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Miami Dolphins personnel dept. good not great

One of my twitter followers (which you should join, by the way) asked me Tuesday afternoon what order of responsibility I would assign to Miami's current struggles. OK, let me be more honest: He asked who I blame for Miami's problems this season.

Well, with the Dolphins the responsibility (blame or credit) for a season's performance goes to the players, who must execute, the coaches, who must develop players and put them in a position to succeed, and the personnel department, who delivers the players to the coaches.

This blog usually focuses on the players and coaches.

Today we focus on the personnel department.

And that personnel department is pretty much the kingdom of Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland -- The Big Tuna and the Tuna Helper, as I sometimes amuse myself designating them. (I'll stop if one ever asks me to.)

The overall grade of the personnel department since March of 2008 has to be considered a B-minus as of today. That department took a 1-15 team and cleaned a very dirty house. I believe the accurate percentage of player turnover has been in the 75 percent range as only 16 players that were on the team before the current regime arrived are still on the team. That figure includes players on injured reserve.

The grade can and will change as this season's final month unfolds, but the point is the personnel department has done relatively well.

But great? Wonderful? Amazing?

Not really.

Quick, which player did this personnel department sign, draft or trade for that has been a game-defining player? Yeah, nobody. 

Jake Long might be an excellent player for the next decade but you're supposed to get that and more when you get the first pick of the draft. And Long doesn't change the game or force opponents to scheme and game plan for him. He's a foundational role player.

The point is we cannot name one player that we know will be a superstar for the Dolphins in the coming years. You hope Chad Henne might be that player. But there are almost as many reasons to doubt he can be that guy as there are reasons to believe he will be.

We hope Vontae Davis or Sean Smith become lockdown cornerbacks in the coming years and become perhaps the best CB combo in the NFL. But they're not there yet. Not even close. And so we can give the personnel department kudos for picking two starters, but no credit (yet) for finding greatness.

Cameron Wake has potential. But he is a project that might take another couple of years. Lousaka Polite is a fine player at fullback but he is a role player, not a star.

Anyone else on that roster that might be getting Pro Bowl consideration in the coming weeks or seasons?


We hope Phillip Merling goes there, but frankly, he's kind of a disappointment in that he didn't pick up this year where he left off last season and then rise from there. Kendall Langford is good enough to start, but not great. Randy Starks is a nice player, but he's not going to the Pro Bowl, folks.

The rest of that highly paid $156 million offensive line? Not a Pro Bowl player on there despite high hopes for the future of Donald Thomas. Again, good stuff, but no greatness yet.

The fact is the personnel department has hit on a ton C and B players. But the A and A-plus guys have yet to show themselves.

Miami's personnel department has also missed some as well, and that, of course, lowers the overall grade.

The personnel department's biggest and most obvious mistake is in its failing to find a playmaker for the offense. Here we are in Year 2 of Parcells and Ireland and we are relying on Ricky Williams to carry the offense.

Ricky Williams!

The guy was carrying the offense in 2002. So Parcells and Ireland are threatening to fall into the same abyss that swallowed Dave Wannstedt and Nick Saban and Cam Cameron in that none added two or three offensive players that turned Williams into a role player. Saban almost did it by drafting Ronnie Brown, but even he complained in 2006 that one reason the Dolphins finished 6-10 was that his best weapon was not available as Williams was suspended for the season.

Cameron wanted to get rid of Williams because he disliked everything Williams represented, but even he found himself needing Williams.

And now these Dolphins need Williams. Too much. The truth is today's Dolphins have no real hope of winning games if the 32-year-old running back doesn't play great. That Miami finds itself in this unseemly situation is ... is ... really bad personnel work.

The personnel department has yet to find a star wide receiver. The Dolphins weren't interested in Terrell Owens, didn't trade for Braylon Edwards, didn't draft Hakeem Nicks, and now Miami has no receiver that is an appreciable threat to defenses. The team did draft Brian Hartline and Patrick Turner. Hartline has been OK as a rookie, while Turner cannot get on the field.

The personnel department blew it on Ernest Wilford. That's all I got to say about that.

