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65 posts from March 2012

March 30, 2012

Dolphins at Osweiler pro day PLUS private workout coming

I'm not a big Brock Osweiler proponent. He reminds me of Dan McGwire who was a good college quarterback but never made it in the pros. I guess you can understand the comparison because Osweiler, at 6-foot-7 and 242 pounds, is built like McGwire.

The Dolphins, however, are doing their homework and that work includes the former Arizona State quarterback. Nothing against the kid, but I don't like his mechanics, I don't necessarily love his mobility and his accuracy is inconsistent.

Oswelier has been addressing his mechanics since the end of the college season.

"It's more over-the-top now," Osweiler said of a revamped throwing motion. "I was kind of always dragging my elbow when I was playing here at ASU, and we really wanted to utilize my full 6-7 frame, or whatever it is, and make sure the arm and delivery is over-the-top."

Osweiler, who seems like a third-round talent to me, will go on multiple private workouts for several NFL franchises including the Dolphins.

"I'm meeting with the Chiefs and the Broncos next week and I'm taking trips to Miami and Buffalo and a few other places," he said.

During his workout today -- attended by Dolphins brass, including general manager Jeff Ireland -- Osweiler competed 66 of 75 passes with seven overthrows and one dropped pass, according to ASUDevils.com.

March 29, 2012

Tannehill pro day under way (Dolphins in the house)

Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill's pro day is proceeding before a large contingent in College Station, Tex.

The Dolphins are there with general manager Jeff Ireland and coach Joe Philbin confirmed. I do not know if offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is there. I will try to confirm. [Update: Sherman is not in College Station.]

Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports the Dolphins contingent had dinner with Tannehill on Wednesday night. They forced him to pay.

Nah, just kidding. I'm assuming the Dolphins paid.

According to Josina Anderson of ESPN, there are 21 teams present for the event. The Cleveland Browns are there, represented by offensive coordinator Brad Childress among others. It is interesting perhaps only to me that the Browns' major voices -- general manager Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur were not present. They were at Alabama's pro day to see running back Trent Richardson.

The Broncos, Chiefs, Bills, Saints and Seahawks are there, with head coach Pete Carroll representing his team.

Because he suffered a broken foot this offseason, scouts wanted to see Tannehill run to make sure he is relatively healed. According to reports, Tannehill ran the 40-yard dash once and clocked (hand timing) between 4.59 and 4.62.

Tannehill completed his first 24 consecutive throws, according to NFLDraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler. He had a pass dropped then he had another pass dropped on his 42nd throw. He finished the workout with 65 completions  -- 65 for 68 with two dropped passes.

Yes, quarterbacks typically ace their pro day workouts. I get it. But it is always better that they perform well than if they chuck a hot mess of poo. So give the guy that.

I remind you Tannehill, who started 19 games at quarterback, was a wide receiver before was moved to QB. He will go in the first round as a QB. He said after the workout he has private workouts already set up with the Browns, Chiefs, and Eagles.

Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland in full effect

I apologize that I did not post this earlier this week because covering the NFL annual meeting and writing this column for the print edition of The Miami Herald  and this other column for the print edition of The Miami Herald made me lose focus. I apologize.

Allow me to recover:

Ross and Ireland made themselves available to the media this week. Here is everything they said in full effect:

Stephen Ross Opening Statement: “Good afternoon. A beautiful day. I thank you guys for coming and giving us this opportunity to talk to you and talk to our fans which I think is very important. It’s been great to know and I think we’ve all seen it in the last week or two how passionate our fans are. I think that’s the good news and the bad news. I think it’s great they are passionate. We have great fans in South Florida and we all have one thing in common, we all want to see a winning football team. I guess everybody has ideas how do you get there but I’m very excited the way things are going on. We’ve had a lot of changes as you know. We have a new football coach. I think he once said, I’ve been speaking to him…he said you know, I thought it’d be great here but it’s even better than I thought it would be. I’m really enjoying being here and I think he’s very excited about what he’s doing and the direction he feels he can take this team and the great energy he’s really brought to our whole organization. We’ve also made some changes in the business side and Mike Dee is doing a great job from that standpoint. I think we probably have the best organization that the Dolphins have had in a long time. So I’m very excited about that. It also gives us a great chance to really engage in our fans. The time is right so I’m open to any questions and Mike (Dee) and Jeff (Ireland) are here and they can chime in.”

(On how he addresses the concern that the fan believe the organization is in disarray) – “I don’t think all the fans feel that way. I think there probably hasn’t been enough communication with them. We’re going to engage in that a lot more. I feel that with the changes we’ve had, I mean if people look at it today and they say hey, you haven’t gone out and gotten major free agents that maybe people thought you might have had. We look it at we’re in the process. Free agency has a period to run. I don’t know if there are a lot of major names out there but there’s the draft. There’s a whole plan that we have set forth. Some things go well; some things don’t go as you would have like them to go. I think you know what I’m referring to from that standpoint with regard to Peyton Manning. We’re looking to really take this football team to a different level.”

(On what Brandon Marshall did to concern him to not be on the team) – “That’s history. We want to go on. We wish him the best. That’s really behind us. It was a trade. He wasn’t cut and we think we got fair value. We think the football team is better for it.”

(On the decision to call the fan) – “I’m a passionate fan as they are. And when you really realize someone’s passionate enough they are going to go out and protest that’s the kind of person I want to talk to. I asked Mike (Dee) to find out who the fans were, who I could talk to somebody who’s that passionate.”

(On if he thinks this team is a playoff team or rebuilding) – “We think we have a fine nucleus. I think we’re excited about where we’re going. Rome wasn’t built in a day. When I came in here how poor the team was performing I think it’s done better. We were all very disappointed…I was like everybody else with the start we had last year. You saw what happen; you see the nucleus of this team. They continue to fight and I think they surprised everybody. I don’t think anybody’s ever had a turn around the last part of the season with a miserable start that they had. I think it tells a lot about the team and the personnel that we have. I think certainly we know where there are some weaknesses. We are looking at that. We look to really correct that.”

(On Coach Philbin in his tenure thus far) – “He’s much better than I even thought. I was excited about him. I wanted a coach that really came from a winning organization. The energy he’s brought to that, the staff that he’s assembled and the plan that he has, I think you’re going to see a lot more energy from this organization. I think you’re going to like the offense that he has. We all talked about offense. Everybody was always asking me do I want to open it up a little bit. I think we got the guy who really put together the best offense in the NFL. I think it’s very exciting. I think we’re going to see an exciting brand of football. We certainly have pieces we need to put together.”

(On how concerned he is with the perception of his franchise right now) – “You always want to be concerned. You listen to it. That’s why I really want to engage the fans. That’s why I made the phone calls. I think it’s unfair but look winning really resolves all issues. It’s like we haven’t lost anything. We all knew where we were at the end of the season. We’ve made some major changes and we’ll continue to look to upgrade the team anyway we can.”

(On the heat his General Manager has taken) – “I think it’s unfair. I don’t like it. I don’t think Jeff (Ireland) likes it. I think it’s unfair. I think the ideas were the fact that we didn’t get Peyton Manning. I think the fact that we are right in the middle of the process. It’s an unfinished product and I think to judge him at this point in time is not the right thing to do by anybody.”

(On if he reached out to more than one fan or just the one fan so far) - “I spoke to two fans.”

(On his decision to change Tony Sparano and retain Jeff Ireland) - “I mean if you look at his past. I think he’s done a great job with the draft. He’s a great talent evaluator. He is somebody who is as hard working as anybody I’ve ever met. He’s as smart as they come with the football side. And I think the idea is what are you judging him on. I think that the team is certainly not the same team that it was when he started here. It’s a lot better. When people feel that you should be there, that’s when the greatest frustration always is. I think we’re a lot closer and you got to get the brakes but you play the game to win. I mean, I’m interested in winning football games.”

(On how to excite the fans and getting a franchise quarterback) - “Well we’re going to keep looking certainly for upgrading that. I’m very excited about Matt Moore. We got so many people that really liked what Matt Moore did last year and I think as he got more experience the team got better. That’s a good place to start with and if we could continue that, that’d be great. There’s a lot of good personnel on that team.”

(On if there a miscalculation on the interest level that Peyton Manning would have in the Dolphins) - “I felt like a lot of people, I met with his father earlier in December. We spoke about it. He loves South Florida. I think it came down to he wanted be placed where he didn’t know anybody in our house. He wanted to be comfortable. He’d been at two teams his whole life and I think he judged it based on the fact where he would feel most comfortable where he had familiar faces around him. Because that’s what he was used to. But you know we gave it a big effort. He was the only franchise quarterback out there that we saw and what he could do for that team. Look it.. I went after him. If I didn’t go after him I wouldn’t be interested in really winning. I want to win today not tomorrow. It didn’t happen.”

(On how much he has learned in the last three years about being an NFL owner) - “It’s a real experience. I’ve had more owners come up to me and say hey, I didn’t know what was going on for four or five years once you step in there. This is a different business. You can succeed in business. It’s a lot easier to do that then it is, and it’s not that easy to do that in these times, but it’s difficult to really win. You know what players you want but that doesn’t mean you can get them. And there are a lot of things that are just out of your control. We’re all competitive as hell and I haven’t lost in many things and I’m not planning on losing here.”

Jeff Ireland:

(On if he should not have been as powerful in saying he was going to address the quarterback situation) - “I don’t have any second thoughts on trying to address the quarterback position. I made it very clear that quarterback position needs to play better for us to have the ultimate success. I think we have addressed the quarterback position. There was in our estimation, there was one franchise quarterback out there that became available. We took a shot at him. We didn’t sit on the sideline hoping and wishing. We went after him. We didn’t achieve that goal. Other than that I think a lot is to be said about Matt Moore and what he was able to accomplish last year with limited, no OTA’s, limited training, limited knowledge of the offseason. He finished us 6-9. I have a great respect. I have a lot of confidence in Matt Moore. The second part of the plan if we didn’t achieve the Peyton Manning aspect was to provide a competitive atmosphere at the quarterback position to raise the play of the quarterback position. We felt like we’ve done that. We weren’t going to be reckless and go after players that we didn’t definitively think can beat out Matt Moore. We weren’t going to do that. We want to provide competitive environment at the quarterback position to raise the game of either Matt Moore or the competitor and we feel like we’ve done that with a seasoned veteran. A guy that’s been started a lot of games in this profession. I feel like he’s got a lot left. So we feel good where we are at the quarterback position at this time.”

(On the scrutiny that’s been coming his way) - “Comes with the job. It’s not my first time to have a little adversity. I think adversity is the companion of a champion or the enemy of the weak. So I believe in that. With responsibility becomes visibility and you know like Steve (Ross) said we have some passionate fans, as passionate as any place I’ve ever been. They have a right to voice their opinion and we’ve got to do a better job of communicating with our fans and making sure that we’re a little bit more transparent of what we’re trying to get accomplished. Steve’s made that point as well and we’re going to try to do that. But at the end of the game it’s about finding football players and winning games. And right now we’re in the finding football process and five months from now we’ll be winning, hopefully winning games.”

(On the final plan) - “Well I am not going to get into exactly what the plans are, we’re right in the middle of free agency. We’re trying to prepare for the draft fellas. And we’re trying to attack our musts. I think we did a pretty good job of retaining Paul Soliai which was a must. Keeping the inside front for the most part intact. We felt like upgrading the secondary was a position of need for us, the cornerback position. So we addressed that need. We’re going to continue to attacking our musts whether it be from a depth perception. We needed depth at the offensive line. We needed some more special teams players. So we’re addressing some of those. Maybe not all musts. There’s several needs and wants but we’re keeping our philosophy intact and that’s going after value in free agency and continuing to build through the draft.”

Stephen Ross:

(On Tim Tebow becoming available and if he considered bringing him here) - “We’ll I talked to the coach. He didn’t really fit our system and you’re not going to bring someone in just to sell seats. Therefore we kind of dismissed that early on because the coach has an idea where he wants to take this team and how it’s going to perform and you get players who can really fit in that system and Tim Tebow didn’t fit in that system.”

(On extending players’ contracts) - “Let me tell you, money will never be an issue for us becoming a winning football team that I can tell you right now. We have to live with the limitations of the salary cap as all teams do. Sometimes, you lose players. You have to put your money where you really think it’s going to make the biggest impact. But I think we have a lot of players expiring and we got to make sure we don’t make stupid mistakes by signing players with big names, with big salary bonuses that are really going to impact the cap. So you have to take that into consideration. The one thing I’ve learned in response to your question is this is one hell of a complex business. I got to tell you (laughing). Trying to figure out how you’re going to do things and maneuver things around within this system. And I think that’s very important and certainly those players that we know that are coming up we all know we want to retain them. We have to make sure we’re in a position to do that.”

