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76 posts from September 2011

September 20, 2011

Dolphins sign DL Igor Olshansky

The Dolphins are getting kinda sorta predictable in their comings and going of players.

The Larry Johnson contract termination was not hard to see coming down the pike.

The addition of a defensive linemen or defensive back was not hard to see coming to replace him. And if someone is going to sign, of course, he has to be a former Dallas Cowboy.

So the Dolphins have today added defensive end Igor Olshanksy.

Olshansky, from Dnepropetrovsk in the Ukraine, actually signed with the Cowboys after the current Dolphins administration left Dallas. He nonetheless is a another Dallas castoff joining the Dolphins.

He was cut by the Cowboys prior to the start of the season. He played for San Diego before that. He is necessary because Tony McDaniel has a hand injury that will cause him to miss some time, but perhaps not so much time that Miami wanted to put him on injured reserve and lose him for the season.

And so here we are. Anyway, I need some levity. Ah, this should do the trick:

And indeed the Dolphins cut Larry Johnson

Well, that didn't take long ...

As I suggested in the previous post, Larry Johnson has been released by the Miami Dolphins. The story was first reported by my 640-Sports radio colleague Andy Slater, whose show is on noon to 3 p.m. daily. Slater and Johnson are close.

The writing for this was on the wall, Book of Daniel style, when rookie Daniel Thomas had a breakout game on Sunday against Houston. Thomas rushed for 107 yards on 18 carries. That was enough to make the team comfortable with the running back corps.

And so the experiment that was Larry Johnson ends after one carry for 2 yards.

It is obvious if the Dolphins are subtracting a player from the roster, they will also add.

They've been looking at free safety help. They also might consider adding a corner because of Vontae Davis and his inability to finish games. Davis is working through a hamstring injury this week. Defensive line, where Tony McDaniel is out of the lineup with a hand injury, is also a possibility.

Is Johnson a luxury Dolphins can continue to afford?

The Larry Johnson story was nice. You know, former star turned washout realizes the terrible error of his off-field ways and, after much soul-searching, transforms himself as a person, and after tons of hard work finds a new team. And then he becomes a better player than he ever was.

Yeah, really cool stuff.

Except Johnson is still working on the script. He is obviously a different person and he has found a roster spot with the Dolphins. So far, so good. But that is pretty much where the story is meeting a Haloti Ngata-Vince Wilfork-Cullen Jenkins type gang tackle.

Johnson has not been able to recapture his 1,700-yard rusher form -- not that he's gotten much of an opportunity. He has only 2 yards on one carry this season. And with rookie Daniel Thomas getting more and more confidence and more and more healthy with each passing day, Johnson's days on the roster may be numbered.

At this point it seems Johnson's status is directly tied to the team's injury situation.

If the Dolphins need to fill a roster spot to tighten up a position lessened by injuries -- say, cornerback, for example -- Johnson's roster spot might be at stake.

If Charles Clay (hamstring) is finally healthy enough to become active, Johnson's roster spot might be at stake.

If the Dolphins feel the need to add more help at defensive line because Tony McDaniel isn't available, but they don't want to yet put McDaniel on injured reserve, Johnson's roster spot might be at stake.

Yes, his one-year deal is guaranteed. So the Dolphins are on the hook for the contract, which I assume was a split deal. But sometimes a team swallows the money and makes the moves necessary to meet its needs.

And with every passing injury, with every ounce of improvement that Clay makes, every ounce of confidence that Thomas gains, the less it seems the Dolphins will value Johnson as an insurance policy at RB.

September 19, 2011

Bush-Thomas package on the way? Looks like it

On Sunday night I asked coach Tony Sparano if the team could find a way to get both Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush in the game during games in which Thomas is the hot hand as the running back.

The idea, obviously, is that Bush is a potentially dynamic player and it would be a waste to have him on the sideline serving as a spectator while Thomas runs the football. I figured, find a way to use him as a third-down guy. Use him as a punt returner. Use them both in the backfield and perhaps move him out to the slot -- thus forcing the defense to defend Bush with their base unit.

But coach wasn't buying any of that. He said what we saw is basically the way things are.

"Reggie‟s role is where Reggie is," Sparano answered. "Thomas was going good today, you know, and that‟s where we were. It was that kind of game. It worked out good."

Well, today things are a bit different.

