April 20, 2016

Miami Dolphins interest in Josh Norman: Can't eliminate the possibility

The Carolina Panthers this afternoon announced they have rescinded the exclusive franchise tag off cornerback Joshn Norman. That makes the Pro Bowl cornerback an unrestricted free agent immediately.

He is able to talk with any NFL team. He is free to sign with whatever NFL team is willing to pay him close to what he's asking.

And it makes sense the teams that will show the most interest immediately are teams that need a very, very good NFL cornerback ...

...Like the Miami Dolphins.

I reached out to a handful of Dolphins sources to ask if there would be interest in Norman. Only one of them answered via text. The text read, "Can't say yes for sure. But it would be wrong to say no."

Dolphins wide receiver Matt Hazel, teammates with Norman at Coastal Carolina, tweeted, "Wow," in response to the news.

The Panthers are parting ways and, unless there are underlying reasons beyond money, it has to be that Norman has wanted to make upwards of $16-$17 million per season to sign a long term deal. That is obviously too rich for Carolina and so the defending NFC Champions are moving on.

The Dolphins currently have $19.5 million in salary cap space, per the NFLPA.

If this is going to be an all out bidding war for a player, the Dolphins likely won't win.

The San Francisco 49ers have $52.6 million in cap space. Jacksonville has $52.5 million in cap space. The Cleveland Browns have $40.3 million in cap space.

Now, if Norman is going to only entertain teams with a chance to win, that changes the dynamic with those teams. But that does not help the Dolphins either, as they haven't been to the playoffs or managed a winning season since 2008.

This does not definitely mean the Dolphins would be in on Norman. There are many things to consider beyond money and his interest. There's scheme fit. There's chemistry fit because Norman is a very outgoing player.

But if the Dolphins want to go hard here, they absolutely could find a way. Remember,  they can restructure center Mike Pouncey's contract, turning base salary into guaranteed money and save up to $6.5 million in salary cap space this year. The team could cut Cameron Wake, who is in the final year of his contract, and save $8.4 million.

But this is more than just about cap space.

This is also about hard money. The Dolphins do indeed have an annual cash expenditure budget for player salaries. They expect to spend between $115-$120 million in cash in 2016.

Adding a huge contract such as Norman's would likely put the Dolphins beyond their budget for this season. And so owner Stephen Ross would have to be included in any conversation about interest in Norman because it is, after all, his money the team would be spending.

Stay tuned.

Norman is 6-foot and 195 pounds. He was a Pro Bowl player for the first time in 2015. He has seven career interceptions, including four last season. His body of work in 2015, per ProFootballFocus.com, is impressive:

He held DeAndre Hopkins to two catches for 24 yards on seven targets

He held Vincent Jackson to two catches for 31 yards on six targets, picking off one pass.

He held Mike Evans to one catch for 15 yards on five targets in the other meeting with the Bucs.

He held T.Y. Hilton to one catch for 15 yards on three targets, breaking up the other two.

He held Dez Bryant to one catch for six yards on five targets.

–Held Julio Jones to six catches for 55 yards on eight targets across two games.

The Dolphins have one experienced starting cornerback in Byron Maxwell. They were expected to add one and perhaps two cornerbacks in the April 28-30 draft. The team has said multiple times this offseason it is not one player away.

Away from what, who knows.

The Dolphins have also been careful not to make any significant moves in free agency with the idea of adding multiple compensatory draft picks in 2017 after losing Olivier Vernon, Rishard Matthews and others in free agency. Big contract free agents are judged against the contracts signed by players who left in a complex formula.

That formula becomes moot after May 12, but it is unclear if Norman would want to wait to sign for another 2-3 weeks.

The Dolphins currently have an inauspicious group of cornerbacks on the roster.

The statistics, reasoning, possible return for trading Cam Wake

I'm not a huge fan of stocking up on sixth- or seventh-round picks. I know, I know, Tom Brady was picked in the sixth round once upon a time. And good players are still around late in the draft every year the NFL conducts a draft -- which is every year.

But the statistics (analytics) say that stumbling upon a great player, indeed even a starting-caliber player, that late in the draft is unlikely.

For example, in the 10 years and 10 drafts from 2005-2014, the percentage of tight ends and running backs selected in the seventh round who went on to become starters for their team was ... zero.

Not a one.

The percentage of linebackers picked in the seventh round who became starters was two percent. The percentage of linebackers picked in the sixth round during that decade who went on to become starters was five percent. The percentage of linebackers picked in the fifth round who went on to become starters was lower, at four percent.

And, of course, the percentage of players (not including kickers, punters and long snappers) who become starters during their career is significantly higher for rounds 1-2 than it is for rounds 3-7. The percentage of players drafted 2005-14 who became starters by rounds:

Round 1: 65.1%

Round 2: 43.5%

Round 3: 27.7%

Round 4: 19.6%

Round 5: 13.8%

Round 6: 11%

Round 7: 4.5% 

Now, I am no math wiz (I'm a word wiz) but it seems to me any team wanting to maximize its chances of picking a starting player out of the draft, based on the analytics of 10 years of drafts, would want to accumulate picks in the first three rounds and mostly in the first two rounds.

This while accumulating picks in the sixth and seventh round is a great way to face devastating odds.

The Dolphins, by the way, own eight picks in the coming April 28-30 draft. They have one pick in every round except the magical seventh round, where they have two picks.

My advice with those seventh rounders? Trade them away if possible to get into the sixth round and increase your chances of finding a starting player. My advice the rest of the draft? Try to get up into the first 64-70 picks because after that the odds of finding a consequential player diminish dramatically.

And that leads me to the reason I wrote Tuesday it would be wise fo the Dolphins to consider trading Cam Wake.

I'm not going to repeat the facts as we know them relative to Wake's age and contract status. You can go back and read that here.

What is obvious to me -- and for our purposes this is just me talking because the Dolphins have not told me they want to trade Cam Wake -- is that the value Miami can get for the player is higher over the long term than keeping the player himself.

Why?

Because despite being 34, and despite coming back from an Achilles injury, and despite him being under contract only one more year, I am convinced the Dolphins can get a third-round pick for Wake. I am convinced based on what I've been told by various NFL sources relative to what they believe teams have been willing to give for Wake in the past (when the Dolphins weren't interested) and what might happen now.

And I would trade Wake for a third.

But I'm not adding that third-round pick to have a 27.7 percent chance of finding a starter in the third round. I do it so I can use that extra chip in the third round to get up to the second round.

Remember, second round players become starters 43.5 percent of the time. Having two No. 2s in this deep draft -- deep based on what scouts are saying -- is a great opportunity to maximize the number of starters the Dolphins can add to this roster out of this draft.

The team has already promised the player picked at No. 13 in the first round will absolutely be a starter. Imagine adding two more of those out of this draft?

Imagine adding three young, relative cheap starters that are under the team's control for the next four years out of this draft?

It would make this draft a boon for the Dolphins.

It would make the short-term sting of losing Wake worthwhile in the long-term.

Ryan Tannehill 'wouldn't be offended' if Miami Dolphins draft a QB

So here we are, just over a week away from the start of the April 28-30 NFL draft. And I remind you that about this time in 2014 is when former coach Joe Philbin dropped a bombshell on the personnel department in announcing he would like to draft quarterback Derek Carr.

That didn't happen and so the quarterback battle between Carr and Ryan Tannehill that would have ensued never came to pass.

But the 2016 Dolphins, committed Tannehill as the starter and expecting new coach Adam Gase to take him under his tutelage, have made no bones about the fact they still might draft a quarterback.

"We were fortunate to bring Matt Moore back," executive vice president for football operations Mike Tannenbaum said at the NFL annual meeting last month. "We added (Zach) Dysert, Logan Thomas, Ryan. But if the right opportunity in the draft presented for a quarterback we’re not going to rule that out. We want to have as much strength and flexibility in the draft (as possible) and that’s something Adam, Chris (Grier) and I talk about 25 times a day. In fact I think Adam, starts rolling his eyes when I start saying it. There’s a lot more work to be done at every position."

And what does Tannehill, who must make a significant improvement in '16 over last season to keep his job, think about the team investing a draft pick on a quarterback? Would he be freaked, put off, offended?

"No, I wouldn't be offended at all," Tannehill said. "That's the nature of the business. If you're not doing the job good enough then they're looking to replace you. And you want to have depth. I love he guys in the room ... I'm excited about the room we have and if we add somebody else, I'll be open arms and welcome him in. We're just there to push each other. Push each to be better and enjoy the whole process."

Perhaps it is just me but the idea of the Dolphins at once embracing Tannehill and hoping and praying that he develops while at the same time not closing the door on adding another young QB is fascinating. It is like pushing all your chips to the center of the poker table...While knowing you've got more chips in your pockets.

And that is wise.

Now, let us think through what exactly might happen during the draft with the quarterback position. Do I think the Dolphins will pick one in the first round? That's hard to expect considering that player will almost certainly not start anytime in 2016, barring an injury to Tannehill, and Miami has so many other glaring holes to fill to even field a team.

Cornerback?

I suppose the Dolphins are more looking at a third-stringer who could either challenge Moore for the second-string job in camp and eventually replace Moore, who is 31 years old and signed through 2017.

That suggests a later pick. That would seem to eliminate players such as Paxton Lynch, who the team was enamored with during last season but didn't bring to town for a visit. Lynch is expected to be drafted before the first round is over. That would seem to put the Dolphins more in the territory of a Christian Hakenberg, Kevin Hogan, or maybe Cody Kessler (who I like) -- who will possibly be picked in later rounds.

