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How far from best are the Dolphins in the AFC East?

You know the joke: One Dolphins fan asks another if he thinks the team is close to a championship. The other guy answers he is convinced the Dolphins are indeed close.

"We're just an offense away," the guy says.

Well, the topic of how close the Dolphins are or are not came up, in part, in my Sunday column. Several members of the Dolphins make the point in the column that they believe they are quite close. You'll learn immediately how close one person believes Miami is to the Jets and Patriots.

I never really got into a debate with the folks about how close they think they are or aren't. What's the point? It's just an opinion. And opinions are cheap.

The fact is the Dolphins thought themselves pretty close last year when owner Stephen Ross talked about going to the Super Bowl and coach Tony Sparano agreed at the team's awards dinner. They were wrong. The Dolphins were no closer than the year before.

So, frankly, the opinion in-house at Dolphins camp can be questioned.

My opinion? Hahahaha.

I picked the 2007 Dolphins to go 10-6. They were 1-15. Would you believe I was just a year ahead of schedule on my prediction?

Anyway, I'm dreadful at such predictions.

But a consensus opinion is something different.

If you, Miami's intelligent fans, combine your good thinking and come to a consensus, maybe you're better judges of just where the Dolphins find themselves today. Obviously, today is not the day that matters. The Dolphins will draft and there will be some sort of free agency and trade period.

But today gives us a baseline. Today tells us how far the Dolphins must advance this offseason.

So tell me: How far are the Dolphins from winning the AFC East, for example? Maybe if we combine all your comments, we can reach a consensus.

 

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DB--I don't think we really disagree much at all about the draft.

First 20 or so guys, I think anybody can project them as starters and/or 'impact' guys precisely because that's exactly what they're intended to be. We would also logically know more about them since those are the ones getting the most publicity and airtime, which is the only access we have.

It's after that (the vast majority of the draft) where we're shooting fish in a barrel with extremely limited real knowledge about these guys aside from the crumbs you make pick up here or there. I mean, I can respect what someone may say about 'Player X' from Anywhere U being a potential 'steal' as a 5th-rounder or whatever but there's no way I would ever take it seriously.

Believe it or not, I actually like the way this regime has drafted. When you consider hits vs misses in the 1st 2 rds. Theyve also picked up productive players in later rds. I think they did an exceptional job with later rds player in 2010.

Jones, Edds, Carroll, even Jerry. With Jerry you gotta remember 3rd rd players arent exactly projected 1st year starters. Guess Thomas was just that awful and having to dump Smiley plus the injury to Garner played a role too. But all of the later rd 2010 draftees were fairly productive.

Things may not be so dire as most dolfans think. A great draft and 1-2 nice fa signings and we're back in the thick of things despite what some may feel about Henne.

Here is my input, admittedly not a prediction:

Armando Salguero is a chump. I'm trying to remember the last time I read something interesting on his blog.

Whoop whoop

DC: of course its speculative. I think most of us are doing this based off the assumption there will be a season and a CBA will get done in a reasonable amount of time. And that the coaching staff wont be a complete train wreck.

And the Jets have alot of work to do to keep from regressing. They have alot of age and alot of guys to resign

Pats went 14-2
We went 7-9

We are a mere 7 games short of being the best in the East.

I'm not convinced the Dolphins are better than the Bills.

I believe that Edds will come back and have a very productive 2011 season. Edds will be like a "free draft pick" this year because he didnt play last year. Odrick could possibly be in that same boat.

We still have two picks from 2010 that we havent even had chance to evaluate thier on field play. I liken it to 2 extra draft picks this year.

DB: Good point about Jerry. And we dont really know about Edds and Odrick. Even if one of those guys works out, it adds depth to an already stout defense.

Especially Edds. If he can do what he was drafted to do, which is covering RB's and TE's, that will be huge for the defense. Covering RB's out of the backfield was a real weakspot for the D. Ray Rice and some others killed us catching passes.

Let's see.......

An O-line that got dominated consistently.

