[Before we start today I'd like to share with you the latest statistics about this blog for the just-completed month of October: This blog enjoyed 276,545 page views in October, which means we are past 1.6 million page views for the year. Dolphins In Depth continues to be the most popular sports blog at The Miami Herald, outpacing the next two most popular sports blogs combined. So I wish to thank, getting emotional here, all the wonderful, tears now, folks for making that happen. OK seriously, I appreciate your loyalty.]
Back on Earth: Tony Sparano was asked an excellent question today. What facet of his team has most exceeded his expectations so far?
His answer, in short, is the wide receivers.
Surprised? I am. I mean, the Dolphins receivers are not really all that accomplished. They don't have a star. They don't have consistency outside of Greg Camarillo. They're just kind of there, except for Ernest Wilford who definitely has not been there on game days the past month.
Anyway this is Sparano's logic:
"I think from my end, it really, probably is this receiving group in just the way that they’ve come around right now," he said. "You can say the defensive line, but I mean we drafted heavy in that area, we signed some free agents. [Same with] the offensive line. This receiving group because there really isn’t, no disrespect to any of my players, I love them all, but there’s no star in that group.
"They all know that they have a role. From day one, we’ve said that we’re trying to define these roles. We’re going out there and we’re trying to figure out what each one of these guys can bring to the table. I think we’ve done that right now. I think we understand what they can do and what their strengths and weaknesses are. I think more importantly, they do. That group is getting better and better. They’re starting to win a little bit against man-to-man, which in our league is important. And they’re starting to catch and run with the ball a little bit.”
So what does that mean?
It means Sparano is no dummy. He recognizes the group lacks a stud. He knows the group needs upgrading in the future.
But he isn't asking the group to do things it cannot. Each player has a role -- Ted Ginn Jr's, for example, is to stretch the defense, while Camarillo's is to be the go-to guy, and Davone Bess must deliver 20 or so plays in the half or three-receiver set. Brandon London also figures in and is improving.
The other guys? They must practice hard and give the defense a good look throughout the week from the scout team.
I believe Sparano's view of this corps means the Dolphins will upgrade here next year. But I just don't think it will come early in the draft with a first round pick -- just a hunch although it is too, too early for that.
Anyway, are you surprised Sparano is showing this group love?
Do you think he's being sincere or, as Zach Thomas used to say, getting in their heads a little?
And do you agree with the coach that this is the group that has most exceeded expectations so far?