November 10, 2010

Harris for Allen doesn't mean things got better

The Dolphins signed cornerback Al Harris and waived cornerback Jason Allen today. And in the coming hour you'll hear how coach Tony Sparano feels that Harris is a good player that can help the team the same way you heard him say Allen was playing really well earlier this year.

Throughout talk radio and on this blog's comment board you see people extol the virtues of this exchange -- cutting a first-round bust for a player whose playing his final NFL days -- as improvement.

I don't care about any of that. That is just people's opinion.

This is a fact: The Dolphins today have cut a player they thought was good enough to start seven games for them. They cut a player who still leads the team with three interceptions. The Dolphins, in thinking this guy was good enough to start one week and cut two weeks later, just told you how terrible their cornerback situation has really been.

If you are cutting a player that you said was pretty good and you were starting most of the season, you are admitting that player really wasn't all you said. You are admitting he wasn't good enough to keep around, particularly if the reason you're cutting him is all about his performance rather than some strange chemistry or police blotter reason.

Then there's the other side of this coin -- the adding of Harris.

Harris was cut by the Green Bay Packers this week. They cut him not because he's a problem child or because he's in a contract dispute. The man has been an outstanding NFL cornerback for 12 years. But that changed in year 13.

So the Packers cut Harris because he's going to be 36 years old next month. They cut him because he hasn't played sinced Week 11 of last season. They cut him because his knee problems hadn't allowed him to be 100 percent healthy so he could get on the field this year.

The Packers cut Al Harris because they realized he cannot help them anymore.

And so this is the player that can help the Dolphins?

What does that say about the desperation of Miami's cornerback situation?

Well, combined with the cutting of a player who was starting, this tells me the Dolphins are in some desperate times. And their response to desperate times is this desperate measure.

If that shakes your confidence in this team's defensive backfield, then you're on point. Remember that according to coaches, Allen was the best answer at one cornerback spot up until last week's game at Baltimore. But, by the same token, he was only good enough to kick out the door.

(By the way, this blog has known Jason Allen wasn't the answer to any question that had anything to do with defensive back play about two two years ago.)

So what does Allen's ability to hold off Sean Smith for a starting job in seven of the past eight weeks say about Smith? Remember, the coaches believed Allen was better than Smith up until last week. Now we're supposed to believe all is well?

And we're supposed to believe that Harris could be a viable, solid, good answer if he gets his chance?

The Dolphins are basically trying to patch leaks now. Allen wasn't the long-term answer. Harris isn't the long-term answer. It can be argued whether Smith is a long-term answer.

Point is nothing about this move suggests things are improving. I'm not hating the move, but rather giving you what the move means. It means the Dolphins are trying not to drown. They're just hoping to tread water.

And that doesn't instill a lot of confidence.


October 04, 2010

Is Jason Allen the truth or a fraud? We find out soon

Even as there has been much celebration about Jason Allen's rise from the ashes to starter status this year, you might have noticed that my reaction to his rise has been muted.

I have not joined in the celebration or been prone to grand applause because, well, I'm still not a believer. (By the way, I also didn't rip him for giving up a TD and getting called for a pass interference against the Jets last week.)

I guess I have a hard time thinking that four years of bust do not get erased by four months of boom. And so I have decided to say nothing rather than say I don't trust him as a Dolphins starting cornerback because he's a good man and why rain on his parade?

But it gets serious now. This Dolphins schedule becomes seriously challenging now so I cannot be silent any more.

The next three games, starting with tonight's against the New England Patriots, will tell me if Allen is the resurrected talent everyone thinks he's become ... or something of a blind squirrel who stumbled upon a nut the first few weeks of this season.

The next three games Allen will face receivers such as Randy Moss and Wes Welker and Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. He will look across the field and see Hines Ward and Mike Wallace with the Steelers. And before too long, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Anquan Boldin will be challenging him.

This is a far cry from the first two games of the season when Allen played wonderfully, but did so, in part, because of favorable matchups and the fact his opponents were diminished.

Allen was excellent against the Bills and Minnesota. But the truth is against the Bills he constantly got help over the top from safety Chris Clemons and that forced quarterback Trent Edwards to not throw even one pass in the first half to Lee Evans, whom Allen was covering.