First of all, Sparano just told the media that Thomas was in for 33 plays while Bush was in for 25 plays. I know, it sure didn't feel like that. But those are the stats the coach repeated.

Then he said the club actually has a package that includes both Bush and Thomas and that they used it some Sunday. The problem was, he said, that with Thomas an uncertainty because of his recent injuries, the package is admittedly small.

Well, here's the deal: You should look for that package to expand. It has to happen if Dolphins coaches saw what everyone else did. It has to happen to use as many good players as possible at the same time. Makes sense.

Yes, you can be critical of the Dolphins for not being ready with an extensive package for both players versus Houston. But, again, the team's stated plan was to use Bush 70 percent of the time and Thomas about 30 percent. They didn't foresee Thomas having a breakout day while Bush continued to struggle on his runs.

And now my opinion:

I've seen enough of the Dolphins pushing Bush as a carry-the-load guy. He's not that guy. He's never been that guy. Bush is a fine talent. He's a matchup problem for base defenses. So use him that way. Use him closer to the way the Saints did.

And let the bigger back carry the load.

Seems like a good way to maximize both. Maybe even at the same time.

The picture of the Dolphins after an 0-2 start

Much to digest this early morning so let us begin chewing:

First, it is now officially ridiculous that the Dolphins have not only lost their first two games at home this year, but are 1-11 in their last 12 home games dating back to 2009. The problem is only one of many questions this team has going on right now.

"It’s not a good feeling," Running back Reggie Bush said. "I always believed that you have to defend home at all cost, no matter what. Home field is your home. I look at as an intruder coming into your home to rob you or something and you have to defend home no matter what at all cost and that’s something we have to work on. That’s something we haven’t done the first two games and we got to correct it.”

Things are so bad for the Dolphins at home that some players are actually looking forward to the next three games because they'll be played at home, rather than at home. Brandon Marshall was asked if leaving town could be a blessing in disguise.

“Hopefully it is, we may be a better road team," he said. "It sucks man because our fans were trying to get things going here in this community and get that spirit back up in our stadium and in our community. You have to win; you have to win at home to do that.

"It hurts when you can’t perform in front of your home crowd because they deserve it, they are loyal. Every day I run into fans telling me they have been season ticket holders since ’72, thirty-something years. You want to play for those people its frustrating when you come up short, it’s embarrassing."

As the Dolphins pile home loss after home loss and fail to taste success, at least one player is worried his teammates are going to start suffering confidence problems -- if they aren't suffering those already.

"Yeah, to be honest with you, I’m sure," Jason Taylor said when asked if confidence is losing confidence. "Not everybody but I’m sure there is a faction of the group that’s kind of trying to figure this thing out, figure out where we are.

"That’s kind of the part of losing sometimes is you start to question, second guess a little bit, question yourself, question what you’re doing as a team. Until you win those things will linger out there a little bit. I think winning cures all ills and we’re kind of stuck in mud right now, trying to figure out how to get everyone in this room to believe and play like they expect to win. Not hoping to win but expecting to win."

The Dolphins have some playmakers. Marshall is one at times. Cameron Wake is one at times. But in the last two games, the Dolphins have proven they simply don't have enough playmakers. And the ones they do have, aren't consistent enough.

That's on both offense and defense.

"Case in point, they made more plays then we did," linebacker Kevin Burnett said. "When you get a chance to get them off [the field], you have to get them off and I think we did a good job of that today. I don’t know what they were on third down, but it was good. In the end, they made more plays then we did. They sustained a key drive and they punched it in the end zone.

"You have to take advantage of, as a defense, when you have your thumb on their throat, you got to squeeze, and when you have them backed up, you got to hold them to three or less, preferably none. There are going to be times when the offense carries the defense, defense carries the offense, special team carries both, and today I think it was a total team loss. You can’t put it on any one facet of the game."

So what is the picture of this team that its players just painted?

Well, the Dolphins are a team that doesn't make enough plays, a team on which some players are losing confidence, and a team that has no idea how to protect its house.


September 18, 2011

Dolphins lose to Texans, 23-13, to go 0-2

The Dolphins have lost again, this time to the Texans, 23-13.  It's bad, folks.

The team is not only 0-2 but 0-2 at home. It's bad, folks.

The Dolphins are winless. Everyone else in the AFC East is undefeated. It's really bad.

