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  Be Positive, Dolphins Still on Right Track
    | Home | News Wire | Roster | Depth Chart | Schedule | Links |  
         

by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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I normally eschew the talk radio scene. It’s mostly loud, irrational, agenda-driven, and rife with misinformation. I’ve also learned over the years to avoid certain media personalities who do not wish the Dolphins well. It’s not a matter of objectiveness, but rather a matter of maliciousness for the sake of selling papers or raising viewership.

 

I believe in fair and objective commentary as a top priority, as well as accountability. And you should know that I write this column mostly as a labor of love, which transcends one game or one season.

 

This is why it bothers me to see this flurry of misconception, misperception, and misunderstanding flying about the 2010 Miami Dolphins. Those of you who have read my stuff know that I am not a Dolphin shill, be it Don Shula or Tony Sparano driving the ship. Yet I do think it is important that we all understand fact from fiction.

 

So if you only remember one thing about this column a minute after reading it, remember that this regime is summed up by a quote that General Manager Jeff Ireland gave me in his first season with the team.

 

“We try to get ‘make up’ players. We want smart, tough, and discipline players. We want players with intangibles like character, integrity, toughness, intelligence, work ethic, accountability, dependability, and, most importantly, passion.”

 

At the end of the day, every decision made within the walls of the Davie training facility are bound within that quote.

 

This is why certain suggestions that Sparano has become “desperate”, or “afraid of losing his job”, are pure nonsense.

 

First, no one does a better job of holding his players and coaches accountable for their work than Tony Sparano does. It really doesn’t matter if it’s the 53rd man on the roster or QB Chad Henne. If a guy isn’t getting the job done, there’s always a limit as to how long that player has to improve. If that improvement isn’t forthcoming, and the next guy on the depth chart is delivering the goods, Sparano will not hesitate to make a change.

 

This is what a good and responsible head coach should do. It’s why it is silly to think that Henne was benched because Sparano was desperate to win games to save the season and his job.

 

Plain and simple, Chad Henne was benched on merit. He had 21 games to show what he could do. He didn’t deliver the goods on a consistent basis and he was costing the team wins with his below par play.

 

That’s not my opinion; that’s a statement of fact based on his numbers. It is indisputable.

 

What is also a fact is that Sparano was going to hold Henne accountable, just as he would any other player. Yes, Henne had a longer leash because they were trying to develop him as part of the future of this team. And yes, Henne will get another chance to prove his worth. But when the team is expecting improvement on a lackluster season, and gets a three pick no touchdown game in response, there must be consequences.

 

In short, there comes a point where the good of the whole outweighs the good of the one, and that point was reached after the Ravens game. It wasn’t fair to the other 52 guys, or you the fan, to keep a veteran winner like Chad Pennington on the bench any longer. It was simply unjustifiable.

 

It’s not an act of desperation and it doesn’t make the rest of the season “pointless”, as one writer mused. Rather, it’s a well-reasoned and measured decision based on “accountability” and “dependability”.

 

The same goes for CB Jason Allen, now a member of the Houston Texans. Lord knows, Sparano and Parcells tried like hell to get the guy to come around. And for a decent stretch this season, it looked like they had succeeded. Allen was outplaying Sean Smith, leading the NFL in picks at one point, and we were all impressed. But then Allen started reverting back to his old, flawed techniques and the sun went down. So Sparano did what he always does, hold his player accountable. And Allen didn’t take that well, failing to step up his game even as Smith started to reemerge.

 

Again, a limit was reached, and Sparano acted.

 

The same goes for his coaches.

 

We all know what happened to former special teams coach John Bonamego. If there is a fair criticism of Sparano on the topic of accountability, it’s that he was too generous with Bonamego.

 

Some would argue that the same criticism applies to offensive coordinator Dan Henning?

 

I don’t.

 

It’s true, Henning isn’t perfect. But what offensive coordinator is? And yes, talent matters.

 

What the critics who call Henning “conservative” fail to understand here is that Henning is one of the great innovative minds in football today. With the Dolphins, he gets credit for co-implementing the Wildcat in Miami, one of the biggest innovations in modern pro football since the West Coast offense.

 

The critics also fail to understand that the so-called “vanilla” game plans are reflective of what the quarterback is comfortable with doing, and what the coaches believe he can be successful with. The results are mostly a reflection of the execution of that game plan.

 

I’ve got a hunch that Henning will look a lot smarter with a productive QB. Hopefully that QB is Tyler Thigpen. It will take a few games before we’ll know about that.

 

So relax and enjoy the ride. Yes, mistakes have been made on the field and in the front office. It happens and will continue to happen. But the arrow is still pointing in the right direction.

 

 
     
   
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