Jeff Ireland:

(On having a capable right guard and right tackle starters now on the roster) - “Well, like I said, we added some depth with Artis Hicks. I think he’s started somewhere along the line of 70 games in his career. He’s certainly something we needed to address more depth at the tackle position. We got John Jerry returning. We got Nate Gardner returning. We got Ryan Cook returning. We got some other young players there that have some upside so we feel fairly good at that position. But we’re going to continue to address the offensive line needs. That’s one must that we’re going to continue to do.”

Stephen Ross:

“One of the great things when we were interviewing with Coach (Joe) Philbin was his emphasize on developing players and teaching technique and I think this is important. I think you’re going to see these players develop better than they have been in the past. I really have a lot faith in his ability and his belief that we have a good nucleus that he can develop to be a winning football team.”

(On Coach Joe Philbin’s development of players impact not signing big name free agents) - “Absolutely, it’s always better to do that. I think if at examples that we all look at clearly after evaluating him with what Green Bay has done. We should only get there. Question is; it starts this year. It’s great, but certainly it’s the best way to go. The best teams are really built through the draft. We want consistency here. I don’t want to come in one year and say hey we won it and back being below a .500 team. I want to be in the playoffs every year. I want to be in the hunt and you’re going to do that with consistency. You’re going to do that in the draft. You’re going to do that by being smart and having the right people there. I think we’re building a nucleus of that.”

(On not getting your first option as far as coaches and players) - “You know what, I’ll do it again and again. I’m going to be bold and you know what you don’t lose for trying. And if I could find the right guy, I’m going to be bold and getting him. I can’t worry about losing because nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Jeff Ireland:

(On not trading up for the #2 pick in the draft, were you in the conversation) - “We had early conversations with them. I don’t want to get into depth of what we were willing to give up to obtain that pick. We had some early conversations with them, yeah.”

Stephen Ross:

(On Cleveland willing to match that amount) - “I don’t want to say that what we did because we didn’t.”

Jeff Ireland:

(On talking about the Washington Redskin trading up for the #2 draft pick) -“That’s up to them. That’s the Washington Redskins and we’re the Miami Dolphins. And we got to conduct business the way we feel that’s right way to do business.”

Stephen Ross:

(On players comments about the Miami Dolphins) - “I know one player that did that. You’re always going to find somebody that’s going to say something for whatever reason. Players might say that because they were dropped. They didn’t make the team. Other players came here and we didn’t meet their salary demands. People always want to say something because they like being in the spotlight often times. I know one thing, this is probably the best place in the NFL to play football and it will never stop us from getting another player in this organization. Players will want to play for this organization. The reputation that Coach (Joe) Philbin has and what he’s going to attract here and what we’re doing. I wouldn’t go with what one or two people might say.”

A Statement to the fans from Stephen Ross

“I would just want to thank the really good fans. We’re going to be engaging with you a lot more the fans. I think you’re going to see a different organization. You saw what we did here when we visited newspapers. We’re going to be a lot more responsive and I think you’re going to see that in the future.”

March 28, 2012

Would Dolphins trade up for Tannehill?

Talk around the hallways of the Breakers Hotel during the NFL annual meeting this week included whispers of the Cleveland Browns wanting to trade down from their perch at No. 4 in the coming NFL draft. That talk was confirmed when Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert, a former Dolphins personnel man, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer he would consider trading down.

"We're not trading up, I guarantee that," Heckert said. "There's going to be five guys that we really like and we're going to get a really good player at number four. But we could still get a really good player at five, six, seven, eight too."

You must note that Heckert included No. 8. That is the position the Dolphins currently hold and the one where Miami may feel a need to improve upon. The thinking among some league people is that Miami is desperate to draft a quarterback and Ryan Tannehill will be the target.

And rather than wait to pick the Texas A&M player at No. 8, there is a possibility the Dolphins might show some desperation and trade up to get him. Thus, Heckert could be setting the Dolphins up for that deal by talking it up.

Here's the problem: Few people believe Tannehill is a value at No. 8, much less one at No. 4. So the Dolphins, who have so far refused to overpay for a handful of quarterbacks under general manager Jeff Ireland, would be positioning themselves to overpay for Tannehill.

Now, overpay is a relative term. The Dolphins might believe Washington giving up three first-round picks plus other considerations for Robert Griffin III is overpaying. I think it's a great move. GREAT! If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know I love RG3 and think that was the move the Dolphins needed to make instead of chasing Peyton Manning.

But perhaps the Dolphins have a great feel about Tannehill considering offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was Tannehill's head coach at A&M. Maybe they know something. So maybe they really, really want to make sure they get the player.

I suppose the Dolphins would have to consider getting to No. 4 to ensure their ability to get their guy. Maybe that's the case, but I definitely hope and pray they stand their ground and stay at No. 8.

The truth is the Browns are really the only team ahead of Miami that might take him. Indianapolis is taking Andrew Luck at No. 1. Washington is taking RG3 at No. 2. Minnesota isn't taking a QB there because they drafted Christian Ponder last year in the first round. Tampa Bay at No. 5 doesn't need a QB. Neither does St. Louis at No. 6 -- proven by the fact they passed on a chance for RG3. And I am certain the Jaguars are commited to Blaine Gabbert this year so they're not drafting Tannehill at No. 7.

That only leaves Cleveland as a possibility for Tannehill. And the Browns are willing to drop. Heckert is bluffing the Dolphins, people. I think it will be interesting to see if Heckert and a large Cleveland contingent are at Tannehill's Pro Day Thursday.

Usually that would signal a significant interest by a team in a player. I would expect that's exactly what the Browns would like to show they have in Tannehill to make Miami nervous.

Don't be nervous, Miami -- at least not about Cleveland.

Now the Dolphins might be concerned teams behind them might want to trade up to take Tannehill. The Chiefs at No. 11 need a quarterback and might want to pull ahead of Miami for a chance at Tannehill. That seems to be the only team likely to threaten Miami in this scenario.

So are St. Louis, Tampa or Jacksonville willing to drop back to 11? I guess it depends on their board and the compensation offered. I find it hard to believe KC GM Scott Pioli would pay too much for the chance to move up four to six spots to take Tannehill.

And why do I say this? I guess it boils down to the player not the move. Frankly, I don't see Tannehill as a top 10 player. I think he might go that high. But I think the reason would be because he's a quarterback, the NFL is a QB league, and somebody might be desperate enough to overdraft him.

I just hope that as far as flying up to No. 4 overall, it's not the Dolphins.

Philbin hires former Bucs personal assistant

The man at Joe Phiblin's side most of the past few days at the NFL annual meetings? No, not general manager Jeff Ireland. Not owner Stephen Ross, either.

His name is Jayson Kaiser.

He is the Miami head coach's new personal assistant. Kaiser was recently hired by the Dolphins apparently to help Philbin with the day to day activities of being an NFL head coach. This isn't a new idea. Although Don Shula, Dave Wannstedt, Jimmy Johnson, and Tony Sparano didn't have personal assistants, Cam Cameron and Nick Saban did.

Kaiser, 38, served previously as personal assistant to since-fired Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris. According to the Bucs website, Kaiser's job was to manage "several elements of Morris’s off-field agenda, including the day-to-day agenda, player and staff communications and the football calendar, including the offseason programs, mini-camps and training camp.” 

It is believed Kaiser will fill a similar role in Miami. Kaiser also reportedly served as something of a driver for Morris in Tampa. The coach apparently used Kaiser to take him from social function to social function. This became a problem in Tampa when the coach's designated driver was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol last April.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, police said Jayson Kaiser, 37, was driving on N Dale Mabry Highway with the lights off in a white 2006 Hyundai when an officer pulled him over near W Osborne Avenue and noted his speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, and he smelled of alcohol. Kaiser was arrested shortly after midnight. He denied drinking and refused to perform any field sobriety tests or take a Breathalyzer test, police said.

Kaiser, also known as Jay, was released from jail after posting bail of $500. The car was impounded after he was arrested. Morris was not with Kaiser at the time of his arrest.

A Dolphins spokesman told me Tuesday the Dolphins are aware of Kaiser's history, including the arrest. Kaiser apparently has been forthright with the team about it and neither the club nor Philbin apparently had a problem with it.

One thing is certain, I'm told: Kaiser will not be serving as Philbin's driver. And he will not be taking him from, ahem, social function to social function. 

Parcells would have served Miami better as coach

In the middle of last season's seven-game losing streak, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross talked often of what he wanted to do with his football team going forward but occasionally allowed himself to ponder what might have been. And one of the things he wishes might have been revolved around Bill Parcells.

Ross told friends he thought the contract Wayne Huizenga gave Parcells was ridiculous. Ross inherited a dea that allowed Parcells to walk away from the team before his four-year term was complete and still collect the full promised salary of the deal -- somewhere between $12-$16 million.

Secondly, Ross told friends he wished he could have kept Parcells ... as his coach.

"He coaches this team, we'd be in a different situation," Ross told his associates. "We wouldn't be 0-5 [at the time]."

Ross, I am told, went so far as to consider offering Parcells the coaching job as far back as 2010.

And that's perhaps the thinking in New Orleans today. Parcells has been in contact with the Saints about myriad things -- in part because he often talks with coach Sean Payton, in part because Payton wants him to take over as the New Orleans interim coach.

Parcells and a Saints contingent met in Jupiter, Fla., where Parcells lives part of the year, on Tuesday. They reportedly played golf. If the job in New Orleans didn't come up, it is only because it has already been discussed numerous times since last week when the NFL announced Payton was to begin serving a one-year suspension for his role in the Saints' so-called Bountygate scandal.

Make no mistake: Parcells is intrigued by the idea of returning to coach, if only for nine or 10 months.

Last season, for example, an NFL team offered him a head coach job. He thought about it for 48 hours before turning it down. He didn't like the idea of picking up and moving. He didn't think he could assemble a good enough staff comprised of "his people." He didn't have a franchise quarterback on the roster. He certainly didn't need the money.

He said, "No, thank you."

"But when something like this comes up, it gets me going," Parcells told me, "and I have to admit it becomes very, very hard for me to say no."

Parcells may still say no to the Saints although the concerns he had last year don't exist in New Orleans. The staff is already in place. He will have a franchise quarterback and there is no appreciable rebuilding to be done. The opportunity is, by definition, temporary.

But there are things that counter-balance the lure of returning to the sideline. Parcells is now eligible for the Hall of Fame. He was a top 10 finalist for the Hall this year. If he returns to coaching, the five-year clock on his eligibility for HOF consideration will revert to zero. He would have to wait a minimum of five years before he gets his next chance at the Hall.

That is not something Parcells would dismiss lightly. He respects the game. He respects the NFL and what it has meant to him and his family. Getting into the Hall of Fame is important to him. At 70 years old and about to turn 71 in August, he wants to be alive when he eventually gets the vote to get in. If he takes the Saints job, he would be 77 at the earliest before he can get in.

I say all that to say this: Bill Parcells is still a prized commodity as an NFL head coach.

His time with the Dolphins was not, by any measure, a stellar one. He recognizes that. We all do. But I don't think Ross is the only one who wonders what might have been if Parcells had been coaching -- the thing he does best -- rather than sitting atop the organization and making personnel decisions.

Parcells, you see, had very little to do with the coaching of the team. Tony Sparano was extremely jealous of his spot as head football man and was vigilant not to be overshadowed by Parcells. Parcells similarly wanted to give Sparano every chance he could to succeed. So he gave Sparano space.

He didn't offer corrections. He didn't tell Sparano his opinion on things he thought the former coach was getting wrong. Parcells did this only if Sparano asked. And often times, Sparano didn't ask.

So Parcells would roam the sideline offering casual tips to players here and there. He would tweak their egos here and there. But he would not coach the Dolphins.

Then on Sundays he'd sit in his pressbox perch and call the shots on coaching flubs or miscues as they were happening or, in some instances, before they happened. On several occasions general manager Jeff Ireland sat with Parcells and I'm told asked Parcells how he knew what was about to go wrong.

"It's experience and it's part of being a good coach," Parcells said.

Ross thought Parcells would have been a good coach -- better than he was a personnel man. Another team shared that belief last year. The Saints are probably thinking the same now.

March 27, 2012

EVERYTHING Joe Philbin told the media

Joe Philbin talked to the media for one hour and one minute today. Here is everything he said:

(On being involved with the CBA, contract disputes, and so on as a head coach) - “It’s good to have a broad exposure to it. I’m not into the nitty-gritty and all of the details, but obviously Dawn Aponte does a great job. She’s extremely knowledgeable. She’s worked with the league office. She’s about as knowledgeable as anybody that you could have in that position. And Jeff (Ireland) obviously deals with that on a daily basis as well. I think we have two people in the building that have vast knowledge so I don’t think they need me necessarily to get in their way. It’s also good to have a general understanding of some of the basic principles.”