Now Miami goes on the road three consecutive game, including trips to San Diego and the New York Jets.

All I can say is no one's job can be considered safe right now -- even if we're just two games into the season. It's bad, folks.

Dolphins narrow gap to 16-10 to start fourth quarter

It has been a tough day for the Dolphins.

And yet, they are narrowing the lead the Texans held at halftime and they have a chance to take the lead with a touchdown.

Ain't that crazy?

Anyway, the live blog continues in the comments section below. Go there, please.

Dolphins losing 16-3 to start the third quarter

The defense that yielded 516 passing yards last week is almost half-way there today, having given up 219 yards to Matt Schaub already.

The offense that struggled in the red zone last week, is at it again because three trips into the red zone have yidled only one field goal.

And the special teams that wasn't a worry last week is stinking today -- having missed one field goal, having had another blocked and having given up a 40-yard punt return.

No wonder the Dolphins are losing 16-3 as the team get ready for the start of the third quarter.

The live blog continues in the comments section of the third quarter post. Go there now, please.

Texans lead Dolphins 6-3 to start second quarter

It is a battle of field goals so far.

That's good for the Dolphins because the Texans have dominated this game so far. They drove inside Miami's 20-yard line twice in the first quarter.

They had a 40 yard punt return by Jacoby Jones.

And still they're only down, 6-3.

The live blog continues in the comments section below. Go there now.

Live blog of Dolphins vs. Texans available here

There will be a live blog right here and, yes, starting right now. Go to the comments section and that is where you'll be able to comment on the goings-on of today's game versus the Texans. I'll be right there with you.

The inactives are out: Roberto Wallace, Chris Clemons, Charles Clay, Ike Alama-Francis, Ryan Cook, Tony McDaniel, Will Yeatman.

What it means: Lex Hilliard starts at FB for Clay, whose NFL career will have to wait at least another week. Reshad Jones starts at free safety for the second week in a row. Marlon Moore is active for the first time this season.

The matchup I'm most worried about? Mario Williams vs. Marc Colombo and Co.:

Williams is probably the best pass-rusher the Dolphins will face this season. He is playing a position that DeMarcus Ware and Bryce Paup turned into stars or bigger stars as soon as they started working under under Wade Phillips. Phillips is the new defensive coordinator in Houston. The Dolphins must, must, must help Colombo with either a tight end or a back on passing downs. 

The matchup I like most for the Dolphins?

Brandon Marshall vs. Kareem Jackson: Marshall seems more than ready for a big season. He had a fine game last week. He seems to be on the same page with quarterback Chad Henne. And the Houston defensive backfield, although remade for this season, is still suspect until proven otherwise.

The Dolphins are wearing their white jerseys and white pants today. Looks sharp.

See you in the comments section.

It's all about urgency today for Dolphins versus Texans

The Dolphins face a difficult challenge today in playing the Houston Texans, a team they have not beaten in five tries. T

The challenge?

Do. Not. Go. 0-2.

And the Dolphins defnitely cannot allow themselves to do that with those two losses at home. I made the point how urgent and how much urgency the Dolphins are facing in this column in today's Herald.

The truth of all the teams starting 0-2, only about 12 percent make the playoffs. The truth is the last two seasons no team starting 0-2 made the playoffs. The truth is if the Dolphins start 0-2, there will be a lot of unhappy fans -- many of whom have stopped coming to games already.

So yes, there is urgency in this game. I explain in the column how the Dolphins are showing that sense of urgency. And yes, in the video below, I give you Foreigner's take on the issue.

There will be a live blog today. I'll set up a post for that once I arrive at the stadium. See you then.

September 17, 2011

Dolphins defense must prepare for more no-huddle

The Dolphins defense showed itself vulnerable to the no-huddle attack last week.

Defensive players seemed vulnerable in their conditioning because players looked gassed as they stood at the line of scrimmage, mouths agape as they gasped for air, their hands on hips.

They seemed vulnerable in their physical preparation because several players -- including cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith -- suffered from cramps. Cramps can be prevented with proper hydration, IVs, even fruit. But you have to have a regimen of hydration for long periods of time to ensure it will work.

And finally, the Dolphins seemed vulnerable in getting players on the field.

I want to deal with the last of those today.

