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Dolphins do more than preach competition

Some football teams preach competition. But come on, seriously, is there really competition in Atlanta for Tony Gonzalez today? Is there competition in Pittsburgh for Hines Ward or Ben Roethlisberger? Do you seriously believe Ray Lewis is being pushed for his starting job in Baltimore even though he's going on 34 years old?

Some teams want competition. The Dolphins live competition -- at least so far under Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano.

This offseason, the first full offseason the current regime has enjoyed in Miami, there exists competition throughout the roster. There is competition for unaccomplished and accomplished players alike. There is competition for youngsters and veterans. Practically everyone outside of kicker Dan Carpenter has competition for his job.

Don't believe it?

Chad Pennington was the Dolphins MVP last season. He is by far their most accomplished offensive player. Coach Tony Sparano named him the starter for 2009 at the end of the 2008 season. And yet he's working his tail off this offseason because he realizes that although he's already earned and been handed the starting job, he's got to compete to keep it.

Chad Henne is on Pennington's tail and is, by any account, the regime's fair-haired. He is the franchise quarterback in-waiting. He is the future. He is pushing Pennington.

And now he is being pushed by Pat White.

"Obviously I have a high regard for Pat [based on] where we selected him," Ireland said. "And I don’t know that you can have too many good players at that position, and there’s a little bit of an unknown about Chad (Henne) and there’s obviously an unknown about how we’re going to use Pat. But I don’t think you can have too many good players at that position. Your vision's going to be for the future. Heck, I don’t even know if Chad Pennington’s not going to be here so they’re going to be competing for playing time and I feel good about having three four really good players at that position.”

How sold are the Dolphins on competition? This week the team has talked with Jason Taylor's representative about the possibility Taylor might return to Miami. That addition, were it to happen, would immediately create a competition at the weakside linebacker spot Joey Porter manned so well last season. 

And it would create competition between Taylor, Porter, Cameron Wake, Quentin Moses, Erik Walden and William Kershaw for the right to be part of the four-man line in the nickel and dime packages. It's called competition.

Ronnie Brown competed with Ricky Williams last training camp and even lost his starting job (few remember this) at the beginning of the season when Williams started the first two games. Then Brown recovered and reclaimed his starting job. Then Williams regained it for a week against Oakland. And on it went.

Coaches didn't let either get comfortable or allow either to settle for being the backup.

This training camp, both will be competing for carries with Patrick Cobbs. Yes, the Dolphins love this kid. Cobbs is a relative unknown and Brown and Williams have both been Pro Bowl players, and that will mean absolutely nothing during the competition.

Brown will also have another competition on his hands. The unquestioned triggerman of the Dolphins 2008 Wildcat package has to hold off the charge of White, who seems like a natural for the spot. The outcome of that competition could have us renaming Miami's signature offensive package the WildPat if White is the better triggerman.

Cornerback Will Allen is the most experienced member of the secondary and it would be a huge upset if he doesn't start throughout the season. But the fact is he's unsigned for 2010 and the Dolphins drafted two cornerbacks in the first two rounds. So assuming the two rookies live up to their billing and draft status, and assuming they improve with time, they could be pushing Allen by the end of the season.

I'm not predicting that will happen. Both Vontae Davis and Sean Smith would have to be cornerback prodigies to make this come to pass. But the fact is competition does not end after training camp and with a handful of Pro Bowl caliber receivers on the schedule, anything can happen.

Jake Long has the left tackle job sown up for the next decade right? Probably. But the Dolphins will give sixth-round pick Andrew Gardner, who might be as able a pass-blocker as Long, the chance to compete and earn his backup role.

I've told you in the past Bill Parcells likes tight end Joey Haynos because he is 6-8 and 270 pounds and shows promise as a redzone threat. Haynos will try to push David Martin and Tony Fasano. So what do the Dolphins do? They draft John Nalbone to be a redzone threat that pushes Haynos.

The receiver position is loaded with competition. Nobody's job is secure there. Not Davone Bess, not Greg Camarillo, not Brandon London, obviously not Patrick Turner nor Brian Hartline, and not even Ted Ginn Jr.

Although Ginn has a skill none of the others have -- namely, scary speed -- he will have to work hard on making himself more readily available to the quarterback to remain the No. 1 option. 