The personnel department was looking for an upgrade at free safety this year and paid Gibril Wilson $27.5 million to be that guy. The New Orleans Saints, meanwhile, paid Darren Sharper $1.7 million for one year. Which of the two players has taken over games this season? By the way, it was a personnel decision to let Renaldo Hill go to Denver. He also has played better than Wilson.

No personnel department is flawless. Miami's is not. But the outstanding personnel departments cover a multitude of misses by adding one game-changing player a year or two. Look at Minnesota, who has added Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and Brett Favre the last three years.

No, they didn't draft two of those players. So what? All three are key reasons the Vikings are playing exceedingly well now.

The Colts do it through the draft, but they seem to get production from their rookies almost immediately. Look up WR Austin Collie's numbers. Look at what rookie CB Jerraud Powers is doing as a starter. And I'm not even mentioning Donald Brown, who we last saw plowing over Gibril Wilson en route to a TD at Land Shark Stadium.

The point here is the Miami personnel department is in great hands with Parcells and Ireland. They've done a good job. But you cannot honestly say they've done a great job until we see some great players on the field. We cannot say they've done a great job until we see a team that's better than 5-6.


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Good job?Ya ok

Tuna helper.....I love it.

Can someone tell me what has been done great or even good?Coaching?LB play?WR play?Coaching?

Or is that kaching$$$$$

seriously, this is journalism?

We have no real star at key positions...Ronnie was but can't seem to stay healthy.

What are the chances we give Ronnie a new contract?I don't know if the Tuna is going to take that chance.

I have to challenge you on this article. First off, football is a team sport. This team was built with the word "team" in mind.
A 1-15 team does not have any superstars. None. There was no team.
Most of the draft, player decisions, free agents signings are based on numbers and personality, how can you blame management for a couple of missteps when you have to change 53 players. Not only change the players but teach them to play a new system, trust each other and the coaching staff and learn how to win.
I would say we are on schedule to be a great team in another 2 years. The 1-15 year was a terrible year. Last year was a freak year. Easy schedule, rookies playing real well. This year is a mediocre year and it is where the phins should be. Why? Because they basically were an expansion team 2 years ago. And everyone knows the Phins were the laughe ing stock of the league in 07.
We all get upset when the team doesn't play well. The Tuna does have a winning formula. Ireland has learned well from him. Sparano is still a bit emotional on the sidelines and should probably focus a bit more on strategy than the rah rah stuff. Leave that for assistant coaches but he is a great coach. Overall the team is doing well, not great yet but improving to great.

Right on Kindry

Thanks for that depressing assessment.

Also remeber at any given point, the Dolphins have 11 players on the field. 6 (I think) of those guys are on IR. We have a coupple close ones we should have won, and needed to close Saints/Buffalo. But hey WE BEAT THE STINKING JETS TWICE!!!! We will only get better and better. Lets be postitve.

********BREAKING NEWS******* NFL Sunday ticket over priced. If the NFL was setup like other sports where the games were spread out through the week. It might be worth 300. But you pay to see all the games and you can only watch ONE!!!

They've turned over 5 years of drafting blunders in 1.5 years. Sure they've missed on some moves but who wouldn't when your replacing 53 players.

I think they did a great job in staffing the team with running backs. At the start of the season we had Brown, Williams, Cobbs, and Polite. Of course the injury bug as bitten them in the butt, but I have no problems with our RBs.

I know people dont like the call of Ricky throwing it against the bills. But no one complainted when Ronnie would throw it and completed a passes and the plays worked. They have one bad play and now everyone says our coaches are idiots. Wheres the support????????????? Even with the interception our RBs throwing the ball has worked well for us this season over all.

About Ginn....Everyone seems to hate him. But you have to look at the bright side.....He will never be called for holding....You can't be called for holding if you have NO Hands!!!!!!!

Two words could've solved an awful lot of problems and probably gotten the 'Phins a few post-season wins (maybe a Super Bowl?): Drew Brees. Passed on him in the draft (Jamar Fletcher anyone?) and then again when we opted for Daunte (by the way - that team doctor should be shot).