The Patriots no-huddle is interesting in that they run players on and off the field before they snap the ball. Traditional no-huddle attacks try to catch you in one personnel grouping they think they have an advantage in and keep that group on the field to wear you out while pressing that singular advantage.

The Patriots are different. The mix and match group as they run the no-huddle. When they get into a rhythm, it's a stunning thing to see because it happens fast, it's precise, and obviously involves a good amount of forethought.

The Dolphins (and any defense for that matter) hasn't the ability to respond with forethought because coaches cannot count on always guessing correctly what group the Pats will scramble onto the field before they actually do it.

Miami did, nonethelss, try to match New England with its own personnel changes even in no-huddle situations. It didn't work out as well as folks might have wanted. The Dolphins were forced to call time out at least once to collect themselves. They were caught with 12 men on the field once. They were caught not ready for the snap of the football at least once and Tom Brady completed a pass to Deion Branch against Nolan Carroll as a result.

"They caught us a couple of times trying to sub and get matched up," safety Yeremiah Bell said. "Look, they do it to us every year. They get into this every year so we were ready for it. We just didn't handle it as well as we wanted."

The problem is no longer how they handled or failed to handle it last week. The problem becomes w]how the Dolphins handle no-huddle operation in the future -- like, oh, Sunday against the Texans. In the NFL, you see, when a team shows a weakness, opponents pick at that weakness like a scab in ensuing games until someone becomes convinced it has been addressed.

"We know we’re going to see [the no-huddle] week in and week out now," Bell said.

It doesn't matter that the Patriots and the Texans run vastly different offenses -- the Texans a West Coast offense, and New England a more vertical attack. No-huddle is universally available to everyone.

So how do the Dolphins respond? I look for them to adjust on several fronts. I assume they've worked on getting certain groupings on the field faster this week. I assume defensive coaches will try to speed up their decision-making to help get the players on the field faster.

And I know there will be some plays where the Dolphins might just have to line up with what they've got and simply ball. That's what Bell thinks should have happened more often against the Patriots.

"We should have just kept personnel on the field instead of trying to run guys off and on," he said. "Sometimes you just got to roll with it."

September 16, 2011

RoboHenne was not seen in the season opener

You remember one of the major knocks on Chad Henne last season, right? No personality. No emotion. No swag.

People called him robotic.

Robo QB.


Where was that automaton in the regular-season opener against the Patriots? Thankfully, he seemed not to attend the game.

Henne didn't look at all robotic in this game. He moved around. He had life. When he and Brandon Marshall got together on the sideline, it was Henne doing much of the talking instead of most of the listening as it was last year.

And that rushing TD on the quarterback draw? Henne wound up windmill style and spike the ball with so much emphasis, his shoulder pads popped out from under his jersey.

“I mean, we’re just excited," Henne said this week. "Just excited to get in. Again, we’re not going to talk a lot about New England. We’re trying to move on to the Texans so, you know, we just got to improve on what we did and improve on it.”

Well, maybe not all the robotic nature is gone off the field. But on the field? For this one game at least?

"He played with, I thought, a lot of passion in the past. But I think that right now the environment that’s being festered on that side of the football is one where there’s more enthusiasm … just all around," coach Tony Sparano said. "The line coach is a guy that has a lot of enthusiasm and passion but then the tight end coach comes in and now (Brian) Daboll comes in and (Jeff) Nixon. 

"You got guys on that side of the ball that play, that coach with a lot of passion and I think it’s kind of rubbing off on the players."

It is obvious to anyone watching that Daboll, who is the coach primarily in Henne's ear, has brought to the player a spark he didn't have last year because, I believe, Daboll is simply younger and more enthusiastic than some of the coaches that were in Henne's ear last year.

Last year? QB coach David Lee was more worried about Henne not making mistakes than making plays. And Henne's at-times tentative, careful play showed that.

That's not how Daboll wants Henne playing.

"What I told Chad and what I tell all the guys is that as an individual you need to be yourself," Daboll said. "Don't throw your arm out if you spike it. We need it. That was a play that was designed for him and he was excited that it worked and he showed emotion. I'm glad he showed emotion.

"This is an emotional game and you need to show emotion. If you don't show emotion, sometimes you're a little too flat."

