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29 posts from July 2008

July 31, 2008

Murphy, Beck struggle at Thurs. practice

One player, it seemed to these eyes, had a tougher time during practice Thursday than John Beck.

That was rookie guard Shawn Murphy.

The Dolphins just finished almost 2 1/2 hours of work and this should tell you all you need to know about the struggles of the offense: At one point offensive line coach Mike Maser, quickly becoming one of my favorites, yelled, "WTF is going on with you," to center Matt Spanos.

A little while later, tight end coach George DeLeone angrily yelled, "What are we doing out there?"

Well, what Murphy was doing was getting a hard-learned lesson in NFL offensive line play from Vonnie Holliday. Getting a chance to work with the first unit at left guard, Murphy gave up sacks to Holliday on consecutive plays. He also yielded a couple of pressures before getting a tiny bit better later in the practice.

It was hard to figure out if Murphy was truly improving or Holliday was holding back a bit. Welcome to the NFL, rook.

One rookie who had a pretty productive practice was Chad Henne. He had a sweet pass to tight end Anthony Fasano despite tight coverage. He also had a string in which he completed passes to David Martin, Ted Ginn Jr., Davone Bess and Sean Ryan. Good stuff.

By contrast, John Beck had a tough day. Again. He had a ball batted early in the practice. He was 0-for-4 in another team portion, although one of those was dropped by Greg Camarillo, and he generally looked out of sorts. Camarillo dropped a couple of passes today.

The good?

Derek Hagan continues to be the most impressive and productive receiver on the field.

Quentin Moses had a sack and a couple of pressures.

Holliday, after a productive afternoon, didn't seem to be sweating all that hard after the drills. He looks like a beast right now. The offseason program definitely has helped him.

The kickers?

Punter Brandon Fields had a 74-yard punt and few kicks later followed with a 55-yarder.

In the field goal battle, Jay Feely connected on 2-of-3, missing the 44-yarder. Rookie Dan Carpenter connected on 1-of-3, missing from 36 and 41 yards but hitting from 44.

One guy that seriously has to improve on special teams is rookie Selwyn Lymon who got destroyed as a gunner on punts by the blocking ends. He got only 1 yard off the line of scrimmage before being taken to the ground. Then one of the guys basically sat on him.

Not good for a rookie who must shine on teams if he's going to make the team.

By the way, Davone Bess looked good catching punts and was generally efficient in team drills. Jayson Foster dropped a punt despite a two-minute tutorial from Bill Parcells in the middle of the field.

Sparano confirms Carter; Live chat now

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has just confirmed Quincy Carter is in town and will have a tryout with the Dolphins.

Although the coach said he doesn't think the team needs an additional arm right now, he said this is part of Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells doing their "due diligence." It frankly feels like part courtesy to Carter and part investigation that will not necessarily lead to his signing.

So don't go crazy that this is awful unless and until the Dolphins sign the guy. Hopefully they will not because it is very weird.

Sparano also talked about the scrimmage the team is having during Saturday's evening practice.

"We'll have goods on goods," he said, meaning the first teamers will compete against each other while the second teamers will go against each other. It will be a game atmosphere complete with coach-to-helmet communication.


July 30, 2008

Live blog chat Thursday 1-2 p.m.

As I have hinted in previous posts, I am not a big fan of the Terry Glenn adventure the Dolphins are seriously considering.

I know I'll probably be alone on the subject because many fans would add Satan to their team if they thought he could help, but I just don't see how a guy who is likely to get hurt would be much help -- I've seen enough Trent Green and David Boston experiments -- to color my opinion.

Anyway, I wrote a column on the subject that is required reading if you want to go to the next step on this blog. And what is that next step, you ask?

Thursday between 1 and 2 p.m. I will be on here, at your beck and call disposal, to discuss the Dolphins in a live chat. At that point we can discuss the pros and cons of acquiring Glenn, the improvement of the offense, the quarterback situation including rumors Quincy Carter is on the way (another mistake) and just about any other issues you might want to discuss.

So go ahead and blow off work from 1-2 p.m., be a corporate time-stealing weasel as former Dolphins tight end Jim Mandich likes to call folks who do sports talk on the net while at work, and get on here.

Of course, if you can't be on here live, leave your questions when you can and I'll answer them best I can. But if you want to discuss and argue, live is the best way to do it.

Ted Ginn all for Glenn acquisition, other stuff ...

Ted Ginn Jr. kind of likes the idea of adding Terry Glenn to Miami's receiver corps.

I kind of hate it but that's another story.

"I don't think it's a bad idea," Ginn said after today's second practice. "It's going to be great. It would be great to have two or three coaches in the [meeting] room and that's what it would be like with his experience."

Meanwhile, quarterback Josh McCown is monitoring the Brett Favre situation because his brother Luke is one of 34,245 quarterbacks on the Bucs' roster. "That's a tough situation," Josh said.

I suggested to him it could be worse because the Dolphins could be interested (they are not). "Yeah that would be bad," he admitted. "But at least I would get a lot of money for No. 4."