Sparano a great coach like someone said? not a chance. he is a O-line coach:not a head coach. he can't even figure out how to get our 6'4" corner on the side of the field where our opponents tall stud receivers line-up. so they dictate which of our corners cover them; not us! he says our rookie corners are used to playing on one side and he doesnt want to change that.

Sometimes I think that people believe that its the rule that rookies should look like pro bowlers just because some rookies can come out and dominate from day 1. Those guys are exceptions. The rule is that it usually takes 2-3 years to truly develop into an NFL starter.

The core of this team is still young. We played one of the toughest schedules in the NFL and pretty much will arrive at about where we expected. That with 5 or 6 players down.

We're fine.

I agree, where is the loyalty and support of the fan base? We all know in our minds that this team is probably where it should be. The debacle that was the o7 season wasn't going to be washed away in 1-2 years. Our hearts break when we have a performance like sundays but your head should be telling you we have been in all but 2 games and yes we have looked horrible in alot of 4th qtr situations but we are better and will be better every year. It is hard not to get frustated but lets let the players play the coaches coach and we can be real fans and support this team .

You can`t turn chiken s#1+ into chicken sald OVER-nite....

Best post youve ever written Armando...its the reality...Parcells and co need to step it up behind the scenes...last year they were decisive and quick ...this year they have not displayed that hard uncompromising edge....and ist showing.....but one thing has happened....they now know who can and cant play....and now they need to act....

Oh...I would rather sign a sure fire FA and swap a very early draft pick than keep early draft picks....how many early draft picks become champions???...very few....go through FA and pay the price...you have to and you know what your getting.....WR is a case in point...we should have signed Boldin for the 2nd pick...hell we wasted one on White...so at least Boldin would have been a sure fire WR...or Brandon Marshall....Tuna...pay the price...you only get what you pay for.....fill in the GAPS with the draft....use FA every time...great article Mando....from Australia mate..!!

In 2 weeks we will see the guy WIlford who couldn`t get on the field for Us ON THE Field vs. Us....

This is kinda unrelated I guess...but why is camarillo not getting more catches? not that he is a potential star, but coming from no where, he helped this team escape from winless - a perfect star-starting story - but we don't even hear his name anymore.

You are right armando I had high hopes for the dolphins this year but the defense looks slow and the offense needs people that can catch. Even though sparano did a good coaching job last year he has made a lot of mistakes this year like going for 2 against the jets we were lucky that did not come back on us and there were a lot of other decisions like calling a timeout so the saints could score that touchdown at the end of the first half you have to wonder if he is going to be a good coach or not

Parcells, Ireland and Sparano took over a team that was in disarray. After Wannstadt, Saban and Cameron, we were in bad shape. Don't think that the Big Three can fix all the problems in two seasons. Yeah, I know, everyone wants to win now, but Rome wasn't built in a day. I think this offseason the Big Three should make some big splashes in the draft and free agency. The first two drafts were to find solid every game players to build the team core. Now that those guys are pretty much in place, we can afford to go out and get some playmakers. Of course, I hope we can get some playmakers! This time of year is always tough, do you root for the very slim hopes of making the playoffs? or do you root for a top 15 draft pick? Hmmmmmmmm..........

I agree with this post but we fooled ourselves with last year's record. Bc of that record we thought we were awesome-a step awy from the bowl- and we had the best qb in the world, but we didnt-we were average at best.

But in reality, the FO knew it would take 3 to 4 years and that's why the decisions have been made as they were.

1. Drafting Long and others as the core.
2. Not drafting or getting a #1 WR-bc we had Penne and knew that would be a waste-SORRY HE CANT THROW LONG.
3. We drafted Pat White- we took him to take the Wildcat to the next level and bc Henne was unproven. I really believe they might have gone with White the whole way-total WildPat all time if Henne didnt work out.
4. Penne was supposed to be here all year long-obv Henne got pushed to front and that changed everything. Which means passing and the lack of receivers become painfully obvious.
5. We still didnt trade for a #1 WR or even take an old vet-this could be bc they (and maybe we should) that the team is not ready for that player yet

I dont think Im defending the FO bc they have been good and bad, but I think I offered some possibilities on why they made some moves and havent made others (speculation).