September 15, 2011

The math of the Dolphins running back tandem

Yes, Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas will play Sunday. And here's how it should be split if coach Tony Sparano has a favorable situation and the game is going along in an orthodox fashion -- meaning Miami isn't down 27-0 to the Houston Texans as they were the last time the team's played in 2009.

Reggie Bush would be on the field 70-75 percent of the time. Thomas would serve 25-30 percent of the time -- at least initially until the rookie gets acclimated to the NFL game.

"I don't know how the games are going to go so that dictates touches," Sparano said this afternoon. "... But from our end, in a perfect world, I wouldn't mind it being somewhere around 70-30. Somewhere to that effect, where Reggie's ability on third down is a factor and we get Daniel going a little bit. And then at the end of the game we see which one has a hot hand."

The issue has been on Sparano's mind because Bush got every carry by a Dolphins runner against New England save two -- both carries that went to Lex Hilliard. That is not the way to keep Bush healthy and fresh.

"Obviously I didn't take Reggie out of the game last game," Sparano said. "So in a perfect situation, 70-75 percent of the time you keep Reggie in there. You use somebody else 25 percent of the time early on in this thing until you grow him a little bit and see how they handle this. That would be good for Reg."

Obviously, the Dolphins aren't comfortable simply thrusting Thomas in there. Obviously, he hasn't exploded onto the scene, suggesting the team must use him as much as possible as soon as possible. So the Dolphins will work him him slowly.

And Sparano, meanwhile, will be on the lookout for other players that perhaps played too many downs against New England but can't keep up that pace:

"I have to do a little bit better job of play counts of a few guys," he said. "We have to get some plays off of them. Otherwise it ends up being a long season."

Jason Taylor back at practice, expected Sunday

If you saw the ugy picture of Jason Taylor having his left ankle stepped on by New England Patriots offensive lineman, you probably thought the worst.

It looked serious when it happened. It looked serious when Taylor immediately went to the ground. It looked serious when the Dolphins outside linebacker remained on the field as doctors tended to his injury.

Taylor eventually returned to the game but missed practice Wednesday. Not to worry. He's back at practice today.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Taylor is expected play Sunday against Houston, according to a source.

The story seems more dire with free safety Chris Clemons. He missed practice for the second consecutive day with hamstring injury.

Wide receiver Roberto Wallace also missed practice today. He is sitting out with a quad injury. 

It's an upside down world some days for the Miami Dolphins

The world is upside down. Bill Belichick's team wins and he talks about how much they need to improve. Tony Sparano's team loses and he talks about how some players -- Jared Odrick, Mike Pouncey, Reshad Jones, Chad Henne -- played well.

The world is upside down. The Dolphins for three years (2008-2010) built a roster made to run the football and now they're throwing on fourth-and-goal from two feet out.

The world is upside down: The Dolphins cut fullback Lousaka Polite because the fullback position apparently is an endangered species thus not necessary on this roster. And then they have to enlist nose tackle Paul Soliai to line up at fullback on the goal line.

The world is upside down: Soliai weighs 355 pounds, which is about what a sturdy American couple weighs. And yet on his one grand attempt to play fullback he moves tentatively. He doesn't really block anyone. He doesn't really create any space. He doesn't really use all that bulk to be at all physical.

The world is upside down: The Dolphins have experienced, accomplished Larry Johnson on the sideline but he does not see one play in a game while inexperienced Lex Hilliard, who is a fine special teams player but hardly an accomplished runner, gets the rushing attempt into the end zone ... and fails.

The world is upside down: The Dolphins have spent a total of $64 million for their inside linebacker duo of Karlos Dansby ($43 million) and Kevin Burnett ($21 million) but the pair combined for eight tackles. That is one tackle less than strong safety Yeremiah Bell had against the Patriots. That is four fewer tackles than Jones had in the game.

The world is upside down. When a free safety has 12 tackles, that's a bad thing, not a good thing.

The world is upside down. The Dolphins are supposed to have one of the better Front 7 in the NFL. That fine front faced a New England offensive line whose center broke an ankle. They faced an offensive line with a rookie who moved from left tackle to right tackle for the game. The fine front faced a strategy that had that rookie, Nate Solder, working one-on-one against Miami's best pass rusher Cam Wake. And yet in 48 pass rushes Monday night, against what seemed to be a patchwork offensive line, the Dolphins managed only one sack.