(There is a so-called second tier quarterback the Dolphins have looked at only in passing that I've been told some teams view as a fourth or fifth round project but a couple of better teams will more likely pick in the third round or so because he has been incredible during his workouts after having a very good 2015 season. I wish the Dolphins would pick this kid based on what I've heard and consequently seen of him. But they are apparently not on him very strong and I've been sworn to secrecy as to his identity so I cannot write about him here. I will reveal his identity next week during the draft and we'll follow his progress to see if I knew something the Dolphins should have but didn't.)

Anyway, the team showed interest in Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty, as I reported last week. And he owns more passing records than some guys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Of course, Western Kentucky. 

And then there is the philosophical question. Fake GM Mando drafts a quarterback every year. Every. Single. Year.

You never know when that third-round pick becomes Joe Montana or Russell Wilson. Or that sixth-round pick becomes Tom Brady. Or Marc Bulger. Or Matt Hasselbeck. You never know when that fifth-round pick might become Mark Brunell.

Roger Staubach, by the way, was taken in the 10th round because he played at Navy and had to serve before entering the NFL. The Naval Academy has a playmaker named Keenan Reynolds coming out this year who is just an coach's dream.

So, there's that.

But as the Dolphins are not run by Fake GM Mando, they don't pick QBs every year. Perhaps the club figures picks are too valuable to invest on one quarterback every year. But, listening to what the team is saying, the Dolphins are not ruling out picking one this year.

April 19, 2016

It would be wise for Miami Dolphins to consider trading Cam Wake

In July of 2008, the Miami Dolphins traded longtime team leader and productive pass rusher Jason Taylor to the Washington Redskins. Taylor was two months shy of his 34th birthday and in the final year of his contract so the Dolphins got a second- and a seventh-round pick from Washington in the trade.

And now, eight years later, here we are in similar situation.

As in 2008, the Dolphins are breaking in a new first-time general manager, a new first-time head coach and a so-called football czar is running the football operations -- then it was Bill Parcells, now it is Mike Tannenbaum. And like then, everyone knew the Dolphins didn't have a Super Bowl roster. Sorry, but they didn't then and don't now.

That team, flawed as it was, was trying to rebuild on the fly just as the 2016 Dolphins are trying to do.

And, yes, these Dolphins have a 34-year-old player in the final year of his contract in Cameron Wake. And Wake is a longtime team leader and productive pass rusher.

So it makes sense for this team to follow that team's wise lead and shop Cameron Wake to see if someone will bite.

Not doing this is shortsighted. Not doing this is showing fear of the possibilities -- some of them, perhaps, pretty good. Not doing this would be pulling back on something the team has already done in the past.

That's right. The Dolphins in the past have fielded inquiries about Wake's availability. The team hasn't actively shopped him, per se. But neither has it shut down talks of an exchange from prospective suitors.

And that makes sense. Cameron Wake is a great player. He's a grand commodity. He has value.

Gauging that value now is wise.

Wake, older and coming off an Achilles injury that prematurely ended his 2015 season in the seventh game, is less valuable than a few years ago or even last year. But there is nothing wrong with seeing what that value is. It is wise to see what is possible. Because there's a desperate NFL general manager willing to jump at a chance at an accomplished pass rusher born every minute.

Please understand: I am not advocating trading Cameron Wake because he is a problem for the Dolphins. He has never been that. I am not advocating trading Cameron Wake because I believe he's no longer productive. Wake has promised to return from his injury "better" than he was before and so I'm going with that thinking, too, until proof suggests otherwise.

I am, however, saying that a late second or third-round pick in exchange for Wake now is more valuable over the longterm for the Dolphins than, yes, having Wake himself.

Why?

Business and logic. Simple as that.

The emotion of trading a long-time star is a hard thing to overcome, because of the feelings of loss involved. But understand that those same feelings would be there next year if Wake goes into free agency and leaves. And in that scenario the Dolphins would feel loss while getting nothing in return for the player.

So how likely is that? I would say it is quite possible because the Dolphins and the Wake camp have already demonstrated they have a different price point on the player. Remember that the Dolphins tried to restructure Wake's contract in February. And that didn't go well. And, yes, I've reported the team could take another run at restructuring Wake before the season.

But as we get closer to the season, as Wake gets closer to being 100 percent recovered from his injury, is he going to think himself worth less?

And after this season, if Wake lives up to his promise of being "better" is he going to sign a discounted contract with Miami? I say he would be just as likely to shop himself -- not necessarily to the highest bidder but to a team that is closer to winning a championship because that starts to matter for a guy who's never been in the playoffs.

Wake, if he is smart and he is, will at that point be making business decisions.

The Dolphins, if they are smart, should now be making business decisions.

Of course, this omits the possibility Wake isn't the same player in 2016 as he's been in the past. Even though he is currently walking with no limp whatever, training with his teammates and expects to be available when the regular-season begins, what if he's diminished? What if he's not the same guy anymore?

Well, that very possibility is a reason it makes sense to trade Wake now. Because his value is high enough now and because if he flops, the Dolphins will have nothing to show for keeping him.

Look, good organizations such as the Steelers and Patriots and others have shown time and again that it is far smarter moving on from a player a year early than a year too late. Sometimes the philosophy hurts those teams for a time -- but the pain does not last. The pain often is inherited by someone else.

Remember when Joey Porter was cut by the Steelers? Within days the Dolphins gave him $42 million guaranteed. And Porter was good for one year (2008) in Miami. But his other couple of years, he was something of a locker room cancer (2007 and 2009), he disrespected coaches, teammates and the organization. He was a headache. 

The Steelers, meanwhile, won the AFC North in 2007. They won the Super Bowl in 2008. The Steelers survived without Joey Porter. 

The Patriots years ago traded Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders. Seymour, coming off two consecutive Pro Bowl berths, was in the final year of his contract. And New England wasn't able to afford re-signing Seymour. So off he went for a 2011 first-round draft pick.

Did the trade hurt the Patriots in 2009, the year they traded him? Probably.

But the first round pick the team got in exchange two years later netted left tackle Nate Solder. Seymour retired after 2012. Solder remains the Patriots starting left tackle.

The Patriots faced a similar issue this offseason. Outstanding pass rusher Chandler Jones was scheduled to be in the final year of his contract in 2017. The Pats, knowing that other players such as cornerback Malcolm Butler, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins must be re-signed, dealt Jones.

(Yes, there are questions about Jones's possible marijuana use so that may have played a role in the decision).

The Patriots got guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick from Arizona in exchange for Jones. History suggests the trade will sting the Pats in the short-term. History also suggests they will benefit in the long-term.

Interestingly, I don't think losing Cameron Wake would sting the Dolphins as much as some of the other examples stung the teams I cited. The fact is the Dolphins have never been to the playoffs with Cameron Wake. They have never had a winning record with Cameron Wake on the team. So what are they risking without him?

Sitting on the couch in January is sitting on the couch in January either way you slice it.

The fact also is Wake has played left end, or against the opposing team's right tackle, all his career. Well, the Dolphins this offseason signed Mario Williams and he traditionally has played left end throughout his career. Yes, Williams often moved around and would do so again if Wake is on the team, but the vast majority of his production has come against right offensive tackles.

One final thing: Teams that cut ties with longtime productive players perhaps a year early often have one thing in common and that is the people making those decisions aren't worried about job security.

The Steelers have had one head coach since 2007. The Dolphins have had six, including interim guys Todd Bowles and Dan Campbell.

Bill Belichick similarly is not worried about his job security when he's making potentially controversial roster decisions.

The question is how comfortable are Mike Tannenbaum and Adam Gase with their job security to consider what might be a controversial roster decision such as this? I believe both men should be feeling quite comfortable because Gase is already owner Stephen Ross's favorite person in the world and Tannenbaum this offseason consolidated and increased his power within the organization.

So what's the issue with fielding offers for Cameron Wake? 

[Blog note: Tomorrow morning we'll examine what such a trade might bring and how it could turn into multiple good players for Miami.]

Numbers show Miami Dolphins must draft a starting CB

On the final day of the 2015 season (sorry to remind you, but last season did indeed happen), the Miami Dolphins went to the finale with six cornerbacks on their roster. And no one batted an eyelash about that because in today's NFL, teams are defending in sub packages an average of 65 percent of the time so cornerbacks are at a premium.

If you don't have at least three cornerbacks who can play you have a leaky defense.

And that assumes that you have at least one safety that is not a liability in coverage.

We all agreed on that?

Six corners on the roster not unusual. Three and sometimes four on the field way, way more than half the time.

Lacking talent among those numbers and you'll be selecting early in the annual NFL draft.

I establish all this because the Miami Dolphins currently have barely enough cornerbacks on their 90-man roster to go into the season. And you have to understand, they'll be going into the season with a 53-man roster.

The Dolphins have seven cornerbacks on the roster to date. Those are Jamar Taylor, Byron Maxwell, Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett, Tyler Patmon, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Chimdi Chekwa. If you want to get crazy, you can say the team has eight cornerbacks but then you'd be counting Damarr Aultman, who is not even listed as a corner on the team's official roster. He's listed as a defensive back.

And even counting Aultman as a defensive back is a faith exercise because he was a wide receiver in college and in training camp with the Dolphins last year.

Am I getting the point across to you that the Dolphins have serious cornerback issues as we sit here, nine days from the start of the NFL draft?

Am I getting the point across to you that the Dolphins definitely need to draft a cornerback and do it early enough that he might be a candidate to start right away? Am I getting the point across to you that the Dolphins might need to draft two cornerbacks?

Am I getting the point across to you that if they don't draft two cornerbacks, they'll probably have to sign another one in the back end of free agency -- someone such as unsigned slot cornerback Leon Hall, who last I heard was recovering from back surgery and was asking such a hefty contract, practically no teams have seemed interested this offseason?

