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Exploring Dolphins offensive line options; Dolphins, Canes chatter, postscripts

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Dolphins and Hurricanes postscripts:

### Regardless of who will be making the Dolphins’ personnel decisions, there’s no bigger priority than fixing the offensive line, which bears considerable blame for Miami allowing a franchise-record 58 sacks and for a running game that ranked 26th.

The good news: The free agent market has a bunch of tackles and guards that would be upgrades, and Miami has the cap space to address both. The Dolphins need to add three or four starting linemen between free agency and the draft.

### Among tackles, potential free-agent targets would include Kansas City left tackle Branden Albert (Miami wouldn’t give up a second-round pick for him last April, and there’s a good chance he moves on this offseason); left tackle Eugene Monroe (Baltimore acquired him in October for fourth- and fifth-round picks and doesn’t want to lose him); New Orleans right tackle Zack Strief (three sacks allowed, decent in the run game); Jets right tackle Austin Howard (two sacks allowed, not a great run blocker); Oakland left tackle Jared Veldheer (missed first 11 games because of torn triceps but well regarded), St. Louis left tackle/guard Roger Saffold (injury history but very skilled) and Cincinnati’s versatile Anthony Collins, who started the season as the Bengals’ sixth offensive lineman and now is starting at left tackle and hasn’t allowed a sack in 592 snaps this season. Any would be an improvement for Miami.

In Pro Football Focus’ final 2013 ranking of offensive linemen, Bryant McKinnie finished 64th of 76 tackles (seven sacks allowed as a Dolphin, per PFF) and Tyson Clabo 47th (11 sacks permitted). Both will be free agents.

Among other free agents, PFF ranked Jordan Gross third (he has suggested he would retire if he doesn’t re-sign with Carolina), Strief seventh, Monroe 10th, Collins 24th, Albert 29th, Howard 44th and Houston’s Ryan Harris 57th.

Two notable impending free agent right tackles that graded out poorly, especially in the run game: Michael Oher (No. 68 overall, eight sacks allowed) and Eric Winston (No. 69, seven sacks).

Among tackles in the draft, ESPN’s Scouts Inc. has four rated as top 30 picks. Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan likely will be long gone before Miami selects 19th overall. Alabama junior Cyrus Kouandjio could be, too; ESPN’s Todd McShay has him 10th in his mock draft.

The player considered the fourth-best tackle, Virginia’s Morgan Moses, is rated 25th overall by both ESPN’s Scout Inc. and McShay.

The best bet would be to fill at least one tackle spot, if not both, with an established free agent.

### Among guards, at least nine who rated ahead of the Dolphins’ John Jerry in Pro Football Focus’ final ranking will be free agents, including Carolina’s Travelle Wharton (No. 5, no sacks allowed, great run blocking grades); Chicago’s Matt Slauson (No. 6), Kansas City’s Geoff Schwartz (No. 8) and Jon Asamoah (No. 21),  Saffold (18), the Jets’ Willie Colon (37th) and Detroit’s Rob Sims (39).

Jerry ranked 42nd among guards, but just 67th among 81 in run blocking, and allowed five sacks. Left guard Sam Brenner could develop into a starter but didn’t show enough to project him as one in 2014.

### Some Dolphins players privately believe coach Joe Philbin, reserved by nature, needs to improve as a motivator and in how he prepares teams emotionally for games. The flat demeanor and unemotional “stay the course, don’t get too high or low” message doesn’t resonate with some Dolphins and was reflected in their play at times. And reading to his players off index cards isn’t exactly inspiring.

But some of owner Stephen Ross’ trusted associates who have the owner’s ear, including Carl Peterson, love Philbin. Ross continues to consider potential changes in the organization.

### An associate of Ross said Ross has complained about the play-calling at times during games, which might not bode well for coordinator Mike Sherman.

### Though the Dolphins enter the offseason with $38 million in cap space ($106 million in commitments with a projected $126 million cap; plus $18 million in carryover space), it’s realistically less.

Throw in another $1.5 million for salary escalators for Charles Clay and Jimmy Wilson and a combined $1.7 million for tenders for exclusive rights free agents Pat Devlin, Armon Binns and Jonathan Freeney. And that would leave only 44 players under contract, with 51 counting against a team’s cap number.

Tendering Will Yeatman and RJ Stanford would add another $2.8 million and signing a few players to futures contracts would leave Miami with about $30 million in space.

An additional $5.4 million could be created if Dimitri Patterson is cut, but he’s clearly better than impending free agent Nolan Carroll, who struggled Sunday. Cutting Matt Moore would create an additional $4 million in cap space but would also create a need for a backup quarterback, unless the Dolphins deem Devlin ready for the job. Nate Garner has shown he's valuable, but if a new personnel czar comes here and deems him expendable, Miami would save $1.4 million against the cap by cutting him.

