How much of an impact will the new acquisitions have on the 2011 Dolphins?

The Miami Dolphins were very active at the onset of free agency.  They have since slowed down their pace recently, but appear eager to scoop up any ‘acorns’ that might be laying around.  This would explain why the Dolphins are bringing in guys like Tiki Barber, Larry Johnson, and Troy Smith in for workouts.  There is still the possibility that the Dolphins could bring in additional pieces, further tweaking the 2011 roster.  However, today we wanted to take a closer look at each of the Dolphins veteran acquisitions this offseason.  We’re going to give you our thoughts on the potential impact this player could have on the 2011 Dolphins.  The impact scale goes from 1-10, with 10 being a HUGE impact and 1 being minimal.

Kevin Burnett – ILB/OLB

When the Dolphins released Channing Crowder, it almost went overlooked by some Dolfans, that the player the Dolphins brought in to replace him….is actually pretty freaking good.  Hours after cutting Crowder, the Dolphins signed Kevin Burnett.  Crowder was released because his production didn’t live up to his contract and couldn’t seem to come up with a game-changing play.  Burnett, would seem to be quite the opposite, check out his numbers.   Burnett’s 2010 season was better in some regards, than Crowder’s career numbers.  Teaming Burnett, who can play inside or outside, with Karlos Dansby in the middle, will give the Dolphins a very athletic linebacking corps.  Potential Impact: 8

Reggie Bush – RB

The Dolphins decided to part ways with Ricky Williams (Ravens) and Ronnie Brown (Eagles) this offseason.  They decided to get younger and more explosive in the backfield.  First, they drafted Daniel Thomas (a younger version of Ronnie Brown) and traded for Reggie Bush.  Bush’s acquisition gives the Dolphins they haven’t had in the backfield in some time…a speedy, home-run threat.  Bush has averaged about 800 yards of total offense in his 5 NFL seasons. He’ likely get somewhere between 13-16 touches per game (handoffs/passes) and is a threat to take it to the house at any time.  He will be splitting time with Thomas and is essentially replacing Ricky Williams.  Not to be overlooked is Reggie’s ability to return punts.  Potential Impact: 7

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Some players that could be surprise cuts, coming out of Dolphins Camp

PhinNation.com has a lot of die-hard Miami Dolphins fans following us on Twitter.  So over the weekend we threw out an open invitation for Dolphins fans to write a guest blog for the site.  Today, we’re going to publish the first of the guest bloggers (Seth S./ Twitter @Seth1374).  Here’s Seth’s blog about some possible surprise cuts at Dolphins camp this year:

Every year in Dolphins camp there are surprise cuts, from Donald Thomas last year, to Terry Cousins, to Daryl Gardener and Jack del Rio.  Who are the candidates for this year’s surprise cut?  I chose based on expectations of the player and the actual chance they could be cut.

1. Louisaka Polite– Yes he signed a new contract.  But, look around.  Who from the backfield is left from last year.  Rickey? Gone. Ronnie? Gone.  Polite is still there, and he was one of the lowest rated lead blockers according to ProFootballFocus.com last year.  Now, he does convert on 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1 a lot, but wouldnt a random fullback had picked up at least 90% of those as well?  Additionally, Charles Clay has been practicing mostly as FB/TE hybrid.  If Clay proves competent at lead blocking, what value does Polite have?

2. Will Allen— This one maybe too obvious, after all he hasn’t practiced in three days and he hasn’t played in 2 years.  Combine that with the performance of Jimmy Wilson, as well as the presence of Nolan Carroll and Benny Sapp.  I think it goes without saying that either Sapp or Allen is gone after cuts.  Additionally, I don’t see Benny Sapp getting cut as a suprise with his cap number.  It is basically him or Allen.

