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22 posts from May 2008

May 30, 2008

Dolphins sign rookie guard Shawn Murphy

The Dolphins will announce the signing of offensive guard Shawn Murphy in the coming hour or so. No financial terms are yet available.

Murphy, the team's foruth-round draft pick, is expected to compete for a starting job this year along with veteran Steve McKinney and darkhorse second-year player Ikechuku Ndukwe.

Props to anyone who can tell me where Ndukwe went to school. Murphy, the son of former Atlanta slugger Dale Murphy, attended Utah State.

The Dolphins have now signed six of their nine draft picks, with second-rounders Phillip Merling and Chad Henne and third-rounder Kendall Langford still not on board.

Lorenzo Booker wowing them in Philadelphia

There have been only two offseasons moves by these Dolphins that I have questioned.

As many of you know, I advocated chasing former Pittsburgh guard Alan Faneca in free agency. I know, I know, he was very expensive and 32 years old, and not a good fit for a rebuilding team. That's bunk.

He's a great player, he filled a need, he would have shown Jake Long how to be a professional off the field and made him stellar on the field playing LG next to him. If he were on the Dolphins, who could have afforded him, he would not be across the line of scrimmage playing two games a year for the Jets.

Also, the Dolphins could have used the Faneca addition as proof to the Dancer whose name I will not utter that they weren't giving up on this year in trying to convince him not to give up on them.

The other move I hated was trading Lorenzo Booker.

The 2007 third round pick was traded to Philadelphia for a 2008 fourth-round pick. The reasoning GM Jeff Ireland gave for making the trade was that Booker simply didn't fit the mold of a back the Dolphins want. Guess the Dolphins don't want a blur coming out of the backfield on third down passing situations.

The Eagles jumped at the opportunity to get that kind of threat. 

This week, at the team minicamp for selected vets and rookies, Booker impressed coaches and teammates with his speed, agility and quick-strike potential. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Booker has been "even a little bit better" than what the Eagles expected.

"He's a huge pickup for us," backup quarterback Kevin Kolb said. "I was thrilled when it happened, and I'm even more thrilled now that I've been out there with him."

The Eagles have a history of taking undersized backs and tossing them short passes they can perhaps turn into longer gains. Typical of a West Coast offense, a seven-yard swing pass on first down is as good as a seven-yard run on first down -- and not much more dangerous.

And while Booker won't be a starter in Philly unless something goes terribly wrong, he gives the offense breakaway options out of the backfield.

"Getting a chance in games and showing them that I can handle the pressure and play with the best and not make mistakes was probably the biggest thing that I was able to do for myself last year," Booker told the newspaper. "Now my goal is to show everybody else that I can be a guy you can count on all the time, not just sometimes."

Discuss...

May 29, 2008

A crystal ball look at YOUR Dolphins offense

The torn Achilles tendon that receiver Tab Perry suffered during Miami's most recent minicamp underlined several issues that I want to share with you:

  1. The Dolphins woeful lack of talent at wide receiver just got thinner. When Perry was signed to a one-year contract, former Cincinnati teammate T.J. Whoseyourmamma was disappointed. "That guy is talented," Whoseyourmamma said of Perry. "That's a loss for us." So I initially could see Perry, experienced and quick, giving the Dolphins receiver corps some of the lightning it definitely lacks beyond Ted Ginn. But now Perry is waived/injured and one must assume the team will seek other help at the position.
  2. Speaking of other help at the position: Terry Glenn is not too thrilled with his situation in Dallas because according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram the team has kept him from participating in OTA work unless he signs a $500,000 injury waiver agreement. If Glenn gets hurt and must sit out the season, the team would then owe him much less than his scheduled $1.74 million salary. But Glenn hasn't agreed to sign the waiver. So even though he is apparently healthy, he isn't working and he isn't happy. Can you say trade to the Dolphins? Maybe Glenn and a third-round pick for the Dancer whose name I will not utter? Glenn does, after all, have a long history of playing for Bill Parcells, and the Cowboys almost certainly would love to add the Dancer to a front 7 that is already pretty darn good. [By the way, take the poll below on this issue.]
  3. Don't be fooled by the lack of contact. Throughout the NFL guys are pulling up lame and otherwise being sidelined by offseason camps and OTAs.
  4. Finally, you should take a close look at what the Miami offense promises to be: A gang of bullies. This won't be a quick-strike, down-the-field unit. They will be a bruising running team first and foremost. They will try to go through rather than over defenses. Given the added girth of Justin Smiley and Jake Long up front, the return (everyone hopes) of 232-pound Ronnie Brown and 225-pound Ricky Williams at RB, the addition of 265-pound TE Anthony Fasano and with 270-pound Reagan Mauia at FB, this team will RUN the ball. This will particularly be the strategy against modern defenses that have become smaller and quicker to keep up with passing offenses. So in a time the rest of the NFL wants to throw 65 percent of the time, the Dolphins will field a throwback offense that runs 60-65 percent of the time. The idea is that an offense like this will shorten the game, keep Miami's unproven quarterback from getting exposed, and also cover up for a receiver corps that is short on proven downfield ability. Smashball comes to Miami!
  5. If everything I've written is true, and it is, there is a downside. That is the Dolphins had better hope not to get behind in games. Otherwise the smashball thing becomes a liability more than a dividend.

