Vinatieri: Peyton Manning ‘Not That Far Off’…Dolphins should take note

Sorry Dolphins fans, but it seems like a day can’t go by without Peyton Manning’s name surfacing.  Maybe it’s because Super Bowl Week just happens to be in Indianapolis.  Or maybe it’s because one of the best QBs of all time is about as close as a player can be to being a free agent…without actually being one.  Peyton Manning is expected to meet with Colts owner, Jim Irsay sometime after the Super Bowl to discuss the future plans of the QB and the Colts.  However, Bruce Arians, the Colts new offensive coordinator, may have tipped the Colts internal thoughts when he said “Hopefully Peyton can come back and get ready to go. But, there will be a new quarterback and a new beginning.” (per @AdamSchefter).  Interesting comment, isn’t it?

The Peyton Manning spin game has been all over the news.  Yesterday, we saw report after report from ‘sources’ saying that they future Hall of Famer’s career is likely over.  Here’s a thought that I shared on Twitter:  What if those ‘sources’ are being fed information by the Indianapolis Colts?  What if Jim Irsay, who is in a very tough spot, wants to diminish the possibility of Peyton returning to football at all.  Think about it, he’s about to tell his fan base that their Hall of Fame, Super Bowl winning QB is about to be replaced by a kid from Stanford, Andrew Luck.  This isn’t meant to slight Andrew Luck, I’d take him on the Dolphins in a second….But, couldn’t Irsay be motivated to ‘leak’ news that Peyton is probably done?  At least, at this point it seems Peyton may never play again and he has to make a decision, right?  Selling the Colts fan base on worries about Peyton’s health is a lot easier than saying that they want a fresh start with Luck.  Irsay might simply be trying to reduce the backlash.

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The Matt Flynn Plan for the Dolphins

Today is day 2 of our Miami Dolphins Offseason QB Plan series.  Today, we’re going to look at a QB that the Dolphins new head coach is very familiar with, Matt Flynn.  The Dolphins hired their new coach, Joe Philbin, hoping he would bring an exciting offense to Miami.   Philbin has already said that he plans to use an up-tempo offense, even throwing in some no huddle looks.  What better guy to run his offense than a guy that he’s been working with since 2008.  Flynn is the most likely candidate of the 3 QB’s we’ll feature, to end up on the Dolphins.  Peyton Manning’s health and Robert Griffin 3rd’s cost (to trade up) will make them longer shots than Flynn.

Matt Flynn has been the backup in Green Bay for the last 4 years, so he has only had limited playing time.  For his career he’s completed 82 of 132 passes (62.1%) for 1,015 yards with 9 TDs and 5 INTs (92.8 QB Rating).  This is an extremely small sample size, but you can’t help but get excited about Flynn after seeing him throw for 480 yards, while completing over 70% of his passes and 6 TDs/1 INT against the Lions.  You might say that it was the last game of the season and it didn’t matter.  However, the Lions needed that game to keep their playoff hopes alive.   You could, however, say that the Lions had the 22nd best pass defense in the NFL this season.

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The Peyton Manning Plan for the Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have done a nice job finding a good head coach and have assembled a pretty good coaching staff.  However, now the hard work is about to begin.  The Dolphins have made it very clear that they intend on upgrading the quarterback position this offseason.  So, for the next 3 days, we’re going to give you 3 potential QBs and the plans that might involve them.  Peyton Manning is first up.  We’ll then take a look at Matt Flynn and Robert Griffin III.  As you can guess, depending on which quarterback the Dolphins chose to make a run at this offseason, it will alter the rest of their plan for the offseason.  On Friday, after we’ve laid out all 3 plans, we’ll ask you to vote on which plan you like best.

So Peyton Manning is first up….and truthfully, he’s probably the longest shot of the 3 QBs we’re looking at.  Today, we don’t even know if Peyton Manning will ever play football again.  In fact, Peyton Manning doesn’t even know if he’ll play again.  Gil Brandt who is a close friend of the Manning family has said recently that if he had to give an answer, he thinks we may have seen the last of Peyton Manning in the NFL.  Even today, reports indicate that Peyton is probably done…Peyton said in an interview with ESPN that he has no plans on retiring.  Go figure!   Having said all of that, there is still a chance that Peyton is healthy come September and if he is, he’ll be playing football in a city other than Indianapolis.  The early March deadline will come and the Colts will refuse to pay him the $28 mil bonus he’s due.  He’ll then be a free agent and if he feels he’s healthy enough, he’ll look for a new team.