The world is upside down. the Dolphins have gone 20 games, dating back to December 13, 2009, since they've had a 100-yard rusher. Their starting running back, Reggie Bush, has one NFL 100-yard rushing game. And we expect this to be a coming habit? 

The world is upside down. The Dolphins are on to Houston, as coach Tony Sparano said. They don't want to talk about New England. Except that the Dolphins do not allow their assistant coaches to speak after games until the following Thursday. So today, when defensive coordinator gets asked about the New England game, is he going to do the right thing and answer for the performance? Or is he going to change the subject to Houston?

Hopefully, he does the right thing. Hopefully, the world can tilt back on its axis.


September 14, 2011

Dolphins agenda: Get well and on to Houston

The good news for the Dolphins is that rookies Daniel Thomas and Charles Clay both practiced full, without limitations today, according to the injury report.

Barring setbacks in the coming couple of practices, both will play against the Houston Texans Sunday.

"I'm hoping," coach Tony Sparano said. "Daniel practiced today. We'll see what happens. We've got a couple of days to go before the game. If no setbacks, then the depth is better."

If neither suffer a setback from their hamstring injuries, both will make their regular-season debuts.

The Dolphins have, as I told you on my twitter this morning, Will Allen has signed back with the Dolphins. He was a starting CB with the team from 2006-2009 but his role has shifted. It's a safe bet to expect to see Allen used primarily as a nickel (slot) CB from now on even though Sparano says he can definitely play outside as well.

"At the end of the day where we were evaluating Will the most prior to the cutdown is whether or not he could play inside," Sparano said. "The competition was really amongst the two players we just had this deal with here."

Sparano was talking about Benny Sapp, who made the team ahead of Allen the first week of the season but was cut Tuesday in favor of Allen after giving up two TDs versus New England. 

Sparano went on to say Allen gives him the luxury of deciding to put him inside or outside with someone else inside. But why would the Dolphins use Allen outside if they were evaluating him inside and the competition he has now won against Sapp was inside?

Also, why would the Dolphins ask Vontae Davis and Sean Smith to work inside when they've never really done that?

Will Allen is a slot CB for the immediate future.

When Sparano addressed his team Wednesday his message was clear: Put the New England loss in the rear view mirror and concentrate on Houston. He told the players to think about Houston, talk about Houston and not discuss New England any further -- particularly with the media.

This according to two players.

And the locker room fell into line. Players declined to take any more questions about New England. Hey, as long as they learned from the Patriots loss, why should they continue to relive it? I agree with the approach.

The focus on Houston also has a practical reason for existing. Houston is the next game. The Dolphins cannot beat the Patriots now by thinking about them. And the Texans are not up ahead, the coach sees them as being ahead of his team in prep work.

"That was the message," Sparano confirmed. "Absolutely, because it's Wednesday. Those guys have two days on us right now. "

Oh, by the way, I recognize the Dolphins are on to the Texans. That's team policy. I'm a free agent and I can be onto anything I want. So:

The NFL stats say Miami is ranked No. 4 in pass offense and No. 2 in overall offense based on its performance verssus New England. The defense, however, isn't rated well for obvious reasons.

The Miami defense is No. 32 in the NFL in total defense -- 20th against the run and dead last (32) against the pass. Obviously, the ratings are based off just one week.

"We have 15 more games to go," outside linebacker Cameron Wake said. "We'll see where we are at the end of the season."

What's up with the Dolphins' 2nd round picks?

Starting off today, the Dolphins have signed Will Allen to a one-year deal according to a source, thus surprising no one. There you go.

Running back Daniel Thomas missed the Dolphins regular-season opener on Monday and coach Tony Sparano made it clear Tuesday the decision to make the rookie inactive wasn't that difficult.

“It didn’t end up being too close," Sparano said.

Thomas was limited all last week. He'll likely be eased back into practice this week but his status is not at this moment certain for Sunday's game against Houston. That may or may not be a big loss because what we saw of Thomas in the preseason and training camp wasn't exactly eye-popping awesome.

He was there. Just there.

And while that does not suggest Thomas will be good or not going forward, it does say he hasn't gotten off to a fast start. The makes me ask the question that you saw in the headline:

What's up with the Dolphins and their second-round picks?

This team has done very good work with its first-round under the current administration. This team has done good work with undrafted free agents under the current administration.

