« December 2009 | Main | February 2010 »

60 posts from January 2010

January 31, 2010

More details to the Rex Ryan rhubarb

Well, the Rex Ryan issue has gone viral and now he's backing down. Sort of.

You know that Ryan attended an MMA event in South Florida Saturday night. Well, according to Dolphins fan David Hildenbrand, the Jets coach was in no mood to deal with the nation of Dolphins fans at the event.

"As he walked by, my friends said, 'Dolphins rule, Jets suck! " Hildenbrand told me in an e-mail. "He turned around and said, 'Go f--k yourself!'  There were others screaming things at him, which is why he flicked everybody off. That's when I snapped the pic."Rex finger

And the picture has caused enough of a stir that Ryan and the Jets are now apologizing -- but not exactly to the people he offended.

"It was stupid and inappropriate,"Ryan said in a statement released by the Jets. "I wouldn’t accept that type of behavior from one of the coaches or players and it’s unacceptable from me. I apologize to the Jets organization, the National Football League and NFL fans everywhere."

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum also released a statement:

"Rex showed extremely poor judgment and his conduct was inappropriate," Tannenbaum said. "He knows he was wrong, has apologized and we have accepted his apology. Any other actions regarding this incident will be addressed internally by the organization.”

The NFL is saying it will look at the situation and make a decision whether to fine Ryan.

Rex Ryan tells Dolfans you're No. 1 (sort of)

Super Bowl week is great because many celebrities come to town and get to experience my town. Enjoy! But some of these characters also get rowdy or drunk or somehow sloppy. And the local media basically feasts on this because it can then show you what your heroes are like in their off hours when they're not all prim and proper and telegenic.

Such is the case with Rex Ryan now.

Last night, the New York Jets coach attended a local MMA show according to various reports including this one in The Miami Herald. And while in Dolphins territory Ryan came across a couple of Dolphins fans.

According to David M. Hildenbrand of Miami, he and his friends approached Ryan and told them they were Dolfans. I'm not certain if they said anything else to him, anything that might have upset the coach.

But Ryan's reaction to the fans was quick and visceral. He shot the fans the bird.

And the fans shot Ryan shooting them the bird (with their camera). They e-mailed the picture to various local media types including myself and Jorge Sedano of 790 The Ticket.

I cannot post the photo here (yet) because this is a family newspaper and a family website. I'm working on posting it to my twitter account away from the Herald website. The Herald is also going to purchase the photo and blur out the extended digit for possible publication.

Ryan was interviewed during the show. The youtube.com video is at the end of this post. In it, Ryan tells the crowd: "I just to to tell everyone in Miami, hey, we're coming to beat you twice next year."

Point of the story?

The Jets coach doesn't have a lot of love for Dolfans.

Dolfans carry cameras.

Embarrassing photos are born.

Our scout dives into a full plate of linebackers

Today our Dolphins In Depth scout Chris Cordero looks at the linebackers at the Senior Bowl.

I think we all agree the Dolphins need to address their aging, regressing linebacker corps. Although Cameron Wake had the look of a good pass rusher, we still have no clue if he can become a three-down player while the futures of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor in Miami are uncertain.

Inside, Akin Ayodele didn't perform in 2009 up to the standards of 2008. He was exposed in coverage and wasn't a factor otherwise. Channing Crowder, meanwhile, was hurt a substantial part of the season. Again.

Here's the 3-4 OLBs and ILBs: 

The Dolphins lack depth here, as well as great talent, and this area must be addressed. Top prospect Rolando McClain of Alabama is an underclassmen and not participating and top seniors Brandon Spikes of Florida and Sean Lee of Penn State are not participating. Many of the prospects in this game are undersized for the middle in a 3-4 as well.
1. Sean Weatherspoon - 6-1, 241lbs - Missouri
Career numbers: 388 tackles, 12 sacks, 3 fumbles forced, 4 interceptions, 2 touchdowns
-I would be remiss if I didn't start off with his attitude and personality; his teammates love him and he gets everyone fired up and does not stop yapping (I am a fan of that personally) Channing Crowder and him would drive opponents crazy. He is very enthusiastic - a leader.
-Very smooth and athletic - can get out and cover backs and tight ends; makes plays sideline-to-sideline.
-Hits with power - saw him level Mardy Gilyard in one of the practices.
-Strong and explosive - showed power in pass rushing drills.
-Very comfortable in coverage.
-Has a great football IQ and great instincts; flows to the ball and fills gaps due to great reactions.
-Tends to go for the big hit and not use proper technique when tackling.
-At times would appear heavy legged and take false steps - but this was few and far between.
Overall Anaylsis:
If you would have asked me at the beginning of the college football season - he would have been the best LB prospect in the draft. Period. However, he had a lackluster senior season, for his standards, and slipped some in the eyes of most. This week should change that - he is firmly a 1st rounder. I can see him going anywhere in the late Teens to the 20's and if by some miracle; he makes it to the 2nd Round the Fins should jump all over him. He might even be worth trading down for and picking up some extra picks. Is the type of athlete and personality that can define a team.
2. Jamar Chaney - 6-1, 241lbs - Mississippi State
Career numbers: 285 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 fumbles forced, 2 interceptions
-Smart, tough, disciplined - 4 year starter and leader for an SEC defense.
-Locates and flows to the ball in the run game.
-Has good movement skills; adequate speed.
-Gets good drops in coverage.
-Stays with his assignment and does not get caught out of position often.
-Lacks ball skills in coverage.
-Not very physical and could be a better tackler.
-Has had some injuries.
Overall Analysis:
It looked as if the coaching staff took a liking to him; as Coach Sparano spent some time with him on the field. Would be a great value late in the draft (should we pick up a 5th Rounder or if he fell further); but with the lack of depth and talent at the Inside Linebacker position in the draft - he will probably go earlier (probably 4th) as he should test well at the Combine.
3. Donald Butler - 6-1, 244lbs - Washington
Career numbers: 235 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 fumbles forced, 2 interceptions
-Very athletic and faster than I thought for a guy his size; smooth, explosive athlete.
-Breaks down and wraps up as a secure tackler.
-Has good recognition skills and is quick to diagnose run/pass/screen pass (blew up a screen pass to a RB pretty nicely in practice).
-Keeps his head up and locates the ball.
-Is very good when moving upfield.
-Despite his speed; showed slow feet in drills.
-Has trouble in coverage and will struggle outside of the box.
-Also had trouble taking on blocks at times.
Overall Anaylsis:
Was a late invite to the game; but showed enough where he should get drafted. Would be a good value if he is available in the later rounds (Rounds 6-7). Is a good athlete who has bulked up and managed to keep his athletecisim - but I worry that with his lack of coverage skills it would be redundant to what the Dolphins already have. Again, with the lack of Inside Linebackers at the combine - he could go earlier than he is rated.
HONORABLE MENTION: A lot of the undersized linebackers looked very good in the practices. Daryl Washington of TCU in particular stood out - he has excellent coverage skills, play recognition, and is a hard hitter. If he was a bigger he could be a very high draft pick; as it stands he will at least be a 3rd Rounder. Darryl Sharpton of the University of Miami (the U!) had a decent week as well - looking good as a pass rusher and laying some big hits. Dekoda Watson from Florida State had a rather non-descript week - but seems to be a good athlete. Phillip Dillard of Nebraksa and Roddrick Muckelroy of Texas also didn't stand out and lined up at various linebacker positions. A.J. Edds - who has good size for the 3-4 - looks very good in coverage and could be a good "nickel" backer.
The key to creating pressure on the Quarterback in the 3-4 defense; Many 3-4 Outside Linebackers are college defensive ends - so it is a very projectable position. Some of the better prospects not at the game are Sergio Kindle of Texas, Ricky Sapp of Clemson, Jerry Hughes of Texas Christian and some projectable underclassmen - Jason Pierre-Paul of South Florida and Jason Worlids of Virginia Tech. Despite those players not being here; this might have been the strongest position at the game.
Here are my rankings for the Senior Bowl 3-4 Outside Linebackers
1. Brandon Graham - 6-1, 263lbs - Michigan
Career numbers: 138 tackles, 28 sacks
-A pass rushing terror - explodes off the line at the snap and has an array of moves including a sick spin move and a fantastic swim move; locks unblockable at times.
-Is a football player in every sense of the word - tenacious, a leader and is going to whoop you and tell you about it - great prescense on the field with a nonstop motor and great energy.
-Has great strength - heard him say that he was going to bench 225 lbs at the combine over 40 times and I don't think he was kidding!
-Comes off the ball low and hard and with great leverage and technique.
-Better than average speed as he was able to blow by Vladimir Ducasse on more than one occasion.
-How will he hold up in coverage?
-Can get locked up at times by better Offensive Lineman when they are able to extend and get their hands into him.
Overall Analysis:
Wow! Was the best prospect on either team at any position all week. If he wasn't a 1st rounder he definitely is now. The only concern with him is can he make the switch to 3-4 OLB and whether he can be decent in coverage versus backs and tight ends. Absolutely worth trading back for and picking up some extra draft picks. Reminds of Dwight Freeney and former teammate LaMarr Woodley. Could be a star.
2. Cameron Sheffield - 6-3, 256 lbs - Troy
Career numbers: 137 tackles, 13 sacks, 1 fumble forced, 1 interception
-Is very quick and athletic.
-Plays with leverage and strength.
-Has a nice swim move.
-Didn't embarass himself in coverage drills and came into this game already listed as a linebacker.
-His potential as a pass rusher is apparent. 
-Has good lateral mobility and short area burst.
-Great motor.
-Beat West Virginia OT Selvish Capers with a beautiful spin move on one play.
-Will need work in coverage despite looking OK in drills.
-Trouble holding up at the Point of Attack.
-Can be fooled by play-action and is late to react at times.
Overall Analysis:
Like his teammate Brandon Lang - you could find yourself comparing them to former University of Troy superstar DeMarcus Ware. He would seem to be a better fit in the 3-4 defense than Lang as he has experience playing linebacker already. I think he has great potential and seems to want to improve. Could be a good value in the late rounds.
3. Brandon Lang - 6-4, 260 lbs - Troy
Career numbers: 138 tackles, 21 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
-Strong upper body and has decent hand usage to keep blockers off of him.
-Is fast and agile off the edge, and comes around with good leverage and low pad level.
-Is powerful and explosive as a pass rusher.
-Fairly quick off the snap.
-Holds up well against the run.
-As is the concern with most of the prospects - how we he hold up in coverage (although he would seem to be better than most as has some experience).
-Needs to add more strength.
-Has trouble holding ground.
Overall Analysis:
It's easy to compare him to fellow University of Troy graduate DeMarcus Ware - but he is not the ridiculous athlete that Ware is. Despite the fact that these players are in great demand - he could fall to the Dolphins in the later rounds of the draft - 5-7 range - with the great depth at this position. Has the foundation to be a good pass rusher.
4. George Selvie - 6-4, 247lbs - South Florida
Career Numbers: 206 tackles, 27 sacks, 6 fumbles forced
-Very quick off the snap and has some nice pass rush moves; looks explosive at times.
-Knocked Tennessee Offensive Tackle Chris Scott on his rear with a bullrush; showing his strength.
-Able to split the double team and get to the QB.
-Did well against the run and held his own.
-Looked quick and fluid in linebacker drills run by Coach Mike Nolan.
-Plays with good effort.
-Has a very small lower body and has had some injury history - needs to add strength and bulk so as to prevent injury.
-Will need some work in order to make the transition to 3-4 OLB.
-Can get engulfed by the double team.
-Not an elite athlete and will not have the best timed speed.
Overall Analysis:
Has fallen off after his sensational sophomore season. Still, is a talented pass rusher and judging by how well he looked in the drills - could have an easier time making the move to OLB than most of the prospects here. Will more than likely be a 3rd Round Pick - but would present a good value for the Dolphins in the 4th.
5. Koa Misi - 6-3, 244lbs - Utah
Career numbers: 198 tackles, 10 sacks, 5 fumbles forced
-Already making the transition to Linebacker here; so he will have a leg up in that regard.
-Has good balance and plays with strong effort and a high motor - wants to learn and get better; with a good work ethic.
-Looked fairly natural in coverage in most drills and scrimmages.
-Has good speed sideline to sideline and very good athleticism.
-Good quickness and lateral mobility.
-Has a good push with decent strength and explosiveness.
-Is not the pass rusher that some of the other prospects here are and was often a step late getting to QB.
-Needs work on his tackling.
-Lacks ball skills.
-Over pursues on run plays.
Overall Analysis:
Had a strong week here and could be moving up the draft charts - could play in a 4-3 at this point as well. If he can come up with some pass-rush moves he could be pretty good. That being said - I don't see him as being better than a 5th Rounder - but could go before that.
HONORABLE MENTION: In all honesty; after Brandon Graham - most of these guys were interchangeable - there are just so many of them and they all have their pluses and minuses. Antonio Coleman of Auburn looked pretty good in most of the practices and is a good athlete that didn't look terrible in linebacker drills. Justin Cole of San Jose State is another great athlete who has experience playing outside linebacker, and really every position outside of the secondary on defense, already and could also warrant a late round look. Austin Lane of Murray State might be a little big to make the move - but he is worth a mention as he plays with a high motor. The one disappointment for me was Eric Norwood of South Carolina - I had very high hopes and he looked like nothing more than a one-trick pony. He struggled in space and lacked any feel for coverage - but did block 2 punts.
Tomorrow: A recap of the game as well as reports on some top Interior lineman.