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Marshall has BEASTLY Day and Soliai Plays Perhaps His Last Game as a Dolphin

The Miami Dolphins might be in full-swing with their offseason plans, but a couple of Dolphins actually played football on Sunday.   Brandon Marshall did a little more than play football.  He had a MONSTER game in the Pro Bowl.  He grabbed 6 catches for 176 yards and 4 TDs.  Congratulations to Brandon on that accomplishment.  Here’s a video of his luckiest most amazing catch of the day:

 Yes, we may be saying some of this jokingly.  After all, the defense played at the Pro Bowl is as bad, if not worse than what you see in the NBA All Star Game.  It’s essentially 7 on 7 practice.  The AFC won the game 59-41.  That’s 100 points.  So yeah, not a whole lot of defense was played.  It was great to see a Dolphins player do something special though.  No receiver had ever caught 4 TDs in a game.  His ‘Beastly’ day earned Brandon Marshall the MVP of the Pro Bowl.

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Dolphins Agree to Hire Sherman as Offensive Coordinator, Coyle as Defensive Coordinator

Last Friday, the Miami Dolphins came to terms with their new head coach, Joe Philbin.  This Friday, the Dolphins agreed to contract terms with two men that go a long way towards helping Philbin be a successful coach.  As a surprise to no one, according to Jason LaCanfora, the Dolphins have agreed to make Mike Sherman their new offensive coordinator and Kevin Coyle their new defensive coordinator:

@JasonLaCanfora: “Mike Sherman and Kevin Coyle have agreed to terms with Miami to be coordinators. Contracts to be signed shortly #insideslant

After Mike Nolan left the Dolphins to join the Atlanta Falcons as their defensive coordinator, the Dolphins called on Coyle, the now former defensive backs coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.  Coyle was with the Bengals for 11 seasons and will help the Dolphins transition to a 4-3 defense.  It’s likely that Coyle will bring a lot of the schemes that Mike Zimmer uses with the Bengals.  In 2011, the Bengals finished 7th in the NFL in total defense and 9th in the NFL against the pass.  Coyle’s addition should help the Dolphins young secondary, helping Vontae Davis and Sean Smith take the next step in their development.

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Mike Sherman Could Be Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Very Soon

New Miami Dolphins head coach, Joe Philbin, has been working this week to put together his coaching staff.  One of the biggest pieces may be about to fall into place.  Moments ago, Adam Schefter (ESPN), Peter King (SI.com), and CBSSports all confirmed that Greg Schiano (Rutgers) will be named the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs.  How does that impact the Dolphins?  Well, one of the finalists for the Bucs job happens to be a very long time friend of Joe Philbin.  Former Packers and Texas A&M Head Coach, Mike Sherman, interviewed with the Bucs this week for the 2nd time, but ultimately did not get the job.  After reporting the Schiano hire, Shefter tweeted this:

“And former Packers HC Mike Sherman is in Miami today to see if the two sides can work out a deal for him to become Dolphins OC”

Philbin and Sherman go way back.  Like, way, way back.  Sherman was Philbin’s English teacher in the late 1970’s.  Later in life (2003), Sherman was looking for an offensive line coach for his Green Bay Packers.  Philbin took a chance and hired Philbin who would rise through the ranks, even after Sherman’s departure from Green Bay, to become the offensive coordinator in 2007.  Sherman, meanwhile, went on to become the head coach at Texas A&M.  He was fired by the Aggies in December of 2011.

