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Sunday column: Pats, Dolphins still racing

The offseason is supposed to be the down time, the off time. Hence the term offseason. But the NFL knows no offseason, as the competition between teams rages during free agency, the draft, conditioning programs and training camps.

At least that's how I see it.

The offseason determines, in part, what results teams get during the regular-season. And that's why my column in Sunday's Miami Herald looks at where the top two teams in the AFC East stand.

Understand the column looks at a snapshot in time. And that time is right now. It looks at the Dolphins and Patriots as they stand today. You should know the standings can change as the offseason wears on and eventually as the regular season begins -- it's like knowing what the score is five minutes into a game's first quarter.

And today, as we look at the Dolphins and Patriots, I see the team that finished behind the Dolphins in the AFC East as slightly better than Miami now. Yes, I think the Patriots are ahead of the Dolphins right now.

The column outlines the reasons I see New England as having pulled ahead of Miami for the moment. It shouldn't surprise anyone to note one major reason is named Tom Brady and his apparent on-schedule return from last season's knee injury.

You might ask why I locked in on only the Dolphins and Patriots? Well, because the Dolphins finished first in the division last season and their closest, most dangerous challenger was, and remains, New England. While the Bills and Jets have made significant moves this offseason, frankly, I don't think anyone would argue Miami and New England remain the teams to beat.

And as I look at it today, the Patriots are the team to beat moreso than Miami.

I'm sure most of you, being Dolphins fans, will be unable to provide a dispassionate view of the issue. But some of you in the past have been able to be quite analytical in your view of teams, players, and the NFL reality. So I expect a good exchange and healthy debate in the comments section.

["The Patriots suck" is not stuff of healthy debate, OK?]

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Hey Mando,

I can honestly understand why you think that Patsies are slightly better than us right now, but do keep in my mind that in your column today, you were not including Cameron Wake and Berger (the OL from Dallas). I think that if Wake can beat out Roth, and Berger seriously challenging Smiley and/or Thomas at the G position, will indicate how good this FA period was for Miami. Also, let's not forget that the Patsies lost probably the best backup QB (in Cassell) and a great leader in Vrabel. In addition, let's not forget that we're getting a better backup in Satele, in the event Groven beats him for the C position; and we're getting a decent backup, at worst, in Eric Green. The issue with Miami was that, like last season, they refused to sign a marquee FA, and opsted to sign, with something to prove players and not high salary players such as the one the Patsies signed. Overall, I am very satisfied with what we got and extremely happy that we were able to take care of our own players, such as Carey, Bell and Crowder; something the Patsies couldn't do with Cassell, Vrabel and their special team captain, Larry Izzo. Unlike the Patsies, we signed the ones we needed to sign at a cheaper than market price and were able to address the positions that failed us late in the season.

Besides that, we are getting more experienced players in Jake Long, Phillip Merling, Chad Henne, and Kendall Langfor; and if Donald Thomas can grab the starting RG position, it would be huge for us, because that would only prove that he's as as the Dallas Cowboys OGs and send Berger to the bench once again.

Don't call me 'loco' just yet, but I have a feeling Cameron Wake is going to surprise many; and the CB and WR that the Fins will steal in the draft as well.

BTW, Joey Galloway will be another John Lynch.

Mike Florio at PFT is trashing the Herald again...this time for its coverage of the Donte Stallworth incident...I think he is jealous and wants your job Mando...I think you could take him...just sayin...

Patsfan

I've had a conversation or two about football stuff with you. Considered them to be decent and fair from both sides. Now everytime I see a post from you its just telling someone their wrong or how Brady is the greatest. Even I, a lifetime Fins fan, was telling guys at work how amazing some of the stuff he was doing early the year they played NYG in the Super Bowl.
As we both saw towards the end of that season he cooled of some. What the NYG did to him in the Bowl was a reality check for me as it should be for you. A qb is only good as his line and wrs let him be.
So some friendly advice to you if you like having some good conversations here and to get respect about stuff you say. Quit being a hater. Give up all this Brady talk 24-7.

chowda heads

Cardiac Fins, I Agree with you 100 percent on every point you made. the reason some times i talk like Brady 24/7 is i may be talking to a eggplant fin head so i try to have fun talking with him.but in your case i couldn't cause you are way more educated than most fin fans.

Frozen fish heads

SOULJ....Tell us a funny story about Mike Florio,will you?

Patsfan

You sure it isn't that you just maybe like talking trash. You know a sh** talker. We talk a lot of trash at work just makes the day go by.

I agree I do see some far fetched comments on here. The ones that kill me are those trades people wonder why trifecta don't make. Ones that even on Madden wouldn't happen. On Madden I'm one heck of a GM. Might could teach old Tuna a few things up there. In the real world thou only one I ever known to be better was Jimmy Johnson. Man he could work some magic on draft day.

