« A look at Dolphins GM candidate Brian Xanders | Main | Seventh GM interview: Dennis Hickey »

Edwards promotion great; Turner status merits scrutiny

The reported departure of Dolphins linebacker coach George Edwards to Minnesota to become the Vikings defensive coordinator deserves congratulations for him. Dolphins fans should applaud that someone from the Dolphins coaching staff is moving on up, professionally and geographically. No, seriously, you should really be thrilled ...

Because in his last two seasons coaching the Dolphins linebackers -- Edwards's second stint with the team following a tenure that lasted 2005-2009 -- the unit has mostly underperformed. Indeed, last season as the Miami defense fell to 24th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, the worse ranking since 2007, it was clear that linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler were at the core of the problems with the run defense.

That fact is so obvious that at least one general manager candidate interviewing recently said the next GM must replace at least one of the two players because the performance from the positions did not merit the salary cap and actual money expenditure.

(Peanut gallery: Well, Armando, this clearly shows what a poor GM Jeff Ireland was. After all he signed Ellerbe and Wheeler.)

Yes, gallery, the signing of both players was apparently a poor decision given their contracts -- Ellerbe at five years for $34.75 million and Wheeler for five years and $26 million. The Dolphins paid Ellerbe $14 million guaranteed. The Dolphins paid Wheeler $13 million guaranteed.

But here's the rub ...

Ellerbe played quite well for Baltimore in 2012. Wheeler was outstanding in Oakland in 2012. And the two players the Dolphins jettisoned to upgrade to Wheeler and Ellerbe played better for their new teams. Karlos Dansby was a borderline Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Arizona and Kevin Burnett was a revelation in Oakland.

The two departed players combined for nine sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, five interceptions, 23 passes defensed and two TDs.

The two players under Edwards combined for 1.5 sacks, zero forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, 12 passes defensed and no touchdowns.

So to recap, the players the Dolphins added under Edwards played better elsewhere before arriving but took a step back in Miami. And the players who didn't play well enough under Edwards the year before were released and had banner seasons elsewhere.

I don't see this as a coincidence. And I see a good portion, if not the majority of the responsibility for this, falling on the position coach involved -- Edwards

So congratulations to him for getting the promotion. Problem partially solved.

Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Edwards was not the only Dolphins assistant that deserves scrutiny based on the performance of his players.

Last season the Dolphins offensive line was, as the entire NFL knows, something of a problem. Yes, sometimes the pass protection breakdowns fell on the shoulders of running backs or tight ends. Yes, sommetimes quarterback Ryan Tannehill held the ball too long or did little to get out of the way of the pressure.

But those franchise record and NFL worst 58 sacks?

The offensive line, folks.

(Peanut gallery:  Well, Armando, this clearly shows what a poor GM Jeff Ireland was. After all he put that offensive line together).

No doubt about it. At the end of the day, the Dolphins did not have enough talent on the offensive line. Ireland bet on Jonathan Martin, his draft pick, and that bet was a loser.

But the thing is, Mike Pouncey is a talented center. And Bryant McKinnie is a solid left tackle who Ireland brought in via trade midway through the season. And John Jerry was often able to get in somebody's way. And Tyson Clabo is a former Pro Bowl player who went 14 consecutive games, including the playoffs, without allowing a sack for the Falcons in 2012.

And these guys, together, simply were not very effective. There was no unity of action on the field. They were disjointed. And there certainly was no unity of thought as the NFL scandal obviously suggests.

So who is responsible for solving those issues? Um, thinking ...

Yeah, the position coach.

Offensive line coach Jim Turner oversaw the statistically most inept offensive line in Dolphins NFL history. That is not an opinion. It is a fact, as evidence by the phrase, "most sacks allowed in franchise history." One can argue the expansion offensive line was worse, but that was an AFL line.

Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the Minnesota Vikings haven't been calling to hire Turner. Neither has any other NFL team that I know of.

Barring a return to his college roots, Turner is likely to remain in Miami.

So while the offensive line that underperformed likely will get a nearly full reconstruction this offseason, the man who led that terrible line, likely will remain.

It is possible new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor may lobby to replace Turner and others but he said recently that subject had not been discussed with coach Joe Philbin.

(Huh? How does an interview happen and either the head coach or OC candidate doesn't bring up the topic of what will happen with the offensive assistants under the new OC?)

Anyway, this brings up another little issue:

What's Philbin thinking?

Does he know more than everyone else in thinking Turner is a great coach that deserves the chance to step out of the shadow of an epic failure?

Does he know Turner isn't it but rather not replace him out of loyalty? (This is a possibility because, well, Mike Sherman.)

Or does Philbin, a former offensive line coach himself, simply not know a failing OL coach when he sees one?

There still isn't an answer to these possibilities. So far Philbin has stuck with Turner. We'll see if that lasts through the release of the NFL report. We'll see if it lasts through that conversation he and Lazor apparently haven't had yet.