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Dolphins Switching to 4-3 Defense in 2012

Cameron Wake is a happy man!  According to the Palm Beach Post, the Miami Dolphins are going to make a switch from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3, for the 2012 season.  Ben Volin reports that Jeff Ireland told his scouts last month that the team will start evaluating players that fit the 4-3 scheme.  The Dolphins currently do not have a defensive coordinator after Mike Nolan left for the Falcons.  They interviewed Kevin Coyle yesterday for the position, but no decision has been made yet.  Finding players that fit the 4-3 is important, but so is finding the right defensive coordinator to mold the defense into a cohesive unit.  Coyle could be that guy and if he is, we’ll probably know by the weekend.

With 2 of their starters on the defensive line set to become free agents, this offseason might just be the right time to make such a switch.  Kendall Langford and Paul Soliai are set to become free agents in early March.  Langford’s rookie contract has expired and rumors have it that he might follow Mike Nolan to Atlanta.  Langford is a productive, if not flashy, player.  But he’s a 3-4 defense end.  In a 4-3, he would likely have to shift inside…and the Dolphins have Jared Odrick and presumably Randy Starks to fill those roles.

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Todd Bowles Will Not Return to Dolphins in 2012, Plus Coaching Staff Update

Last week at this time, Todd Bowles was a finalist for the Miami Dolphins head coaching job.  Since then, Bowles has learned that he will not be the Dolphins next head coach….and according to the Sun Sentinel, he won’t be back with the Dolphins in any capacity next season. According to Omar Kelly, Bowles will be released from his contract and is free to look for work with other teams.  As Kelly notes in his story, Bowles has now interviewed with 5 different teams for head coaching jobs, since 2009.  The Rooney Rule plays a role in that number, but people recognize that Bowles is a very good coach.  He will probably need to land a defensive coordinator job first, then take the next step to becoming a head coach.

Bowles has been with the Dolphins since 2005, first as the assistant head coach…then as the secondary coach….and most recently as the interim head coach, after Tony Sparano was fired.  Bowles led the Dolphins to a 2-1 record in his brief stint as head man, beating the Bills and Jets.  There was speculation that Bowles could stay on with the Dolphins as their defensive coordinator.  However, the Dolphins appear ready to move on.  Bowles is a good coach and the players like/respect him…..He probably won’t be out of work long and we certainly wish Todd the best of luck.

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Dolphins Paul Soliai Selected for Pro Bowl

Miami Dolphins behemoth Nose Tackle Paul Soliai will replace Haloti Ngata of the Ravens in this Sunday’s NFL Pro Bowl.  Soliai probably just earned a little bit more money in his pending free agency negotiations.  The Dolphins used the Franchise Tag on Soliai before the 2011 season and paid him over $12 mil.

If you want to know Soliai’s value, don’t look at his statistics, ask the Dolphins linebackers.  Soliai recorded 27 tackles and 2 passes defensed.  He did not have a sack or force a fumble.  So how did he make the Pro Bowl?  If you watched Dolphins games this season, you know that Soliai was regularly taking on 2 blockers (Center and Guard) of the opponent.  By occupying 2 blockers, Soliai freed up his Dolphins teammates to run around and make plays.

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Kevin Coyle to Interview for Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Job

The Miami Dolphins are in divide and conquer mode.  Jeff Ireland and numerous Dolphins scouts are in Mobile, Alabama watching Senior Bowl Practices.  Meanwhile, new Dolphins Coach, Joe Philbin, is in the process of moving his family to Miami and interviewing candidates for his coaching staff.  It seems as though almost all of Tony Sparano’s Dolphins staff will be looking for other places to work next season….and that includes Todd Bowles.  The lone exception might end up being Darren Rizzi, the Dolphins special teams coach.

As for Todd Bowles, sources within the Dolphins suggest that it is unlikely that he will return to the team in 2012.  Bowles was rumored to be the front runner for the Dolphins defensive coordinator position after missing out on the head coaching gig.  Well, it seems he’ll be coaching elsewhere next season, as the Dolphins are currently looking fill that same position.  According to NFL Network and FoxSports.com, the Dolphins have asked for, and received permission from the Cincinnati Bengals to interview their defensive backs coach, Kevin Coyle.  Coyle has been with the Bengals for 11 years and has over 35 years of coaching experience.  He is said to be a close friend of Joe Philbin’s and the two are both from Massachusetts.

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