Archive for: March 2011

Former Dolphins’ QB, Chad Pennington, Tears His ACL

You read that headline correctly.  Yes, Chad Pennington was on the Miami Dolphins last year.  But it is almost a certainty that he will not be on the team’s roster for 2011.  During a pickup basketball game, Pennington tore his ACL, likely ending any hope for a return to the field in 2011.

Some thought that Pennington could be resigned by the Dolphins to backup Chad Henne again next season.  With his ACL surgery scheduled for early April, it’s hard to believe that the Dolphins (or any team) would sign him.  After all, Chad will become a free agent as soon as the new CBA is agreed to by the NFL players and owners.  All this means is that the Dolphins can cross one ‘backup plan’ off the list.  It was probably a remote possibility that he would’ve been resigned, but his injury all but closes the book on Chad’s career with the Miami Dolphins.

We wish Chad well and want to thank him again for an unforgettable 2008 season, when he led the Dolphins to the AFC East Title.  We hope he makes a full recovery and ends up returning to the football field at some point…either as a coach…or maybe even again as a player.

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During the Lockout, Dolphins players aim to hold practices

When Chad Henne made mention of his meetings with Brian Daboll late last month, the idea was for Henne to learn the offense so he could teach the Dolphins other offensive players.  It appears that at least some of the Dolphins players are trying to begin organizing practices on their own.  Many teams in the NFL have new coaches and/or new offensive and defensive coordinators, so we expect other players to be doing something similar.  While there are certainly some benefits to the Dolphins players practicing on their own, there are also some risks.  We’ll explore both:

Risks

- Insurance: While the NFL players are being locked out by the owners, they are not covered by health insurance.  We’re sure that most, if not all, players have picked up a supplemental plan (i.e. Cobra)…just in case.

- Contract Status: If a player is injured while practicing outside of an NFL sponsored camp, there is a good chance that their contract can be voided or reduced by their team.

- Injuries: While we love the idea of Chad Henne getting extra time in with Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess, we also shutter at the thought of any of the players getting hurt.  Can you imagine the outrage if one of the Dolphins star players was lost for the season while taking part in these practices?

- Offense discovered: This may not be a big risk.  However, if the Dolphins are holding open practices, isn’t there a chance that another team (cough, Belicheat, cough) could tape their practices?

Rewards

- Leader: Chad Henne, if he’s learned the offense enough, can finally prove to be a leader of the offense.  If he is the players coach during these practices, it will be natural for the players to respect Henne more.

- Head Start: With a new offense being installed, the Dolphins will be getting a head start compared to what they would if they waited until the Lockout was over with.  No one knows how long the Lockout could go, so any work that the Dolphins can get in while it’s going on is a bonus.

- Chemistry: Last year Brandon Marshall missed 2 months of offseason work with the Dolphins due to his hip injury.  If he and Chad Henne can get on the same page this offseason, both could show improved numbers in 2011.

 

Overall, we think it’s great that the Dolphins players will be working out and practicing together.  We’re eager to know which players will be taking part.  Yes, there are injury risks, but are the risks any greater than if they were practicing within the confines of the team facility?  We hope these practices are useful and help the team be as prepared as possible for the 2011 campaign.

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Newton/Gabbert to workout for Dolphins this weekend

This weekend, the Miami Dolphins will hold private workouts for two of the top quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.  NFL.com is reporting that the Dolphins will welcome in Cam Newton (QB Auburn).  Armando Salguero is reporting that the Dolphins will also host Blaine Gabbert (QB Arkansas).  It’s interesting that the Dolphins are bringing in these top two quarterbacks, as both are expected to be long gone by the time the Dolphins make their selection at #15.

Maybe they are doing their due diligence.  They’ve also shown interest in Christian Ponder (QB Florida State) and Colin Kaepernick (QB Nevada).  This is the most likely scenario.  The Dolphins want to do their homework on all of the players that they think could potentially be available to them and can help the team in 2011 and beyond.

