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The great transition that is, was, & must come

I wrote a column in today's Miami Herald that focused on how the Dolphins have continued winning despite undergoing a difficult transition at quarterback, cornerback and nose tackle. Those transitions are the toughest there are in the NFL --  obviously at quarterback but particularly at nose tackle if the team runs a 3-4 scheme.

Check out the column and you'll see some fascinating statistics that prove Chad Henne, Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, and Paul Soliai have been exceedingly effective in replacing valuable veterans.

The column also gives you a hint where future transitions will be needed.

The column does not address where the Dolphins have already made changes previous to this season. The offensive line and defensive line is where those changes came first. That's where Bill Parcells built his foundation.

And the offensive line has delivered, as well it should since it came at a price of $156 million.

"Here's what has been the most impressive - and when you watch an offensive line play, it's never pretty, it really isn't," coach Tony Sparano said. "Their tenacity, I think is a good word, they really are, they're a pretty tenacious, resilient group. They're doing some ugly things hard, and as long as you're doing them hard, you've got a chance. They're giving us a chance that way. Those guys would probably tell you that's a compliment. First of all, I don't dish many out their way, but secondly, that fact in the offensive line, it's not always pretty. It's a different position than most, yet, they're pretty tenacious, and they're pretty resilient. I think that that's the thing to me that stands out the most about it, it's that even when the game gets a little bit ugly, they keep grinding pretty good."

The defensive line has been effective of late also. Sparano said he challenged his defensive ends to play well last week against Jacksonville. They did. And Randy Starks was excellent.

"I think he’s having a great season, I really do," Sparano said. "I’ve said it before, but Randy was physical again yesterday, he had four or five tackles, tackle for loss in there, made a big play in one of those situations. There's still things Randy can get better at, there really are.

"Fundamentally, go back to that again, there's some things in the game yesterday that Randy will watch the film, and he'll know he left out there on the field. He played pretty good in there yesterday, physical, did a great job I thought. We asked our defensive ends yesterday, Randy, [Phillip] Merling, [Kendall] Langford, to do a hard job in that run game yesterday. Their job was very, very difficult from what we asked them to do from a defensive standpoint yesterday, but I thought the three of them, they really did a pretty good job in that game."

Starks is interesting because he came from the Tennessee Titans as a free agent in 2008. He had never played in a 3-4 defense. He'd always been a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. Well, he kind of struggled in his first year. He really wasn't much of a factor. But he seemed to get it in training camp. The light bulb seemed to flicker on and now it is burning brightly.

"I think I've had a breakout season," Starks said. "This is probably the best football I've been playing throughout my career. It could be the coaching, the coaching staff. The coaches help me a lot, coach Kace, Kacy Rodgers, he's helped me. Maybe this defense fits me better, maybe I'm just a 3-4 type of player, not a 4-3.

"The first time I ever played 3-4 was last year. It was a hard adjustment for me, but now, I'm getting the hang of it."

Discuss ...

And remember to check out the column for those stats and what I've been told is the next coming change of youngsters replacing vets.

Also, follow me on twitter.  You'll be able to see a picture of my Christmas tree the wife and I just finished trimming.

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A Coach coaching.... go figure...

Good for coach Roger's , maybe Coach henning can take some notes.....Just saying....

I am just glad we don't have to listen to JETS fans on here anymore - thought i expect them to start posting here if they win another game. You know the moment they win 3 in a row - they think they are going to a SuperBowl.

I am glad our team plays hard and doesn't give up (like Randy Moss)...

I hope Randy Starks continues what he is doing. Good job Randy!

Mando. judging from your article your starting to "BELIEVE" any thoughts????

Or are you just enjoying the Kool-aid?????

Can anyone explain to me how the dolphins WR's have put in two great games in a row? Is it a change in formation? Or are the WRs just getting better?

T, HENNE..............

Sure t: the receivers r putting together great games because they only need minimal separation; then, the missile from Henne catches them.. LMK if u need anythng else..

Good column today Mr. Armando. Dang!

Deuces.

Cuban and Robbyhenz, you both are right. Henne is the difference maker for the WRs.

In addition to Henne's cannon arm, the WRs also seem to be doing better in multiple receiver sets which Henning finally has decided to start calling (and needs to call more).

T:

The WRs were also going against 2 fairly weak secondaries and 2 fairly ineffective pass rushes also helped.