Running backs that are plodders and getting older.

A QB that misses easy throws and appears to have poor field presence.

A pathetic return and coverage team.

DB's that can't intercept easy picks.

A LB core that needs improvement, save Dansby.


About as close as the moon!

DB--agreed their drafting hasn't been nearly as bad as some make it out to be. Pat White is not the beginning and end of the discussion.

Good point about a guy like Jerry, too. He could very well grow into the position and mature into a solid starter...and JUST as easily fade into irrelevance. Too many fans come to snap judgements based on what they see (or THINK they see) over a few games, without understanding that rookies typically take time to develop and the ones that come in and instantly produce big are the exception rather than the rule.

DC: of course its speculative. I think most of us are doing this based off the assumption there will be a season and a CBA will get done in a reasonable amount of time. And that the coaching staff wont be a complete train wreck.

And the Jets have alot of work to do to keep from regressing. They have alot of age and alot of guys to resign

Posted by: GarbagePlate | January 31, 2011 at 01:59 PM

===============

I think there will ultimately be a season (albeit possibly a shortened one).

Not nearly so sure there will be any free agency this year. The sides don't appear to be even remotely close to a settlement.

We are half an offense away.

I see 4 players only as true keepers:

Long, Marshall, Hartline, Bess

I see Incognito at center, and move Carey to to the inside.

That means we need 2 strong caliber OL, 1 QB, and 2 RB's.

5 players...


Lets remember something in regards to Henne: Throwing out the Bears game (DNP) and the last Pats game which was a circus, he played 14 games. 8 out of the 14 he had a QB rating over 80.

Great? Nope. But this isnt terrible for a developing 2nd year QB. In fact its prety typical. He def needs to step it up and make the leap in his 3rd year, but alot of the signs point to him dong that. He deserves a chance.

We are closer to winning the division, IF the Jets have as much trouble signing all those high priced free agents as most portend. But are we closer to catching the Patriots? Or indanger of falling behind a resurgent Buffalo?That remains to be seen. The last time we played them (both) it was an embarrasment and the Patriots have SOOOO many draft picks to again retool.

The real question is, "will be any better?" Maybe, the QB is a question and there ain't no fix in this draft in the 1st round or free agency (to costly, wrong systems or headcases). We do need better offensive line play (Get Mankins, move Incognito, coach up Jerry develope a replacement for Carey). A physically imposing TE with hands would be nice (you know they fall of trees) and we still need better safety play though that may develop in year 2 of Nolan's scheme; he I trust. RB's can be found and with better Oline play Ronnie or Ricky or Fred from the street will do better next year (coaching and commitment to the run wouldn't hurt either).There are always interesting free agent WRs, (Plaxico for one come to mind; but there are other interesting options in the draft)

The bigger unknown is what effect the new coaches bring to the table. Are they up for the challenge? Are they fearless and relentless schemers unafraid to go outside the box and exploit match ups? Or are they conventional? Are they out of their depth? Did those decision already doom them/us or were they brilliant brainwaves. . . Juries out.

So with such great drafting by this regime. All they need is a young stud at QB right. Trading up to get a better % for a franchise QB is not a bad idea.

And when I reference 2nd and 3rd years in regards to Henne, I'm speaking of playing time. I know he sat for a year, but theres no substitute for game experience.

We are close only because of the Defense. If we get better play calling and better QB results then watch out AFC East. We do need about 4-5 players on offense to be elite even if Henne is the QB. A RB, TE, WR (fast), and two more quality lineman

Our best shot to win this division is a Tom Brady season ending injury. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for them, and although they didn't make it to the Super Bowl. They will no doubt be one of the favorites next season.

The jets have a ton of personel choices to make. They will tweak their roster as well. If they can get a pass rush, or improve their middle linebacking core. They will be a very good defensive team. They have stabilitiy at quarterback. (you can hate on snachez all you want. But the fact is they aren't looking to replace him) They are the toss up in the scenario. It seems much more likely to finish ahead of them next year, then New England.