If I've failed to draw that portrait allow me to grab more crayons (my favorite writing utensil) and continue:

Taylor should currently be the most obvious choice to vie for a starting job opposite veteran Byron Maxwell. Taylor, entering his fourth NFL season, has started in the past and has the draft pedigree to be a starter, having been picked in the second round of the 2013 draft.

Except that Taylor has been progressively worse the past two years. He showed some signs of becoming a player his second season after sitting out most of his rookie year. But last year he backslid. He was handed the starting job in training camp and lost it quite quickly. He was forced into the lineup by injuries and lack of performance by other players. Then he suffered his own lack of performance to the point coaches didn't even want him active on Sundays.

Taylor was a healthy scratch three of the final five games, and had another game in that stretch when he was active but did not play. So Taylor finished the season, sitting four of the final five games because nobody trusted him on the field.

And he's a candidate to start for this team right now.

By the way, I understand the coaching staff is brand new. I understand the Dolphins are going to play different techniques on defense this year. I get all that. I'm sure Lou Anarumo, the defensive backs coach last year and the defensive backs coach this year, has told the players in his room as much.

Anyway, the next best option to start right now is Tony Lippett. He was a receiver in college. He was basically redshirted much of last year until about the final month when he was pressed into service. And he served. He showed a spark, a potential, a possibility. We'll see. But can any coach on the Dolphins stand before us and say, "Tony Lippett is a sure-fire starting caliber NFL cornerback?"

I haven't heard it.

Bobby McCain is one of Miami's eight corners. He played a lot as a rookie. He was pressed into service as practically everyone else was. And he showed potential. He seems best fit at slot. But here's the thing: If the Dolphins are going to camp having awarded the starting job to McCain, it doesn't say much for their Plan B in case everything doesn't go absolutely, positively perfectly -- as it never does in the NFL.

Chimdi Chekwa is one of Miami's eight. He was out of football in 2015 after he was not tendered a contract by the Oakland Raiders, signed by the Patriots, cut by the Patriots two months later, signed by the Raiders, then cut by the Raiders. Checkwa, in his fifth season, has played 32 NFL games with three starts. He has four passes defensed and zero interceptions in his career.

Ekpre-Olomu had a couple of huge victories recently when the Dolphins claimed him off waivers from the Cleveland Browns. First, he just traded living in Cleveland for living in South Florida. Next, he is still on the team.

That's right, the fact Ekpre-Olomu is still around signals that he passed the Miami physical and the team felt comfortable enough with him that he remains on the roster. This is a big deal because the Browns gave up on Olomu-Ekpre, who tore his ACL in 2014 and apparently had failed to progress to the team's liking since.

About Ekpre-Olomu's injury: It was so significant that despite being a first- or second-round prospect, he dropped into the 241st pick of the 2015 draft. The drop to the seventh round was so precipitous, Olomu-Ekpre reportedly collected the entire sum of his $3 million injury insurance policy.

When the Browns gave up on the player, the Dolphins claimed him, as these things work, sight unseen.

That means they put him through his physical after having already claimed him. And as they kept him, it suggests they are hopeful something good can come of the claim.

But, again, this kid has not played a down in the NFL. And we have no idea if he is the player we last saw at Oregon in 2014, or merely a Cleveland Browns discard.

Tylor Patmon was a Dallas Cowboys' discard when the Dolphins added him to the practice squad on December 17 of last year. The former 2014 undrafted free agent had played 11 games for the Cowboys in '15 and, well, it hadn't gone great. The Dallas Morning News reported at the time that Patmon was cut because he wasn't "physical enough."

Things being what they were last year, Patmon was signed to Miami's active roster December 26 (Merry Christmas) and he passed Taylor on the depth chart about five minutes later. He played on special teams in two games.

That's it.

Byron Maxwell aside, the Dolphins have to find two cornerbacks that can play 65 percent of the snaps against Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer and others.

Are those two guys among the seven not-named-Maxwell currently on the roster? There are logical reasons to have serious doubts.

And that leads me to this: The Dolphins better be drafting a starting cornerback, friends.

April 18, 2016

Miami Dolphins scouting department gets a big endorsement

The Miami Dolphins scouting department has spent the past two weeks grinding. College scouts who live all around this great country spent the past two weeks in South Florida in meetings with coaches and the personnel department heads discussing the players the team is considering in the upcoming NFL draft.

(They were also discussing players the team won't be picking).

And it goes without saying that if the scouts are not delivering, the system is broken from the foundation on up.

But based on discussions I've had with multiple NFL people this offseason, I keep hearing there is indeed a high level of respect for the Dolphins scouting department throughout the league.

"They've got good people over there," no less than Bill Parcells told me a couple of weeks ago. "It's not like they've got a bunch of guys who don't know what they're doing. They've got good people."

Parcells listed a list of guys he really respects. And for the guys in the scouting department that hang on every word ever published in this blog, please understand this is not a full list of names Parcells rattled off because I wasn't taking notes ... but I do remember him mentioning:

Ron Brockington, who is in his 10th season with the Dolphins, and is responsible for scouting the mid-states portion of the United States.

Adam Engroff, who is in his 17th season working for the Dolphins, and has been a national scout.

Anthony Hunt, who is in his 22nd season working for the Dolphins and is the director of pro personnel. Hunt started out in 1994 as a scouting assistant and climbed the ladder. Jimmy Johnson praised Hunt out of the blue one day in the mid 1990s and the guy was hired fulltime soon after. Parcells seems to always mention Hunt when we talk about scouting.

Chris Grier, who is in his 16th season with the Dolphins and 21st season in the NFL, is also a Parcells favorite. Parcells promoted Grier when he took over running the Dolphins in 2008.

"If the coaches tell him what they're looking for," Parcells said, "Chris will find players with those qualities." 

Parcells mentioned Joe Schoen. I've heard multiple people talk highly of Schoen in recent months. Apparently Schoen, who started out as a scout, worked up to national scout, then assistant director of college scouting and then director of player personnel, is known in multiple circles as a tireless worker with a good eye for talent.

So what is the point?

Well, I'm of the opinion the Dolphins scouting department sometimes gets dismissed by you (fans, readers) because the team's record for years and years has been disappointing and because the lack of talent is clearly one of the reasons. And fair is fair. If the team is bad, the NFL being a team oriented league, forces people to believe the scouts and personnel people are part of the problem.

But not knowing what was written in scouting reports by whom and what was done after that was done, I cannot say conclusively one scout is good or another is bad.

I can say that several of these men have lasted through multiple owners, coaches, general managers and executive vice presidents for football administration. They were deemed worthy of staying and, in some cases, getting promoted through the ranks under different leadership.

That suggests they're doing solid work.

April 15, 2016

All signs point to BIG moves by the Miami Dolphins

In five of the seven years Stephen Ross has owned the Miami Dolphins, he has suggested at least one trade or dynamic roster move to his general managers -- first with Jeff Ireland, then Dennis Hickey and lately with executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum.

There have been spurts when calls suggesting a trade or some other "outside the box move" from Ross's New York office to the Dolphins Florida training facility have come much more frequently than just once a year.

It seems the owner really likes thinking of imaginative ways to possibly upgrade his team and he doesn't mind sharing his thoughts with his football people who always have the power -- mostly because of language in their contracts -- to act on the suggestion or not. More often not.

And in that regard the fact Tannenbaum is working for Ross is a perfect match.

Tannenbaum, you see, is working for an owner who wants his football guys to make moves. And Tannenbaum, in his first offseason with the ultimate power to make moves, loves to make moves.

That was his history as general manager of the New York Jets. That's been his history, however short, with the Dolphins.

Tannenbaum was general manager in New York from 2006 to 2012. In those seven seasons, Tannenbaum made 18 trades that dealt away 28 draft choices and eight players and acquired for New York 14 draft choices and five players.

And if that seems unbalanced, consider that Tannenbaum wasn't just dealing with other teams straight up. He was often trying to vault up draft charts to position the Jets with higher picks few believed he could or should be acquiring.

The fact is Tannenbaum made four trades involving first round picks.

He made five trades involving second-round picks. He made three trades involving third-round picks.

Tannenbaum either traded into or traded up in the first round each of the first four drafts he ran in New York. In 2009 he made a trade that moved the Jets from the No. 17 overall spot in the first round -- lower than the No. 13 perch Miami is scheduled to pick from in two weeks -- to No. 5 overall.

And Tannenbaum didn't blink in trading his first (No. 17), a second (No. 56) and three players on his roster to do it.

Why is this pertinent now as Tannenbaum starts what is effectively his third season with the Miami Dolphins?

Well, in his first season in 2014, Tannenbaum was positioned as a consultant, helping with the team's burgeoning analytics department. In 2015, Tannenbaum was named EVP of football operations but the power to make trades and run the draft remained with Hickey who was the general manager.

This year, Tannenbaum can pretty much do whatever he pleases because Hickey is no longer with the team and new general manager Chris Grier answers to Tannenbaum. And, despite all humility and talk of organizational and collaborative decisions you'll hear ad nauseam the next two weeks, Tannenbaum is running the show.

Period.

The wheeler dealer is holding the cards for a boss who has been known to encourage wheeling and dealing.

It could be awesome!

Or it could be a disaster.

But it promises to be interesting.

On the one hand, perhaps Tannenbaum plays to his history and makes a deal for a running back -- as he's been trying to do for several weeks now. Knile Davis?

He already consummated a pre-draft trade involving Miami's first round pick -- trading No. 8 overall for No. 13 overall plus cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso. Tannenbaum said he did this because he got three starters for the No. 8 pick -- yes, the Dolphins say the player picked No. 13 will be a starter.