(On having Mike Sherman on your coaching staff) - “It’s been great. We had our meeting the coordinators and myself met on Friday right before we kind of gave them some time off during the owner’s meeting. We went over our practice schedules for the voluntary minicamp that we’re putting in place. And Mike (Sherman) had a lot of great suggestions and a lot of things that I kind of had planned out the whole camp, but they made a couple of adjustments, Kevin (Coyle) as well. And when you have guys that have been coaching veterans, head coaches, Mike’s got 10 years of head coaching experience. Kevin has been in the league for 11 years so it’s been good that way.”

(On being a head coach been overwhelming or embracing) - “It’s been great. I think the number one challenge to me when I accepted the position as the head coach here was identifying, and then recruiting, and acquiring excellent coaching staff. I can tell you that is the number one place I started in determines of my confidence level and comfort level is with the men I’ve been able to assemble as a coaching staff. Again, I’ve known Mike Sherman for 32 years. He’s proven. He’s an excellent offensive football coach. He was an excellent head football coach in the NFL and did a great job at Texas A&M as well. I’ve known Kevin Coyle since 1986. I have a lot of confidence in him. Darren Rizzi, I’ve known for a while.  Obviously, we finished second in the league in special teams. I think it’s a great place to start with our three coordinators. I think we have a real nice blend of experienced guys, young guys, and hungry guys. Guys that want to prove themselves. A lot of them have kind of come up the way I came up in terms of earning their way into the NFL. Not necessarily handed some jobs. So far, so good, as I said before I’m 0-1. I bought a much bigger house than I needed, but other than that I’m excited.”

(On bringing in the right players you want from free agency) - “Yeah, when we entered free agency, when we entered the offseason, we identified some priorities in terms of positions we felt that needed to be upgraded whether it would be free agency, the draft, college free agency somehow, someway. Just like the college recruiting process you identify some prospects. You go after them. People make decisions for a variety of reasons and we’re happy that Paul Soliai decided to re-sign back with us. We identified the cornerback position as one that was important. We’re excited about Richard Marshall, I think he’s going to add something. Artis Hicks is a veteran that we think is going to give us some versatility in the offensive line. David Garrard came in and had an excellent workout. Obviously, some players made decision to go elsewhere in the course of our meetings when they were here with us. I thought we had productive, excellent meetings. And sometimes those things work out and sometimes both parties have to want to dance. Those things happen.”

(On any areas that concern you right now) - “I’m concerned about everything, but I think it’s important that we get on the field with these guys in the offseason program to have a better hand. We’ve watched a lot of tape. We’ve identified some areas that need to get better and I’m confident that we’ll do that. But when I came for the interview one of the things I told Steve (Stephen Ross) and Jeff (Ireland) was there been a ton of focus and I mentioned it to you guys as well, on the quarterback position as it should be in this league and my feeling as I watched the tape the offensive line needs to get better if our quarterback position is going to play better and so that’s going to be a priority. And we have to make sure that happens as we move forward.”

(On having your five offensive linemen starters set right now) - “No, not at all, but again, it’s March 20 something. Again, I’m concerned about every position, but we’re not teeing the ball up for real for a while and we need to get a handle on what these guys do well. What areas they need to improve upon and hopefully we can add to the mix a little bit. Provide a little more competition and improve.”

(On having the nine offensive linemen you want) - “I’m not sure yet. I really don’t know Ben (Volin). Again, I have to get a chance to be with them. Watch them work, watch them on film, take a look at their practice habits, their athleticism, and those types of things. It’s a little premature so I’ll say no.”

(On Matt Moore) - “I thought he managed the games very well. He’s not necessarily a by-the-book quarterback, but he was very productive. I think he has good arm strength and he kind of has a knack. He kind of has that ability to move the team. He and I had a great conversation on the phone. I want to say it was last Thursday or Friday when dust had settled a little bit. We talked and he sounds very excited, very optimistic, can’t wait to get back here. He’s anxious to compete for a job. We talked about how I envisioned that position moving forward and he was all on board and looking forward to compete and wanted to get back to Miami, get back with his teammates and start working towards the 2012 season.”

(On how do you envision the quarterback position) - “I envision Matt Moore, and David Garrard, and Pat Devlin at this point and time getting a lot of repetitions in the voluntary minicamp and as things move forward based on what things happen we’ll divide the reps up from there. It’s an open competition. I told both guys that and we’re very clear about that. I told David my only obligation for Matt Moore is he’s a member of the 2012 Dolphins. He’s under contract. He played well last year and he deserves an opportunity to compete for a starting position. Just like David does because David is now a member as well.”

(On not pursuing Matt Flynn as aggressively as the media thought) - “I think we made an aggressive push. We got him in here relatively quickly. Again, we had a great meeting. Matt (Flynn) and I had some conversations, a number of conversations prior to his arrival to Miami. We had some subsequent ones after. He’d probably be able to give you better answer as to why he chose to go elsewhere. All I know is when we were together the visit was excellent. I thought he got along very well with our offensive staff. He and I obviously have a relationship together. Excited for him and wish him all the best and I think he’ll do a fine job.”

(On Matt Flynn selecting Seattle over Miami) - “Again, you need to ask Matt Flynn why he’s in Seattle. There’s a myriad factors that go into why people make decisions about their own future, which is their prerogative. And clubs have their own prerogative as to how they are going to decide to move forward. And so again, it always takes two people to get a marriage and so I wish him well. He’s a great young man. But he’s better to ask why he’s in Seattle.”

(On having a No. 1 receiver in the offense) - “Part of the philosophy of the offense is to have balance. We want our quarterbacks typically to have what we call progression reads where they’re not necessarily isolated on one specific individual. With that being said, we’re going to play to our hot hand. We’re going to certainly strive to create mismatches and take advantage of the guys that we do have. But the offense, once we install the passing game, is not necessarily built upon ok you’re the #1 guy, you’re the #2 guy, you’re the #3 guy. As we put the plays together for the quarterback in his mind there’s a progression of who’s the first receiver, who’s the second receiver, who’s the third receiver. But it’s more multiple in terms of, we can have a variety of guys lined up in that spot and so it’s not necessarily that there isn’t one, but it’s not that there is one either. We’re going to do whatever to move the ball effectively. Certainly, we’re going to study our strengths and try to expose the weaknesses of the defense either by scheme, formation, or personnel. But we don’t necessarily think in terms of right now this guy is our one, this guy is our two, and this guy is our three at this stage of the game.”

(On differentiating in terms of slot receiver, speed receiver, and so on) - “I think there’s certain qualities you like, outside as opposed to inside. Years ago you initially want a short, quick, fast guy inside. Today, with the way defenses are playing you also want to have somebody big who can attack the middle of the field. A big target for the quarterback who can go get a ball in the middle of the field when he’s matched up against a bigger linebacker or a larger nickel player inside. And the other part, part two is as we game plan I don’t envision us being locked in (Davone) Bess always playing in the slot. (Brian) Hartline is always going to play outside. I think you want to create a little bit more work for the defense in terms of, ok how we’re going to match this up. Hartline started outside, but he motioned inside and vice versa. We may line up our tight ends as the widest receivers and our little guys inside and so I think you have to have some flexibility formation wise. I don’t want us to be locked into a small player inside, big guy outside every single snap. I don’t see us doing that moving forward.”

(On the departure of Brandon Marshall) - “We thought it was in the best interest for the football team moving forward and I use the analogy, if Reggie Bush gets hurt in game one we still have to find other guys to pick up the slack. We’re still going to run the football. We’re not going to fold up our tents and not run the ball. We lost a talented receiver, which we did. We have to look ‘A’ within the roster to get more production and more development out of some of our younger guys. The reason you get hired as a coach is, your job is to develop players so it’s going to be on us as a coaching staff to bring these guys along. We got some young guys and you need to have them step up.”

(On your reaction about the interaction with Dolphins fans that he has encountered) - “I can tell you, the reception I’ve received has been phenomenal. I’ve been excited. Everywhere I’ve been the fans have been great and I’m glad that our fans are passionate. I’m glad that they care about the future and direction of this football team. I can assure you that we’re committed to winning. We’re committed in doing everything possible to have the best team we can in 2012 and beyond. We get paid to make decisions. We understand not everybody is going to like every single decision, but I love the fact that they’re passionate. And they didn’t throw any eggs at my car when I drove by them, so that’s good (laughing). We’ll see how long that last. It may not last much longer.”

(On acquiring a receiver through the draft instead of free agency because it’s a strong draft class at receiver) - “I don’t know it was either one of those. We looked and obviously examined, I think it was Brian Gaine who kind of handles our pro department if I’m not mistaken, I think he said at one point and time, it was the largest free agent class in the history of the NFL. I think I’m making the right comment there. So we went through every position in that area and we certainly looked at different people, different options, but right now and obviously we’re working through the prospects in the draft and we’re looking through to see some development in our own guys and frankly you got to remember you’re talking to a guy that I think in nine years offensively in Green Bay we never had one guy come in there as a free agent and really contribute. So my mindset is more let’s get guys into our culture. Let’s develop our own people. Let’s have faith in our ability to teach and develop and motivate guys. We’re still going to look to improve this club anyway we can, but that’s kind of the gauge I’ve used over the years.”

(On how do you envision utilizing Reggie Bush) - “I think the one thing that you mentioned is the one thing that’s exciting us as an offensive staff is he’s got a chance to lineup at a different couple of spots, at a different couple of positions. You can have two tight ends and Reggie (Bush) in the backfield. You might be able to go empty. You might have a fullback with Reggie in the game and you might look like a one-back team or a three wide-out team with him. And then maybe you’ll be able to do your traditional two back offense as well so I think it gives you a lot of flexibility. He can do some things in the passing game for you and you keep their base defense on the field maybe and expose a weakness or maybe if you line him up outside and a receiver inside. He just do a lot of different things. We’re excited about the flexibility it gives an offense.”

(On how do you value the running game in your style of offense) - “When you gameplan, you have to know your personnel. You have to figure out what you do best and what you can do best and move however way you need to move the chains and score points. We would get together as an offensive staff in Green Bay and you have to sit and think ok who are we going to give the ball too and who are our best weapons and who can gain the most yards. Oftentimes, it won out that our quarterback, our tight ends, or our receivers, we felt gave us the best chance to do that. We tried to take advantage of teams if they played the pass, and then we were going to be more inclined to run the ball. So I think part of it was hopefully some of it was sound decisions in terms of what our personnel was, what our strengths were, and you tried to play to your strengths and hide your weaknesses. And hopefully that’s why we did it.”

(On working with Jeff Ireland to find the players that best fit your offense) - “We have very good collaboration on things. He wants our input, just not my own, but our staff. Our staff has been involved. His department does a great job of evaluating players. Our guys have spent a lot of time looking at tape as well, so the combination of the two has worked well. I’ve been on board with the decision that have been made and excited about them. As we move forward, I’m sure we will be as well.”

(On identifying other receivers on the roster besides Davone Bess and Brian Hartline) - “Well, (Clyde) Gates obviously has some great speed. You’re always looking for a vertical presence in the passing game, so you hope that those are the things that are going to be present when we get going here in April and start practicing. And the other guys like I said, they’re kind of unknown quantities to us. There’s not a lot of game film to study at this point and time. So we’re looking to develop good, all-around guys that fundamentally catch the ball well, precise route runners, discipline rout runners and really the other thing you’re looking for is people who can win against man coverage. You’re going to see a lot of man-to-man coverage and press coverage and we got to identify players. When push comes to shove, football is a one-on-one game and whether it’s out on the perimeter, whether it’s a receiver versus a DB, whether it’s an offensive linemen blocking a premier pass rusher, it’s a one-on-one game in a lot of ways. We have to find some guys who can win those matchups on a consistent basis.”

(On Steve Slaton and Daniel Thomas) - “I think Steve Slaton has obviously had some very good production in the league. He’s a guy we think fits our system of running the football very, very well. That’s his training. That’s kind of his background in the league so we really felt he was a good fit schematically. And Daniel Thomas we’re excited, big buy. I had a good meeting with him a couple weeks ago when he came back into the office, looks like he’s in great shape. Obviously, he was a little bit hampered in his development last year. He had a couple of nagging injuries from what I understand anyway. Those have been rectified at this point in time and I’m excited about him. He’s a big, different size player, big player. And one thing we need to have with all our backs, we’re looking for guys that the best we can the more balance we can have. We want guys with a variety of skills in their toolbox so to speak. We would love to have a guy that can run the ball, pass protect, and catch the ball. So defenses aren’t playing jersey numbers all the time. Hey, Slaton is in the game they’re doing this. Hey, Bush is in the game they’re doing that. You got to have guys to give you that extra dimension. Give you that balance that you’re looking for.”