We can bang on the jets all we want. We can throw out all the instances where we all believe they will fall a few notches. All of this means nothing until we can prove it on the field. We don't know what either the Pats or jets will do in the offseason to improve their squads. And as of right now we are the 3rd best team in the division. Our make over will be much more difficult then either of the top 2 teams. We all have that great and all mighty hope on our side. That's about it. Oh and a defense that is close to being the best in the division. That is where I think we should start.

A top notch QB away thats how far and it would also make Tony a better coach DUH

Well said, Tim. Although I dont think Buffalo is as close to being resurgent as you think. I now live in WNY, thats an extremely thin team with more holes than i can count

Dying Breed..I took your advice, and broke up my post. Hopefully it is easier to read. Thanks.

Even "IF" Henne can step into the next phase of development. It will only happen by improving everything around him. We are nearly all in full agreement he isnt a franchise qb that can single handidly carry a team on his back.

Like I previously said, if he still falls on face, with all the other pieces in place he can easily be replaced! You guys are reading far too much into Henne alone.

The primary focus should be to fix the team overall all. Then if Henne cant hack it ship his ass out! LOL...........

Jets have a better oline and more offensive playmakers and an average at best QB. New England has Brady and everything thing else is relatively average. We lack depth at key positions such as O line and linebacker. When Dansby went down the D collapsed. When we had a couple of O lineman go down an already average line became a mess. Better luck on the injury front would help but it is clear getting a solid O line should be the first priority. We arent going to immediately upgrage QB with the draft or free agent options out there.

WHY Y'ALL SO WORRIED? MY TWO COUSINS KLEENEX JOHNSON AND AMMONIA JONES BE PLAYIN IN MIAMI NEXT YEAR. THEY GOOD.

DD,

Your post now looks absolutely marvelous!

We are going to the SuperBowl!

Armando,


I would say it all depends on WHO WILL BE THE QUATERBACK if maybe they pick a free agent or trade for a more experienced one... I think they can go to the playoffs as the Wild Card Team

Saludos

Positions of Strength
CB
Middle Linebackers
D Line
1 Pass rusher
Kicker and punter
WR

Positions were ok
Safety
1/2 Offensive line
O linebackers (not so sure about this one but we don't completely suck here


We suck and still hopping for miracles
QB
Specialist for specials teams KR PR and Spread the field guy. (not named Ginn)
TE Fasano up and down maybe a good second guy need a primary caching TE

We have NO Running backs on the roster except the back ups right now, so is impossible to evaluate the backs

And a complete off-season to fix it



While I haven't TOTALLY given up on Henne (if for no other reason than NFL history is littered with late bloomers at the position) I still have little faith that he will ultimately be anything more than a journeyman type.

It's not the physical attributes. He has a more than adequate arm and is tough and durable.

For me, it's the intangible factors...the seeming lack of fire and passion that I think all the best ones possess. Just don't see that in Chad and I don't think it's something you can just magically flip a switch and find.

I suppose you could go back to a guy like Griese and say Miami has won with a cool and dispassionate QB at the helm, but Henne has no arsenal like that around him (and how many have?) and Griese at least exuded confidence in his ability to lead, albeit it quietly.

I'll hold a sliver of hope for Henne, but think the Dolphins need to ultimately upgrade to have any shot at all of getting to elite status.

Phins78,

Even if we moved up it requires probably giving up both 2012's 1st and 2nd rd picks. None of this year's qb's are projected as day one starters nor franchise qb's.

We only gave up what now equates to 1 2nd rounder for Marshall. So why give up a 1st and 2nd rounder for a qb that's never played an nfl down, not projected as a starter, nor even a franchise type qb?

If you're going to give up a 1st and 2nd rd pick for a qb his name had better be in the list of the top 5 nfl qb's and we all know who they are. What you're suggesting is far too high a price for a qb that may only turn out to be average at best and totally wrecks our draft seeing we dont even have a 2nd rounder.

That team may even want our 1st rd pick thois year too. LOL.................

