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       The NFL Draft is like an desert oasis to true NFL fans. It is that 1 day in the off-season where the problems of the year before are somehow magically solved. It allows the hardcore guys to grasp onto a glimmer of hope that the new draft picks will instantly infuse the team with talent in needed areas and push them into the playoffs in the fall. Nowhere is that more evident than watching ESPN focus on Jet’s Fans chanting J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS after nothing more than a first round pick. Well, things aren’t that different in Dolphin Land either. Last year I had hopes that the Dion Jordan (3rd overall) was going to bust onto the scene Jason Taylor style. I had visions of Brady leaving the game early after being hit so often. Afterall he would be teamed with one of the best DE’s in the game…Cam Wake.


       Unfortunately, reality hits just like an NFL MLB….hard and fast. Jordan couldn’t beat out the incumbent and Wake had a down year from all the double teams. Miami became mired in a controversy after one of its Jonathon Martin became the center of Bully-Gate when he claimed he was being bullied by his teammate, Ritchie Incognito. Miami Fans should’ve seen this coming as Martin was bullied all the time….mostly on Sundays by opposing DE’s getting to the QB. But, our aqua and orange sunshades blinded us and like every season, Miami was the ugly bridesmaid of the AFC East. Close…as in most years, but not there. After further review, last year’s draft was extremely light when it came to impacting the season last year. Only 1 rookie, a kicker, made it to the field as a starter. Don Jones became a pretty good special teams guy and Jordan did see playing time and when I isolated him on game film…I thought in limited action he was solid. I could write an entire blog on why wasn’t he given more playing time and why our DC from last year still has a job but I’ll save that for another day. The bottom line, April fools wasn’t on the first of April last year for Miami Fans. It came during the season when the draft results were painfully evident. It was a crusing moment for most of us after what looked to be on paper to be an outstanding draft and off-season.


       Fast-forward to this season and last week’s NFL Draft. It was pretty low key with Miami drafting two tackles (1 slated to be a guard?) with 2 of the first 3 picks and a WR in round 2. Last year, I had big expectations. This year I feel like Miami took my expectations and gave them the Aaron Hernandez special. Even my aqua colored glasses seem a little foggy and unable to muster enthusiasm. Maybe it is because I’m numb to high expectations but moreover, I think it looked to me like Hickey was trying desperately to fill needs rather than go after athletes.


       So for the first year in a long time, the draft felt like a real downer. Given that the mid-year oasis was dry, maybe it’s the season that will provide the much needed water for my thirst? I guess after being a fan for 40+ years means I’m going to wait and see. I've never been a fair weather fan and while I don't have many reasons lately, I'll be just as excited once September rolls around. As a cheery note, the last time Miami paid this much attention to the OL was in 2008 and 1990. Both years Miami ended up in the post season. Hang your hat on that.


Go Tanny



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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?


Talk about it here.


Go Fins!

Dave Blake






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