a year with him at the
With Feeley’s uneven
performance thus far, perhaps it is time for Nick Saban to give Rosenfels and Berlin longer looks.
Berlin, in particular, intrigues. Could it be that he is ready to
emerge from his college struggles and realize his potential as a pro?
effectiveness in these past two games has been one of the pleasant surprises of
As for Rosenfels,
perpetually carrying the clipboard, he appears ready for more. His arm strength
fits offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s system very well indeed.
Whatever happens, the
eventual starter needs these next three games to get it together. The eventual
winner will have some fine talent to throw to given what the receivers,
particularly Chris Chambers, have show us thus far.
Then there’s the
story at running back. While Ricky Williams shakes the cobwebs off his game,
and his work against the Jaguars was most encouraging, it will mean nothing
when the Dolphins kick it off against the Broncos. In fact, it will mean
nothing until mid-October when Williams is permitted to return from his
mandatory four game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
For now, it is fun to
watch Ricky run. But reality hits in just four weeks and the Dolphins NEED
Ronnie Brown in camp yesterday. They must get him ready to go and they’ll need
every remaining practice and practice game to do it.
Dolphins just cannot get by with Lamar Gordon, Sammy Morris, or any other
option as a starter through Game 4.
Gordon has just been
horrible, a player who is making former General Manager Rick Spielman look like
he was suckered yet again.
Meanwhile, line coach
extraordinaire Hudson Houck continues to forge ahead with his collection of
projects. Objectively, he is making progress…good progress.
Vernon Carey may be
an NFL left tackle yet; he seems to have the physical tools to do the job and
do it well. Rex Hadnot continues to impress and seems a sure bet to start at
center or guard. Veterans Jeno James and Stockar McDougle look like they’ll be
ready on opening day. As for the rest, it will be up to Houck to sort through
the barrel to find five more players he can win with.
are spinning as veteran and rookie alike try to absorb Saban’s system.
It would help things
considerably if the Dolphins could get Larry Chester back. They’ll really need
his help, especially in 3-4 sets where dominant nose tackle play is essential.
With a healthy Chester working with Keith Traylor and Jeff Zgonina, the Dolphins figure
to be strong up the middle.
Again, the sooner the
Dolphins can get Chester into play, the better.
Ditto for Junior
Seau. It’s looking more and more like the Dolphin defense cannot function at a
high level without him. Yes, Channing Crowder has been promising but the
Dolphins have looked, well, overwhelmed at times.
Is it too much
thinking and too little reacting? Is it a talent issue?
Probably a little of
both. In both cases, Junior can still bring it.
experience in a 3-4 from his Charger days…especially those incredible days
under the watchful eye of former Dolphin d-coordinator Bill Arnsparger…will
prove very useful to the Dolphins when the real fur starts flying.
In the secondary,
it’s no wonder that Saban spends his time tutoring the troops.
Other than Sam
Madison, no one seems to have impressed enough to secure a spot. Safety is a
mess, enough so that Saban continues to pull new guys in to address the problem.
One bright spot seems
to be Yeremiah Bell. At this point, it would be somewhat surprising not to see
him starting come opening day.
As for the cornerback
spot opposite Madison, Travis Daniels appears to be inching closer and closer to
securing the job. Any other option, save Will Poole pulling a Lazarus on us,
seems destined for failure.
Remember, close only
counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. These Dolphins seem to be swimming in massive
change, working feverishly to get themselves headed in the direction Saban has
set for them.
progress, no question. But they’ve still got a ways to go yet before they’ll be
ready for the Broncos.
For that, three more
practice games are all too welcomed.