This afternoon's practice was interesting in that the receivers who have been getting ripped on lately seemed to improve dramatically. Rookie quarterback Chad Henne was also pretty good.

Derek Hagan had a couple of fine plays in which he not only caught the ball, but had considerable separation from the defender on deep sideline patterns. Jayson Foster also did some good work in the middle of the field.

The running backs are quickly becoming the exclamation point of the offense. Ronnie Brown is showing absolutely no ill effects from his knee surgery. He is taking every repetition. He is running hard. He isn't wearing a knee brace. Excellent so far.

Ricky Williams is looking quicker than he did in the offseason. On one breakaway run this afternoon, he got outside and into the secondary and safety Jason Allen, who runs a 4.4, had to seriously scoot and use the angle advantage he had to only pull even with Williams.

Then there's rookie Jalen Parmele. He runs a little high, which coach Tony Sparano said the coaches are trying to address, but every practice he flashes at least one play in which he shows surprising burst and quickness.

Anyway, Justin Peelle, Darren Heerspink, Michael Lehan, and Steve McKinney did not practice this afternoon. The team worked in the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble because it had rained earlier in the afternoon.

Receivers situation intrigues, other stuff ...

The Dolphins have made a roster move this morning. No, not the addition of Terry Glenn.

The team cut the guy with the roster's best name: Scorpio Babers. The team signed cornerback Chris Roberson, who last played in the NFL with the Jaguars in 2005.


Very interesting situation when you really think about it. It is outgrowth of the receiver problem the Dolphins have. And that affects the quarterback position. It affects the salary cap. It is big!

I have this morning been able to independently confirm Glenn is likely to sign with the Dolphins within the couple of weeks if his health holds up. That is not a certainty. There are also a couple of sticking points -- such as Glenn passing a physical and getting some personal issues ironed out -- that are yet to be resolved. So to say this is absolutely a done deal is wrong. It is likely but not certain.

But I'm back now and will work on this and the greater receivers topic all day long. Check back in about an hour for the morning practice update.

At the start of practice today tight ends Justin Peelle (knee sprain) and Aaron Halterman (back) and Darren Heerspink (sprained knee) were on the bikes and not practicing. They are day-to-day according to Tony Sparano.

Cornerback Michael Lehan was on the field but still not taking part in drills. He's a week or so away.

Post practice update:

Not exactly an inspiring two hours. Let me put it this way: It could be said punter Brandon Fields had the best practice of anyone on the field.

During special teams drills he kicked four attempts inside the 5 yard line. He kicked one that landed at the 1 yard line and then bounded parallel to the goal line before going out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Great job by him.

The rest of the work was typical of what the first couple of days of practice were like: I saw more dropped passes than a professional team has the right to make -- David Kircus, Ted Ginn and Reagan Mauia stood out in that regard.

And the receivers simply didn't get very much separation from the DBs.

Will Allen seemed to stick to his receivers like he was part of their uniform.

The team drills included some blitzes by the defense. Rookie left guard Donald Thomas blew an assignment and allowed Joey Porter to come untouched on one play.

Chad Henne was "down" for the morning practice, meaning Josh McCown and John Beck got the work in team drills. McCown looked better than Beck although neither was stellar. Let me make this point for perspective: This Miami offense seems to throw more checkdown passes than any I've ever seen.

And while that is good in that it is a safe pass and it does gain four or five yards, it does not bode of an explosive down-the-field unit. And there can be no excuse that we saw so many checkdowns because that was the plan. It is impossible, you see, that the team would make the checkdown the plan in practice after practice after practice.


July 27, 2008

Not a great time for the offense in Sunday's drills

It was so bad that at one point I saw Dolphins offensive line coach Mike Maser simply put his hands on his knees, drop his head and shake it in disgust. That is the snapshot that best describes the performance the Miami offense had during Sunday's practice.

How ugly was it?

John Beck threw three interceptions, including two on consecutive passes. Chad Henne had one interception. Before the end of the practice, all the defensive backs seemed to be smelling blood and they were all jumping routes.

Henne and running back Ronnie Brown didn't get synched up on a handoff and a fumble ensued.

The most effective passing play of the day was the checkdown pass to a running back, either Brown or Ricky Williams.

The defensive linemen generally won their matchups against the offensive linemen. Maser yelled at first-round pick Jake Long once for missing his blocking assignment. And on the next snap, Charlie Anderson beat Long for a sack.

Rookie guard Shawn Murphy also incurred Maser's wrath on a couple of snaps.

The only good things about the day. At least the defense improved. And at least it was only the second day of practice so the offense has time yet to improve.

"If a quarterback had a perfect day every day, we'd all be in the Hall of Fame," Beck said.

Amazingly, at one point Beck said, "As a team we got better today." I assume he was talking about the defense.

On the bright side:

The field goal kicking duel is going well: Incumbent Jay Feely easily connected on his three attempts from 32, 38 and 42 yards. Rookie Dan Carpenter matched him, also going 3-for-3.

