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3 posts from November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012

Dolphins waive Gaffney; sign TE Miller, make Matthews happy

Jabar Gaffney's career with the Dolphins lasted, oh, six games and he was active for only three of those. Gaffney, inactive last week against Buffalo, was waived a couple of hours ago.

The Dolphins are filling the roster spot with tight end Kyle Miller, who they claimed off waivers from Indianapolis. Miller was on the Colts' active roster one game and was headed back to their practice squad when he got the call this afternoon that he was claimed by Miami.

Miller is scheduled to arrive in South Florida Tuesday evening.


Another disappointment.

Look, with the performances of Gaffney and Anthony Armstrong -- signed after training camp as stop-gap, desperation moves to help the wide receiver corps -- we should now be understanding that these moves that pick up somebody else's discards after training camp rarely work to any great degree.

The Dolphins, you'll remember, signed Gaffney in early October when he finally got healthy after missing all of training camp and being cut by the Patriots for having a calf injury.

But Gaffney didn't learn the Miami playbook very quickly. He was inactive three weeks before he finally got on the field. Then he played three games in which he caught four passes.

He was not the veteran presence fans hoped. He was not an obvious upgrade to Marlon Moore, actually. And now he's gone.

That depature clears the way for rookie Rishard Matthews to continue being active in games going forward.

Miller, meanwhile, is a 6-5 and 260-pound first year player from Mount Union. He was an undrafted free agent pickup by the Colts and was on the practice squad until the New England game when he was activated.

Miller is a developmental player.

The Dolphins have five tight ends on their active roster.


Joe Philbin sticking to the status quo

Remember last year when the Dolphins started the season on a seven-game losing skid? Then coach Tony Sparano changed things. He changed the practice schedule, the meeting schedule. He poked and prodded with changes to try to turn the thing around.

Ultimately, the Dolphins did recover somewhat and won six of their final nine games. No, it wasn't a grand fix, but it changed the direction of things.

Well, the Dolphins are mired in a three-game losing skid and need desperately to change the direction of things again.

But new coach Joe Philbin has a different approach than his predecessor. He's not changing things. He's sticking to his guns. He believes in the approach he and his staff have taken and, darn it, that's going to remain the approach.

"Again, we hope we have a process in place of getting these guys ready to play the game," Philbin said Tuesday. "Now, whether it's the right process or not, that's certainly open for debate. But we kind of believe in certain things in terms of preparing players to play in an NFL game -- be it things they do in the classroom, the things they do in the weight room, the things they do on the practice field, they type of meeting structure we have.

"We believe in it. We're sticking with it. We're doing it. We hope it's going to bring about the desired results we're all hoping for."

That doesn't mean Philbin is feeling confident or great about the results the Dolphins are getting lately.

"I haven't slept as well as I'd like to be sleeping No question about it," he said. "But at the same time you have to have a faith and belief in something and we're going to stick to this process we have in place and this plan we have in place to help these guys reach their potential. That's what we're doing.

"As we said, there's lot of football left to be played and, most importantly, we're excited about this opportunity against Seattle."

And that opportunity will help determine whether staying the course alters the season's course.

Why not consider playing a couple of younger players?

Yesterday I shared with you the news Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman doesn't see Michael Egnew getting involved in the offense much this year and the reasons the coach gave for that.


It's bad news when a third-round draft pick playing a position that needs upgrade has been basically eliminated from playing this year. It's not a problem if a veteran ahead of him is playing great. It's fine if the rookie is simply caught in a numbers game.

But not playing based on his slow start while the guys playing are having a slow month?

Where does that make room for improvement? How does that keep the players playing from feeling entitled or too comfortable? Most importantly, where does that give Miami the opportunity to find out what talent is on the roster?

And that leads me down a road that eventually the Dolphins will travel. That leads me to thinking about the future. This year, you see, is on the brink of being over.