Would you give up 3 or 4 starters for a franchise QB . Who can carry the team on his back for the next 15 yrs. Think about it. It makes perfect since.

I fully understand the free agent situation and how it is going to work. This is my idea of how the teams rank as far as attractiveness to prospective free agents(in our division)
1. The jets..Players know that Rex is a players coach. They have a swagger that I HATE. They have been close for the last two years, much closer then we have come. They get the edge. Also an owner that will spend. The nagatives. Some free agents may be put off by the bravado. And the cost of living, and high tax rate.
2. Miami..From the outside, this team has a lot of unknowns. A coach who is also a players guy, but isn't considered a top echelon guy. May not be around if he cannot produce a winner. A lot of questions. The positives. An owner that is dying to make a splash. The weather, South Beach, and unlike New York, a much friendlier tax rate then in New York.
3. New England. Obviously the best chance to win. Great coach, great quarterback. But it isn't New Englands style to over pay. They let guys go before giving them huge paydays. You may have to take less to join the juggernaught. Great sports town, crappy place to live.
4 Buffalo..Where all careers go to die. Good wings. And you get a home game in Toronto so Mark can come heckle you.

DB/dr. roberts, it's hard to truly grade the drafting, because while the player we eventually drafted might have worked out (Long, V. Davis, Odrick, etc.), it's too early to judge if there wasn't a better player that we could have drafted but didn't. So, for example, we drafted Odrick 1st-round last year. Who's to say if we drafted Jahvid Best we wouldn't have had a better record or would have made the Playoffs sooner? I'm not saying that's the case, I'm just saying that also should be taken into account in judging drafts.

Right now, we're just judging them on if they start and if they help the team any way. But if you could have drafted a guy that would have helped your team more, but you drafted a guy that still helps your team, but not as much, how successful of a pick was that? To answer my own question, as successful as it takes to get to where you want to be, Playoffs and SuperBowl and an elite team that make the Playoffs consistently.

I can't tell you how well we drafted until I see those results. I can tell you up until 3 years ago, we drafted miserably (as proven by the fact that most of that drafted talent was either out of the NFL or on other teams). It seems as if we've drafted better these last 3 years, but I'll have to see if in another 3-4 years, if we're in the Playoffs with the guys we drafted from '08-10 or if they are even still on our team. Then we'll be able to more accurately judge the way this mgmt team has drafted.

if not this year than next

You're right DB: This is make or break time for Henne. 4th year in league, 3rd year playing. I dont think he's a "carry the team on is back" guy either. Chances of that are slim and there just arent many of those guys out there. (of course no one thought Brady or Brees was that guy either)

However, he could evolve into a Phil Simms type. Be efficient, move the ball, make a few plays when they present themselves. Maybe carry the team a couple times a year with some big games.

Either way, like GAfin said, there arent any real upgrades out there anyway. Give him the year, if he doesnt progress, move on.

Facts are facts, and we played tough against both SB teams this year, and last for that matter. I believe we are better QB play away from being in the playoffs, and better QB play along with an upgrade to the interior line away from being in a divisional championship game.

We are better QB play, upgraded offensive line, and a speedy WR to compliment Marshall and Bess away from going to the SB.. Add a dynamic break away RB that can take it to the house on any given play and we can win the SB..

So there you have it.. We are not that far away, and realistically if all pieces fall into place from being able to add those necessary components to this roster in 2011!!

Throw in the fact that we need to stay healthy and we are very close!

The Dolphins aren't an offense away from being a contender. They're a QB away. Look at the two teams in the Super Bowl. The Dolphins beat Green Bay in Green Bay. The Dolphins would have beat the Steelers if the offical(who runs a business in Pennsylvania) had called that goal line play correctly.

Phins78,

There arent any franchise qb's in this draft. Hell we didnt even know who Blaine Gabbert was before declaring early. Now he's projected top of this qb class. That should tell you something about this class of qb's.