The interceptions went to Renaldo Hill off Henne, and Jason Allen and Nathan Jones and Will Allen off Beck.

Brown did run hard and looked good on rushing plays. Jalen Parmale had the most dynamic run, juking everyone in the hole and breaking off what would have been a TD on a run up the middle.

Long did have moments when he shined. He managed a stalemate with Vonnie Holliday in one one-on-one drill and beat Phillip Merling on another.

Sunday press conference with Tony Sparano

Coach Tony Sparano just got done speaking to the media. The highlights:

The coach explained that veteran guard Steve McKinney didn't practice Saturday afternoon because that is how the team will bring him along as he continues to recover from his knee surgery. He will practice in the daily practices when the team has only one session. But on days the team is doing two sessions, he will workout only the morning.

"He was the furtherest away, the most recent knee injury if you will, that we had," Sparano said. "He was cleared but his progression was a little bit slower. He'll rehab in the afternoon and practice in the morning. He'll practice again today."

A couple of you took exception to me dismissing newly signed receiver Anthony Armstrong as the answer to Miami's receiver issues. Okay, here's what Sparano said about the kid today. I love Anthony Armstrong. He rocks! He is the next coming of Randy Moss!

"The one thing we knew with Anthony is he can run," Sparano said, dismissing the notion the kid uses a walker. "He really can run. So when we had the opportunity and, we're looking for speed, we had the opportunity to bring in a guy with speed and we took a shot on him, brought him in, worked him out, and signed him."

A star is born!

In all seriousness, I think Armstrong is much improved following his Arena League stint as his hands are better than they used to be. But he has to work on the route-running. The speed, as you might guess, is pretty good.

It is interesting that no one really wrote about the first round pick on the first day of camp. That's a good thing because it means Jake Long did not make any disastrous mistake nor embarrass himself.

Sparano on what surprises him about Long so far:

"What surprised me just a little with Jake, I knew his run-blocking ability," Sparano said. "I think we all did. And I knew he could play left tackle. But his feet are really, really good. When he gets out in space, these are the things he does well. He can adjust in space in the second level and those things. If you can find linemen that can play at the second level, it sounds easy, but it's not the case. The second level is not the comfort zone for linemen. When you can find ones that can play at the second level, that will help your team."

Sparano said he was pleased with rookie QB Chad Henne in his first practice, Saturday afternoon after he missed the morning drills. "I was pleased with him yesterday," Sparano said. "...He did a pretty nice job with the practice schedule."

Henne had to review what he missed from the first practice and did that last night. Sparano said John Beck and Henne will get the work today (up) while Josh McCown does not (down).

The tight end job intrigues, not just in the search for a starter but the search for roster spots.

It should concern David Martin that the coaching staff is "getting to know," him according to Sparano while he says they are very familiar with Anthony Fasano, Sean Ryan, and Justin Peelle. Martin? Not so much.

Finally, if you guys live in South Florida and are among the throngs of folks that get one of the three local papers, you probably saw the full-page ad Jason Taylor took out to thank the fans.

Taylor thanked the folks in The Miami Herald, which circulates in Miami-Dade and Broward, and thanked the folks in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which circulates primarily in Broward. He did not put an ad in The Palm Beach Post, the paper that dominates in Palm Beach County.

July 26, 2008

Notes from Saturday's afternoon practice

First full day of camp is over and here is what is going on:

Chad Henne joined the work after signing a four-year deal and was OK during the practice. He had one embarrassing moment when he reared back to throw a pass and it slipped from his hand and popped in the air. Oh well.

Henne will get the first team snaps Sunday and he believes he will have a fair shot to win the starting job. "Coach [Tony] Sparano expressed it will be an equal competition and I believe him," Henne said.

The Dolphins are using two quarterbacks taking team periods during a particular practice with the third quarterback taking no repetitions in those drills. All the QBs will work in the 7-on-7 and individual drills. The idea is to give QBs more repetitions in the team period and see if they have some continuity with the other players.

John Beck was "down" in today's afternoon practice, meaning he got no repetitions in the team period. Sunday, Josh McCown will be "down," while Beck and Henne work.

McCown, by the way, admitted his little run-in with a chainsaw was, "probably a poor decision looking back at it," but saw a positive in the experience in that the finger is "still on."

In other matters:

Guard Steve McKinney did not practice after working in the morning drills. Porter, on the non-football injury list rather than the PUP list that Sparano announced earlier, said his injury is no big deal.

"If I really had to play today, I could," he said. "We're just being smart with it."

Porter said he was working out on his own covering passes when he "rolled" the left ankle. "When it's time to go, I'll be ready to go," he said.

The Dolphins, by the way, waived tackle Julius Wilson and signed guard Rueben Riley before the afternoon practice. Wilson reported out of shape and that is a bad deal if you're a proven vet and a capital offense for unproven players like Wilson.

Check back Sunday around noon for the next update.

Henne signs, will practice this afternoon

Chad Henne has signed a four-year contract and will be at the practice that begins in 10 minutes, colleague Jeff Darlington is reporting.