C.Fan.......i was happy reading your post until Jimmy Johnson came up and all of sudden my memory came came back and i said to my self didn't the fins run last 10 years of misery started with the most over rated show biz coach in the history of NFL J.Johnson ? in fact before they hired him they told him to cut his hair in weekly bases cause they knew that his mind gets of coaching by his care of his hair.

Mr Bungle,
when are you going to update your blog? I would like a story regarding how our players can play other positions. Like Murphy playing CB or Henne playing punter etc.

C.Fins...sorry i Wrote fan not fins on my last post,BTW i say fins will draft WR in first pick and CB second .what say you?

Patsfan
I didn't say he was best coach or even had the best hair. That man could draft like no other thou. He never found us our E. Smith. Avery and lmao Jabar ran him to death to get that 1000yd season.

Mr.BUNGLE,why don't you close shop on your lousy blog and come here and learn how to speak with humans and learn some football

C.Fins.....tell me one draft that showed a lot guts and knowledge not just luck in last 10 years and took a team from Z to A.BTW,did you notice in these years of the fins failures they had the best looking coaches in the NFL .

Patsfan
Can't but one team win it all. Don't think JJ was a failure at all in Miami. Its harder coming to a team drafting in the mid 20s and turn them around fast. He left to soon.
After J. J. with Waindstat Saban and Cameron we were stuck with one of the worst GMs in the NFL. Consistently signing backups from other teams for starter money. Drafting terrible year after year. Trading away what talent we did have for nothing(Welker,Chambers and god can't remember his name right now but the TE we let the Rams get).
Parcells already said when he leaves Miami the team will be ready to compete for years. That Ireland and Sparano will be ready to handle all the business on their on. We'll see.

Patsfan

Think I kinda dodged your question by accident. Only way to take a team from the dumps in one year would be to have like 5 picks in the top 20 and another 2 or 3 in the next 20.which will never happen. I was checking past drafts out the other day and there just aren't many instant impact players outside the 1st round. Really a huge drop off outside the top 20 picks. We both know it takes a few years for those guys to come around.
That's what really impresses me bout Camirillo and Bess on our team. Both put up great numbers early on especially seeing how one was a 7th rounder the other not drafted.

hold on hold on here remember last year when the jets picked up every free agent and there mother last year how did that turn out. So lets give this some time even though the patriots are the patriots even peyton manning struggled early coming back last year lets just wait and see.........I have a feeling pats fans will be wishing cassel was back..

I have a feeling pats fans will cry into their bowls of chowda this fall

Aramando, considering the topic and this being a Dolphins blog there is always going to be a bais. Not to mention the haters on this blog who think Tom Brady sleeps with the gods and ride his jock all day long, but lets consider this if he did sleep with the gods? The gods must have been asleep when he hurt his knee last year.
Based on last year when we won the division over the patsies we where better. Based on the offseason additions between the two clubs: patsies have added aging verterans vs the dolphins adding young talent nod to the dolphins. Yes, Belicheks ability to squeeze an old lemon dry and get a few more plays out of them old dogs is historical but these guys come with big bags full of defects and character issues and sooner or later it will permeate the character of the team. Now Randy Moss has another prima donna he can call dad in Galloway, and its just about time Moss has a media craving outbreak that shows hes starving for attention now that these off field additions have been added and taken away his spot light. What with Brady due back and the spot light to soon be on him, Moss is just waiting to crack! At this moment Beli and the patsies might have the advatage. But sooner or later these aging verterans that have been added will break down and get burned and exposed. The crumbles of this organization have started and retooling with dried up lemons will prove costly!

Patsfan
Bout those draft picks wr1st corner with 2nd. Well I disagree. I think we use the first 2 picks on Brace(dt USC) and best available lb that fits size and speed to fit our 3-4. Not sure if we can wait till 2nd and think Brace still be there that late.
Think with addition of Green we want see a cb early. With J. Allen fighting him for the spot and Green getting chance to be a starter I think we be ok. Maybe with our 3 rd we get a cb.
When it comes to wr we got 4 young guys with potential then there's Wilford we stuck with. Don't see them getting a wr early.

C.Fins.i really love Bess and Camirillo and don't forget Wake is going to be great .
D.4Life....you should be happy to be talked about in same time that you talking Pats ,it's very good time for fans to sense that dolphins has finely arrived to play with the big boys.

Cardiacfin , Miami got chad henne in the trade for chris chambers . I wouldn't say it was for nothing. Randy McMichael was the te and he sucks. He's done nothing . By the way you have to be either naive or the biggest simpleton i have ever seen ( READ ). You are sitting there having a conversation the past couple a days with none other than The cuban menace . The man isn't a pats fan and just likes busting dolphin fans Balzzz , LOL

nj phin fan,
i am not cuban, how can i prove that,mando can tell you i am not.one other thing i am a fan of nj phin fan posts and don't start to write and think about other people like some one in here without saying his name.

OK kids ,the menace is here ready to go ,shoot your questions.

NJ Phin,

Its Luggi, not cuban menace

Dolphins4life is a tool. He needs TP for his bunghole after he gets his salad tossed !!

