Of the reams of emails I get, the three subjects most often covered in those cybernotes are on the Dolphins quarterbacks, on Jason Taylor, and on how much I stink at this, that or the other thing.
The topic here excuses the latter two topics from the conversation and takes a marksman's aim at the quarterbacks.
Firstly, Dolphins quarterbacks have been pretty inconsistent during this training camp. What did you expect? Midseason form?
I would say the Dolphins have the right idea in that Chad Pennington is the starter, as he's been the most effective QB in camp, while Chad Henne is clearly miles ahead of Pat White, so they come in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
But here are some notes I've jotted that I want to share:
Although the Dolphins talk about these guys continuing to compete, the competition is over. Anyone with eyes can see that. Looking at how the staff has broken down practice repetitions, I find it hard to believe Henne can surpass Pennington or White can surpass Henne. The fact is, in team-related drills, Pennington has gotten practically all the work with the starters, Henne gets all of the work with the reserves and about 5 percent with starters, and White has gotten practically all the remaining work with the bottom-of-the roster guys.
Yes, Henne is likely to get as much, if not more, playing time in the preseason. But we all know that's to get him ready in case Pennington gets hurt. As for White, he's going to be involved in a package of plays the team will set for him for the regular season. Pass Henne as Jeff Ireland originally suggested he's be allowed to do? Not happening.
Secondly, there has been much criticism of White this offseason and again early in camp because he obviously does not have the strongest arm or most impressive build in the world. The Dolphins talk of changing the bodies of players. They need to change White's body because he resembles my 12-year-old nephew, all scrawny and wiry and looking like a 220-pound safety could tackle him into next week if given the chance.
Having said all that, White, I believe he is already better than John Beck.
Let me repeat that. White is already better than John Beck.
He has better control of the huddle. He is more mobile than Beck. And, seemingly, more courageous than Beck in that he attacks the defense rather than letting the defense attack him. White is more apt to throw down the field than Beck, who became frustratingly timid with checkdown passes.
Yes, Beck has a better arm and probably always will. But what good is a strong arm if you only use it for 5-yard dump passes? Yes, Beck is built bigger and stronger than White. But what good is a bigger body, if Beck rarely put that body in motion by leaving the pocket.?
I would say there is a 60-40 chance White earns playing time in some Pat Package this year. And I'd say he will be more effective in that package than Beck ever was in his rookie year. That package will include passes but also be a lot about running the football, and if you don't believe that check out the video.
Finally, there is no doubt that Henne has a much better arm than Pennington. Everyone says it because, well, it's true. But Pennington's experience, vision and almost obssessive devotion to learning the defense, learning his receivers, and recognizing situations keeps him ahead of Henne.
And the gap isn't likely to narrow because while Henne works hard, Pennington works hard longer. And for now, that's good enough to keep the gap between them a noticeable one. By the way, check out my column on Pennington in today's Miami Herald. It shows you why the Dolphins can put Pennington in his current uncomfortable situation and he doesn't wilt.
Today's Classic Training Camp Moment takes us back to the bad ol' days of 2007. On Aug. 31, 2007 the Dolphins gave us a clear indication what life was going to be like under new coach Cam Cameron.
That evening, the Dolphins wrapped up their final preseason game but, in his infinite wisdom, Cameron made the decision not to coach his team against the Saints only days before the start of the regular-season.
Before the game, Cameron decided it might be a good idea to hand the team over to defensive coordinator Dom Capers so he could work as the head coach and be ready to step in should Cameron somehow need to be absent at some future time. Tight end coach Mike Mularkey was called up o call plays as the offensive coordinator and linebacker coach George Edwards was told to run the defense as the defensive coordinator.
Cameron's role would be to merely observe and grade his players and coaches as well as give his team a good run-through in case he ever was unavailable.
“It gives me a chance not only to watch our staff, but also gives me a chance to evaluate these guys tonight,” Cameron said during a halftime television interview.
A couple of problems: A coach can't evaluate by using tape of the game?
Also, Capers, who served stints as a head coach in Carolina and Houston, didn't really need to practice being a head coach. In fact, it was Cameron who desperately needed the training.
Mularkey had been a play-caller in several NFL stops, including Miami, and really didn't need the work, either.
And, to top it all off, after telling his staff, players, media department and a TV reporter at halftime that he wasn't coaching, he denied it in his post-game press conference! Despite not wearing a headset the entire game and not being the man who talked with the refs about calls (Capers did that), Cameron tried to act like the media was crazy to believe he had not coached the team.
"Everyone knows I'm the head coach of the Miami Dolphins," he insisted. "Tonight, last night, tomorrow."
Cameron was no longer the head coach six months later.