### The final book on Ryan Tannehill this season: He finished 10th in the NFL in passing yardage, 12th in touchdowns with 24, but 22nd in completion percentage, 30th in interceptions with 17 and 35th in fourth-quarter passer rating.

The No. 8 pick in the 2012 Draft, Tannehill had an 81.7 passer rating, which was 24th and behind four players also drafted that year: No. 88 pick Nick Foles (119.2), No. 75 pick Russell Wilson (101.2), No. 1 pick Andrew Luck (87) and No. 2 pick Robert Griffin (82.2).

Though he clearly improved this season before the final two games, the Dolphins did not expect Tannehill to be merely the fifth-best quarterback in that draft. So far, that's what he has been. Tannehill's passer rating rose from 76.1 as a rookie, but Foles and Luck had much bigger spikes this year.

### Multiple sources say quarterback Kevin Olsen and receiver Rashawn Scott didn’t attend UM’s bowl game because they were suspended. The suspensions had nothing to do with academics, legal issues or any issues involving coaches or teammates.

UM values Olsen and fully expects him to remain on the team and compete with front-runner Ryan Williams to start. Olsen's father, normally responsive, hasn't returned calls from several reporters.

Scott has had multiple suspensions and wasn’t the same player after his collarbone injury in the opener. He’s still on the team, but another incident could put him in peril.

### NFL Network reported Penn State, which reportedly is losing coach Bill O'Brien to the Houston Texans, will make a "strong push" to hire Greg Schiano, who was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday. UM's Al Golden has been mentioned, in speculative media reports, as a potential candidate. The UM administration would be surprised if Golden leaves, but Golden is a Penn State alum. We'll see.

[Wednesday afternoon update: The Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News reports that Golden and Vanderbilt's James Franklin are atop Penn State's wish list.]

### UM coaches have become increasingly enamored with safety Jamal Carter, whose playing time increased in the Russell Athletic Bowl, and will give him every chance to beat out Rayshawn Jenkins or Deon Bush next season…. UM is so bullish on incoming three-star prospect Michael Wyche, from East Los Angeles Junior College, that some UM football staffers believe he would have been Miami’s best defensive tackle if he had been a Cane this season.

### UM likely will be unranked in the final top 25. But curiously, in the final regular-season Top 25 coach’s poll, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier ranked UM higher (21st) than Canes coach Al Golden did (24th). UT-San Antonio and ex-UM coach Larry Coker had Miami 25th. (It's widely believed that most coaches have associates fill out their ballots for them.)

### After meeting in the bowl game, UM hopes the ACC reconsiders and does not schedule Miami's game at Louisville as a season opener on Labor Day night or two days earlier. But UM says it hasn't been told definitively and is braced for whatever happens. UM’s other road ACC games in 2014: Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech. Home: FSU, Pittsburgh, Duke, North Carolina. Non-conference: at Nebraska, home against Cincinnati, Florida A&M, Arkansas State. 

### Happy New Year to all.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Comments

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Russell

On Ireland: He will sacrifice the future in order to save his bacon this year; overspend and give up too much for far too little. His knee-jerk reaction will underperform and fail where finally he'll be canned this time next year. His then replacement will be shackled by the poor decisions of predecessor Ireland and history repeats itself. Tale as old as time for lousy management.

To the Golden haters: Be honest with yourselves here, do you really expect Shalala to can him after hiring him just before all the BS violations were revealed? That alone buys Golden 5 years minimum regardless of W/L record as long as his little beasts aren't animals off the field and in the classroom.

rboud

Why is Coley getting a pass this year. Being an offensive coordinator is much more than being a play caller. UM's offensive execution took a hit this year. The Canes were much sharper and precise on offense last year under Fisch. You could really see the difference this year. Coley will be retained, but he has to become much better and be more than an excellent recruiter.

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Great to have you back Mr. Jackson.

If you ever get a chance to talk to Al Golden I'm sure a lot of UM fans would love the answer to this question:

"Do you think it's a conflict of interest that you're best friends with your defensive coordinator and would you be able to fire him if after three years it was clear his defensive scheme wasn't a good fit for the instinctive, athletic players Miami recruits?"

frostdog0819

We need defensive schemes and creativity. It is has been sad to see how or defense looks. Coley will be good. Remember how we got on fisch in year one. Hopefully Golden makes a great hire on the defensive side. He has to a make a change. This was ridiculous. Also Thanks Mr.Barry Jackson.You are the first Column I read for sure.Happy New Years and may we see another.

