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On Ben Tate ... run defense ... need for more upgrades

In the last two days, the AFC East has seen the departure of Antonio Cromartie from the Jets, Jairus Byrd from the Bills and Aqib Talib from the Patriots. So until Darrelle Revis is cut by Tampa Bay today and decides whether to go to the Patriots or not, the airways promise to be kinder to Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Doesn't matter.

My column in today's Miami Herald says the Dolphins need to improve the ground game -- on both sides of the football.

Yes, the Dolphins signed Brandon Albert to their left tackle job (press conference today) and agreed to terms with defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on Monday. But that better be a start rather than a finished work.

With all due respect, the Albert signing replaces Jake Long one year later. It doesn't make everything better. He's not by himself getting the Dolphins to the playoffs. The Mitchell signing may or may not be an upgrade over Paul Soliai.

So the Dolphins have to giddyup and do more to make their rushing attack and poor run defense -- neither of which was even remotely close to mediocre last year -- a team strength rather than an obvious weakness.

They're not getting Austin Howard. He's gone to the Raiders. Howard will reunite with his former New York Jets offensive line coach who is now the Raiders OL coach -- Tony Sparano.

So ... Zach Strief, please.

[Update: The Dolphins have shown interest in Strief but at this point there is no further movement on the issue. Stay tuned as I work to get more. No visit is planned at this point. Strief wants to return to the Saints.]


He's 30 and will be 31 in September. I get it, that's not what the Dolphins like to do. So get him for two or three years if possible. Geez.

I give you compelling examples of how improving the running game and run defense can help a cellar dweller become a playoff caliber team and how a good team goes to a championship right here.

And I give you one name that could go a long way in helping the Dolphins improve their rushing attack ... Ben Tate.

The Dolphins have shown lukewarm interest in Tate, I'm told. Not surprisingly, most NFL free agent running backs don't exactly break the bank these days. Donald Brown, for example, signed a three-year deal for $10.5 million Tuesday night.

Tate might get more. But not necessarily a ton more.

So why not?

By the way, Dolphins new offensive line coach John Benton should be able to give the Dolphins a solid report on Tate's practice habits, on his affect on the locker room, things that in the wake ofthe Wells report are important to the Dolphins.

Use that information.

If not Tate, would it kill the Dolphins to check in on LeGarrette Blount?

He is a known player to Hickey, who was in Tampa when Blount played for the Bucs. Yes, he knows Blount punched that kind while at Oregon and another one as a rookie while with the Titans. But I imagine he also knows Blount can return kickoffs because he runs a 4.5 in the 40 and is a LOAD at 248 pounds. Blount is a career 4.7-yard-per-carry back.

Blount has seven 100-yard rushing games since 2010 -- as a part-time player. The Dolphins have had a player turn in a 100-yard rushing games only nine times since 2010.

On another front, there is no way the Dolphins don't need to keep addressing the run defense that has gotten progressively worse the past two years ... from No. 3 in 2011 to No. 11 in 2012 to a disappointing and unacceptable No. 24 last season.

Losing Randy Starks (might happen, might not as team has an offer in for him) and Paul Soliai (to Atlanta for a reunion with former coordinator Mike Nolan) while adding Mitchell doesn't exactly scream upgrade. It suggests holding your ground while paying less for the players involved.

But it is not a certain upgrade.

More must be done.

Maybe on Day Two of free agency.


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Why do they call Just FYI Twinkle Toes?

MIT - the team was NEVER going to keep Starks AND Solai. So, yes Starks is the 'better' signing. But signing Mitchell is HUGE given the fact Solai was creating a hole that needed to be filled. Mitchell fills it quite well.


what we pay starks??

dusty, hear $6M avg and he's 30 - has two good years left...

2 watt, says in this blog above. by Go Hickey Go, seems legit, haha

What the fk is Armando doing? Drinking MARTINis?

I'd be surprised if New England ended up with Revis. Bellicheat has a history of not being willing to pay big bucks to a CB. He lets Talib go, and once let Asante Samuel go too. He also doesn't seem to draft CBs very high either. Seems he does not value the position that much.

finfan63: still believe OSU deserved the NC in 2002 over the Canes in 2OT with that phantom penalty? Biggest disgraceful call in college fb history.

how many years

Blount would be a nice addition to go along with L. Miller.