(On the tight ends on the roster) - “I really thought (Anthony) Fasano played well. I thought he caught the football well. He makes some difficult catches, catches the ball over the middle, and catches it in traffic. He certainly goes after the football so we like what we saw there. Charles Clay is a young, emerging guy. He made a nice contribution last year. Again, he’s one of those guys I don’t know if you want to call him a hybrid. He can kind of go to a couple different places for you and looks comfortable doing that which helps you I think and so I’m excited about him. (Will) Yeatman and (Jerod) Mastrud, I had a chance to meet them as well. It’s a good young group of guys.”

(On how do you utilize the tight end position) - “Again, we would like to find a guy that can function as an in-line blocker. You want someone who can sit next to your offensive tackle, double team down on the defensive end, single block a defensive end, zone block with a tackle. Those are probably the three primary things that we look to identify watching a tight from a blocking prospective. You love to see a guy that can win down the middle of the field and typically that’s where they lineup most of the time so whether it’s a walkout linebacker or strong safety, like to see a guy that can win his fair share of those matchups and a guy that can get in and out of his cuts in the intermediate area, that would be an added bonus. I think probably the run blocking there and we’re going to ask our guys to pass protect as well, that’s probably next down the line. There’s some of those same type of players if we can split them out at times that can help us. We don’t like to box guys we call them. We want guys with flexibility that can move around a little bit.”

(On seeing John Jerry as a right tackle and/or right guard) - “That’s a great question. We’re not sure right now to be quite honest with you (laughing). We’ve kind of seen him at both spots. We’ve seen some film of him at both spots. We got to find a home for him. We got to figure out where he can be most comfortable. Where he can be most effective and obviously he has to earn a spot. We’re not going to hand anything. The good news is he’s played a couple of them. The bad news is he hasn’t anchored down one specific spot yet so I think that’s going to be key moving forward in the spring.”

(On the defensive pass rushing) - “Well, that’s an area that we’re still looking at, still looking to add to certainly at some point and time. Yeah, we would love to find another guy to add some real presence, especially on third down and nickel situations. But some of those guys are going to have to get some development. We’re hoping that Jared Odrick can really keep coming on, keep progressing. He got hurt is first year, made progress, but now in year three you like to see a player to step up and emerge. I think most guys focus on the outside guys, but more and more as we’ve seen defenses in the last four or five years. The Giants do a great job in the years we’ve played them in the past. It’s doesn’t always have to be a defensive end or you have to be able to move those guys around and create some pre-snap confusion and get some post-snap movement as well. I think if you look at the Bengals sub-package that has been creative in the past. It’s been multiple in the past. We have to identify and add to that mix from a personnel standpoint. I think you have to have creativity from a schematic standpoint as well.”

 (On cutting Yeremiah Bell and what it does to the secondary) – “There’s a variety of factors that go into every decision that’s made. He made an excellent contribution to the football team. He’s been a dependable, durable guy. Not an easy decision by any stretch. There was some younger players back there. I think sometimes what happens is you have some younger players and at times a log jam at positions and you don’t know about some of these guys. Sometimes what happens to an older player is he gets caught in that situation. We have some younger guys. (Chris) Clemons has started a bunch of games I know in 2010. Reshad Jones has started a bunch of games. (Tyrone) Culver has started some games. So we got some guys that have played some so, we just felt like at this point in time it was the best interest to make that move.”

(On Reshad Jones at strong safety) – “Possibly. I don’t want to say they’re interchangeable spots, but I don’t know if there’s a huge distinction between those two positions in Kevin (Coyle)’s scheme.”

(On if he envisions Richard Marshall competing for a starting job) – “Absolutely. If he’s the best guy. Everybody when we come back April 10th, everybody is competing for a job so yeah, sure.” (On what he liked in Richard Marshall’s skill set) – “Obviously number one was you’re watching defensive backs, you got to see a guy that can cover somebody and help you get off the field on third down. We saw some of that in his film. We saw a guy that played the ball relatively well. We thought he had good ball skills. And the third thing you still have to do when you play defense especially here in Miami is you still have to tackle and this guy is more than a willing tackler. We thought he had some physical toughness that we liked. Sometimes it isn’t as common as it maybe should be in this league. Those are probably the three things we liked the best.”

(On what he envisions his scheme to be on defense) – “I envision us being a great tackling defense. I envision us being a team that has great pursuit to the football. A team that disrupts the quarterback, takes the ball away. That’s what the defense is going to be built around. We’re going to have some bear defense, we’re going to have some three man line, we’re going to have some four man line. We’re going to be multiple on defense. We’re going to have some extensive pressure package as well. Without saying exactly what we’re doing. I think we’re going to be a multiple defensive team. Our starting point is going to be tackling, keeping our pads flat, pursuant to the football, disrupting the quarterback, taking the ball away. That’s what we’re really going to focus on.”

(On how badly he thinks Stephen Ross wants to win) – “I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t feel that way. The first day I interviewed for the job he and I sat together, the two of us for probably an hour and a half just kind of talked. We shared backgrounds, some of the things I had accomplished in my career. I asked him about his own personal career how he had gotten to where he is and how he got there, some of the things that he believed in that helped him get there. I thought we had a good match and a good marriage. We’re different guys. He comes from a different business background obviously than the National Football League. He’s very passionate. He’s committed. I like his frankness.  I like his honesty. He’s up front. We’re changing. He’s invested a lot of money. We asked him to do some things in the building downstairs. We’ve got a brand new team meeting room. We got a brand new defensive meeting room.  We got a brand new locker room. We’re going to build a players’ lounge. It’s not done to make this place Club Med, we’re not interested in that, or the Taj Mahal but I think it’s a reflection of our commitment where we want to have as good as good as teaching environment as we can possibly have, as good as weight room environment as we can have, as good as practice environment as we can have. He’s all on board. He thinks that makes a difference. I believe it makes a difference. Anything that we’ve asked for in this point in time he’s been more than supportive of. It’s good. It’s like any other relationship, it grows over time as you get some work to it. I’m excited about it and I think there’s no question I think he has a high level of commitment. I think he wants to bring this franchise back around where it was, where it once was. I think part of that is hopefully stability, continuity, a confidence in the direction we’re going and faith. You got to have faith. There’s something about me maybe that prompted him to hire me. You got to have faith in the people you hire. Just like I got to have faith in the players and the players have to have faith in the coach. That’s where the starting point is and the leadership can take over from there.”

(On if he sees Stephen Ross learning the business as an NFL owner and getting things right here) – “I think he has. I think he is eager to do that. Part of it is and he’d be the first to tell you, he has other things that he’s involved in which is great. He’s a hard, hard worker. That was one of the reasons he appealed to me was the strong work ethic that he has and the energy that he has and that he’s involved in a lot of different things. I think he’s certainly committed to learning the business and doing things the right way and doing things in a first class manner.”

(On what a quarterback must have) – “Leadership, ability to manage the game. He’s got to be a decision maker. Those three things are absolutely critical. Then you go into some of the physical characteristics. He’s got to be an accurate passer. He’s got to have good velocity. He doesn’t necessarily have to have a cannon but he’s got to have velocity on his ball. He’s got to be able to have good pocket awareness and presence in terms of when to step up, when to slide out. You’d love him to not only have presence but escape ability and mobility, a guy that can maybe throw on the move a little bit so you’re not in the same spot again. Our offense is built around execution, fundamentals, but also balance and not necessarily doing the same thing every single snap out of the same formation and the same personnel group. I think a guy that can move and throw is helpful. It really starts with the decision making, the leadership, the game management. Those things put you in a position to use the physical talent and skill that you have to have to play the position.”

(On how free agency has affected draft weekend) – “Like I said, as a personnel staff Jeff (Ireland) and his guys and our coaches as well watched the season, our 2011 season and kind of came up with I guess you would call it a wish list so to speak, both sides of the football, areas we would like to see us add to the competitive mix on the football team.  So we did that, we were thorough in that phase. Some of those needs, you can’t necessarily fix everything in free agency nor do you want to. I don’t envision us being deeply, deeply involved. I think when you’re doing things the right way you’re developing your own guys, you’re resigning your own guys so just the business model of the NFL that’s going to prohibit you from being overly active all the time in free agency. Now we’re going to hopefully take the best players that are available based on our film evaluation when the draft comes around later this month.”

(On building through the draft, if he needs to tell fans this is going to take a while) – “I don’t think so. Look, I’ve watched a lot of the tape but to say I have a great handle on where the 2012 Dolphins are this minute is probably not accurate. We need to have a great offseason program. We need to have an excellent OTA phase where we kind of get a better handle on exactly what we feel like these guys are capable of doing. Many of our guys on the staff have NFL experience and maybe can say he’s as good as this guy, better than what we had here, not as good. It’s way too early to predict where we’re going to be in the win/loss column. I think it’d be a disservice to the players to say we’re in a rebuilding mode. In the same token we’re not going to sit around here and say we’re going to do this, this and this. I’m very confident we’re going to have a well prepared football team. I think we’re going to have a team that’s going to develop during the season and get better. I’m excited about working with them. We’re not in the position to say a whole lot beyond that at this point until we get our hands around it a little bit.”

 (On Vontae Davis and Sean Smith) – “We’ve got two corners from a measureables, size, speed standpoint we’re really excited about. Vontae Davis a really physical guy, plays hard, a good tackler. They’ve showed spurts where they’ve play extremely well on tape. This season what we’re hoping is we get more consistent overall performance week in, week out, series in, series out. Knowing that those guys are out there on an island at times and they aren’t going to make every single play. There’s going to be completions against those guys. That’s what happens. Maybe that they play at a higher level on a more consistent basis. There’s been some excellent football by both of those guys on tape. We’re looking as a whole to develop them more consistently.”

(On his overall thoughts on his front seven) – “Again, (Jared) Odrick is a guy you’re looking to see continued growth out of. I really like what we see in (Tony) McDaniel. He’s one of the more athletic. We love his size, a very athletic player. Randy Starks, very strong and productive player. I think it’s got a chance to be a very, very good front four. Obviously Cameron Wake is a guy that we’re excited about. The linebackers we’re very lucky. (Karlos) Dansby and (Kevin) Burnett are guys that can play every down. Good nickel players as well as base. We went through the tape of 700 something snaps of sub defense so you’re going to have to have guys that can play more. The game is a little different than it used to be just a downhill guy that can play in between the tackle box. I think we have guys that can do that, run with tight ends and run with inside receivers down the field a little bit. I’m looking forward to our front seven being very, very competitive at the starting point.  You got to be good up front on both sides of the ball if you want to have a championship team. I think we got a good nucleus up front on defense.”

 (On Koa Misi and re-signing Paul Soliai) – “Football…you got to be strong down the middle in football. Paul is a rare kind of player. As we looked at him we said there’s not that many guys in the league that have that skill set that can combine the size and the strength and can still have the athleticism that he has. He was a key component of the defense and we’re excited he’s back. Misi is a guy that obviously has played very well on the line of scrimmage at the point of attack. He’s a guy that can hopefully give us continue in certain rush situations to add. He’s a guy that we’d like to see in as a third year guy, I believe he’s going into his third year, we’d like to see him emerge a little bit more and be a little more productive and make some maybe more impact plays.”

(On Mike Pouncey and the interior offensive line) – “I really like his athleticism. I love his competiveness. I thought he played the game on his feet really well. One of the thing you’re always evaluating with linemen is can they sustain a block, can they finish a block, can they play the game up on their feet without ending up on the ground too much. We thought he had a very, very good rookie year. Again, that’s a critical position in our offense so he’s going to have a lot of responsibility in terms of the blocking schemes. I thought he played very, very well. Richie Incognito is a guy that did some good things. (John) Jerry we’ve had. The rest of the interior isn’t quite as settled but Richie played well. The right guard position is kind of open at this point in time. We’ll see how it shakes out.”

 (On Mario Williams and Mark Anderson joining the Buffalo Bills) – “They’re both very good players. I remember Mark Anderson’s first career sack. I was the offensive line coach in Green Bay. It was the first game he played. He beat Chad Clifton inside on a play in the first quarter. I was thinking to be myself oh my God…this is going to be a long year. They’re both good players. Every team has good players. We’ve got a couple. Last time I checked our left tackle is a pretty good player. We’re excited to have him in our division and we’ll deal with them accordingly. They’re both quality football players and they can impact the game so you got to have your radar up when you’re playing those guys.”