Carlos W45

One forgets that Jeff Ireland passed two years ago on Riley Reiff the OT out of Iowa who he said could not play LT in the NFL. Passed this year after trading up to # 3 on Lane Johnson the LT Oklahoma who now starts for the Eagles. Dion Jordan a flop at DE no sacks and no QB pressures and looks lost out there playing. This organization would have been set at Tackles had the just used logic like a good general manager should have.

Remember several years ago when Ireland asked Dez Bryant at the combine if his mother was a prostitute? he then traded for Brandon Marshall and we know how that ended up.

Delraycane

Please. Get off the butch Davis plea
The guy has an NCAA target on his back that reads "pick on me" just what the U needs at this point

bertdawg

How all of you forget that Greg Schiano's wife did not want to move to South Florida when Randy Shannon was fired what makes you think that they would want to come down here now ? Yes I agree defensive schemes have to improve no matter who is or will be the DC. Everybody's favorite Chudzinski doesn't want to be a college coach or he would have been here already. He would be better being the OC for the Dolphins and do all of you really want to go back to Butch Davis ? Really ? I liked Steven Morris but he did make some bad plays so it's not just on the OC. Everybody will be belly aching for the next coach when they don't win the NC out of the gate. It takes time. If you can't wait go root for Alabama.

FINFIN

How bout the dolphins going after Maurice jones drew? Hes got 5 good years left? We do need a running back also.

Really.

Butch Davis put together the most talented college rosters of all time and those players went to back to back national championship games on undefeated seasons.

Da Troof

FIRELAND!
The lack of guts to make the Albert trade, the promotion of a barely adequate RT to LT, the trades up for DioNP Jordan & Blob Thomas. These are among Ireland's fireable offenses.
He was a ball-boy promoted by nepotism & then being Tuna's butt-boy.

Hande

Butch, Greg, and Rob, PERIOD.

Delraycane

I take golden for who he is..... A man of his word. If Al says he's going to see this thing through then I believe he will. If he wanted out of Miami he would have bolted when the NCAA came down on the school

He's putting something really special together and he knows it. This program is two years away from being truly relevant again and we just have to be patient .

These fools on here calling for his head are morons. Next years class and the 2015 class will be very special as the foundation for the future is now being formulated.

Give it chance to come together none of us will be disappointed

JPaulJones

Eric Mangini will be the new GM for fins.....just wait and see. Carl Peterson will see to it....

quijote

Butch Davis will be at FIU before UMiami. Only reason he isn't there now was due to anticompetitive clauses in his NC contract.

Rabblerouser

Thank You Barry!
Very informative blog. Whoever does your research is outstanding.

Barry Jackson

Thanks, Rabblerouser. And I do all my own research, incidentally.

NaplesCane

UM would be in a lot better shape if Butch had been hired instead of Shannon or Golden.

AnonymousCane

A turly"outstanding," job Barry in 2013 and look forward to more of the same in 2014.

BTW and not that it matters, it is very surprising to me to see so much venom spewed toward Al Golden considering the restraints he has worked under for the past three seasons. Folks you can't refuse to take that into consideration when evaluating his three years here. It is a fact and it directly and very negatively affected his first three years and still he improved from 6 to 7 to 9 wins! Yeah some changes defensively need to be made but I for one support his continued tenure and I am proud he is our HC and stand with him!

jmike

Time to Move On from Al Golden, really real;y you're suggesting UM fire Al Golden, you really must have your head in the sand and not know much. Lmao.

TheSergeantMajor

Note to Dolphins players wanting Coach Joe Philbin to improve upon his apparent flat and unemotional demeanor. I've been around a lot of low key leaders. It's difficult if not nearly impossible to get them to "naturally" change to the type of motivational semi-rah-rah figure-head you're probably looking for. It's just not in their DNA, so you have to live with this, accept it. Follow Joe as the coach and man that he is if you respect his coaching, his knowledge, and you believe he can lead you to winning games and championships. Let a team leader who's in good standing, can communicate well with Joe be your motivational speaker to get you fired up. Ray Lewis was good at this.

I've seen exceptional low key military leaders although they're not the norm. They're almost always "brainiacs", very smart and their power comes from their knowledge, compassion, unmatched sincerity, and great common sense. People follow them because they believe in them.

