the hard part begins.
four weeks of practices, scrimmages, and preseason games, Tony Sparano has a
pretty good handle on his players. So much so, in fact, that he has already
trimmed the roster down to 70, well below the first cut down level of 75. In
fact, getting from 70 down to 60 won’t be particularly hard; he could probably
make those decisions now, but wants to look a bit longer to re-confirm his
from 60 to 53? That will be a much tougher affair. Some good players are going
to be looking for work, and some of the names we see on the cut list will be surprising.
probably not going to come till next week at some positions”, explained Sparano
in reference to the number of players he will keep at each position.
night I go home and lay my head on the pillow, it changes. I mean it really
does. There are a few different scenarios right now in my head. We kind of have
to see how it will play out."
Sparano means by this is that there are some bubble players who still need to
make their case. They are probably:
Hilliard, a potential fifth running back
London, a potential sixth wide receiver
Haynos and rookie John Nalbone, neither of whom have caught a ball yet in
preseason, vying for a potential third tight end spot.
Garner and Brandon Frye battling for a back-up tackle job, a potential
ninth offensive linemen.
McDaniel, Ryan Baker, Rod Wright, and Louis Ellis battling for a potential
seventh defensive lineman spot.
Walden, Reggie Torbor, Charlie Anderson, J.D. Folsom, William Kershaw,
Quentin Moses, and Matt Roth, vying for 3 to 4 jobs at linebacker.
Thomas and Courtney Bryan challenging for a potential tenth defensive back
than half won’t get past the Turk.
Sparano and his staff are shifting increasing focus towards getting the active
roster ready for the regular season. To that end, some pretty important
questions need to be answered. Some of them are:
situational packages are best suited to the talent on hand, and who should
the best way to hide the deficiencies on both sides of the ball?
- Who is
the best choice to start at wide receiver opposite Ted Ginn?
- Who is
the best choice to start at corner opposite Will Allen?
- Who is
the better kicker, Dan Carpenter or Connor Barth?
- What is needed
to fix special teams?
- Can the
Dolphins afford to activate Pat White on game day?
hopes that he can gain more clarity in the all-important third preseason game on
Thursday at Tampa
Bay (FOX, 8:00pm ET). The
third game is usually the most important because the coaches come closest to
formulating a regular season game plan; this tests the mental and physical
abilities of the players against an opponent equally prepared. It also serves
to improve timing and chemistry. This is why it’s a pretty good bet that
whomever we see start this game will likely start the season opener.
for the Dolphins, it’s a short week (Thursday night game). This could hinder
the extent of what the coaches can install, and the amount of information that
can be gleaned towards solving some of the above questions.
a short week, so (the game planning is) going to be very, very minimal”, said
Sparano. “But, to be honest with you, with this kind of turn-around, in-season,
when you’re not dealing with training camp, you would prepare the week before. Here
in training camp, because you’re dealing with another practice, another
practice, another practice, that’s not the way you can handle that. So, the
game planning part of this thing will be minimal.”
indicated that he will play his starting offense well into the third quarter.
Back-up QB Chad Henne will get some reps with the starters before working with
the reserves to finish off the game. Defensively, key starters like NT Jason
Ferguson probably won’t go more than a half. On an individual basis, bubble
players (listed above) will likely see extensive action.
we still don’t know how good these Dolphins will be, what we’ve seen thus far
is encouraging. Still, an awful lot of work remains to be done before this team
will be ready to play a real game.
seen enough to know that the Dolphins will be able to run the ball pretty well.
But were they successful in improving the explosiveness of the offense?
seen enough to know that the Dolphins appear to have improved the personnel in
the secondary. But will it be good enough, soon enough for the defense to save
seen enough to know that problems from last year on special teams are yet to be
solved. Is it too late to fix the coverage and return units?
and friends have about two weeks to make the right calls.