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  Will Wayne Can Cameron?
    | Home | News Wire | Roster | Depth Chart | Schedule | Links |  
         

by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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What is Wayne Huizenga thinking as he watches his beloved Dolphins continue their descent towards the ignominy of being the ďWorst Team EverĒ?

 

More to the point, will it be one and done for Cam Cameron?

 

We all know that Cameron has been up against it in a big way. Lack of talent and injuries have severely handicapped his first season in Miami.

 

Even Don Shula would be struggling to win with this bunch.

 

Nevertheless, what has put Cameron on the proverbial hot seat has been the way he has conducted the team and, of course, the teamís failure to win a single game.

 

Questionable decision making, his controversial handling of personnel (on and off the field), and overall team preparation has, at times, fueled some real concerns about his competency. One could argue that Cameron has exacerbated the Dolphins situation, not improved it.

 

Cameron supporters are quick to explain all of this away as the growing pains of a rookie head coach together with a dearth of talented players. Heíll learn from his errors and get better, right?

 

Right, though time is rarely an ally in the Not For Long league.

 

At 0-16, Cameronís credibility with the players, fans, and others will be very low. Heck, its low now! Selling tickets next season is already going to be tougher.

 

All of this will be heavy on Huizengaís mind. But the biggest concern he will have will be his players, especially the veteran leaders.

 

See, itís tough for them to buy into a program when theyíre not buying into the guy selling it.

 

Evidence of this was clear in the teamís humiliating 40-13 loss to the hated Jets, another game the Dolphins should have won. After the game, veteran players like Jason Taylor (team captain), Will Allen, Marty Booker, and Keith Traylor made comments that suggest the formation of dissent to some degree.

 

And heaven knows what the rest of the team is thinking.

 

Losing, and the frustration it brings, is not easy for anyone to deal with. Sometimes, in the heat of emotion, people say things they donít really mean. But it is clear that the confidence the players have in Cameron as a leader has been badly shaken.

 

It would be easier for Cameron to overcome this if he had a track record of winning. Alas, as a rookie head coach in the NFL, he doesnít.

 

All of this puts Huizenga in a very difficult position indeed.

 

On one hand, Huizenga is looking for stability for his beleaguered franchise. Hiring Cameron was supposed to be part of the answer.

 

Cameron is a good man with the right long term goals for this team. He also possesses the resolution and even disposition that all good leaders must have in the face of adversity, especially over the long course of a season.

 

We all know that coaches tend to look a lot smarter when they have good players to work with. Huizenga knows this too, and probably sympathizes with the fact that Cameron has been deprived of most of his best players through injury (Yeremiah Bell, Zach Thomas, Renaldo Hill, Trent Green, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams) and trade (Chris Chambers).

 

On the other hand, 0-12 is the last thing Huizenga had in mind when he hired Cameron and broadened GM Randy Muellerís powers (Mueller bears accountability for this mess as well, but thatís a column for another day).

 

Huizenga recognizes that the squad they opened the season with was not a 0-12 team. One would argue that, even with the injuries, this is still not a 0-12 team.

 

At 0-16, however, Huizenga will be confronted with the hard reality that he could have hired John from Opa-Locka and achieved the same result.

 

I know that this comes across as a low blow at Cameron, completely unfair in every respect. Not everything that has gone wrong with the 2007 Dolphins is his fault.

 

Nevertheless, the understandable conclusion that Huizenga could come to at seasonís end is that he once again hired the wrong guy for the job.

 

Huizenga might decide that Cameron was just in way over his head, that he just isnít good enough to be a head coach. It happens all the time with coordinators that are promoted to the big chair.

 

Aside from injuries, there are other possibilities for the teamís lack of performance that Huizenga could factor into his thinking.

 

The first is that Mueller went too far in his rebuilding project and left the roster in an untenable and thin state.

 

Another is that, as the season dragged on and the losses mounted, too many players became more concerned with cashing their paychecks than extending themselves to win games.

 

Another is dark and unimaginable in todayís NFL, though it is fair to suggest it: the Dolphins are tanking the season on purpose in order to guarantee the first pick in the 2008 NFL draft.

 

This is crazy thinking, I know. But weíve seen it happen in other sports, most recently with the NBAís Boston Celtics.

 

So why not the NFL?

 

I am not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination. However, I must admit that it is odd how this team has been managed this season, considering how smart Cameron is supposed to be, and how decisions at critical moments in games rarely seem to work out.

 

For example, the toss play on 4th and goal at Philadelphia. That is a very low percentage play in that situation against any NFL defense, a play almost guaranteed to fail. A coach with Cameronís offensive prowess would understand that better than anyone.

 

How about foregoing field goal attempts at Houston and Pittsburgh? Understandable moves if your kicker stinks, which is not the case with Jay Feely.

 

Or, how about Cameronís decision to run the ball three straight times with a gimpy running back against the Jets, right after a momentum shifting turnover? The Dolphins didnít convert, of course, and the momentum was shifted right back to the Jets.

 

There are other examples, such as the bizarre decision to change up the defensive scheme this year, but you get the point.

 

Again, it smacks of dementia to even suggest such a thing. But it is weird, almost purposeful, how this team manages to continuously come up short.

 

Youíd hate to think that such a thing is happening, even though you understand that it would speed up the rebuilding process.

 

No matter the cause, something here isnít right and the players sense it.

 

ďIt feels like we're doing this for some other reason than a victory sometimesĒ, said Traylor. ďI don't want to call any names, but it's a scary thought to think weíre all not out to get a victory. I don't know what else reason youíd be playing this game or be a part of this game, but right now there seems to be something else going on somewhere, and I don't know what it is.Ē

 

Words like that donít come from a man who believes that his coaches and teammates are doing everything thatís needed to earn a win. And Traylor would know; he has three Super Bowl rings to prove it.

 

In the end, no matter the actual reasons, there will be fallout of some sort from this wretched season. Will that fallout include Cameronís job?

 

If Cameronís Dolphins can show some progress over these last four games, Huizenga will probably be inclined to give his first year coach a pass.

 

Otherwise, the end of the Cameron era in Miami could come sooner than anyone had imagined.

 

 

 
     
   
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