by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist
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year ago today, the Miami Dolphins were in a transitional state at quarterback.
Gus Frerotte had beaten out A.J. Feeley for the starting job while some argued
that Sage Rosenfels had beaten out Frerotte and
Feeley. Even rookie Brock
Going into training camp, only Feeley had even the resemblance of being the future of the Miami Dolphins. But that hope was completely washed away when Nick Saban named Frerotte as the starter, with Rosenfels as his back-up.
No doubt Nick Saban could as well.
Enter Randy Mueller. Coming to the Dolphins in 2005 via the New Orleans Saints through ESPN, Mueller brought with him a reputation for having a nose for QB talent.
Consider that, at one point, GM Mueller had Jake Delhomme, Jeff Blake, Aaron Brooks, and Marc Bulger on the Saints roster.
And so, he and Saban talked “3-4 times per week about finding that right guy”, a player the Dolphins could win a championship with.
It didn’t take Mueller long to turn a team weakness into a strength. And while it is Saban who makes the final decisions, it is Mueller who skillfully, silently, works behind the scenes as the team’s chief personnel architect.
Today, just one offseason later, the Dolphins are enjoying their deepest group of quarterbacks since the 1983 trio of Dan Marino, Don Strock, and David Woodley.
Sure, Mueller has the skilled eye of a football man that knows good QB stock when he sees it. But it also helps to have a little circumstantial luck along the way.
We now know that the football gods were smiling broadly on the Dolphins when they acquired franchise-caliber Daunte Culpepper from the Minnesota Vikings. The price was a mere second rounder in what could be the biggest heist from the Men in Purple since Jimmy Johnson fleeced Mike Lynn in the Herschel Walker trade.
good news came shortly thereafter as Culpepper apparently recovered from his
major knee injury earlier than expected. He will, in fact, be ready for the
season opener against the world champion
Can anyone question that the Dolphins now have a quarterback good enough to lead them to a Super Bowl?
comes Joey Harrington, acquired from the Detroit Lions for what is believed to
be a sixth rounder (which could become a fifth rounder if he meets playing time
thresholds). The third overall pick in the 2002 draft, Harrington struggled in
Finally, there’s Cleo Lemon. Lemon was acquired from the San Diego Chargers for the failed Feeley and a sixth rounder. At first blush one would conclude that the Dolphins had to actually pay to get Feeley off of their hands in exchange for an obscure third stringer with a bad last name.
now know better. Recommended to Saban and Mueller by offensive line coach
Hudson Houck, a fine talent evaluator in his own right, Lemon has been
terrific, impressing coaches throughout training camp. His recent showing in
the final preseason game against
Should the Dolphins lose Culpepper for a period of time, there is now confidence that Harrington and Lemon can keep the things on track.
This doesn’t mean that the Dolphins are done with the quarterback position. We can be certain that Saban and Mueller are already on the lookout for the next group of candidates.
Saban has already commented on the ongoing development of Marcus Vick as a quarterback for the future, in addition to the multiple skill roles we’ve seen him perform. We shall see if this plays itself out.
Beyond Vick, don’t expect Saban and Mueller to stand pat. Continued acquisition of talent at the QB position is good for two reasons.
First, should someone get hurt, another capable player can step up. More than a few Dolphin seasons have been ruined due to QB injuries.
Second, a surplus of good QB talent gives the Dolphins many trade possibilities for picks or players at positions of need.
In the end, all of this plays into Mueller’s plan of making sure that the Dolphins continue to have close to the best (if not the best) group of signal callers in the NFL. This is one of the big reasons why Saban hired him to serve as Dolphins GM; his ability to spy and select good QB talent is a precious skill many teams do not have.
Dolphins used to be one of those teams, as evidenced by the many faces that
have come through
Now, with Mueller on the job, the frustrations of finding Heir Marino appear to finally be at an end.