(On not adding defensive ends like the Bills did) – “I didn’t even see what the contract was that Mario Williams signed. I’m sure it was extensive. We really didn’t discuss it a whole lot. Again, teams make decisions and add players. I don’t really…we didn’t say hey, it’s too much, it’s too little. It wasn’t really going down that road.”

(On his conversations with Jake Long) – “He’s come by the office a number of times. I’ve had a chance to visit with him. I know Jimmy Turner has, Mike Sherman has. Seems like all the things you hear about him seem to be true. I think he’s ready to take on a more active leadership role on the ball club. He says he feels good. He says he’ll be ready to go in when the offseason program starts. I’m really excited about working with him.”

(On keeping Jake Long long term) – “Those guys are hard to find. That kind of size and that kind of athleticism is not an easy combination to get. There’s not a whole lot of guys out there. I’m sure as we move forward that’s something we’re going to look at and look at closely.”

(On a scouting report on David Garrard) – “As I said in 2010 he had very good productivity. I think he throws a real catchable ball. He can spin it pretty good. He came in a couple weeks ago, whenever it was when he came into visit and moved well, threw the ball well. He’s got good velocity on his ball. I think fundamentally he’s got nice mechanics. I like his personality. I like the way he handles himself, carries himself around the building I think will be good. I did some research on him with some people that I know that had some backgrounds with him during his days in Jacksonville. All reports were very positive about the kind of person he is, the work ethic he brings to the field. I think he’s got real good skills. He’s very comfortable throwing the ball on the move. He’s had success throwing the ball on the move. He’s certainly got the arm strength. I think he can be a factor in the vertical game as well.”

(On David Garrard’s health) – “Again, probably the bigger part of the visit was making sure that our medical staff was comfortable with where he was at. And as you know, there’s no guarantees with anything but they were confident that he has made a complete recovery and is ready to go.”

(On what he’s looking for in a receiver to be successful in the West Coast offense) – “I still think you got to find somebody…a guy who can separate. Separation versus man coverage is something you’re always looking to see. That’s an important thing. You’re looking for a guy that has body control who can get in and out of his breaks quickly without losing speed so even if it’s zone coverage he can get more separation from a defender. He can do that much, much easier if he’s got good body control, good balance, if he can drop his weight as we like to say at the top of his route. But just like defense, you still have to catch the ball. You got have good ball skills. You’d like to see the degree that you can on film how competitive a guy is across the middle. Can he hang on to the ball in a tight window after taking a hit. On a vertical one on one matchup throw down the field, is he going to win against that DB. Sometimes you got to search, you got to look to find some of those examples. The separation factor is big. The transition and route running in and out of breaks is important. The ball skills both when they’re wide open and for a contested ball are probably the most important things that we’re looking for.”

(On how important a fullback is in his offense) – “I think at certain times it may be more important than others. There may be games where we aren’t going to be in a two back whatsoever. There may be times where a tight end might be the guy in the backfield, not necessarily a true fullback. It’s a little bit game plan specific. I don’t know it’s mandatory that we have a pounded fullback that plays 20 plays in a game but there may be goal line situations, four minute situations, short yardage. Or if you feel like you can get a specific advantage by using it in normal down and distance its important. I think it’s good to have. I don’t think it’s necessarily a luxury item but I don’t know if it’s an absolute must every single week.”

(On if he’s seen tape on Jerome Messam) – “Yeah, a little bit, yeah. He’s an interesting prospect. A real big man. We’ll be interested to get our hands on him and see what he can do and see how he can pick up the pass protection thing.  I think it’s going to be big as I said before. Would love to be able to keep the same people in the game and do different things. We’re going to see have to see how that piece works out.”

(On what the fans should know about his coaching style and how he’s going to handle the team) – “My style is a couple things that are important to know.  Number one, it’s a privilege for me to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. So when I meet the team for the first time, I’m going to remind these guys of the great tradition, history that this franchise has and the great obligation they have as a member of the Miami Dolphins to represent this organization the right way both on and off the field. That’s number one. Beyond that what I’m going to bring to the Dolphins as an organization football wise on Sunday’s I think they’re going to see a sound football team, one that plays with good fundamental, good discipline, high effort. They’re going to see a smart football team. A team that’s going to understand the situations in the ball game and respond and execute whether it’s two minute offense, last play of the half, third down offense, execution versus pressure. You’re going to see a team that’s tough physically and mentally, a team that plays the game the right way. Those are the representation the organization the right way and is very, very important to me and our staff. We’re going to be a sound football team. We’re going to be a smart football team. We’re going to be a tough football team. We’re going to be a developmental football team. I see this team getting better week in and week out as we move forward. Year in, year out…I see us being a consistent, winning football team.”

(On not appearing that he yells) – “Well, we’ll have to invite you to practice one time (laughing). I think the number one rule in coaching is you have to be yourself. You can’t be somebody you’re not. I’ve always told our coaches and I’ve always operated under this premise…you’re a teacher. Your job is to teach the players what they need to know to do their job. They don’t need to know everything I need to know to do my job. They need to know to do their job. There’s two situations where you really jump down a players neck. Number one is if they’re not giving maximum effort. Number two is if they keep making the same mistakes over and over and over. Then you got a problem. Then you should do whatever you have to do. I’ve dropped an F-bomb in my day. I’m not impressed by people who drop F-bombs. I’m not saying I’m never going to do it but the loudest yeller doesn’t necessarily impress me. What really matters is on Monday when you watch the film, does the team do what you say they’re going to do. And how you do that really doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is what the film says on Monday when you watch it. I’m very, very passionate. This profession is very important to me. I’ve been doing to for 28 years. This is going to be my 29th. I’m very passionate about what I do. It’s important to me that we do a great job here in Miami. I know we’re going to. The method and how we do that, I hope the fans will judge me by the way team plays on Sunday.”

(On the new CBA delaying the first time he can meet with his players) – “We just got to do a better job, got to be more efficient in our teaching. We got to be more concise and candid and clear on what we want and how we’re going to instruct these guys. It puts a little more pressure on us. The nice thing about it is everybody is under the same limitations that we are. I don’t think football is that hard of a game. I think we are going to have a great scheme. I’m very confident we have excellent coaches who know the game of football very well. That being said, football is not that hard of a game. If it’s that complicated we got problems. We have more than enough time and we’re going to do a good job communicating what we want done to these guys. Hopefully it will translate.”

(On who the best is to play middle linebacker on a 4-3 front with Koa Misi, Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby) – “I’m not sure yet. Again, part of it is if we have those three guys on the field at the same time we’ll have to sort some of that stuff out. That’s what kind of the OTA’s are for and Mini Camps are for, getting to know those guys.”

(On the difference between his offense and Mike Sherman’s at Texas A&M) – “There’s a lot of similarities. We’ve been going through it over the last six or seven weeks. Obviously I worked for him in Green Bay and there was a lot of obviously a lot of the things he did in Green Bay he still is doing. Concept, big picture wise he may have changed the name. There might have been a nuance here and there that’s different but there’s not a lot of difference. Maybe the emphasis of what you’re doing is different. Maybe we did certain things in the gun a little bit more than he did in college. Maybe that’s a subtle difference. But I think the plays and the concepts blocking wise, protection wise, route wise…there’s a lot of similarities.”

(On playing Tom Brady twice a year) – “That’s why I hired Kevin Coyle (laughing). Obviously they’re a high powered offense. They’ve done an excellent job over the years consistently moving the ball. Scored a ton of points over the years. They do a great job of taking care of the football too. They don’t turn the ball over a lot. That’s another thing they do extremely well. Safe to say to have to slow them down you’re going to find a way to hopefully disrupt their timing and rhythm. That’s easier said than done, but whether it’s by blitzing, whether it’s by dropping eight guys, whether it’s by a combination thereof. Their thing is they got some really talented athletes. They want to get the ball to those guys in space. The other thing you want to do is you better tackles those guys. If you can’t tackle against that team you’re going to be in trouble. I think you got to disrupt their timing and their rhythm. You probably have to have some blend of pressure and maximum drop, get some guys out of there and you better tackle. They’re going to get some completions there now. The guy is pretty accurate. He’s going to complete some passes. See if you can be physical and knock the ball loose, change the momentum a little bit.”

(On any chance he offers his team up for Hard Knocks this summer) – “I’m built for radio, not TV.”

(On what sticks out with Brian Hartline) – “I think he runs real well…he runs very well. We’ve had a couple good meetings with him. He’s been up. He’s eager. He’s excited about getting to work. Again, we’re not looking to have….the goal as we set forward isn’t to have one receiver on one side have 65 catches and the other guy have 63 catches. It’s not that were planned out. But certainly we’d like to have more production. I think he had 30 something catches last year. We’d like to have some balance and more production out of him. I think he’s ready to step up. He’s anxious about his role whatever it may be and getting into the offense and learning it. I’m excited about him.”

(On having an offense that can match a team that puts up a lot of points like New England) – “Yeah, I think obviously you got to score points to win games in this league. That being said, they don’t lose a lot of shoot outs, you know what I mean. They’re a team that scored and they’ve been consistent and they’ve been productive for a long, long time. The goal when you game plan on offense and you sit in those meetings on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday everything looks good on the board. You’re designing things that you feel have a chance against for what you’re preparing for. I don’t know that you ever go into a game and look to get in a shootout. But certainly there is increased pressure when you play those guys to score points.”

(On evaluating the receivers like Clyde Gates and Marlon Moore that he hasn’t seen much of) – “We haven’t done a ton. We watched a little bit of the practice tape.  We’re relying a lot on what Jeff (Ireland) and his staff have seen in these guys in their period of time with the club. We’re just going to have to wait and reserve a lot of judgment until we get these guys on the practice field and see exactly what they’re capable of doing. To sit here and say we have a great vision of how these guys are going to fit in and say he’s going to be the slot receiver, he’s going to be the Z receiver, he’s the X…we’re going to feature Clyde on in breaking routes, slants and go’s. We got to see how that all shakes out.”

(On how involved he is in the dollar amount that’s offered to players) – “Not very much. I wasn’t very good at math anyway (laughing).” (On Artis Hicks and where he will play) – “More of a swing guy. Both. That’s was probably one of the reasons we signed him because he had that versatility.”

(On Lydon Murtha) – “I remember Lydon Murtha. I went to see him in high school in Minnesota nine, ten years ago. So I remember him recruiting years and years ago. He was a good athlete coming out of high school I remember. I remember watching him when he was coming out of Nebraska. I evaluated him then. Obviously showed a lot of promise, had the injury. He’s been up, says he feels good,  says he’s ready to go. Have to see how that goes.”

(On a body of work with Lydon Murtha being a starter) – “Not that I’ve watched. There may be but I wouldn’t want to lie to you and tell you that I’ve watched it. We’re going to make our judgment based on what we see when he comes back.” 

Offensive line might be Philbin's biggest area of concern

When he was interviewing for the Dolphins head coach opening and even afterward, Joe Philbin heard a lot about Miami's needs to get a good quarterback. Ownership told him. Fans told him. I know I told him.

It wasn't news because he'd addressed the issue with owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland previously. But Philbin saw a need as fundamental as the quarterback. He believed he needed men to keep the quarterback from getting killed. And he made that point to Ross and Ireland.

"When I came to interview, one of the things I told Steve and Jeff and I told you guys as well is there's been a ton of focus on the quarterback position as it should be in this league. My feeling as I watched the tape, was our offensive line needs to get better if our quarterback position is going to play better. That's going to be a priority. We need to make sure that happens."

It obviously has not happened yet. “Not at all," Philbin agreed. "Hopefully we can provide a little more competition.”

(Jake Long is set at left tackle. Mike Pouncey is set at center. Richie Incognito is more or less set at left guard although the team would like him to play better. But right guard? Right tackle?

“We like Pouncey’s athleticism, love his competitiveness," Philbin said. "We thought he had a very, very good rookie year. That’s a critical position. He will have a lot of responsibility with blocking schemes. Incognito did some good things.  The rest of the interior isn’t quite as settled. Jake has come by the office a number of times. All the things you hear about him are true. He’s ready to take on a more active leadership role on the ballclub.”

The club continues to talk with the agent for guard Jake Scott. Scott visited Arizona but hasn't gotten an offer from that team. In fact, the Dolphins are the only team he was seriously talking to as of earlier today.

At right tackle, Miami has a slew of prospects but doesn't know if it has players. Lydon Murtha, Nate Garner, recently signed Artis Hicks and Ryan Cook are among the cast of potential right tackle starters. The club might also draft someone. 