Randy Starks is a beast. He was big at the end of the second jets game, and huge again at the end of the jags game. Nice to see a lineman turning the nob up to 11 when it matters most.

Cuban, I like Kool-Aid just like any other sugary, calorie-filled drinks that quench thirst and relieve the hot Miami ... winters.

But I also believe Chad Henne has taken over and not really hurt the Dolphins.

I really believe the young corners are good now and will be really good in years to come.

I really believe Soliai is starting to get it. Not there yet, but not a disaster he was in 2007.

So yeah, I believe in those guys.

Pepeswine I am looking at your comment of "turning the nob up to 11" LMAO if you look at it sexually.

I like it, Randy Starks is playing well and maybe can make an argument for the probowl with a couple more monster games... It will be hard to beat the DE's from Indy though

Was that a fake Mando at 10:24? Doesn't he usually have space between his name? Is sprovo return?

Armando:

"But I also believe Chad Henne has taken over and not really hurt the Dolphins."

That is far from a ringing enorsement of Henne. He is 7-3 as a starter after an 0-3 start by Pennington. It would seem Henne has done a something more than "not really hurt the Dolphins". You are much more positive about the CBs and Soliai, what is your beef with Henne?

Thanks Mando, I'am currently patrolling the mean streets of NY in 40 degree weather, Enjoy that cool refreshing drink in South fla..... I hate you guys down south.....LOL....

The OC Henning keeps getting blasted by people on these blogs, but keep in mind the offense has shown good improvement and that is the true role of an OC. It isn't just playcalling. Anyone can second guess a play that fails. A good OC will be gutsy, and unpredictable. Henning is that and more. Appreciate what you have. Remember Kippy Brown or some of the other failures we've had through here?

I am the fake carlito (notice the lack of spaces between names for those who are unconvinced) who actually knows football. Unfortunately I must depart now, as it would be inappropriate to misrepresent the real carlito by providing commentary that actually makes sense and is useful in nature.

Good day to you lackeys.

Got another first year guy in the Fins system named Tony McDaniel. A physical specimen. Look for big things from him in the future. Can play all positions on the D-line.

AMEN Mike....

LOL at the fake Carlito.........

Joe,

Do not attempt to destroy my good name with your ignorance. I have forgotten more than you will ever know and I always talk Dolphins Football here, unless I am defending myself against numbskulls like you.

Thank you that is all.

carlito who is joe?

Joe is one of those realist Mando type guys that carlito and others apparently can't stand.

who is joe? who died and left carlito in charge?

Pie and mano, there was some bantering going on with yesterday's blog.

Armando,

As you know I've been one of your harshest critics. However, Im always willing to give credit where credits due.

This article was "vintage Armando" I dont know who that other guy is that appears sometimes but I like this Armando much much better.

Ken, read the column. I like what Henne has done and I love his potential.

Cuban, I'm thinking about sitting out by the pool today. LOL.

Mando,I Hate you.....lol...not really though...

HARSH,MAN REALLY HARSH...........:(....

Thanks Armando:

The column does add some context and sounds much more positive on Henne than the way you phrased it here.

Armando,

Whats the deal between Ricky and yourself? You dont seem to like him very much.

Henne does not seem to be getting credit as a 7-3 starter from the media. Last year's first year starters, Ryan and Flacco, were getting annointed GREAT QB's. Well look what they have done this year, not as impressive. Where is the credit from the media for Henne?

Fake mando

i am kinda curious about sparano and one rule of his: if you are not active for the game you don't go belong on the sidelines. he wouldn't let pennington or crowder travel with the team after they were injured becuse it was "a rule" of his. however i have noticed he lets patrick turner on the sidelines even when he is an inactive. i saw turner on the sidelines (not in uniform) with the team at the bills game and others.

Fake mando

INDY, The media HATES THE PHINS............

iteresting question posed earlier about the WR's...why do they seem to be playing better...i think part of the answer is that the Dolphins have stopped trying to force feed Ginn into the offense and the growth of Hartline.