Who cares Who is Who as long as we talk football the more poeple the better unless Soulj wants no body on the blog but him and his friend who his name should not be named.

LOL , menace is anti taking the questions for you today ?

OH MY GOD SOULJA. YOU can't be serious ? If you don't know that luggi IS the menace , than I'm sorry to say That YOU also are a simplton LOL. In all due respect though !!!

Nj phin fan
You're right about getting Henne and I think we got Settele(spelling) with the pick we got for Welker. My point is we could have got Henne anyway. Why trade your young talented wrs away for draft picks. Isn't that what you're hoping to get back in return. Young talented players. Why gamble and that's all second rounders are (a gamble)

yes I agree, we are here to talk football and the more people the better, except for when those "more people" are in fact one person having conversations with himself without mentioning football...


I've been reading everyone's comments, they're insightful. Been a loyal fan since 77. Here's my thoughts; The Pats were a better team last year, remember the second game, we were beat in every phase of the meeting. We took them by surprise in the first matchup, nobody can disagree. They reload every year with coaches, players, and management staff. They're doing it again! They manage to get a few more gallons out of "empty tank" players while they build through the draft. Wait a minute, shouldn't we be doing that? Passing up on 30+ yr old players is a poor decision; provided they have the right attitude and understand their role. Remember V. Holliday? Although our records were the same at the end of last year, they were a better team on paper and the field, now they're adding veteran depth and just watch them in April. We made up a lot of ground on them last year but we're slipping in the FA market. Parcell's and crew are much more intelligent than I; hope they show me why they all have 7 digit incomes. Trust!

Nj phin fan

I don't really care how many names somebody uses. To each their own. I try to talk football with whoever. I'm use to it. Where I live here in NC there aren't many Fin fans around. More than you would think thou. I been a Fin way before the Panthers came along and not big on people jumping teams. I understand your point fully and if that's what he's doing then so be it. Kinda makes sense being I talk more to Menace and Patsfan than anybody. Been all good conversations.

Cardiacfin, how could've miami got henne anyway ? They would've had to use the 32nd pick and they wouldn't of got merling. Also , chambers was 29 ( almost 30 ) when miami traded him . He's now 32 . That's not a young pup. Check out ginn and chamber's #'s lasy year and you'll see ginn had a better year.

Nj

I was refering to the time at which they let him go. They had just let Welker go then Chambers the following season. Talk about numbers. Look at what Welker was doing in Miami. Top returner plus led team in rec yards. Look at his stats last year. That was with a qb that hadn't played since highschool not to mention Moss on other side. You going to tell me sending half our offense to a division foe is worth a second rounder.
Then there's the whole Henne thing. Don't get me wrong but you guys ready to make him a probowler already. Shouldn't he start a few games first. I mean so many fans here love to bash Penne but isn't he our starter. Not Henne

Cardiac, When did i ever mention welker ? Also what part of chambers being 29 ( turning 30 that same year ) at the time of the trade is it that you didn't understand ? If You're going to take that wait and see attitude with henne , then why don't you take the wait and see attitude about the trade before you knock it.

If you look at the NFL NETWORK & ESPN they both think the Fins were lucky & they don't even think that the Fins are in the same leauge as the patsies!!! to me is B/S!!! I think the patsies are in their down hill slide, but still need to beat them twice to gain any sort of respect from the so called experts!!! I'd love to see a sweep of our division, THAT would be excellent!!! GO FINS 2009!!!

Sean,
The Pats had the same schedule as the Dolphins save for two games (Colts, Steelers) and the Dolphins played the Texans and Ravens in those respective divisions. Maybe the Pats would be beat the Texans and lose to the Ravens but who knows. The Dolphins lost both of those games and the Pats lost both games so how was schedule even a factor or how did Miami gain an advantage? The Dolphins won the division fair and square. I seem to remember the Dolphins always playing the tougher schedule when they were winning consistently and this was never used as an excuse.

For all of you phin fans on this blog there appears to be a (pats fan) and a (patfan...me). Dont get us confused because I am confused who you are responding to.......IF WE DO GET JULIUS PEPPERS WOULD THE PATRIOTS BE MOVING FEET AHEAD OF THE PHINS OR STILL INCHING????(.......PATFAN)

The patriots were always better. They lost their QB and finished 2nd in the division, if brady was playing all year no one in their right mind would pick the fins over the pats.

I live in new england and i hate the pats more than the next person but they are still loaded.

I have to agree with those who pointed out that last year was an aberration. The record was due somewhat to improvement, but more to a soft schedule - and the Fins nearly lost a few of those games (you DID watch them, didn't you?). I expect that they will take a step backwards as far as the W/L (first place vs last place schedule, no NFC West), but improve as far as performance on the field. They aren't near the Pats yet, but with New England aging, Pioli gone, and the direction the Dolphins are going, they can catch and pass them in a couple of years - which seems to be the plan.

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