So what now? Does Tannenbaum, having already lived up to his reputation as a trade machine, sit right where he is in the first round?

Or this:

Some NFL draft experts are saying over and over that the No. 50 player in this draft could be just as talented as No. 17. If the Dolphins believe this, and knowing they have 77 players on the roster and 90 is the limit, do they try to trade away their third- and fourth-round picks to add a second selection in the second round because that player would have a better chance to contribute?

Do the Dolphins, the youngest team in the AFC East by a significant margin, try to exchange a draft pick for an established veteran?

Do the Dolphins trade away Cameron Wake if the price is right?

(I'm not saying he's on the block. But he is 34 years old. He is expensive. And it would not be the first time the idea is floated within the Dolphins organization).

The possibilities are not endless. But there's too many to list in one sitting.

It should be said that Tannenbaum's success rate as the Jets trade maven was mixed.

In 2006 he acquired a second pick in the first round by trading away aging pass rusher John Abraham to Atlanta and used it to select center Nick Mangold, who has been the anchor of that team's offensive line for a decade. That was after he picked offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson with an earlier first-rounder.

The following year, Tannenbaum traded up 11 spots in the first round to pick cornerback Darrelle Revis. I'm a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and my sense is Revis's candidacy for the HOF will someday be discussed by the panel of voters I sit on. Tannenbaum also traded up in the second round in 2007, giving up his second, third- and fifth-rounder to move up and draft linebacker David Harris -- another very good player.

Tannenbaum traded into the first round in 2008 to pick tight end Dustin Keller. He traded his third-round pick for Carolina defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. He traded away inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma to the Saints. The guy was busy.

Tannenbaum acquired cornerback Antonio Cromartie via trade in 2011, he traded into the fifth round that same year to select Jeremy Kerley.

And all those worked wonderfully for the Jets.

But -- you knew it was coming, Mike -- there were moves that bombed as well.

Most of the disasters involved quarterbacks.

Tannenbaum traded up in the second round in 2006 to draft Kellen Clemens.

That blockbuster in 2009 that sent two picks and three players to Cleveland for the No. 5 overall selection? It was to pick Mark Sanchez. And, Tannenbaum might argue, Sanchez helped get the Jets to the AFC title game two years in a row. And I completely reject that because Sanchez was mostly along for a ride authored by a top defense and top running game and when those declined Sanchez was exposed. Sanchez was and remains an interception machine who was not big enough for the New York stage. Or any stage that cast him as a starter, for that matter.

Tannenbaum in 2008 sent a fourth-round pick to Green Bay for Brett Favre. And if Jets fans can forgive that Favre didn't work out and was gone within a year, it must still sting that Tannenbaum cut Chad Pennington as a result of that trade. And Pennington signed as a free agent with Miami and led the Dolphins to the AFC East title.

Tannenbaum in 2012 sent a fourth-round pick to Denver for Tim Tebow. (And there were reports this move was ordered by owner Woody Johnson. See? Tannenbaum is open to doing dumb things the owner suggests or orders).

He traded up in the second round that same year to select wide receiver Stephen Hill who lasted two seasons before being cut.

Tannenbaum was fired by the Jets after the 2012 season. And say what you will of his record, he was not afraid of going for the big move.

And now working for an owner that in the past has pitched big moves only to be held off by more cautious football men, things could get interesting in Miami.

April 14, 2016

Miami Dolphins full schedule details here

Ease into the 2016 regular season? Nope. Not going to happen for the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins will open their 51st regular season on the road. At Seattle. Against a Seahawks team that is a perennial Super Bowl contender. After traveling what is the longest road in the NFL for games played in the continental USA -- between Miami and Seattle.

The Miami Dolphins schedule gets much easier the following week. Not really.

The Dolphins will travel to Foxborough to play the defending division champion New England Patriots the second week of the season. on Sept. 18. Miami's home opener will come in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, Sept. 25.

The first month of the season includes three away games as Miami travels to Cincinnati on Sept 29. That game will be a primetime Thursday night game.

The Dolphins will host the Patriots the final week of the season at home. It'll mark the second consecutive season Miami finishes with the Patriots at home.

The Seahawks, a Super Bowl team in 2013 and 2014, are 3-3 in the six season opening games played under current coach Pete Carroll. So this team doesn't necessarily start fast. The Dolphins last played the Seahawks in 2012 and won, 24-21 when Ryan Tannehill directed a fourth-quarter comeback in which Miami outscored the 'Hawks 17-7 in the fourth quarter.

The Dolphins have two other games against west coast teams -- at the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers. The team was hoping those games will be back to back and that's exactly what will happen. The Dolphins will visit San Diego first on Nov. 13 and then the Rams on Nov. 20. Expect the team to stay on the west coast that week between games.

The Dolphins asked the NFL to put them on the road early in the season so as to guarantee that the construction at their stadium, which will soon get a naming rights sponsor, would be complete and the season-opener in the new place could be an event. The NFL obviously granted that request.

Interestingly, the hot (humid) weather advantage the Dolphins have enjoyed in decades past when team visit Miami early in the season will not factor Week 1 or Week 2.

The Dolphins will play two Saturday games for the first time since 1970 – both coming on back-to-back weekends. Miami will play its second primetime contest on Saturday, Dec. 17 at the New York Jets on NFL Network. It will be the first Saturday night primetime game in franchise history. The following week, the Dolphins will play at Buffalo on Saturday, Dec. 24.

The Dolphins, in an odd scheduling quirk, played at New York the weekend after Thanksgiving in each of the past three seasons. That has meant Thanksgiving in New York for the Salgueros. But it has also meant manageable weather for the Dolphins.

This season they're going to the Big Apple on Dec. 17 -- meaning the chances of a colder, gustier less hospitable weather increases. 

Here's the full schedule:

Finssked16

Miami Dolphins hoping NFL schedule favorable in two areas

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. (possibly leaked in certain outposts before then) and the Dolphins are very interested to see how their itinerary stacks up because they have a vision of specific things they want.

The team wants to be on the road the first weekend of the 2016 season.

The club last year requested early season road games because it allowed for Phase I construction at then Sun Life Stadium to be completed and gave the team ample time to make the facility ready for its home opener, which came the last weekend of September.

The Dolphins would like a similar grace period this year as Phase II of construction is adding a canopy to the stadium as well as updating and moving some broadcast studios, some suites and other areas. Simply, the Dolphins want to make sure they don't have to put up "Pardon Our Dust" signs for their 2016 grand re-opening.

The team also wants to have at least two of its three west-coast away games scheduled back to back. The reason for that is coach Adam Gase is wary of asking his team to travel to the west coast on three separate occasions, creating what he believes will be a competitive disadvantage for the team coming from South Florida.

Gase hopes the Dolphins can have back-to-back west coast games because that would allow the Dolphins to remain on the west coast the week between those games, minimizing the travel strain on players' bodies as well as on staff and the practice schedule.

The Dolphins are scheduled to play at the Los Angeles Rams, at the San Diego Chargers, and at Seattle in 2016. The trip between Miami and Seattle is the longest in the NFL for a game in the continental United States.

The Dolphins' away schedule includes Baltimore, Cincinnati, and the three division games at Buffalo, and the New York Jets, as well as the three west coast games.

The Miami home schedule will include games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Arizona, and Tennesee as well as its three division rivals. 

NOTE: Come back here for news on the schedule and analysis when it is announced this evening. Or, better yet, stick around until then.  

April 13, 2016

Miami Dolphins have a love affair with Clemson defenders

The Miami Dolphins love them some Clemson University football players during this draft process.

The team has done significant work and shown major interest in Clemson linebacker B.J Goodson, the Tigers' defensive team captain. He either has visited or is visiting, depending on what source is talking, but the bottom line is he and Dolphins coaches are meeting.

The team is also visiting this week with Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd, who might be lesser known than Tigers star defensive end Shaq Lawson, but might become a more productive NFL player. Dodd, 6-5 and 277 pounds, is considered a second-round selection.

Both Goodson and Dodd played great in 2015, helping the Tigers reach the national title game.

Both are considered future NFL starters.

Goodson has visited with seven teams, including the New York Jets.

Goodson, 6-1 and 242 pounds, led the Tigers with 108 tackles, 14 of those for losses and had 5.5 sacks. Goodson seems to have position flexibility in that he might be a fit either in the middle of a 4-3 defense, inside a 3-4 defense, or perhaps even outside in a 4-3 defense. Although he needs coaching to improve his coverage skills (what college kid doesn't?) Goodson displayed an excellent all-around game last season, intercepting two passes, breaking up three others, and forcing a fumble to earn third-team All-ACC honors from league coaches.

If you want to see B.J. Goodson at his best, check out how he competed against Notre Dame's offensive lineman Nick Martin, brother of Cowboys guard Zack Martin, on tape. It was a fight of two future NFL players -- and Goodson won.

In short, Goodson seems to be around the football all the time. He seems headed anywhere from the middle of the second round to the third round.

Dodd is obviously something of a project but because of his size and the fact he is an edge rusher, his stock is rising. He recently visited San Francisco and Seattle, the latter of which makes sense because some have compared Dodd to Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett.

Miami Dolphins should learn the hard lesson of drafting injured players

"Durability is an ability in the NFL, too."

Bill Parcells told me that a couple of years ago and when I repeated it to one of the Miami Dolphins new defensive coaches, his face lit up and said, "I like that. I have to remember that."

Yeah, let's hope there is a long memory of that within every sector of the Dolphins building as the personnel department, coaching staff and others go through the process of studying prospects, setting up the Miami draft board, and laying out a strategy for conducting the 2016 NFL draft.