Actually I like grabbing Ricky Stanzi in the latter rds. He has great leadership and the best pocket presence of any qb in this draft. Just have other areas of his game to work on. I believe in 3-4yrs he'll be hands down best qb from this draft class and can be had maybe as late as 5th rd.

Stanzi is going to make some gm look like a real genuis. I hope that's ours.

Can I answer this question after the first preseason game. I knew after the first preseason game when our first team offense didnt' do jack that we were at best an 8-8 team. Lets see who they pick up in FA and draft and then we'll know. Its impossible to call it right now

Garbage Plate...If Henne could turn into Phill Simms we will be jumping for joy. Simms may have been one of the most accurate passers in the history of the league. He did it behind a great offensive line, a very conservative approach, a great tight end, and recivers that ran very precise routes. Those Parcells teams were built on fundemental football, and a Crack head monster that could get to the quarterback.

good point DB I'll keep my eyes on Stanzi

To be fair, we beat Green Bay when they were extraordinarily banged-up across the board. Kind of their version, injury-wise, of where the Dolphins found themselves in that miserable game versus Chicago where we had an OL in name only.

Solid win, but the Packers really were in pretty dire straits that afternoon.

Pittsburgh game? We were jobbed, no argument. Although the team DID have a final opportunity to do something and couldn't move the ball at all.

No question, there were some games last year the Dolphins could have (SHOULD have) won, but as fans we tend to forget it goes the other way as well. The Viking game could have easily been a loss and the second Jets game was one tipped ball incompletion (by Sean Smith) away from being lost on a long catch and run at the end.

The Dolphins were about what their record says they were. Not terrible...not nearly good enough to be a real contender.

One word

QUARTERBACK. We dont have it on the roster. Only once have i ever seen a team ride to the superbowl with a caretaker at QB. The 2001 Ravens rode agruably the greatest defense in history to a victory at the big game with of all QB's Trent Dilfer. An agruement can be made the BUCS did this with brad Johnson but im placing him as an average to slightly above average QB in his career.

Chad henne is no better than a trent dilfer at this point in his career. This team is miles and miles away in their own division, let alone the whole league. I dont wanna hear how we beat green bay and should have beat pittsburgh if not for the refs.

People we lost to buffalo, detroit and cleveland at home. enough said. Until this team finds a QB on earth, the moon or mars, i dont care where, it will continue to be a 6-10, 7-9 underachieving collection of average football. Dont tell me we need to sign Mankins, and Miller to push for the playoffs. Until we get a guy who can lead this team from the QB position like the days of Marino, the misery will continue.

DC,

Some may see the Odrick pick as a flop, too early to tell. Even if Odrick's a flop we still win by cashing that 1st rd pick into a 1st and 2nd.

We got Marshall, Misi, and whatever Odrick does give us is icing on the cake. The overall mechanics of the deal is still a resounding success gaining Marshall and Misi. I do believe Odrick turns out for us as long as his leg bone issues dont turn out to be chronic.

Lets just keep our fingers crossed on that one! Still we got good value in Marshall and Misi alone.

Mark Rypien goes into that category of mediocre QB winning it all as well, but again---that only happens when you have an EXTRAORDINARY amount of talent elsewhere on a team. It's rare that happens.

For that matter, Griese probably wouldn't have carried a marginal team to great heights but with the awesome talent around him he didn't need to be that kind of QB.

The Dolphins are a RB, G, and big-play receiver away from contending with the Jets and Pats. Henne isn't a problem at all. Sure, he made some mistakes and was a bit timid, but that was the reflection of Lee and Henning. Give him a chance to produce and he'll be fine.

Misi was playing some pretty damn good football (Patriots game excepted) the last half of the season. I found it encouraging that he seemed to get better when the tendency for rookies---even impactful ones---is to hit a wall and regress a bit towards the end.

He's going to be an interesting player to watch. I like the pick.

Well said dolfan29. IMO Marino played good enough to win 10 SB's.

I would say a speedy reciever such as Titus from Boise State, couple more interior lineman, and some compitition at Qb. But thats not to say our OC is going to be any better. And our choice for QB coach is extremely questionable as well.

