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  Time To Go To Plan B
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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The latest loss to the lowly Green Bay Packers, the cruelest cut yet on a season in a complete free fall towards a Top 5 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, requires a complete re-think of team priorities.


What’s there to re-think, you ask? Isn’t this season totally lost?


Yes, in terms of post-season play, this season is a total loss. It’s been realistically lost now for two weeks or more. As hard as it is for many to accept, the brutal truth is that the 2006 squad is a bad team, plain and simple. They will go down as one of the worst in team history.



There are few things left to salvage from this miserable mess…aside from pride.


And so, as the Dolphins mercifully head into their bye week, Nick Saban must decide what’s best for this team over the balance of the season.


Here’s what yours truly thinks is best:


Install an H-Back into the Offense

There are two reasons why this will help the offense. First, it puts players like Ronnie Brown, Sammy Morris, and Travis Minor in a position to get more touches and make plays. All three are fine talents that deserve opportunities to play more, to do more. Brown, the best player on offense, is especially underutilized. Putting Brown and Morris on the field at the same time gives the offense a better chance to be successful. Second, it eliminates the TE as a pass catcher as the Dolphins simply do not have players at that position that can be trusted. Randy McMichael’s continued penchant for hurting the team with drops and mistakes can’t be permitted to continue. It just isn’t fair to the rest of the team. He can continue to be an effective blocker through the end of the season, at which time the Dolphins should trade him, along with his on and off the field problems, to another team. He isn’t the answer.


Start Cleo Lemon at Quarterback

There are five reasons why this makes perfect sense. First, he displayed some excellent ability both running and passing during the preseason. Second, he needs playing time to develop if the Dolphins are to figure out what they have in him. Third, continuing to play Joey Harrington will require the Dolphins to surrender a fifth rounder to the Lions, instead of the sixth rounder they paid. For a team going nowhere, paying more than they need to makes absolutely no sense. Fourth, Lemon is hungry to prove himself. That kind of energy, from a guy who is eager to “earn the confidence of the veterans that (he) can do the job”, can be very valuable to a group of guys who’s confidence is poor right now. And fifth, Daunte Culpepper needs more rehab time to regain his All-Pro form.


Shut Down Jason Taylor for the Season

JT is a warrior and the very thought of him spending the season on injured reserve is unthinkable to him. But the reality of his situation is that he has a potentially serious back injury that absolutely requires rest. It makes no sense for him to continue to grind down and cause further damage to his back, thus shortening his career, just so the team might win another game or two in a lost cause. The man needs rest and rehabilitation so that 2007 will be good for him and the team. Taylor’s snaps at DE can go to David Bowens, Vonnie Holliday, and Matt Roth. Roth is a young player that the Dolphins need to learn more about to determine if he should be part of their long range plans. The promising Frederick Evans can take Taylor’s spot in the DL rotation; he also needs playing time.


Start Derek Hagan and Marcus Vick at Wide Receiver

Don’t laugh. These two young, promising talents need a lot of reps to improve, and what better time than now? Solid veteran DBs are already having a hard time guarding Hagan one-on-one. He deserves a broader opportunity. As for the electric Vick, he may have the most athletic ability of the entire lot. No one has improved more from the start of the preseason to now than Vick. The next step for him is to play. Focusing on the development of these rookies now could pay handsome dividends for 2007.


As for the veterans, Wes Welker aside, Saban now knows everything he needs as far as ability and character. For Chris Chambers and Marty Booker, it’s still all hat and no cattle. Clearly, last year was a lie; the real Chris Chambers is just not a #1 wide receiver. He isn’t a gamebreaker, the kind of player who can impose his will on a defense. He disappears or drops the ball when they need him the most, an irrelevant talent that other teams are confident they can handle. Chambers doesn’t deserve to continue to start; he hasn’t earned the right. His future as a Miami Dolphin should be in doubt.


Marty Booker is an average player who won’t improve further, a guy who should be elsewhere next season.  At this point he is simply taking snaps away from younger guys who might be a part of the championship puzzle.


Start Jason Allen

Even radio color man and former Dolphin Joe Rose said it: Travares Tillman doesn’t make plays. A green Allen cannot do worse. If Allen is as good as Saban believes, he needs to play to improve and gain experience for next season. There’s no longer a single reason…not one…that the Dolphins’ first round draft pick should sit any longer. Yes, he’ll make mistakes. Let him. When better to learn than right now?


Certainly, some of the veterans would interpret these moves as a surrender of the season. To those veterans, I would say that their faith in certain veteran teammates is misplaced.


After what we saw against the Packers, the message is clear. It’s time to play for the future.


The future is now.



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