The Dolphins are 4-6 and have lost three consecutive games. And now comes the killer portion of the schedule. The next three weeks the Dolphins face three consecutive games against teams with winning records for the first time this season. (Also for the only time this season).

And we're not just talking about good teams. After Miami plays 6-4 Seattle on Sunday the team will welcome New England the following week and travel to San Francisco after that. The Patriots and 49'ers are Super Bowl contenders.

Unless the Dolphins find immediate answers to the issues they have been unable to solve the past several weeks, this team is going to find itself at 4-9 within the month. That's not a prediction. That is a statement of fact. The Dolphins must find their absent running game, must find a way to straighten out a suddenly leaking secondary, must get more consistent play and fewer mistakes at quarterback, and have to win battles along the offensive line or this is going to get ugly.

So think of what I'm advocating as desperate times calling for desperate measures. Sort of.

I, for one, am thinking this rebuilding season needs to get back to, well, rebuilding. The Dolphins have youngsters on the bench that may not be quite ready to play but could be the future for the team nonetheless.

Well, it's time to see what the future promises. Rishard Matthews finally got in a game last week and didn't seem overmatched.

“I thought he looked like he belonged out there," coach Joe Philbin said. "He did some good things. Hopefully, he can continue to develop. He earned the opportunity to play in the game. Some of these guys, you’ve watched them in practice and you see them make more catches, more plays, play faster and he deserved to be in the game and didn’t look out of place."

Great. Play him more.

Look, Jabar Gaffney is a better wide receiver right now. But at 32 years old next month and on a one-year contract that expires after this season, he's not going to be around next year and everyone knows that. Matthews will come to camp with the team.

So why not maximize the rookie's experience now, during a season that really isn't headed toward the playoffs anyway? You know, kind of like the Dolphins are doing with Ryan Tannehill.

Let's face it, Tannehill is in a slump because he cannot get the offense in the end zone lately. Maybe Matt Moore would do better. But the thought of a switch hasn't crossed anyone's mind (mine included) because Tannehill is the future and needs all the experience he can get now.

It's short-term pain for long-term gain.

Well, why not apply that to Matthews over Gaffney?

And while we're at it, why not apply that to Egnew over the veterans ahead of him who, by the way, are not exactly lighting it up lately and in Charles Clay's case haven't lit it up yet in over a season and a half?

Maybe Egnew doesn't have it. Maybe he was a reach or a bust. But isn't it better to find that out now than next year after the draft and free agency?

There's also the case of Lamar Miller. Perhaps I am biased because the University of Miami is my school. But the kid was dynamic in high school. He was dynamic in college. And I have seen hints that he can be dynamic in the NFL.

But he simply isn't getting many carries.

"We’re not getting a whole lot of snaps in the game," Sherman said, explaining why Miller doesn't get many chances. "If we were getting 65-70 snaps, which I envisioned -- actually I envisioned 75-to-78 snaps -- then I think there’s more snaps to be got. But when you’re not functioning like we’re not functioning, it’s hard to take a Reggie [Bush] out or a guy that has experience, whether it’s Daniel Thomas out of the game.

"I really like Miller. I think he works hard at it. I think he’s going to be a very good player. I’m excited when he gets in the game. I have no problem when he is in the game. It’s just only one of those guys can play at a time usually."

Timeout. Look, Bush is unsigned. I've told you time and again his chances of returning next year didn't look great at the start of the season. Then he got off to a fast start and that gave me pause. But he's come back to the pack and hasn't really electrified anyone to the point he must be re-signed.

He's been benched twice this year for fumbling -- once against the Jets, once against Tennesee. The foreshadowing here is obvious.

Well, why not give Miller more of a chance to show you if, indeed, he can help cure the ailing running game or at least give hope for the future?

Of course, the Dolphins don't plan anything such as I'm advocating. Philbin was asked this week if he planned any lineup changes in the midst of a three-game losing skid.

"Nothing really specific at this point," he responded.