January 30, 2010

Antrel Rolle loves idea of joining the Dolphins

The Pro Bowl squads have finished their walk-thru before tomorrow's game and I had the opportunity to catch up with a player who has his eyes set on playing for the Dolphins:

Free safety Antrel Rolle.

Rolle, a former University of Miami star in the Pro Bowl for the first time, is in a sort of limbo right now because the Cardinals are scheduled to pay him $12.1 million in salary and a bonus in 2010. The idea behind having such a whopping figure in the final year of Rolle's contract is to force both sides to renegotiate a new deal or simply cut ties.

And while Rolle insists he loves the Cardinals, he also loves the idea of playing for the Dolphins in South Florida, where he grew up, played at South Dade High and The U.

"That would be nice," Rolle told me. "You know what I mean. I would love to take some of the burden off of mom and dad seeing as they travel to every game. Miami is home for me. I haven't played here in five years, but hey, we can make it happen."

Rolle repeated that his parent fly across country to every game he plays. That's 16 weeks of travel and he'd like to lighten their burden by giving them eight home games in Miami.

"I'm still a Cardinal right now, you know," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen. But I love the Cardinals and their organization. I've been good to them and they've been great to me also. Let's just see what plays out.

"I don't know what's going to play out. They haven't given me any indication. I know they want to keep me there. We're trying to keep our franchise together, but I don't know what they're thinking right now."

What Rolle is thinking is that if the Cardinals decide not to pay him his $12 million and release him he will be on the open market. And the first place he will look is Miami. It is important enough a topic to him that he has studied Miami's personnel situation at free safety and is aware Gibril Wilson was something of a bust last year and could be cut when the league year begins anew in March.

"I'm more than aware," Rolle told me.

This season Rolle had 72 tackles, four interceptions, eight passes defensed, one forced fumble and 1.5 sacks. Wilson had 91 tackles, eight passes defensed and one sack. He had no interceptions and caused no other turnovers. 

Rolle, who lives in Homestead in the offseason, is not completely disconnected from the Cardinals yet. He said Kurt Warner's retirement was "bittersweet."

"I'm happy for him," Rolle said, "But he's defintely going to be missed. He's one of the persons that has been my inspiration and one of the leaders I've looked to."

Matt Leinart is expected to take over for Warner.

"Leinert, I think his time is up right now," Rolle said. "It's time for him to produce and be the player that Matt knows he can be and the player we all know he can be. We're going to be behind him 100 percent of the way and I think he'll do a good job there."

Assuming Rolle is there with Leinert. Big assumption.

Scout looks at FS and NT at the Senior Bowl

This is Day Two of player Scouting Reports from the Senior Bowl.

Chris Cordero of Miami drove 11 hours from South Florida to Mobile, Alabama to see the North and South teams practice and be able to report back to you his take on the talent. Cordero, 27, is an aspiring professional scout who trained under talented personnel men.Any NFL team interested in seeing Cordero's complete work can e-mail me and I will discretely put you in contact with him. 

This is Cordero's abbreviated look at the nose tackle and free safety positions -- two more positions of need for the Dolphins.

