« What must happen for the Dolphins to be Super Bowl good? | Main | GM Salguero: Put Jared Odrick on the trade block »

Dolphins should consider both sides of character issue

The Dolphins passed on available wide receiver Titus Young Tuesday after he was waived by the Detroit Lions Monday. That's not extremely surprising despite the fact the team clearly could use a young (23), speedy (4.43)  pass-catcher with upside.

The reason Miami's pass on Young is no surprise here is because the player was, well, toxic.

Young wore out his welcome in Detroit by being late to meetings, complaining when the ball wasn't thrown his way and being borderline insubordinate with coaches at times. He could also be considered borderline delusional because he actually said he's just as good as Calvin Johnson -- who had twice as many yards this year as Young has had in his two-year career.

So the Dolphins were among the 31 NFL teams that did not put in a waiver claim for Young, as USA Today first reported. The St. Louis Rams were the only team to put in a claim for the troubled young man.

I can understand why the other teams passed.

I can even understand why the Dolphins passed although Young would have come extremely cheap ($800,000) and could be easily booted if he acts a fool before next season's start.

But the fact the Dolphins could have had and passed on Young -- they could have had him by claiming him because their claim came before St. Louis -- brings up a bigger, more important issue for me.

I use Titus Young merely as the jumping off point to ask the question, are the Dolphins under Joe Philbin willing to take risks on players with questionable backgrounds or character red flags?

I ask this question because Philbin showed little regard for keeping so-called troubed players on the team in his first NFL season. I don't mean he had issues with players with legal issues. Jonathan Amaya had a legal issue and Philbin ultimately kept him on the team.

He had issues keeping players that are, shall we say, high maintenance.

With Philbin as coach the Dolphins traded Brandon Marshall. With Philbin as coach the Dolphins cut Chad Johnson. With Philbin as coach the Dolphins traded Vontae Davis.

All of those moves were not necessarily good football moves as all subtracted talent from the roster. They were moves to clear the locker room of players Philbin wasn't extremely comfortable having around because they were all, in one way or another, high maintenance.

"In making these decisions we base our evaluations on a set of criteria that support our organizational goals and include a player’s performance both on and off the field," Philbin said after Johnson was cut. "Essentially, we take into account the overall body of evidence to determine whether an individual is the right fit for this organization, and more specifically this football team."

Obviously, Johnson and his act wore on Philbin. Obviously, the idea of Marshall giving him or his coaches lip like he did the previous staff or possibly acting out on the sideline as he did previously didn't thrill Philbin. These were not necessarily football decisions.

Same with Vontae Davis. The Dolphins actually gave up a talented player at a position of need because Davis came to camp out of shape, didn't exactly rush to get right, and was actually running with the second-team because coaches didn't like the way he was working. And yes, Davis has a history for drinking.

It wasn't about one thing with these guys -- not even Johnson who sealed his fate by being arrested for domestic violence.

It was about whether guys will fall in line quickly. It was about immediately meeting a criteria. It was about marching to the beat of the Dolphins band (if they had one).

“I don’t know about the moves themselves, but I think you have to have an idea for what you’re looking for in terms of a vision for the team," Philbin said soon after the Davis trade. "What type of team you want to have, what kind of men you want to have in the locker room, and clearly I think we have some good ideas of where we are heading in that direction. That’s not to suggest that Vontae… Vontae Davis and I never had any confrontations or real issues, and I appreciate all the efforts that he put forth while he was here.

"But yes, there are certain guys, and I can give you an example of when go to the combine sometimes and you sit there for 60 interviews and you interview guys.  You know there are some guys that aren’t going to fit. That doesn’t mean they’re bad guys or they’re not good players either, but when you’ve been doing it for a while, you get a sense of the people that you feel like you can work with, you can connect with, guys you can help reach their potential. Guys that you feel good about. But that’s part of it, that’s part of the whole process; figuring out who is a good fit and who isn’t."