The reason the Dolphins need that memory is because it would recollect how the drafting of injured players, or players with medical red flags, has significantly hurt the Dolphins in recent years and, indeed, even dating back decades.

Simply, it has not worked in the Dolphins favor. It has been a tremendous hindrance to what this team has ostensibly tried to accomplish with the draft and that is improve the team immediately.

The data?

Take the 2015 draft. First round draft pick DeVante Parker came to the Dolphins with an injury history, being that he had undergone foot surgery his final year at Louisville and missed part of that season as a result. The Dolphins knew this. Dolphins doctors checked this. And the Dolphins picked him No. 14 overall.

And I believe Parker will eventually live up to the expectations the Dolphins had when they made that selection. But he didn't his rookie year because of, what else, the injury.

Parker re-injured the foot in one of the Dolphins offseason programs. And he required another surgery. And that caused him to miss the start of training camp.

And once a rookie misses any significant portion of training camp, the writing is on the wall that he will not factor greatly for his team as a rookie. And so Parker fell behind and fell behind and by the time the regular season got going, he was healthy, but he was too far behind. And so he rarely played.

Now, I'm not even bringing up the fact Parker tore scar tissue in the same foot in October and missed practice time and two games as a result. (Well, I guess I am bringing it up. But that's my prerogative because it's my blog and it's a pertinent factoid).

The point is the injury set Parker back. And setting a rookie back in his first training camp is basically setting him up to fail much of that first year.

In 2014, fifth-round pick Arthur Lynch came to the Dolphins with some abdominal-hernia-groin issue the team never really clarified. And although he practiced, he mostly went half speed and was limited. And so he was placed on injured reserve. And that basically was the start and finish of his Dolphins career.

And then there is 2013 -- the poster child for NOT drafting injured players.

The Dolphins made Dion Jordan their first overall selection. And he came to Miami with a shoulder injury. And he wasn't ready to compete the first day of training camp. Or the first week. Or the first two weeks. And then Jordan was cleared and he promptly re-injured the same shoulder in his first preseason action against Jacksonville.

Dion Jordan was done for training camp. And as the team went into the regular season, the coaching staff got about the business of preparing players that were healthy and caught up -- which Jordan was not. And so the rookie fell further behind because there simply weren't enough practice repetitions to get the players who were indeed playing ready while also giving reps to Jordan so as to get him caught up.

And we all know Jordan's first year was a dud. Of course, his Dolphins career has been a bust, but that's another story.

Second-round pick Jamar Taylor came to the Dolphins with a sports hernia issue the team knew about before the draft. It was supposed to be nothing. It wasn't nothing.

Taylor had the surgery but had complications in his recovery. He said he got to the point he thought he was done playing football. Well, after much prayer from Taylor and his family, doctors finally figured out a course of treatment. But by then his rookie season was a washout.

And no, Taylor didn't do any better his second season in 2014 and was a total train wreck in 2015. But the man got off on the wrong foot and has never really recovered. You can't blame the last two years on drafting him despite a medical red flag, but it didn't help.

The Dolphins drafted Dallas Thomas in the third round of the 2014 draft. And he also came to Miami with a bum shoulder. (What as Jeff Ireland thinking?)

So Thomas missed most of training camp. He never really got off the ground his rookie year. What a shock, right?

The Dolphins drafted Charles Clay in the sixth round in 2011. It was a good pick in that Clay developed and improved and became a starter. It was not so great in that the Dolphins plucked him despite knowing one of Clay's knees was a question mark. And that same knee hindered Clay throughout his Dolphins career.

He played but often despite not practicing much during the week. And when it came time to decide whether to pay Clay or let him go to the Buffalo Bills as a restricted free agent in 2015, one of the factors the Dolphins had to weigh was that knee.

I don't want you to think this drafting of players with medical issues is merely a recent phenomenon. Back in 1997, Yatil Green gained a reputation at the University of Miami for being constantly injured. Hamstring. Groin. Ankle. It was seemingly always something.

But Green could run like the wind and was 6-3 and 207 pounds. So Jimmy Johnson got on the phone with Green when the Dolphins were on the clock and told him, "I don't want you spending all your time in the training room."

Green promised that wouldn't happen. The Dolphins picked him. And then Green blew out his knee in training camp. And then he recovered, came back the next year, and blew out his knee in training camp again.

The Dolphins picked Billy Milner No. 25 overall in 1995. They knew he had spinal stenosis, which is an narrowing of the spine. The team doctors said it would be fine, and Milner could play with the congenital disorder. Except two years later, after he'd been traded to the St. Louis Rams, Milner suffered a spinal (neck) injury and his career was over.

The point is picking talent in the draft is hard enough when the guys selected are healthy.

The Dolphins have not been shy about taking risks with injured players or ones with injury histories. And that leads me to this draft:

It contains various players with medical red flags. The most serious of those, in my opinion, is Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith.

He suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee. He also suffered nerve damage that at first he denied and later acknowledged while saying it was improving. Smith would be a sure-fire top 20 player if healthy because he would be a three-down linebacker. But he is not healthy. Indeed, it is quite possible he does not play in 2016.

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is an athletic freak and is a sideline-to-sideline tackle machine. Except that he, too, is recovering from a torn meniscus that required surgery in September 2015 and was supposed to take up to six months to recover from. Jack is scheduled for his medical re-check in Indianapolis on Thursday. Jack needs be cleared in Indy for any team at the top of the draft to pick him with little worries.

Well, what if he isn't cleared? What if he falls to No. 13 where the Miami Dolphins pick?

Jack told Sirius NFL radio this week that he had worked out for the Saints (picking No. 12) and Dolphins.

Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman (hernia surgery in December) also comes with a medical red flag. The Dolphins would like to add a receiver in the draft.

The Dolphins need a guard. And Boise State guard/tackle  Rees Odhiambo comes with a history of being injured. He has suffered a broken ankle, which is never great for a 300 pound guy, and his history is not one of durability.

What was that Bill Parcells said about durability?

It is an ability.

April 12, 2016

Miami Dolphins notes, quotes and anecdotes (draft edition)

The Miami Dolphins spent much of this offseason trying to get better while at the same time trying to give themselves some flexibility in the coming NFL draft.

But the way this is playing out, it is hard to fathom the Dolphins not going for defense early on. It is also hard to fathom the Dolphins trading up barring the draft board collapse of a player they seriously value -- something that doesn't often happen because most players drop for a reason.

Think of it ...

Are the Dolphins going to pick Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first round at No. 13 overall? They have, after all, called him in for a visit at their facility.

Well, I'd say he's a value at No. 13. I'd say do it! He's a starter on Day One. He's a playmaker.

But, you see, other NFL teams are saying the same thing.

Dallas values Elliott. And they pick No. 4 overall. So, the Cowboys go with a can't-miss playmaker behind that very good offensive line, and the conversation is over.

The Eagles like Elliott a lot. He will visit them. They pick No. 8 overall. Remember No. 8? It belonged to the Dolphins before they traded it to Philly.

The Chicago Bears like Elliott. They pick No. 11. And my genius tells me Chicago's No. 11 is before Miami No. 13.

The thing is even if the Dolphins think Elliot might fall to No. 13, they must consider that Oakland, drafting No. 14, also thinks Elliott can be great in silver and black. And the Raiders can try to move up ahead of Miami to grab Elliott. By the way, the Raiders have Latavius Murray who is good. But running back is a two-man job in the NFL now.

So the probability of Elliott actually being there when the Dolphins select at No. 13 (assuming that is where they select) is not great. Not at all.

Where does that leave Miami?

Are they going to pick a linebacker at No. 13? Even if his name is Myles Jack?

First, I don't believe Jack, recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, is going to be there at No. 13, either. No. 8, maybe. No. 13, hard to fathom. I think he's the best defensive player prospect in the draft if he's healthy. He's not healthy.

At any rate, I have been told the Dolphins have other linebacker options later in the draft -- like in the third round. Miami has been all over SEC LBs, including LSU's Deion Jones.

Cornerback?

Everything leads me back to that. Everything.

Need.

Players falling to Miami's No. 13 overall or there about.

Value.

Need. (Yeah, teams say they don't draft for need, except have you noticed they do?)

The Dolphins have done extensive research on bigger cornerbacks. I know Vernon Hargreaves is a big draw locally because of his University of Florida ties. But he is 5-10. He might become the NFL's greatest 5-10 cornerback on the field next year. But he'll still be giving away 4-6 inches to the top AFC East pass catchers.

I hope Dolphins are thinking longer cornerbacks.

The Dolphins really like Houston's William Jackson III. He's 6-foot. He's ran a 4.37 in the 40 at the combine. He was productive. And teams are all over him. He's visited Baltimore, Oakland, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Dolphins.

So the teams drafting No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7 have shown interest in this player.

The Dolphins have also done extensive work on Ohio State's Eli Apple. He's 6-1 and 199 pounds. The draft gurus are all over the map on Apple. Former NFL personnel man and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick compared Apple favorably to FSU's Jalen Ramsey. Mel Kiper has Apple going in the first round to Seattle. ESPN's Todd McShay has Apple falling to the second round. And NFL Media's Mike Mayock rates Apple the second best cornerback in the draft.

Craziness. I know this: Apple is definitely on the Miami radar. If Jackson is gone, the team might be tempted to trade down and still get Apple.

The Dolphins are absolutely going to play press coverage. Apple is suited for this, although he does require a ton of technique work.

The Dolphins might also double-down at cornerback -- meaning they pick more than one this draft. Artie Burns, from the University of Miami, has gotten a lot of attention from the Dolphins. He is 6-foot-and-change and 193 pounds. He needs to get in the weight room. He needs better coaching. He needs time to improve his ball skills.