But next offseason, these is what I see:
1. Possibly trading Pat White-you just cant have two systems in place forever. Even Wildcat will be shelved. If Henne is the real deal, let the man play in a pro set. Or keep White and build a system around him. But the two(three with wildcat) cant work.

2. Getting a WR through FA. Drafting defensive players.

3. Ginn will either be cut or demoted to #5 wr. Porter will be gone.

4. And yes Ronnie Brown will either be traded or Lex Hillard. I am confounded why they don't let him play more. This guy is an animal. 5 attempts vs 25 for ricky-no wonder the old man is tired- if this continues he will retire early-ricky dont wnat to be the #1 guy (he could but thats not him).

This franchise is so obviously doomed it is scary. It makes no sense except to attribute it to a curse. If indeed we are witnessing Henne's self-destruction, we are nowhere for another decade. The Curse of The Firing of Don Shula.

Armando, must disagree with you regarding Jake Long. Teams DO have to gameplan for him. Case in point: Belichick sliding his best defensive lineman (Wilfork) over him to counteract Long's prowess in run blocking.

That being said, you are spot on regarding free agency. Ireland has had two major misses in two years there. Not good.

Pretty much agree Mando. I would say draft pics are B- or C but would add, other transactions (free agents, trades) are horrible. Bad judgement is a part of it but I believe their philosophy is faulty as well.

They seem to think they can take a castoff and coach him up. "Find an acorn", remember that one? Which would be alright if the coaches were Don Shula grade coaches. But hey're not and that's the other half of our problems.

Get off Drew Bress. That was years ago and who cares now. The Phins are improving, year three is the real test. Miami has great fans but we can be real annoying. We lost a game we should have won. Happens to all teams every year. Henne will only get better, and the other receivers mentioned have veteran QBs.
Draft or sign a solid WR not a diva and life will be better. Bess are Hartline are solid picks. All they need is a deep threat that can also go over the middle and take a hit.

You can`t turn chiken s#1+ into chicken sald OVER-nite.... Posted by: Zonk-39

Wrong. People have been trying that for years and still haven't suceeded. Or in this case, turning acorns into football players.


So what the heck do you expect from the front office? They've had 2 free agencies and 2 drafts to build apon a 1-15 team that had absolutely no talent what-so-ever. Now obviously they havent hit on every single move they've made but give them a freaken break. We won the division last year and if not for a blunder last week would be playing for 1st place this very week, Week 13!

You want them to go trade for some proven player and throw away what it takes to build a year in and year out winner in this league, in high draft picks? And with their high draft picks the last 2 years they've done extremely well if you ask me ... Jake Long, Phillip Merling, Chad Henne, Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, and Pat White is the only question mark at the moment. 5 out of 6 aint bad.

Every one of you impatient media people never give anyone any time to do anything. Rome wasnt built in a day and neither is an NFL dynasty.

Tuna helper is good. Yeah, I'm surprised at the lack of stand-out players given the combo of Parcells-Ireland. Jake Long, in my opinion, overpaid and not a playmaker. The need to get rid of Ginn, who is overpaid and has underproduced. Pat White, I'm not sure where he fits in. The rest, well only time will tell, but the Dolphins don't have too much time, because Tuna is already 2 years into his 4 year contract.

Funny you mentioned Donald Thomas as someone there are "high hopes" for. The more I watch Thomas play, the more disappointed I become. While he's a fairly decent run blocker, his pass protection skills are woeful. Furthermore, he was replaced at RG by Nate Garner several times during the Bills game.

As far as I'm concerned, the personnel department and the coaches have a lot of work to do when it comes to fixing the right side of the offensive line.

Watch Wilford have a huge game against us when we face Jacksonville. It happens all the time to us

I think it's really funny that the first example given of a great personnel department was that of the Minnesota Vikings, which is being headed up by former Dolphins exec Rick Spielman!! Wow.

Baghdad on the Bayou, I was just about to make that same point. Kudos!