The fact is both Bess and Camarillo have a way of finding open spots in the defense and Ginn needs to improve on that if he wants to continue being the team's leading receiver, which he was last season only because Camarillo got injured and Bess didn't start the entire season. (Ginn caught 56 passes to lead the team, Camarillo had 55 catches and Bess 54.) 

There are other solid competitions on the roster. They involve names such as Randy Starks and Phillip Merling, Reggie Torbor and Akin Ayodele, Brandon Fields and Jy Bond, Joe Berger and Donald Thomas and Andy Alleman and Ikechuku Ndukwe.

It's about competition on the Dolphins. More players than not are in one. And that's a good thing.

I know I've missed a couple so feel free to add those in the comments section. I also expect you have an opinion on how the competitions I've laid out will turn out. So give those predictions in the comments section also.

One last thing: You might argue the Dolphins have so much competition because they are still an incomplete team that hasn't found the right combination of players yet. Fair. The only way to find that right combo is to have them compete.

But what does that say about previous incomplete Miami teams that didn't have nearly this much competition? Hmmmm.


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How about competition for Ginn as the team's deep threat? Brennan Marion. Could be a long shot, but I like the kid.

No one should be hand it a starting position, Mando if you played sports growing you would kave known that

I must admit to knowing absolutely nothing about this Clemons kid we drafted last weekend. Is the kid a good prospect in our D-Backfield? Could he possibly be pushing Y. Bell or G, Wilson for a starting safety spot in the near future? In all fairness, Bell is over 30.

Great Article mando, the cuban agrees that competion breeds success...p.s have you heard from the pulitzer folks yet?

I love what the Trifecta is doing. I don't think we can compare this to anything Parcells has done in the past. He is creating a new brand of football. The competition will bring out the best players to execute on their plan. I think we'll be surprised by some of the starters on opening day - on both sides of the ball.

Mando, I love it. I think that's what you HAVE to have when rebuilding a team and the mix of veterans and youngsters is an ongoing battle that makes your team sharper. This team will not be allowed to rest on their laurels like Saban's 1st year squad was allowed. They will be pressed to get better or get to the sideline which is something that good teams do. I think the Phins will be surprising again this year and they will win some dogfights against this apparently tougher schedule. I look forward to what competition shakes out of this summer's camp.

Except In ginns case, hes hopless and i hope they get rid of him, his clip board holding daddy and his cousin rufus, the phins blocking dummie.

This is of no surprise to me. competition is how a team wins. Playing a guy because he signed a big contract is suprising. Just because teams in pro sports follow that rule doesn't make it right and it certainly doesn't make for a winning team. If you get 2 games into the playoffs you make more money than playing a player and just playing 16 games.
Most owners need to THINK.

Great article Mando....

Armando, When is the Jason Taylor deal going to get done? I have been checking twice a day... hoping to see the headline about his return to the Phins. Please don't let him go to New England. I'd never hear the end of it from these Patriot loving, Belicheat admiring people up here!

jason must come back and help the young players to compete and show them the the wright way cause coaches are busy and they his help bad.

How long will bill (the tuna) parcells remain on his diet before he breaks down and invades golden corral?

CUBAN,if Henne pushing Penne and Pat White pushing Henne,who's pushing White ?

Great article. I think the important thing to take from this is that no job is "won" in training camp and kept for the entire season. It is earned each week.

So, I think the playmakers will win the jobs like Ginn, Wake, Merling, Bess. The Big 3 don't prefer to sit back and watch the strong silent and no big play types like Ayodele, W Allen, etc.

CAN'T WAIT to see how White fits in!

Competition is OK but, there has to be a time when your record amounts to something. Players need to feel comfortable without the pressure of some young prospect having a couple of good practices or games. How many players (ex dolphins) were tossed to make way for so called better players only to shine on a playoff team? I.E. Troy Vincent, Wes Welker, Chris Chambers, OK some were let go because of $, but I watched many playoff games the last few years and I notice a lot of ex-dolphins doing well while my dolphins struggled.

Fin Fan, the tuna's size 13 shoe will be pushing white i assume.

football is a sport ,it's not horse racing,players just have to play with fun to do well not put pressure on them like we are in slave camp.

Except In ginns case, hes hopless and i hope they get rid of him, his clip board holding daddy and his cousin rufus, the phins blocking dummie.