He had a bad season in 2015. But he also was dealing with the death of his mom so that should probably be factored in.

Scouts I talk to like Burns in the late second or third round. The Dolphins are scheduled to pick 11th in the second round (42nd overall). I do not see Burns as a first-round pick.

The Dolphins like Mississippi State cornerback Tavese Calhoun later in the draft. He's 6-foot and 199 pounds. He's not fast but everything about him screams leadership and intelligence and sound technique. He's had only one interference call in 136 targets.

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The Dolphins need wide receivers. Matt Hazel signed his exclusive rights contract recently so he is in the pack and vying for a job.

But the Dolphins are looking for two receivers to make the roster after Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. That's because they got rid of Greg Jennings and lost Rishard Matthews in free agency.

The team has done extensive work on Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant, who can double as a kick returner. Grant is a fun story because he's all of 5-6. But he ran anywhere from a 4.1 to a 4.38, depending on who you believe, at his Pro Day. I want to believe the kid ran 4.1. But I don't. Sorry. Let's just agree on the idea he's fast because, at 5-6, he better be.

The Dolphins visited with Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo. (New England Bill Belichick for some reason loves Rutgers players and the Pats visited with Carroo as well). Carroo is not a speed guy despite a gaudy yards per catch average last season.

Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson had a private workout with Miami last week. Miami's Herb Waters was part of the locals visits and workouts last week. And I reported he ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, per a source. Waters, a later round prospect, is 6-1.

Hurricanes WR Rashawn Scott also participated in the local visits with the Dolphins. As did Western Michigan wide receiver Daniel Braverman.

German wide receiver Moritz Boehringer has drawn tons of pre-draft interest from much of the NFL. Kansas City, Minnesota, Green Bay, The L.A. Rams, Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, have been paying close attention. Last Friday, he was at Florida Atlantic University, to work out for nine teams.

The Dolphins haven't been too keen on him despite the fact he is 6-4 and 227 pounds and has been regularly just down the road -- first for his pro day and then for another workout.

Why?

I'm hearing multiple teams, not just the Dolphins, think of Boehringer as a late-round and more likely a UDFA type prospect. Why? German football is not the NFL. German football is not even major college quality. And while Boehringer times and measures well, he's never had a Richard Sherman or Josh Norman line up in his grill and dared him to get off the line of scrimmage.

People I talk to tell me it will take Boehringer months to figure out how to overcome this. Think about that. It is going to take this player months to figure out just how to get off the line of scrimmage.

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This and that:

The Dolphins have shown interest in positions other than CB, LB, RB and WR.

The team has shown interest in Texas A&M offensive lineman Germain Ifedi. They've met with him. The Dolphins see him as a guard prospect. The NFL sees him as a likely second-round player but anything is possible and some team might grab him in the first round. It's hard to imagine the Dolphins drafting a guard at No. 13 overall when he isn't a latter day Alan Faneca or something of the sort.

Other local guys the Dolphins like include ...

FAU safety Sharrod Neasman. He ran a 4.55 and weighed 209 for Miami. The Packers, Lions, Falcons and Cowboys like him a lot.

Miami safety Deon Bush. Productive in college if you ignore his disaster versus FSU. He's a solid, athletic guy but instincts, change of direction, dynamic playmaking and smarts? Questions.

Miami defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu, all 6-5 and 280 pounds of him, and FAU defensive end Brandin Bryant have met with Dolphins coaches as well. 

Dion Jordan within window to request reinstatement

Dion Jordan is eligible to apply for reinstatement from his NFL banishment under the league's drug policy.

Any player -- in this case, Jordan -- who has been banished under Stage Three of the NFL's drug policy may apply formally in writing for reinstatement up to 60 days before the one-year anniversary date of the letter so banishing him. Jordan was banished with the opportunity to seek reinstatement after one year on April 28, 2015. That means he was eligible to begin the process of getting back in the league as early as February.

It is not known if Jordan and his representation has indeed begun that process. The Dolphins have repeatedly declined to discuss Jordan's status, citing the NFL's confidentiality clause in the drug policy and fearing penalties for violating any portion of that clause -- perceived or real.

The NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to a drug policy that has clear guidelines Jordan must follow to return to the NFL.

His application should include all pertinent information about the Player’s: (a) Treatment; (b) Abstinence from Substances of Abuse throughout the entire period of his banishment; (c) Involvement with any Substances of Abuse related incidents; and (d) Arrests and/or convictions for any criminal activity, including Substances of Abuse-related offenses.

Once NFL commissioner Roger Goodell receives the reinstatement application the following happens: 

  1. Within 45 days of receipt of the application, the player will be interviewed by the medical director and the medical advisor, after which a recommendation will be made to the commissioner with regard to the player’s request for reinstatement.
  2. The Player will execute appropriate medical release forms that will enable the commissioner’s staff and NFLPA Executive Director’s staff to review the player’s substance abuse history, including but not limited to attendance at counseling sessions (individual, group and family); attendance at 12-step and other self-help group meetings; periodic progress reports; and all diagnostic findings and treatment recommendations.
  3. The player will submit to urine testing by an NFL representative at a frequency determined by the medical advisor.
  4. The player will agree in a meeting with the commissioner or his representative(s) to comply with the conditions imposed by the commissioner for his reinstatement to the status of an active player.
  5. All individuals involved in the process will take steps to enable the commissioner to render a decision within 60 days of the receipt of the application.

The earliest Jordan can be reinstated is April 28. That assumes he and his representation have abided by the steps listed above to the letter and did so in timing that suggests they are in the final stages of working toward reinstatement.

But that is merely a best-case scenario. That is not necessarily the reality of this case.

Indeed, it is quite possible Jordan has not applied for reinstatement yet as his target date for returning to the league was -- according to one source -- fluid. There have been times Jordan told confidants he wanted to return "as soon as possible." There have been times he's said he wants to be back in time for training camp. There was even one time, midway through his suspension, Jordan signaled he might be done playing in the NFL.

The fluctuation itself is curious.

Dion Jordan has served three NFL suspensions since being drafted No. 3 overall in 2013. He was suspended four games in 2014 for violating the performance enhancing drug guidelines. He was then suspended four more games in 2014 for violating the substance abuse guidelines. He was then banished from the league with the opportunity to apply for reinstatement after one year last April -- the current suspension he's serving.

During that time the Dolphins have failed to find a position for Jordan when he was been on the field, suggesting a lack of organizational vision for a player they drafted so high. The team also has wavered on whether it wants to keep Jordan.

He has been on the trade block numerous times and the Dolphins were expecting to trade him to Philadelphia (and coach Chip Kelly, who coached Jordan at Oregon) when he was suspended the last time.

Kelly is now in San Francisco.

One Dolphins source has told The Herald the team expects to welcome Jordan back if and when he is reinstated. Another source has told me that is mere posturing in hopes of making Jordan viable enough to trade.

April 11, 2016

Miami Dolphins offseason conditioning is under way

Miami Dolphins players have been working out for weeks. Some have actually been working on the field on their own for weeks. But Monday marked the official start of the team's offseason strength and conditioning program.

And while the Dolphins don't allow mere media such as myself on the premises to see what's going on and report back to you, sources seem kind of proud of what is happening over there on the first day that new coach Adam Gase's gathers the team en masse.

This is also new head strength coach Dave Puloka's first day with most of his team in the weight room.

The bigest news is that Ndamukong Suh was present.

Look, this is news because Suh has always had a reputation for being in and out during the offseason. He works out at the Nike training facility in Oregon every year -- or at least he has throughout his career. That caused, um, questions in Detroit because he didn't show up to the Lions program in the offseason.

It wasn't such a big deal to the Dolphins last year because Suh, the team's highest paid defensive player, showed up early in the program before leaving to do his own thing. And Football Czar Mike Tannenbaum, curious as to what his own thing was, flew to Oregon to see Suh's work.

I'm told Suh works in a state of the art environment that simulates the weather of Davie, Florida, where the Dolphins train, in the dead of summer. (That is hot and humid, folks).

And he's hooked up to diagnostic machines and oxygen and other breathing apparatus throughout his work. Think opening for Six Million Dollar Man.

The point here is Suh is in South Florida and working, but no one should question what he's doing when and if he disappears later during the program.

Cameron Wake, Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey, Byron Maxwell, Mario Williams, Kiko Alonso, Jay Ajayi, Branden Albert, Ja'Wuan James, Kenny Stills are among the majority of players who showed up today. All need good seasons for different reasons. I am still endeavoring to see if anyone failed to attend and will update with that.

By the way, it's the new coach's first program. The date has been known to players for weeks. It  would be good for everyone to show.

One more thing: If you missed my column Sunday on the approach the Dolphins are taking to building a team this year and for the future, you should check it out. It includes a fascinating chart that compares what Miami is doing and can do in the future to the other three teams in the AFC East.

April 08, 2016

Ryan Tannehill and key receivers trying to get locked in on Adam Gase's coming playbook

The Miami Dolphins will begin their offseason strength and conditioning program on Monday and that will mark the first official milestone of the team re-gathering for the first time since the 2015 season. But the truth is the NFL is a full-time, year-around proposition and these guys have been working out at Dolphins camp on their own for weeks and, yes, some have even been doing on-field drills on their own for quite some time.

And the latter is the impressive part. Even though head coach Adam Gase has not yet handed over his playbook to any player -- firstly because that's against the NFL rules, secondly because he's still tweaking the thing and doesn't want to hand over an incomplete work -- players in the Miami passing game have been working on running plays they expect will be in Gase's repertoire for nearly seven weeks now.