After the signing of Gibril Wilson and the resigning of Yeremiah Bell - the Dolphins must have believed they were set at the position for the near future. I must politely disagree. While Bell is a Pro Bowl player and should still have 1 or 2 good years left, Wilson struggled - particularly in coverage - which is a free safety's biggest responsibility in most defenses. While Chris Clemons might yet turn out to be the answer and Tyrone Culver probably deserves more of an opportunity, this position could use an upgrade as Wilson should not be expected back especially in an uncapped year. The top players at this position are underclassmen (Eric Berry, Earl Thomas - who I think is going to be great, Morgan Burnett, Chad Jones, Major Wright). Most of the Safety prospects in the Senior Bowl look to be more of the In-The-Box, Strong Safety variety - but there where a few guys who stood out to me.
1. Nate Allen - 6-1, 205lbs - South Florida
Career numbers: 216 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumbles forced, 10 interceptions, 1 touchdown
-Ideal build for a free safety with more than adequate speed for the deep secondary.
-Fluid in his movement; accelerates out of his breaks; plants and drives out of his backpedal cleanly.
-Is able to read routes and the QB; making him an ideal centerfielder in the secondary.
-Is not a big hitter; but will support the run and is a solid, wrap-up tackler.
-Leader in the secondary, gets everyone lined up and makes the coverage calls
-Could struggle when asked to man-up a receiver; but his skill set will allow him to get by from time-to-time; although very fast receivers (i.e. a DeSean Jackson) would eat him up.
-Might have reached his physical limits (weight, height, speed) and does not have the upside of some of the underclassmen.
Overall Analysis:
A player that I really like and would be a good fit in the 2nd Round for the Dolphins. Sometimes when a player doesn't stand out with big plays or big hits, he tends to get looked over - and that could happen with this guy. He could be a solid free safety for a very long time in this league thanks to his smarts and abilities.
2. Myron Rolle - 6-1, 217lbs - Florida State / Oxford University in England
Career numbers at FSU: 207 tackles, 1 fumble forced, 1 interception
-A genius outside of football; he has a great mind for the game as well - rarely out of position and is always asking the coaches questions; won't make the same mistake twice.
-Stays low, with good technique, in his backpedal and drives to the ball when it is in the air.
-Good size for the position; not afraid to hit, and is a secure tackler (not always looking for the big hit - but he can bring it).
-When in coverage - did a nice job of using his body to keep the receiver near the sideline a few times.
-Has good range despite a lack of speed due to his route reading ability.
-Lacks top end speed which could force him to be more of a Strong Safety.
-Didn't show up in the practices - but a year away from the game could hurt him.
-Had some trouble flipping his hips and turning and running with the WR.
-Doesn't have great hands to make INTs.
Overall Analysis:
Here is Rolle in a nutshell - on one play, he got beat on a double move (I think by Shay Hodge from Mississippi - who was one of the better receivers here) a couple of plays later - Jeremy Williams of Tulane tried the same move and Rolle recognized and broke on the ball; disallowing the completion. I can't say for certain that he can be a free safety in the NFL due to his weaknesses, but failure is not an option for this guy and I wouldn't bet against him. If he runs well at the Combine he'll be a solid 2nd Round pick and would be a steal in the 3rd. You can't teach a lot of the things that he has.
3. Taylor Mays - 6-3, 231lbs - Southern Cal
Career numbers: 268 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 5 interceptions
-Physically - he has no faults; speed, size, leaping ability, he has all those tools.
-Aggressive hitter - brings the wood and will clean some clocks if you dare go in his zone.
-Has decent hands when actually going for the ball and plucks it at it's highest point.
-Will be a beast in run support - as he was at USC and is very good between the numbers on the field.
-Can jam the receiver with good hand usage and upper body strength at the line of scrimmage.
-Seems to want to learn and reports say he studies the lots of film.
-Coverage skills are extremely lacking - stiff in the hips; trouble backpedaling; doesn't plant and drive to the ball; gets too high out of his backpedal; slow in reverse - got beat constantly with double moves.
-Has little range - if the play isn't going on around him - will be late to react.
-Gave up a lot of underneath receptions during practice that occurred right in front of him.
Overall Analysis:
 I almost put Terrell Skinner out of Maryland in this spot. Mays will be a 1st Round Pick (Al Davis in Oakland loves this type of guy and maybe his college coach Pete Carroll in Seattle will take him) and if he gets past those two teams; some team in the 20's will take him because his potential is just too great. As an athletic specimen - he has no peers. I don't see him making it as a FS and could see him ending up like Thomas Davis of Carolina - a college safety out of Georgia who was a physical specimen but ended up at OLB. Doesn't fit the Dolphins unless they are looking to groom Yeremiah's replacement.
HONORABLE MENTION: The above mentioned Terrell Skinner out of Maryland was the only other FS of note. He is a converted receiver still learning the position - but has great size and is a big hitter. He needs work on his technique - but could be a good value in the late rounds. Kurt Coleman of Ohio State and Kyle McCarthy of Notre Dame were thoroughly unimpressive; Harry Coleman of LSU - who played OLB this year in college - looked like a good in-the-box strong safety. Larry Asante of Nebraska also looked very good and got better as the week went on - but again is more of a Strong Safety, but has good range for the position. Another player I would like to mention is Chris Cook, a big Cornerback out of Virginia, he reminds me some of the Dolphins own Sean Smith and would seem to have the tools to play the free safety spot.
After Jason Ferguson went down - so did the Dolphins run defense. Paul Soliai had his moments - but would be better off in a rotation; although he is so big and young enough that he can improve. This is a vital position for the 3-4 defense; and such a tough one to get a read on as not too many colleges run a 3-4. A nose tackle in most 3-4 defenses is usually responsible for occupying blockers and allowing the LBs to make the plays; although there are exceptions (Jay Ratliff, a Parcells pick, out of Dallas made an extraordinary number of plays for a NT last year). You generally don't see them go too high in the draft as they have to learn the position and are drafted later in the draft and developed - like Jason Ferguson and Ratliff. Here are some names not at this game to remember - Brian Price from UCLA (Underclassman - likely 1st Rounder); Torrell Troup from UCF; Vince Oghobaase from Duke; Linval Joseph from East Carolina (Underclassman); Al Woods from LSU; Jay Ross from East Carolina; Martin Tevaseu from UNLV, and Kade Weston from Georgia (there are a few more names - but I don't want to concentrate on players not at the game). These are only the players I feel can play NT - so stud DT Jared Odrick from Penn State won't be ranked (although he would be a GREAT 3-4 DE - but that position seems set with Phillip Merling, Randy Starks, and Kendall Langford).
1. Dan Williams - 6-2, 329lbs - Tennessee
Career numbers: 153 tackles, 6 sacks
-Very strong, stout, huge lower body - looks fire hydrant-ish (for lack of better terminology - is that even a word?).
-Fires off the ball, low and hard and gets underneath the Offensive Lineman's pads to push back.
-Is able to draw and hold a double team - allowing his teammates to make the play (telling sign of a good NT).
-Has long arms allowing him to keep linemen off his frame.
-Is a good tackler to boot.
-Only pass-rush move is a bullrush; which worked in college-but won't work consistently in the pros.
-Could use his hands better - some of the interior linemen, like John Jerry, were able to jam him up.
Overall Analysis:
A 1st Rounder - but not the 12th pick. If the Dolphins decide the player that they want is not available at #12, they could trade back to the late teens or early 20s and take this guy. Watching him up close most of his weight is in his lower body - with extremely thick legs which means a strong base. I didn't see him on the ground much and that is a testament to that base. I DID see him bury Southern Cal Interior Lineman Jeff Byers once and his strength is evident. Has few visible weaknesses.
2. Cam Thomas - 6-4, 331lbs - North Carolina
Career Numbers: 83 tackles, 3 sacks
-Massive - but carries it well - doesn't look fat (unlike SOMEONE that I will mention next) and carries his weight exceptionally well - could possibly put even more weight/strength on and still look this way.
-Vocal leader - rallied the DLineman and was always hooting and hollering (I'm in Alabama so I can say that); watching him and Sean Weatherspoon of Missouri (who I have as a possible top ILB for the Fins) jabbering was one of the joys of the week.
-Very strong - pushes blockers into the backfield.
-Has good hand usage and is active and aggressive with them.
-Draws double teams and reestablishes the line of scrimmage with his strength.
-Looked athletic in drills for a man of his size.
-Lack of pass rush moves (a common theme amongst this position).
-Needs work on his pad level as it is inconsistent - this could be due to his getting too upright after the snap due to his height.
Overall Analysis:
If he is available in the 4th Round (or if the Dolphins can pick a 5th Rounder somehow and he is there) - they should jump on this guy without hesitation. I feel after this week he could have possibly moved into the 3rd Round range though. Didn't have many weaknesses that I saw and his attitude and loud mouth are a plus in my book (someone has to replace Joey Porter right?). Could be in the league 10 years as a run-stopping NT much like Jason Ferguson.
3. Terrence "Mount" Cody - 6-4, 370lbs - Alabama
Career numbers: 51 tackles, 1 forced fumble
-As his nickname attest - a huge human being - I got a chance to stand next to him and it was impressive how big he is.
-Natural strength; is immovable when he wants to be.
-Demands a double team - as he will throw a single blocker off him like a fly for the most part (John Jerry was among the only OLinemen that stood his ground versus this guy).
-Plays are very rarely run at him so that would make it seem like he doesn't make many plays - but his presence allows his teammates to make plays.
-Imposes his will, stands his ground, and will push blockers into the backfield.
-I'm sure everyone saw the picture on Mando's previous blog......
-Stamina is an issue.
-Inconsistent effort - maturity could be an issue as I saw him goofing off a lot during drills.
-Needs to stay low coming off the snap.
-Lacks pass rush moves; although he had a nice swim move that I saw him make.
-Was shut down by the aforementioned Jeff Byers at one point.
-Was on the ground more often than I expected; which causes concern about his lower-body strength.
Overall Analysis:
If you are going to draft this guy it is knowing that he will strictly play 2 downs (or on short yardage situations) and that you have to monitor his weight and get him on a strict training regimen and diet. I don't see him as a 1st Rounder - but if the Dolphins are as impressed by him as they seemed to be (DLine Coach Kacy Rodgers was always with him and Sparano made it a point to check him out more than a couple times every practice) then maybe trading back from our 2nd round pick to a later one and picking up some extra picks would be a good spot for him. I think he could be the ideal NT - but at the same time he could be out of the league in 3 years.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jeff Owens from Georgia spent a lot of time with Dan Williams and Terrence Cody with Coach Kacy Rodgers working on technique to break the double team. He is very short and looks like a mini version of Cody - so his conditioning would need work; but he is quite strong. None of the other DTs looked to be able to play the Nose; but again a lot of these players are developed. The most impressive Defensive Tackles were Jared Odrick of Penn State - who as mentioned would be a stud 3-4 DE and should be a 1st Rounder; Geno Atkins from Georgia - who at one point got some work with Mike Nolan and some of the DEs on OLB work - he is very quick and has good pass rush moves. None of the other DTs really stood out.
Tomorrow: Look for ILB and OLB reports following the game. There are some very good 3-4 OLB prospects in the game - so keep an eye out for that.

January 29, 2010

An update on Pat White from the Senior Bowl

While much attention has been focused on Tim Tebow this week at the Senior Bowl because of his struggles with center snaps, or his throwing motion, or his background working almost exclusively in the spread formation, I had to seriously shake my head.


Because even as so-called pundits and scouts and experts are ripping Tebow for not being ready to be an NFL quarterback, I think back to the not-ready-for-the-NFL quarterback the Dolphins used a second-round pick on last year.

Pat White.

Every issue Tebow has, White has. His throwing motion is a question mark. His drops from center and footwork were question marks. The fact he never played in a pro style offense was a quesion mark. And so if Tebow is a such a huge risk even in the second round (most folks are saying he's a middle round pick) why didn't anyone (including me) think White was a risk?

Boggles the mind.

The Dolphins can do nothing about picking White. He's on the team and they must hope he can progress from an unspectacular rookie season into a legitimate backup quarterback. That's why coach Tony Sparano was asked about White at the Senior Bowl this week.