Yes, it's about Philbin feeling comfortable with the players. And he's clearly not comfortable with certain types ... certain troubled types.

That leads me to this:

How much will that cost the Dolphins?

I ask because if Joe Philbin is going to need a choirboy roster, his team is never going to be very good. That's because the sad truth is a lot of NFL players have problems. Some drink. Some are perpetually late. Some have anger issues. Some are loose with their hands around their women. Some have sassy mouths. Some have nightmare families that haunt. Some smoke marijuana. Some have maturity problems. Some have checkered pasts. Some have checkered presents.

And a lot of those guys are or become outstanding players.

Cam Newton.

Vincent Jackson.

Ray Lewis.

Michael Vick.

Ben Roethlisberger.

Randy Moss.

Jason Peters.

Bryant McKinnie.

Aqib Talib.

Vernon Davis.

I could go on, but you surely get the drift. Troubled players often become very, very valuable because they are simply very good.

Look at the most recent Hall of Fame class: Warren Sapp will be inducted. Cris Carter will be inducted. Both were troubled at points in their careers. The Eagles actually cut Carter because of alcohol and drug use. The Hall also boasts Lawrence Taylor and Michael Irvin.

Would those guys have been a fit for Philbin? Can you imagine Philbin saying he wouldn't want LT on his team because although he was perhaps the most dominant defensive player of his generation he had issues with cocaine abuse?

My fear is not that the Dolphins will have too many of these troubled men on the roster. It's that they won't have any. My fear is that the Dolphins would look at Taylor at the Combine and not draft him because he's not pristine enough. My fear is that in searching for "a good fit" the Dolphins might opt not to draft or sign or be patient with a player that has flaws that require attention.

Let's face it, some guys are projects not necessarily because it takes them a while to get rolling on the field. It takes them a while to get rolling in life. Many of these guys eventually figure it out and, having pushed down their troubles, let their gifts rise to great heights.

Jimmy Johnson, who had no fear of drafting troubled guys, maneuvered the draft to make sure he could stay away from Moss. How'd that work out? This administration stayed away from Dez Bryant and although that story is still not fully written, it's not looking so great for Miami so far.

My point?

Hard and fast rules that all the players must be a good character fit right now at the expense of losing amazing talent is a safe way to operate. But it's also a way to miss out on some great players, too.

The Dolphins have to consider balancing that out a bit more because, so far, they haven't shown that's what they're willing to do.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I just wrote a 4 part series on the last blog. What can I say, it was page 20. I thought you were never coming back-lol.

And YOU render it........MOOT! ;P

Titus Young would be a tough call for me if I were Ireland. Living in Michigan I've watched him play alot. He's talented no doubt, to bad, because it's all true. He's a Head Case :(

I would love the talent, hate the "Wanna-Be Diva-ness!

After some of the questionable moves Ireland has made at WR lately, I just don't know how he could justify a Titus Young?

Besides, he wouldn't last 4.3 seconds with Philbin or Sherman!



I didn't see the $800,000 first time around. And the ability to boot him with ease!

WTF is wrong with Philbin and Ireland? We need AT LEAST 2 legitimate WR's, possibly 3 depending on Hartlines status.

The $800,000 changed everything for me. This one looked like a No-Brainer to me! And Freaking Ireland strikes again!

Oh well, maybe Ross sends Ireland to Oz in search of a BRAIN(That's IT! I'm sick over this)!

$800,000 for Titus Young?


Evening odin ol' friend,

It would seem Mando poses an age old question. Talent vs Tease, Potential vs Disaster, Gold vs Fool's Gold.

It seems to me that it does come down to fundamentals of life for Philbin. He ventured into a new arena when he accepted this first time "head coach" gig with the Fins. As a fan of the team we watch every move with hyper-scrutiny. Good or bad we all make our own judgments (personal biases included) about the way Philbin is going about his coaching journey.