Take the poll and then add your comments.

May 28, 2008

Another in the endless line of Jason Taylor posts

Sorry to do this to you guys, especially those of you officially numb to the Jason Taylor updates. But in the interest of telling you the latest about the Dolphins most recognizable player, I must pass this along.

Again, I apologize.

Taylor today was in West Des Moines, Iowa, which culturally is about as distant from Los Angeles and South Florida as Mars, to play a round of charity golf. After the event he was asked about his situation with the Dolphins.

"I'm under contract with the Dolphins," he said. "So again, I'm looking forward to playing some golf. Football doesn't start until July and training camp, so I'll be all right. I've been in L.A. and so far removed from it. Like I said, I'll deal with that when I get there."

According to the Associated Press report, Taylor avoided questions about whether he plans to meet with Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells when he gets back. (Remember their last encounter didn't go so well with Parcells ignoring Taylor.)

Taylor said his immediate plans are to work out, play golf and relax at home.

"We'll work with football here in the near future," Taylor said.

Personally, I'm not counting on that. I don't see a resolution to this, this, this relationship until just before the regular season beckons. At that point, some desperate team will trade for Taylor, or Taylor will report so he can get paid, or he'll simply stay away and possibly retire.

My best guess of what eventually happens: He reports.

Don't toss your No. 99 jerseys yet.

Did I tell you I'm sorry? Please forgive me.

May 27, 2008

Can John Beck overcome his rookie struggles?

John Beck has the chance to become the Dolphins starting quarterback as he will compete with Josh McCown for the job. Rookie Chad Henne, in my opinion, won't be a big factor in the race for the starting job early on because he has so much catching up to do.

For Beck, this quarterback competition is an opportunity to erase a bad rookie season. I wrote a column about that in Wednesday's Miami Herald -- it is required reading.

The point of the column, in which Beck discusses his 2007 season, is to draw attention to the fact Beck must do what other capable rookie quarterbacks who suffered terrible seasons apparently couldn't: He must overcome that terrible rookie year.

Other quarterbacks I name in the column were pretty much defined by bad rookie seasons and never really recovered. There is a sense among some NFL people that starting a rookie quarterback is a recipe for ruining a player.

And while there are a couple of rookies who started right away and grew to be outstanding quarterbacks -- Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger come to mind -- it is apparent a majority of quarterback who started as rookies continued to struggle later.

So my questions to you:

Do you think Beck can put last year behind him? Do you think he can learn from his difficult experience without being ruined by it?

Or do you think that what we saw last year is the beginning of a bad nightmare for Beck, and us? Do you think he will fall in line with Joey Harrington and Akili Smith and David Carr, who had troubles as rookie starters and eventually became either gun shy or unsure or simply unable to improve beyond their rookie struggles?

Discuss...

Live chat with Salguero 6-7 p.m. today

In the spirit of not posting another Jason Taylor update, I figured it is time for some good old fashioned back and forth with you guys.

So let's do a live chat.

I will be here this evening from 6-7 and answer any questions and discuss any topics you guys deem worthy. We're doing it at this hour because I am told the blog does some of its biggest traffic around this time. I guess the folks on the east coast are home and the folks on the west coast don't mind surfing this site from work as much as others.

So meet me back here at 6 p.m. If, however, you can't be here then, post a question or comment anytime today and I'll answer at the appointed time. You can check back for your answer afterward.

Also, I will be on 790 The Ticket this afternoon 12-3 so feel free to call me there if you like. The number is 1-888-790-3776. If you're not in South Florida, you can listen on 790theticket.com

May 23, 2008

At least 1 Taylor trade option out there [Update]

The San Diego Chargers have called the Dolphins to show interest in trading for Jason Taylor.

There is no deal that is right-now imminent, but the Chargers are obviously kicking the tires on the possibility of adding a Pro Bowl pass-rusher to twin with Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman.

The Chargers are denying they have interest through sources that are talking to the San Diego Union-Tribune. But I KNOW they have called about Taylor.

The Chargers are aware their championship window of opportunity is closing. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson said as much recently. The team also is very familiar with Taylor because former Dolphins general manager Randy Mueller joined that team as an assistant to general manager A.J. Smith about three weeks ago.

Mueller's two years in Miami gives him a solid foundation of knowledge on Taylor. Mueller respected Taylor as an outstanding pass-rusher, but also knew the player was often times a less than stellar run-stopper.

Anyway, I believe if the Chargers offer a third-round pick for Taylor, Bill Parcells will deal him. The Dolphins, as I reported in my column two days ago, are actively trying to trade Taylor as we speak.

The problem is Taylor plans to play only one more season (for sure) and teams are unwilling to invest such a high pick for a one-year player.

But because San Diego is so close to Los Angeles and the show business jobs Taylor now covets, perhaps he can be convinced to play the two years remaining on his contract while commuting to his acting gigs.

My guess is that if Taylor is traded, he goes for a third-round pick.

One final thing: There has been a lot of media barking that Miami's announcement Taylor is not reporting to training camp diminishes his trade value. This is ridiculous.

If I am a playoff-caliber team interested in Jason Taylor, I know he will report to my training camp. His value is not diminished to me. The teams know that, which is why they're calling. The Dolphins know that, which is why they're taking at least this call. That he won't report to the Dolphins is peripheral noise that one hears but shouldn't listen to.

A team might make that argument in trade talks and it would go something like this:

Interested team: We want to lower the price for getting Taylor because you've said he won't report to your training camp.

Dolphins: No.

Interested team: But, but, you said.

Dolphins: No.

Interested team: He won't report to you.

Dolphins: He'll report once the checks start flowing or he'll retire. Or we'll trade him to you for a second-round pick (Miami's starting point in negotiations) and he'll report.

Interested team: How about a fourth-round pick?

Dolphins: How about a conditional second-rounder based on whether he goes to the Pro Bowl or you go to the Super Bowl?

Interested team: ????

We'll see what happens.

By the way, this is the second posting of the day. Check my post on Wayne Huizenga below. Also, register and leave your comments. And thanks for visiting my blog.

May 22, 2008

How much does Wayne Huizenga really know?

Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga puzzles me.

I know he has a brilliant business mind because he is the only person in America to be responsible for six companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and to have three make the Fortune 500 list. Everything he touches makes money and the Dolphins are no different as his investment in the team will eventually bring him 10 times what he paid.

But ...

The man apparently does not know what is going on with his most recognized company. On Wednesday morning you might have read that Huizenga told my colleague Barry Jackson in an exclusive interview that he would not tell Bill Parcells what to do on the Jason Taylor matter.

No problem. The hands off owner is being, well, hands off.

But Huizenga also said in the article that, "as far as I'm concerned, [Taylor's] happy [here]." He went on to tell Jackson that he's read accounts of Taylor being disgruntled and asking to be traded but simply didn't believe the stories in the press.

To which I respond: Amaaaaazing!

So let's break this down because, frankly, I cannot fathom this stuff. [Huizenga, by the way, will be a chapter in my Dolphins book someday.] On the same day the owner of the Dolphins tells the biggest media outlet that regularly covers the team he believes Taylor is happy in Miami, the head coach holds a press conference to announce Taylor ain't showing up for OTAs, ain't showing up for voluntary and mandatory minicamps and ain't showing up for TRAINING CAMP.

Sound like a happy player to you?

That leaves me only two possible explanations. Either Mr. H was lying stretching the truth when he talked to Jackson or he is simply out of the loop, unaware and uninformed. I don't believe Huizenga said something he didn't believe to be the case.

So I have to conclude that he is just ignorant to some things that are going on, even some significant things such as this.

And that lack of awareness comes despite the fact Huizenga was at the team facility during draft weekend -- while the Dolphins were trying to trade Taylor. It comes despite the fact he visited during the rookie minicamp and had ample opportunity to speak to Bill Parcells or Jeff Ireland or Sparano or anybody else he wanted because he's the friggan' owner.

So what we have here is another example of why the Dolphins got so putrid the past decade. In many respects, their problem started at the top.

An update about this blog: Yesterday was significant in that Dolphins In Depth surpassed 1 million page views for the year. We're at 1,005,543 and the season isn't even here yet. I thank you for visiting. And tell other Dolfans about it.

May 21, 2008

Taylor drama not as bad as I thought it would be

After discussing Wednesday's statement by Tony Sparano about Jason Taylor with representatives for BOTH sides, I asked myself this question: Why don't I get a real job?

No, actually I asked myself, 'What has changed?'

The answer is very little. I wrote a column for Mother Herald about the matter. Read it, dammit! We now know beyond a shadow of doubt that there is a rift between Jason Taylor and the Dolphins. Big deal. Been saying that since March. There's a fracture, people.

The bottom line is the Dolphins, I am told, are actively trying to trade Taylor. Good for the team because it is trying to get more draft picks for next year. Taylor, I am told, is actively seeking roles and opportunities in Hollywood. Good for him. Chances are pretty solid Taylor will not play for the Dolphins in 2008. Great for fans tired of off-field drama.

But that is not absolute. Taylor still has not publicly ripped the Dolphins and the team source that I spoke with about this noted that Taylor "hasn't been a pain at all."

Meanwhile, Miami's announcement -- contrary to the crazy pundits crying that it is a slam and signals the end -- did not publicly rip Taylor. Sparano's statement simply stated a fact the Taylor's camp had made known to the Dolphins.

So this is simply business being played out in the public light. I got (blog writing) no problems with it because, frankly, I expected much, much worse. Notice no one is PUBLICLY ripping the other side. If that happens, then we can say it has gotten ugly. But not until then.

Anyway, what do you think should happen next ...

... One more thought: I am told Taylor paid very careful attention to how Michael Strahan conducted himself last offseason. He was impressed that Strahan didn't have to get beat up in training camp, but still rejoined his team in time to get paid and play the season. And, it should be noted, Strahan's season ended with a Super Bowl trophy.

So missing training camp is not a crisis in Taylor's mind. Fact is, he does not cherish getting beat up for a month facing rookie Jake Long in two-a-days. He would do that for a week or 10 days. But not a month.

The bottom line is this will get resolved. And that resolution -- be it a trade, retirement or Taylor's return to the team -- should happen by the middle to late part of training camp. I predict late August the latest.

Discuss ...

Sparano: Taylor not attending training camp

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano just dropped something of a bombshell although we preall saw coming.

"What I know and I'm glad we know this," Sparano said. "We gotten the information and that's important. I know that Jason is not going to be at any OTAs [Organized Team Activities]. I know that Jason is not going to be at any minicamps. And I know right now Jason is not going to be at training camp.

"Jason is a player under contract with the Miami Dolphins. He knows that. Both parties are well aware of the information. That's all I'm going to say about it. I'm going to talk about our players now."

And that's all he said.

Taylor, through his agent, has requested a trade on several occasions. And the agent, Gary Wichard, has told the Dolphins that Taylor will not report for training camp unless he is traded ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS.

Although Sparano portrayed this like it's somehow new information it really is not.

Taylor's thinking is simple: He wants to play for a winner and he doesn't think the Dolphins are that team. The Dolphins, Taylor believes, are in a rebuilding mode and that doesn't fit his agenda, which at 33 years old, is to win a championship.

So Taylor ain't showing. He wants out. And he wants out now. He wants to play football, just not for the Dolphins.

As I've been stating to a chorus of accusations that I sensationalize, the situation promises to get uglier later. Not yet, though.

If Taylor isn't traded before the season in September, don't be surprised if he threatens to retire.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, can't really do anything about this matter right now other than continue efforts to trade him. So far Taylor has missed only voluntary workouts. Starting with the June 6-8 mandatory minicamp, Taylor becomes subject to team fines.

And the team will fine Taylor for every day he misses in training camp and grow angrier that such a distraction is threatening to overshadow the building of a team. And knowing the antagonists involved, don't be surprised if it gets personal when folks become frustrated enough to start speaking on the issue publicly.

What was once a win-win situation is now looking like something else.

If the Dolphins had done the logical thing and traded Taylor for a draft pick or picks around draft time, they would have added ammunition for building their team. Taylor, meanwhile, would have been happy to thank the team for 11 wonderful seasons and gone on to trying to win a championship for himself and new team.

But the Dolphins put a ridiculous asking price on Taylor (a first round pick) that no one was willing to pay. So of course, no one made a trade offer. So Taylor is still on the team, but he is not going to be at training camp, at least not at the start.

Update from Wednesday OTA practice

Here are some nuggets from today's OTA practice, hot off the presses:

The biggest news is that John Beck is taking most of the first-team snaps at quarterback. But that's just today. It does not mean he's the starting quarterback -- remember there will be a competition -- because he and Josh McCown are splitting days taking first-team snaps.

In other words, Beck took first team snaps today, McCown will tomorrow, Beck will Friday and so on. Rookie Chad Henne, who is present despite being unsigned, doesn't know the offense well enough yet to get thrown in with starters.

"This way is better than going back and forth," McCown said of splitting first-team snaps day to day. "It's better for continuity."

Running back Ronnie Brown was on the field and working. Good news considering he is recovering from ACL surgery. But don't go overboard here. A non-contact practice in shorts and no pads is not an indication Brown is ready for the season opener. But this is encouraging.

Safety Yeremiah Bell, injured all of last year with an Achilles' tendon tear, is indeed working, and as a starter no less. So he is obviously healthy. Jason Allen is also taking first-team snaps.

Another player injured much of last year -- cornerback Andre Goodman -- is working with the starters ahead of Mike Lehan, who was the starter most of last year

Justin Smiley is working at right guard which leaves something of a hole at left guard. Look for Ikechuku Ndukwe as a dark horse at that spot -- at least for now. Obviously, Trey Darilek and rookie Shawn Murphy are possibilities, also.

The Dolphins are making the most of their linebacker acquisitions. Reggie Torbor, Charlie Anderson, and Akin Ayodele are all looking like starters at this point. Obviously that doesn't account for Jason Taylor not being here. That starting group is also joined by holdover Joey Porter.

Porter is still playing the strong side linebacker spot. Anderson is the weakside, or rush linebacker that Taylor would play if he were here.

Torbor (Giants) and Anderson (Houston) were acquired as unrestricted free agents. Ayodele came in a trade with Dallas.

Players predictably played down Taylor's absence today.

"It doesn't matter to me that he's not here," Porter said. "I'm not concerned about Jason. He'll be here eventually and he'll learn everything he needs to learn."

The Dolphins have injuries they are nursing. The most disappointing is nose tackle Paul Soliai who was practicing at the end of last year but has somehow found a way to be not able to work today. Will try and report his injury later.

Other injured players sitting out work today are safety Renaldo Hill, tight end Anthony Fasano, and guard Steve McKinney. Linebacker Channing Crowder, who finished last season on IR after knee surgery, was on the field but was limited. That's why he wasn't in with the starting linebackers when they competed in team drills.

Things to look for out of today's OTA reveal

The Dolphins today will unveil their entire team -- minus Jason Taylor, of course -- to the media for the first time this offseason, and some issues bear noting.

Some guys that only a year ago seemed assured of long futures with the Dolphins are, shall we say, fighting for their lives. Before actually seeing today's organized team activity or whatever they call this stuff, I am pretty comfortable telling you this much:

1. Jason Allen, who finished last season as a starter, hasn't been running with starters during the early days of OTA practices. He will get first-team snaps, but he is definitely in a battle to keep the job he held last year. He is locked in a battle to keep his spot against the likes of Renaldo Hill and Chris Crocker and even Keith Davis.

At the other safetey, Yeremiah Bell apparently has been moving quite nicely while recovering from his Achilles' tendon tear in the 2007 season-opener. While perhaps not 100 percent yet, he's very, very close. And coaches like him enough that he is projected a starter.

Hill, recovering from an ACL tear, is also working his way back and should be ready for work by training camp. And Crocker and Davis are Ireland/Parcells/Sparano additions so they have a built-in advantage over Allen. The point is Jason Allen, who was starting to look like something other than a bust at the end of last year, is fighting to keep from being that again.

2. Matt Roth, a second-round pick of Nick Saban in 2005, is going to have to impress during the coming minicamps and into training camp and the preseason to keep his roster spot. That after he started nine games last year.

Roth sucked was something of a disappointment as a starter last year and doesn't seem really suited for the 3-4 because he's neither super big, nor super strong, nor super quick. He's really more a 4-3 end -- except the Dolphins aren't running a 4-3 most of the time. So the pressure is on.

3. I am assuming here, but I think you'll hear today that Josh McCown is taking a majority of the first-team snaps with John Beck taking the second-team snaps and rookie Chad Henne starting out with the third team snaps. It is the logical order, if Salguero is coaching the team.

If this is not the order, it should be news because it means Beck or Henne, two youngsters have caught the staff's attention while McCown, the veteran, hasn't translated his experience to an early advantage. Whatever the case today, eventually McCown and Beck will share first-team snaps and playing time in the preseason as coaches stoke the QB competition.

4. It should be interesting to see what the tight end rotation is. And one question to Bill Parcells: Why isn't Kyle Brady on this team?

5. If you read stories of Ronnie Brown continuing to look really good and even taking snaps in the coming camps, don't pay much attention. The fact is his real test will not come until the regular season. It is not too difficult to hide a knee injury in the preseason. Remember Daunte Culpepper? But the rigors of actually getting hit in full contact work throughout an 18-carry game is a whole different story than training camp or even moderate preseason work.

And that won't happen until the games count for real. So hold your breath because the early returns may not be indicative of reality.

Anyway, I'll be blogging live during Wednesday's practice. Oh, no I won't. The Dolphins don't want anyone doing that because it might upset their competitive advantage. Never mind that the Giants allow their media to blog live from practice and it didn't seem to affect their competitive advantage too much.

I will, however, provide a post-practice update. God willing.

May 20, 2008

Dolphins deal for Jake Long looking good

So maybe the Dolphins got something of a bargain on Jake Long after all.

Even though Long is the highest-paid player on the Dolphins, even though he is the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL, he isn't the highest-paid rookie coming out of this year's class.

That would be Matt Ryan today.

Ryan, via his agent Tom Condon, has agreed today to a six-year deal worth $72 million. The deal includes $34.75 million in guaranteed money. So let's do the math.

Long, drafted first overall, signed a five-year deal worth $57.75 million. He is getting an average of $11.55 million per year on his deal. Ryan, drafted third overall, is getting $12 million per year on his deal.

Granted Ryan is tied up for one more year and he is, after all, a quarterback so he is supposed to make more money. But I would remind you tying up a rookie for one extra year is a good thing -- for salary cap purposes -- only if he turns out to be a good player.

So on this one the Dolphins done good.

[This is, by the way, the third post of the day on this blog. Visit the other two posts on the owner's opting out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, of course, the seemingly second by second updates on Jason Taylor. I hear he just got his car waxed. Details now available.]

Taylor to miss this weekend's minicamp

The Dolphins will hold a "voluntary" and "private" minicamp for veterans and rookies Friday through Sunday.

That means everyone is invited to attend except the media and fans.

Jason Taylor, for one, is already on record saying he will not attend. He wrote in his ESPN The Magazine blog today that he was scheduled to be in Los Angeles that day. "Got some things to do there," he wrote.

Taylor is expected to participate in the "mandatory" minicamp June 6-8. What a zoo that should be.

I am not going to get into Taylor's line of reasoning for missing this minicamp. If you want to know, go to the blog yourself. I am also not going to tell you MY opinion other than these two things:

Taylor says in the blog entry he is a lead-by-example guy. What example does he think he is setting right now?

Secondly, every party in this saga is disingenuous. No one has had the guts fortitude to say what they really feel for fear of looking bad or hurting their public image.

Anyway, you debate amongst yourselves.

The issues:

  1. Dancing with the Stars is over, why the heck isn't he back to WORK?
  2. It's a voluntary camp, he doesn't have to show up.
  3. He's supposed to be learning a new defense and isn't, which hurts the team.
  4. He's learned new defenses several times the past three years so he'll catch on just fine with this one.

Discuss ...

[I am offering several items today because, well, I'm working harder than usual today. The items are also shorter than usual for quick reading. So please check out the item about the NFL labor situation which will turn 2010 into something of a free-for-all.]

2010: No salary cap, free agency for 6-year guys

I hear a lot of guys tell me the Dolphins should be good by 2010 or 2011. Wouldn't you know something may happen to derail those fanciful championship seasons.

NFL owners voted this morning to terminate the current Collective Bargaining Agreement two years early. The unanimous vote (that's 32-0) means a league that has had labor peace since 1993 is headed for problems interesting times starting in the 2010 season.

The owners' decision means if there is no new CBA negotiated before March 2009, the 2010 season will have no salary cap. There will be, however, some limits on free agency. Free agency will be limited to players with six years experience rather than four as is the current setup.

So $160 million payrolls? It will be possible.

And -- it gets better -- if no new CBA is negotiated, players could be locked out before the 2011 season. Owners would have a choice between a work stoppage or replacement games. So much for Miami's Super Bowl title that year. Anything could happen then.

The primary reason owners opted out today is they are unhappy with the current CBA which grants players 59 percent of all league revenues. In other words, 59 cents of every dollar the NFL makes goes to players. Given rising costs and a bad economy, owners say there is less ability to successfully reinvest in the game.

For high value teams such as the Jets, Giants and Dallas Cowboys, that means the desire to build a stadium carries high bond rates and thus more debt. Once those teams realized they carry more debt without the players making any greater sacrifices, the deal became unpalatable.

"There are substantial element of the deal that simply are not working," said a release from the NFL. "For example, as interpreted by the courts, the current CBA effectively prohibits the clubs from recouping bonuses paid to players who subsequently breach their player contracts or refuse to perform. That is simply irrational and unfair to both fans and players who honor their contracts."

Owners also want a rookie cap that limits the pay of rookies who have never played a down in the league. FYI: Jake Long is the NFL's highest paid offensive lineman this year. Owners want that sort of thing to stop because it is a bad investment formula.

The NFL Players Association was expecting owners to opt out. Union president Gene Upshaw has been meeting with players, urging them to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. That includes a lockout for 2011.

Upshaw will conduct a press conference on this matter later today to answer the owners' actions. But at a presser during the Super Bowl, he drew the line that will cause friction in the coming negotiations. He said, flat out, that players were not backing down from the 59 percent deal.

"We're not giving money back," he said.

What a country!

[This will be one of several offerings today. In an effort to serve you better, I'm going to write several shorter items on some days rather than one long item. After checking out this item, take a look at the new Jason Taylor item as well.]

May 19, 2008

Taylor-Parcells not talking bother you? [Updated]

Everybody's talking about the Jason Taylor Sunday Conversation on ESPN last night.

Everybody's talking about JT's desire to be known more for acting than football 10 years from now when he's 43 years old.

Everybody's talking about him saying he's in "five times better shape now than when I was defensive player of the year."

Everybody's talking except for Jason Taylor and Bill Parcells.

Am I the only one that finds this odd, bizarre, weird, out of the ordinary and otherwise strange? Bill Parcells sits down and has lunch with Ricky Williams, talks to much less gifted players on the team, seemingly meets with Jeff Ireland every five minutes, but since taking over as the Dolphins football czar he and Jason Taylor have talked all of 30 seconds?

I wrote about that 30-second communication in a column I wrote in late April. Taylor confirmed that communication (or lack of it) during his Sunday conversation. "I haven't talked to him so I really don't know him," Taylor said of Parcells. "I met him, obviously, for 30 seconds ... But I don't know him."

So let me try to work this out in my mind: The best player on the Dolphins and the man redirecting the Dolphins future have crossed paths for all of 30 seconds since DECEMBER when Parcells was hired. Does that not seem strange to anyone but me?

The one and only meeting between these two men includes the time, which I also detailed in that linked column, in which Taylor tried to visit with Parcells and was rebuffed.

This sounds like a junior high relationship for goodness sake.

Why hasn't Bill Parcells picked up the phone and called Jason Taylor? Why hasn't Taylor picked up the phone and called Parcells? They have some things to iron out, don't you think?

If, indeed, Parcells intends to hold Taylor to the Dolphins as he has said, it kind of makes sense to have communication with the guy. If, indeed, Taylor plans to play for the Dolphins in 2008 as he has said publicly, it kind of makes sense to keep trying to communicate with Parcells even if The Big Tuna continues to give him the Big Brush Off.

So why the chill?

Do I have to spell it out for you?

Behind the scenes this is a fractured relationship and, as I have written on this blog and in my columns, Taylor doesn't want to play for the Dolphins in 2008. He wants to be traded to a playoff team. His agent has called Parcells and Ireland and even owner Wayne Huizenga various times to tell them that.

A lot of you have criticized me for reporting this because you call it gossip. That's because you said I could point to no public quote in which either party claimed any sort of rift. Well, when the team's best player goes on ESPN and admits he doesn't speak with the guy who is running the team, I believe the gossip is looking a lot like fact.

One more thing: Don't tell me everything is fine because JT and coach Tony Sparano have been exchanging text messages. How many of you would feel comfortable getting kudos from your immediate boss while knowing HIS BOSS is angry at you?

Anyway, I've added a poll to allow you to give further opinion. Take the poll and I'll give you indepth results not available in the percentages later.

Discuss...

[Evening update: It is 7:30 which is 6 1/2 hours since I posted the poll. To this point 838 people have taken the poll which means approximately 128 people every hour are taking the poll. Most of the people taking the poll are from Florida, as one might expect, but there is a ton of people from California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hamphire, Vermont, Maryland, New Jersey, Mississippi, Louisiana and the Atlantic states taking the poll.

Interestingly, no one from Wyoming or Oregon or North Dakota has taken the poll. Guess there are very few Dolfans there. Internationally, folks from Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Candadian friends in Quebec, Ottawa, Prince Edward Island, Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver have taken the poll.

On the other side of the great oceans, there is so far one participant from South Korea, one in Israel, Poland, and Serbia. There is one participant in The Netherlands. There were multiple participants from the United Kingdom and Germany. There is one participant in Malaysia and several in Australia.

I tell you this because I find it interesting to what degree Dolphins fans will go to find information about their teams -- regardless of how far from South Florida they are. I commend you. In the future, I will continue to give you insights about the polls on this blog. And, by the way, since I started writing this update, 24 votes have been cast bringing the total to 862 and adding Bermuda to the participating countries.]

May 17, 2008

Ferguson may make Samson Satele better

I talked to Jason Ferguson late this week and related his thoughts about how good the Dolphins may or may not be in a column I wrote for The Herald's print and online editions.

Regardless of how you feel about Ferguson's view of the Dolphins -- he believes they can be pretty good in 2008 -- there can be no denying his presence on the team will affect the offensive line as well as the defensive line.

Ferguson, you see, will be practicing every day opposite second-year center Samson Satele and the hope is he can help the young offensive player improve just as he helped Kevin Mawae (with the Jets) and Andre Gurode (with Dallas) become better players.

Both have been Pro Bowl performers, by the way.

"The last two teams I played with, I faced the best two centers in the league," Ferguson told me. "That was Kevin Mawae when I was with the Jets and Andre Gurode with the Cowboys. When you go against Pro Bowlers every day in practice, it made me better. And I think I helped make them better."

Ferguson says he and Satele should become close -- just as he did with the other two centers -- because it suits everyone's best interest as well as the team's.

"You become one of the guy's best friends because you go and check with him every day and ask questions that help each other," Ferguson said. "You say, 'What about my technique? How was it then?' And they ask me the same about themselves. That's what I expect from the young guy here.

"I think he's a good worker. He's a good, athletic kid. When I watch him, I say, 'Hey, he's not going to sit there and just take it.' You don't want no offensive lineman taking it."

Although I've talked to Ferguson only once, I like him already. He promises to improve the run defense, and his attitude is wonderful.

Example: I asked him how he did in his practice work against Mawae and Gurode: "You don't go in thinking I'll win this one and he'll win that one. I want to win nine out of 10."

May 15, 2008

HBO shines light on Patriots' shadowy cheating

Everybody knows the Patriots cheated right? Everyone knows they cheated from 2000 until September of 2007. Everyone now knows this, no matter how badly the NFL and its media sycophants want the scandal to go away.

But most of us have lives to worry about, so we've probably been believing what we've heard on the periphery of Matt Walsh's allegations concerning Spygate. Friday night is your opportunity to hear, no holds barred, right from the videographer's mouth, exactly how he helped Bill go from Belichick to Belicheat.

HBO will air an exclusive sit-down interview with Walsh on Real Sports from 8-9 p.m. My friend Andrea Kremer conducts what is, in my opinion, a thorough and candid interview with the man who worked for New England for several years, basically taping opponents' offensive and defensive signals against NFL rules.

By the way, I am doing my radio show from 10-noon on 790 The Ticket Friday. Kremer will be a guest on my show so tune in. If you are in South Florida it is 790 on your AM dial. If you are everywhere else, you can listen online at 790theticket.com.

[Afternoon update: Andrea came on the show and one of the more interesting things she added is that after interviewing Walsh, she called a couple of former Patriots players that she has developed a trust with. They told her they knew of the taping and that it was a benefit to the team. She said that verified for her that Walsh is not simply fabricating this stuff.]

Anyway, in the interview, Walsh tells Kremer the practice began in 2000 in a game against Tampa Bay and then extended to games against division opponents -- namely the Dolphins, Jets and Bills. Then, it became so successful, they did it against practically everybody.

And Walsh says it was a huge advantage, particularly for the New England offense, which started running no-huddle at odd times to maximize knowing the other team's defensive signals.

“They’d know exactly which play to call, that was, uh, there are certainly a number of plays to call that would be of greatest benefit to a particular defense," Walsh said. "Seeing how the blitz is coming from one particular side, if you know the coverage is gonna roll into a certain area, you’re aware of vacant areas on the field, and then, you run a play to that area, you stack numbers to that area. You know, it’s gonna give you a benefit.

"So when Belichick talks about the minimal impact of this .. what bothers you about that?" Kremer asks.

"All I know is the success rate that it had for the first game against Tampa Bay, and all I know is that it was something they continued to have me do throughout the two years I worked in video, under coach Cheater Belichick," Walsh answered. "If it was of little or no importance, I imagine they wouldn't have continued to do it, and probably not taken the chances of going down on the field in Pittsburgh or shooting from other teams' stadiums the way we did."

Walsh, interestingly, says that even as his team was CHEATING, he suspected one other team that played the Patriots of CHEATING, also. He infers that team was in the AFC East. He says he reported this suspicion to commissioner Roger Goodell when the two met earlier this week.

"There was only one other time that I ever suspected another team of possibly shooting our signals," Walsh said. "Both of us were shooting together on the roof of the old Foxboro Stadium. I was filming their defensive signals, and I would look over when we were on defense, and I'd see him panning over to our sideline, and then going back to the field, panning over and going back. I didn't say anything to him because I was doing the same thing. But after the game I went into our defensive coach's office, talked with Romeo Crennel, there were a couple of coaches in there at the time, but I said to Romeo, 'The team we just played was doing to us what we do to them. So, the next time we play them, we might want to change up our defensive signals a little bit.' "

And this is one of the many things that stink about this cheating scandal. Not only does it rightly impugn the guilty Patriots, but now there is a shadow of guilt present over other teams that played the Patriots more than once in a year.

Goodell knows the name of that team because Walsh said he told him.

Discuss...

May 14, 2008

Ricky Williams to play three more seasons

Ricky_2 Ricky Williams, fresh off turning down an interview request with a Herald colleague earlier this week, traveled to Austin, Texas Wednesday for a golf tournament featuring a bunch of Longhorns.

At that event Williams talked to the local newspaper and a couple of local television stations and, in so doing, let everyone in on a little secret: He's playing three more seasons and he's outta here.

Williams apparently plans to play out his current contract which expires after this season, play two more years after that, then hit the road.

"All professional athletes have to come face to face one day with their professional mortality and finding a way to cope with it," Williams told News 8 Austin. "I've managed that. I have a couple or three more years of football left in me and then I'll go off and explore the world after that."

Alrightie then.

Williams will be 31 years old next week -- well into declining age for most NFL running backs -- and it has been a decade since he won the Heisman Trophy. So it could be argued Williams may not have two whole seasons left in him.

But the truth is he carried only six times last year before being injured in his one and only game and he didn't play at all in 2006. So Williams has put very few miles on his legs the last couple of years.

You might remember Williams was suspended after the 2005 season. Certainly Earl Campbell, the dean of Longhorn backs, remembers Williams had problems. But Big Earl believes Williams is over his penchant for flunking drug tests.

"People have problems in life and they get straight," Campbell said at the golf tourney. "[Ricky] got straight ..."

Regardless of whether Williams sees his retirement on the horizon, it is clear the Dolphins have plans for him in 2008. The team hopes to split carries between Williams and Ronnie Brown. But based on the fact Brown is coming off ACL surgery, Williams may actually have to step up as the workhorse early in the season until Brown gets completely comfortable.

Discuss...

May 13, 2008

Taylor advancing on Dancing good or bad?

Jason Taylor just advanced to the Dancing with the Stars finals.

I admit it. I watch.

So does the rest of the world, apparently. Taylor was just on the cover of TV Guide (Didn't realize that was still around). He also is said to have met with Denzel Washington and some executive muckety muck at 20th Century Fox that told him he should be in pictures.

I want Taylor to win Dancing because, at least for now, he represents South Florida and I'm for South Florida through and through. But although it is good that Taylor goes on to next week's finals, it is also true another week of Taylor on Dancing means another week he's not in the Dolphins conditioning program.

You know how I feel about the importance of offseason conditioning. I also think players make huge salaries and owe their teams and themselves the best opportunity to play well during the season by getting as strong and as finely conditioned as possible during the offseason.

But I'm wondering what you think. Maybe you guys don't think it's a big deal Taylor has missed seven weeks of the program so far so that he could be on, well, the other program. And maybe you don't care if he misses the whole darn thing. So here's your chance to voice your opinion.

Tell me when Jason Taylor should rejoin the Dolphins for conditioning work. Tell me if you think he should join the program at all. Tell me if you believe it is no biggie. Also, take the poll below. I just learned how to configure it so make me happy and cooperate.