"I think that he’s doing very well, certainly," Sparano said, no doubt remembering that White was literally knocked out of the season-finale against Pittsburgh. "Pat's not a guy to take a lot of time off or any of those things, so he’s getting right back at it. He’s got a pretty good itch. I was kidding him earlier in the week. I met his dad out here for the first time when we were over at Fairhope (High School) in the beginning of the week, so I sent him a text telling him his dad was better looking than he is. He immediately sent it back and talked about his hometown here and all that, you know.

"Pat is a real proud kid that way. But he has done a nice job for us, he really has. When you think about these young quarterbacks coming in and all that they have to do, and it’s a lot. You have to put a lot on their plate and you can’t spoon feed them. You have to be careful with that. So, from our end, our philosophy has always been to throw everything at them and see what sticks. With Pat, he had it a couple of different times. He had it in rookie camp. He had it in OTAs. He had it in training camp. And little by little he’s been able to grab more and more of our offense to the point that midway through the season he had total command of the whole package."

So White can come in the game and run the entire Miami offense if need be?

"He can really go out there with no limitations and run the offense that way," Sparano said. "Now there are still some fundamental things that we’re working with Pat on and that we want Pat to get better at, but this guy is so willing and has so much character that I feel like he’s going to continue to get better."

Well, there you have it. After one season the Dolphins are still working to correct White's fundamentals. After one season the Dolphins are also hoping White can actually complete a pass in an NFL game -- something he didn't do in 2009.

I hope White can make the giant leap from a struggling rookie to a viable backup in 2010. Again, no one is asking him to be ready to be the starter.

But he needs to get stronger. He needs to recognize defenses faster. He needs to get quicker with his drops. He needs to show the kind of accuracy he often showed in college but never showed in NFL games.

White has a long way to go. In that regard, he's a lot like Tim Tebow.

Guest blogger scouts the Senior Bowl

I did not attend the Senior Bowl this year despite the fact the Dolphins are coaching the South team because, well, the game is in Mobile, Alabama and I've been there and done that. Given the choice of being in Miami or Mobile in January my choice is an easy one.

But that doesn't mean you won't get the insight from the event you have come to expect on this blog -- which I suppose is the reason you are here. So I today introduce you to Chris Cordero.

Cordero, 27, is from Miami and is working to break into professional scouting. He trained under Marc Trestman, Russ Lande, John Wooten and Aaron Schatz. He's attended the Indy Combine the past two years and expects to do so again this year. This is his first Senior Bowl. What you are about to read are not complete Cordero scouting reports. He sent me one and my eyes were bleeding by the time I finished reading it, it was so detailed. The quick takes below are strictly reader-friendly versions of his expertise. Any NFL team interested in talking to Chris should e-mail me and I'll discretely hook you up with this up-and-comer.

For the next few days Cordero will scout the players at the Senior Bowl at positions of interest to the Dolphins. Cordero starts with a look at wide receivers and tight ends because he knows I really want the Dolphins to actually be able to pass the ball in 2010.


The Dolphins are loaded with small, possession receivers. The type of receiver the Dolphins need are generally not found at the Senior Bowl - as they are usually underclassmen (i.e.. Dez Bryant, Arrelious Benn, and Demaryious Thomas). Two of the top senior prospects, LSU's Brandon LaFell and Texas's Jordan Shipley are not participating in the game either.
Here are my rankings for the Senior Bowl receivers:
1. Andre Roberts - 5-11, 194lbs - The Citadel.
Career numbers: 286 receptions, 3,743 yards, 36 touchdowns
-Catches EVERYTHING thrown in his direction (even from Tim Tebow).
-Quick feet and hands allow him to get separation.
-Has very good speed and got work as a returner.
-Runs great routes and put some nice double moves on possible first-round CB Patrick Robinson.
-Fearless over the middle, got laid out by Taylor Mays and got right back up.
-Undersized; although has a solid build for his size and decent strength.
-Can get jammed at the line - Javier Arenas jammed him a few times.
Overall Analysis:
Someone is going to get great value in the 3rd or 4th round with this guy - if he runs well at the combine - he could be a second rounder. Sadly, he is not 2 inches taller or he would be a first round lock. Dolphins have similar receivers on the roster already; but he could be really good. Showed he could play with top competition here at the Senior Bowl practices.
2. Taylor Price - 6-0, 198lbs - Ohio.
Career numbers: 149 receptions, 2,019 yards, 14 touchdowns.
-Has good measurables (height, weight) very "put together" and appears to have good speed.
-Runs decent routes and is quick in and out of breaks.
-Good body control - made a beautiful adjustment in the air for a catch on a bad throw by Tony Pike against hard hitting LSU S Harry Coleman.
-Goes up for the ball and catches it at it's highest point.
-Can get open deep and creates separation from the DB  with his strength; ran by Saints 1st Round Pick Malcolm Jenkins in college.
-Hands are a little inconsistent as he will make the highlight catch but drop the easy one.
-Rounds off routes sometimes; which allows DBs to break on the ball.
Overall Analysis:
The buzz was that he was moving up draft boards and is at worst a fourth round pick - but could fit into the third. Rookie receivers don't always make an impact right away but this guy could be an exception - much like this year's rookie crop; including the Dolphins own Brian Hartline.
3. Mardy Gilyard - 6-0 179lbs - Cincinnati.
Career numbers: 204 receptions, 3,003 yards, 25 touchdowns.
-Smooth and runs good routes.
-Quick feet allow him to get off the line and beat the jam.
-Gets good separation from defenders using his quickness.
-Faster than most; but also very quick,
-Could be a great returner (and won't always run out of bounds...).
-Very light and has ankle injury history.
-Inconsistent catching the ball; will drop the easy one and needs to concentrate more.
-Needs to develop strength in order to go over the middle and go up for the ball in traffic.
Overall Analysis:
Most have him pegged as a second rounder; I see his value in the third. If he can add some bulk and strength and keep his quickness, he could develop into a very good NFL receiver as long as his focus is there.
HONORABLE MENTION: Two players who aren't really wide receivers but practiced there really stood out. Dorin Dickerson out of Pittsburgh was one of the most impressive players on either team. Has great speed, leaping ability and caught just about everything thrown his way. His strength allowed him to shield defenders from the ball and make the tough catch. A smart offensive coordinator will find a way to use him (he played mostly Tight End and Fullback at Pittsburgh) and he might even be drafted as a WR by draft day. Dexter McCluster out of Mississippi was also very impressive - even running the Wildcat under the Dolphins staff. He was the most explosive, quick, fast player on either team. Think of Darren Sproles but a better receiver and tough between the tackles. His 165-pound size is his only drawback. Riley Cooper and Shay Hodge (who didn't practice and was limping Thursday) were the only other receivers who relatively stood out. Donald Jones from Youngstown State, who I only saw practice Thursday was pretty impressive but that was only in helmets and shoulder pads.
Granted this is not one of the Dolphins greatest needs but if WR is a "must have" this could fall under the "need" umbrella. Anthony Fasano struggled much of the year after two fumbles in the opener. Despite picking it up a little late, there is no guarantee he will revert to his 2008 form. The top senior tight end, Jermaine Gresham of Oklahoma, did not participate as he is still rehabbing right knee surgery; and top junior Aaron Hernandez from Florida is not eligible.
1. Ed Dickson - 6-4, 244lbs - Oregon
Career numbers: 124 receptions, 1,557 yards, 12 touchdowns
-Big target with the ability to separate from defenders; would have had three TDs during one of the practices.
-Good hands and catches most everything thrown to him away from his body - even in traffic; strong hands.
-Good athlete with good speed and decent leaping ability.
-Shows good blocking technique and tries in this area.
-Undersized with a lack of bulk; which hurts him as a blocker.
-Could use work on route running.
Overall Analysis:
Would be a good value in the fourth round - but will probably go in the third. Is essentially a pumped up wide receiver (similar to Kory Sperry) but is a good overall prospect.
2. Anthony McCoy - 6-5, 249lbs - Southern Cal
Career numbers: 46 receptions, 731 yards, 3 touchdowns
-Looks the part with long arms and a solid build.
-Good speed to stretch the middle of the field.
-Looked good as a blocker at the practices; has very good strength; and put Eric Norwood on the ground once.
-Can make the highlight reel catch with his size, leaping ability, and strength and will fight for ball in traffic.
-Drops some easy passes.
-Very inconsistent in college; labeled an underachiever and didn't have great production (although that might be due to supporting cast).
Overall Analysis:
Will probably come off the board in the second round - too high for the Dolphins to take him there. Looks like he will be a better pro than college player as he has all the tools to succeed and was very eager to learn from coach George DeLeone.
3. Jimmy Graham - 6-6, 259lbs - Miami
Career numbers: 17 receptions, 213 yards, 5 touchdowns
-Great athlete as evidenced by career playing hoops - tremendous leaping ability and good speed.
-Uses body well and would be a beast in the red zone.
-Can split the seam and is fluid in his routes for someone with so little experience.
-Can make the difficult catch.
-Has good natural strength and long arms.
-Wants to learn and seeks out coaching.
-Inconsistent; will lose concentration and drop some easy passes (Virginia Tech game this past year and in the practices).
-His size can be a detriment in the run-blocking game as smaller defenders can use leverage and push him back.
-Still needs work on his routes.
Overall Analysis:
If he would have played football instead of basketball; or even if he would have had one more year of college football - would have been a first round lock. Someone will take a flyer on him in the 3rd round - call me a homer but I hope it's the Dolphins - due to his upside, and his potential is almost limitless if he wants it bad enough (he turned down a six figure basketball contract; so he must want it).
HONORABLE MENTION: The other tight ends at the practices were also pretty good. Mike Hoomanawanui (say that 3 times fast) out of Illinois has good hands and is a strong blocker, but lacks speed and athleticism. Garrett Graham out of Wisconsin, who owned the University of Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, is slightly undersized but has great hands and a feel for finding seams in the zone and getting open. Colin Peek from Alabama got sick - but looks the part and catches and blocks well.
Tomorrow: NT and FS.

