April 21, 2011

Ireland's assignment is simple really -- make a difference

Jeff Ireland will conduct his 2011 pre-draft presser (as ordered by NFL rules) today and I will be certain to look beneath his footwear to check for a net. I'm pretty certain I will not find one, but for journalism's sake one has to confirm things.

I want to confirm Ireland is indeed operating in this draft without the Bill Parcells net under him.

This draft, you see, Ireland's on his own. It's his baby and his alone. To him goes the glory if things work out. To him goes the ignominy if things don't.

This draft will be different for the Dolphins in that there can be no rewrite of history when or if things go wrong. The Pat White draft pick, for example, was pretty much an orphan for quite some time until the last three months when I got Ireland and Parcells to took responsibility for the mistake on the record -- Ireland on my radio show, Parcells in a column I wrote last week.Jeff ireland one

No big deal, but I think that kind of set the record straight.

Parcells is still proud of the Jake Long pick and doesn't deem it a mistake but he understands, he also told me, if some folks think Matt Ryan would have been the better selection. The Big Tuna has also told me that in the spring of 2008 he sent Dan Henning, Tony Sparano and Ireland to Ann Arbor (to see Chad Henne), to Delaware (to see Joe Flacco) and to Boston (to see Ryan) and everyone came back saying Henne was every bit as good as the other two. 

So again, responsibility goes where responsibility goes -- on the entire organization.

Now the responsibility belongs to Ireland. As it should be. No more shadows behind curtains. No more masters jostling puppet strings. We're not in Oz anymore.

Jeff Ireland is the man and he will get from fans whatever his picks bring him -- credit or contempt.

But, I wonder, what is your confidence level he's ready? Are you anxious whether he can avoid mistakes that would not be made if Parcells were here? Are you excited he might make more bold moves now that Parcells is gone?

My view?

There can be no doubt Ireland has an approach that is his own. I hope he does, anyway, because he is an individual rather than a clone of his mentor. He's younger than Parcells which suggests he might be bolder but also comes with the caution that he might not be wiser. Jeff and bill

I do not predict he will depart from precepts Parcells taught him. He'll pick prototype guys or try to, anyway. He'll want big guys. He'll especially want fast guys in this draft. He'll try to stay away from troublemakers.

I hope he is desperate. I hope he comes to this draft ready to go for the end zone rather than settle for field goals. I've had enough of field goals. I saw too many field goals the past couple of seasons. I want picks that will prove themselves to be touchdowns!

Think about it: The Dolphins have been good at drafting the past three years. Assuming Jared Odrick does get healthy and back on the field and becomes productive, the last three years brought outstanding to solid picks, with Long being outstanding and Vontae Davis representing solid.

The second round has brought satisifaction (Sean Smith) and disappointment (White) and a still hung jury in the court of public opinion (Chad Henne). Later rounds have had both good and bad picks.

So the work is worthy of a C-plus, in my opinion. 

That's because there has been no awe inspiring pick. There has been no take-your-breath-away, give-that-personnel man-a-prize selection. Not one Dolphins pick the past three years has been a game-changer. Not one Dolphins pick the past three years has brought a player other teams must game-plan around or for. Long isn't that because, by definition, left tackles can only change the course of a game by screwing up. They do not change the course of games when they merely do their jobs.

Davis has not been a game-changer. Smith hasn't although had he caught his six potential interceptions a year ago that he dropped, he might have reached that plateau. Odrick hasn't gotten a chance. Henne hasn't been a game-changer in any consistent or confidence-building manner. Anyone else?


Ireland needs to find a game changer this draft. He needs to do something his mentor could not. Oh, Parcells helped bring solid talent to the Dolphins when they were lacking even that. But conference titles and Super Bowls are won with difference-makers, game-changers stacked atop solid talent.

Ireland, on his own this draft, has work to do.

NOTES: I will be updating the blog several times Thursday so check back throughout the day. I will also provide real-time updates from Ireland's presser on twitter. So please follow me to get those updates.

October 23, 2010

Ross tells Ireland Peterson won't be hired

Ever since we learned Bill Parcells was out of sight of the Dolphins -- living up the coast in Jupiter but no longer coming to work in Davie nor keeping an office there -- fans and team personnel alike have been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The name of the other shoe is Carl Peterson.

But as I write in my column for Sunday's print edition of the Miami Herald, the Peterson shoe isn't a fit. At least that is what Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has told General Manager Jeff Ireland. My source(s) tell me the Dolphins owner has given Ireland assurances Peterson will not be hired to replace Parcells.

The column has other interesting nuggets regarding Parcells, the trade deadline and the Davone Bess contract negotiation so please check it out when it goes online or lands on your porch.

But, really, the Peterson information is the most noteworthy to folks worried the man who never brought a title to Kansas City might be hired by Ross to bring a title to Miami.

In my legwork for the column, I also confirmed my earlier report that Ireland had amended his contract with the Dolphins so that he is answering directly to Ross and no one else. I was told that happened "a while back." The amendment would make the hiring of Peterson moot from a power standpoint, anyway, because Ireland would not report to him. But the amendment would not necessarily prevent Ross from making the move if he wanted to do it.

Now, however, we know the owner is not inclined to go in that direction. At least that is what he has told various people, including Ireland himself.

October 18, 2010

Parcells takes another step away from the Dolphins

Bill Parcells' slow but steady departure from the Dolphins continued over the weekend when he cleared out of his office and decided his work with Miami would take on a different, more detached style than it was even recently in his role as consultant.

A club source just confirmed an ESPN report that Parcells is no longer taking part in day-to-day operations of the team. Starting Monday, Parcells was no longer intent on being at his post every day as he had been through even last week.

"Bill is still performing his duties to the Dolphins," the club source said. "But he's choosing to do it in a different fashion."

That new fashion is from afar. Parcells will rarely be at the team's training facility from now on and may not attend any home games, either. He never attended road games, even when he served as executive vice president for football operations.

Parcells yielded that title and job the first week of the regular season. It was the first step in what is certain to be a total disconnect from the Dolphins after the 2010 season ends. Monday's step was the second such step.

Parcells will continue to do the things he enjoys as he collects the remainder of his 2010 salary: He actually likes to grind hour after hour, studying tape of college players. He typically does that work starting in November so that likely will still happen, according to a source.

But unlike past years when Parcells studied players, then set the agenda for drafting them, he will have little if any say in the April 2011 draft, according to a second club source.

Parcells also will no longer be involved in helping the current players on the roster with tips or motivational tweaks. He will no longer be "down the hall," as coach Tony Sparano liked to say, for the moments the coach asked Parcells for his opinion.

And he will not be watching practices first-hand and suggesting to GM Jeff Ireland ways to address weaknesses on the roster.

So ultimately what does this mean for the Dolphins?

First, it is not a distraction. Coach Tony Sparano will answer a few questions about it Wednesday. Players might get a couple also. That's it. The truth is Parcells has purposefully had little affect on the locker room this year so the team will not suffer a great degree of distraction as it prepares for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But there is fallout. No doubt about that.

The safety net for Ireland and Sparano is pretty much gone. Parcells had removed it from Sparano a while back, refusing to correct what he saw as mistakes by the head coach or his assistants for fear of overshadowing their authority.

But he had no such fear of keeping Ireland from stepping in obvious muck. He correct possible missteps and went another direction, if necessary. Now Ireland is wholly and solely responsible for Miami's personnel decisions and Parcells is even more removed from the process than he was even last week.

And that, by the way, was quite removed. For example: Remember the first week of the season when the Dolphins set their initial 53 man roster? Jake Grove was on that roster with Parcells in charge. A few days later when Parcells stepped back and Ireland took over, the GM waived Grove.

Ireland didn't ask for permission. He told Parcells he was making the move and then did it.

Now Parcells will get this information via a phone call rather than perhaps a personal chat with Ireland in his office. No, that's not a big difference. But there is a subtle change.

The biggest change, the long-term effect is in that Miami instantly loses the credibility of having Bill Parcells at the helm. He had a track record. He won Super Bowls. He was proven. And so if he said Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano were good, they were good.

Now, neither Ireland nor Sparano have anyone vouching for them. They must sink or swim based on two things: Wins and losses.

They win, we're good, they're good, ownership is good, everyone's good.

They lose, as they did last year at 7-9, and suddenly there will be much questioning, second-guessing, wondering, wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth. I exaggerate, but you get the drift.

One man's word will no longer be enough to say, "All is well, we're on course."

Because that man is all but gone from Miami.


September 29, 2010

Karlos Dansby dishes on Pats, prep, past

I am convinced Karlos Dansby was an amazing offseason pickup for the Miami Dolphins. He means nearly as much to the Dolphins defense as fellow offseason acquisition Brandon Marshall means to the offense. And I am convinced because of his even-keel nature and consistency, he might become a better investment for the Dolphins long-term than Marshall.

I am not, however, convinced I've done a good enough job of letting you hear from Dansby so far this season. So let me attempt to correct that a little bit.

What follows is the transcript of the conference call Dansby did today with the New England media. Enjoy:

(On what he’s seen from the Patriots on film this week) – “They’re pretty efficient. They do a lot of things to get defenses off balance and then like say they…they attack - they’re an attacking style offense and like I say they don’t hold anything back. Tom Brady is an efficient quarterback and he’s going to get it to the right guy at the right time.”

(On if this week’s preparation is more complicated due to how much is being thrown at him) – “No, not at all. You just have to be sound at what you do and go out and try to execute better than the opponents. That’s what you have to try to do every week and there’s nothing different this week that I wouldn’t do in the past weeks.”

(On what it’s like preparing for the tight ends and the receivers) – “They got two guys that could block very well and then you got a receiver. They say, they’ve been making a lot of plays on their offensive side of the ball. Like I say, they’ve been getting down the field and scoring touchdowns left and right and making big plays left and right. So, like I say, we just got to be sound in our technique and finish plays. I think that’s what we didn’t do against Dustin Keller and it allowed them to have a lot of success out on the field. Like I say, we were playing with bad technique and the communication was off - it was a lot of things that allowed him to have success out on the field.”

(On if he’ll carry the adjustments that he has made after the last game against the Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski) – “Definitely, those (are) two great guys right there. Like you said, they are efficient in they offense and like I said, Tom Brady gets those guys the ball a lot. And like I said, those guys tend to get open a lot and he tends to find them. We got to be…we got to be in position and be in place to…in order to disrupt some of the balls being thrown to them or knock the timing off a little bit.”

(On if he’s ever played with Jonathan Wilhite in the past) – “Nah, I don’t think I played with Jonathan Wilhite. I haven’t had the opportunity to play with him.”

(On if the last time he played with the Patriots sticks with him going into this week (due to it not being a successful game for him)) – “Nah, I kind of left that where it was. (You know) that’s the year we went to the Super Bowl I think and like I say, we left that game there in New England. Like you said, it was a bad outing by our team. We didn’t get an opportunity to finish the way we…well it didn’t seem like we got a chance to start that game (you know what I’m saying) (laughing). They put a beating on us pretty bad. And like I say, they taught us a lesson though and it showed and it carried over through the playoffs when we had that opportunity, so. This year it’s a totally different team, totally different personnel right now and like I say I’m just looking forward to this opportunity to get our opportunity to play against these guys, so. After, like I say, after seeing them play for so long and seeing some of these guys - like I say I never had the opportunity to play against Tom Brady, I played against Matt Cassel, so, I think it’ll be fun for me.”

(On the defensive unit and if he sees some of his personality in this defense) – “Right now our unit is…I think we’re tough, we’re smart and we’re disciplined. Last Sunday we didn’t have a great outing and we knew that. Like I said, we’ve been here working for the last couple days; we’ve been getting it in, and guys have been putting in extra time. Like I said I think they’re following suit right now. I’m always in, always trying to get the information, always trying to figure out what it is that I can do to make this team better and make the guys around me better. Like I said I think the guys are starting to catch on and pick up, the intensity is starting to pick up in practice and in the weight room and in the film room asking questions just all around. We’re simply just trying to get better as a team and as a unit and hopefully we can show Monday that we, that we have done that.”

(On Brandon Marshall and what he brings to the Dolphins offense) – “He’s very dangerous, he’s very dangerous. Like I said we’re doing a good job of getting him the ball right now. Chad Henne and him are trying to build their relationship as the season grows and goes on. Like I said, we’re just trying to get better as a team all the way around. The offensive line is doing a great job of protecting and giving him an opportunity to get the ball down the field, and Brandon is making plays left and right. He’s an awesome addition to this team. Like I said him, just bringing him in the locker room has made us ten times better.”

(On if signing with the Dolphins has been everything he’d hoped for) – “And more, and more, and more. Everything I hoped for and more. Like I said, I checked the personnel out. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. Having the opportunity to play for Bill Parcells and under Coach Sparano, it couldn’t be a better two, two guys to play for and represent. Like I said the history of the Miami Dolphins period; you have to be perfect man. You got to live up to this perfect atmosphere day in and day out, you know what I’m saying? You guys went what, 16-0 the 1972 Dolphins; you got to live up to that day in and day out. That’s what we’re working to; we’re just trying to be great in every aspect of the game on and off the field. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into and it’s been everything I expected and more.”

(On how he and Mike Nolan getting along and whether he likes his aggressive style) – “Oh definitely man, definitely Coach Nolan has a lot of trust in me right now. I’m always in his ear always picking his brain trying to figure out what he’s thinking. Not only what he’s thinking, I’m trying to add a little bit of myself to him also just to let him know, hey coach we, we got your back. Whatever you want to call, we can get it done and just letting him, having the confidence in us to go out and execute his plan. Like I said last night we kind of let him down a little bit and I know that so we’ve been here working and grinding just trying to build his confidence up so he can call anything he wants to call and let us go play.”

(On whether he has kept track of his old team, the Arizona Cardinals) – “Well you know, I talk to Adrian (Wilson) on a regular basis. Like I said he’s, he’s kind of frustrated over there a little bit I think, but he’s playing hard. He’s not going to lay down, and like I said he’s just trying to rally the guys just like I’m trying to do, rally the troops. We got to play at a whole other level in order to have success in this league because it’s getting better week in and week out. Like I said guys are around you, man your peers are definitely getting better day in and day out. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, so he’s trying to lead his team over there also.”

September 15, 2010

Wednesday afternoon's happenings for Dolphins

Lots to get to. Let's work:

Last week an item in ProFootballTalk.com related a radio show interview NFL.com's Vic Carucci did with a Buffalo radio station, during which this very good journalist said Bill Parcells was very disappointed with Chad Henne.

That report was repeated on and by numerous outlets and although I immediatedly tweeted that the report was not accurate because Parcells is not disappointed in Henne, the perception remained out there that Miami's consultant is disappointed.

Sooo, I wanted to give that thing something of a funeral today. Sooo, I asked coach Tony Sparano if in any of his conversations with Parcells he has gotten any inkling that the Dolphins consultant is disappointed in Henne.

"No," Sparano said. "I read the little blurp there, but no, nothing."

Trust me, guys, Bill Parcells is not disappointed in Chad Henne. Now, if Henne doesn't live up to expectations, it might come to that. But at this point? Not disappointed.


Defensive end Jared Odrick was in the locker room today (photo by David J. Neal).

He confirmed his right fibula injury is indeed a hairline fracture and said he's "week to week."


And while he had no definitive timetable for returning, Odrick didn't act like someone that is going to miss a significant amount of time. [I reported yesterday it would two weeks.] Odrick said the cast and wrap he's wearing over it is a precaution.

Odrick did share that he's broken the same right leg previously. And he has a metal plate in that leg. Interesting.

"Anytime you lose a player, particularly a young player, and one whose coming off a good game, it's tough, but the next guy's got to step up," Sparano said. "These are things our team is educated on. We call them body blows. It's a punch in the stomach but the next guy's got to step up."


There is talk the Dolphins might solve the Odrick absence by moving Randy Starks from nose tackle back to defensive end. Starks played defensive end the past two seasons and had a stellar season there last year, collecting seven sacks.

Well, that stuff is just speculation.

I asked Starks if he would welcome such a move. "I'll play wherever the coaches ask me to play," he said. "I'll do whatever they need for the team to win."

But ...

No one has asked Starks to do such a thing. I asked Starks if he's taken any snaps at defensive end since camp started.

"No," he said.

I asked Starks if he took any snaps at end today.

"No," he said.

I don't see how you can ask a player to play defensive end if he hasn't worked at the position since the 2009 season. Just sayin'.

The Dolphins will more likely go with Tony McDaniel to fill in for Odrick.


This week will be something of a reunion for CB Benny Sapp and the Minnesota Vikings. He's playing against the team he was traded from to the Dolphins in preseason.

But Sapp had other things on his mind today when he went out to practice than that coming return to the Metrodome. He was thinking about that possible pick-6 interception he dropped Sunday at Buffalo.

"I thought about it until the moment I got on the field today," Sapp said. "Then I prayed for God to help me focus on this game that's coming up and leave that behind."

Sapp sought Devine intervention to help him forget but he also did the natural thing to help him succeed if he's in a similar situation in the future:

He and the rest of Miami's DBs apparently took time after practice catching passes on the jugs machine. The Dolphins dropped two pick-6 opportunities Sunday, with Jason Allen being the other DB to miss the opportunity.

"Trying to make sure it doesn't happen again," Sapp said.


ILB Channing Crowder (groin) and SOLB Ikaika Alama-Francis (illness) did not practice Wednesday. 

September 07, 2010

Dolphins undergo a power shift in one day

The Miami Dolphins on Tuesday underwent a significant and fundamental shift in approach that should interest every fan because while team sources were saying that nothing has changed, indeed, everything has changed.

The club announced in a three-sentence e-mailed statement that Bill Parcells was no longer the football czar, but now a consultant, and that Jeff Ireland was now assuming "full control over all aspects and decisions in regard to the Miami Dolphins football team and support staff."

Before that announcement the Dolphins were, in fact, a two-headed monster.

The Dolphins were a football team located in their Davie, Florida training facility and headed by Parcells as the executive vice president for football operations. And the Dolphins also were a business and marketing operation located at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens and headed by CEO Mike Dee.

Parcells answered only to owner Stephen Ross. Dee answered only to Ross, as well.

But even as these two men rarely crossed paths, even as they served entirely different purposes for the same organization, the power, the prestige and the pull undoubtedly belonged to Parcells and the football side of the operation.

Parcells, with a resume that includes two Super Bowl rings and a history for making winners out of losers, had done precisely that in 2008 when he authored an 11-5 rebirth for Miami out of the ashes of a 1-15 season in 2007. That meant that pretty much anything Parcells wanted, Parcells got.

So even as the Dolphins football side and marketing/business side could not be more opposite in their approach, most every decision that had to be made was almost always made in favor of the football side of the operation.

And the football and business side did clash at times because they are so dissimilar.

The football side loves anonymity and a lunch-pail approach. They hire men that work behind facemasks and they enjoy the reputation of being somewhat aloof and mysterious.

The marketing side is out there and Hollywood, if you will. The marketing side ipainted the stadium in some hideous color scheme, installed an orange carpet entrance and invited celebrities to come see the product and be seen enjoying the product. The marketing side is building a nightclub at the stadium.

The marketing side also spent approximately $3 million to build a radio network and new website to promote the team and, ultimately, sell tickets and make money.

But when the marketing side wanted the football side to help promote the product, the team, the whole organization, the football side could successfully balk by using the Parcells approach as cover. Parcells didn't want his name on billboards, didn't want players shooting Christmas videos for the stadium's big screen replay board during football season, didn't want any distractions that could in any fashion detract the focus from, well, football.

And again, whatever Parcells said was law.

But Parcells has stepped aside now. He's done so willingly, by all accounts, although he has given no explanation for doing so. Parcells did not take four phone calls from The Herald on Tuesday.

But willingly or not, planned or not, Parcells has put Ireland front and center of the football operation.

And while Mike Dee was not Bill Parcells' boss he will hold sway over Jeff Ireland that he never did over Parcells. So Jeff Ireland may not be able to shield the football operation from the business and marketing arm like Parcells did -- just because-I-say-so-style.

The power has shifted from the football side of the operation to the business and marketing side of the operation now. It may not be immediately obvious to outsiders. But eventually the signs of the shift that took place Tuesday will be obvious.

To everyone.

[Broadcast note: The Parcells move and its ramifications will be the primary topic on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, on Wednesday. We'll have receiver Brian Hartline, Bills strong safety George Wilson, and others on air to discuss what this means for Sunday's season-opener. Former QB Art Schlichter will also be on the show to discuss the Ohio State versus University of Miami tilt.] 

May 11, 2010

Rebuilding can frustrate when it's done over & over

There is building a franchise. Don Shula did that and it resulted in a couple of Super Bowl titles.

There is rebuilding a franchise. Jimmy Johnson did that and the nucleus of players he brought in were flawed on offense, very good on defense, and ultimately good enough overall to contend for playoffs spots from 1997 through 2003.

What we have now, however, is something much different. What we are seeing with the Miami Dolphins now is in some respects rebuilding position that we though had already been rebuilt. Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland are in the midst of doing that and so far the results are mixed.

Miami's dynamic and enigmatic personnel duo corrected a lot of wrongs their first season, turning a 1-15 disaster into a division winner and playoff team. But last year was a step-back season as the Dolphins dropped to third place in the AFC East with a 7-9 record. (Some of you may not accept it was a step-back year, but the facts are impossible to ignore.)

Now, after two years of building the team as they would want it, the Dolphins find themselves in the curious position of rebuilding the same team. 

After two years on the job, Parcells and Ireland got about the business this offseason of rebuilding practically the entire defense. The defensive coordinator is new. At least three of the four opening-day starters at LB will be new. The starting nose tackle will be different in the 2010 regular-season opener than he was in 2008 and 2009. The starting free safety will be new for the third time in three regular-season openers. Miami's right defensive end will be new -- again -- as the Dolphins will start Jared Odrick or Phillip Merling or Tony McDaniel as the fourth person to fill that starting job in three years.

All these are facts. And all the facts speak of the Dolphins having to cover ground in rebuilding that they already supposedly addressed in their initial rebuilding of this team the past two years.

Let's face it, the club has failed to properly address the free safety spot -- first giving the job to Jason Allen, then Chris Crocker, then Renaldo Hill, then Gibril Wilson, and now another player to be named at a later time.

Let's face it, the Dolphins invested two years, a modest draft pick, and millions of dollars in ILB Akin Ayodele only to find out he wasn't very good at stopping the run or in coverage.

Let's face it, the nose tackle position was an issue before last season began. Everyone knew Jason Ferguson was a stopgap measure and I remember Ireland being asked why he didn't address the position in the 2009 draft. He basically answered there are only so many big bodies to go around and one of them didn't fall to the Dolphins.

So Miami went into 2009 with Ferguson and he broke down. The Dolphins finally addressed the issue this offseason by moving Randy Starks to nose tackle.

The greater point here is Miami has reached a stage where the fixes need to finally take. The club cannot keep addressing the defensive line time and again. The club cannot keep addressing the free safety spot year after year.

And this rebuilding upon a rebuilt position also affects the offense. For all the money and resources the Dolphins have invested on the offensive line, the unit is still not completely resolved. In 2008, the right guard spot was an issue. In 2009, the right guard and left guard spots were issues.

Can we get the guards addressed once and for all, please?

The Dolphins believe they have done that at right guard where Richie Incognito is expected to compete for a starting job with Donald Thomas and perhaps Nate Garner.

The left guard spot is much less certain. Garner and rookie John Jerry seem the most likely challengers for the job. Justin Smiley, who Miami signed to a 5-year, $25 million contract in 2008, lasted only two years. He is now on the trade block because of shoulder injuries that one might have seen on the horizon when he was with San Francisco and was forced to miss the latter part of 2007 with a shoulder issue.

So three years into rebuilding their offensive line ... the Dolphins are still rebuilding the offensive line.

My greater point is this: Everyone accepts the Dolphins needed a thorough rebuilding. Everyone accepts it was going to take time to do. But it is hard to accept that the Dolphins are already in Year 3 and still rebuilding what they already supposedly rebuilt. They are having to double-back, so to speak, to address issues they supposedly already addressed.

That slows things down.

And it cannot continue because, as with all teams, new issues pop up every year. Next offseason the Dolphins could be looking for help at running back or tight end, and perhaps wide receive. Next year the Dolphins could be looking for more backup quarterback help. Anyone looking off into distance can see that.

The last thing the team needs is to have those concerns, while also needing to address OLB (again) or FS (again) or CB (again) or OL (again).

Therre is still a lot of building being done around the construction site that is the Dolphins roster. Here's hoping the work currently being done won't soon require that it be redone. Again.

May 08, 2010

Dolphins alumni (and me) head to Haiti today

A handful of Dolphins alumni are flying to Haiti today to help in relief efforts for the earthquake-savaged nation. I will be going with them.

The Dolphins contingent is scheduled to include former receiver and current vice president and senior advisor Nat Moore, and former safeties Bobby Harden, Sean Hill and Bryant Salter.

Our group is scheduled to arrive in Port-au-Prince at 2 p.m. and will take a tour of Project Medishare’s Hospital in Haiti. The Dolphins, Sun Life Financial and Project Medishare will present 13 ShelterBox tents to the 13 families that participated in the Haiti Connect Project that began on April 4.

Quarterback Chad Henne got the ball rolling on the project in April as he donated the first ShelterBox tent while participating in the video conference with one of the families that took part in the program. The additional 12 tents and Saturday’s trip to deliver the tents to Port-au-Prince were soon to follow through The Miami Dolphins/Sun Life Stadium Haiti Relief Fund. Included with the tents are aid and survival items that assist victims of natural disasters and other catastrophic events.

I obviously believe this to be a good cause. I also believe it will be a good column that I'll share with you in Monday's paper.

I've never been to Haiti before. And even though we are only going for the day, more than one person has recommended I pass on the trip. One person told me the story of one of Bill Clinton's Secret Service agents who was bitten by a tick and contracted lyme disease. He's been out of circulation for two months as a result.

I don't believe that will be my fate. I'm well prayed over. Check for the column from Haiti Monday.

April 28, 2010

Former RB Rob Konrad defends Jeff Ireland

The following is an e-mail former Dolphins running back Rob Konrad sent The Miami Herald and other media outlets concerning Jeff Ireland following the incident in which the general manager admittedly asked Dez Bryant whether his mother is a prostitute and then apologized publicly to Bryant for the question:

"Use any adjective you’d like to describe Jeff Ireland, but those in the media claiming he’s “without class” are simply misinformed. Jeff’s a regular guy, whose attention to detail and no-nonsense approach has defined his success in the industry. More than any member of the Dolphins front office in recent history, Jeff and his family have been regularly engaged with the Miami Dolphins Foundation and community outreach programs.

"Jeff is one of the true good guys in the industry. To see his name being tarnished in the media as the result of (a) single question during a team interview seems to me entirely unjust. It’s important to keep in mind the context of these interviews -- the prospect of guaranteeing a 22-year-old stranger millions of dollars to enter one of the most competitive, intolerant and insensitive professional work environments around.

"I’m not attempting to defend the question asked, but rather the person and the process. Having been through those interviews, in the locker room, and on the field, I can tell you that the work environment in the NFL is unique, one that would be unacceptable in virtually any other industry. The questions asked by teams in pre-draft interviews usually have the dual purpose of getting to know the player and testing their mindset.

"By way of example, one of the common questions asked by teams is as follows: "If you had the choice of being reborn as a cat or a dog, which would you choose and why?" There is no correct answer, there may be preferable responses depending on your position, but the question is meant to generate a response from the player which can be analyzed in any number of ways.

"When I was coming out of Syracuse University, I remember being asked 'if I thought I could succeed as a white running back in the NFL?' and 'why I thought a kid who attended a suburban Massachusetts private high school was tough enough to play in the NFL?'  If one (sic) we’re interviewing a prospective executive for private industry, this line of questioning likely wouldn’t be acceptable.

"The 'all-ball' and 'no-nonsense' approach incorporated by the current regime at the Dolphins has been consistent since they arrived. I believe this philosophy has resonated throughout the organization and is one of the main factors for the team's return to playing winning fundamental football. Jeff may be demanding and thorough, and maybe a question was asked in poor judgment, but he’s one of the good guys in the NFL, he’s been a great asset to the Dolphins and a good friend to South Florida."

--Robert Konrad 


April 26, 2010

Jeff Ireland: The interview, the Wilson flap

I got the opportunity to speak with Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland one-on-one Saturday night after his work was mostly done with the draft and the adding of priority free agents.

That conversation gave me a better understanding of exactly how it is the Dolphins attack the draft when Ireland and Bill Parcells are sitting in the war room together. I wrote about that as part of my column that appears in Monday's Miami Herald.

Another part of the column, by the way, tells you how Ireland seemed to be getting more comfortable even as this draft was proceeding. He actually made jokes when he was in front of the media. The guy was cool.

But we're not 100 percent there yet.

This interview gave me the opportunity to ask about a topic that's been bothering me for a while now:

I wanted to know why it was Ireland seemingly misled at the Indianapolis Combine on the subject of Gibril Wilson. As you know, everyone assumed Wilson was a goner after a season in which he played poorly and cost Miami chances to win at least two games -- Indianapolis and New Orleans.

But Ireland went to the Combine and in speaking with the media -- to his credit, against the wishes of Parcells -- defended Wilson so vehemently that it seemed like Wilson was coming back.

"We have our evaluation of Gibril Wilson," Ireland said at the time. "We know what kind of player he's capable of being. I think he's going to be a very good player for the future. He was disappointed in his play last year. He will tell you that. I think he can play better. We'll just have to see. I think he will."

Of course, everyone assumed Ireland meant Wilson would play better for the Dolphins. Bad assumption. The Dolphins cut Wilson when the new league year opened in March.

"I didn't say anything that was wrong," Ireland told me during our interview. "I didn't say anything that was false. If you read the transcript, I said he's going to be a good player in the future. I knew what I was saying. You know, he's a player on my team. And I'm going to defend a player on my team. I'm not going to say anything else bad out there. I do believe he's going to be a good player in the future. I like the kid. It was probably not the right position for him. That's obvious now. But I did believe what I was telling you. I was telling the truth.

"I just wasn't giving you every thought in my head."

Fair enough. It wasn't Ireland's fault that folks like me made an assumption. As Ireland told me in another part of the interview, every draft mistake his makes is a lesson he learns.

Count this a lesson learned for yours truly.

April 25, 2010

Undrafted free agents plus draft breakdown

The news first: I have six eight undrafted free agent names that sources say have agreed to join the Dolphins.

The players are:

Nevada DB Jonathon Amaya: 6-0, 203 pounds. Ran a 4.51 at the Combine. Benched 225 pounds only eight times.

Maryland DT Travis Ivey: 6-4, 325 pounds. No Combine results. Had 25 tackles including one sack in 2009.

Duke DL Vince Oghobaase: 6-5, 303 pounds. Ran a 5.48 at the Combine. Benched 225 pounds 27 times.

Penn State CB A.J. Wallace: 6-1, 201 pounds. No Combine results. Four career interceptions, three of those his senior year in 2009.

San Diego State WR Roberto Wallace: 6-4, 225 pounds. No Combine results. Caught 36 passes for 463 yards and three TDs in 2009 and that was his best of three seasons.

Michigan State DB Ross Weaver: 6-1, 203 pounds. No Combine results. Missed all of 2006 season. One career interception.

[Update: Florida International offensive lineman Andy Leavine has been signed as an undrafted free agent, according to my friends at www.draftday.dk. Leavine is listed at 6-5 and 292 pounds. He benched 225 pounds 31 times at his Pro Day.

Also, this morning I've learned Fresno State WR Marlon Moore is on Miami's undrafted FA list. Moore is 6-foot and 190 pounds. He had 15 catches for 317 yards and three TDs for the Bulldogs in 2009.]

Secondly, let me tell you what I thought of the Dolphins draft. Actually, it's late, I've slept five hours in two days and the wife is waiting for me so if you really want to know what I think click here.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone! 

April 24, 2010

Dolphins select DB Nolan Carroll with No. 145

The Dolphins have selected defensive back Nolan Carroll with their fifth-round pick -- the one they got from San Francisco for Ted Ginn.

Carroll is 6-0 and 204 so he has the size to play safety, if that's what the Dolphins wish to do with him. But that would make him more of a position nomad than he has been so far.

Carroll played wide receiver before he moved to cornerback.

Carroll broke his right leg (tibia and fibia) the second game of the season in 2009 and didn't play thereafter. It happened on a running play in which he was supporting the run-defense. It was, ironically,

Carroll just said the Dolphins told him they want him to "come in and compete at corner." He also said he's played safety "some."

"If they want me to do that I'll do that," he said.

Carroll also returned kicks his freshman and sophomore years in college.

April 21, 2010

Thomas: Dolphins have to show respect

If a Mount Rushmore of Dolphins players existed, Zach Thomas would be up there with Dan Marino and Larry Csonka and a couple of others. He was a Dolfans' favorite player from the second in 1996 he stepped on the field as a short, no-neck-having, self-deprecating rookie to the day in 2008 he packed his belongings and left.

And to this day Zach Thomas remains a South Florida resident, a fan of the Dolphins, and someone the organization admires enough that it considered him to join the new radio team being assembled to work on a new flagship station -- the team by the way, would not consider me as a commentator because I'm not enough of a homer.

Anyway, the point is when Zach Thomas is peeved with the organization, well then, something is wrong -- not with Zach, but with the organization.

And Zach Thomas is steaming about how the Dolphins have treated his brother-in-law Jason Taylor (married to Zach's sister Katina). He's upset about the handling of the latest Taylor saga in particular and and about the way the Dolphins handle inconic players in general.

Yesterday on the Sid Rosenberg show on 560-AM here in South Florida, Thomas pulled back the curtain on how Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells handled his departure when he was waived by the Dolphins.

"The only thing that was like a punch in the gut to me was the day I was cleaning out my locker, the day they cut me, [agent] Drew [Rosenhaus] asked them if I could just say thanks to the fans through the media at the Dolphins facility and their answer was, 'No, he's not a Dolphins player anymore, he's got to do it off premises.'" Thomas said. "That's when you know, like, 'Wow,' the whole loyalty and everything they preach with team and things like that goes out the window."

None of this is commentary on how the Dolphins make football decisions. There is no arguing it was time for Zach to go. He didn't fit the Dolphins scheme. He was getting up there in years. He was coming off a year in which he had concussion issues.

But this is commentary on what happens after the football decisions are made. A player like Zach Thomas basically gets kicked to the curb in much the same manner as Abraham Wright would.

After he was waived, Thomas had to find a way to say good-bye to Dolphins fans. He had to call media members one by one, me and many others included, to say his farewell to ... you.

That is wrong.

This regime doesn't like making exceptions. They like to treat all the players the same. The Dolphins, for example, are one of the few NFL teams that do not welcome new free agents with press conferences because the team doesn't want to make it seem like the new players are more important than the ones already on the roster. The Dolphins also don't get mushy when former greats such as Thomas or, yes, Jason Taylor leave are or forced to leave.

And that is fine if you're talking about Shawn Murphy being traded. But if Jason Taylor is being traded, that needs to be handled differently.

The strange thing here is that general manager Jeff Ireland is aware of how great players should be treated. He sometimes talks about how he doesn't want to do anything that would sully the organization's great name or history.

Ireland's stepfather was a Hall of Famer E.J. Holub. His grandfather Jim Parmer was a former Philadelphia player and Bears executive. Those men knew the importance of legacy and standing. Those guys respected those ideals.

But Ireland, under Bill Parcells, isn't really holding up his end very well in that department. The Dolphins fumbled on the Zach Thomas dismissal two years ago. They dropped the ball again in the manner they treated Jason Taylor this offseason.

Their football decisions were probably correct in both instances. Their people skills were lacking both times.

"You've got to know to respect great players," Thomas said. "You've got to know that. Jason is going to be a Hall of Famer. He's going to be in the [Dolphins Ring] of Honor. His name is always going to be in Dolphin Stadium, and that's big. And you know what, you can do it in a different approach. It might not be their approach. But I get disappointed when I see guys that have put everything on the line for the Dolphins organization and have a Hall-of-Fame career like Jason Taylor and it goes down like it has the last couple weeks...

"I'm not trying to be hard on Jeff Ireland. But he's saying it wrong, especially for a guy who has so much history with the Miami Dolphins. He's the all-time sacks leader among active players, and you're going to talk about him like he's a first- or second-year player. He should know how to respect guys that have been great to the game. ... It's fine if you don't have a need for him. But you tell him up front. And you don't go through the media and act like you're shocked that it's being brought up. I don't like the organization to look bad that way."

Here is a quick suggestion to the Miami Dolphins, an organization that thinks it knows it all: Sign Zach Thomas for a day. Hold the press conference now that you refused to grant him in 2008. Allow Zach to say good-bye the right way.

You can't do anything about how you handled Jason Taylor's departure. Right the wrong you did with the Zach Thomas departure. And do it soon.

Where JT, Dolphins agree and disagree

From 7 p.m. until approximately 10 p.m. Tuesday night, I spent time on the phone and in person listening to Jason Taylor, or people close to Jason Taylor, or family members of Jason Taylor, or associates of Jason Taylor. (I admittedly did not communicate Dr. Doolite-style with Jason Taylor's dog.)

When I arrived home I got a call from the Miami Dolphins and spent 45 minutes on the line listening to what they have to say about, you guessed it, Jason Taylor. By the way, 45 minutes on the line with folks representing an NFL team is an aging experience.

Following that I will now share with you what I know and what is curiously not settled as this chapter of Taylor's Dolphins career comes to a close.

What I know:

1. Taylor on Tuesday morning accepted from the New York Jets the only contract offer he had on the table to him. Period. There was a report on the Dan LeBatard radio show here in South Florida that quoted a source saying the Dolphins had an offer on the table for Taylor and he decided to take the Jets offer anyway.


"It was take this or go on a nationwide (Dancing with the Stars) tour with Jerry Rice," said Taylor, who also called LeBatard's source "a liar."

The Dolphins are in agreement with Taylor on this issue. They confirm they did not currently have a contract offer on the table to Jason Taylor.

We're off to a good start.

2. The Dolphins offered Taylor a contract extension in early November of 2009. That was reported here yesterday, Taylor said it in his press conference, and the Dolphins confirm this is true.

And the manner in which the offer came is also not up for debate. It came in a private meeting between Taylor and Bill Parcells himself.

And the offer came in the form of a Post-it note.

Parcells wanted to deal with Taylor directly. No agent was supposed to be involved. That seems to be increasingly the way the Dolphins operate with their veterans. Remember that last year Parcells approached Ricky Williams to discuss his contract?

Williams thought the team wanted to cut his salary. Instead, Parcells handed Williams a note with the figures for a contract extension. The caveat to the note was that Parcells didn't want to go through Williams' agent. And so Williams, needing money, happily left agent Leigh Steinberg out of the loop and accepted the Parcells contract extension on a Post-it note.

Well, the Dolphins tried the same thing with Taylor.

He declined the offer and instead referred the Dolphins to his agent Gary Wichard.

"It wasn't the right time," Taylor said. "I wasn't comfortable with the contract situation coming up then. Maybe I grew up old school, back in the days of Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt and Rick Spielman. We didn't talk contract once the season started. My focus was on trying to get to the playoffs, not on talking money. And why would I do a deal without my agent? Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland have an agent."

3. The Taylor camp believes that once the player declined the Big Tuna's personal offer, that triggered something that doesn't resemble love. The Dolphins do not argue the point that perhaps -- perhaps -- Parcells was not thrilled Taylor rejected his personal overture.

4. The Taylor camp to this minute does not know if the Dolphins would or would not have offered them a contract after the draft. And the Dolphins don't know 100 percent, either. That decision, they say, was going to be made after the draft. And they admit they might have decided not to offer Taylor a contract.

5. The idea about after the draft is troubling but moreso in that there is agreement on it than not. The Dolphins say that after Taylor received an initial offer from the Jets, they were told of the offer from the Taylor camp. No disagreement there. And the Dolphins say their response to finding out those numbers was to inform Taylor and his agent they wished to make their decision on Taylor "after the draft."

And, they say, that as late as Monday, the Taylor camp was "fine" with waiting until after the draft.

The Taylor camp agrees that they were initially "fine" with the idea of waiting until after the draft. No disagreement there, either.

Now here is where we get into disagreements:

1. The Dolphins, far as they know, still believe the Taylor camp was "fine" with waiting for Miami's decision after the draft. The Taylor camp obviously felt that a decision needed to be moved up because the one offer they held -- that of the Jets -- could easily disappear after the draft.

The Taylor camp says it reached out to the Dolphins when it became clear the Jets could pull their offer. The Taylor camp says it requested a decision one way or the other but got no response.

Why there wasn't one last-minute, last-gasp attempt to keep Jason Taylor in a Dolphins uniform, is unclear to Taylor. In fact, to this day Taylor doesn't know why he didn't get any Miami offer. "If I was told why, I could express it to you," he said. "But I wasn't told."

The Dolphins say there was nothing to express. They were waiting until after the draft.

2. About that November contract extension:

The Taylor side feels Parcells took Taylor declining to deal without an agent personally. The Dolphins side doesn't necessarily refute this as stated above. But ...

Parcells would not allow personal feelings to get in the way of completing imperative football business even if his feelings have a little boo-boo. (Salguero personal opinion: Taylor simply wasn't imperative to the Dolphins. If he was 25 instead of 35, he would have become imperative. But he isn't.)

3. Taylor said that once he turned the situation over to his agent he expected the negotiation to continue but that eventually the offer was pulled. The Dolphins say that once Taylor declined Parcells' offer, it was turned over to Jeff Ireland to handle and that negotiations indeed continued for some time between Ireland and Wichard.

(I'm getting a headache, aren't you?)

4. The Taylor camp is not really going here, but I am: They believe they were disrespected. Taylor, they say, is an all-timer with the Dolphins that, no matter what your football evaluation is, should be respected and treated well based on what he's meant to the franchise for 13 years.

They don't believe either Parcells or Ireland recognized the player's place in team lore and dealt with him poorly by playing the "after the draft" game. Taylor just wanted to know outright if the Dolphins wanted him or not. Black or white. The Dolphins told him to wait until after the draft in 2009, but they also told him they wanted him. They told him to wait until after the draft in 2010, but didn't hint as to whether he was in their plans or not.

Taylor was ultimately frustrated by the gray of "after the draft."

You saw part of that peek through when Taylor said, "I'm happy somebody wants me to play for them. The Jets have given me an opportunity to play and not just an opportunity but they showed me they wanted me up there ... They made it clear what they wanted to do."

The Dolphins? They insist they respected Taylor's historical standing.

But, they add, at the end of the day, they simply made a football decision.

[BLOG NOTE: I know there were issues with all of you being able to post comments on Tuesday. I was flooded with e-mail complaints that the blog was broken. I'm told the issue is being resolved. Personally, I blame it all on the New York Jets.]

April 20, 2010

Jason Taylor to play for the New York Jets

Jason Taylor has decided to join the New York Jets, according to his agent Gary Wichard. The NFL's active sack leader and the player with more sacks than anyone since 2000, will sign a contract with New York as early as Wednesday.

Taylor is tentatively scheduled to fly to New York to meet with Jets management Wednesday morning.

Taylor, who wanted to return to the Dolphins in 2010, decided to accept New York's offer after realizing there was no opportunity for him to play for the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have refused to offer Taylor a contract since the end of the 2009 season, saying they would make a decision on that after the draft.

Taylor's decision, looming for days, was finalized late Tuesday morning as the NFL draft threatened his only opportunity for a contract at this time. While the Dolphins were holding Taylor off until after the draft, the Jets offered Taylor a chance to join the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense in 2009.

Taylor recognized his opportunity in New York could disappear if the Jets draft someone that plays the same position. That would leave Taylor, 35, with no contract offer from any team and no assurances from Miami.

Wichard called the Jets to commit Taylor to them on Tuesday morning. The contract is a two-year deal for $13 million but that is not a true number because it includes a large roster bonus in 2011 the Jets aren't likely to pay. The real deal is essentially a one-year deal that could be worth up to $4 million with numerous incentives.

Taylor's decision was sealed this week upon his return from a mini-vacation in Costa Rica. He'd hoped he would return to South Florida and meet with Coach Tony Sparano -- a meeting Sparano requested and then postponed last week. But that meeting was never rescheduled, another hint to Taylor the Dolphins didn't want him back.

Clues that the Dolphins are moving in a different direction away from Taylor were everywhere. The team scheduled a workout for free agent OLB Travis LaBoy late last week. The club also seems ready to draft an OLB in this draft, with that pick coming as early as Miami's No. 12 pick in the first round.

And even as they were searching for pass-rushers -- a position of need -- the Dolphins did not offer Taylor a contract and did not provide either private or public hints there would even be a contract opportunity after the draft. At times during the last two months, the Dolphins have not returned calls to the Taylor camp.

The Dolphins have refused to explain why they are taking this approach with a player who has deeper roots in South Florida than Bill Parcells or Jeff Ireland or Tony Sparano combined. Ireland's stance on the matter recently was, "I'm not going to air our business to the media."

But the fact is this isn't typical of the way the Dolphins have done business this offseason. The club eagerly signed Jason Ferguson and Chad Pennington this offseason. Those moves were made despite the fact Ferguson, 35, must serve an eight-game suspension to start the 2010 season and Pennington, like Taylor, is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Clearly, the Dolphins didn't need to wait until after the draft to retain Ferguson and Pennington. 

Taylor is "disappointed and even hurt" the Dolphins didn't ask him to return for 2010, according to a family friend who asked not to be identified. Clearly, returning to play in front of Dolphins fans was his priority. Taylor wanted to finish his career in Miami because he has ties in the community, wants to retire to South Florida when his career is over, and wants his charitable foundation to continue doing work locally.

Basically, Taylor didn't want to do anything that would be misinterpreted as him leaving the Dolphins for a rival. "He's leaving the Dolphins because they've given him no choice," the family source said.

To that end, Taylor is expected to be introduced at a press conference by the Jets Wednesday. But after working out with his new teammates into the weekend, Taylor also expects to have a press conference in South Florida to address with the local media about his feelings on this move.

Taylor, the source said, sees this move as a separation but not a divorce from South Florida and Miami fans. "Logically, he had to go to Jets," the source said. "But emotionally, his heart is with Dolphins fans."

Taylor also views joining the Jets as an opportunity to reach the NFL playoffs. The Jets reached the AFC championship game in 2009 and have added several big-name players this offseason, including running back LaDainian Tomlinson, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Tomlinson was part of the full-court recruitment of Taylor by the Jets, as the running back called Taylor to convince him to join the team. That recruitment began in earnest when Jets coach Rex Ryan called agent Wichard three weeks ago to ask if Taylor would be interested in the idea of playing for Miami's division rival.

Wichard, holding no offer from the Dolphins, convinced Taylor to visit with the Jets on April 8-9.

Last week, the Jets called Wichard again. But this time it was owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan on the line all at the same time.

"It was not to pressure Jason," Wichard said last week. "It was a respectful call. They wanted to share how much they thought of Jason. It wasn't like they were blitzing me. No pressure. We talked about how much Commissioner Roger Goodell likes Jason.

"The Jets have been great throughout this process."

The Jets and Dolphins could not be more dissimilar.

While the Dolphins last year referred to Taylor as an "acorn," a player plucked off the market at the last minute and unexpectedly, the Jets have treated Taylor like an icon -- taking him on helicopter rides to their new stadium, putting him up in a five-star hotel in midtown Manhattan during his recruiting visit.

Weighing the treatment of acorn and icon, Taylor obviously picked the latter.

This will mark the second time Taylor leaves the Dolphins.

Taylor played for the Dolphins from 1997-2007 then was traded to the Washington Redskins in 2008 for a second-round pick. He returned in 2009 and collected seven sacks and 42 tackles. Taylor started all 16 games in 2009 and was a team captain. Taylor turned down $8 million guaranteed from the Redskins to return to Miami for a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

It was such a successful reunion, the Dolphins offered Taylor a contract extension early last November, according to a club source.

The Dolphins have done this before with others players -- Parick Cobbs, Lousaka Polite, Greg Camarillo and Ricky Williams -- performing at a high level.

The difference for Taylor was that the contract offer was basically for the same money he played for last season. There was modest base salary increase offered from $1.1 to $1.5 million and there was one interesting stipulation: The Dolphins wanted to deal directly with Taylor and not let him include Wichard in any talks.

Taylor wanted to include his agent and that concluded the talks.

Interestingly, soon after Taylor rejected the curious extension offer, his playing time changed. Taylor still started. But the guy who led the team with 5 1/2 sacks with most of November and December still to play, suddenly wasn't part of Miami's pass-rush package all the time.

Taylor, playing with an injured shoulder on run downs but less so on passing downs, collected only 1 1/2 sacks the season's final two months. Meanwhile, Joey Porter, who had struggled early in the season, was allowed to stay on the field on pass downs and sometimes even waved off substitutions from the sideline on those downs.

With the Jets, Taylor is expected to play only on passing downs. Ryan has promised to be innovative and let Taylor attack the pass-pocket from every angle and side. That isn't exactly a new approach. In 2006, Nick Saban used Taylor in that fashion. Sometimes Taylor would rush from the right side, sometimes the left side, sometimes up the middle, sometimes Taylor would drop in coverage.

Taylor won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that year.

When the Dolphins signed Taylor in 2009, their plan was to use him only on a limited basis -- again, mostly as a pass-rusher. But starter Matt Roth failed his training camp conditioning test and so Miami pressed Taylor into a starting job.

Taylor was happy to take the job and didn't give it back. Roth was eventually waived.

Now the Dolphins don't have either Roth or Taylor.

Now the Dolphins will face Jason Taylor twice in 2010.

Follow Armando Salguero on twitter.

April 19, 2010

Rumors: 'Can't take it no more'


They are everywhere. Everywhere!

Sometimes, they have zero credence, like the one that said Jason Taylor's contract with the Jets was "close to done." That was almost two weeks ago. I guess close can be a relative term -- like the moon is close to the Earth, if you compare our planet's distance to Pluto.

Sometimes the rumors are based in fact. Remember the rumor I reported to you about Brandon Marshall telling a Denver Broncos teammate he was headed to Miami? Remember the rumor about Ted Ginn being on the trade block?

Well, the days leading to the draft are perhaps the most rumor-filled days on the NFL calendar. And there are some interesting ones floating.

There's a rumor Ronnie Brown is on the trade block. The truth is, Brown cannot be traded right now. He cannot be traded until he signs his restricted free agent tender. The truth is the Dolphins are not actively calling all 31 other NFL teams and offering Brown. But the truth also is if a team approaches Miami about Brown, the Dolphins are more than happy to listen. I believe the Dolphins would gladly trade Brown for a second-round pick. I also believe they aren't likely to get that for him. We'll see.

There's a rumor the Dolphins are intrigued by the idea of trading for Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Apparently the NYGs have taken a sort of liking to South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul and if that liking develops into them drafting him, that makes Umenyiora not only endangered, but practically extinct on the roster. Umenyiora played at Troy. Bill Parcells regularly looks at players from Troy and, indeed, picked DeMarcus Ware from Troy in 2005. Thus these trade rumors.

But this one is a head-scratcher, if you ask me. Umenyiora would project as an OLB in Miami's defense, but he's never played the position before. So the Dolphins would be interested in giving up a draft pick for Umenyiora after a 29-tackle, 7-sack season even when a team from New York has decided he's no longer a fit. But the Dolphins are apparently not as interested in giving up zero draft picks for Jason Taylor after a 42-tackle, 7-sack season even when a team from New York has decided he'd be a great fit. Yes, I know Umenyiora is 28 years old and Taylor is 35 years old. But I also know the draftee it costs to get Umenyiora would come cheaply and be maybe 21-22 years old.

On the positive side, if the Dolphins do indeed swing this deal for a fifth-round pick, they will have effectively traded Ted Ginn Jr. for Osi Umenyiora. That sounds like an upgrade to me. Ronnie Brown for Osi Umenyiora? Both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are recovering from various surgeris. Of course, so is Brown. We'll see.

There's a rumor the Dolphins are trying to trade G Justin Smiley. It is true. It also hasn't gotten done so far. The bottom line here is Smiley has shoulder issues. He had them in San Francisco. He had them in Miami. They are not going away anytime soon. Furthermore, once the Dolphins put Smiley on the market and told him not to report for offseason conditioning, they basically alerted the rest of the NFL Smiley isn't in their long-term plans. The price for Smiley has dropped. Despite this, the Dolphins don't want to simply give him away. Their stance is they can hold onto Smiley up until training camp is set to open in late July. So what might Smiley bring in trade?

Not a lot. Purely speculating here: Maybe a sixth-rounder. Sad isn't it? We'll see.

There's a rumor the Dolphins will attempt to trade down in the coming draft. This is true. Although the chances are better that Miami will have to stick with pick No. 12 for lack of trade-down options, the team seriously would like to drop a handful of spots and pick up a late-second pick in the exchange. The Dolphins are not the only team wanting to do this. Denver might want to trade down also and the Broncos are scheduled to pick at No. 11. So, you guessed it, we'll see.

April 16, 2010

Ted Ginn Jr. traded to San Francisco

Ted Ginn has told friends and teammates he has been traded to the San Francisco 49ers. The Dolphins are not commenting publicly but I got a text from a team source confirming the trade is done for a 2010 draft pick.

That pick will be a Saturday pick, I am told. That means a late-rounder guys.

[Update: It's a fifth-round pick, No. 145 overall. The Dolphins lacked a fifth-rounder prior to this.]

[Update: The Dolphins now have confirmed the trade is complete although they are declining to confirm the compensation. The 49'ers are also confirming the trade and have confirmed the compensation as their fifth-round pick. Dolphins seem petty to me when they refuse to disclose compensation everyone else discloses.]

Ginn was flying to San Francisco as early as today and take a physical. If he passes, the trade will be official. His primary role in San Francisco will be primarily as a return specialist.

Ginn's fate was sealed by the recent acquisition of Brandon Marshall, but the truth is Ginn has been on the trade block for several weeks.

The former first-round pick in 2007 -- No. 9 overall -- regressed significantly in 2009. He dropped more passes than just about anyone in the NFL. His production also dropped from 56 catches in 2008 to 38 in 2009.

Fellow receiver Brian Hartline told The Herald's David J. Neal that he has a sense the trade was in the works. Ginn and Hartline share the same agent.

"I'm not totally surprised, but I think it's best for Teddy and the organization to do what they're doing," Brian Hartline said moments ago. "You go get a guy with the No. 9 overall pick you expect him to have an immediate impact. I don't think he was ready to make an immediate impact for the Dolphins. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve to be a No. 9 overall pick because we know what kind of playmaker he can be. But he was put in a difficult situation."

This trade comments on what Bill Parcells ultimately thought of Miami's 2007 draft -- the one just prior to his arrival.

The Dolphins have cut or traded every player in that draft except for punter Brandon Fields (7th round) and nose tackle Paul Soliai (4th round).

April 14, 2010

Interesting stuff on Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall

There are two players that tingle the toes (as Jim Mandich would say) of Dolphins fans as our team looks to checkmate all the moves the stinkin' New York Jets have been making and the evil New England Patriots are about to make with their 18 four picks in the draft's first two rounds. 

Dez Bryant.

Brandon Marshall.

I write about Bryant in today's Miami Herald and I share with you not only the sad circumstances of his upbringing but also what he's trying to do to overcome what he recognizes are maturity issues.

People close to Bryant tell me the wide receiver has hired a "life skills coach." Read the column to see what this person is charged with doing because it is interesting. Meanwhile, I asked if this so-called coach is traveling with Bryant as he takes his various visits to different teams around the league.

The question drew long pauses. "I don't want to confirm or deny that is happening," I was told.

Interesting. I make the case that Bryant having a "life skills coach" is a good thing. It shows he's being proactive in trying to address the issues some teams are worried about. But I've also heard some teams have been turned off when learning that this person is constantly around Bryant.

And yes, I've been told the "life skills coach" has been taking Bryant to some visits.

Regardless, I know the Dolphins have done extensive work on Bryant, trying to learn the truth about him and not just accept what is rumored. I think the truth about this kid paints a much more positive picture than the rumors.

As to Marshall, you know I hate rumor-mongering. I either tell you what other reputable sources are reporting or tell you what I have learned myself. When I don't know something I tell you.

I'm here to tell you that contrary to every instinct in my being and going against everything the Dolphins have said both privately and publicly, I keep hearing Marshall is indeed a possibility in Miami. (I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence.)

I got a call from an agent Tuesday night who wanted to know what I thought about Marshall coming to Miami.

"Isn't happening," I responded.

"What makes you so sure?" he asked.

"What do you know," I asked.

Well this agent represents a player on the Denver Broncos. And he tells me his client told him Marshall said the Dolphins are the other team -- along with Seattle -- interested in him. So the agent said Marshall was being traded to the Dolphins.

That is not exactly straight from the horse's mouth. That is not even from the horse's brother's girlfriend.

But this is a serious agent I've known for years and he doesn't call to waste his time or mine. I am therefore passing it along to you.

Is it 100 percent? I still have my doubts. I find it hard to believe the Dolphins would be willing to give up multiple high picks (perhaps a second and third rounder) for the right to Marshall, whom they would then have to turn around and pay between $8-10 million per year on average.

It is just not a Dolphins type move. This team is supposed to be trying to add draft picks, not lose picks. It would also go against what coach Tony Sparano said at the NFL annual meeting when he said the Dolphins were interested in neither Marshall nor Terrell Owens.

But I pass it along to you nonethless because it comes from a credible source. If nothing else, I've given my boy Joe Rose another entire show this morning -- just like I did Tuesday morning. You're welcome, Joe!

April 13, 2010

The Sparano-Taylor meeting off on wrong foot

Tony Sparano called Jason Taylor in recent days and with all the charm and charisma that convinces so many Dolphins to play hard 100 percent of the time, the coach told Taylor the two of them needed to meet this week.

Man to man. Coach to player.

Nobody needed to know about it, Sparano told Taylor.

And so Taylor didn't tell anyone about the meeting.

Taylor didn't tell his agent Gary Wichard. He didn't share it with any of his close confidants, either. So on Monday afternoon when ESPN senior insider Chris Mortensen reported on NFL Live that the meeting was coming this week, everyone connected with Taylor denied they knew about it because, well, they didn't.

But obviously someone inside the Dolphins organization told Mortensen. So the same organization that swore Taylor to secrecy leaked news of the meeting to the Worldwide Leader -- a figurative national bullhorn.

What is the deal with these Miami Dolphins? On the one hand, they're asking players to keep in-house matters in-house. On the other hand they're planting stories in the national media.

And what is the point? On the one hand, they seem to be reaching out to Taylor. But, in fact, by leaking the story, they have actually done damage to whatever they might be trying to accomplish. Taylor was disappointed with the team late Monday night when he learned news of the planned meeting leaked from the team after he was told to tell no one.

The Dolphins have been in lockdown mode on the Taylor issue for weeks. General Manager Jeff Ireland calls Wichard regularly every time facts about the Taylor-Dolphins negotiations -- or lack of negotiations -- get out in the media.

But Ireland is working for the very organization that slips ESPN interesting little notes -- like Ronnie Brown being on the trade block or Joey Porter not playing the rest of the season after his 2009 suspension. Granted, sometimes the information is flawed, but apparently the tuna can that is the Miami Dolphins isn't very well sealed.

The greater point is the Dolphins work in unorthodox ways. They have asked players to betray their agents -- as with the Ricky Williams contract extension that excluded agent Leigh Steinberg. And they betray their players -- as in leaking news of Taylor's private meeting with Sparano.


The now well-chronicled meeting, by the way, is still scheduled for the next day or so. Taylor is scheduled to go out of town with his wife late in the week. (No, he isn't going to New York to sign a contract.) At least that wasn't the plan late Monday before Taylor found out the meeting was all over the Internet.

So where does this meeting go? What purpose does it serve?

It should probably start with Sparano apologizing to Taylor. The coach put his reputation on the line in asking Taylor to keep things private, but his team instead turned around and opened its information pipeline to ESPN. That cannot help the Dolphins' agenda unless the agenda is to simply make a public relations move -- one the Dolphins want publicized on national TV.

Maybe the meeting is meant to tell Taylor to go quietly into the night -- or in this case to simply take an offer from the New York Jets.

But if the point of the meeting is to be sincere and try to convince Taylor to be patient with the Dolphins, to wait until after the draft and hedge his bet Miami might want him back, this definitely is a strange way to go about that.

Strange and wrong.

April 12, 2010

Jets acquire Santonio Holmes: The fallout

This thing with the Jets adding players almost every week is starting to get a little irritating.

Rex Ryan's team is limited by the "Final Four Rule" that says they cannot add a free agent unless they lose a free agent and cannot pay that player more than the player they lost gets from his new team. And despite this limitation the Jets have added LaDanian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie and on Sunday night Santonio Holmes.

Cromartie and Holmes both came via trade, with Holmes being added for a modest fifth-round selection.

There is little doubt Holmes brings trouble with him. It is no secret league-wide that he will be suspended for four games in 2010 for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He also has some legal issues to clear up in connection with him allegedly throwing a glass at a women at an Orlando club.

But have you heard? He was also the Super Bowl MVP in 2008-09, and caught 79 passes for 1,248 yards with five TDs in 2009. When he's playing football, he's pretty darn good.

Obviously, the Dolphins must have been aware of Holmes being available and didn't pull the trigger. No, they don't have a fifth-round pick this year anyway, but they have three sixth-rounders and they have their fifth for next year. Obviously, it could be argued the Dolphins shy away from troubled players that are about to be suspended and this was no exception.

But the fact of the matter is Holmes will be suspended for four fewer games than the league suspension Miami's Jason Ferguson will serve for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. And the Dolphins re-signed Ferguson this year, knowing he was going to serve the 8-game term.

So what gives with the double standard?

A fifth-round pick is nothing. Statistics prove players selected in that round rarely factor much in the NFL and rarely play more than three years. (Spare me the Zach Thomas reminders. That was almost a generation ago.)

Miami's fifth rounders the past decade were John Nalbone and Chris Clemons in 2009, none in 2008, none in 2007, Manny Wright (supplemental) in 2006, Anthony Alabi in 2005, Tony Bua in 2004, J.R. Tolver in 2003, Omar Lowe and Sam Simmons in 2002, Shawn Draper in 2001 and Arturo Freeman in 2000. In other words, Nalbone and Clemons have to be golden for Miami to show anything for a decade of fifth round picks.

So if the Jets lose on this gamble for Holmes, what have they really lost? A fifth-round selection that probably wasn't long for the league anyway? It's a good gamble for them. And for others, I suspect.

There are interesting side notes to this trade that affect Miami:

The Steelers are now in the market for a wide receiver and their need probably extends early in the draft. They have the 18th overall selection in round one, and that could mean one fewer WR will be available to Miami when the Dolphins pick in round two. The Steelers also have the 20th pick in round two (52nd overall), meaning one less WR might be available to Miami in the third round.

In other words, Pittsburgh now-obvious need for a wide receiver could decrease the Dolphins' choices by one player after Miami's first pick.

Another interesting side note to this is whether the news of the Jets acquiring a weapon that could help their playoff cause would sway Jason Taylor with his pending decision about going to the New Yorkers or not.

Finally, the hope here is that Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland wake from their wide receiver slumber and realize it is a passing league. They need to find a star wide receiver, maybe even two, in this draft. Dez Bryant, Golden Tate and Demaryious Thomas are good places to start.

I hope they've done their homework and are ready to go hard after a receiver.

Everyone else is.

[Update: Holmes is flying to New York for a physical today. Am I the only one that is rooting he fails the physical because they find drugs in his system?]