However, there is also the possibility that the Dolphins want a closer look at Gabbert and Newton because they think they can move up to select one.  We’ve heard from rotoinfo.com’s Incarcerated Bob that the Dolphins are talking to teams about moving into the top 10, even as high as #4.  While these could be smokescreens, the Dolphins may believe that one of these QB’s could be the future franchise QB that Chad Henne cannot.

We agree with Dave Hyde, that it’s time the Dolphins selected a QB in the first round…if they think they are worth it.  QB is the most important position on the field and the Dolphins must either draft a QB or really, REALLY believe in Chad Henne.  In our humble opinion, we think there will be 3 quarterbacks taken in the first round (Newton, Gabbert, and Mallett).  As mentioned before, trading back, picking up an extra draft pick or two, and drafting Mallett might be the best option.  Give the Dolphins credit though, they’re making sure they check all of these QBs out as best as they can, before the draft.

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Mallett/Ingram Breakdown, NFL Rule Changes, plus Henne gets another chance

The NFL Draft is now only 32 days away and despite the Lockout, things may begin to pick up between now and April 28th.  There are a lot of rumors beginning to circulate, but it’s hard to know what to believe.  We even heard that the Dolphins were talking to the Bengals about trading up to the #4 overall pick….take it for what it’s worth.  Today we’ll cover a breakdown of Ryan Mallett and Mark Ingram, two prospects the Dolphins are rumored to be interested in.  We’ll also let you know about the new NFL Rule changes and Tony Sparano’s thoughts on Chad Henne.

Mallet/Ingram Breakdown

Todd McShay of ESPN.com gave a breakdown of two draft prospects that are likely to be available when the Dolphins select at #15.  The full story can be found here on the Palm Beach Post’s blog.  According to McShay, Ryan Mallett (QB – Arkansas), is expected to go in the second round of the draft.  We’ve seen him rumored to be a mid-1st round pick so this is a little surprising.  One concerning point that McShay brings up is Mallett’s pocket presence and ability to avoid the rush.  In the NFL there will be more pressure in his face, so this could be a problem (especially if the Dolphins don’t fix their interior line!).

McShay has nice things to say about Mark Ingram (RB – Alabama).  He says that while Ingram doesn’t possess great measurables (i.e. speed), he does have great anticipation and vision.  If he can improve his hands, he could be exactly what the Dolphins are looking for.  Tony Sparano stressed that the Phins will be a 2-back team, likely adding one speedy playmaker and one grinding back.  Ingram could be the grinding back the Phins are looking for.

NFL Rule Changes

The NFL apparently likes touchbacks.  In the spirit of player safety, the NFL has moved the kickoff line to the 35 (from the 30).  This will ultimately result in more touchbacks and teams starting with possession on their own 20 yard line.  Many of the games great returners have already voiced their displeasure with the move…and we’re not too happy about it either.

Another big rule change is that every  scoring play will be subject to reply as seen needed by the replay official ‘upstairs’.  This will eliminate the coaches from using a challenge on any scoring play, for or against their team.

Another Shot for Chad Henne

In this article by Ben Volin, Tony Sparano defends Chad Henne’s play in 2010 and says that he will get another shot at being the Dolphins QB in 2011.  Sparano thinks that Chad Henne has progressed and still has a chance to become an above average starting quarterback.  Keep in mind that Henne is currently the only legitimate QB the Dolphins have on the roster, so what else should we expect Sparano to say.  Once the draft and free agency (eventually) take place, we’ll have a better idea as to whether or not Henne will get a legitimate shot to start for the Phins in 2011.  Hopefully the Dolphins can bring in a QB, either via the draft, free agency, or a trade, to compete with Henne and upgrade the QB position.

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Dolphins’ Wake only 10th best pass rusher?