January 28, 2010

The latest on the Miami Dolphins at this hour

[Updated 1:30 p.m.]

I'm hearing whispers out of Mobile, Alabama where the Dolphins staff is coaching the South team that offensive lineman John Jerry is among the players that has caught the coaches' collective eyeballs.

Yes, I know. Aside from Dexter McCluster -- who you will see running the Wildcat in the game on Saturday. I'm told the Dolphins want to see him working the formation. Hmmmm.

Anyway, about Jerry: He played left tackle almost exclusively at Ole Miss. But the Dolphins are curious about him as a guy that might be able to play either tackle or guard spot. At 6-5 and 335 pounds he has a bit of that swing size. He isn't very well built, I'm told. I haven't seen him. But he apparently has good quickness for his ... girth.

Why in heaven's name am I discussing offensive linemen? Well, the depressing truth is that after two years of construction and $156 million in total contracts starting in 2009, the Miami offensive line isn't completely solidified yet.

The right guard spot continues to be a question mark for the team. Donald Thomas, the player everyone hoped would be the answer, spent his entire rookie season injured, and then struggled late in his second season to the point he lost his starting job late in the year.

The Dolphins like Nate Garner but aren't prepared to anoint him the starter by any means. Jerry could be a mid-round answer (assuming he lasts that long). The team is curious about how well Jerry would work as a T/G swing man, something that would add more value to him should injury arise at tackle.


Well, now maybe now we know one reason Eric Green, the cornerback signed as a free agent last offseason, struggled so mightily during training camp. He had, shall we say, issues in his personal life if a lawsuit filed in Florida could be believed.

According a the suit, a transgender woman man person is claiming that Green forcibly sodomized the alleged victim. The suit claims the two met in Scottsdale, Arizona early in 2009 and went back to Green's condo where the alleged assault happened.

The suit seeks $10 million.

Green, you will recall, was signed by the Dolphins on March 12, 2009 but it soon became evident he was a free agent bust. He was routinely beaten on deep routes by every receiver on the team, most notably Anthony Armstrong, who wasn't even good enough to earn a spot on the practice squad.

Green was cut in August by the team. He was picked up by San Francisco and promptly ripped the Dolphins for being an "uptight" organization. He was then cut by the 49'ers and was out of the league the rest of the season.

This is clearly not the kind of publicity Green must have expected to come out of 2009.


Many Dolphins fans have been discussing the possibility of having receiver Brandon Marshall come to the Dolphins based on the fact the team needs help at wide receiver and Marshall is a wide receiver who apparently fell out of favor late last season in Denver when he was benched by coach Josh McDaniels.

Marshall is at the Pro Bowl now and working with the AFC team locally at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

Marshall would be a free agent if this offseason were operating under the usual rules, but as there is likely to be no cap, Marshall would not qualify as an unrestricted free agent. So he is in limbo.

I'd like to tell you what Marshall thinks of his situation, but he is perhaps the only player at the Pro Bowl that is refusing to do any media interviews.


The Dolphins got something of a scare this week when the University of Mississippi came calling about talking to quarterback coach David Lee about their offensive coordinator job.

Lee was the offensive coordinator for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt when the two were at the University of Arkansas. Although Lee remains a candidate, he has not interviewed and a television station in Tulsa reported Dave Rader is expected to get the job.

The Clarion-Ledger is reporting Rader hasn't gotten the job quite yet so one must assume anything can happen. I'll keep you updated.


Come back later today as I'll have un update from the Senior Bowl, complete with a scouting report of the top wide receivers at the game from a guest blogger at the game. In the meantime, we'll give you the latest on things Dolphins throughout the day.

January 27, 2010

Sparano: Dolphins undecided about Porter

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano this evening was finally asked directly -- it took a Miami Herald reporter to do it -- about his meeting with linebacker Joey Porter immediately following the end of the season.

And out of that line of questioning we know this: The Dolphins have not made a decision whether to bring Porter back for 2010.

Asked by The Herald's Joseph Goodman if the club has made a decision, Sparano answered: "That has not been decided yet and ... uh ... that's it."

Well, that's interesting.

You see, Porter is signed through the 2011 season. Since Sparano is saying no decision has been made about the coming season, he is admitting there is an internal discussion either going on or about to take place about a signed player's future.

That debate will be complete by the first week of March when the Dolphins must either pay Porter a $1 million roster bonus or cut him loose. The only wiggle room on this is if the Dolphins request and Porter agrees to take a pay cut from his current deal.

If he agrees to a pay cut, the Dolphins may decide to keep Porter because he is, on average, a walking 6-10 sacks a year. That has value. And the 7-9 Dolphins are in no position to simply jettison valuable players.

It is unknown whether Porter might accept a pay cut particularly in light of my report Tuesday about his post-season meeting with Sparano in which he expressed how displeased he was with several aspects of the 2009 season -- including his playing time, his suspension for one game against Tampa Bay, and where he was sometimes asked to play.

Goodman, in Mobile covering the Senior Bowl for The Herald, also asked Sparano about that meeting.

"Any conversation that I had with Joey Porter after the season stays between me and Joey Porter," the coach said. "All my business with my players stays in-house."

Um, too late coach.

A league source tells me Porter's agent, Jeff Sperbeck, and the Dolphins have not (as of this writing) met in Mobile as I reported they'd try to do. I have confirmed the sides spoke over the phone.

Further discussions will be necessary as the March deadline for paying Porter his roster bonus looms. Further significant discussions will be necessary if the Dolphins decide they wish to keep Porter, but only at a much lower salary.

Many of you (and some less experienced football reporters in the media) have jumped to the conclusion that Porter is gone. As I wrote the past two days and am repeating here, that is not necessarily true.

Porter has talked about being somewhere else in 2010 on a radio show in his hometown of Bakersfield, California. He has expressed his displeasure to his coach about 2009. And the Dolphins also have concerns about the player going forward.

But I have presented to you a possible and, indeed, likely scenario of what is about to play out. Ultimately, a player's ability to stay on a team is measured by his contribution weighed against his cost -- in salary, headaches caused, and other things.

Porter isn't likely to stick at the $3.6 million he's scheduled to cost in 2010 and the $4.5 million he's scheduled for in 2011. But at a lower, discounted price? Well, you heard Sparano ...

No decision has been made.

Report from Wed. Pro Bowl practices [Updated]

Want to take a break from Joey Porter saga to tell you what's going on at the Pro Bowl practices I just got back from this afternoon.

As you know, Yeremiah Bell is the only Dolphins player in the game. He said he was on the couch sleeping Sunday night when he got the call that a spot had opened up for him. So he's in, baby! He's the only Dolphins player in the game as offensive tackle Jake Long backed out a couple of weeks ago.

"I was real happy when I got the news and I'm excited to be playing," Bell said.

Bell addressed the Porter issue -- yeah, I'm trying to get away from it, but it's too juicey. Bell said he was not aware of my report that Porter told coach Tony Sparano he's unhappy during a season-ended meeting and went then went on to echo those sentiments on a radio show in his hometown of Bakersfield, California. As I also reported first Porter even talked about wanting to play elsewhere on that radio show.

"I hope he doesn't want to leave," Bell said. "I like having Joey around. I think he does some great things and [he's] a guy that a lot of guys in the locker room want to have on this team. I hope he doesn't go anywhere and I'll be sure to pick up the phone and call him to see what he's talking about."

San Francisco 49'ers tight end Vernon Davis is in this game. And he figures by next year the Pro Bowl is going to be a family affair because he thinks little brother and Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis is a future Pro Bowl player.

"I look forward to playing with him next year. I look forward to finally playing with my little brother because I've never played with him," Davis said. "I think he did a great job this year. To lead the team in interceptions and have some impact games like he did. He made some noise. He'll be here soon."

New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork is in this game. If you read this blog you know how I feel about this man. I believe if the Patriots somehow fall down on the job and do not sign or franchise Wilfork, the Dolphins should back a Brink's truck to Wilfork's lawn and unload all the cash he wants to play for Miami.

As you guys know I talked to Wilfork about this topic three weeks ago when I covered the Patriots' playoffs loss to Baltimore. He told me then that "Florida is home," when I asked if he would consider playing for the Dolphins if he hits free agency.

But the Patriots can obviously tag Wilfork, something he wouldn't be too thrilled about.

"Right now I'm not even thinking about it," he said. "I played my six years and they're up. So what happens is going to happen. I can't control it. But I'd be very disappointed because I worked hard. I gave everything I can give. I expect the same.

"We'll see what happens."

Wilfork was asked if would hold out if he's franchised...

"That's so far from here," he answered. "I'll handle it the appropriate way to handle it and however way I think that is. We'll see. We don't know what they're going to do. We'll see in the next couple of weeks."

The Miami Herald's David J. Neal caught up with deposed Dolphins defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni after the NFC practice. Pasqualoni was fired by the Dolphins on a Tuesday and had a new job within 72 hours as the Cowboys' linebacker coach. The Cowboys are coaching the NFC squad.

Pasqualoni was asked if he was shocked he got fired.