The team's second-round picks under this administration? Not impressive so far.

Phillip Merling was Miami's first second-rounder selected under this administration. He contributes on the team's defensive line shuttle but he hasn't exactly had a great career so far. He missed most of last year with an Achilles' injury. He didn't meet expectations his second season after a solid rookie year. He's sitting behind players the Dolphins drafted after him.

Chad Henne was also a second-round pick in 2008. He's been a starter for three years and has a 13-15 record in those three years. There are big hopes he can become a good, consistent quarterback. But can he be considered anything but a wait-and-see pick yet? We have to wait and see.

In 2009, the Dolphins picked Pat White with the 44th overall selection. Everyone knows how that turned it.

The club also took Sean Smith with the 61st overall selection. He is a starter. He is solid. But is he great? Is he a difference-maker? Not yet. He had the opportunity to be that last season but struggled to hold on to the seven passes in his hands that he could have converted into interceptions had he held onto those passes.

Last season's second round selection was Koa Misi. Starter. Solid as a rookie. We are in wait-and-see mode with Misi.

So the summary of Miami's work so far in the second round?

A backup defensive lineman. A quarterback about which everyone is hopeful but hasn't arrived yet. A bust quarterback. A staring corner. A starting outside linebacker. And a running back that still hasn't get his career started.

By the way, I asked NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger what he thinks of Thomas. Baldinger a former NFL offensive lineman studied all the draft picks this year.

"Is Daniel thomas going to help this football team? I don't think so. I think they missed on him," Baldinger said.


"He's a point of entry back which means he needs a hole to make yards rather than be good enough to make the hole himself," Thomas said. "He runs too upright. He's not going to give you anything on third down and he doesn't run with power. He has to build speed to get power. He's not going to push the pile. So I think he's going to be a very limited back for the Dolphins."

September 13, 2011

Agent: Benny Sapp released by Dolphins

Well, that didn't take long.

The Miami Dolphins have cut cornerback Benny Sapp after he was among the Miami cornerbacks who got burned by the New England Patriots and Tom Brady on Monday night.

Agent Andy Simms made the announcement on his twitter account earlier.

Sapp is the one who gave up the 99-yard touchdown to Wes Welker and several other completions. He also gave up a 2-yard TD to Welker that actually seemed just as troubling in that he competed better on the long TD than the quick pass in the flat TD.

By the way, Sapp wasn't alone in playing poorly against New England. Nolan Carroll similarly got burned several times. Vontae Davis got beat a handful of times before he left the game with cramps in the third quarter. Sean Smith suffered the least damage of Miami's corners but he also struggled at times against the Patriots.

The assumption here is Sapp will be replaced on the roster. The further assumption is that Will Allen will be the man replacing Sapp. Final further assumption: Look for the Allen reunion to happen by Wednesday.

This Sapp move raises several issues:

One: The NFL is a what-have-you-done-lately league and Sapp learned that.

Two: The same people that decided Sapp was good enough to be on the team last week are deciding this week he's not good enough to be on the team, which shows their initial evaluation was wrong.

Frankly, I think Sapp is still better than Carroll right now. He had a better training camp. But Carroll is younger. He's a draft pick. He has ability to grow as a player yet. And he was less expensive than Sapp.

Patriots put cramp in Dolphins home weather advantage

Gassed? Cramps?

The Miami Dolphins?

One of the most galling things about Monday night's game against the New England Patriots was not that the Dolphins lost -- New England was favored. It was not that Tom Brady toyed with the Miami defense -- he has a way of doing that against many teams.

It was just that the Miami Dolphins, a team that trains and conditions in South Florida and should have some sort of weather advantage here, couldn't catch its collective breath.

Vontae Davis suffered cramps and couldn't come back in the game. Sean Smith cramped up and stayed in the game, although it seemed clear he was struggling, which is why he got beaten for a 29-yard completion by Aaron Hernandez.

Brandon Marshall suffered cramps. Defensive linemen were seen bent over between plays, clearly needing to catch their breath.

What's up with that?

Did the Dolphins fail to hydrate? Did they not take IVs at halftime? Were they not aware that New England's no-huddle offense -- which was on display in the preseason -- was going to tax their conditioning?

All these questions deserve good answers -- maybe before Sunday when the Dolphins play a 4:15 game against Houston.