New BeginningÖBelieve in NowĒ is the marketing slogan for the 2008 Miami
I knowÖitís laughable. A 31-10 humiliation at the hands of the Arizona
Cardinals puts the good guys at 0-2, 1 for their last 21, and leaves us with
the inescapable conclusion that little has changed where it ultimately countsÖon
would be a foolís errand to argue the point, especially after the young
Dolphins took a major step backwards last Sunday. They were dominated,
torchedÖpick your negative verb. They all work. Yet it doesnít take a rocket
scientist to understand why the Dolphins are having such an awful time of it.
the talent, the continued lack thereof.
know full well about the poor drafts under the Dave Wannstedt/Rick Spielman
regime, about how all but two of the picks from those years (Yeremiah Bell,
Vernon Carey) are no longer with the team. We know the heavy price thatís been
paid for those failures: the downfall of what was once the winningest franchise
since the AFL-NFL merger.
what weíve seen thus far in 2008 goes beyond that. Given the time elapsed, we
must now examine the legacy left by Nick Saban and Randy Mueller which, combined
over the past three seasons (2005-2007), also didnít yield the positive change
that was expected.
2005, Saban drafted RB Ronnie Brown with the second overall pick. History has
proven that he was probably the best choice in a generally weak first round. Some
argument could be made for WR Braylon Edwards, though the presence of Chris
Chambers and the overall state of the WR corps at that time lessened the need at
DE Matt Roth, drafted with the second round pick acquired from the Chiefs in
the Pat Surtain deal, has been proven a bust. The team is now in salvage mode
with his career, trying him out as an OLB. Quite frankly, on a more talented
team, Roth would have been cut by now.
only other player from that draft that is still on the team is LB Channing
Crowder (third round). He is a steady performer, a starter, but isnít the equal
of the man he replaced, Zach Thomas.
together, thatís three players and one full time starter from a draft where the
Dolphins were picking near the top of almost every round. Not good.
2006 was even worse.
Dolphins drafted DB Jason Allen 16th overall. Saban, a supposed DB
guru, passed on FSUís Antonio Cromartie and other solid talents. After holding
out, Allen flip-flopped between safety and cornerback before settling in at
safety. Sparano, Allenís third head coach, is also trying to figure him out.
this is not the sort of problem you want to have with a third year player. Allen
is currently running third string behind a guy with poor cover skills (Chris
Crocker) and a guy coming off a major knee injury (Renaldo Hill). It isnít
because Allen doesnít have excellent athletic ability; he may be the most
gifted DB in that regard on the team. Rather, his poor practice habits continue
to give coaches reluctance to trust him in games.
no second round pick, lost to Minnesota
in the failed Daunte Culpepper trade, players such as OT Marcus McNeill and
DB/KR Devin Hester went elsewhere. Either would have helped the Dolphins out
the third round, Saban drafted WR Derek Hagan. Hagan had his best camp since
turning pro three years ago, yet is still not listed as a starter. This may
change before the end of the year.
only other player from the 2006 draft that is still with the Dolphins is DL
Rodrique Wright, currently running third string at DE behind rookie Kendall
summary, thatís three players and no starters in total from 2006.
it is entirely too early to pronounce judgment over the 2007 draft, the early
returns are not encouraging.
rounder Ted Ginn Jr., a WR/KR taken 9th overall, isnít playing full
time right now and isnít returning kicks. Ginn, still officially listed as a
starter, possesses world class speed but struggles in the route. After a
healthy offseason of work with crack WR coach Karl Dorrell, we should be seeing
more progress with his game. One wonders if Chad Penningtonís inability to
throw deep third routes is hurting Ginnís near term productivity.
rounder John Beck is running third string at QB, after a challenging rookie
season and a very bad preseason this year. While rookie Chad Henne has
leapfrogged him on the depth chart, the competition is by no means over.
other second rounder, center Samson Satele, was one of the best rookies in
football last year. Acquired with the pick gained in the Wes Welker trade, his
future looks promising. Together with Crowder, heís made the biggest impact
among draftees taken in the past four years.
Soliai, a fourth rounder, is currently running second string at NT, having
enjoyed a fine training camp this year. Punter Brandon Fields is the only other
draftee still on the roster. He may eventually turn out to be the best field
position weapon the team has had since Reggie Roby, but isnít there yet. Donnie
Jones, whom Mueller let get away in free agency, is one of the best punters in
2007 draftees no longer with the Dolphins, RB Lorenzo Booker and FB Reagan
Mauia, were decent players but didnít fit the current regimeís philosophy.
Booker was traded to Philadelphia for a fourth
rounder, and Mauia was released (now with Cincinnati).
total, the Dolphins have eleven players and two full time starters from those three
seasons of drafts. More full-time starters may be gained in time, but this has
yet to be proven.
add back in the futility of the Wannstedt years, and the lack of productivity
from free agents, and youíll quickly understand why Sparano doesnít sleep at
nights. Would you if you were trying to make chicken soup out of chicken
knows it wonít always be like this and has said as much. Heís right, it wonít;
we are likely to start seeing progress from the young Dolphins before this
itís terribly difficult to believe in ďA New BeginningĒ when the losses have
the same sick feeling as they did last year, one of futility and frustration,
wondering when the Dolphins will get that first win.