Darkoak @ 12:04 - that's an excuse. Not buying it. That's a reaosn for not getting huge sack #s - but to average one a year - nope.

he could be coming back
to clean out his locker
but i'll wait 'till
I see him on the grass
@ ota's

gocanes1, man you U fans never give up. There were a number of questionable calls/non calls in that game going both ways. The PI call just happened to be the last and obviously most notable of them. I agree it was a questionable call at best (very late flag), but beleive me there were A LOT of them in that game.

OSU was a 14 point dog in that game, and no one outside of Columbus thought they could even stay close with the U, one of the great college teams ever (I think they had won 26 in a row or something like that). If anything, they proved they were just as good. And we are not giving the crystal football back!

By Houston cutting Matt Schaub, as it is likely to happen, who do you think they will target with their #1 overall pick in the Draft? hmm...

the u easily won that game, that call was complete bs. rigged

Oscar, I think the Texans go Clowney. Another pass rusher to go with Watt. Just my 2 cents.

Earl Mitchell is a pure run stopper, nose tackle kinda player. He's probably never going to be a good pass rusher, and won't play on passing downs just like Soliai. Is Soliai a better player? Absolutely. But his price was outrageous and I'd rather have Starks - Starks is a better overall player than Soliai.
I think we all know that if Ireland were still with the Phins, no way Starks resigns.
It seems no one liked Ireland, no one.

Dekoda Watson (LB TB) signed with Jags

That game was rigged. And let's not forget all the dirty hits.

On The Garbage OSU RB

I don't know what OSU game you saw. C.Hyde didn't get touched until he was 7 yards across the line. And even then guys who were 50lbs lighter than him were arm tackling him with ease. They take C.Hyde off his feet at will. The guy runs soft. Tape don't lie.


And that is his highlight reel. Yeah, I saw a lot of him dragging defenders. The guy didn't get hit til he was 7-10yds down the field and usually the first guy brought him down with ease.

Turn off the superhero music and watch it again.

I don't want C.Hyde. I want some of them linemen. Yeah, a RB can't block 2 people but I saw a couple of them Linemen taking 2 guys out at a time. What I saw was the OSU O-line consistently blocked the other teams front 7.

C.Hyde is a 240lb RB that Dances!!

Omar Kelly is reporting that the dolphins signing of Randy Starks is eminent. I did not see that one coming. I thought that after shooting the coaching staff the bird, he would certainly be gone.

I am glad he is back. He is a good player and it will mean that the Dolphins can focus on other areas of the defense in the rest of FA and the draft. I would resign Carroll and draft MLB Chris Borland (the next Zach Thomas) in the 3rd round of the draft.

Hickey said in his first press conference he believes games are won or lost in the trenches, it certainly appears he was serious about that, Go Hickey!

So far I also feel good with what Hickey has done
Has not overpaid any of the free agents - Yes Albert was a lot of money but he is the Top LT in free agency
He will be worth it
I also think we are by no means done
I am sure they are working on at least 2 or 3 more players - probably OL players and maybe MLB
If we get at least one more OL starter we will be in great shape for the draft
I don't see anyone from last year's OL except for Pouncy in our new revamped OL as starters (maybe backups)
I assume that the JM trade is a conditional draft pick next year, so no help with this year's draft there.
I do not discount a trade coming up -
I would not be surprised if Dion Jordan is traded for an OL maybe a starting caliber Guard or maybe a first round pick.
The FO knows they have lots of CAP space left - they are going for immediate starters and after the OL is done they will work on RB MLB, CB if any are left that are an improvement over what we have otherwise look at the draft to improve.

We need a good FB that can block and get one or 2 yards the hard way right up the middle
Hickey probably sees this as a need also
so if we don't get that in FA then maybe in rounds 5 or 6 we get one.

So far you have to be impressed with Dennis Hickey. He seems more relaxed and approachable than Ireland. Frankly i'm rooting for this guy. It would be nice to see him succeed. The 4th option yet the right option. I wish him well.

I would like the Fins to sign either J.Beason or D.Smith. I wanted them to sign D.Smith over Wheeler last year. Even if it was only for a couple seasons.

Glad that Hickey is not sitting around in the pressers as per Mando's tweet. He has a lot of work to do and no time to answer a reporter's questions...

We will get the news we need to knwo form those that are actually well connected..


True - Albert is an upgrade at LT. But the other top linemen have all signed elsewhere.

Delmas is not an improvement over clemmons.
Mitchell is not an improvement over Solai.
Our top 3 CBs are Grimes/Davis/Taylor - how is that better than last season?

Dashi, you think Beason has anything left? I understand why Carolina let him go but the Giants? They need linebackers and told beason to shop around.

Smith is steady but unspectacular. Decent MLB.

Looks like Starks staying put. Very nice. New middle linebacker help and bumping Ellerbe to his natural position on the outside will make for a nice upgrade on defense. Is it me or are these logical moves what we had asked Ireland for year after year? Seems pretty straight forward.

Andrew Abramson ‏@AbramsonPBP 1m
Also I'm hearing Jamar Taylor will get a chance at starting CB gig. I expect team to bring in a veteran to compete with him.

Looks like Taylor will get his chance.

You're right ETF, even the O line is still not improved yet. As of right now we have Garner, Brenner, and Thomas all as starters on the depth chart. None of them could beat out the stinkers we had playing last year.

Come on Hickey get in there and swoop Collins from the Bucs...

Yeah I'll agree with whatothers are saying. Nice start by Hickey so far. i hope to God that he and Philbin are working in tandem. i've said all along that I'd like to see the team draft Zach Martin and play him at guard. I believe that is where he'd be better suited to playin the pros. I'd also like to see Thomas get a chance to play RG or even RT. He needs to get in better shape and be stronger but don't rule this guy out yet.

Texas, if Taylor plays well enough to not get continually toasted next year - I will be happy - he will improve from there..

Now that the pieces are settling in, I think it brings some clarity as to what player the Dolphins are going to take at 19. I am guessing that they will still bring in a veteran corner (maybe Carroll). That would mean the most urgent needs are OT, OG, RB, and MLB.

No RB is worth taking with the first pick (according to the experts), and unless you consider Zach Martin a OG then no OG will go that high. That leaves MLB and OT as the obvious picks.

At this point my guess is that they will take CJ Mosley (MLB from Alabama) or an OT (Zach Martin, Moses, or the OT from Bama).


come on down!!!!

@ 19

even if
it's a qb

I gotta say Hickey so far seems to be doing a good job here. Moves have logic behind them and no bloated contracts. Maybe the Dolphins finally got lucky.

Still need some OL help, but its looking like BPA in the draft which is nice.

Maybe they draft a LB early on.

I'd like to see them bring in Steve Smith if it was feasible (if/when he is cut). I like the WR group, but adding smith to it would be nice. Get some fire in that offense.


Please confirm- where did you read that Alberts deal was for $20 mill guaranteed not $25 Million?

2 watt, I'd like to see them get McCarron if he is still around in the 3rd/4th.

Can anyone confirm Alberts guaranteed money? I heard it was $25 mill?

Bill Polian on Mitchell:

"Earl Mitchell has become a real inside force and one of the most productive penetrators in the NFL at generating consistent inside pressure. He is a much better athlete than most guys who play his position, and his effort is outstanding. He is a one-gap penetrator with good quickness and really works to finish the play. He is young and will only get better."

Interesting info on Taylor starting. It is risky, but it could work. The thing I trust Coyle the most with is developing the corners on this team. Grimes played great, Patterson played great in his limited duty, and Carroll improved a ton. Can Taylor and/or Davis make the same leap?

Something I might due to minimize this risk is sign Patterson back at the right price. Have money tied into incentives and games played. Another player kind of similar to Patterson who is very good, but has some age and injury questions is Charles Tillman.

That way Taylor/Davis learn for another year. If Patterson goes down, one of them should be ready to step in. All depends on price, but we do have money to burn at this point.

Great job by Hickey so far. Plugging holes with reasonable contracts. The Mitchell for Solia swap was fine. They're both good players and Mitchell was much cheaper. I see no drop off there.

I think I'm in the minority here, but I think Lamar Miller is a gem who had nowhere to run behind that awful line. Spending money on an RB at this point wouldnt be a wise move. I do like Ben Tate a lot, but thats way down my priority list

Wallyfin- Earl Mitchell is practically 5 years younger than Soliai and just led all NT last year in the NFL with 48 tackles. HE IS AN UPGRADE at a more affordable price!!

Can you confirm Albert's guaranteed money? Everything I read says $25 mill but NeMo says its $20 mill.


Where did you read that Albert was getting $20 mill instead of $25?

Things have slowed down considerably.

25 Million is the guarantee from all iv'e seen.



I've seen other places have it at 25, so hopefully these guys are right. Them and spotrac are usually the most accurate for me.


Lamar Miller is a terrible pass blocker. Thomas wasn't much of an upgrade, but, Miller pulled for Thomas n some "obvious passing downs.

What I also did not like about Miller, when he doesn't see a hole, his first reaction is to run east and west. Turning a "no gain play" into a 1-3yd loss, play.

Plus, Miller breaks no tackle, nor can he juke anyone. Armando had it right in his article today. "Miller, plain and simple, is a change of pace back."

He's not a true first option back.

Please, no more "he didn't have great enough blocking". Every rb on the NFL level, would look "GREAT" with great blocking nearly every play. Sometimes a great run is a run your rb did not lose any yards on.

Many times I saw Miller turn "no gain" plays into loss of 1-3yds.


I just went to the site. I dont see where it says $20 mill is guaranteed.

Mark from toronto and DC, or you both here?

If the 2013 draft class progresses in Philbin's off-season program as much as the 2012 class did, we should be sitting pretty. Too bad we did not take more offensive linemen.

Remember Vernon, Tannehill, Miller, Egnew, Matthews. That draft looked like a bust until a year later. Philbin's "don't play the rookie" has a method to it. NFL body and NFL mindset.

Our pick at #19 should be a receiver. My concern is Wallace. If his effort does not improve, he is a huge problem. So many games were lost because he would not even fight for the ball to prevent an interception. He will not reach above his head to catch a ball. We need to get a big receiver to catch contested balls and break tackles.

Wallace is at best a #2 whom you hope will get wide open so he won't be intimidated by the pressure. Hartline can play the slot.

Sam, with al respect my friend. blocking has to be brought up. Much of LM's east and west running because there was not a hole at all. It also happened to DT a few times where he was bouncing out praying for somewhere to go. GOOD running backs are good because they have a funcrtional unit working with their skill set, unless your Barry Sanders.

That being said, no one should e sold on Miller or Thomas for that matter, however, giving up on them knowing the facts would be a bad move. If Tanny improvess to what some think he can be, and the D tightens up, I truly do not believe Lmar Miller or DT would coast us the palyoffs... I think they are more than servicable for our O. Need to block better though...

spotrac also has $20M as dead cap space ( which is what impacts the cap and what we as fans are more concerned with... but all in all $26M guaranteed with the contract... so $26M is what is costs Ross - $20M is what it costs us fans in cap space occupation over it's tenure.

It doesnt say on that page Frank, sorry about that.


This one shows most of the signing so far, Albert is at the top.

Good move on Starks, they go from downgrade to keeping ground at the position

They got to hurry about the OL , still need 2 G and 1 T....market just dropped to average talent available....betting on 2 OLfrom the draft is a risky proposition

Dickey and the Witch are moving too slow on what really matters.....hello!!!!!...the team can not line up yet!

Here, Poizen (where else would I be during business hours, haha?)


Thomas, I think you can go ahead and give up on. Consistency is the name of the game on any professional level. Including our own professions.

Miller, I still have HUGE interest in, as a homerun hitting "change of pace" rb. He's neither power nor elusiveness, both key elements of successful nfl rb's.

But, boy, does he sure have speed. :)

Mark, you know I ever do this but I had a told you so comment for you and DC, not a nasty one like most of them here. But I did throw my hat in on a huge long shot and it came true. You guys are my witnesses. I will not name names on the players because I do not want to bring up a big poop storm... lol

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