First there was the offensive line that was constantly being tweaked. The Dolphinscoaching staff eventually learned that searching for the great combination often times sacrificed good combinations and when that search failed, you got neither great nor good.
Well, we're seeing a little of that with the Dolphins secondary right now.
Yesterday, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano explained that one of the problems the secondary has had this year -- aside from Tom Brady throwing for a jillion yards in the regular-season opener -- was all the "moving parts" the team has had to shuffle back there.
Vontae Davis wasn't healthy so the team had to use Nolan Carroll, until he wasn't healthy and then came rookie Jimmy Wilson. Chris Clemons was back there and then the team went with Reshad Jones until he got hurt and then they had to try Tryone Culver because neither Jones nor Clemons was healthy. Benny Sapp was good enough to be on the team and have his salary guaranteed for the season while Will Allen wasn't good enough because he was injured (again) and couldn't be counted on -- until the day after the first game on which the Dolphins cut Sapp and re-signed Allen to replace him as the nickel cornerback.
A lot of moving parts. It's not a good thing in the secondary.
"I think with the amount of moving parts, Vontae (Davis) hasn’t been in there at times just like you said, Reshad (Jones) hasn’t been there at times, (Tyrone) Culver is in there, Jimmy Wilson is in there occasionally, might be Nolan (Carroll)," Sparano said. "So with the amount of moving parts I think they’ve done a pretty good job back there of weathering the storm. And now we’ve finally gotten guys healthy and I’m seeing them get better and better. The communication is just really improved tremendously and that’s just young players starting to become veteran players. That’s really what that is from Jimmy Wilson all the way up to Ty Culver."
Sounds logical, right?
Fewer moving parts, fewer chances for screwups. Fewer moving parts, more consistency.
Hey, I get it.
Why are the Dolphins continuing to nurture more moving parts?
At a time when Reshad Jones is healthy again -- he hasn't been on the injury report in nearly three weeks -- the team has not returned him to the starting job. Tyrone Culver, whom I thought did a good job solidifying the free safety spot when it was given to him in the face of other injuries, has started and done well.
But the Dolphins apparently really, really like Jones. And so Jones has, for the past couple of games, been platooned into the game while Culver has come out.
A team that has bemoaned moving parts in the secondary as one reason for struggles earlier this season, has continued to allow moving parts at free safety.
Coaches obviously want Jones to play and be good enough to win the job outright because he is more a long-term answer at the position than Culver. But coaches also have wanted to stay with Culver because, again, he's doing a good job that does not merit a return to the bench and mostly special teams and some dime package duties.
So coaches are going with the old have the cake and eat it too approach. Both Jones and Culver are playing -- switching in and out at different times in the game.
Cracks me up.
In a perfect, well-aligned world either Jones retakes the job outright or simply doesn't show enough to do so. (I believe Jones takes the job back and probably fairly soon, maybe even this week against Buffalo or next versus Dallas). But if not, how long do the Dolphins allow themselves to play both, risking a costly miscommunication, by playing two players at a position that requires only one?
I don't understand this need to experiment during games when stakes are so high with arguably the most important position in the secondary.
Why not share the spot in practice and make the decisions to play one or the other player based on what happens in practice rather play both in games? Why does the coaching staff gamble everything in the game to see who plays better instead of making a decision based on practice play?
Now, one can argue that both Culver and Jones are playing well enough to deserve playing time. That's fair. Play both then.
But then don't bemoan having moving parts.
[VIDEO ANNOUNCEMENT: You don't want to miss the segment in the 8 o'clock hour with NFL Network talent evaluator Bucky Brooks on Armando and the Amigo today. We'll go over the college quarterbacks with him to see how he evaluates the class behind Andrew Luck. In fact, we'll see if Luck's struggles versus Oregon has affected his standing as the No. 1 overall pick. We'll also ask Brooks what he thinks of Matt Moore verus Chad Henne. Peronsonally, I see more upside in Moore. In the 9 o'clock hour, agent David Canter, who represents Paul Soliai and Sean Smith will join the show in studio. For you local South Florida sports fans, University of Miami coach Al Golden will join us in the 7 o'clock hour. The show is live on 640-AM on your radio dial. The show is on live video right here all four hours. And you can call in and talk to me from anywhere in the United States at 1-888-640-9385]