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Week 6: Dolphins at da Bears
I am not here to bash Coach Philbin as I do like him ... but not so much as a head coach. Somehow I wonder if his team is in the same boat on that.
So, to answer my question, the reason why Joe Philben looked so intriguing two years ago is that he was an up-and-coming coaching talent due to the success of the Green Bay Packer offense. Did he call the plays there? No, he did not. Did he have his own playbook? No, he did not. Most of us were smitten with that Packer offense, and since we all ready had a good defense, all this team needed was half the Packers offense to field a playoff team.
What really is the key to the Packer offense? Well you have to first talk about QB Aaron Rodgers ... Mr Photobomber. Rodgers is just an incredible talent, and another quarterback that the Dolphins looked over during the draft. I honestly thought he'd be another Tedford failed NFL talent, but right now I would say that he is one of the top 3 quarterbacks in the NFL ... and the youngest of that group.
Also, there is a lot of talent put together on that offense by GM Ted Thompson. Rarely do the Packers have to add free agent talent on that offense as Thompson does a great job through the draft.
A third reason for the Packers success is the presence of head coach Mike McCarthy. His presence is all over that team. Heck, he even calls his own offensive plays. That is something that I would not want from my head coach, but what this says is that it is his team and he feels responsible for it.
Now, I understand that stats do not tell the whole story, but to me it is very disappointing to see that Miami's offense over the past two years has been outperformed by Tony Sparano's prehistoric offensive style of football with Chad Henne as his starting quarterback.
Personally, I do feel that Philbin should have been let go after last year where it was obvious that he did not have control over the team. When your offensive coordinator is your friend, and you support his decision to use the "go" "go-go" quarterback barking even though it was obvious that defenses were onto it, you are showing that you do not have control over the final decisions of your coordinators. When players on your offense are not used to their strengths and the offense is being forced into jamming square pegs into round holes, then you do not have control over your coordinators or your offense. When you have the Incognito/Martin problems on the weakest unit of your team, you have to know what is going on with that group. Saying that you did not know that the chemistry of your offensive line is rock bottom while your quarterback leads the NFL in sacks shows a clueless attitude for a head coach that thinks he is just a delegator. All of this is disappointing.
Even though I do not like Coach Philbin's style of coaching, I do think he can succeed as an NFL head coach. He has done a good job this year of having two up-and-coming head coaches as his coordinators. New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and returning defensive coordinator Brian Croyle are very well respected in the NFL and there are a lot of eyes looking at them as future head coaches in this league. In fact, if the Dolphins offense takes a jump this year in improvement I would not be surprised to see Lazor as getting a head coaching job done after this season. With the rebuilding job being done on the OL it could take a couple of years. So, having these two coordinators agree to coach those units on your team means that Philbin gave them full authority over those units, but it does not mean that he cannot have veto power over decisions that need to be improved upon.
I also hope that Philbin improves his locker room personality. Most coaches do not have to go what he had to go through with Incognito and Martin and not learn something important through it. This year Philbin has the support of owner Stephen Ross and has a GM this is valuing his input into the players he wants for his offense, so, he has everything in his corner ...... BUT, the word on the street is that if Ross does not see a playoff appearance this year then Philben could be gone. That is probably why the Dolphins have added some low-risk troubled players onto the team when he was against it in the past.
Here's hoping for a playoff appearance in 2014. Heck, if the Jets can do it two years with the Butt-Fumble, why can't we get to the AFC Championship game?
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We are now over a week plus removed from the 2014 NFL Draft, and one thing that caught my attention was the talk that Miami took too many FCS players and not enough FBS players. Miami drafted OLT/OG Billy Turner of North Dakota State in the 3rd round, CB/S Walt Aikens of Liberty in the 4th round, ILB Jordan Tripp of Montana with their 2nd 5th round pick, WR Matt Hazel of Coastal Carolina in the 6th round and DE Terrance Fede from Marist with their 7th round pick. Miami took ORT Ju'Wuan James of Tennessee in the 1st round, WR Jarvis Landry of LSU in the 2nd round and Georgia TE Arthur Lynch in the 5th round.
I can only speak for myself, but this does not bother me that much. A lot of good football players slip past the FBS level to the FCS level, and a lot of these players come into the NFL and become major contributors. Are their concerns about the level of competition that these kids have played against, sure, to some degree. That said, plenty of kids from the MAJOR programs come in and are bust and struggle with the level of play at the NFL level.
My thoughts on the draft is that I believe the Dolphins had a solid draft and addressed the needs that they need to address. The offensive line was a major concern, and while the Dolphins addressed it to a large degree with free agency, they still needed to add an ORT and an OG. Miami drafted the best PURE ORT in the draft in Tennessee ORT Ju'Wuan James. This move was questioned mostly for the fact that the so called experts thought the Dolphins reached. By the time we got to the draft, I was seeing James in the 1st round of more and more mock drafts, and was projected to be a 1st-2nd round pick. Would I have liked to seen Miami possibly trade down and get an additional pick, sure. But the Dolphins must have felt like if they would have traded down, they might have missed out on James. Seattle follows this philosphy as well, and it worked well for them. With their 3rd round pick, the Dolphins took big, physical Billy Turner, the OLT/OG from North Dakota State. Turner will be moved to OG, and could man either the ORG or OLG spot. These two young kids will be given every chance to win the starting positions, and to be frank, I expect both of them to start.
With the injuries to wide receivers Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline, Miami needed to bring in a wide receiver, and the Dolphins draft WR Jarvis Landry in the 2nd round. I consider Landry to be a poor man version of Anquan Boldin, as he is not a burner, but has great hands, is tough, very productive coming out of college and a willing down field run blocker. Tight End was a position that most would have liked another seam type of threat, like Charles Clay. The Dolphins took TE Arthur Lynch of Georgis, who is an intermediate route runner that has some run skills after the catch. Very good inline blocker, and an immediate threat to 2011 3rd round disappointment Michael Egnew.
ILB was a position the Dolphins looked to address in free agency, and there is still talk about moving Koa Misi inside. Miami drafted ILB Jordan Tripp from Montana in the 5th round. Tripp is football savvy, aggressive and plays downhill. He has nice size at 6'3, 234 lbs and had the quickest 3-cone drill and 20 yard shuttle among the linebackers. He ran a 4.69 40 and is a weight room junkie. Can he translate this into being a factor and contributor on the defense, time will tell. At worst, he will be a special teams contributor.
6th & 7th round picks are long shots to make the team, but WR Matt Hazel of Coastal Carolina and DE Terrance Fede of Marist are solid football players, and Don Jones, 7th round pick from Arkansas State just made the team in 2013 as a 7th round pick. They will have every chance to make the team or be placed on the practice squad.
Once the draft ended, the next phase of acquiring talent began with the signing of undrafted free agents, and I thought the Dolphins did a nice job of signing some nice players here as well. Some names that caught my attention was DT Anthony Johnson of LSU, RB Damien Williams of Oklahoma, Arkansas OT David Hurd, Utah State OC Tyler Larsen and Marshall TE/HB Gator Hoskins.
How will this draft class pan out for the Dolphins, time will tell. I gave the Dolphins a B for the 2013 draft class, but that class struggled mightly in 2013. I don't think we will know how these draft classes will pan out until a few years after the fact. Case and point, 2011 6th round draft choice Charles Clay. I liked Clay coming out of Tulsa, but he did not come into his own as a major contributor for the Dolphins until this past year. The Dolphins do really need Ju'Wuan James and Billy Turner to be major contributors early for the Dolphins. This could be the difference between the Dolphins being a playoff team or once again on the outside looking in.