John Jerry started at left tackle last year when Long was injured. He handled the job well enough. But despite this, Philbin wants to see him in the offseason program that begins in a couple of weeks because he admitted the club isn't really sure whether Jerry fits best at guard or tackle. 

“We have to find a home for him," Philbin said. "He’s got to earn a spot. The good news is he has played a couple of them. The bad news is he has not anchored down one spot.”

As you may know, the Bills added free agents Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, who the Dolphins were interested enough in to host a visit with him. That makes Buffalo a concern for any team scheduled to play them twice next season.

Philbin, in true competitor fashion, gave the players the appropriate respect. But then he added that at least half the puzzle for stopping the Buffalo duo is already on board in Miami.

“Last I checked," he said. "our left tackle is a pretty good."


Quickie reaction report from Joe Philbin breakfast

Here's the quickie report from the Joe Philbin breakfast presser at the NFL annual meetings in Palm Beach:

To begin with and perhaps most importantly, Philbin isn't buying into the idea the Dolphins are a rebuilding team. "I think it would be a disservice to the players to say we're in a rebuilding mode."

That is probably true. And a fair point. But sometimes, folks, the truth is the truth. (More on that later today).

I asked Phibin what football reason he could give for the trading of Brandon Marshall. He called Marshall a "very talented player," but mostly he dogdged the question. In other words, he didn't give a reason.

It's been speculatated that the Miami offense doesn't have a No. 1 receiver that must get the ball a majority of the time. That idea has been put forth by folks diminishing the Marshall loss. But the idea the Dolphins don't need or want a No. 1 receiver is only partially true.

"Part of the philosophy of the offense is to have balance," Philbin said. "We want our quarterbacks to typically have what we call progression reads, where they're not necessarily isolated on one specific individual. With that being said, we're going to play to our hot hand and we're certainly going to strive to create mismatches and take advantage of the guys we do have.

"But the offense isn't necessarily built upon, 'Ok, you're the No. 1 guy, you're the No. 2 guy, you're the No. 3 guy.' As we put the plays together for the quarterback in his mind, there's a progression of who's the first receiver, who's the second receiver, who's the third receiver. But it's more multiple. We're looking at a variety of guys to line up in that spot. It's not necessarily that there isn't a one, but it's not that there is one, either. We're going to do whatever we have to do to move the ball effectively."

Confused? Moving on ...

The quarterback spot is always hugely important to the Dolphins primarily because they don't really have a proven one. Philbin said he spoke with Matt Moore and promised that he and David Garrard would be locked in an open competition before the season's start.

Philbin on Matt Moore based on tape study: "I thought he managed the game relatively well. Good arm strength. He has the knack. He moved the team."

Philbin said the biggest part of his visit with Garrard was for the medical staff to make sure he'd made complete recovery from last year's bulging disc that required surgery. Garrard worked out for the team before signing. "He moved well ... He spins the ball well ... I like his personality. He carries himself well."

Philbin had Jermichael Finley in Green Bay. He has Anthony Fasano in Miami. He "played well last year," Philbin said of Fasano. "He caught the ball well."

Philbin is a former offensive line coach. I asked him his thought of the Buffalo Bills signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. "Every team has good players. Last time I checked our left tackle is a pretty good player."

(Yeah, but what about the other side?)

Philbin says he's visited with left tackle Jake Long a couple of times. "I think he's ready to take on a more active leadership role in the ballclub."

On the right side, I asked Philbin if John Jerry will play guard or tackle. He said that was a good question and that the truth is, he's not sure yet.

Defensively, Philbin had a couple of interesting things to say.

Philbin says the defense will show the Bear (46) defense, three-man line, four-man line. He said Miami would be "multiple on defense."

Philbin said new signee Richard Marshall will get a chance to win one of the starting cornerback jobs.

Philbin said while not totally interchangeable, strong safety and free safety players could do one or the other. That means Tyrone Culver, Chris Clemons, and Reshad Jones will all be fighting for the strong and free safety spots rather than just the free safety spot all are more familiar with.

Philbin put a figurative target on third-year player Jared Odrick. He mentioned Odrick several times and made it clear he's hoping for bigger things. "In year three you'd like to see a guy really progress." The Dolphins don't have No. 2 pass-rusher Jason Taylor any more. They need Odrick to be a goods pass-rusher.

Overall, Philbin said he expects his team will develop week to week. He believes they will be better at the end of the year than they were early in the year:  "We're going to get better week in and week out, year in and year out."

Philbin promised a "sound football team. High effort. Smart football team. You're going to see a team that's tough physically and mentally.""

Money will never be a problem, salary cap another story

On the one hand, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a billionaire. On the other hand, the Dolphins last season were one of the bottom five lowest spending cash-outlay teams in the NFL.

On the one hand, the club has few stars and no franchise quarterback. On the other hand, the team is cramped up against the cap unless it reworks some contracts. My estimate is Miami has $4-$6 million of cap room currently.

So what gives?

“Money will never be an issue for us becoming a winning football team," Ross boasted Monday. "That I can tell your ight now. We have to live with the limitations of the cap, the salary cap, as all teams do. Sometimes you lose players. You have to put your money where you really think it’s going to have the biggest impact."

Stop. That is true. Unfortunately, for the Dolphins, they've put an extraordinary amount of that money on the offensive line -- a unit that neither scores touchdowns, nor makes game-defining plays. And yet Jake Long has a cap number ($12 million) like many quarterbacks. The unit takes up approximately $20 million in cap space.

Long, however, is soon due for a contract extension.

"We have a lot of players expiring and we have to make sure we don’t make a stupid mistake by signing players with big names and big salary bonuses that are going to really impact the cap. You have to take that into consideration," Ross said. "One thing I’ve learned in response to your questions is this is one hell of a complex business, let me tell you -- in trying to figure out how you’re going to do things and maneuver things around within the system. I think that’s very important. But those players we know are coming up, we all know we want to retain them. We have to make sure we’re in a position to do that.”

I know, I know, many of you are going to try find fault with something Ross said. Let me suggest a different course: Read my column in today's paper.

It suggests we call a cease fire on the friendly fire for a bit. The Dolphins really, truly think they're doing good work. Most of us don't agree. But let's give them an undeserved benefit of the doubt for now until we see the finished product on the field, at least.

And let us remember there are other circus act teams in the NFL with their big tops wide open for viewing.

[Blog note: Coach Joe Philbin will be available at the NFL annual meeting this morning. I'll be back here to blog what he says. Come back for the updates throughout the day.]

March 26, 2012

Maybe Dolphins learning to manage expectations

One of the talking points the Dolphins had in their notes today was about transparency. The club wants to be more transparent. Owner Stephen Ross said it. General Manager Jeff Ireland said it.

I'll write more about it in my column in Tuesday's Miami Herald because transparency by an NFL team must be managed. The NFL is no place to pull back all the curtains and reveal all your secrets and intentions. That's for suckers.

I pray the Dolphins know this. But transparency is good when it's used to manage expectations. And the Dolphins have done a terrible job of doing that in recent years.

Because of some of the more vague things the Dolphins have said -- such as Ross saying he wants to hire a young Don Shula -- the public has taken the statements and built expectations around them. And, of course, when the club does not actually hire a 33-year-old budding superstar coach with a jutting jaw and a planned three-practice-per-day approach, fans are understandably disappointed.

And it is not long before disappointment leads to plain old fashioned anger.

Same can be said with Miami's approach to free agency. When the club made it clear they thought themselves a couple of pieces away from playoff-caliber and a franchise quarterback from Super Bowl contention, many kind of assumed this offseason was going to be one enormous free agency shopping spree.

Even three weeks ago when I shared with you about the meeting Joe Philbin had with alumni in which he cautioned against free agency and stressed the draft, the Dolphins didn't do anything to make that public. I had to work for it. And not every single Dolphins fan reads this blog every single day -- beats me why, but that's another matter.

So some non-Mando readers were shocked when Miami didn't blow up the free agency pool.

"We haven't gone out and gotten major free agents like people thought we would have, but we look at it as if we're in the process," Ross said today, trying to manage expectations going forward. "Free agency has a period to run. There aren't a lot of major names out there but there's the draft and a
whole plan that we have set forth. Some things go well, and some things don't go as you would have liked. You know who I'm referring to from that standpoint -- Peyton Manning. We're looking to take this football team to a different level."

Um, better. Not promising the moon. Setting the record straight. Communicating.

Better than having everyone guess.

The Dolphins reach the Breakers point

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland and club CEO Mike Dee met the media in the past hour. It was relatively cordial. There was absolutely no news made -- which I'm sure the Dolphins intended. And best of all for the local team, it wasn't an unmitigated disaster.

The truth is once Ross got comfortable in the setting -- a meeting room at the Palm Beach Breakers Hotel -- he got on something of a roll and answered questions fine. I have issues with some of his answers, but at least he seemed prepared, confident and eventually at ease.

That's the potatoes.

The meat?

This is unvarnished. I give it to you without editorial. Make up your own mind:

Ross talked of the team's new approach which is supposed to embrace transparency: "We're in a new world today. You can't have a bunker mentality."

Obviously, the perception among people at this meeting, both media and two general managers I canvassed quickly, is that Miami has an institutional inability to lure talent. Ross rejects this notion: "This is the best place in the NFL for players to come ... I wouldn't go from what one or two people might say."

Ross got a little heated when asked about his inability to land Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher, and Peyton Manning: "I'll do it again and again," he said raising his voice. "... Nothing ventured nothing gained."

Ireland said he felt like he had addressed some needs on the offensive line. I asked him if he sees starting-caliber players at the position and he gave me all the names on the roster but didn't say, "We believe (fill in the blank) can start. Training camp will determine if we're right." Obviously, this remains a weakness for the time being.

Ross confirmed what I told you last week about Miami's lack of interest in Tim Tebow: "We dismissed that early on" because Tebow doesn't fit the offensive system.

Obviously the quarterback position was prominent in the discussion. At one point Ireland said, "We feel good where we are at the quarterback position at this time.

Ireland did also say he's made it clear he needs better play from the QB position and the "QB position has been addressed," meaning the attempt to land Manning.

Ross obviously wants more. On the search for a franchise quaterback: "We're going to keep looking. We're very excited about Matt Moore ... That's a good place to start with.".

Ross said he met Archie Manning in December and he was hopeful that meeting, plus the fact Manning has a residence locally and love living here might be helpful in getting the quarterback. "But Manning wanted to go somewhere familiar," he said..

Ross must seriously undervalue Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. He said "It's not like we've lost anything" when talking of the offseason. Miami did trade Marshall. Ross added that the team got "fair value" for Marshall..

I asked Ross if he's rebuilding. He dodged the question: "We think we have a fine nucleus ...We know where there are some weaknesses. We're looking to correct that.".

The Dolphins are rebuilding but will they admit it?

There is one word that owners around the NFL hate to use in front of their fanbase: Rebuilding.

The word means forget about this year. The word means that whatever we've been doing wasn't right and we need to start over. The word is synonymous with, we're falling off the NFL map for a year or two.

Oh, and the word is a great way to not sell tickets.

And so it will be interesting to see if Dolphins owner Stephen Ross utters the word today when he meets with media at lunch time because, let's be real folks, the Miami Dolphins are in full on rebuild mode now.

That's how it looks when you're trading Brandon Marshall and not signing either an equally talented or equally experienced replacement. The Dolphins will replace Marshall with a draft pick. You know how often rookie wide receiver make a big difference for their new teams? Do the homework. It is rare.

That's how it looks when you cut Yeremiah Bell, who was probably declining and too expensive but was also the glue in the deep secondary. The Dolphins may re-sign Bell or they may not. Either way, it is not a difference making move. Bell has so far garnered little attention in free agency so there's the idea other teams don't think tons about him so far. And if Miami goes in another direction, the likely way to address it is in the latter (cheaper) parts of free agency or, again, the draft. Rebuilding.

Once the Dolphins failed to land Peyton Manning and he picked Denver, the Dolphins didn't deem Matt Flynn worthy of big money and I was told by a Dolphins source that Alex Smith priced himself out of their market. So the Dolphins are going with a QB competition between Matt Moore and David Garrard. The Dolphins will also probably draft a quarterback.

Let's see ... Miami's grand promise of finally finding a franchise quarterback is headed unquestionably down the path of having two veterans who have never been franchise QBs and probably a rookie to develop. The two veterans are signed for only one year each. One.

Tell me that doesn't feel like you're rebuilding. Anyone with eyes sees it.

The Dolphins haven't been big spenders in free agency. They are ramping up bigtime for the draft. And I'm hearing more and more whispers from organization sources that you'll not be hearing talk of displacing the Patriots in 2012 because, well, they're as finished a product as you can have in the NFL.