Tonight, while checking Twitter for any new Dolphins news, we saw a tweet from Adam Schefter of ESPN.  Schefter’s tweet was a link to a recently published ESPN.com story, ranking the top 10 pass rushers in the NFL.  Intrigued, I decided to check it out to see where the Dolphins Pro Bowl OLB, Cameron Wake finished on the list.  As it turns out, the ‘experts’ as ESPN don’t seem to think Cameron Wake is better than the 10th best pass rusher in the NFL.

Wake’s 14.0 sacks for the Dolphins in 2010 placed him 3rd in the entire NFL in sacks behind DeMarcus Ware (15.5) and Tamba Hali (14.5).  Yet, the experts at ESPN think he’s only the 10th best?  In fact, it was even more surprising to see  that 3 of the 8 writers didn’t even have #91 of the Dolphins on the ballot!  Yes, the top 10 list is comprised of good players, but we think some of the voting had more to do with name recognition than production on the field.  After all, isn’t the goal of pass rushers to sack the quarterback?  Further, some of Wake’s sacks came at the most crucial times in games.  Big players make plays at big times.

Tim Graham, the ESPN.com blogger for the AFC East had Wake ranked #4; in our opinion a more suitable ranking.  Every other ‘expert’ had the Dolphins young pass rusher at #9 or off the board completely.  Granted, Graham follows the AFC East closer than the other writers, so he has been exposed to more Dolphins games and has seen more of Wake’s efforts on the field. Graham explains:

“If we’re ranking the best overall defensive ends or outside linebackers, then maybe Cameron Wake doesn’t make my list,” Graham said. “He’s not a run-stuffer and is lacking when it comes to pass coverage. But we’re rating pure pass-rushers, and that’s the one thing Wake does on an elite level. He’s a freakishly gifted athlete who creates havoc in the backfield.

Wake has improved against the run, so I disagree a bit with Graham there.  But I agree with his point about Wake not making the top 10 if we’re talking about overall DE or OLB.  He’s still fine tuning his run stuffing and working on is coverage skills.  But this list was about pass rushing.  It is rankings like these that make me hate ESPN at times.   They try to cover too much, without paying attention to the details enough….But that’s a story for another day.  For now, Dolphins’ fans can take pride in their young and growing OLB, Cameron Wake.  I think he’s got a good 2011 in store for the Phins!

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Dolphins fined for Henne/Daboll Offseason Meetings

Today we learned that the Miami Dolphins have been fined for the offseason meetings between Chad Henne and Brian Daboll.  The NFL confirmed that 4 other teams were also fined for improper offseason meetings.  Initially, Greg Aiello of the NFL said the league wouldn’t be investigating the Dolphins offseason meetings.  Apparently, that changed.  According to the rules set forth in the now expired CBA, players were not supposed to meet with position coaches between the end of the season and March 4th.

Stephen Ross will be missing some of these!

Henne was meeting with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to learn the new Dolphins offense.  We first mentioned these meetings on February 28th, following Henne’s comments at a golf outing.  The thought was for Henne to learn the new offense so he could teach the Dolphins other offensive players in the event of a Lockout.

There is no dollar amount being reported yet, but at least it isn’t draft pick compensation….and we appreciate the Dolphins for having a plan to work through this abbreviated offseason.  Can’t help but feel a little bad for Chad Henne though.  On a day where some interesting photos came out from his vacation, he also has to deal with the Dolphins being fined for a meeting that he wasn’t supposed to talk about to the media!

Again, the pictures are what they are, the guy was on vacation.  The Dolphins shouldn’t be all that upset about them.  But maybe the Dolphins should’ve instructed Chad not to mention the meetings with Daboll….Maybe they did and he forgot….But we thought ‘robots’ weren’t supposed to forget once they are programmed?

 

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Chad Henne Gone Wild on Bahamas Vacation?