I say, good for Philbin. In a sense he is saying, "If I'm gonna go down, I'm going down swinging with MY guys". As a man I respect that notion.

Look, some teams can nurture, coddle and kanoodle problem children until they bloom. Dallas with Dez and his Dez Rules, 24/7 Life Coaching and paid butler to get him up on time and drive him back and forth to practice daily.

It's a double edged sword. On one hand kudos to Jerry Jones for doing anything and everything to win. On the other I think it sends a terrible message to all others on the team.

In the end, I believe every team has at least a few players with transgressions on their roster. Finding that happy blend of talented individuality vs team buy in players will be up to Philbin/Ireland together.

While not rosters of angels the Ravens AND the Niners had an awful lot of "team buy in" going on.

This draft, coupled with the growth and emergence of current players as well as coaching continuity should add wins...your move Fins.


Gotta hit the hay. I'll catch up to you odin. VaLhAllA! as well as Fin's Up.


PS odin just remember that 31 other teams passed on him (No Waiver claim for the same $800K guy).

Fisher is a veteran coach, seems stubborn enough to say "I will reach this kid".

Let's see if Fisher is right.


I'd rather have a head case that can catch the ball and make plays than a model citizen who does nothing.
Hi reward, low risk. I would have taken him in a heart beat especially as he would have been number 1 receiver which is obviously wants.

Good teams don't keep prima donas on their roster. I support philbin in this. Regardless of how good vontae davis is, if he comes into camp out of shape, he cannot make use of his talent.

Aqib Talib is not and never has been an "outstanding player".

We like it Safe. Sort of like Shula's SB Teams sans MM.

Yeah, its easy to criticize.

Most of you (including Armando) would start bitching as soon as this idiot started acting like an *-hole. Please list the "troubled" players the Packers (obviously the team Philbin is patterning his after)have on their roster. They're only a perennial playoff team and recent SB winner.

Laws have been made to protect Us and are to be respected. You break the Law, you will pay for it.

With a 2nd year QB still learning the game this Titus guy would be an accident waiting to happen. A distraction to his learning progress, unless you call learning how to deal with fools that aren't good team players part of that process.

Marshall was horrible to any young qb not named Cutler. Davis was average at best & missed almost half the games the Colts played this year. And the Ocho? What team picked him up after he was cut? All 3 trash. Unfortunately, trash Ireland acquired.....

Football is a Team Game and no place for individuality.

Armando, are u on drugs now, or something........?

Right on! Some coaches not only have to be good at coaching and teaching football, but they must also be strong leaders and manipulators of men, such as Bill Parcells, Don Shula, Bill Belicheck etc. Good coaches find ways of working with the character issues. That is something Philbin has to get better in or he'll always have mediocre teams.

Perhaps Ed Reed for 2 yrs? Maybe he has lost a step but I know he can still play at a high level and mentor the young safeties.

another reason why you build through the draft. You are selecting the type of great player you want on your team.

just draft your speedy WR. Wheaton, Harper is a start.
Patterson yeah, but overvalued. he is raw.

Shula's SB Teams: Nick Buonicanti, Lawyer. Dick Anderson, State legislator. Doug Swift, Surgeon. Bob Griese, Real State magnate, etc. Those are the kind of Players we want on our Team here. We want no sociopaths here.

Immaturity is one thing, Sociopathy another.

One of the best things Ozzie did for Flacco's development was fire Cam Cameron.

You are what your record says you are... The Ireland administration has proven to find several jewels and lose just as many.. As long as its the same administration making the personnel decisions, " spectators " and not "participators" await the Dolphins.. Telling it like it is...

I think we are going the right way, we already have a future Doctor here, a future Lawyer...