Remember, even in this space, Salguero suggestion that hartline and Ginn's playing time were and should be directly related. I just think that with a guy in there that knows how to play and is getting better, it makes a decent group better. also, Camarillo has to be recovering from his knee - a serious injury, obviously, even though, i think, fans seem to forget that - and that is showing up as well.

truthfully, i believe Hartline, Camarillo and Bess are good players. really good complimentary guys - guys, who if they were playing on, say...the Patriots, or some other media darlings, would be considered like Welker. is Welker any better now than he was with Miami. maybe. But, recall while he was here he was the best reciever on the team - even though fans complained about that fact. now that he's playing with the Golden boys he's considered a golden boy too...his numbers improved. Big difference....the Pats have a true #1 WR. Get a ligitimate #1 in Miami and i think one of the three of these guys could be considered a Great #2 like welker is now.

As it stands, perhaps what we're seeing is the work of three good players - and a QB that can get them the ball - coming into their own. ...and they have a chance play well consistently.

WOW SPORVO !. I forgot about him,

Could someone PLEASE tell me what the deal is with Patrick Turner? Armando, yes, I am asking you this question...Seems to me that he is either not that good or he is kind of slow in understanding the system...It's a shame that a BIG receiver like him is not in uniform on Sundays...JC

For both Ryan and Flacco it appears to be that dreaded 'sophomore' slump that so many pundits refer to. To Ryan's credit he has been banged up this year, which obviously hurts performance. The Ravens defense has also struggled a bit at times, which may or may not correlate to his struggles this year. But, I agree that Ryan and Flacco get all the praise nationally while Henne is somewhat overlooked, except on gameday.

Henne is not yet a household name. Miami needs an established superstar receiver to complement him. Both WR and QB become mutually exclusive when one is a star, as the media is thus forced to focus on both positions for analyis. Quite simply Henne is a winner. Hated him in college (PSU fan), but always respected him. He looks to be a leader both on the sideline and in the huddle. I'm sure Pennington deserves a lot of credit for his development.

so does the NFL, There praying the fins loose, As a matter of fact Oliver stone will soon be doing a documentary about the conspiracy of the NFL and the pats to be shown on espn The Ocho in march....

" i'm currently patrolling the mean streets of Nyc ". Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha , Bwahahahahahahaha ! From Mommy's basement ? Or do you mean patrolling the mall of NYC ? :)

Indy,

Agree with you on Henne. Hey as long as Henne keeps doing a good job, then who cares about the media. Fuch em

SPROVO, Wasn'T that the guy that impersonated Mando????

Yeah , remember him ?. I know you do , you mentioned him earlier, What a clown that guy was . My God ! :)

I think sporvo was the only poster to get a lifetime ban from mando's blog. LMAO !

NJ, Aren'T you presently patrolling a Septic tank in eastern "JOIESY" LOL.....PS the malls in NYC are brutal....

Still laughing at "Nice to see a lineman turning the nob up to 11 when it matters most"

A good nob turn is always refreshing.

I actually thought that was you posting under a different name NJ....

The malls in nyc are brutal but don't worry , you're nice and secure in mommy's basement. :)

Henne not a well known name is crap. He started 4 YEARS at a big time college team (Michigan). In Henne's (and Long's) senior year I was in the second row at Indiana University behind the visitors bench (that's where student section was) yelling at both Long and Henne when they were 2 feet in front of me. At the time I didn't know they both would get drafted by Miami. The reason for the yelling, THEY WERE GOOD then and they are good now! The media sucks and simply looks down on Miami, because the run a formation that most teams CANNOT run well, the Wildcat. Now we are letting Henne control the games with Ronnie BRown out and we are seeing his true colors!!

Anyone have tickets to the game this weekend for sale? If so email me at dolfan21083@yahoo.com

Looking for 3...

I wish NJ,The X-Mas rush is brutal for me this time of year.....You'll be hating it in jan. when the temps. lower into the teens and those pipes are bursting...lol :)

Who was the better QB at Michigan, Brady or Henne? Henne was!! Who was the better QB a few weeks ago when Miami played the cheaters? Henne was...

ENOUGH SAID!!

Mando and other dolphin fans. Here's something interesting about Henne ( i love him ). Henne has thrown 9 int's. Of the 9 int's , 7 of them have come in the 4rth quarter. 6 int's have led to Td's ( 3 run back for td's). Here's the scary one. 5 of his int's have come with 2:43 or less left in the game. This NEEDS to be cleaned up. You will NOT win in the playoffs or the last 3 games throwing int's at crucial times.

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