Label this in the “Chad Henne has some personality” file.  The Miami Dolphins QB does have a fun side!  Henne, the Dolphins presumed starting QB, was caught by TMZ cameras while on vacation in the Bahamas.  Henne appeared to be out at a restaurant/bar and looked to be having a good time, having a couple of beers. And by having a good time, we mean adding some muscle to his upper body.  We don’t want to ruin it for you, the pictures speak for themselves.  Check out the TMZ pictures, here.

We’re sharing this with you because we find it funny more than anything.  Some will criticize him for his actions, but not here.  Chad Henne is doing nothing worse on his vacation than any other NFL player is doing right now.  In fact, it’s actually nice to see that he can have a little fun.  Apparently Dolphins Coach,Tony Sparano doesn’t think so though!  Sparano spoke with Mando of the Miami Herald about Henne’s pictures:

Armando asked, “I assume that’s not what you want to see from your quarterback?”

“Good assumption,” Sparano answered

Honestly, compared to some of the off the field incidents that have taken place with NFL players, should the Dolphins be THAT upset with Henne?  Our guess is that by the time this Lockout is over and Dolphins Training Camp opens up, this will be a non-issue.  The Dolphins have many more important things to worry about than Chad Henne’s 20-something humor in a bar.

From a football perspective, we hope Henne does enjoy his vacation.  We hope he returns with a clear mind and is ready to lead the Dolphins.  Remember, he is the one that studied the new offense of Brian Daboll.  He is the one that is expected to lead the offseason, players-only practices during the Lockout.  If he hopes to keep his starting job against whomever the Dolphins bring in to compete with him, he’d better make sure he takes advantage of his head start with the offense.

 

Please remember to follow us on Twitter @phinnation for the latest Dolphins News

Carson Palmer the Best Veteran QB Option for Dolphins?

With the CBA conflict set to head to the courts, we as Dolphins fans have to wait patiently and wait before our teams can sign free agents or make trades involving players.  This morning, Armando Salguero writes in his blog that the Dolphins best veteran QB option is Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Picture by: SteelCityHobbies

Armando explains that Palmer is the best veteran QB option available for the Dolphins this offseason…whenever the new CBA is agreed to.  He points out that this thought is that of people within the Miami Dolphins organization, not his own opinion.

We think Palmer would be an upgrade for the Dolphins over Chad Henne, but that’s probably not saying very much!  Last year, Palmer threw for over 3,900 yards, 26 TDs/20 INTs and had a QB rating of 82.4 (stats by ESPN)  The key will be 1. If the Bengals will actually trade him, 2. What the cost will be to acquire him.  He seems intent on retiring if he is not released/traded by the Bengals.  When the new CBA is finalized, it will come down to a war of wills between Palmer and the Bengals.  Who will win could determine if he will end up wearing the aqua and orange of the Dolphins.

The uncertainty of the CBA could cause the Dolphins to draft a young QB instead of looking for a veteran to compete with Chad Henne.  The Dolphins have contingency plans in place for each CBA scenario….If only they would share them with us!

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Gabbert/Newton in Dolphins sights? Both Schedule Private Workouts

Over the weekend,  rumors started to circulate around the upcoming NFL Draft. Keep in mind that the word we just used was RUMORS. We are about 5 weeks from the NFL Draft, so of course, rumors are beginning to fly.  Some will be smokescreens and some will be legitimate.  We’ll share the sensible rumors we hear, because it’s part of the fun of the NFL offseason…and sometime, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  Despite the NFL Lockout, the Draft will still proceed as scheduled on April 28-30th.

