Outside of the Tennessee Titans and the Washington Redskins, the Miami Dolphins might be the biggest team in offseason turmoil, although they are not garnering much national attention at the present time. The players don’t like the coach or the quarterback, the owner didn’t seem to like the head coach, for a team which entering the 2010 season with some much optimism, things look pretty bleak for the Dolphins currently.
As soon as the regular season ended, it didn’t take long for the discontent to bubble to the surface. Remember, this is a team that Bill Parcells walked away from at mid-season, without giving any explanation. RB Rickey Williams said that head coach Tony Sparano didn’t have the team prepared for their season ending game against the New England Patriots. WR Brandon Marshall, a player the Dolphins thought was a key piece to the puzzle to return to the playoffs and surrendered two second round draft picks in order to acquire, had less than flattering things to say about QB Chad Henne by season’s end. Even the owner, Stephen Ross appeared so irritated at the conclusion of the season that he flew to California to speak with Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. The end result was that Ross offered current head coach Tony Sparano a Donovan McNabb-esque contract extension a week later, announced in a very awkward press conference a few days later.
To say that head coach Tony Sparano needs to advance the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2011 is an understatement. Sparano was named the Dolphins head coach in 2008 and made a remarkable turnaround for the franchise after a 2007 where the club went 1-15, the Dolphins finished 11-5 in 2008 after losing in a wild-card game to the Baltimore Ravens. The future looked promising after the 2008 season, but Sparano is now 25-23 overall and he is coming off back to back 7-9 seasons. The paper his current contract extension is written on is worth about as much as a few hundred thousand shares in Worldcom or Enron stock.
And the task at hand for Sparano is daunting to say the least in 2011. Complicating his problem is the pending player lockout and the lack of any free agency period. Both veteran running backs, Rickey Williams and Ronnie Brown are likely gone as free agents in 2011 and that creates a void but there is no bigger void than that of the one under center. The quarterback position.
The urgency for Sparano to win now creates a problem. QB Chad Henne was a serious disappointment this season. Granted, the Dolphins now have hired a new offensive coordinator, something which was seriously needed as the Dolphins led the league in the fewest attempts of passes over 20 yards in the passing game all season long. But what needs to be determined is whether it was Henne’s fault, as he became “captain checkdown” over the season, or was it the play calling. In order to correct this deficiency, the Dolphins hired Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator. Daboll ran a Cleveland offense which scored 271 points in 2010, the Dolphins score 273 points. Hardly a major upgrade.
The loss of Ronnie Brown and Rickey Williams can be replaced, the running back position is one of the easiest to fill on a football team. The largest problem facing the Dolphins is the quarterback position. Is Chad Henne the quarterback which can lead Miami to the playoffs? Can Tony Sparano afford the time it might take to groom a rookie quarterback? Is acquiring a veteran quarterback the best case scenario for the team which seemingly has to win now in 2011?
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the free agency period this season and when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be finalized this offseason, but who is a leading candidate for the Dolphins next season? Donovan McNabb would be a better idea under center than Carson Palmer, even if Carson Palmer becomes available.It remains to be seen what the Redskins will ultimately do with McNabb.
There is a chance that Auburn’s QB Cam Newton could still become available when Miami picks at #14. However, I feel that Cam Newton is going to be a work in progress, and will not step in and deliver in the first season. After all, Newton has only one full season starting in college football.
The Philadelphia Eagles have made noise about possibly wanting to move QB Kevin Kolb, but reports state that the Eagles want two second round picks for the quarterback which comes with a lot of hype but hasn’t really delivered on the field.I believe the Eagles will retain Kolb, as he comes relatively cheap in 2011 after the majority of his two year contract extension already been paid this season.
The quarterback I think that might benefit the Dolphins next season is Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn. Reports surfaced this week that the Packers might be willing to move Flynn for a second round pick next year. Flynn appeared to look ready to start in week 15 when he filled in for Aaron Rodgers against the New England Patriots on the road. Flynn kept the Packers close, as he tossed three touchdowns in a 31-27 loss to the Patriots.
The Dolphins will not have a second round pick in 2011, after surrendering that pick to Denver for WR Brandon Marshall. Miami should offer a switch of first round picks and a sixth round pick in exchange for Matt Flynn from the Packers. Let Chad Henne and Matt Flynn battle it out for the starting quarterback position in 2011.