Henne missed only one practice and now the Dolphins have all their draft picks signed and in camp.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins cut offensive tackle Julius Wilson before the afternoon practice.

Porter, Lehan on PUP; Henne missing "a concern"

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said linebacker Joey Porter and cornerback Michael Lehan, both of whom have ankle injuries, have been placed on the physically unable to perform list.

That means both failed their physicals because of their injuries. Neither injury is considered serious enough to stretch into the regular season. "We expect them back shortly," Sparano said.

Sparano also noted that rookie Chad Henne missing this morning's drills as he continues to try and negotiate a contract is not terrible, but nonetheless, "a concern."

Henne wasn't scheduled to take snaps in the team period today as Miami gives those duties to two quarterbacks each day. But he was nonetheless absent Friday when the gameplan for today's practice was installed.

"A young quarterback missing these installations is a concern," Sparano said.

The coach also said that nose tackle Jason Ferguson, who left the field midway through the morning practice, was simply overcome by cramps. He got an IV and returned to the field.

I asked Sparano if the Dolphins have interest in Dallas receiver Terry Glenn, who is supposed to be released. Sparano acted as if he didn't know Glenn was about to be available. "I have to be honest with you, I didn't know Terry was even released," he said. "This is the first I've heard about it."

Sparano did concede that last season when Glenn returned from his knee injury in time for the playoffs, he looked like a dangerous weapon. "That's the way he looked at that time," he said.

OK, that's it for now. Check back often as I will continue to update throughout the day.

What is happening at practice this morning

A longtime Green Bay fixture is at Dolphins camp today ....

No, not Brett Favre. Former Packers GM Ron Wolf is on the field, shadowing friend Bill Parcells and no doubt offering his personnel expertise to the Dolphins. By the way, did your heart skip a beat when you read the first sentence?

Anyway, here is the scoop about what is happening.

Chad Henne is the only player not on the field now. Obviously he's not signed so the contract watch begins.

On the injury front: Linebacker Joey Porter is not working for some unknown reason, no doubt connected to an injury. Rob Ninkovich is taking the first-team repetitions in Porter's absence. Colleague Jeff Darlington reports Porter's agent is not immediately available for comment as we try to find out why the guy isn't in drills.

Cornerback Michael Lehan, who injured his ankle in the last June minicamp and was supposed to be out 2-4 weeks, is not practicing some seven weeks later. He is working on the sideline doing shuttle drills. He is the only player injured during the camps that is not working this morning.

Guard Steve McKinney and tight end Anthony Fasano and linebacker Channing Crowder -- all of them missed camps in the offseason -- are working. Fasano is actually taking some snaps with the first team ahead of last year's starter David Martin. Crowder is back at a starting inside LB spot.

Both inside LB spots will be interesting this camp as Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor battle for one spot and Crowder and Kelvin Smith battle at the other starting today. Obviously the best two of the four will start.

The first team offensive is LT Jake Long, LG Trey Darilek, C Samson Satele, RG Justin Smiley and RT Vernon Carey. The first-team defensive line is LE Matt Roth, NT Jason Ferguson and RE Vonnie Holliday. So much for Miami playing a 4-3. Not happening.

QB Josh McCown doesn't look any worse for wear after his much-publicized Texas Chainsaw Accident. His passes have not floated.

OK, check back later.

No Boldin or Glenn but Dolphins sign Armstrong!

We're up and running at training camp and the Dolphins have just announced ... breathless, I am ... the signing of Anthony Armstrong to help their receivers corps.

That's apparently how it's going to be around here.

Never mind that Terry Glenn is available. Never mind that Anquan Boldin wants a quick ticket out of Arizona and would love to play in Miami. The Dolphins got Anthony Armstrong who spent the past two years with the Dallas Desperados of the Arena Football League.

Nothing against Anthony Armstrong, but this isn't a way to improve the receivers corps. Of course, not sure signing Glenn is either.

The Dolphins have waived Dan Gore and receiver Justin Wynn and confirmed the signing of Phillip Merling to what I've been told is a four-year deal. Chad Henne remains unsigned and will miss the team's first training camp practice.

Check back in a little bit for practice updates as it is starting right now.

July 25, 2008

Keep your eyes on Dolphins WR position

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters today that receiver Terry Glenn will be released

Glenn is 34 years old and has knee issues which is the reason the Cowboys didn't want to risk letting him get injured in training camp. That might land Glenn on injured reserve and force the Cowboys to pay his $1.74 million salary without getting production in return.

So Glenn goes. Because he is a veteran with a certain amount of vested seasons, Glenn will not go through waivers. His contract is terminated. So he will be a free agent.

I don't think I have to remind you the Dallas connection involved here. The fact the Dolphins need receivers help and the fact Bill Parcells was with New England and became a fan of Glenn once owner Robert Kraft forced the coach to draft him.

Stay tuned to that.