Posted by: cuban menace | April 30, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Not too prejudiced, are you? Dispite the haters out there, Ginn will have a great year because he is used properly; will be terrific when Henne's and or PW's strong arm is throwing to him. Get over yourself!!

Menace, i have a Q for you,this talk about pushing is misplaced i think,it's sound like we are delivering a baby not playing football .do you know if it's going to be boy or girl ?

I like it, the competition at all those spots makes for a better team by pushing everyone to be a better player. Not only does it create better starters but better players behind them giving you depth without much of a drop off if the starter gets injured. I think the Triumvaret did a great job filling needs and creating depth. Unlike prior regimes, they actually know what they are doing... it's good to be a Phish fan again.

I think last year showed us exactly what competition can do. Who would've thought that Patrick Cobbs would be fighting for a top RB spot this season, but after that monster game he had against the Texans last year who can argue with that?
I just can't wait to see who will emerge as the surprise gem this year, i mean we did get Anthony Fasano and Akin Ayodele for a fourth rounder last year and Fasano ended up leading the team in TD grabs! More than anything, this regime has shown that it knows how to get the very best out of the players they have

Great post Mando. I know training camp isn't for at least another 2 1/2 months, but I was wondering if any other players such as Ginn are working hard during the offseason to have break out years. So far, Pennington is the only player to have a feature story done covering his rigorous conditioning program. It make me wonder what some of the guys you mentioned in this post are doing to improve.

bubba,how you question the cuban thinking ? he's above all ,the go to all football WR in the NFL.so please just follow him and you will see the light.one more thing ,how you know that Henne will not be a bust ?

I think the bigger question is what does this say about our roster? Lets be realistic the reason why we have competion is because there is no Ben Rothlesiberger, Ray Lewis of Hines Ward on our roster. Our talent level is getting better but it is not there yet and this roster competition is proof of that. Furthermore, Gardner is not competing with Jake Long, there is no competion with Jake Long, Gardner is being brought in to be a back up and/or an eventual replacement to Vernon Carey.

Gopats, I think henne will be a decent q.b , dispite his size 96 neck.

what are the odds jason returns to the dolphins mando 50/50 or less or more your thoughts

But Then again i might be wrong.

Cuban, if you say Henne will be a decent QB ,is that means better than the 11-5 Chad Pennington ? i believe he's at best 50/50 record guy and what about the pushing ?

Your on a roll Mando - great article. You probably write the most informative columns in S Fla.

As of today, Based on what you know, what do you think the probability is that JT signs with the Fins for the 09 season????

It can be argued that Ted Ginn had better numbers than Chambers last year and look at the offense Chambers was in....

What Are the odds of taylor performing at half time ?

Is Pat White pushing Chad Henne as the QB of the future? If Henne was as good as parcells thinks he is...then a 2nd round QB that they drafted this year shouldn't be competing w/ him. And personally, I don't like the fact that the dolphins have so much competition, I think they need to be a normal team. Why do the dolphins not have any stars? we don't have any STAR players on the roster. Right now we have a roster full of mediocre players(minus Joey Porter, Ronnie Brown, and Ted Ginn if he has a good QB) and wayyyy too many projects. There are only so many people that can become stars, you can't have half of your roster being considered a "project", it just doesn't work that way, you need people who can play NOW.

Jason Taylor is washed up. He can't even win a dance contest. His acting career? Down the toilet.

This speaks to two things, the Fins do not have a lot of proven starters, natural with a young and rebuilding team. Also, it is about depth. You have to determine your starters AND have quality depth, and if that depth is quality then they will constantly push the starters for playing time.

Let the cream rise to the top.

BTW - I like the two WR picks in the 2nd rd, not cause i know the players, but the concept. Why spend a first RD pick on a WR when history shows that a high percentage of those receivers never pan out, or at least never live up to the 1st rd billing? I think we have one of those on our team now. Why not take two 2nd rounders, where in truth the drop off in talent from the 1st rd is not that great, pay them combined less money you would for a first rd pick, and cover your bets, if one of them flops maybe the other works out.

I think Parcells sees taking a receiver in the 1st rd as a risky proposition, and the history of the draft says he is right.

Since Keyshawn is an SC guy and he is tight with Parcells i wonder if Tuna asked him his opinion of the SC kid we drafted? Just asking.

How about the rest of the Oline?

