So in 2013, a year into the latest Miami Dolphins head coach and coaching staff combo, GM Jeff Ireland has managed to weather the storm.
After taking a step back with Bill Parcells’ outdated “bad things happen when you pass” approach, the Dolphins stepped into modern times with first time head coach Joe Philbin and OC Mike Sherman. They installed an offense and drafted a QB players and fans seem to believe in.
To put it in perspective, a rookie head coach with a rookie QB (in Ryan Tannehill), and a newly-installed offense and defense put up seven wins, and were a couple of easy field goals away from being nine). Believe me. The NFL took notice.
Okay, I’m not going to be unrealistic. Having all that cap space with 11 draft picks doesn’t hurt either. All those factors make the Dolphins a slightly more attractive free agent landing spot.
First up ? Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace — a no-brainer. Speed was an obvious need and Wallace has obvious speed. Some say that $60 million is No. 1 receiver money and Mike Wallace is not a No. 1 receiver, which is true — good thing the Dolphins offense does not use a No. 1 receiver.
In this offense, Wallace will do many things, and one of them is to keep the attention of two defenders. This makes life easier for the other 1o dolphins on offense. Then there’s the WR screens, and end-arounds — all valuable weapons in Sherman’s offense.
Some have said he’s a one-trick pony. That one trick is supposedly running go routes that blew by DBs. My response is that this one-trick pony had 64 of his 119 targets in 2012 go 20 yards or fewer. Yes, the Dolphins overpaid, but they have put themselves at a disadvantage in negotiations with their failures in recent years.
They probably overpaid for wide receiver Brian Hartline as well. However, you just don’t let the one target that has cohesion with your young QB test the free agent market after a 1000-yard season. He’s more valuable to the Dolphins than anyone else.
The Dolphins have also signed and drafted players that didn’t have healthy 2012 seasons, but two of those players (Brent Grimes and Dustin Keller) have come into 2013 camp at 100 percent. Draft picks Dallas Thomas and Dion Jordan were limited in rookie camp, while Jamar Taylor had a hernia, but all should be 100 percent healthy by the end of June.
There is a wise NFL personnel instruction that says it’s better to get rid of a player a year too early instead of a year too late. I think that’s what Jeff Ireland did perfectly by getting rid of Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, and replacing them with Danelle Ellerbee and Phillip Wheeler at LB.
Dansby and Burnett may have had better 2012 seasons, but you pay players for their future, not their past. I think that the future is looking better than the past after this offseason.