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Coaches sometimes hurt the personnel process

During the Bill Parcells era the Dolphins did what most teams do this time of year. The personnel department tried to mesh with the coaching staff and come to a consensus agreement on the worth of draft eligible players.

This is an interesting shotgun wedding that occurs every spring because, let's face it, it's at some level dumb to do this. Coaches are paid to coach. They are paid to develop talent that is right in front of their faces. They are paid to maximize an individual.

They're not paid to project. They're not paid to evaluate.

Indeed, most coaches are not great talent evaluators.

Yet, year after year, NFL teams ask coaches to do the very thing they are not specifically paid to do: Evaluate talent.

And it has become quite clear to me in recent days that while the Dolphins personnel department of 2008-2010 had its share of misses, that was augmented by the fact the coaching staff was generally not great at evaluating college talent.

For example:

In 2010, the Dolphins were asked to serve as one of the coaching staffs at the Senior Bowl. Me, being a dummy, assumed this would give the staff firsthand knowledge of the players they were coaching and that would be a draft-day advantage.


During that week of practices, both head coach Tony Sparano and offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo fell in love with a guard/tackle from Mississippi. His name is John Jerry.

They liked Jerry's aggressiveness. They liked his punch. And because they liked his awareness and intelligence so much, they tried the player who played right guard and right tackle in college on the left side because he was smart enough, they reported, to handle the move.

Moreoever, Googs also reported Jerry had no issues learning quickly.

And so on draft day 2010, the Dolphins looked at their board in the third round -- the one that had tight end Jimmy Graham from Miami still sitting there -- and picked Jerry instead.

In training camp the team tried him at left guard. He was actually the starting left guard the first day of camp. And that lasted only one day because Jerry was a disaster there. He couldn't figure out the position at all.

And later in the year when Jerry's inability to get on the field came up in a conversation with a Miami personnel man, DeGulielmo, the same coach that months earlier had said Jerry was bright and had no issues picking up the system, reported that Jerry's problem was he wasn't picking up the system.

And thus Jerry couldn't do either of the things Sparano and Googs reported to the personnel department that he would be able to do. He couldn't make the transition to left guard. And he couldn't learn seamlessly.

Coaches hurting the personnel evaluation process.

Two years earlier, the Dolphins had been searching for a quarterback. And as I've recounted to you before in this blog and in my column, the Dolphins sent out Sparano, offensive coordinator Dan Henning as well as general manager Jeff Ireland to see, meet with and work out three quarterbacks.

Matt Ryan.

Joe Flacco.

Chad Henne.

And Henning, who fancied himself something of a quarterback guru, came back convinced, CONVINCED, that Henne was and would be every bit the equal of Ryan and Flacco. CONVINCED!

And he reported this to his close friend Bill Parcells. Sparano and Ireland had some misgivings but generally went along with that opinion as well.

Obviously, in hindsight, we now know that Henne isn't the equal to the other two because despite his fine arm and great work ethic and prototype body, something just doesn't click for Henne as an NFL QB. Something inate is missing. And so he is and will always remain a backup type while Flacco carried his team in the playoffs and won the Super Bowl and Ryan is among the top 10 QBs in the league.

Coaches acting as personnel men.

Why do teams do it?

It's interesting to me that personnel men don't don whistles and go try to coach players during training camp. Why do coaches get to play personnel men in February and March?

I will say this:

Recently, on my way back from the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix, I shared a flight with ESPN insider Chris Mortensen. We chatted about a number of issues and shared and compared notes on different things and one thing he told me perked my ears.

He reported that in talking to various NFL people the word he was getting was that current Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was gaining respect as a solid talent evaluator.

One source told Mort that Philbin is the best coaching evaluator he's ever worked with.

Now, that doesn't mean Philbin is ready to take over the Miami personnel department. Indeed, he still has to prove he's a good head coach because today his career record is 7-9.

But if the opinion relayed by Mort's sources turn out to be fact, perhaps the synergy the Miami coaching staff and personnel staff are forced to share this time of year won't be a hinderance.

Not like it was in previous years.


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What ever happened to Home? Did the chemtrails finally get him?

Perhaps Ireland needs help. He has struggled getting (and keeping) the right team together over the years. He needs someone to hold his hand.
Posted by: dewbert | April 03, 2013 at 11:11 PM


Who can deny?

That wasn't Home.

Mando, banned the name but the guy is still here everyday. Nobody will miss home when he is gone.

But til the day that happens he is going to haunt us with his presence.

I was a huge condemner of Ireland in the past. From what I have seen in the last year, I think our boy Jeff has been enlightenend.
I am looking forward to an exciting draft.

Where are my toys?


Another player I would like to call attention to is, David Bass. This guy has all the tools, foremost speed off the edge.

Home got banned in Armando's crazy new year's purge of idiots and trolls. My only wish is Aloco would have gotten the axe as well but I'm still hopeful.

Caps lock douchebag.

The problem with Ireland is he is a bargain shopper. He likes players who are comming off injuries and he thinks he can get that last ounce of talent out of them for cheap.

I think this whole thing could go either way. We have brought in players who are known to drop ball and run one route (Wallace) Our CB's are all injury listers.

Our RB's are young and didn't do much last year. OUr QB is young and jumps the pocket quickly. And his blind side is sort of a problem maybe why he rolls out to the right so much and so quickly.

Our pass rush is suspect, they are talking about ditching our kicker.

And to top it all of Philbin couldn't get a bunch of players to play the last two games of the season. Even when they all knew a house cleanning was comming.

This thing could still blow up. And the front office cant even be trusted with the identity of the product the Logo Sucks.

You guys can jump on the leadership band wagon. But do so with caution. I know that was way to much negativity. But I remember when the Don was going to take us to the promise land for one last dance and the names all looked great on paper.

Ireland seems to be very unlucky and that is probably his downfall. Philbin really has not proved anything yet. I think Moore would have taken us to the playoffs but we paid a price for every precious snap Tan got last year. Will we get a payoff ???????

Go Dolphins!! Ireland deserves to be on the hot seat. And now I think Mr. Dee and the other side of the operation should be also. The Logo sucks!!

Even the most mindless homers admit there's more questions then answers. Rarely a good sign.

You're an idiot go to sleep and dream about being a smart person



We can only hope,,,,

We had enough of drug drama with Ricky Williams. The Honey Badger went to rehab and 3 months later was arrested again. He obviously has no discipline or self control. Don't need that type of guy running around South Beach where he will be in trouble quickly. No thanks.

Good article by Volin from Palm Beach Post.
@BenVolinPBP: Also: Right tackle market gets more crowded; and get used to this new look for the Dolphins http://t.co/Z42W5IbTaP

Great article Mando - exactly why Fatty Parcells was an unmitigated disaster as a GM - the worst ever!! Good coach, not a great coach, but good coach --- terrible GM and talent evaluator - Pat White anyone?

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