Think Smiley and Thomas are going to get their jobs just HANDED back to them coming off injury? Isn't that what Berger was brought her for (to be a swing man to push all three interior lineman)?

chrysler just went into bankruptcy

Perhaps you are forgetting that football is a TEAM sport where it takes more than one player to win, regardles of how much of a star he is...you say we aren't a "normal" team yet we made the playoffs by beating 11 other "normal" teams last season
This is why i grew to like Chad Pennington so much last season, because he did not care what happened as long as we got the win, whether it was ugly, pretyy, gimicky...whatever it takes my friend, a win is a win...can i get an AMEN!?

Ted Ginn 1 of miamis stars, l.m.f.a.o so hard i droped my dough nut...

Competion is great except among dolphins columnists where Mando has no competition.

Cut Jason Allen!


Competition is a good thing, it makes guys work harder. Everyone knows with the trifecta running the show you either perform or your gone (except in Wilfords case). The coaching staff will push all these guys to be the best they can be, look at how well we did last year with a bunch of average guys. Now if some of those average guys from last year get alot better I see no reason why this team can't do as good or better this year. I am so looking forward to this year!

Oh and Menace I wish you would stop hating on Ginn. Whats your beef with him?

The Ted Ginn hate makes me sick...

I just don't understand what your expectations for this kid are?

He's a very raw, undersized receiver?

You want him to put up #9 pick numbers? Guess what? It wasn't his decision to be picked #9.

It should be football common knowledge that Quarterbacks, defensive backs and receivers get three years to progress, they are the three toughest positions to learn.

What did Teddy do last year to follow up his rookie year?

He improved yardage by nearly 400. He improved overall TDs from 2007 and he led the team in catches.

You were expecting 100 catches for 1600 yards and 15 TDs?

I just don't get it?

Were you hating Teddy when he caught the TD pass against the Jets the led us to victory?

I'm sure you weren't

Give the kid a break, especially you Mando. You're hatred for him cannot be concealed through your writing... He'll be fine if you get off his back.

im not buying for a min that pat white is goin g to challenge henne, push him?? maybe, but parcells and co are really high on him, otherwise i doubt they wouldnt have taken him to workout wide recievers.

anybody up for a fight??


Well said Luke

I agree with Luke , ted gin by far the best player on this team and wait until you see his greatness flying in the air catching the ball left and right,

Please don't run the wildcat on me with ronnie or pat white my aging defense is getting scared

aaron, pat white is very good at pushing

bill billicheat,i agree with you there's some thing in the air

Armando. You forgot to mention charlie anderson among the group for Competition at the pass rushing olb spot.

Competition for a starting position is fine. But at some point - before the first game - the starters should feel secure that their position is tight unless and until they don't measure up. Think about the average one of us going to work each day. How's the morale when you're anticipating a pink slip at any moment?
For those acting like 30 is near death - Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins, T.O....

I think most people's problem with Ginn (myself included) is that he was drafted waaaayy to high to be doing such stupid things as running out of bounds to avoid a hit when we're trying to run out the clock!
If it were an issue of talent we could all just suck it up and say that maybe he's just not cut out for it, but it seems to be an issue of EFFORT and TOUGHNESS...you're in the NFL buddy, Ray Lewis is probably going to try and knock your head off, does that mean your gonna crouch into the fetal position every time you sense him nearby?! give me a break!

God bless you jpfan, tell nj phin fan that

Yo Luke, are you Ted Ginn's little sister or something ?

Tell him Luke!!! Ted Ginn will show everyone this year that he is indeed a #9 pick. In my opinion, he already has. He's already done more than guys picked higher than him like Reggie Williams, Troy Williamson, who both have already been cut/traded. This year he breaks the 1,000 yard barrier and you all will shut it for good.

Uhm, Emmitt Smith, Marvin Harrison, Tory Holt, all went down or out of bounds before taking a hit. I guess they suck too? SHUT IT!!!!

hey Andy Stitzer, are you jason little sister or something ?

all the haters of the ted ginn can kiss my doughnut .

Luis Hit the nail on the head with his last post,ted (where's the side line) ginn and his clip board holding daddy(along with his cousin rufus the human blocking dummie) were drafted way to early, i'll try to refrain from bashing lil teddy from here on out, i hope i havent upset to many people with my anti ginn posts.

hey Bill....uhhh Jason who? Did I ever mention a Jason? What the aitch are you talking about man?

And no, but I was in your sister's bed last night Bill.

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