"Well, I think that somebody's got to be accountable, somebody's responsible," Pasqualoni said. "We gave up some plays. At the end of the day, we just gave up too many big plays. I don't know if surprised is the word. As a professional in this league, ever day you go in, you know you're responsible, accountable, in a position of leadership like a coordinator, somebody's got to be responsible. At the end of the day, you're prepared for anything to happen. Shocked? No. Surprised? Maybe."

I agree that someone has to be ultimately responsible. But I'm hoping that responsibility is spread to the entire list of guys that need to take responsibility and that would include some players -- such as Gibril Wilson, Joey Porter, Akin Ayodele, etc ...

[LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE: Kicker Dan Carpenter has been added to the AFC squad. He replaced San Diego's Nate Kaeding, who stepped out because of injury. Carpenter becomes the third Miami kicker -- joining Olindo Mare and Garo Yepremian -- to be named to the Pro Bowl.]

Follow me on twitter.

Joey Porter issue: The analysis and opinion

I learned a lesson in 1993. Having grown up on Dolphins football, I had great admiration for what Don Shula and Dan Marino and Mark Clayton and Mark Duper did in the 1980s.

When I started covering the team in 1990 I had to suppress some of those feelings because now I was interviewing and writing articles about the very men I grew up watching on TV. And dealing with Shula and his band of stars, I came to realize what I saw on TV or had read in the papers wasn't the full picture.

I realized, for example, that Clayton was a supremely gifted, intelligent, pain in the behind. Shula loved what the wide receiver did on many game days, but wasn't thrilled with Clayton on many Mondays through Saturdays.

But despite many trips to Shula's office and many verbal tongue-lashings, Clayton remained on the Dolphins because, well, he produced.

Then in 1991, after posting three 1,000-yard seasons in the the previous four years, Clayton wasn't producing so much anymore. His catches dropped to 44 from 70 the previous year. His yards fell to 619 from 1,053 the year before. And fate of fates, Clayton was also now a free agent.

So you know what Shula did with his star receiver who had done so much and meant so much but was also a pain in the behind and was now on the decline?


No farewell press conference. No ceremonial celebration at the training facility or the stadium. Clayton was just ... gone.

Shula was asked why the Dolphins didn't retain Clayton and all he said was, "He's a free agent and he's free to make whatever decisions he needs to make. And we're free to make whatever decisions we need to make."

That was it. Nobody asked about Clayton again. Shula never talked nostalgically about Clayton while he was coach, that I could recall.

Within months, Shula traded for Irving Fryar, who did get an introductory press conference at the stadium. And Fryar promptly delivered a 1,000-yard, a 1,200-yard, and a 900-yard season the three years he was in Miami.

So why am I telling this story? Well, it relates to another supremely gifted, intelligent, pain in the behind player currently on the Dolphins roster: Joey Porter.

Porter has been interesting his three seasons in Miami. He was a terrible free agent bust in 2007. He was a Defensive Player of the Year Candidate in 2008. And he was somewhere in between in 2009, with the scales tipping slightly closer to '07 than '08.

And throughout that time, he's done some things that have made Dolphins coaches -- both staffs -- gleeful he was around and also unhappy he was around. But, regardless, Porter stayed around because he (mostly) produced on Sundays despite the fact he was sometimes a pain Monday through Saturday.

The problem for Porter is that his pain in the behind factor (PITBF) rose significantly in 2009 while his performance went in the other direction. It wasn't a big problem when Porter refused to come off the field during one game in 2008. Porter was simply fined by Sparano.

But as you read in the previous post, it wasn't cool for the Dolphins when Porter had issues with in 2009 as he was mired in a sack drought. He got suspended for disciplinary reasons. See the difference in the response?

And, as I reported first, Porter became an unhappy camper by season's end and he let coach Tony Sparano know as much in a private meeting.

Porter told Sparano he didn't agree with the suspension in an end-of-season talk. I also reported first that Porter also told a hometown Bakersfield, Califorinia radio station he wasn't coming back to the Dolphins and wanted to play closer to home.

And so now the Dolphins have a decision to make on Joey Porter. 

The current labor situation in the NFL means there probably won't be a salary cap in 2010 so the Dolphins are able to jettison Porter with no sort of cap hit whatever. Yes, they have to pay him $2.4 million in guaranteed money that his contract calls for. But they certainly don't have to give him another $1 million he is due on March 1 as a roster bonus.

And whatever they do will not hurt them against the cap because there will be no cap, as it stands now.

So the next move belongs to the Dolphins. Porter is only along for the ride here. He might do a million interviews and say he wants out or say he wants to stay and it will not matter because the Dolphins have hand over this issue.

So will Miami keep the player that has some talent left but also has a high PITBF? I don't know.

I'm too busy thinking Mark Clayton.

January 26, 2010

A rift between the Dolphins and Porter is mutual

Immediately following the 2009 regular-season, Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter met with coach Tony Sparano and the two discussed the player's season as well as his future with the team.

It was a frank discussion because, as one source close to Porter said, "Joey's no shrinking violet. He says what's on his mind."

No lie. Porter told Sparano he wasn't happy. He said he was not happy with his number of snaps, which were at times limited during the season. He said he wasn't happy about being suspended for the Nov. 15 Tampa Bay game. He said he believed he was playing out of position at times during the season.

Porter, who feeds on emotion and fancies himself a team leader, apparently believed he was limited in his ability to do what he does best because he often found himself on the sideline rather than in the game.

In short, Porter made it clear that he wasn't happy much of 2009.

It was a private meeting, but the extent of Porter's simmering private unhappiness recently boiled over publicly.

Last week, appearing on Romeo in the Morning on Hot 94.1 in Bakersfield, California, Porter's home town, the enigmatic linebacker told the show host that he didn't want to return to the Dolphins in 2010. He repeated the complaints he made to Sparano -- that he wasn't happy with his role, that he wasn't happy about being benched.

And then, according to two listeners who heard the interview and e-mailed me to report what was said, Porter and Romeo discussed what teams Porter would be happy playing for going forward. Porter discussed wanting to play for a team closer to home. The two joked about Porter not going to the Raiders because Romeo is a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. (The Chiefs and Raiders are traditional rivals.)

I reached out to Romeo to get a copy of the show, but he said he couldn't help because he does not archive his show. That's the reason I cannot directly quote what Porter said on the air.

The point is this: We knew the Dolphins weren't thrilled with Porter at times during the season. Obviously he was benched for disciplinary reasons. Team sources also spread the word that Porter might not play at all the remainder of the season following that suspension. That obviously didn't happen, but it seemed to be something that was discussed.

And the fact that Porter was injured much of the season and didn't produce at the level he did in 2008 seemed to raise eyebrows on the team that perhaps he was starting to decline. That all led to the possibility that Porter might not return for 2010.

But now we know the feelings seem mutual.

No, Porter has not offically asked to be traded. No, the rift is not irreparable.

But there are major issues.

Jeff Sperbeck, Porter's California-based agent, is expected to try and meet with the Dolphins in Mobile, Ala., this week. Sperbeck declined to speak to The Herald on this topic. But he is expected to seek clarity about the issues Porter had with the team and those the team had with Porter while he and the Miami staff are at the Senior Bowl conducting business.

The meeting could give both sides a clear indication if the Porter-Dolphins union is headed for a divorce or not. If that divorce is to happen, it will most likely come before March 1 when the Dolphins owe Porter a $1 million roster bonus. Later this offseason, they will owe Porter another $200,000 for a workout bonus.

Porter has $2.4 million guaranteed coming this year from the Dolphins regardless of what happens. Of course, that is a blip on the radar in a year there is likely to be no salary cap. Cutting or trading Porter would have no cap ramifications for the Dolphins if there is no collective bargaining agreement and thus no cap.

The purpose of this post is strictly informational. This is not opinion. I'll give you my opinion on all this plus my analysis of what might happen in my post tomorrow.

Follow me on twitter.

Mountainous Cody too fat for Dolphins?

Sometimes you can tell what the Dolphins are thinking based on some strong philosophical roots Bill Parcells laid down long ago and isn't likely to give up anytime time soon.

We know Parcells doesn't like diva receivers.

We know Parcells doesn't like giving away draft picks.

We know Parcells insists his team lift dead weights, not that Nautilus stuff, in the offseason.

One other thing I have to share with you that is a Parcells non-negotiable. Parcells doesn't like fat guys. Ironic, for obvious reasons, I know. But that's the way it is.

The Big Tuna wants his players fit and strong. He doesn't want them fat, and he definitely doesn't want them sloppy fat. Fat players get hurt more often, aren't conditioned well enough to stay on the field for extended periods, and as a result, aren't as dependable or valuable.

Parcells is so adamant about this he put weight clauses in the contract of practically every big on the roster. A big is a linemen on either side of the ball and sometimes a linebacker or even a fullback and tight end.

Jason Ferguson? He has a weight clause.

Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling. They have weight clauses.

Even Jake Long, who is the leanest 317-pound left tackle I've ever seen, has a weight clause in his contract.

These clauses can cost or make the players between $100,000-$250,000 per season. That's big money but it speaks to how important Parcells believes weight issues to be.

And that brings me to Terrence "Mount" Cody. His name is popular among Dolphins fans because he's a nose tackle and the Dolphins need a young nose tackle to take the baton from starter Jason Ferguson, who is 35 years old and spent much of last season on injured reserve.

Many of you have suggested the Dolphins use their second round pick on Cody. Well, they might get a chance to use a much later pick on the man ... and still might pass based on the fact Cody is, well, fat.

And not just big fat. We're talking dripping french fry grease from his pores fat.

He weighed in at a whopping 370 pounds at the Senior Bowl Monday. He looked so big he might have to expand his nickname from Mount to a full-fledged Mountain Range. The photo in the Mobile Press-Register speaks for itself.Fat Cody But if that isn't enough, consider what NFL Network's Mike Mayock said.

