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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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Here we go again complaining about Parcells and Ireland personnel choices. I think winning the division last year was the worst thing that could have happened because it gave us one thing we have no reason having this soon, expectations. Coming off a 1 win season and with the personnel we had last year was a miracle. If we would have won five games last year and then followed course this year we would be raving about how competitive our team is and how we have hung with the NFL elite, but because of last year we feel like we are supposed to go to the playoffs and make some serious noise. Our defense will improve next year good D-line improved secondary and we won't need 30 points per game.

Braylon edwards ? This man had 1 good game against miami ( he did drop a td pass though ) and has done nothing since. 2 games ago he had a big fumble and dropped a huge 2 point conversion . He has reverted to his old ways. He's a bum !

Armando, Rome wasn't built in the day and neither will these Dolphins. This team had been heading for the abyss since the Wannestadt era and finally reached rock bottom at the end of his tenure. True, parcells & co. haven't hit paydirt yet but it's only year 2...now if this team is still wading in mediocrity 5 years from now you may have a point. Be patient-this regime is trying to build this team for the long haul.

Kinda like Ted(oops i fell down) Ginn....


I think a B/B- is appropriate for the job done thus far. You're off base with your expectations though. Go back and look at the draft, free agent signings, and trade history since JJ's last year and I'd wager you can't find a more incompetent stretch by any team in NFL history. Let's face it, we were the Clippers of the NFL.

As to the draft, my only critique would be the Pat White signing. That pick veered from their strategy of protecting those picks and using them on some of the most important positions. Nicks would have been a good pick, but Vontae looks to be a potential star in the making. Hard to argue with Jake Long. He was the safe pick and without an option to trade down was the smart pick too. Ryan looked great initially, but has struggled this year. Overall, I'd give the draft a B+ thus far. No obvious stars yet, but let's be honest. Finding those kind of guys is usually a crapshoot.

FA signings have been a little rough. There have been just as many hits as misses. The trifecta has opted to go with young guys who they hope are entering their prime rather than the older, proven vets. They have wisely stayed away from any restricted FAs to protect draft picks.

The trifecta has stayed away from trades as they rarely bring expected value. No sense in giving up draft picks for guys that haven't lived up to expectations or have a ton of baggage.

There's a lot of luck that goes into building a team, but if you stick to the plan and cultivate a winning atmosphere it will work. Why would you advocate trying to take short cuts? I want playmakers and studs on this team just as much as the next guy, but not at the expense of building a foundation that we can rely on for a long time. We've heard this "one playmaker away" line for too long now. Give me a team full of smart, devoted, passionate players first. Then, we can add a star or two for the right price. Be patient.

That's your contribution, NJ? Have you lost interest?

Braylon Edwards is a Rock, and upon this Rock I shall build my Offense.

How about this trade possiblity:

Boldin for Ginn and Crowder -- Ginn could come in as their 3rd WR (maybe slot) and Crowder could replace Dansby who should be leaving as a FA.

We could draft like this:

1. Rolando McClain ILB
2. George Selvie, Von Miller, or Sergio Kindle OLB's
3. Mike Johnson OG
4. Mike Williams WR - 6'2" 210, yes he quit but maybe the FO can get him motivated.
5. Legarrette Blount -Not sure if we have a 5th
6. BPA -TE, CB, NT

I don't think myself, Mark in Toronto or other posters are saying this personnel dept. has been great. What we're saying is they've done a pretty good job with what they had coming in. We're saying they made mistakes, yes, but nothing like the mistakes made in the past. And for the most part they haven't made those mistakes that hurt well into the future. Granted, Wilford was a bust. So was Gibril Wilson, Pat White (in my opinion) and Eric Green. But, people, 2 of those guys are gone. Wilson should be gone after this season (unless he picks his play up enough to make it to pre-season next year). No one knows what will become of Pat White. Who knows, maybe he pans out (he's a rookie for Christ's sakes, if he was a real QB he wouldn't even have played this year). So at least this personnel dept. gets rid of the dead weight right away (instead of letting it fester for years). And Mando made this exact point on an earlier blog. So, I think we can all agree the personnel dept. has been good (don't think anyone here has said they've been great), but that they've TURNED THE TEAM AROUND from what they were. If you can't agree to that, then you haven't been watching the Miami Dolphins in the last decade!

Jimmy Johnson was the last good draft we've had...Period...Saban's first was decent. Outside of those 2 we've yet to land a superstar. I see more potential for Davis then Smith...In fact, Smith hasn't impressed since OTA's. Merling was a 31st overall! Has he made more than one play this year? Pat White, 2nd round.

another thing....you mention the Vikings and their personnel decisions-well, guess who works in that office? Rick Spielman-the same Rick Spielman who was our draft guru during the Wannestadt years and you saw the results.....
And re: Henne and whether he's the man...Trent Dilfer has a SB ring albeit the Ravens "D" but still.....he's a champion. If the right pieces fall in place, Henne may too have a SB ring someday. For every Manning/Brady/Favre....mortal QBs have tasted the champagne as well.