And the Dolphins are a start up production.


I have a hard time believing if Peyton Manning had come to the team the Dolphins would have been in this mode. They would have been led by a 36-year-old QB that needed talented added quickly for a run that will last a relatively short period of time.

But once Manning eliminated the Dolphins, the Dolphins apparently eliminated the idea of really and truly competing for a title in 2012. Their moves are making that plain. They're planning for a title run in two or three years more than they are this year.

They are rebuilding. The only question now is whether Ross will admit as much today.


March 25, 2012

Stephen Ross is more blunt instrument than tactician

As an NFL owner, Stephen Ross lacks nuance. He lacks tact. He is a blunt instrument.

Recently, he was advised by the Dolphins and agreed that the best way to address the protestations of fans, including a rally outside of Dolphins camp, was to rush headlong into a one-on-one phone call to a fan to explain his team's rationale for this offseason.

It is an interesting public relations move but there are myriad reasons other embattled owners don't do it -- for one it has the potential to make as many problems as it solves.

I assume Ross got this one fan to agree with his rationale about how and why the club has approached this offseason. Great. I also assume some other fans feel good that the owner is willing to reach out to at least one of their number. Great again. Call all 40,000 season ticket holders if you want. Now, that would be truly awesome! That is the advantage of being blunt.

But there is missed nuance. There is failed tactic. Ross opens himself up for questions that I've already read via email from other disgruntled fans: When is Ross going to call me? I'm upset, too, I want a phone call! Is Ross going to call every fan or just the ones so upset that they protest? Isn't that rewarding the protest and penalizing patience?

By calling this fan, Ross has made his season ticket more valuable than others. So why does this person get a call and the guy who's had a season ticket since the 1960s doesn't?

Calling fans is cool, but I suppose Ross realizes that makes the fan he speaks with his unofficial team spokesman and the conduit to everyone else. If he understood nuance he would realize the move undercuts the worth of his actual team spokesmen. And that also makes the media (specifically me) more wary of you because you've been avoiding us since the Joe Philbin hiring and you clearly have stuff to say -- but obviously don't want to say it in a forum where you also have to answer questions.

It makes me convinced Ross has stuff to hide.

Ross by the way is now under fire in Chicago. It seems during this talk with the fan, Ross said the Dolphins were going to simply cut Brandon Marshall if no trade partner appeared soon. The Bears stepped forward. Except the account of the conversation between Ross and the fan makes it seem like the Bears got duped into taking a wide receiver that was going to soon be a free agent.

Ross thus makes Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery look like he got taken. The Dolphins found a trade partner in Emery and perhaps a friend going forward. But Ross effectively threw him under the bus according to accounts in Chicago and elsewhere. That's bad business.

Blunt instrument. Not tactically sound.

Ross supposedly said other things during his talk with the fan -- notably that if his coach wanted Matt Flynn, the Dolphins would have Matt Flynn. Well, Philbin called Flynn a handful of times before the player's visit to Miami. Did he call him to say he didn't want him? Did the Dolphins bring Flynn to Miami because they didn't want him?

The nuanced version of that and what Ross should have said is the Dolphins wanted Flynn but only at their price. So Ross either missed this or said this to the fan but it didn't get relayed correctly. Either way, it's Ross's problem because that is the way things are when a fan becomes your spokesman.

I like Steve Ross. I love his passion and I believe he has the Dolphins' best interest at heart. But he needs refining. He also could stand to listen to the right people more.

He told this fan that Peyton Manning sent him a letter explaining why he wasn't joining the Dolphins. OK, what has he done with that letter? Has he begun to address the issues that made the Dolphins unattractive to a Pro Bowl quarterback?


I also wrote Ross and the Miami Dolphins an open letter that published in today's newspaper. It lets Ross and the Dolphins understand how fans feel -- from my perspective, of course.

I hope they read it. I trust they will. But more importantly, I hope they take it to heart and don't just answer with a loud bull(bleep) -- which has been how the blunt instrument has reacted in the past.

March 22, 2012

So where is the Jake Long contract extension?

Jake Long is in the final year of a contract that seemed oh-so-expensive in 2008 when he signed as the first overall draft pick but has been well worth the money to date. Long is scheduled to make $11.2 million in his contract year and cost upwards of $12.8 million against the cap.

The base salary is basically the cost of doing business. The cap charge seems like a case of business that could be done better.

The fact is the Dolphins need to extend Long's deal. He has been a good player. He is a foundation stone for the franchise. And an extension could easily lower that cap charge and give the team more space to maneuver as it wishes in the coming days of the 2012 league year.

Yet, off Long went on his honeymoon recently and the Dolphins didn't have a new contract ready for him as a wedding gift.


Ah, the why is a puzzle.

The club's official stance is that Long without doubt is not going anywhere, that he is outstanding and that he absolutely will not be allowed to hit free agency at the end of 2012 so that he can possibly go elsewhere.

Good call, Dolphins folks!

So why the delay when an extension could be beneficial for both sides? Well the possibilities are the puzzle.

Maybe both sides have a wink-wink agreement that something will get done and it will. Great, but time is money and the longer this is on the back burner, the weaker the Dolphins seem from a cap standpoint.

Maybe both sides have talked and they simply haven't come to an agreement. This is probably the most likely scenario. The truth is gauging Long's value won't be easy. Cleveland re-signed Joe Thomas to an 8-year contract worth a reported $92 million that included a whopping $44 million in guaranteed money. That's an $11.5 million annual average. And the trouble for the Dolphins is Long will expect to exceed this deal by a significant amount.

Worth it? Obviously yes at first blush. But look deeper. Long is worth is if he's healthy. Long is worth it if the club last season judged his play to be as good as ever -- unlikely considering his rash of injuries. Long, in short, is worth it if the Dolphins believe him to be Jonathan Ogden or Walter Jones -- both of whom played for years at exceedingly high levels and without injuries.

But what if Long is Tony Boselli? Boselli was perhaps the best left tackle in the game early in his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Big, strong, mobile, he was Long before Long. But then he injured a knee. Then he injured an ankle. Then he hurt his shoulder. And then he hurt the shoulder again. And again.

And by his seventh NFL season, Boselli was broken. Folks were surprised when Boselli was placed on the expansion list and allowed to go to Houston. But when he arrived in Houston, injured and unable to contribute, everyone understood.

So is Long on the road to being Boselli? In the past two years he's had a building litany of injuries -- first a knee, then an ankle and shoulder and last year a back and a torn right biceps that forced him to finish the season on injured reserve.

Are the Dolphins worried the trend might continue? Even privately there is confidence Long will recover and continue to be a pillar of the offensive line. But I would imagine the club would nonetheless like to protect itself financially against the continuation of the recent trend.

Perhaps the club prefers to see how Long returns and is handling training camp and the early part of the season before committing to a new contract.

That would be smart. Of course, in the meantime, that significant cap hit glows in neon as needing to be addressed. It is a catch-22. Pay Long and gamble he'll be fine? Or delay a new contract and suffer the tightened cap space?

There is, of course, another scenario that might explain the lack of a new contract for Long. It is obvious this is a big-ticket item. It will cost a lot of dollars. What if owner Stephen Ross, smarting from tanking ticket sales, simply isn't in position to dole out $40-$50 million in guaranteed money right now, much of which would no doubt come in the form of a hefty signing bonus?

What if the Dolphins -- among the bottom five spenders in cash outlay a year ago -- are simply trying to hold down costs again?

These are all questions the Dolphins don't have to answer. But it would clear things up if they did.

March 21, 2012

David Garrard in his own words -- all of them

I have been remiss in introducing you properly to David Garrard. He is the Miami Dolphins' newest quarterback. He will be given a chance to compete for the starting job against Matt Moore after signing a one-year, $3.35 million deal that included $1 million in guarantees and a $100,000 workout bonus.

So here he is talking to the Dolphins media:

QB David Garrard 

(On how ready he is to get on the field and start playing) – “I feel great. I’m 100 percent ready to roll. I feel like I’m back to myself if not better. I’m excited to be back in the game and get back on the field.”

(On if it’s an open competition with Matt Moore) – “They said it was going to be a competition. A healthy competition is great for everybody. That’s what was presented to me. I wouldn’t expect anything else.”

(On the factors of choosing Miami now as opposed to last season) – “Last year I was kind of having the first stages of my herniated disk and I didn’t know what was going on. I thought I kind of needed a little treatment at the time as I had just been released. I wasn’t really receiving treatment there early. I wanted to receive treatment first. My leg was really starting to bother me. I was just really trying to get myself healthy. It just ended up continuing to get worse. I knew by the time the Dolphins were calling that I just wasn’t feeling good enough. I didn’t find out for a couple weeks later I actually did herniate my disk. I wasn’t really in the best position to sign there and take any offers.”

 (On his impressions of Coach Philbin and the offense he’s going to be running) – “They were great. I think Coach Philbin is a great mind and a great coach. He really understands I believe what it takes to put together a great team. He’s a great vision, a great purpose it seems like to me. Everything he said kind of sounded like it was already in my head. I felt that was really one of the deciding factors for me in joining the Dolphins here, that and talking to him. You can just look at his history of what he’s done in the past. Hopefully that can continue over with the Dolphins and with us and really get that offense down there kind of upbeat and rolling. ”

(On choosing the Dolphins instead of visiting the Rams) - “Yeah, well the Rams kind of have a guy already in place there and not that I discounted being a solid backup somewhere. But with not being in my early years in my career, I want to give another shot of at least competing for a starting job. Be able to start somewhere else. I still have that ability. I wanted to go with it and talking with my agent, and talking with my wife, they thought the same thing too. It was just the best case scenario. It’s still here in Florida. It’s a great organization and it really was the place I had a chance to really compete for a starting job.”

(On still having to prove things in the NFL) - “Yeah, well I don’t think I have anything to prove. I think I’ve proved a lot of things as a starting quarterback, but I just want to go further than I’ve gone before. I want to go deeper in the playoffs. Get a taste, a shot at winning a championship. So those are things I want to prove to myself. I want to make sure that when my career is done that I poured everything I had into it. That was one thing I was thinking about all season last year when I was sitting home on the couch. Not knowing if I’ll get a chance to play again that I really didn’t empty my tank. I have a number of years of football left in me. I wanted to make sure that I left it all out there on the field. I leave this game with no questions on whether or not if I have anything left. That’s definitely fueling my purpose and getting to that championship glory. That’s the number one thing for me.”

(On running the West Coast offense and what type of skill set do you present) - “That’s definitely the type of offense that they’re planning on running, but that’s right up my alley. I was in it for a little while when Bryon (Leftwich) was the starting quarterback. I didn’t have a full year of it, but it’s perfect for me. I love getting the ball out of my hands fast, moving in the pocket, bootlegs, all those things are right up my alley and the style and scheme that they’re running will be great. A lot of the terminology is similar to what I was already running. So that’s going to be a nice, easier transition. It’s all not the same, but a lot of it is so that’s usually the hardest part with playing the position is getting all the terminology down and being able to sing it. So that’s great it’s already familiar to me. That’s a system I really wanted to be in again.”

(Reaction to Ryan Clark’s comments) - “I’m not sure why Ryan Clark would say that about any organization. Maybe he just has some hard feelings towards Miami. You can never go off one person's comments. It’s unfortunate that any player would ever dog an organization like that. It’s is sad to hear and it’s just sad for the NFL when players talk like that.”

(On staying in the AFC influence your decision) - “I wish I could say it plays a big apart, but it didn’t. I’ve played just about every team in the NFL. It’s not the AFC South so that would be a (division) I would be very familiar with. It’s still in the AFC and that’s a cool thing. I think it’s real easy the organization, the team, the fact that they’re still in Florida for my family would be able to easily relocate and that kind of stuff. The fact that it’s an open competition, those were a lot of the main things.”

(On Jamie Dukes’ comments about the team having no receivers) - “Well, I’m just excited to be in Miami. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for me, a great opportunity for the city, for the organization. It’s going to be great. A lot of people say different things. I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about winning ball games.”

(On assessing the receivers right now) - “I know that Mr. (Jeff) Ireland is going to a lot of things. Still moving forward with the team, I am sure he’s not set with a number of positions. So I’ll wait and see what he has in store for the receiving core, for all the different positions. I’m sure he’s not finished yet.”

(On if the team said they would bring in the a third quarterback in the draft or elsewhere) - “Yeah, they really didn’t talk much about it. I’m just sure like any other organization; they’re always looking at different positions so we’ll have to see with our coach and what (Jeff) Ireland have in store.”

Tim Tebow goes to the Jets ... plays Miami twice a year

I have a suggestion for the Miami Dolphins: Pass on Tim Tebow day this year.