"It hurts," Mayock said of Cody's weight. "And it wasn't even a clean 370."

Indeed, not only isn't it clean, it seems to be a source of concern because Cody has been well over 400 pounds in the past, suggesting he can balloon, and this report from Jan. 5 on Cody's work ethic to keep his weight down says Cody was 355 pounds at the time.

So he's gained 15 pounds in 20-some days?

At a time he's supposed to be rounding, pun intended, into shape as he prepares for the Senior Bowl and the Indianapolis Combine, which are his job interviews?

It bodes poorly for Dolphins fans who might think of Cody as anything other than a project. It bodes poorly for Cody to be in this sort of shape at a time teams like the Dolphins are looking for players to show they've got good discipline and can boast good conditioning.

Follow me on twitter.

January 25, 2010

Please Dolphins, don't bury your heads in sand

INDIANAPOLIS -- Do you believe me now?

For weeks since the regular-season ended for the Dolphins, I've been on the soapbox preaching the need to pass the football in today's NFL. Well, have you noticed the two Super Bowl teams?



The No. 2 passing team in the NFL versus the No. 4 passing team in the NFL.

Oh, but Mando, you have to play great defense and run the ball and wear leather helmets to play for championships.

Um, the Colts had the No. 18-ranked defense in the NFL this year. The Saints had the No. 25-ranked defense this year.The Colts had the worst rushing offense in the NFL. The Saints were ranked sixth overall rushing, which makes them supremely balanced, but let's face it: They're a passing team first and foremost.

[Update: A reader reminds me that for the second consecutive year, the team with the NFL's worst running attack is in the Super Bowl. Last year Arizona made it while ranked 32nd rushing. This year Indianapolis is 32nd rushing.]

One thing to worry about: As I wrote in my column for The Miami Herald print edition, the Jets know their "ground and pound" approach is about to change and that's bad news for the Dolphins. You see, the Jets intend to be more balanced on offense going forward.

"They get a big beast at wide receiver," South Florida's Michael Irvin said on NFL Network, "and you got yourself something going forward." 

And as the Jets are already a better team than Miami (you can't bury your head in the sand, they advanced to the AFC title game) that means the Dolphins can't be happy merely celebrating New York's Sunday loss. They have to improve their own passing game as well.

Sure, the Dolphins need to address the defense this offseason. Sure they will continue to run the football in 2010. But Miami must throw the football better in 2010 to keep from being third-best in a four-team division.

As they were in 2009.   

[Newsy Note: Safety Yeremiah Bell is in the Pro Bowl! A source tells me he will be asked to replace Colts S Antoine Bethea, who obviously will be playing in the Super Bowl.]

January 24, 2010

Don Shula: Jets' tarp accusations are nonsense

INDIANAPOLIS -- As today is the AFC championship game and the New York Jets are playing, there has been a ton of pre-game hype about this game. Part of that hype has included the Jets playoff history (which is short) and particularly their performance in championship games.

A couple of those championship games have connections to Miami. The Jets one and only Super Bowl title came in Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts. The Colts were coached by Don Shula, who went on to coach the Dolphins and is the winningest coach of all time.

Another game Jets fans and media speak much about is the 1983 AFC title game. Dolphins 14, Jets zippo. In typical New York fashion, this loss has been rationalized and blamed on, of all people, Shula. I'm not making this stuff up.

Google "Jets and tarp and Shula" and you'll get a ton of articles, including this one this week in the Newark Star-Ledger, in which an otherwise respected journalist claims Shula ordered the grounds crew at the Orange Bowl not to place the tarp on the field on a day it was raining in Miami in order to give the Dolphins an advantage.

Aside from how stupid that sounds based on the fact it means it was raining on ground the Dolphins as well as the Jets were using, I actually decided to do what journalists used to do, and go to a source on the topic to find out the truth.

"Tha'ts an insult to my intelligence," Shula told me moments ago when I asked if he ordered the tarp in the Orange Bowl not to be used on the field. "If there was ever a coach that wanted to play a game on a fast track, I was that guy. I've heard of the Jets accusing us of not putting the tarp on the field or some nonsense like that but it's ridiculous.

"I did a radio show where they asked me about that and one of the hosts was obviously a Jets fan and he said I did that. I told him, 'You've got to be stupid to think I would something like that.' I like playing a game in the best possible conditions. It's the truer test for both teams."

Well, that settles that. Shula isn't re-writing history here. He's got no agenda because his reputation has already been written, both good and bad.

And he recognizes that on the bad side of the ledger is that fateful Super Bowl III that, as he says, "was the Joe Namath guarantee game."

That was New York's one and only NFL championship. And it set the stage for Shula coming to Miami.

"That game had a big impact on my career because after we lost, my relationship with the owner was never the same," Shula said. "Carroll Rosenbloom was the owner than and he'd get on the phone and take a lot of heat from his New York buddies for losing the game and then he'd get on the phone and pass the heat on to me.

"I lasted another year in Baltimore after that, but it was never the same between us. It's the main reason I ended up in Miami."

Shula said he'll be watching the both title games today, including the AFC game between the Jets and Colts.

"What the Jets have done is pretty amazing with a rookie quarterback and to come the way they've come," Shula said. "Mike Westhoff is a is friend of mine and I'm happy for him. And I'm happy for Brian Schottenheimer because he's Marty's son and Marty Schottenheimer is a close friend of mine."

So Shula likes some of the folks on the Jets.

But ...

"They're going against one of the best guys to play the game and there's not a lot they can do about that," Shula said. "I would never pick against Peyton Manning. It's unbelievable what he does. Whatever the situation is in the game, you never feel like you're safe if Manning is the other quarterback. He's one of the best of all time and when he's done he'll probably have all the records.

"You can't pick against him."

And Shula doesn't. He's picking the Colts.

[BLOG NOTE: Yup, we'll have a live blog in the comments section during the AFC title game. Go there, discuss the action with fellow Dolfans and others, and enjoy a big afternoon of football.]

January 22, 2010

Which is the greater priority: OLB or ILB?

When the 2009 season ended for the Dolphins, the team obviously had issues on defense that still need addressing.

As I explained to you a couple of days ago, the linebacker corps was one of those issues. But the question is where is the bigger problem -- with the inside linebackers or outside linebackers?

Yesterday you saw Mel Kiper vote ILB as his first mock draft of the offseason had the Dolphins taking Rolando McClain of Alabama -- a tackling savant that will be an inside backer tackling machine in the NFL.

Well, lesser known Bucky Brooks of NFL.com comes back and votes OLB as Miami's bigger issue. In his first mock draft of 2010, he's got the the Dolphins taking Texas OLB Sergio Kindle at No. 12 in the first round.

One reason Brooks has the Dolphins taking Kindle might be he also has Denver taking McClain one pick before Miami. In that regard, Brooks apparently agrees with what I wrote yesterday about the Broncos. You see, Kiper had Denver taking Dez Bryant at No. 11, but I think that's not the direction they will go because you can still find good WR help later in the draft, and Bryant has been away from the game for much of a year as he served an NCAA suspension. 

It would be interesting to know what Brooks thinks the Dolphins would do if both McClain and Kindle are on the board for Miami. Stop dreaming! But in his scenario, he sees Miami's OLB corps as needing urgent care.

"Joey Porter and Jason Taylor are at the end of their careers," Brooks writes. "so finding an athletic edge rusher is paramount."

Brooks obviously believes Cameron Wake doesn't fill that paramount need and I don't think any of us think Charlie Anderson is the answer, either.

If you've read this blog every day (it's good for your soul) you already understand how the Dolphins break down how they go about filling out their roster. As I've told you several times in the past, they have three primary categories: Wants, Needs, Must haves.

The Must haves is the priority category. It is the category that must be filled.

The Needs is the second most important. This category is what the team needs but can extend out if lesser players are on board.

The Wants is the luxury category. The Dolphins want a running back that will be ready to step in when Ricky Williams retires and Ronnie Brown is out of contract. But the team can probably survive 2010 if it doesn't address that want.

It is clear inside linebackers and outside linebackers fall either in the Needs or Must haves. No one not named Big Tuna Bill Parcells and Tuna Helper Jeff Ireland knows which position has risen to the priority category. Even they might not know because free agency might play a role in affecting this stuff.

You can argue the Dolphins have bodies at ILB with Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele. Sure, Ayodele didn't play well in 2010 and Crowder is often injured. So the team needs to address the position. But will things fall to pieces if Crowder and Ayodele are the starters again in 2010?

You tell me. The Dolphins will tell us.

At OLB, meanwhile, neither Jason Taylor nor Joey Porter might be coming back in 2010. I know both of them won't be back. That was a disaster last season. So the Dolphins need to add a body here to go with Wake and Anderson and Quentin Moses. But is this position a Must have?

You tell me. The Dolphins will eventually tell us.

Discuss ...  

January 21, 2010

An opportunity to agree with Mel Kiper

There was seemingly no amount of emnity left unused by Dolphins fans for Mel Kiper when the ESPN draft guru said and insisted the Dolphins made a mistake in picking Jake Long over Matt Ryan in 2008.

So if you are a Kiper hater, you are officially excused if you -- because this post is about the loquacious man with the helmet hair.

Kiper published his first mock draft of 2010 on Wednesday and, drum roll please, he's got Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain going to the Fins at No. 12 in the first round

"A potential home run for Miami, a team that needs an inside linebacker and could get the best one in the whole draft after the top 10," Kiper writes. "The Dolphins also could go after Dez Bryant if he were to fall to them here, because they also must address WR."