Back in late February, quarterback Ryan Tannehill started watching tape of the what the Chicago Bears did on offense under Gase in 2015 and what the Denver Broncos did under Gase as their offensive coordinator in 2014.

And, on his own, Tannehill put together a series of plays and route tree those Denver and Chicago offenses ran as staples.

"I've watched more Denver stuff so far," Tannehill said. "I'm sure I'll get into a little more Chicago stuff. But I've watched more Denver stuff at this point, just seeing things they did well there with Peyton (Manning). I'm excited about what I see. I think the more I watch, the more excited I am about the things they did and the things we're going to be doing."

Obviously, the route running and throwing sessions are simulations of what the players believe Gase will ask them to do eventually. But the fact Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and other receivers are regularly getting together with Tannehill to work on this stuff well before they have to speaks to many things -- all of them good.

It speaks to initiative by the players to be better under a new system.

It speaks to leadership by Tannehill -- which has been under assault in some corners -- in that he led the effort and mustered his teammates.

It speaks to great work ethic that goes above and beyond at this stage of the offseason.

It speaks to a new enthusiasm within certain sectors of the Dolphins locker room that has already embraced Gase's coming playbook.

"We've been throwing for several weeks now, working with the guys off campus," Tannehill said. "We throw twice a week and we have several guys that are showing up consistently. We're getting better. That's the funnest part for me, seeing guys getting better."

So what do the workouts consist of?

"We run routes a little differently than we have in the past," Tannehill said. "That's an adjustment for everyone. It's an adjustment of getting the ball out on time and the different angles guys are coming out, and the different ways we're moving at the top of routes now."

And Tannehill reports that the drills have started to look better and better -- even if they are against air.

"It's exciting for me from Day 1 to Day 2 to Day 3 to Day 4 to see the improvement of guys running the routes and me throwing the routes and seeing no balls hitting the ground," the quarterback said. "You see the first day, balls were hitting the ground from (being) rusty and receivers are not coming out (of their routes), or they're unsure at the top of the routes, or I'm misjudging the throw.

"Then a few days into it, we have no balls hitting the ground for an entire workout. It's exciting for me to see that improvement not only for myself but my receivers as well."

April 07, 2016

Stephen Ross names potential ownership successor

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross does not plan to sell his team any time soon. But if or when he changes his mind or dies, the Dolphins already have an NFL approved ownership succession plan in place, The Miami Herald has confirmed.

The NFL recently approved Ross granting New York businessman Bruce A. Beal Jr. the right of first refusal to purchase the franchise should Ross no longer be the owner.

The arrangement was voted on and approved at the recent NFL owners meeting in Boca Raton. The move to initiate the succession plan came directly from Ross. A league source stressed that just because Beal has the first right to buy, it does not compel him to do so. He has a choice.

CBSSports.com was the first to report this story. 

Bruce beal jr.Beal Jr. is friends and a longtime partner of Ross at the current owner's New York-based Related Companies. It is not clear if Beal and Ross have agreed on an eventual sales price for the Dolphins for some future date. Ross paid a reported $1.1 billion for the team and its home stadium in Miami Gardens.

Beal Jr., 46, joined Related in 1995 and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day development process for projects across all asset classes throughout the country including acquisition, finance and construction activities. In addition, Beal oversees Related’s existing operating portfolio and the company’s affordable housing initiatives.

Beal is a trustee for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the Citizens Budget Commission, St. Bernard’s School and Diller-Quaile School of Music. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Community Preservation Corporation and the Friends of the High Line, the Advisory Board of Harvard University’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government and REBNY’s Executive Committee, Board of Governors and Housing Committee. Mr. Beal graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Ross, 75, felt the desire to put a succession plan in place because he has no obvious successors. Although he is married and has four children -- two of them stepchildren -- he has said in the past no one in the family wishes to take over the Dolphins in his absence.

Enter Beal who has been a fast and steady riser within the Ross real estate empire. Although Beal's family ran a Boston real estate and development business he told Crains that he longed to be the next Jacques Cousteau. He attended marine biology camps, toiled at a Nantucket fish market and worked at a dolphin lab in Hawaii.

That didn't pan out.

Beal eventually returned to real estate.

"Building and construction are very tangible," he told Crains. "It's great to look at something and say, 'We built that.' "

At some point, Beal may have the opportunity to look at the Dolphins and decide whether he wants to build a team he owns.

Dolphins 2016 preseason schedule here (free)

The Miami Dolphins have until Thursday, August 25 to complete their canopy roof over the home stadium without a name.

That's because that is the day the team's preseason schedule will take a turn for home for the first time as the Dolphins host the Atlanta Falcons that evening. And not only will fans in attendance see the facilities new lid, but so will the entire country because the game will be telecast on national television by NBC Sports.

The Dolphins begin their preseason schedule at the New York Giants the game week of August 11-15. That will be Adam Gase's NFL head coaching debut. His regular-season debut will come about a month later. That will also be a chance to see the Giants new $17 million-a-year defensive end Olivier Vernon.

You better tune in early or you might miss him.

The Dolphins will remain on the road the second week of the preseason, traveling to play the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, perhaps the most impressive venue in all of the NFL. That game will be played the game week of August 18-22.

The Dolphins will round out their preseason with a home finale against the Tennessee Titans the game week of Sept. 1-2.

Dates and times, aside from the nationally telecast game, have yet to be decided. The three games  not nationally televised  will be shown locally in South Florida on CBS4.

 

Miami Dolphins promise No. 13 overall pick will absolutely be a starter

When the Miami Dolphins traded down from the No. 8 spot in the NFL draft's first round to the No. 13 spot in the same round in exchange for cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, there was much studying of the situation internally. Tons.

And this is what the team ultimately concluded: The Dolphins believed they were going to get a starting cornerback. A starting linebacker. And another starter with the 13th pick because that player was going to be no less a contributor than if they had selected him No. 8.

No. 13 was, correction, is going to be a starter, according to the Dolphins.

"We talked about it shortly after coming back from Indy, we started kicking around," executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said. ""It’s great. Tom [Garfinkel], Steve [Ross], obviously Chris [Grier], Adam [Gase], we had a lot of discussion about it and in a cap system you only have finite resources so to trade back and get two guys we’re projecting as starters and it’s reasonable to think we’ll get a starter at 13 if we stay there, to get three starters in one trade we just all felt like, ‘Hey, we’re not one player away.’ This is an efficient use of cap resources, of capped resources and just felt like it was in our best interest."

Ok, so Tannenbaum doesn't come right out and proclaim the No. 13 pick will be a starter. But he's as close to saying it as you can get.

So let me try again...

Because Adam Gase said it.

"We got two starters and we're going to add a third at 13," Gase said during the NFL annual meeting. "I look at it as, we moved back five spots and got three starters. I was all for it. I know this: one guy is not going to change our team. So adding three starters for us was a big deal. We had a lot of needs we needed to fill, so when we started talking with those guys, and Mike felt good about the two players we were going to get, I felt really good about it."

And, folks, if this is how it plays out, we should all give the Dolphins a round of applause because three starters for moving back five slots in the first round is good business anyway you cut it. It really is compelling stuff assuming the starters are solid players.

But (yeah, there's always one a but), how can the Dolphins be so all fired certain No. 13 will be a starter?

How?

I mean, sure, that is obviously the plan. No team picks in the first round thinking, this guy cannot start for us. No team plans for that.

But it happens.

Wide receiver DeVante Parker was No. 14 overall last year. And training camp came and went and he wasn't a starter. And the season's first month came and went and he wasn't starting. October and November passed and still not starting. It wasn't until December, amid the realization that the season was going nowhere and injuries had taken Rishard Matthews, that Parker started four of the final five games.

So he was a starter but it sure took a while.

Dion Jordan was No. 3 overall. Not a starter. Indeed, not even in the media guide last year because, you know, that drug suspension made him invisible.

Jared Odrick, the first round pick in 2010, missed all but a handful of plays his rookie year so it took him a while to become a starter.

Ted Ginn wasn't a starter most of 2007. Then again, Cam Cameron said he was drafted to play special teams. (Yes, that year scarred me forever).

Jason Allen in 2006? Nick Saban's final first round pick in the NFL never started for him. He was a dud as a rookie and I remember Saban telling me, you can't expect him to start right away because Troy Polamalu didn't exactly do that, either. Allen was a good man and his mom was a saint. But he was never,  ever Troy Polamalu.

Dolphins history is dotted with first round picks that didn't start right away. Or ever, really.

Yatil Green never started a game for the Dolphins. Jamar Fletcher started four his entire Dolphins career after being the first-round pick in 2001. Billy Milner, Don Shula's final first-round pick, started nine games his rookie year after Ron Heller got hurt and was gone the next season.

The point is it takes some brass ones to say unequivocally the No. 13 overall pick will be a starter. Period. End of discussion.

And it's not just about the Dolphins. Last year 12 of the 32 players picked in the first round were not starters. Hey, it happens. Drafting is not an exact science.

So I'm looking at what the Dolphins are about to do at No. 13 and wondering who do they believe they're getting that can absolutely start for them?

I know if Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is there at No. 13 and he's picked, he starts Day One. Mission accomplished. Promise fulfilled.

I believe if cornerback Williams Jackson III is there at No. 13 he would start Day One because, frankly, there are no other candidates as of right now. Even if they slightly overdraft Ohio State's Eli Apple (I like him) at No. 13, he probably starts Day One -- although this would require some fast and hard technique teaching and coaching by Lou Anarumo and Vance Joseph.

Vernon Hargreaves would be the starting slot corner Day One and I guess that counts.