I think Philbin gets it. He is providing a new culture and a new starting place. The team needs a solid foundation and core to build around - real commited football players that will be the future. Who says that good guys can't be great athletes? I don't think that Philbin is saying he will never work with a more difficult player. I think what he is saying is he needs a new direction for the team (which based off last year seems to be heading in the right direction)and you can't start that with head cases. Once established (which the Dolphins clearly are not) then you take a chance with a borderline player. Philbin is aboslutely correct in his current direction and making smart decisions now to enable him to take a more calculated risk later. Isn't that what the Patriots do? How do you think it is working for them?

Completely against signing other teams problem players. These guys are cancer on a young team where the coaches are trying to build a team. We don't have a strong locker room with established leadership that can handle these me first guys.

Inside the Miami Dolphins locker room, dictated by Joe Philbin and dominating the space above 8 lockers is the quote: "The Fastest Way To Lose Is Division From Within."

Philbin's theme, from the day he arrived, has been to instill in the players that no one individual is bigger than the team; that each team member should believe in his fellow team members; and that all should work together for greatness.

He looks for and likes to coach players that are coachable; that want and will work to be great. There is no room on his roster for those seeking personal accolades. His highest compliment to a player seems to be that he is a "pro." Philbin is proud of his coaching profession and wants to infuse in his players the necessity of acting, playing and living as professionals.

Those who have missed this about the new Dolphins will forever second guess player acquisitions, codes of conduct and player dismissals. Joe Philbin works from plans. And everybody- from Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland to the ballboys- have bought into the Philbin plan for the Dolphins. Like it or not, it's what we'll see for at least a few years.

This kid is as toxic a player as I've ever seen in this league. What's even more sad is that he doesn't even think he's done anything wrong. He hasn't learned a thing, and he will be out of the league for good very soon.

Armando left out a key fact about Titus Young. The loser deliberately sabotaged his team by lining up wrong in a game on purpose, to draw attention to his ego-driven and petty demands. That wasn't DUI, or a fight, or any of the other off-field stuff Armando talks about. We have guys on the Phins who have had a lot of those same kinds of problems, and Philbin is obviously fine working with them.

But a guy who wants to screw his team over to draw some attention to himself, no thanks.

We've all worked around people that are not team players. If you've ever managed a group of people you easily know the problems they create are simply not worth headache. I'm sure Philbin in his time of coaching has learned from experience and that's why his instinct is to stay away from toxic players. I like that about Philbin..the professional atmosphere and no non-sense approach.

No need to sign Titas Young if you're going to re-sign Hartline, sign Wallace, and draft Allen.


That was a great post!!

just wondering how long it would take to hear the "ireland should have taken titus young" posts. if you saw him play at all, some talent, but not worth it, and he was single covered EVERY play because they happen to have calvin johnson. plus matthew stafford threw more times than any QB in the league and this guy still didnt put up big numbers.

The Dolphins have not won a Super Bowl in 41 years and have only been in one or two in that time period as I remember.The main problem as I see it is the temptations,glitz that South Florida offers.Any problems that a player may have,such as drugs,drinking,coming in late to and unprepared for practice will only be enhanced in the Miami area.I think that is why Philbin shys away from those type of players.

I dont know if Incognito ever was actually a choir boy but Im pretty sure this must be the first time he has been called one since then.

@ phinbo you it the proverbial nail on the head.

I'm asking not to be a wise guy but honestly. How many large groups of people has Armando had to coach/manage? It's easy to say it's not a problem if you don't have to deal with it and the guys listed above are the rare examples of a pay off with problematic players. What's the percentage that actually pay off...? At this point the move would be all risk with an opening for a lot of criticism with the draft and FA coming up.

Dolphins have always had a bunch of nice guys, never any Terrel Suggs types on the team. Nice all American guys who can't win, apparently. Maybe it's time they get a little attitude on the field, regardless of the image.

This guy was the most dysfunctional player on the Lions. If that isn't a commitment to excellence I don't know what is.

Fine with them passing.