Picture by: Marianne-OLeary

Over the weekend we learned a few things.  First, Blaine Gabbert (QB Missouri), scheduled a private workout with the Miami Dolphins.  This is on the heels of the Dolphins having reportedly scheduled a private working with Cam Newton (QB Auburn).  It is widely expected that these two quarterbacks will be gone by the time the Dolphins are on the clock at pick #15……

That brings us to our second point of this post…Yesterday, we saw that Incarcerated Bob of rotoinfo.com tweeted that the Dolphins and Patriots are both interested in trading up into the top 8 picks of the draft.  Let’s forget about the Patriots for now, they’re probably targeting AJ Green/Julio Jones OR a pass rushing OLB.  We followed up with Bob to see who might be in the Dolphins sights in the top 8…and he mentioned Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert.  Bob is the same guy that tweeted earlier this month that the Dolphins are very interested in Cam Newton and would be willing to trade up to get him.  All interesting notes that would lead a logical person to believe that the Dolphins think one or either of these young QBs can be the future franchise QB that Chad Henne apparently is not.

Keep in mind that a trade up to get a player would likely not happen until draft day.  The Dolphins are probably targeting picks 7-10 to see if either player falls into that area of the draft.  If they are both taken by then (say Carolina takes Gabbert and Buffalo takes Newton), the Dolphins will likely look to stay where they are at #15 or trade down.  We received some clarification this weekend from Greg Aiello on Twitter, that future draft picks (2012) CAN be traded for 2011 selections.  To move up that far, and without a 2nd round pick in 2011, the Dolphins would likely have to give up their #15 pick this year and next year’s first round pick. Remember though, with no CBA, there cannot be any players involved in trades.

Our Take: While the thought of Gabbert is exciting, the sacrifice of potentially 2 first round picks would certainly be steep.  Without knowing all of the details of interviews, workouts, etc., we would rather trade down, regain a 2nd rounder, and draft Ryan Mallett later in the 1st round.  However, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano want to win as much as the fans do in 2011…as their jobs are on the line.  So, if they think that Gabbert/Newton could help the team more than Chad Henne, then this is the type of move that they should certainly entertain.

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A Year Later – The Brandon Marshall Trade

We remember it vividly, last April 14th, when the news of Brandon Marshall coming to the Miami Dolphins began to leak.  Dolphins fans rejoiced at the thought of getting a Pro Bowl wide receiver for 2 second round draft picks.  We were all excited about the game-breaker Marshall could become in Miami.  Do Dolphins fans still feel the same way now?  We’re guessing they do.  After all, as the roster stands right now, Brandon Marshall is the best player on the offense.

The Dolphins gave up those 2 second round draft picks last year and were able to recoup one in a draft day trade with the San Diego Chargers.  In the 1st round, between where the Dolphins were originally slated to draft and where they ended up drafting, there were some good players taken (Earl Thomas, Maurkice Pouncey, Devin McCourty, etc.).  However, we still think the Dolphins made the right decision to acquire Marshall. Here’s a rundown of his 2010 season and what to expect in 2011, along with some highlights:

 

2010 Review

Marshall came to Miami, but he wasn’t able to take part in all of the offseason workouts.  Remember, he had a hip injury that limited him for over 2 months.  Perhaps that time lost had an impact on his chemistry with Chad Henne…or maybe it didn’t and Henne just isn’t a good enough quarterback.  Regardless, Marshall still posted 86 receptions for 1,014 yards and 3 TDs in 2010.  These numbers are off of his career averages, but still better numbers than the Dolphins have seen from a receiver in some time.

The growth and improvement of Davone Bess, in addition to double coverages, prevented Marshall from topping the 100 reception mark.  It should be noted that Bess had a bit of a breakout year for himself, grabbing 79 balls for 820 yards and 5 TDs.

2011 Preview

It’s hard to say now what Brandon’s 2011 will look like as a lot will depend on the Dolphins roster improvements.  It’s widely expected that the Dolphins will look to upgrade the QB position this offseason.  If they can, Marshall’s numbers should only improve in 2011.  In addition, improving the OL and RB positions could open up the field a little bit more for Brandon on the outside.  A speed receiver would also help free up Marshall by taking the safety out of the middle of the field.  Overall, we expect the new offense and roster upgrades to benefit Marshall.  We expect a bigger year from him in 2011.

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