All I can say is this...."We are SSOOOO dead this Sunday!!" The Pats are pissed off and they will completely eliminate any visions we have had for the playoffs this season. This will be the defining moment for the dismissal of Pasqualoni as D coordinator. My only hope as a fan is that Parcells et al will choose someone that the players will respond to. Someone who is willing to mix his schemes up, devise game-plans that can and will change based on the progression of the game. Someone who will hold the players accountable as well as motivate them to succeed. While we have problems on offense, I truly believe that we will add to our arsenal via free agency and the draft, which ultimately will help Henne tremendously. My only hope is that they act quickly to fix the D coaching situation and stay the course of adding pieces to the Offense.

Your kidding about Spielman???

crowder and ayodele SUCK.

angry's still P.Oed

How bad is our defense? The score was 17-14 with 2:36 remaining in the 4rth quarter this past Sunday. Think about that for a moment! Now realize we lost 31-14. Thats how bad our defense is. Ryan "Who" Fitzpatrick made Pasqualoni's D look rediculous!!!

Your right Cuban...... With high hopes this season, I have once again been fooled to believe that our coaches and players will build on last seasons progression. Every time we start going forward we end up taking 2 -3 steps back. Jimmy Johnson fixed the D but never helped Marino with weapons. Wanny had 1 solid year of building the running game, but never helped the D. Cam just slightly helped the offense with Ronnie, but with all the injuries, they just feel apart. Tony gave us a little light, but now I think we all realize its an oncoming train!! Don't even watch this Sundays game if your a fan of this team. We are going to get killed!!!


Its cool if you say the personnel department is not doing a great job, but to trash almost every single player on the team is just wrong and way off base.

The Dolphins were 1-15 two years ago, last year they won the Division. This team is likely to finish with a winning record again this year, even if they don't make the playoffs. To come so far to have 2 back-to-back winning seasons after 1-15 is amazing, especially after losing so many starters to injury this year.

I am disappointed as anyone that the Dolphins have not played up to their potential this year, but you've got to look at the big picture.

Thank you Baghdad on the Bayou!! Those were my thoughts EXACTLY! Mando, for a football reporter (who constantly talks about all his experience) this was a very simple-minded article. You looked at these teams in a vacuum, NOT real life. Where were the Minnesota Vikings in the last 3 years, I'll tell you, one or two players away from being special. And the Saints, again, a couple of players away from being great. Where were we? At 1-15, worst team in the league, with a decade-long history of personnel disasters. Our best QB since Marino was Jay Fiedler, I rest my case! Tuna came in and did what he said he'd do, he stripped the team down, and started to rebuild it into a perennial contender. Year One was better than expected. Year Two is about what I expected. Year Three is where you can start to tell if Parcells is living up to his commitment or not. As far as I'm concerned, they are. I mean, yes, we're 5-6, but we're also in the playoff hunt (and can still win the division). We win this week and we're one game back, so I don't call this year a total disaster. No, we're not great in any way, shape or form, but you said it, we have glaring holes on this team yet they remain competitive in most games. So that's a plus if you ask me and speaks highly of Merling, Starks, the 2 CB's, Henne, etc. And this is Henne's FIRST year! Give the guy a break. He's the best talent I've seen in a long time as the Dolphins starting QB, and this is his first year! I think he can be a special player. Right now, I'm willing to say he's not the problem we're 5-6 (I'd put that on the Defense for sure). Since Henne took over, we've put up at least 24 points in 6 games. SIX GAMES WITH 24 OR MORE POINTS! For a first-year QB. That's not bad. That should be good enough to win. If he had a decent defense, Henne would be a stud! And he's doing it with no weapons other than Ricky and Ronnie. And the O-line. How many times was Henne sacked in the last 3 games? Probably can count 'em on one hand. How many yards to Ricky/Ronnie have? I think they're doing just fine for their 1st (if you include Jake Grove and Donald Thomas) year together. So I'm thrilled with the team, more so than I ever was under any of the other myriad of coaches we've had (Cameron, Saban, Wannstadt). So hindsight is 20/20, the personnel dept. is doing just fine, they just need to keep pluggin' and bringing talent in and the team will soon be what we all expect them to be.

And how can you complain about Jake Long? Who else who you liked them to have picked? And don't say Matt Ryan, Mr. Sophmore slump.