The former University of Florida star, the former Heisman Trophy winner, the man who led the Gators to national championships and the Denver Broncos to the playoffs, is now a New York Jet. He was traded today from Denver to the Jets for a reported fourth-round draft pick.

That ruckus you hear? The sound of the circus pulling up stakes from its recent Davie, Florida run and moving on to its next scheduled gig. Next stop the Meadowlands.

That's not a rip on Tebow. Nope, he's great. Great person. Great philanthropist. Great man of faith. Great football player. He's just not a great quarterback -- at least not yet.

The Jets acquired him to back up starter Mark Sanchez. They also will likely use him in their Wildcat package. Tony Sparano -- remember him? -- will give the Jets Wildcat a decisively Dolphins feel as he is New York's new offensive coordinator.

And Tebow figures to be his triggerman.

The problem is Tebow, the biggest attention-grabbing story in the NFL last season, is moving on to the media capital of the world. He'll be on the back pages. He'll be in the cross-hairs of the paparazzi. He'll be huge!

And he could be a huge pain in the neck for Sanchez.

Although Tebow is ostensibly going to New York as a backup and limited package guy, he is playing behind a quarterback in Sanchez who has proven himself to be, well, stinky at times.

And stinky at times quarterbacks have one unmistakable gift: They get replaced. That means the time Sanchez struggles two games in a row, it won't be long before calls for Tebow to replace Sanchez would be heard in the media or, worse, raining down from the MetLife Stadium stands.

An already fragile Jets locker room will have to lean on its most sturdy pillars or Rex Ryan's ample, ahem, shoulders to keep the place from fracturing.

Yeah, that'll work. Cue the circus music!

"We don't need Tebow. We sell out every home game let him go to Jacksonville, Tampa or Miami," Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted Tuesday. "Our wildcat offense can be ran (sic) by J Kerley or Joe McKnight we straight."

Later Cromartie was back at it.

"We have @MarkSanchez and just signed Drew. Mark has taken us to two AFC championship game (sic). We need to build on the team we have now."

What a lovely way to welcome a new teammate! Cromartie, by the way, attended Florida State. Tebow is a Gator.

Tebow's first order of business will probably be to show himself the forgiving turn-the-other-cheek guy his faith calls him to be. On the other hand, Tebow is 240 pounds and Cromartie is a comparative a stick figure at 205.

So maybe Tebow's first order of business will instead by to grab Cromartie in a headlock and force him to repent.

Dolphins don't seem done at quarterback

Back to football ...

The Dolphins' search for a franchise quarterback has to take a different road now. This team will not find that guy in free agency. This team probably won't find that guy in a trade because it's not likely Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady will be on the market anytime soon.

So the only avenue that offers a glimmer of hope for Dolphins fans clamoring for a franchise QB is the draft.

During my 30-minute conversation with general manager Jeff Ireland on Tuesday, I asked him about Miami's chances of selecting a quarterback in the draft. Let's face it, the club needs one more guy behind Matt Moore and David Garrard and that guy will probably be a youngster or a developmental type.

Ireland paused after my question, no doubt weighing whether to answer. (He doesn't like to give anything away, not even in hints). And then he said:

"There's a chance of that. Let it run its course."

Not a yes, I grant you. But neither is it a no.

So let us assume the Dolphins do go for a quarterback somewhere in the draft. It's an assumption several NFL types and NFL observers are making. Former Redskins and Houston Texans GM Charley Casserly, for example, released his most recent mock draft today and he has the Dolphins picking Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first round.

I like Tannehill. What's not to like. He was productive for Mike Sherman, his head coach at A&M and now the Dolphins offensive coordinator. At 6-4 and 221 pounds, he has prototypical size. He has a good arm. He was accurate enough last season. And while his decision-making could probably improve, thus bringing down his interceptions, he is not terrible there, either.

The problem with Tannehill is he's considered the next best quarterback after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. And that means he'll be overdrafted -- meaning he'll probably go higher than his actual grade because he's a quarterback and there aren't enough great ones of those in the NFL. I would be comfortable using a second round pick on Tannehill, probably even an early second-round pick on him.

But a first? At No. 8 overall where the Dolphins draft?

That, in my opinion, is not a value pick. He is not the eighth-best player coming out.

Yet, that is probably what it will take to select Tannehill. It will present the Dolphins with a dilemma because on the one hand, they need a quarterback. But on the other hand, they don't like to overpay for anyone, including a quarterback.

Should the Dolphins decide to explore the quarterback position later in the draft, I'd love for them to look at Brandon Weeden with one of their two third-round picks. This guy also has prototype size at 6-4 and 221 and has perhaps the best arm in the draft.

No one was more productive than him. No one throws the ball better than him.

The problems with Weeden are he's going to be 29 years old, which means his shelf life is cut by nearly five years. Other issues are he's careless with the football at times, and he's sometimes kind of confident in his abilities to the border of being overconfident. The NFL will humble him and that isn't a worry, but how long it takes him to figure out he's not in Kansas (or Oklahoma State) anymore concerns because, again, he's 29 years old.

Brock Osweiler, at 6-7 and 242 pounds impresses a lot of people. I look at him and see Dan McGwire. With respect to McGwire, that scares me.

As a later round pick I like Kirk Cousins. He reminds me, don't laugh, of Tom Brady. He's tall and lanky like Brady was coming out of college. He played in the Big 10 like Brady did. He was very good but not great at Michigan State just like Brady was at Michigan.

Even their statistics are something of a mirror for one another. 

Brady threw for 2,586 yards with 20 TDs and 6 INTs his senior season at Michigan. He completed 62.8 percent of his passes. Cousins threw for 3,316 yards with 25 TDs and 10 INTs last season for Michigan State. He completed 63.7 percent of his passes.

I like him. I really do. He's a winner and he brought his team from behind on several occasions. Is he a first or second-round pick? Probably not. But I like him.

This, by the way, is not meant to be a complete study on every single quarterback coming out in the draft. I'm not ready to do that yet. This is meant for you to keep your eyes open to the idea that the Dolphins are not done adding QBs.

There is a vacancy for a young guy.

Dolphins fan protest not as effective as possible

I love and admire Dolphins fans.

You are the reason I am employed. You feed my family and put a roof over my head. You are passionate. You are usually well-informed. Many of you are bright. And you're beaten down after a decade of unacceptable results by your once-elite football franchise.

But Tuesday's protest across the street from the Dolphins practice facility in Davie, Fl.?

Not the way to do it.

Firstly, it was hastily planned. It was modestly attended. It was not exactly exactly Martin Luther King's march on Selma, Alabama as you can see by the video I shot below.

The Dolphins recognized the gathering. The club released the following statement through a spokesman:

"We have the most passionate fans in football and they are not shy about letting their sentiments be known. We understand and we are working hard on giving them something to cheer about this season."

And here is the video:

But here is my point:

That is not the way to do it.

A gathering of two dozen Dolphins fans in the middle of the afternoon in the offseason doesn't really touch the team. It doesn't make the team feel your pain. It doesn't move the meter to force change as much as other things do.

What things?

Do. NOT. Buy. Tickets.

Do. NOT. Purchase. Jerseys.

If you are disgruntled with Miami Dolphins LLC, you have to send a message to this business by approaching it in a business manner.

And if you do have to attend the games and purchase $10 beers and $18 sandwiches in the concession stand, then do it on a day when Stephen Ross is likely to be on the field. Arrive early to Miami's home games when Ross is roaming the sideline. And then boo him lustily or chant or otherwise voice displeasure so you get his attention.

In other words, deliver the message to the person with the power to change things. And let him know you are upset in an up-close-and-personal manner.

Golden State Warriors fans took that approach this week. And it is all over the national news. And it embarrassed Warriors owner Joe Lacob. And chances are really good he now understands how toxic he has made things with Golden State fans.

There were 18,000 people gathered at the Warriors' game and they rained down holy heck on Lacob. That is much, much, much more effective than 24 souls holding up signs across from the training facility ... while Ross is home in New York.


March 20, 2012

Jeff Ireland speaks to the media

Jeff Ireland is calling various media outlets today to share his viewpoint of what's going on with the Dolphins since the start of free agency and going forward.

About the idea that no one wants to come to play for the Dolphins -- a thread that has even hit national media following Miami's inability to land Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher and Peyton Manning, among others:

"I absolutely think players and coaches want to be here," he said. "When we talk to people about the Dolphins, they still think highly of this franchise, its history, its direction. They have no problem coming here. And sometimes they don't. Sometimes they make other decisions. But it's a two-way street. We make our decisions also."

Ireland declined to be specific regarding the reasons Matt Flynn, Alex Smith and Peyton Manning did not come to the organization. Regarding everyone except Manning, he said, "Most of the time these decisions are about money."

As I have written previously, the Dolphins' pursuit of Flynn came with a caveat: They wanted him at their price. The contract Miami offered Flynn was not as lucrative as the one offered by Seattle. I have also learned the Dolphins stopped their chase of Smith when his price was above what they were prepared to pay.

Ireland declined to give details of any negotiation except to say he "would not be reckless" in making a move that could potentially affect the club's future. Ireland called the Dolphins a "storied franchise," and pointed to the club's commitment to return to that better past. He said owner Stephen Ross is spending over $1 million in updating the club's Davie, Florida training facility to make it more comfortable and football friendly for players.

The club is redoing the locker room among other places.

On the all-important quarterback issue, it seems clear the Dolphins are done (for now) chasing veteran options. Ireland confirmed what newly signed quarterback David Garrard said earlier: Garrard and Matt Moore will compete for the starting job in 2012.

There will be no further chase for Smith or any of the current free agent options on the market. Ireland, however, did not rule out selecting a quarterback in the coming draft.

"There's a chance of that," he said. "Let it run its course."

But in the meantime, Ireland said he is thrilled with the idea of adding Garrard.

"I've been chasing this guy since last year," Ireland said. "He's athletic, he has arm talent, he's got veteran experience, he brings great leadership. We went with a veteran at the position and we talked to Matt and he understands we need to play better at quarterback to get over the hump. So they'll compete and we'll see what happens."

As a result, Ireland seems content for the time being. But if an opportunity comes open, he would study or even chase it.

"Where we are at this juncture, I'm happy where we are at the quarterback position," he said. "You have to remember we're not even halfway through the player acquisition process. We will continue to leave no stone unturned. We have a process in place that we're following but we're also being flexible. And that means when opportunities arise, we bring players in, we talk to them, we work them out, we visit to see where they're at. And then we make decisions.

"I'm not naive to the fact we need more pieces. People think we're blind to that but we're not. We need to have another solid draft. But we're not where we're going to be in August."

One player the Dolphins will not be pursuing is Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. Ireland declined to discuss the topic other than to say, "he is a player under contract to another team so I can't talk about him."

But multiple highly placed club sources have told The Herald today there will be no pursuit of the former University of Florida star. The reasons for this is the Dolphins are unwilling to revamp their offense to suit Tebow and highlight his obvious strengths. The Dolphins intended, instead, to run a West Coast offense in 2012.

The Dolphins traded receiver Brandon Marshall the first day of free agency. Ireland was vague as to the reasons for that trade except to say, "There was not one singular event or singular incident that made us" make the trade.

Marshall was involved in an alleged bar fight in New York the night before Marshall was traded.

Ireland said the trade was made after discussions and in agreement with coach Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, and yes, owner Stephen Ross. "We all felt it was in the best interest of the team," Ireland said.

The general manager also said there is no resentment by either party on the matter. "Brandon came by camp yesterday and we sat for a while and before he left we gave each other a hug," Ireland said. "There's no hard feelings there."

The Dolphins hope Yeremiah Bell has no hard feelings because on Monday night when Ireland spoke to the strong safety to him him he was being cut, he added that if he found no suitable takers in free agency and the Dolphins had still not filled the strong safety position, the club would be open to taking Bell back. Despite this, Ireland confirmed that for salary cap reasons the Dolphins did not offer to give Bell a pay cut. The club saved the full $4.3 million in salary Bell was to count against the cap.

Ireland is aware that his cutting of Bell ran counter to every indication he gave to the media publicly and to agent Drew Rosenhaus privately. "When I spoke with Drew a couple of weeks ago, I had no intention of making this move," he said. "But things change. Sometimes the allocation of resources makes it necessary to change direction and you make decision that you previously didn't think you'd make."

Ireland called me just after I returned home from the club's training facility. Outside the facility, approximately 20-30 people were gathered across the street protesting the job Ireland has been doing and calling for his ouster.

"I've heard they're out there," Ireland said. "But I haven't seen them. I don't have a window that gives me a view of them. And we've been pretty busy around here to look anyway."