If you look at the San Francisco and Baltimore rosters, they have their head cases. But the coaches were aided by players who were leaders on and off the field and who helped them keep the divas in check. Ray Lewis and Frank Gore (both UM grads - huh) did not allow the divas to dominate. Do the Dolphins have a leader like that in their locker room?

"I ask because if Joe Philbin is going to need a choirboy roster, his team is never going to be very good. That's because the sad truth is a lot of NFL players have problems. Some drink. Some are perpetually late. Some have anger issues. Some are loose with their hands around their women. Some have sassy mouths. Some have nightmare families that haunt. Some smoke marijuana. Some have maturity problems. Some have checkered pasts. Some have checkered presents".

Armando....you should frame that.....those words are a thing of beauty...almost poetry like.....

Mando, As I have educated you for five years this is not a dink and dunk passingly. Rather, it's a run the ball play defense and throw deeply same as it always was

Choir boys vs football players. I made this case yesterday on another blog yesterday, good to know you are reading your own blogs Mando. It's disappointing that you will defend Jeff Ireland at all cost. Jeff has been on his high horse about smart, high character guys looong before Philbin ever came on the scene. Jeffy has final say in personel decisions and sooner or later you and Ross are going to have to come to terms about Ireland being the problem and not the solution. I don't know what leverage he has on you guys but whatever it is, it's leading to the demise of this organization. When I heard on yesterday that Young was released I knew immediately that we could have gotten him cheap. The guy has great potential, but was overshadowed by a guy who could be the best ever at his position and he didn't handle it well. Put Young on the Dolphins roster and he immediately becomes an impact player. JEFF IRELAND missed AGAIN on this one.

Dolphins have always had a bunch of nice guys, never any Terrel Suggs types on the team. Nice all American guys who can't win, apparently. Maybe it's time they get a little attitude on the field, regardless of the image.

Posted by: Another Longseason Ahead | February 06, 2013 at 08:18 AM

Uhh, wasn't Richie Incognito just ranked one of the dirtiest players in the NFL? Not too much of a nice guy. Ever seen Pouncey on the field? The guy carries an attitude the size of a semi.

And the answer to your question will they take risks on players with questionable backgrounds or character red flags is...Yes. They signed Chad Johnson last year. How'd that work out for us? That's the thing with these problematic guys you never know what they are capable of doing.

I'm conflicted on this topic. I've seen the good and the bad. Sure, Marshall was talented, but also didn't really do anything to change the trajectory of the team. Unless the player is worth it (a la Lawrence Taylor, Randy Moss in his prime) then I can see why the dysfunction might not seem worth it to a HC.

Vontae was a problem, and wasn't good enough to not be replaceable. But not EVERYONE is replaceable. The organization needs to understand it's a football team, and winning is the ONLY thing that matters. No one cares about anything else (in the grand scheme of things). If they continue to only get stand-up guys, and stay mediocre, they won't get any credit from fans or around the league. And Mr. Ross will continue to buy tickets to sellout the stadium. Its up to him. Win (by any means necessary), or stay mediocre and think one day it'll work to your favor since you're doing it "the right way."

ALA...What about Brian Cox...he was not a nice man. Loved the fight that guy had and his intensity was great.

I guess we'll see when the Phins draft T. Mathieu from LSU with the second pick of the third rd. I don't believe Philbin is opposed to players with issues. I think he looks for players that put the team first. Other issues he can counsel. Unbridled Ego is more difficult to reign in and can become contagious.

Seems like Reggie is a goner. Lamar Miller is NOT proven, but neither is Reggie the kind of back that fits Philbin's System. Ideally, we would sign him for a year in case Lamar doesn't work out, but that's not going to happen. Good Luck, Reggie.

your argument is faulty. chad johnson is still without a team, meaning he has no value and it was good to cut him. vontae davis shows up out of condition, hungover (possibly still drunk), without taking the job seriously since he came aboard. this happened in 12 and '11 that i am aware of, so he does not have the drive to be a winner (why accomodate that? any of us would be fired/let go if we showed up drunk for work).

