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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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sorry ment joepa. My friend was drafted in the 3rd round by the Bills as a strong safety, but lost playing time to Lawory Miloy (spelling?).
He started for the Falcons last year in the playoffs.

Was going into Shula's office like being a little kid going into the principals office? Did he paddle you?

Boo'd him in the theatres during the Blind Side.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | December 15, 2009 at 06:16 PM

LOL Mark, so did I.. as soon as I saw his face, I booed and then quickly explained to my wife..

I wonder if Urban Meyer will make the jump to the NFL one day? Not saying that he would suffer the same fate as Saban would, but out of all the highest paid coaches in college I wonder who would enjoy success? Pete Carroll and Butch Davis failed..just sayin

I blew him also during his scenes, wait I mean booed him.

Carlito, are you admitting that I may know some football or am I still a numbskull with a wet towel?

ALoco, you crazy fluffer!

Joe . i wasn't kidding about my penn st memorabilia . Do you know jersey is a hotbed for JOPA and PENN ST. :)

You may or may not know your football Joe... I don't know, I never seen you on here before... Earlier I was messing with you because in trying to counter people assuming the Dolphins would win out, you were making it sound as if they had no chance of winning any of the last 3 games... No harm intended...

ok, just a little intended, but good natured harm... ;)

my long time friend nj phin fan is correct. JoePa is new yorker and jeresy people love psu because rutgers sucks.

last time my wife ane i were at psu the tailgaters besides were all from NY city. cool guys but unfornutaly some of them were jets fans.

tim sim . i'm taking about jersey high school players.

Time to bang out shoulders. Later !

Yeah, what NY Phin Fan ment was he likes to get in a hot bed with football recurits.

NJ, oh yeah I'm well aware of both Jersey and NYC being a PSU hotbed. I lived in Staten Island, wich is essentially Jersey because no New Yorker claims it, and there were a lot of PSU stickers, plates, etc at the malls and sports specialty shops. There are plenty of PSU grads working in the city as well.

JoePA being from Brooklyn also doesn't hurt PSU. It used to be good times when Rutgers and PSU played at the Meadowlands.

Noting beats Beaver Stadium. Tailgating in the grass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Miami needs to look into drafting Andrew Quarless from PSU. Eventhough I know Micky Shuler senior and his son is a good kid, but Quarless has hands like Gates.

Oh I know my football carlito don't you worry about that. I know American as well as World football. I'm well versed in both.

And I think you read a little too much into my comments. I was responding to the sentiment that it was a foregone conclusion that the Dolphins 'will' win their final 3 games. I understand the whole playoff scenarios involved, but when someone posts something like 'all we need' THEY make it sound like it's a drop in the bucket that something will certainly happen. And that's simply not realistic, i.e, the reason whey I'm a realist.

Likewise, no hard feelings.

I agree Tim. Playing in the Beaver grass is great. Just as long as it's not unkept.

Joe, who do you support in world football? I'm a huge fan too. Futbol and Football are the only sports that truly invoke my passion for sports - the others are just spectacles.

Aston Villa Mark...You?


For the record, I never said "All we need", but even though it was in bad taste, you have to admit my prediction of you being from tri state area (pa, and ny) was pretty darn good... haha, honestly was guessing and nailed it!

Deportivo Saprissa!!!

Never said that you were the guy carlito. And, just for the record, I'm in Northwestern PA not Northeast, so your prediction is somewhat skewed. The mindset and attitude between both sides of the state is night and day. I have the Pittsburgh attitude while the other side has the Philly/NJ attitude. Not that that's bad or anything, but it's not something that I smile about if stereotyped.

Central PA in the house

J.P. Losman is back in the NFL. He's resurfaced with Oakland. Watch out AFC WEST defenses.

A great man named Dan was from western Pa. Also Chad Henne... you are ok in my book Joe.

Reading some old post just now and got one question. What the heck is wrong with this ALoco guy? Wonder if it is cuban screwing around. The guy sounds like he wants to eat a three course meal off of Randy Stark's stomach.

Central PA..very nice. Spent some time in Williamsport and of course State College over the years.

Ah Villa, not bad. I grew up in a SL Benfica household myself. Not what they once were so I'm relegated to only really caring about national competitions these days. Can't say I'm really a fan of a particular club myself but really enjoy the spectacle. Nice win by Villa on the weekend!