Yeah Mel, they also must address NT and OLB and maybe FS. They also will need to find help at TE and maybe RB, but that might come later in the draft.

Kiper has Bryant going to the Denver Broncos at No. 11 and rationalizes their need because he believes Brandon Marshall will be traded and the team will see the need as being too important. I happen to disagree with Kiper on this.

He forgets that Marshall was not a first round pick and neither was Eddie Royal and expert personnel departments can these days identify outstanding receivers in the second and third rounds. They call them value picks. So I wouldn't be surprised if the Broncos do not pick Bryant so high.

I also wouldn't be surprised if the Broncos do pick C.J. Spiller of Clemson because he's as much a home run threat as Bryant -- albeit in a different way -- and his intangibles and character blows Bryant out of the water.

I'm told the Dolphins are similarly impressed by Spiller and Bill Parcells especially likes him because he played a whopping 52 games in college and is quick as a lightning bolt.

I would submit to you that faced with having both McClain and Spiller on the board when they pick, the Dolphins (Parcells) would likely go with the elite defender at a position of need over the elite offensive playmaker that seems more like a luxury.

But that's just a guess based on The Big Tuna's history. He hasn't called lately to give me his draft strategy.

Meanwhile, has Dolphins' nation finally found common ground with Mel Kiper?

January 20, 2010

A quickie tutorial on the final league year

The NFL and the players union is hunkering down for an interesting offseason. Unless the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is extended or a new one reached in the next couple of months, 2010 will be the final year of the current CBA.

The current agreement actually calls 2010, "The Final League Year," which sounds like something out of a disaster film, with stadiums crashing to the ground, team uniforms burning, and people gathering in churches to pray for the disaster to end.

So why should you care about CBAs, their negotiations and so forth?

Because it affects the Dolphins' -- and every team's ability -- to add or lose players this offseason. As March 2011 is scheduled to end the collective bargaining agreement, rules change for 2010. The NFL today sent out the following quick tutorial on the coming crisis offseason and what it all means.

The questions and answers are self-explanatory. If you have other questions, leave them in the comments section and I'll try to answer.

Q: When does the CBA expire should there be no extension to the agreement?

A: In March of 2011.

Q: Will there be a college draft in 2011?

A: Yes.

Q: What is the "Final League Year" in the current agreement?

A: The "Final League Year" is the term used in the CBA to refer to the last year of the agreement. Without a further extension of the CBA, the “Final League Year” would be the 2010 League Year, which begins on March 5.

Q: What are the differences between the "Final League Year" and any other "0League Year?"

A:The principal differences are that in the "Final League Year" there is no salary cap and there are substantial additional restrictions on player free agency and reductions in player benefits.

Q: Are current player benefits affected in the Final League Year?

A: We expect current player benefits to decline in the Final League Year. The union agreed that in the Final League Year, clubs would be relieved of their obligation to fund numerous benefit programs. Examples include second career savings (401K), player annuity, severance pay and performance-based pay. The total league-wide contributions to such plans in 2009, the last capped year, were in excess of $325 million or more than $10 million per club.

Q: Are retired player benefits affected in the Final League Year?

A: Commissioner Goodell has stated in a letter to the NFL Alumni Association Board of Directors that there will be no reduction in pension or disability payments to retired players during the Final League Year (2010). Since at least the fall of 2007, NFL owners have consistently agreed and planned that they will not reduce the funding for pension or disability benefits for retired players. Nor will they reduce funding for the 88 Plan during the Final League Year.

Q: What determines an unrestricted free agent in the Final League Year (2010)?

A: In capped seasons, a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent if he has four or more accrued seasons. In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent only if he has six or more accrued seasons. An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club.

Q: What determines whether a player is a restricted free agent in the "Final League Year?"

In capped seasons, a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three accrued seasons. In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four or five accrued seasons. The first refusal/compensation rights of restricted free agents remain unchanged in the Final League Year.

Q: In addition to the right to designate a franchise (or transition) player each capped year, can clubs designate additional players in the Final League Year?

A: Yes, one additional player can be tagged. In capped years, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player. In the final league year (2010), a club may designate one additional transition player. A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.

Q: What is the Final Eight Plan?

A: During the Final League Year, the eight clubs that make the Divisional Playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs. In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.

For the four clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign free agents based on the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters. Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5.5 million (estimated) or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases.

In the case of all final eight teams, the first year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per year increases.

Q: Is there an Entering Player Pool (Rookie Pool) in the Final League Year?

A: There may be. The CBA provides that the league has the unilateral right to keep or eliminate the rookie pool in the Final League Year.

Q: Is there a Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year?

A: There is no Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year. The Minimum Team Salary in 2009 is $107,748,000, meaning each team is required to allocate more than $107 million to player costs (not including benefits). The team salary cap in 2009 was $123 million.

Q: Are there individual player minimum salaries in the Final League Year?

A: Yes, but they rise at a rate somewhat slower than player minimum salaries rise in capped years.

Q: Do any player contract rules from capped years remain in place for the Final League Year?

A: Yes, some rules like the “30% increase rule” are still in effect in the Final League Year for player contracts signed in capped years. That rule restricts salary increases from 2009 to 2010. For example: a player with a $500,000 salary in 2009 would be limited to annual salary increases of $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%) beginning in 2010.

Dolphins OLB coaching job is still open

The Dolphins obviously believe they had a great day on Tuesday. They filled their inside linebacker coaching job and they made what seems like a widely popular hire of Mike Nolan as the new defensive coordinator.

Great job by them, it seems.

But work time is not over.

You see, I attended South Florida public schools and I know that if the Dolphins lost three assistants when the season ended and have hired two assistants since then, they are running a one assistant deficit. The Dolphins still apparently need to hire an outside linebacker coach.

I suppose it's possible Nolan can coach the outside linebackers as well as coordinator, but I don't see that happening. The carefully worded press release from the team -- no, this team doesn't do press conferences -- specified Nolan is the defensive coordinator, not the DC and outside linebacker coach.

And Bill Sheridan's brief press release called him the ILB coach.

So the coaching search must continue.

And rather than get into the speculative list of men who might fill the job, I wish to take this post a different direction. I wish to explain that the OLB coach job is seriously, unquestionably important. That's because the OLB in the 3-4 defense must be the most dominant player on the defense.

You need the 3-4 OLB to pressure the QB, bring sacks and strip sacks, cover, hold the edge against the running game, and maybe deliver a touchdown or two each year. If you're going to have a Defensive Player of the Year, the OLB in the 3-4 defense is often the position that dude mans.

Well, the Dolphins got the TD from Jason Taylor in 2009. But the results from the group was otherwise hit-and-miss.

Cameron Wake, who came to the Dolphins with obvious pass-rushing talents, took more than a quarter of the season to earn a pass-rush niche on the team. And he never, really convinced the coaching staff that he could both cover and defend the run.

Taylor, brought in to be a designated rusher, was pushed to full-time duty through October and then, curiously, he was coming off the field on many passing downs. His sack total understandibly stagnated.

Joey Porter, injured on and off part of the year, seemed to age before our very eyes. He still led the team in sacks with nine. But anyone with eyes saw he was a shadow of the player he was in 2008.

Matt Roth? Terrible with the Dolphins. Great with the Browns. An enigma wrapped in a riddle shrouded in mystery. Something went wrong in Roth's head but no way his position coach maximized this player in the four games he played and contributed four tackles.

Charlie Anderson? Role player who counted $2.58 million against the cap in 2009. Worth it?

Quentin Moses was a backup when the year began and was pretty much that when the year ended.

So which player did the Miami OLB coach develop? Which player did the Miami OLB coach milk for everything the player had? You tell me, because I didn't see it.

And the outside linebacker spot will continue to be a source of curiousity in 2010. We don't know if Taylor will be back. We don't know if the Dolphins want Porter back -- although signs point that they do not. We don't know if Wake can develop into a three-down player.

The position that is supposed to be where one of the defense's dominant players thrive is a source of uncertainty in 2010. And so the Dolphins must find the right coach to help answer some of the questions.

Nope, the coaching search is definitely not quite done.

January 19, 2010

Nolan is on board as the defensive coordinator

Mike Nolan, 50, is the Miami Dolphins new defensive coordinator, a source tells The Miami Herald.

We are searching for a second source, but I'm obviously confident enough in this to post it here.

Nolan takes over a defense that yielded 390 points in 2009, tied for the seventh-highest mark in the NFL. He succeeds Paul Pasqualoni, who was fired one week after the season ended.

The one and, really, the only question whether Nolan would land in Miami or not was his meeting with head coach Tony Sparano and how the two would get along. I'm told by a source that Nolan wanted to feel a comfort level with his new boss.

He apparently didn't feel that in Denver with Josh McDaniels. Although both wanted to run a 3-4 defense and both were agreed initially how to do that, as the season wore on, the two young men sort of grated on each other, I'm told by a source close to Nolan.

Thus Nolan and McDaniels agreed to part ways when other opportunities presented themselves for each.

Obviously, since Sparano offered the job and Nolan accepted, the two men believe they are on the same page.

Nolan helped the Broncos trim 7.8 points a game off a defense that surrendered 28 points a game in 2008. After getting fired as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2008, Nolan tried his hand in broadcasting but found himself wanting to return to coaching.

Nolan did much of his work with Dolphins castoffs. He took Andre' Goodman, Renaldo Hill and added Brian Dawkins to form a solid secondary along with anchor Champ Bailey.

Although the details still have to be worked out, Nolan is expected to be with the Dolphins staff in Mobile, Ala. next week when they coach in the Senior Bowl.