There are also reports out of Arizona that receiver Anquan Boldin, although unhappy, will remain with the Arizona Cardinals. Although he said he would not re-sign with the team when his current contract expires in 2010, Boldin has said publicly he will, in fact, be with the Cards until 2010.

Well, this situation also demands scrutiny by the Dolphins.

An NFL source is telling me that while Boldin is showing some displeasure with the Cards in public, that is only part of the picture. Privately he is "disgusted" the Cardinals promised him a new contract and, in his mind, reneged on that promise. Boldin, a two-time Pro Bowl performer, currently makes $4 million per season. He thinks the team should make good on its promise and give him a bump that would bring him closer to the nearly $10 million per year fellow Cards receiver Larry Fitzgerald makes.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Boldin, flew to Arizona Thursday then drove to Flagstaff to meet with the Cardinals. The source is telling me the meeting included very serious talk about Boldin not being in Arizona anymore.

"I think Boldin will be in play," the NFL source said. "The Cardinals don't want to trade him. But I don't think the Giants wanted to trade Jeremy Shockey and the Dolphins didn't want to trade Jason Taylor. And we know how that turned out. When a team has an unhappy player in camp, it is not a comfortable situation for anyone."

Rosenhaus was traveling Friday and was not available for comment.

So why am I telling you this stuff?

You put this together: The Cardinals have a disgruntled 27-year-old receiver who has appeared in multiple Pro Bowls. He is from Pahokee, FL. He played at Florida State. He loves South Florida. Did I mention the Dolphins have a HUGE need to improve their receivers corps? They have a spare second-round pick they just got in the Jason Taylor trade. And they have approximately $21 million in salary cap space that they cannot possibly spend before the end of this season.

Can you say perfect fit?

I am not saying the Dolphins have contacted the Cardinals about Boldin, although at least one team has since it became public Boldin is unhappy in Arizona. I am saying the Dolphins should contact the Cardinals to weigh the possibilities.

Not doing that when Miami has such a clear need at the position would border on irresponsibility. And neither Bill Parcells nor Jeff Ireland are irresponsible. That is why this situation deserves to be monitored.

As you all know, training camp practices begin in earnest Saturday morning. Check back often as I will be updating this blog before the drills end and then again afterward.

July 24, 2008

What about your Dolphins makes you hopeful?

I've done several radio appearences nationally this week and will be on CBS-4 in South Florida Sunday night. In all the interviews I'm being asked what about these Dolphins is there to be hopeful, even optimistic about.


Here is my Top Five:

1. That first overall pick Jake Long becomes the stud anchor to the OL that his draft pedigree and salary demand.

2. That either Chad Henne or John Beck steps up and identifies himself as the QB of the future.

3. That Bill Parcells doesn't get frustrated, as Nick Saban did, and leaves. Although he is signed for four years the hope here is that he lasts at least two.

4. That Ted Ginn becomes the deep threat former GM Randy Mueller thought he would be. Ginn has had a promising offseason.

5. That the Dolphins don't suck too much, but nonetheless enough to have a top 3 pick in next April's draft. I know this sounds harsh but this team needs another outstanding infusion of talent from the draft before it can be mediocre. The most proven way to make that happen is to have high picks.

OK, that is my five. Give me your Top 5 things you are hopeful for and about...

July 22, 2008

One final post on the Jason Taylor trade

I am still scratching my head and it doesn't even itch. Seriously. Because this really doesn't make sense to me.

Sometime between late January and mid February of this year, Jason Taylor's agent called the Dolphins and informed them Taylor only intended to play one more season and it made sense for him to play that final year someplace else. The Dolphins were, after all, about to rebuild and Taylor, at 33 years old, didn't want to be part of that rebuilding because he wanted one final shot at winning a title.

Gary Wichard, the agent, made the logical points to Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and even team president Bryan Wiedmeier. It was a compelling argument because, after all, Taylor gave his all for 11 seasons and wanted the Dolphins to reward that service by letting him get a chance at a title in his final go-'round.

Fast forward to April when Wichard made the point to the Dolphins again. Then in June when Taylor got in front of the media and said, "I told the Dolphins my intentions from Day One. My intentions are to play one more year."

Then fast forward again to this week when Taylor is traded to the Washington Redskins and, all of a sudden, that stuff about playing one more year which he and his agent have been saying for seven months is simply swept under the rug. "I know I made a statement in June that I would play one more year in '08," Taylor said, "but I have talked to [Redskins owner] Dan Snyder and [executive vice president] Vinny [Cerrato] and coach and I'm going to play out my contract and I will be here for more than one year, God willing, unless something bad happens. I'm here to play ball as long as I can."

Are you feakin' kidding me?

So one conversation with Snyder and the Redskins and suddenly the story he has told the Dolphins from "Day One," is out the window? One day in Washington is enough to convince Taylor to play the two years remaining on his contract and maybe more but 11 seasons in Miami wasn't worth that kind of commitment?

Here is my point: The only reason the Dolphins had to seriously, seriously want to trade Jason Taylor is because they are rebuilding and a Taylor who intends to play one more season isn't as valuable as a draft pick because by the time the team is good again, Taylor would be out of the league.

But if Taylor tells the Dolphins, he's playing until the end of this contract and, in fact, says he's playing "as long as I can," that definitely changes EVERYTHING. Suddenly the team should be thinking it has a pretty good player, one who is rarely injured, for 2009 when the team is hoping to be very competitive and perhaps beyond -- maybe to 2010 when thoughts of playoffs might be on everyone's mind again.

Suddenly the entire picture is different.

Fantasy, you say? Well, are you aware that Taylor would be 37 years old in 2010? In 2004 when Michael Strahan (who Taylor respects) was 33 years old as Taylor is now, his team was 6-10 and finished last in the NFC East? Three years later Strahan, at 37, was a key contributor on a Super Bowl champion. Things change in the NFL. They change quickly.

And the irony here is that the posturing about getting one final chance to win it all is bunk now because the Redskins, with all due respect to those guys that wear pig noses and dresses on Sundays, don't look like much of a legit title contender.

Yes, they made the playoffs last year, but they could just as easily take a step back this year because they don't have Joe Gibbs anymore, they still have an unproven QB, their defensive coordinator isn't as good, they won't have the momentous emotional lift that brought them together last year when Sean Taylor was tragically cut down, and they still play in the world's toughest football division.

Maybe JT hasn't noticed but the Cowboys are loaded. Maybe he hasn't noticed but the Giants won the Super Bowl. Maybe he hasn't noticed but the Eagles, which finished last in the division with an 8-8 record last year, are healthy and added several high-priced free agents. They also have a better coaching staff than Washington now.

So the Redskins have absolutely zero guarantee of making any playoffs. Yet that was enough to make him about-face on the one-and-done statement?

I wouldn't be surprised if the Redskins are watching the playoffs on TV this year, just as the Dolphins probably will be. I wouldn't be surprised that by 2010 the Dolphins have passed the Redskins on talent.

And, given his recent history, I wouldn't be surprised if sometime in the next 12-13 months, Taylor changes course on this issue. Again.

July 21, 2008

News and notes following Jason Taylor trade

Clearing out the notebook of things I have been told and have witnessed:

1. Dolphins football czar Bill Parcells likes to make the point that he is neither the Dolphins coach nor general manager. Not his job, he says. Tony Sparano is the coach and Jeff Ireland is the GM. And while Parcells isn't actually going to be on the sideline coaching, he definitely is serving as GM, casting an immense shadow over Ireland.

When it came time to make the decisions on the Jason Taylor deal this week, it was Parcells making the call. When Redskins executive Vinny Cerrato went looking for a defensive end to replace Phillip Daniels, he called Parcells not Ireland. He negotiated with Parcells, not Ireland.

"We went out to practice at 3 p.m., and I talked to Bill Parcells probably like three times on the practice field, back and forth," Cerrato told ESPN radio on Monday. "We went and discussed some different terms, we came in after practice, talked to 3 or 4 of the veterans players, and asked them what they thought, what type of guy and everything Taylor is and they said great guy. Everything was positive. I called Parcells back around 6:15 and told him, we'll do the deal. We faxed papers back and forth, got Jason Taylor on the phone and we were done."

According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Parcells was so in charge of the deal, he even told Cerrato: "All right, I'll fax you the paperwork. It's done."

I don't think any of us should have a problem with any of this. I think everyone can agree Parcells has a reputation that Ireland doesn't yet have and his experience also trumps the young GM's experience. But let's drop the pretenses, shall we?

The Dolphins, for whatever reason, continue to insist that Parcells is a shadow contributor while Ireland is the decision-maker. When the team finally got around to confirming the trade the entire Western Hemisphere knew had been made hours earlier, they released quotes from Wayne Huizenga and Ireland. I can understand Huizenga's statement was necessary because the owner has a history with Taylor, a long-time contributor. But if teams are speaking almost exclusively to Parcells, if the rest of the NFL understand Parcells is running the show, don't Miami fans deserve to hear from him?

Everyone knows Parcells is the ultimate decision-maker, deal-maker, and lord of all football realms in Miami. Teams around the league have no problem acknowledging it. Wish the Dolphins would.

2. As I reported yesterday, the Dolphins were involved with a couple of teams on the Taylor front. New Orleans and the Giants were involved with Miami in some talks and it should come as no surprise those two teams made a trade today, sending tight end Jeremy Shockey to New Orleans for multiple draft picks.

Apparently, New Orleans coach Sean Payton was so eager to get Shockey, he tried to involve the Dolphins in a three-way deal with New York. The Saints would get Shockey, the Giants would have gotten Jason Taylor and the Dolphins woul have gotten draft picks.

I cannot confirm how far those talks went (not far enough, apparently) but one source tells me earlier this offseason the Giants and Dolphins were talking about making a Shockey for Taylor deal. That conversation obviously didn't go very far either, but geez, doesn't that deal sound a whole lot more palatable for Miami than what it eventually got for Taylor?

Shockey for Taylor? Maybe I'm showing my love for The U -- yeah I've got a Miami license plate on one of my cars -- but I would have loved this trade. A 27-year-old Pro Bowl tight end trumps a 2009 second round pick any day in my book. And a 27-year-old Pro Bowl tight end for a 33-year-old defensive end sounds like a good deal for Miami.

But I guess the Dolphins (Parcells) decided he didn't want the New York malcontent coming to his Miami team and possibly, you know, ruining the great offensive chemistry the Dolphins already have in their passing game. Plus why would anyone want to upgrade over David Martin?

I understand the minuses of getting Shockey, but I see a lot on the plus side that the future draft pick doesn't offer.

3. Anybody notice how everyone in this whole JT saga pretty much lost credibility with things they said?

Parcells in March: "The only way Jason Taylor does not play for the Dolphins is if he retires. The team is not going to trade him."

Taylor in June: "I told the Dolphins my intentions from Day One. My intentions are to play one more year."

Um, in case you haven't noticed, Taylor was traded Sunday contrary to what Parcells said. And Taylor immediately told the Redskins he would be happy to play out the remaining two years of his current contract and left open the possibility of signing a new deal after that.

4. Taylor had not talked to former Miami teammate, brother-in-law and new rival Zach Thomas as of Monday afternoon. "I'll see Zach in a different way now," Taylor said at his press conference Monday afternoon. "He made me a better player over the years. But now he's with the Cowboys and those aren't good words around here."

5. Taylor, who reads this blog religiously and was upset with moi when I suggested he lied danced around requesting a trade, is concerned about his legacy with Miami fans.

"You always worry about perception because sometimes it can become reality for some people," Taylor said. "When the media starts to paint a picture a certain way, you can't address everything. There are so many blogs and writers out now that you can't address everything. And sometimes the perception becomes so big that it disappoints you. And sometimes you have to look at the body of work. He's done this for so long and this is the kind of guy he is. He's done it this way, week in and week out and year in and year out so we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Because you can't address everything."

5. The Dolphins get a very nice cap relief after trading Taylor. The just cleared something on the order of $7-7.5 million. That means they have approximately $21 million under the cap. Now they can go out and shop aggressively in free agency ... or not.

Your thoughts?

What everybody is saying about the JT trade

The Dolphins, Redskins and Jason Taylor have released quotes about Sunday's trade that sends Taylor to the Washington Redskins for a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-round pick in 2010.

Here is what Taylor said:

"As you might imagine, this is a bit overwhelming right now and I probably need a little time to digest it all. I love Miami, will always cherish my 11 years with the Dolphins and can't thank Mr. Huizenga, Bryan Wiedmeier and countless coaches and teammates enough for what they have all done. I will be a Dolphins fan now and wish them the best. Tony Sparano is great and I know I would have enjoyed working with him. And what can I say about the fans? This town has been supportive beyond belief, through good times and bad and I wish I could thank everyone personally.

"Having said that, I'm looking forward to meeting with Mr. Snyder and getting to know my new coaches and teammates. I'm just proud to be representing our nation's capital as a Redskin."

From the Dolphins, the team released statements from managing general partner (owner) Wayne Huizenga and GM Jeff Ireland.

"I want to thank Jason for all of his contributions to the Dolphins and to South Florida," Huizenga said. "Ever since he joined the team as a rookie he has been outstanding on the field and a leader in our community. Whether it was his intensity between the lines or his commitment to his charitable works, he made a lasting impact here. I will miss Jason, and on behalf of the entire Dolphins organization I want to wish him the best of success with the Redskins."

From the Redskins perspective, executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato was thrilled:

"We are fortunate that there was a player of his caliber available on the market, especially after one of our players got hurt. Normally there is nobody on the market of his caliber. [Taylor] is a six-time Pro Bowl player, and he was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2006. The timing was right.

"His play speaks for itself. It is easy to talk about Jason Taylor. His statistics back up everything that he has done. I think one of the more impressive accomplishments is that he played 90 percent of the plays on defense last year. We had to act after losing our starting defensive end Phillip Daniels."

So what do I think? You can check that out in the column I wrote in Monday's Herald. Basically, the Dolphins are less talented as a result of this trade. They just lost a double-digit sack player and have no real dependable replacement for him.

But they just may be a stronger TEAM because they don't have the Taylor distraction and all the drama that goes with him as training camp looms. The Dolphins, by the way, talked to at least two teams about trading Taylor on Sunday but believed the Redskins deal to be the best for them.

Now you get your chance. What are you, the fans, saying...

Are you feeling the same sense of loss as when Zach Thomas left? Are you feeling something along the lines of when Dan Marino retired? Or did the past few months of posturing by both sides (the Dolphins looking out for their interests and Taylor looking out for himself) leave you with a sour taste?

July 20, 2008

Taylor trade makes Parcells look like a genius

Although the Dolphins have not yet confirmed it -- the team hasn't yet confirmed that last season ended, either -- the Washington Redskins have announced they have acquired Jason Taylor for a second round pick in 2009 and a sixth round pick in 2010.