England - USA - whatcha gonna do???

Carlito - Saprissa, they were in the world club championships not too long ago.

If Henne went to PSU, he might just solve the problem at MLB for the phins!!!!

I like MANchester united!!!!

and who's your favourite band ALoco? Weather Girls?

Hallelujah, it's raining men!

What the hell is wrong with my comments.....What I can not have an opinion you slimmy window licking retard!!!!!!!!!!

carlito, Western PA is where Hall of Fame QB's are born. Blanda, Montana, Kelly, Marino, Namath, Unitas. You can include other guys like Bulger and of course Henne. I know high school football is big time in Miami, but up around these parts it's obviously big time too.

That the song he wants played at land shark.

Mark in Toronto,

Yes Saprissa is a very storied franchise in Central America, but are rebuilding this year... Its ok Costa Rica has lots of up and coming young players... the national under 20 team did very well in fifa 2009 u20 world cup...

Henne is eastern PA. He played against my wife's football team in hs.


Bulger does not belong on that list... hopefully Henne will earn his spot

Don't forget T. Pryor!!! Sorry, he has future Jet written all over him.

Gotta run boys, sweet dreams about me!!!!

Villa won again today Mark over Sunderland. Sitting 3rd in the table at the moment. They've faced 3 of the 'top 4' clubs this year and they've beaten them all. They had a similar run last year, but ran out of gas toward the end of the season. Securing Champions League football this year is a realistic possibility.

Benfica, not too bad.

England v. USA - that's easy. The US of course. Some of the Villa players may be chosen for the England squad and I will support them, but not during the opening game. If the U.S. don't advance out of this group, then they should disband the national team because this is as easy a draw you could ever hope for if you are either the U.S or England.

We can't claim him as our own tim stim?

Jared Odrick would be good at D end for Miami. Probably to small for NT though.

Any defensive player that comes out of Tom Bradley's PSU system is well coached. Sure, some may be rough around the edges like Wake, but most who make it to the NFL are solid defensively for many years if they can stay healthy.

Tim, don't think the 'phins will be going anywhere near a DE though in the draft - maybe late. That's probably their 2nd best group behind the o line.

Joe: Nice changes going on in the premier league. Good to see some fresh names up there. BTW, me pre season pick was Arsenal.

US/England is a nice group. Not like the group for my dear Portugal. Brazil AND the Ivory Coast! Yikes!!!

Arsenal is always a solid choice. Brutal for Portugal and Ronaldo - truly the group of death.

The group I'm most excited about as a neutral is Serbia/Germany/Ghana/Australia. Not a weak sister in the whole group and Serbia is my pick to be the revelation of the tournament. They are a stacked team.

That's very true, although most pundits I've seen have dismissed the Aussies rather easily -I'm not so sure. You can guarantee that there will be one 'cinderella' to rise up and come out a group and do some serious damage. That's the beauty of the World Cup, just like the NCAA tournament. It gives the lesser knowns a chance to shine on the biggest stage.

Alright, nice chattin with you lads. Talk at ya later.

Tennessee Titans Defense:

yards allowed: 23rd in NFL
passing yards allowed: 31st in NFL
Rushing yards allowed: 7th in NFL

Looks like Henne will be airing it out again.

He will have to air it out the rest of the way. Houston will put up points and you don't make a living running on the Steelers.

We gotta make the titans respect the run, I'm a Tennessee native wishing on a star that my dolphins get into the playoffs this year!

I'd like to see what our D can do to stop the run this week. I think we will be able to put up some numbers on offense, as long as we don't turn the ball over, we should have a very good shot at winning.

Then Houston and Pittsburgh will both present their own challenges, but I am counting on some home field advantage..

damn i guess I missed everything. So if cuban is not aloco, and carlito is not the menace. Then who is gopats? Armando only stated that Cuban is not aloco, but never cleared gopats...hmmm

who's willi ?

who's ACE ?



ace is half of menace.....men...ace

and who's your favourite band ALoco? Weather Girls?

Hallelujah, it's raining men!

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | December 15, 2009 at 07:30 PM

Good one! hahahhaahhahahahahahahahah

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