Angry, I thought the natives would get restless this year, Bill(Tuna)Parcells also took a bad ream(Dallas) the 1st year and made them a playoff team the 1st year, but his second year went 6 and 10 , his third year with the "Boys" produced another play-off team that was beaten by a muffed extra point, i guess what iam saying is it takes time, They'll be highs and lows, look for the phins to be in the playoffs next year and possibly advancing past the 1st round..

Armando sounds angry this morning, like he woke up on the wrong side of the bed or someone peed in his frosted flakes so he decide to take it out on the Dolphins.

Great Post Mando, my question is now wll the big three go after any big name recievers this off season, we know boldin isnt happy why not give up a thrid or fouth for him, turner is our thrid rounder and he cant even get onm the field. the big three have done a okay job on the defensive side of the ball but thats not our problems we need playmakers like u say we need to make a moves in the draft to get either one of these wideouts in the draft, bryant should on our minds. we could go on and on on how chad heene this and chad heene that but if he dont have some one to throw the ball to he wont amount to nothing and we will be in the same position we were in for the last few years. look at the good quarter backs they have game changers or more than one, the defense have been play good but if ur offense cant move the ball its hard for the defense to do anything.
so tuna and tuna helper lets get some offensive standouts and let ted ginn return punts and kickoffs.

i do disagree with this article, however we were so bad i think you first have to build with role players and fundamental players first. then once you establish that the pro bowl players will step up. Jake long had to be taken 1st our line was terrible and DL and DB were essential. this offseason though i expect a down the field TE and a big play WR and i can only hope for rolando McClain in the first round to replace akin and help Chrowder

I'm not real impressed with the player adds. Not getting a LB or WR with the Pat White pick was huge mistake!!

Smith should be covering the tall receivers.

Coaching is really hurting the team.

Look at all the big name players that the Patsies bring in every year,Moss,Welker,Fred Taylor etc....they always go for the big name players and haven't won anything doing it.These guys restructure their contracts because they realize they have a better chance to win it all.Miami isn't to that point just yet....they'll have to pay out the nose to get some game changing talent.I do love the fact that the Patsies haven't won squat since Moss and company have been there though.Parcells is doing fine.Next year we can start jumping ship if the Dolphins are average.

Honest assessment 'Mando. Personally, I think at least Davis will be great at some point, with Smith being very solid, but a step behind Davis. So I THINK you'll see a star there. And I'd have to argue with your point on Jake. I think Jake is an excellent player, who, despite a very bad game one, has been outstanding since. Sure, a few too many penalties, but overall, he's been stalwart over there and will only get better. But good points about the rest of the offense. But you still can't solve everything leftover from that putrid '07 team in two offseasons. And if they took Britt, guess what, then no Davis, and we'd have a big hole at corner. You have to pick your spots. Now, if they don't get one or more offensive playmakers by next season, then something will smell. But I think they will, now that the team has built a solid foundation of "B and C" players as you say. We have an extremely solid foundation if you ask me, we just need some nice finishing pieces on the house, which we can buy/draft this offseason!

Great article, great debate klindry. Next year will be very telling. We need V-Jack. Henne to consistent and strong. Wake/Merling/Langford to take over games. CB's are fine, but what's up with my guy Bell? He's taken a step back this year.

Carlito and the Menace have truly improved on their spelling and sentence structuring as of late.If they can improve in a short period of time,I'm sure the Dolphins can as well.

Mando, we currently are not ready to make the big moves for free agents too many missing pieces. All of the teams you mentioned were already loaded.

Look for next year for The Tuna to bring in the missing pieces thru the Draft and Free Agency.

You can't fix 10 years of (Insert Favorite Word) in only 2 years.

I'm in total agreement with Geoff D., Akin Ayodele needs to be replaced. If we got another guy to help Crowder in the middle, you'd see the middle shore up real quick (well, that was with Ferguson. We need another NT too).

Wow, that sounds A LOT like what I've said all year, and last. You guys crown the Tuna and his crew as genuises, yet they miss more often than they hit AND WILL NOT sign a big name, EVER!

Who knows,maybe in 2-3 years from now,Brett Favre can be persuaded to come out of retirement once he sees how good we are.That of course will depend on if we get a last place schedule or not.

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