Reggie Ragland would be a starter at middle linebacker right away and allow the Dolphins to kick Kiko Alonso outside. Ohio State's Darron Lee? Probably not as much. (He's fast but a small boned kind of guy and I think the Dolphins need to get bigger and stronger at linebacker).

If the Dolphins go guard, does Cody Whitehair start right away while making the transition from college tackle to guard? Maybe. But not a certainty.

But, remember, Gase and Tannenbaum spoke with certainty. Courageous, men. Courageous.

April 06, 2016

People in Miami Dolphins organization blaming everyone but selves is weak

The Miami Dolphins have been on this unapologetic "blame last year's coaches" tour for quite some time now.

It began last October when head coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle took the fall for a poor start and underperforming defense. Weeks later, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor got fired for an underperforming offense and failure of quarterback Ryan Tannehill to improve.

After the season, receiver Greg Jennings accused the coaching staff of babying Tannehill. Owner Stephen Ross joined the chorus -- as if his firings hadn't already made his position known -- by blaming coaching for much of the team's troubles a couple of weeks ago. And on Tuesday, defensive back Michael Thomas piled on by telling 120 Sports that coaches "handcuffed" players on defense and that defenders were "limited to how many plays we could call, what type of plays we could call."

Thomas also found a way to blame Ndamukong's Suh's underperforming season on coaches because, he claimed, the $19-million-a-year defensive tackle "wasn't put in position to make plays."

And, I say, enough already!

Look, the entire Earth knows the Dolphins didn't get award-winning work from its coaching staff last year. Or the year before. Or the year before that.

But all this blaming after the fact ... All this deflection of responsibility ... All this hindsight pointing of fingers toward people who already got axed feels creepy. And kind of classless.

You know what I want to hear from Greg Jennings? Not that coaches "babied" Tannehill but that he (Jennings) caught only 19 passes in return for a $5 million payday and was a ghost most game days. I want to hear that on third-and-eight when he did get the opportunity to catch the football from that babied quarterback, he would too often drop it, or fall down after a seven-yard gain.

You know what I want to hear from owner Ross? "It is my fault."

Ross said the failure of 2015 was both on coaching and players but added, "...Obviously, we made a decision on the coaching, didn't we? That speaks for itself."

Actually, what speaks louder is that amid the failure of 2013, Ross's best thinking was that he had a good coaching staff. The Dolphins went through a bullying scandal that still boggles the mind and, of itself, required a firing of the head coach. But Joe Philbin was retained by Ross. The Dolphins dropped off the map their final two games -- losing two games to two losing teams when they needed only one victory to make the playoffs. Yet, again, Ross stuck with his coaches.

Amid that lethal combination of embarrassing scandal and embarrassing end to the season, Ross thought Joe Philbin was good.

And in 2014, when the Dolphins again failed miserably at season's end, losing three of four, Ross gave Philbin a contract extension!

So now he's blaming the same coaching that he so curiously and mistakenly propped up for years through no winning seasons and no playoff appearances?

Methinks Ross needs to look in the mirror before blaming coaches for his team's troubled recent past.

Lazor got blamed for Tannehill's failure to audible. Lazor got blamed for Tannehill's failure to improve in 2015, the first time in his NFL career the quarterback didn't get better from the previous year. But no one mentions Tannehill had his best pro season in 2014 -- under, you guessed it, Lazor.

Where were the complaints then? And where does the coach's responsibility for building the player stop and the player's responsibility for his own performance start?

(By the way, the former coaching staff "babied" Tannehill but also abandoned Tannehill because Philbin wanted to draft Derek Carr and Lazor didn't build a relationship of trust with Tannehill. And so where was Ross when this was going on as early as the spring of 2014?)

Suh wasn't put in a position to make plays?

Well, part of the time he was out of position, Suh put himself there. Because instead of trusting the system and the coaching and doing as asked, Suh did indeed freelance. He did indeed revert to old habits forged in Detroit. He did indeed do his own thing. That was reported by The Miami Herald early last season. Suh and the team pushed back hard on the notion and even exacted an apology from the reporter.

Guess what? It was true.

I've been told by multiple people within the organization Suh was doing his own thing. He was wanting to run his own show, right down to calling defensive meetings and ordering lounge chairs for the defensive line meeting room. And, yes, a position coach or defensive coordinator with courage would have stopped that approach dead in its tracks.

But they don't get all the blame. The responsibility for accepting a $19 million per year paycheck and then failing to live up to it is mostly on the player -- particularly when he lines up in the middle of all the action at defensive tackle but sometimes disappeared from games altogether. Check out Suh's production the first month of the season, and then again after November 22. Not close to $19 million worthy.

Thomas, meanwhile, complained he was playing out of position. He said injuries forced coaches to put him at safety.

Actually, coaches decided he's more a safety than a slot corner. And still, coaches put Walt Aikens at safety first. And Aikens listened to coaches. And worked on things in practice, preparing for what he was about to see in games. And when he saw them in games, he blew coverages. And blew coverages. And blew coverages.

That's on the coaching? I tell you where to be, you agree with me and tell me you understand, and then when it comes time to be there, you're somewhere else? And that's my fault?

Not buying it.

Aikens doesn't have to worry about that now. Although he remains at safety, the Dolphins this offseason added a presumptive starter to play next to Reshad Jones. Issa Abdul-Quddus, signed from Detroit as a free agent, is expected to be the new starter. And if he's not, then Aikens may get another shot.

So if he continues to blow coverages, that's on new head coach Adam Gase and new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and not on Aikens?

Where's the accountability here?

Thomas, it should be noted, is not going to be starting at safety despite replacing Aikens there last season. Thomas, I suppose, welcomes this because he said he was asked to play out of position due to injuries. He said his best position is slot cornerback. And I respect that's how Thomas feels. I admire he took one for the team and played where he was asked.

But guess what? Sports does not offer all perfect situations.

The Dolphins lost Branden Albert in 2014 and asked rookie Ja'Wuan James to play left tackle. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out and Magic Johnson played center. The Heat asks Dwyane Wade to play point in stretches.

The Dolphins signed Brice McCain to be the slot corner in 2015. But he happened to be better than both Thomas and Bobby McCain at slot early on. And then everyone with eyes recognized he was better than Jamar Taylor on the outside as well. And so Brice McCain, signed to play slot, was enlisted as a starter on the outside.

And he struggled. But was that on the coaches?

They were putting their best available player at the spot. They had no one else. And when they tried someone else, Taylor turned into a completion-first down-touchdown yielding machine.

So it's on coaching that they look around and no one else is available?

Thomas, who I'm told was actually trying to talk the team up during his 120 interview, may or may not get his shot at slot cornerback this year. My take is he failed to lock down the job last year (admittedly with limited reps) before being moved to safety fulltime. That's not all on coaching.

As you know, I was not a fan of Kevin Coyle. Scan this blog and you'll see I documented the steady decline of the defense year over year under Coyle.

But you know what? When players such as Brent Grimes failed time and again in 2015 after succeeding in the same situations in 2013 and 2014 -- while being asked to do the exact same thing under the exact same system -- I don't blame that on Coyle.

The responsibility goes to the player.

Finally...The whole idea of blaming people who are gone and cannot defend themselves is lame. It is not a good look for the Miami Dolphins. It speaks of a lack of personal accountability. It speaks of pointing fingers to someone else. Back to Grimes and his wife Miko: The cornerback had an off year, but the wife ripped a teammate, in this case Ryan Tannehill, time and again while never acknowledging the CB was bad.

Huh?

With the Dolphins, it seems, it is always someone else's fault. This speaks of a culture that obviously Gase is going to have to address because we keep seeing this deflecting of blame and finger pointing over and over this offseason.

April 05, 2016

Reasons to like Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and reasons not to (NSFW)

The Miami Dolphins did a wise thing in claiming slot cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu off waivers from the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday.

It is wise because the Dolphins have a need at the position (yes, including at the slot). It is wise because this is a free gift. It costs the Dolphins nothing now and minimal cap space if Ekpre-Olomu makes the roster. There is a great upside if Ekpre-Olomu gets healthy and returns to the form he showed in Oregon in 2014 before he blew out his knee and needed reconstructive surgery.

And if E-O fails to get healthy -- obviously something the Cleveland Browns thought because they simply waived him -- well, then, the Dolphins will do similarly and he will be waived.

No harm.

No foul.

But ...

If E-O is healthy, what do the Dolphins have? That's the question that stretches beyond the injury history fundamental.

On the positive side, E-O was projected by some as a first-round pick for 2015 before the injury dropped him to a seventh-round pick. I thought him more a late second rounder because, as I've stated before, I don't love short cornerbacks unless their name is Darrell Green. And Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's name is not Darrell Green and neither can he run a 4.28 in the 40 yard dash, which was Green's average time. 

E-O was a great player at Oregon. He was tough. He was smart. He was productive. He had all the makings of a good NFL player. So that's the upside.

The downside is maybe he's lost a step because it has been a year since that injury and he's still not right. Even if he hasn't, matching him in the slot against 6-3 Brandon Marshall seems like a nightmare matchup for the Dolphins. And, of course, there's that year off that suggests when E-O is healthy, he's going to have to knock some rust off.

I'm not saying this is going to work. I'm not saying this is going to fail. I'm out of the prediction business, folks, in case you haven't gotten the drift from this blog this offseason. Show me. Make my eyes believe.

I do know the claiming of this player was smart. That I like. It comes with no risk. And possibly a handsome reward.

Anyway, enjoy the highlights. They are not produced by me and so I did not pick the music. The lyrics can be offensive for some and should probably not be played at work or in front of children or mixed company.

You are warned:

 

And this: