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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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NJ PHIN FAN...

I couldn't agree more, but he in a sense is a rookie QB...growing pains!

His growing pains are minimal! Also, 2 of those INT's against Buffalo really didn't matter, because the game was already over. How many of those INT's were the WR's fault and how many were Henne's fault?

Patrolling the streets is tough this time of year in NYC no doubt. But try having to go out and inspect a tanker or freighter as it's anchored prior to its port arrival. The winds were just brutal on the water. Those were the days.

Indiana, are you somewho inferring that Henne is a better QB than Brady?

*somehow*, sorry grammar police.

Great comment NJ, I too was thinking about the late 3rd and 4th QTRs turn overs by Carlito's Hero.... Needs not to happen from here to Mid february...

Interesting stuff NJ on Henne. He will fix it up, but he is doing good as the starter.

Armando I hear everyone saying they want to see Wake more in games, I do also, but the player I would like to see more of as well is Reggie Torbor. You see in 15 games and very limited time Torbor has 28 tackles 1 sack 1 int & 4 pass defended. What intrigues me the most is that JT has 31 tackles 1 int & 4 pass defended. Meaning Torbor has very similiar stats to JT who is legitamet starter on this team, he is three tackles of almost having identical stats and this is from a backup.

I know Sparano praised him & I expect Coach to reward him for doing good as he has done in the past when other players have performed well. I like to get an opinion on if you think Torbor deserves more playing time.

BTW something I noticed during the Jacksonville game I had not seen all season was Akin playing ST, I dont know if he was demoted or what, but I found it odd. I also AKin playing OLB, could Akin be losing his job to Torbor?

There was no competition for Henne during his 4 years at UM. Now, that's not to say that anyone would have overtaken him on the depth chart at any point, but during Brady's tenure he had to deal with Drew Henson. Everyone and their brother thought Henson was the next great thing, especially because he was seen as a two sport star. Brady did just fine his senior year at UM. Henne was a great leader at UM though, that's for sure.

Agreed, good stats Henne, and coming from someone who makes their living on analyzing stats, there are reasons to get excited about Henne that transcend numbers. His qualitative results are off the charts.

He's unflappable and his arm strength is off the charts.

He throws a pick late against TB, comes back mins later and drives the field.

He has his worst game as a pro against Buffalo and comes back with his best game against the division leading Patriots.

Parcells always says he judges his QBs by how they rebound from their worst moments. Henne has graded off the charts in this regard.

Quarterback position is not going to be drafted in Miami in early rounds for a while it seems.

In other words, off the charts!!!

Please Joe, Don't Pollute this blog with Tom(Bunchen)Bradys name From here on out...... You've been warned.... :)

The Titan's game is gonna be really tough. They play great defense and their running game is out of the world. The phins need to stop the run and make VY beat them. Pretty close to the same game plan as Jax

If Henne leads Miami to the playoffs this year, then I'm sure some of the spotlight will be shone upon him. The past couple games he has shown his great arm strength, his leadership ability, his poise, and his accuracy.

Sure he's also had his dull moments, but there is no reason to believe that with all this experience this year plus a full training camp as the starter that he can't blossom into a very solid QB. A Pro Bowl caliber QB? Not sure, but the tools are there.

Boulder, Don't think that Vince will be playing this week-end, Then again the injury report doesn't come out till Friday...Right NJ....

I didn't bring him up menace...Indiana did.

Mando.. Maybe your readers sometimes misunderstand you because you may give Henne some slight praise and then take it back by adding something negative or controversial. This with the intention of leaving the readers with doubt. It's very clever writing, but most of the fans are with Henne and you should be to.. Pennyington is gone. and you were and are very loyal to him.. Even he would like I am sure to see better support from you about Henne!

Joe - I believe Henne can be compared to Brady in the future as that is how good I believe Henne can be. Another reason they will be compared is because they came from the same college and in the same division, so Brady is the first QB Henne will be compared too. CBS had quite a bit of stats comparing the 2 (college and pro) in their last game and it will only heat up more as the years pass by.

You're probably right Indiana, as it was no coincidence that Lloyd Carr was in attendance when his two former disciples square off.

ONLY ONE GUY MENTIONED HARTLINE, CAM, BESS MAY GINN IF CAN CATCH SOMETHING STEADYLY (IF THATS A WORD) ALL YOUNG AND STARTING TO CATCH ON. HENNE IS THE REAL DEAL MAKES SOME BAD DECISIONS BUT HE WILL MATURE OUT OF THAT IN A SEASON OR TWO. WE NEED A STAR RECIEVER AND A REPLACEMENT RB FOR INJURDE RONNIE AND OLD RICKY (NOT TO SAY THESE GUYS CANT DO IT) BUT LOOK AT THE SITUATION. NO DEPTH NO SEASON.!!!!
GOOD ARTICALE

Never, AND THE MENACE MEANS , NEVER MENTION TOM(BUNCHEN)BRADYS NAME ON THIS BLOG, If you mean the skirt wearing, no nuts .girl that plays for the cheating team that hails in the northeastern section of this country please refer to him as "MRS BUNCHEN"...thank you for your cooperation.....

Joe - I did see them show Lloyd on TV at the Pats game. I wonder what his opinion of his former 2 QB's are?? Who does he like better?

Indy, What did i say about Tom(Mrs.Bundchen)Brady??????

tricky, STEADYLY is not a word, neither is RECIEVER, INJURDE, or ARTICALE

brutal. both your point and your writing .... ooof.

and turn the caps lock off

Oh, I'm sure he'd never respond either way, but you know every coach has their favorites from years gone by. Based on pure memory alone, I only remember Mrs. Bundchen playing in the Orange Bowl vs Bama - a great game by the way. Henne took UM to a couple Rose Bowls. Again, he'd never admit that he liked one or the other more, but it's fun to speculate. Henne was the 4 year starter so...

thank you joe...

I think he like John Navarre best

what did you say cuban?

Navarre wasn't bad. I think he was drafted by Arizona in one of the later rounds of the '04 draft. I wonder what he's up to.

Working for UPS........

What can brown do for you?

i picture the day NJ PHIN'S SON MEETS AND LOVE THE CUBAN'S GIRL AND THEY GET MARRIED AND THE IN LAWS NEVER EVER GET TOGETHER FOR A CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER .

ALOCO, post relevant stuff about football loser

Nah, let him picture what he wants Indiana. If that's how bad his life is where the only way he can get his rocks off is to envision the events he has stated, then to each his own.

i picture the day indiana jones won't allow jerks to us his first name .

Keep it going Randy Starks!!!

PS: And---Let's hope that Chad Henne grows up real quickly with regards to his interceptions!

joe, it's funny the best player so far this year on the team is starks .the same guy every one attacked when he got in trouble on the beach this last summer .WELCOME TO WAGON .

Transition?

Sure, good article Mando, even though I disagree. This year was and is all about laying a foundation.
The thing you're calling a "transition" came straight out of that foundation.
The coaches lacked confidence in the yougsters. They were afraid to turn them loose.
It wasn't by design, It was out of necessity due to injuries.
A transition indicates a plan and a timetable. That hasn't been the case this year.
What we've done is put down a solid foundation with some quality depth.
It's time to start peppering some big time play makers into the soup!

good point aloca

Good response and comments (mostly) today, folks.

Some answers to your questions coming:

That was REALLY me posting earlier, not an imposter. The only difference is I logged in through my twitter account where ArmandoSalguero is used.

yeah i need find 3 tickets to this weekends game anyone wanna sell?

JC, Pat Turner's big problem is he isn't good enough as a WR to beat out one of the four currently playing.

And he also isn't better than anyone on special teams.

Obviously this is all the coaching staff's opinion. But their opinion is the only one that counts.

I think the Phins are in the middle of tranisitioning from an up and coming team to a consistent winner 12-4 team. The team has been rebuilt in a strength position.
In a couple of years the team can build by drafting to replace current players. That is when you know you aren't starting from scratch.
For years we were drafting to fill the need at that time. In reality you can't expect a rookie to perform from day one. He needs at least a year or two before he takes over to be a regular position player. The Dolphins are getting closer to that.

Tyler, if you find 6 we can split them. let me know or email me at the email I posted above.

I'm not too worried about Henne's INT's.
7-3 as a 1st year starter. Outplayed Brady in head to head combat. Has two big time come from behind victories under his belt.
This guy has had his back to the wall(0-3) from day one this season.
I agree he's a work in progress and needs to rein in the INT's. Just the same, I love the never say die gunslinger mentality.

Dying Breed,

No issues with Ricky. I just call them as I see them. When he plays well, I say so. When he was the best player on the team, back in the 2008 offseason, I said so.

But fans like you only want to hear the happy, fanciful stuff. So when I say he fumbled several times vs. Jacksonville, or isn't the guy you want starting for you at age 33 next year, you think I have something against the guy.

Take the good with the bad. There is no agenda behind it.

Let's hear some realistic predictions of the final score and/or stats of this weeks game.

Miami - 27 Tenn - 20

Ricky - 135 yards 2 TD's
Henne - 268 yards 1 TD

C. Johnson - 128 yards 2 TD's
V. Young - 192 1 INT

Robert,

Torbor has been playing great lately. I would not be surprised if Torbor moves ahead of Akin Ayodele for more playing time starting this very week.

I'll know more tomorrow.

Armando is giving credit where credit is due and being realistic in my opinion. Realistically to win a Super Bowl temas usually don't want a 33 year old as their starting RB. It does not mean he doesn't like the guy, just thinking in reality!

Good work Mando...

Odinseye, the playmakers will come (hopefully) next year.

You remember next year? That was the year Henne was going to start. Except he's starting now.

So the quarterback transition that was going to happen next year is happening now. Therefore the transition is ahead of schedule.

LOL @ armando on dying breed. Good for you.

ARMANDO MUST STAY THE WAY HE'S .CALL THEM AS HE'S SEE'S THEM .OTHER WISE HE WOULD BE ANOTHER EMPTY SUIT IN THE SPORT MEDIA .
YOU FANS ARE LUCKY TO HAVE THE GUY WHO SAW AND COVERED ALL THESE YEARS FROM SHULA TO TODAY .YOU ALL JUST AND READ AND LEARN .

Mando skipped by my excellent ( LOL ) post regarding henne and His 4rth quarter INT stats. That's probably his next Blog story .

Torbor has been playing great lately. I would not be surprised if Torbor moves ahead of Akin Ayodele for more playing time starting this very week.

Posted by: Armando Salguero | December 15, 2009 at 02:08 PM

I hope he's ready because Chris Johnson's warp speed is crazy.
The front seven better play heads up disciplined D.
Expect our corners to be back on the islands as our safties will key on Johnson.
Young or Collin's? Who cares? Beating down one will be just as fun as beating down the other.

NJ, Aloco, I noticed you guys were absent from the live blog on Sunday.

What up with that?

Solia's development satisfies a greater need than any other lineman since he is the only true NT. Now we can get a rookie in later rounds or go after Wilfork as a free agent.

Still we have a huge gap at linebacker and safety but they can be also be filled thru free agency. Antoine Rolle would look very good in a Dolphin Uniform.

Armando , absent from the live blog ? I was there the entire time. what are you talking about ? Go check

I was the first one to ask you about Vontae not being in the starting lineup. as usual , you ignored me. no big deal ! :)

So the quarterback transition that was going to happen next year is happening now. Therefore the transition is ahead of schedule.

Posted by: Armando Salguero | December 15, 2009 at 02:11 PM

Armando, I said sure, good article.

The point I was trying to make is the difference between transitioning and upgrading.
They were talking the talk, but deep down they were afraid to pull the trigger.
I don't believe I'm saying this, but thank God for some of those injuries. It's due to the injuries that were finally reaping the benefits of some solid off season moves.

PS: Your article in the Herald was dead on! You DA MAN!!!!

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