Why is NJ such a Tool??

Dilfers are the exception, not the rule!

Mr lehman bennett, i'm just going to sit back and read some of the stupidity on here for awhile. I'll give my final contribution later.

We know where Jersey stands...He thinks they've done GREAT and wouldn't have paid for a real talented player either...He's just fine with mediocrity

NJ, Hows that promotion to God treating you??, By the way, how about heating us up here in the Tri-state area..I am just saying..

Yes the colts get the production out of their rookies, but do you imagine Ted Ginn dropping critical throws, or not get YAC in Indianapolis? men he gets cut in a hart beat. But in the other hand Ted Ginn is very dangerous returning kicks or deep on the field when the throw to him is perfect.
Somebody remember a very tall and slow WR Oronde Gasten that catches everything comes in his way?, he was never an elite but helped to win games. We have another Oronde in Patrick Turner.
The point here is, use the deep in the roster in the better way, I am agree that we have a good not great personnel, but I feel that Tony Sparano is obfuscate: too many variables. Some holes to fill with no the right personnel, and too many personnel in spots already fill, and the trade with other teams is over.
IMO this is the problem. In the last season Tony has a clear idea, stronger teams don't take us seriously, weakers teams played against us as is was the super bowl but we take them seriously, and the defenses don´t know how to defend the wild cat and/or Chad Pennington.
In this season Tony doesn't have a clear idea. We are in the edge between innovations and straigth football, what rookies to start or not at all, and mixing those decisions cuts the momentum.

The 4 quarter breaks downs. Somebody can imagine what a QB feel if you got to make a comeback and you doesn't have your air attack going? and in sometimes not even for a little?. somebody remember the face of Chad Pennington the last 3 minutes in the game against Indy? It was totally fear, now imagine with Hene, man thats too much. And why? because in a good offensive series you take off your #1 QB and put Pat White, or a wild cat throwing the ball in first and goal resulting in a interception, or putting WR that cannot catch unless they are really wide open and the throw is perfect when you know the CB will be very close. That because Tony is obfuscate (not to mention Dan Henning, he is old), Tony is a good coach but in times he gets lost in a "what if" sea.
Do you imagine what happened if in the last season Pennington was taking out of the field in a good series for Henne (and in the most of the times with a loss), just to gain "experience"?, at this time a 5-6 record.
Among (IMO) the motivation most of the stuff in football is the rhythm, in the running game, passing game, or winnig games.

All players can't be a homerun on their 1st or 2nd year. It requires some luck.

Let's see how next season turns out.

We have a pretty good foundation in Miami, now it is time to add some spark.

It is freaking cold here. I'll see what i can do Mr stalker/tool. GOD has spoken.

Thank you all mighty one...lol

Marc , i crticize the dolphins all the time. I don't know what the F you're talking about. I 've been called a jet fan , fair weathered fan and no faith fan Where have you been MARS ? Rememder this PLAYOFFS ? PLAYOFFS ? So please get off your self righteous horse. :)

Just got another Dolphin's Pro Shop email...I guess they didn't get the memo...

Yes, but, you argued my VALID points...Which makes you a fool! ;) Besides, you weren't the only one to repeat the "Playoffs?!" spoof

Whatever Gibril Wilson is being paid, it's too much. Only JaMarcus Russell and Roger Goodell are more overpaid in the NFL.

Marc , if anybody is a fool around here it is you ! Remember madden football and how you compared it to the real game. LOL ! Enough said. :)

I think my glass of Kool-Aid needs refilling........

Marc , it get the same pro shop e mails every other day. Ditto on the memo.

YES... you said it and Dolphins fans beware. Henne may not be the future superstar we all hope for. I have my SERIOUS doubts.
Ronny Brown and Ricky Williams are the superstars of this team, and yes they belong to past personnel departments. Nonetheless, because this team was 1-15, we must remember, that the personnel department needed to look for many, many players at multiple positions. I think the Dolphins have established that they have one of the best run offenses in the league. Remember how the 49ers beat the Dolphins in the superbowl? By keeping the busy B's on the field the entire game. If the pass offense was up to speed, then i think the current Dolphins would win more games. You said it early on Mando... the Dolphins need a receiver, and well personnel has not delivered.
I also think they should not put all stock in Henne.

Yeah, well, you, and EVEYONE else, obviously mis-interpreted my rationale behind Madden...Madden has the latest contracts, salary caps, and FAIR, and mostly-accurate ratings. With a glimpse of all of this, you can't help but see how bad off we are! In addition, I wonder if these scrubs have seen how Madden rates them and how it makes them feel...They would probably cut themselves!