Brandon Marshall, is a good player, but dropped several critical passes and suffers from a serious personality disorder, that makes him a wildcard at times, and keeps the team (and his team mates) on pins and needles. You dont need that to build a cohesive team. infact, the last 2 teams that had marshall (dolphins and bears) had their coaches fired.

to me, good decisions by Philbon and Ireland.

A lot of people were applauding the Detroit Lions in the 2011/2012 season because they took a chance on a few players with character issues and had a strong season.
Fast forward a year and those character issues started to flare up again: Suh, Young etc and a team that should be good, with a very good quarterback and the best wide receiver in the league failed.
In a lot of their games this year, the Lions lost narrowly and to me that's because they have too many disruptive players around the dressing room.
I agree Armando you have to take a risk but this guy Young strikes me as somebody whose issues are beyond redemption.
We all talk about trading away Brandon Marshall but does anybody honestly believe Marshall was the missing link in us going to the playoffs this year? Would Tannehill have developed as well with Marshall constantly carping about not getting the ball? Would Hartline have been able to put in the performances he did?
Some trouble makers are worth the trouble, most aren't.

You decide if you will take a risk on a flawed player when he has great potential and comes at a cheap price. No one is saying break the bank on a head case.
If he doesn't pan out then nothing gained and nothing lost. Its just that simple.

Long's rehiring is more problematic. IMO, he will go where the most $ is, and plenty of $ will be available, if not here somewhere else.

When you get to shop for the groceries....you get to pick the ones you want. Pretty simple.

This is a teachable moment for how we interact with people throughout society...not just a sports team.

Employers turn down top sales people...hunters as their known, not because they don't produce, but rather because of their personalities not being a good fit.

Vontae, Brandon, Chad...while they posses talent, they also posses mouths that spew toxic verbiage that can divide a locker room and under mind the coaches grip on the team.

I agreed with all three getting the ax and hope Philbin keeps to his high standards regarding players character.


Not defending Philbin here -- but you have to look at GB during his tenure there. Were there any real bad boys on that roster? Perhaps Finley, but not much else. Bottom line is Philbin is trying to build a cloned Packers team here based on the culture and philosophy he came from. I can't fault him for that. We desperate fans are desperate for playmakers and we jump at any possible playmakers that may be available. I learned my lesson after getting high on Matt Flynn last year. It's a hard judgement call on Young. My guess is that Ireland and Philbin have already mapped out a plan for the offseason and are sticking with it.

Mando, you make a good point that superior football talent often comes with inferior life skills. But there are also many cases where talent doesn't come with the baggage. Jason Taylor didn't come with baggage. Neither did Sam Madison. Brady and the Manning boys don't have those problems. Neither did Jerry Rice. Barry Sanders. Need I continue?

The other thing that I think we all need to remember is that Marshall and Davis were problem children that Philbin inherited from the last regime, they weren't guys he acquired. I'll also add that the Dolphins brought in both Marshall and Davis despite the fact that both had histories of being "difficult" (insert Elaine Benis reference here).





Mando and readers: I have educated you for 3 years and yet you don't learn. I will continue to try to educate you, even though I'm not getting paid for this.

THIS IS NOT A DINK-AND-DINK "WEST COAST" PASSING LEAGUE. It's a running, defense league, and THROW THE BALL LONG league same as it always was.

The team that can run the ball with a stud RB and O line and then hit big passing plays down the field occasionally always wins the super bowl.

We gotta hope that Smith is a STUD, or we remain with no chance of getting to the big dance. If he's not, RB is now our biggest need, along with speed WR.

2 watt, you said it all, man.

Titus Young has all these problems in the slume s of detroit. He would easily clean up his act with the lack of distrations in Miami and South Beach. (Sarcasm)

I like the kids talent, but Miami could be one of the worst places for him to "grow up".

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 »

The comments to this entry are closed.