SIGN best fa linemen... SIGN Jocby Jones kick return down field threat ,Nolan Carroll can focus on D! ... draft accordingly get von miller if he's there and Cyrus Gray 2012 pick Rb

I see a lot of work in progress and a lack of continuity.

Henning stopped developing a solid o-line, and with no line, there was poor results everywhere else.

Sparano handled wrong this, as being his specialty, he could have fixed that in a different way.

This landed in a large and inept trial and error process that affected the last part of the roster and dismantled our special teams.

His base that player should have multifunction jobs looks fine but his attitude of playing without error is wrong.

I know we don't like a QB throwing ints or a CB missing the ball by few and allowing a TD, but that's where big plays come from and our HC should allow them to have some room to grow.

It is typial Dolphin luck though that we have the labor agreement situaton looming over next season. It appears our ownership is ready to throw caution to the wind and sign some playmakers.


I was glad to see Parcells ride off into the sunset. Even though he's a for sure hall of famer and he did build a foundation here. He just had too many misses in the draft and free agency I believe because of his stubborness with his "prototypes" and dislike of "divas" and so forth.


It has been refreshing these last few weeks with Ireland being more open and candid and sharing his thoughts with the media.

We just have to get on solid ground. Make high percentage picks in the draft. Resign the good players like Solia who want to be Dolphins. I don't understand why some folks want to get rid of solid players like Crowder and Carey it just creates more holes to fill. You can't have a pro bowler at every position.


Heres hoping the labor agreement gets done before March!! Not likely though.

37 years since the last one and probably another 37 years away from the next Super Bowl win.

SIGN best fa linemen... SIGN Jocby Jones kick return down field threat ,Nolan Carroll can focus on D! ... draft accordingly get von miller if he's there and Cyrus Gray 2012 pick Rb

Posted by: Ju | January 31, 2011 at 02:57 PM

--------------

Can't sign anybody until the labor situation is resolved.

I wouldn't count on there being any free agency at all this year, frankly.

I think we're a Tom Brady retirement away from having a shot at a division title.

dr roberts,

In all actually Wake was a rookie last season. His play was very limited in 2009. Therefore the last 3 games he seemed to hit that "rookie wall" too.

He had zero sacks the last 3 games, his pressures went down, and he was overtaken as nfl sack leader. 2010 was his first full season of extended play.

Vontae sort of seemed to hit a wall the 2nd half of the season too. Remember, he didnt become a starter in 2009 until Will Allen went down. So 2010 was his first full season as a starter too.

Though he didnt hold onto picks Sean Smith's play did seem to pickup near season's end. That may have been both due too a full season as starter in 2009 and lack of being a fulltime starter for a major portion of 2010.

This cluster f#ck we call the Miami Dolphins football team has fallen so low as a result of twenty-five years of stupidity, indecision, bad decisions, decadence and lies that it seems impossible the team can become a contender in the next five to ten years. And that is assuming that the right decisions are made from now on which, as we are witnessing right now, doesn't seem to be the case.

Sadly, I believe we are still 2-3 years off from being serious playoff contenders. It's not just players. This team is still relatively young (compared to the Jets, etc.). We can bring in a whole bunch of top players, but that's only one factor to success. Remember, we have an entirely new offensive coaching staff that will learn on the job and will need time to experiment with their game plans, jell with the players and develop experience. Let's not forget the FO as well - now that Parcells is gone. Ireland said it right: this team needs to mature - from owner on down. And, of course, maturity takes time. But who knows. Nolan did an incredible job with the defense. Hopefully the offense can too.

Definitely gotta fix st's. St's responsible for at least 3 losses in 2010 alone. We could have have finished 10-6 with a much better st's.

THINK ABOUT FOR A MINUTE GUYS! LOL........

xerxesblack, compared to you I look like the eternal optimist. I agree we've made allot of mistakes but, I think 5-10 years is a wee bit excessive.

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