You're wanting Joe to be someone he isn't and that's a common break from sound leadership principle.

long time cane

To all Golden lovers/man crush groupies or whomever(Russell).My point with Golden is that the guy is too dogmatic/stubborn/ignorant/naive/apathetic to make the very necessary Coaching changes at the U to allow them to improve significantly.I m certainly realistic enough to know that Donna will keep him at least a few more years so there s no point in calling for his head.That said.....he blindly has refused to transfer/displace/remove his friend/Defensive Coordinator with someone better.He now needs to upgrade the Linebackers Coaching spot and replace even beloved-but just doesn t have it anymore Art Kehoe at the OL Coaching spot as well.As a Cane follower since a little boy.....I know their history well.We all know that Schnelly,Jimmy,Dennis,Butch were all different leaders in their own way.They all had superb assistant coaches though and they excelled as a Unit.Golden s group do not jell together/they lack a certain chemistry/a certain pedigree of success.Miami s rise actually begain...ha...can t rememeber the Coaches name now but it was the one who successfully recruited Jim Kelly.Anyway....when Kelly and the Canes BEAT No 1 Penn State........THAT was the DAY Miami Hurricane football was BORN into GREATNESS.Well fellas,don t get me wrong that I don t appreciate Golden getting us through the NCAA sanctions because recruiting was damaged for 3 years as a result of that.I do respect Golden for that of course but he is much to SLOW to make positive changes and I hate to see him do little or nothing but simply remain loyal to friends or Coaches even IF they have become incompetent or mediocre Coaches.THAT right now is Golden s weakness and it may soon lead to HIS downfall.

Time to Move On from Al Golden

It amazes me the patience that some people are rendering Golden when he is making $2.5 million per year and never won a title. Do you realize that if you give every coach a five year scholarship to come to Coral Gables and TRY to do their thing, and they do not win, we will have gone through only four coaches, but would have gone two decades without winning a National Championship. That is 20 years. Does anyone care that the program is now on year 13? This is unacceptable. Things are not any better than when under Randy. Randy was a bit in over his head as a head coach, but he should have been offered to stay on as Defensive Coordinator. Not that he had to fight for the money that was due to him.

I blame the administration more than Golden. Other than Bernie Kosar, the administration has not deferred or asked assistance from some of the best former UM coaches and players in the NFL, let alone hire them. There is no reason UM should be at this depth of mediocrity. The talent, wisdom, experience and success that has come out of that football program in the past 20 years, is unparalleled with any other program in the country. Yet, the administration does not make use of this invaluable resource, even on a consultant basis. The former players and coaches say the same thing! If changes are not made with Golden and/or his staff, then there needs to be more accountability toward the administration.

Saban got Bama to the BCS Championship and won in year three, with dealing with similar NCAA circumstances. Golden wholeheartedly believes that the Canes are not where we need to be in year three. Really? So, why stick with him then. So, how long will it take before the Canes are "Where we need to be"? Five, six, seven years into his stay? Basically two recruiting classes. Letting him play out his contract with no accountability and championships until 2020 will be 19 years since UM won it all. People must be insane to allow this to happen when better/championship proven coaches are available.

No doubt Golden is perhaps a nice guy, hard worker, good recruiter. However, if those kids aren't coached up, you'll have mediocrity indefinitely stepping forward no matter what star ranking they have.

Personally the under the radar recruiting of three star kids, who are coached up to become first round NFL picks, is what I prefer. Less time chasing after the same carrot all the other schools are chasing with the four and five star kids, and more time you can devote towards developing your signed talent. Butch is the master at that, as taught by Jimmy Johnson. The only prequisites Butch and Jimmy had is that the recruit had to have a chip on their shoulder, a fire in their belly, and be fast, fast, fast, so that they could take a Safety and make them a linebacker, or take a tight end and make them a defensive tackle.

Since the administration, the coaching staff, and many of this sites bloggers do not have the urgency to WIN, it may be time to take the U off the helmet and replace it with an M. M not being for Miami, but M for mediocrity.

Marios

Time to move on from Al Golden:

Please stop. I hat e D'Onofrio too and I was disgusted by our last few games but no sense in repeating your script over and over again.
Hopefully Golden makes the changes you mention, specially on defense, but odds are better that if Golden either takes the Penn State job we will not get any of those guys you mention.
You're like a guy who is unhappy with his loyal girlfriend and dumps her for a stripper, who dumps him when he runs out of cash on the third week. You think you deserve better and that you're a hot commodity but you're not.
Bigger problem is Shalala who has us playing in a horrible stadium with no college atmosphere 45 minutes from campus.
Why would Schiano want any of this?
If you want a constant in UM Championships it is a staff full of excellent assistant coaches, Golden has some, but he also leans on some who don't cut the mustard.

cane fan

Because Golden won't fire Denote his best buddy, I say hire Butcher as head coach and if Schiavo don't get a head coach job hire him as D coordinator!

Steve

YOU said it Free Agent Market!

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