Eventually Evans caught a couple of passes but Allen got the better of that matchup. No doubt about it. But remember the quarterback that was trying to complete passes against him that day was out of the starting lineup and eventually off the team within a matter of weeks.

Allen had the best game of his career against Minnesota. He had two interceptions and it was excellent work. But please remember he was working against a Minnesota team that doesn't have its best wide receiver because Sidney Rice is on PUP.

So now comes Tom Brady and the New England passing show. Then comes Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing show. Then comes Ben Roethlisberger and the fine receivers the Steelers bring to the field.

There are no excuses now. If Allen plays as well against that trio of teams and those difficult matchups, I will say I am finally convinced he has arrived. I hope he has.

We shall see starting tonight.

[BLOG NOTE: Of course, there will a be a live blog during tonight's Monday night game between the Dolphins and Patriots! Get back here in the hour or so prior to kickoff for all the latest and the chat.]

September 06, 2010

Will Allen not happy to be on IR - understandably

Will Allen is on injured reserve. And he's not very happy about it.

Allen, out on injured reserve for the second consecutive season, has told multiple sources how unhappy and displeased he is with the fact the Dolphins decided to effectively shut him down for the 2010 season and not hold a roster spot open for him until he could return to full health.

That timetable for Allen returning to full health was initially reported as the first game of the season but the truth is Allen isn't ready now. Multiple sources are saying he would more likely be ready to contribute in the Miami secondary by the start of October or the Oct. 4 game against New England.

The Dolphins decided against holding a roster spot open for Allen, privately telling The Herald's Jeff Darlington there were too many uncertainties with that timetable. Publicly, the club has shown no desire to explain its thinking on placing Allen on injured reserve.

"I'm not going to get into the specific reasons why we did any of these things," Coach Tony Sparano said this week when asked the reason for Allen being shelved. "But it's something that had to be done right now."

Allen disagrees, according to those close to him. In the days following his Aug. 11 arthroscopic surgery, Allen felt like he had turned the corner on the injury that forced him to miss all of the 2009 season. Yes, he had passed his physical and was practicing at the start of training camp, but he didn't feel quite right.

He felt right following the latest surgery and all he wanted, I am told, was a couple of weeks to prove that on the field.

He will not get that chance.

So why is this even a topic?

Well, the Dolphins have had issues in the secondary, and particularly at cornerback, this preseason. Sean Smith struggled. Jason Allen, often dismissed as only a special teams player after being selected in the 2006 first round, showed more promise than in the past.

And although Jason Allen wasn't stellar, himself giving up scoring plays in the preseason, he displaced Smith as the starter for the regular-season opener at Buffalo on Sunday. Sparano confirmed that Monday.

"The decision hasn't been made all the way," Allen said Monday. "But I'm preparing like I'm the starter. That's how I always prepare and this week is no different."

There is nothing here that suggests benching Smith for Allen is the wrong decision. That is a coaching decision and Sparano and his staff know better than anyone, certainly better than me, which players they have confidence in starting.

But the question that lingers is why the rush to discard Will Allen? Sure, there is uncertainty about his return to health. But tell me what is guaranteed in today's NFL, anyway?

Why not hold the roster spot open for a week or two just in case the Allen prognosis turns from a question mark to an exclamation point? And if that question mark lingers, then the Dolphins could put Allen in IR and move on.

The Dolphins, silent on the matter, might argue that roster spots are precious and they cannot hold any spot open for Allen. Really?

So the waiver wire additions of Joe Reitz, Robert Rose, Jermey Parnell and Clifton Geathers were all that important? Do these unproven, untested guys come with no uncertainty?

Are they all more likely to contribute to the Dolphins this season than Will Allen would once he got fully healthy?

And, yes, I know it is uncertain Allen would reach 100 percent health regardless of what sources are saying. But one must admit it is uncertain the young untested guys taking up the roster spots will ever help the Dolphins in any way, either.

We'll see how it works out.

[Broadcast note: Tune in to Armando and the Amigo Tuesday morning 6-10 a.m., as our guests will include former Bills WR Steve Tasker, who is broadcasting Sunday's game, Mike Florio of, Dolphins Pro Bowl safety Yeremiah Bell, former Mets GM Steve Phillips, and Jacksonville State head coach Jack Crowe, fresh off his team's upset of Ole' Miss. If you're not in South Florida, listen live here.]