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2 posts from December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012

Joe Philbin: Free agency on the table

There is a false narrative in the Dolfan community that because coach Joe Philbin came from the Green Bay Packers, he wants the Dolphins run like the Green Bay Packers, particularly when it comes to building the team.

The idea is that because Green Bay rarely dips toes in free agency, with few exceptions, Philbin wants the same in Miami.

That is not true.

"I'm not opposed to improving the football team in any way shape or form, by any method we can -- whether that's a trade whether that's free agency, draft obviously," Philbin said Monday in his end-of-season press conference. "I'm not opposed to any of that."

Philbin says player acquisition is a "collaborative" effort that includes general manager Jeff Ireland and his staff and Philbin and his staff. So free agency is on the table.

And that ties perfectly with what I tell you in my column today about the Dolphins being willing to attack the high end of free agency this offseason as they have not done since probably 2010.

As I've said before, the man in charge of personnel for the Dolphins will  continue to be general manager Jeff Ireland. Owner Stephen Ross will speak with the media later this week, but a source repeated to me again today that Ireland is absolutely safe in his job. So no change is coming there for this offseason.

This offseason is about improving everywhere -- particularly on offense.

"We certainly need to get better production and performance out of the offensive unit," Philbin said.

The coach wants to see massive improvement in the team's turnover margin. It was minus 10 this year which was in the bottom quarter of the league. And he wants to see more plays on both offense and defense relative to the passing game.

"I think these guys performed well," Philbin said. "We have to do a better job of putting points on the board. This is not a complicated game. We have to do a better job there. Part of the takeway issue is getting interceptions and fumble recoveries. But I don't know it's isolated to the receiver or DB positions.

"We need to address the explosive play element on both sides of the ball. We got to create more, we have to eliminate more from our opponent's play."

Well, if that doesn't speak to receivers (including TEs on offense) and DBs (particularly corners on defense) I don't know who it speaks to.

Among the things Philbin wants to improve is himself.

"I definitely need to improve like anybody else, no question about it," he said. "That's what the offseason is all about. I haven't had time to reflect necessarily going through the exit process today and meeting with the players. Obviously we had a plan in place for this season. I thought it was a good plan. However, obviously you have to make changes and adjustments and learn and make improvements. And we'll do that. We'll listen to the suggestions of some of the guys you work with on a consistent basis and see if they have ideas that may or may not benefit the program."

Improvement is the order of the day all around this franchise, folks. The Dolphins finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs. That's 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, and 7-9 in the last four seasons. And none of those seasons included a postseason berth.

"7-9 is not good enough," Philbin said. "... We have a lot of work to do. That's really where we are."

 

Losing season over, winning offseason must begin

 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Reggie Bush sumed it up best: “We just didn’t make enough plays, that pretty much sums up our season.”

Indeed, the Dolphins are a team of players that don't make enough plays. The team lacks playmakers. And that, I write in my column today must be Job One for general manager Jeff Ireland this offseason. He needs to be aggressive. He needs to spend money. He needs to add stars to a team that doesn't have enough of them.

I know many of you believe the Dolphins will not be a big player in free agency this offseason because that hasn't been the case in recent years. That is not what I've been told the approach will be.

Look, the Dolphins need to add big names to win more games. They also need to add big names to fill the stands because the home attendance this year was the lowest since 1989. They need to add proven stars at wide receiver and cornerback because the NFL is a passing league and the Dolphins are not good enough throwing the ball or defending the pass.

On defending the pass, let me share something about Sean Smith. Another publication "reported" Sunday that Miami might use the franchise tag on Sean Smith. That is not accurate. The Dolphins have no intention of using the franchise tag on Smith.

Smith''s a contributor. He's solid against taller, bulkier wide receivers. But he is not elite and not consistent enough to merit the $10 million tag for corners. The Dolphins will have to think long and hard before they even offer Smith half that amount on an annual basis.

Miami needs playmakers and Smith has not been that the past four seasons.

Speaking of playmakers, I am extremely, extremely disappointed with tight end Michael Egnew's rookie season. And based on what I've seen, I find it hard to believe he will simply turn it completely around and become a star in the next couple of years.

He has given no clue of being capable of that so far.

So what have I seen to give me pause? Forget that Egnew was inactive for 14 of 16 games. Forget that. But he was active last week and this week and in this one when Anthony Fasano went out with a concussion, he was replaced by Jeron Mastrud.

No disrespect to Mastrud who is a solid blocker, but he's Miami's next best tight end in the season-finale? What does that say about Egnew? 

Remember, Egnew was active last week for the first time this season. And after playing a handful of inconsequential plays early in the game last week, Egnew earned fewer important snaps this week. Last week he played early in the game. This week he was thrown in as almost an afterthought.

That is not the kind of return the Dolphins need from a third-round pick, especially not late in the year when he's had plenty of time to "get it" and understand the offense and his role and, you know, actually make some plays.

I cannot tell you the future is bright for this kid. I simply haven't seen it.

So about that big push in the offseason, including making a splash in free agency? Add tight end to that list of positions where the Dolphins should search.

One more thing: The Dolphins will have the No. 12 overall selection in the first round of the NFL draft, according to the NFL.