I'm not even going to bother discussing Sunday's game except to tell you the Dolphins lost 30-24 to Pittsburgh to finish the season with three consecutive losses.
Afterward, I talked with club owner Stephen Ross and we discussed whether Bill Parcells will return for 2010. Read the previous post for the answer, which starts with a y and ends with an s. Ross also told me he has more ideas to be implemented for next season to, "make the Dolphins the NFL's best franchise both on and off the field."
Well, if it's going to happen on the field, I have some ideas about what the Dolphins must do. I'd tell you what Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland believes is important for Miami to accomplish in the offseason but when I tried to speak with him, he blew me off in the locker room after the game.
So you get my thoughts instead:
Thought One: Fire Ireland for not talking to me! Kidding.
Thought One: Fire Ted Ginn Jr. I'm serious about this one. Look, there are times Ginn shows great promise. There are times he looks like a a guy with elite speed. But that happens about 20 percent of the time. The other 80 percent of the time, he's dropping a pass or running a poor pass pattern, or looking for the nearest sideline to run toward, or looking for a place on the turf to get down before he picks up a first down. It sends a bad message, folks. It is also ironic that a team that prides itself on being physical has such a timorous player on the roster. He's got to go.
Thought Two: Decide whether Jason Taylor or Joey Porter is the right guy to bring back in 2010. But not both. As I wrote in my column for Monday's Miami Herald, these two players don't work well when they're on the same team. They basically play the same position and it simply doesn't work when you ask one or the other to play out of position.
Last year Porter had 17.5 sacks without Taylor on the team. In 2006, Taylor was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year without Porter on the team. But when they were together in 2007 and 2009, it simply didn't work out very well.
I believe Taylor is the better player. I believe Taylor would be the right choice to bring back for 2010. I do know, as was written here, Taylor wanted to return to the team for 2010 until the Dolphins started benching him on many passing downs a couple of months ago. He will not return unless the team gives him some sort of idea that he will be used correctly, meaning as a pass rusher on passing downs.
Thought Three: Hire some help at inside linebacker. Miami inside linebackers had trouble getting off blocks this year. They had trouble taking the right lanes to tackles. They struggled to make any plays in pass coverage. Miami needs to find players that don't have so many issues playing their position.
Thought Four: Give serious thought to giving Patrick Turner a chance to play in 2010. Coaches obviously didn't think he was ready to contribute throughout the season. That's the same coaching staff that somehow believed Pat White was a better answer as a change-up quarterback than Tyler Thigpen. Thigpen is the better player. It's been that way for some time. Sunday's game proved that.
The coaches would counter that Thigpen can be good enough to bring you back from a 24-10 deficit, but he's also capable of killing that comeback with two consecutive interceptions on the game's final two possessions. That was true Sunday, but did you think maybe Thigpen would be better if he had a chance to take some practice snaps with the offense rather than run the scout team all the time?
The point is if the coaches can make a mistake in evaluating White ahead of Thigpen, where is it written they aren't making a mistake on Turner? Free Patrick Turner!
Thought Five: Add speed anywhere and everywhere you can get it. The Dolphins are a plodding, physical team. And that would be awesome if this was 1990. But it's 2010 people, and the NFL is about playing fast and getting there yesterday. The NFL is a pass-first league. It is dominated by 4,000-yard passers and 1,200-yard receivers. It is also a playmaker's paradise for defenders returning fumbles or interceptions. Miami needs speed to make those plays.
Thought Six: Find your offensive line then stick with it. The Dolphins on Sunday continued mixing and matching at the offensive line. Joe Berger started at center but Jake Grove finished. Nate Garner started at right guard but Donald Thomas finished. Pick somebody and go with him. That is how one finds consistency.
Thought Seven: Resolve the nose tackle position. The Dolphins were ranked No. 7 against the run when 35-year-old Jason Ferguson was injured and went out of the season. Then the run defense dropped as low as No. 14. They yielded a season-high 202 rushing yards on Sunday. That isn't all about the nose tackle, but whatever is happening at that position hasn't been good enough since Ferguson went down.
Thought Eight. Find a team to conduct dual practices against in the preseason. The Dolphins have put themselves in a hole at the outset of each of the last two seasons. They lost the first two games in 2008 and the first three games in 2009. That should tell you they weren't ready to play at the beginning of the year. Perhaps working against another team -- maybe the Saints -- would help prepare the Dolphins for a quicker start in 2010.
Thought Nine: Stop overpaying for the free safety. The Dolphins did that in 2010 as Gibril Wilson didn't play up to his salary. Maybe Wilson figures things out in his second year in the Dolphins system. Maybe he can still be rehabilitated. But he isn't worth the money the team paid this season. It is, of course, possible the Dolphins simply cut Wilson.
Thought Ten: Add a tight end that can attack the seam of the defense. Coach Tony Sparano made the point earlier this year that Miami's tight ends are handicapped by the fact many teams crowd the tackle box with safeties to stop the Miami running game. His thinking is that hurts Miami's tight ends because the area in the middle of the field is cluttered with defenders.
Um, maybe if the Dolphins had a tight end that can run, he would be able to force the safeties to back off because staying with him would be difficult. Just saying.