Armando, you've covered the team for 20 years and it must be difficult to have something to say every day while at the same time not sounding like an old grandma discussing soap opera plots. But common, sometimes you sound like a hater not a lover of the game (which you obviously are) If we don't win the Super Bowl then the whole season is a failure?? 2007 we were 1-15. For several years the dolphins didn't have a direction or long term plan, now they do. You want to start moaning now because the consequence of a "magical" turn around 11-5 season is a harder schedule and the reality that we are not having the same luck we did last year. I know it wouldn't make for much of a blog if all you did was offer plain, rational perspective. I know you are not in the business of saying, oh i'll wait till the end of the season but for now "no comments." But give it a rest. Good teams are not made in only two years. Dolphins still have a lot of holes. Yeah they don't have any super stars but the NFL is full of superstars who play in horrible teams. Eventually a couple of the young guys will develop. When was the last time we had back to back winning seasons. How about enjoying the process of seeing a terrible team become a good team. Eventually this good team will (lets hope) become a great team, a constant playoff contender. And that is all we can hope for.

LMAO@MARC. Some of them probably would.

I think Mandy, is self-admittedly a fan of GOOD football, which, has to have made the last decade pretty rough...and there's no guarantee that this season will be a winning one...

I agree that the DOlphins's front office has not done a great job, but I think the appropriate grade is a B+, not a B-. The offensive line is a collection of impact players in that they have taken over games (they took over the COlts game even though we lost that game). And I think you have to remember that the talent on the roster that this regime took over was an F, and trying to fix that kind of mess is very hard (compare what is going on in Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, and St. Louis).

Mando, i normally agree with alot of your comments but today you seem over critical. Our ol will be the best in the league next year, all the players on it are worthy of pro bowl conversation. As is starks and lou polite. Great players dont make a team, lots of good ones do !! And yes we dont have enough yet, but we are getting there.

A couple of additons in the off season and not a schedule as hard as this will see us rise.

I think after one shocking lost alot of people have lost a little sight of reality. I am English and some of the journalism i have read in the last few day is on a parallell with some of the over top stuff our press writes about a national football team.

Sorry Mando ! Dont like to be critical of you considering the work extra work you do on this blog. But i have to agree to disagree with you today !!

Well Mando,

You do a good job , not great but a good job at pouring salt into the Kool-Aid of all those Dolphin fans that might have thought the Fins should be Superbowl bound and full of pro bowl players.

Can't let that happen , it's your job to prevent that! And you are GOOD at it not GREAT though.


Another point being made here is this front office has failed because they haven't added a game breaking wide receiver. Well, the two best wide receivers drafted and still remain with their original teams are Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson.

Hmmm, Houston's record since drafting Johnson:


Arizona's record since drafting Larry Fitzgerald:


Sure Arizona should be given full credit for that one super bowl appearance, however more often than not having even the best of wide recievers without having the proper foundation doesn't mean a whole lot.

The front office is doing the right thing - non issue here.

FAKE GM , when the tuna took over , he said miami had ONLY 2 impact players. Ronnie brown and Brandon fields. That's right the punter and brown. That says it all.

Has anyone seen that commercial with Obama catching a pass on the white house lawn? Was that our secondary out there? Who the heck was responible for covering him? He was wide open!!!

Source & cite for Parcells' comment, please.

i agree w/nj last point ,dolphins had only 2 impact players but again what tuna did to fix that ?LMASO


To me de season is already over we are not going to beat the patriots nor any other team for now we need a decent NT but what I can´t figure out is WHY dis we pick Pat White I would sure want an answer on that one, its amazing this kid is a complete project for someone taking so high in the second round.

GOT any answers

Yeah, but just wait until next year.

All consistantly great teams have ONE thing in common. A great QB. Oh, how I blissfully remember and would kill to have back all those Marino years, where, even if we didn't win a SB we were contenders. It took Manning a long time to finally get his ring, but, they're ALWAYS in the mix...

Here's a litle a tidbit that should give miami fans hope , yes that includes you marc. The saints were 10-6 in 2006 and were the talk of THE up and coming team Then is 2007 with a harder schedule and injuries fell to 7-9. In 2008 they went 8-8 and Now they're 11-0 . That's almost 4 years of building . Look Familier ? . The moral of the story ? give it TIME and PATIENCE !

" Just a little patience , yeah ! yeah !. I been walking the streets at night just trying to get it right ".

No kidding NJ, this team adds more players in the last 2 years than they did in the previous 10 and people want to complain about THIS regime. WOW!

You failed to mention they TRADED for BREES and SHOCKEY! and picked up Sharper to name a few...You know, the type of moves our staff WILL NOT make


Marc, go back to your Madden game. Shockey and Brees decisons were made by a different regime.

Brees was a free agent and 3 guys do NOT a make a team. They went 7-9 and 8-8 with brees. New orleans worked on fixing the OL and DL in the darft during those 2-3 years.

And do you think even if they had a chance, Parcells would acquire a player that called him a FAT F@GGOT on a national interview?

OK, we had Brown and a punter, now we have Brown, a punter, a LT and a FULLBACK!

Name one other guy on this roster that's a sure-thing?

I still believe.

JamMal Brown , jahari evans on the ol and the likes of will smith and sedric ellis on the DL. THAT'S THE FOUNDATION OF A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM !


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