To which I say: Bill Parcells is the man!

I am not celebrating Taylor's departure, though he probably is. Taylor wanted to be traded since the end of last season and I am told he is welcoming this move. He is scheduled to arrive at the Redskins training facility by tomorrow morning.

He has talked with Redskins executive VP of football operations Vinny Cerrato and apparently told him that he would play for the Redskins for two seasons. "I'm 100 percent positive he'll play for more than one year," Cerrato told DC area reporters.

So much for the drama of playing one and being done.

Fact is this trade means the only drama remaining on the Dolphins will be on the field. It will come in the form of quarterback and other position competitions. It will come in seeing how long, and if, the new Dolphins leadership takes to correct a franchise off course.

The drama that Taylor brought throughout the offseason and up until this week as we wondered whether he would report to the start of training camp or not -- he wasn't going to, by the way -- is now gone.

And, by the way, the Dolphins got their asking price. Parcells was criticized immediately after the draft by pundits who said he should have unloaded Taylor on the cheap. He instead held fast knowing that teams making a playoff or championship push would reach a point late in training camp when they would want a player of Taylor's talent.

Parcells was right in thinking that. He just underestimated that the moment would come much earlier in camp. The Redskins opened camp on Saturday and defensive end Phillip Daniels suffered a season-ending injury in a 7-on-7 drill.

July 17, 2008

More from Casserly and Sparano on Ricky

I wrote a column in today's Miami Herald about Ricky Williams and how he just might be the best player on the Dolphins roster and was definitely the best player on the team during the offseason practices.

I talked to former Houston and Washington GM Charley Casserly,and coach Tony Sparano about that subject for my column and they didn't disagree with me. But they said Ricky, for all his apparent abilities and despite shining in the offseason, still has a way to go to regain the form he had years ago.

And that cannot be argued. Remember we're talking about a guy who ran for 1,853 yards once upon a time.

So what does Ricky have to do to get back in the same vicinity as the player he once was? What are the signs he's doing it or not?

"The biggest key for Ricky will be getting back into a contact situation -- getting behind the line when it's live on the other side of the ball and really starting to feel those bumps and bruises a little bit and seeing where we are at that point," Sparano said.

"I'm curious to watch him because of his offseason and his strength and all the things that have come into play for him that we're seeing. I have a feeling he's going to feel pretty good."

Sparano thinks Williams will feel good because he's worked diligently this offseason preparing for that moment when the contact comes. But Casserly, who witnessed a couple of Dolphins practices and talked to several coaches afterward, says there will be more to look for once the contact begins.

"First of all, no one can say definitively how he's going to do," Casserly said. "We'll start there. The points to look at will be, one, there will be a learning curve. That goes for Ronnie Brown, too. It's a new offense. So there's a learning curve he'll go through hitting the holes with the new offensive line.

"Then he's got to get his legs back under him, he's got to get the speed of the game back. So if I'm watching him, half the time I'd be trying to figure out if he's still getting used to the system or is it him trying to get his legs back under him and where he is in his career.

"The next thing I would look for are burst and explosion. Does he have the explosion on contact where he still can knock guys back and then burst with speed? If you see that, then things are coming together. If you don't see that, then age caught up with him."

Casserly has one area of concern that I share that would show us Williams is losing it: Injuries. With the exception of an ankle injury early in his career, Williams has been able to play through injuries most of the time. But lately -- during his Canada experience and again last season when that Pittsburgh jerk player stepped on him -- Williams has suffered injuries.

"The injury factor is key," Casserly said. "Is he going to be able to take the hits? He's [31] years old. The good thing is they're not asking him to be the main back. They're asking him to play a role. Clearly, he's going to be hungry. There's no question the guy has played excellent football in his career. It's not like he hasn't done it and you kind of have him in the position where this is important to him now. So you have a hungry guy.

"I think if he can stay healthy, he's going to be good."

July 16, 2008

Josh McCown hurts finger on throwing hand

I am told it is not a recent injury, it happened almost two weeks ago. I am told the wound is healing nicely. I am told Josh McCown should be ready for the start of training camp practices July 26th.

But it is true. The guy almost got the index finger of his right (throwing) hand hacked off in a fire wood chopping accident in Texas.

McCown needed six stitches to the index finger on his right hand a couple of weeks ago when he was injured while chopping wood with his brother Luke.

According to an Associated Press report McCown told Tyler, Tex. television station KETK that he was holding the firewood and his brother, a backup quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, made the mistake of cutting his finger instead of the firewood.

McCown told the station of the incident/accident during a recent interview. Again: He is fine. He shouldn't miss any training time. But that speaks only about his hand.

My greatest concern now is how is McCown's head because it cannot possibly be working very well when it allows him to put his hand in the path of a chainsaw knowing that the only way he makes a living is using that hand to throw a football.

Update: The Dolphins are aware of the accident and are not worried about it because they believe it is not serious.