3.  Marc Colombo — I know you are saying, he was just signed, he is Sparano favorite.  That is all true.  He was also cut by the Cowboys and rated as the 4 worst Right tackle in the NFL last year.  Having said that, he is running with the first team for the Dolphins right now.  Lyndon Murtha is performing well in practice.  If Murtha overtakes Colombo, why keep him?  Depth?  Garner is more versatile and Jerry is younger. Carey can play tackle if need be and they could always bring someone younger into develop.  By the way, I don’t think John Jerry being cut right now would be a surprise.

4.  Phillip Merling– He has rebounded quite well from his achillies injury.  Unfortunatly for Mr. Merling he plays for deepest position on the team and might be caught in a numbers game : Odrick, Starks, Solai, Langford,  McDaniel (new contract thats why he’s safe).  That is five locks.  How many will the Dolphins keep?  If they keep six, then Fields or Kearse provides NT depth.  So now it is up to the brass.  Do they think Merling can get better or do the Dolphins keep a younger player to develop?  There is the outside possibility that the Dolphins could look to trade Merling late in camp  to address another need (i.e. Camarillo for Sapp trade).

5.  Chris Clemons–  Yes he started last year, but even Mr. Clemons close family would admit he struggled last year.  I think Chris is a good player, but look at the numbers at safety. Yeramiah Bell is safe.  Additionally, the Dolphins 7th round pick, Jimmy Wilson is showing flashes in practice and Rashad Jones has big play potential.  Tyrone Culver is a great special team player who contributes in sub packages.  So if the Dolphins keep the young guys, what would be the purpose of keeping Clemons?  I think it probably comes down to Clemons either starting or not making the team.

Seth S, Guest Blogger - PhinNation.com

Miami Dolphins release initial depth chart for 2011 (take it for what it’s worth)

The Miami Dolphins are like many other franchises in the NFL, in that they don’t like to divulge any information, unless they have to.  Well, the NFL requires the Dolphins and other teams to release their depth charts at this time of the year.  The Dolphins do it reluctantly and sometimes use the depth chart release as a way to motivate players.  So please, take the below depth chart for what it’s worth (not a whole lot).  Even though we advise you not to read too much into the depth chart, we think it’s worth checking out…Just to get an overview of where certain players may fall on the team.

This will surely change between now and the time the Dolphins play the Patriots on Monday Night Football on September 12th.  Before then, the Dolphins will need to trim their roster to 53 players, and assign players to the practice squad.  Some interesting things found below are that Jared Odrick (Dolphins #1 pick in 2010, is listed as the last DE) and Reggie Bush is not listed as a punt or kick returner.  Again, this means very little at this point in time, so take it for what it’s worth.  The below depth chart is courtesy of Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald:

 

OFFENSE

WR 19 Brandon Marshall, 15 Davone Bess, 18 Roberto Wallace, 87 Brooks Foster, 11 Julius Pruitt

LT 76 Lydon Murtha, 73 Alan Barbre, 65 D.J. Jones

LG 68 Richie Incognito, 69 Ray Feinga, 61 Matt Kopa

C 51 Mike Pouncey, 67 Joe Berger

RG 72 Vernon Carey, 74 John Jerry

RT 71 Marc Colombo, 75 Nate Garner, 64 Ray Willis, 60 D.J Jones

TE 80 Anthony Fasano, 86 Mickey Shuler, 88 Jeron Mastrud

84 Brett Backett, 81 Dedrick Epps

WR 82 Brian Hartline, 10 Clyde Gates, 14 Marlon Moore, 85 Phillip Levas, 17 Patrick Carter

QB 7 Chad Henne, 8 Matt Moore, 4 Kevin O’Connell, 9 Pat Devlin

FB 36 Lousaka Polite, 31 Charles Clay

RB 22 Reggie Bush, 33 Daniel Thomas, 26 Lex Hilliard, 42 Nic Grigsby, 23 Kory Sheets

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Henne and Marshall show promise in Dolphins 1st scrimmage

Yesterday, the Miami Dolphins held their first scrimmage off training camp, and from what reports indicate, the first team offense did not disappoint.  In fact, even though it was only a practice scrimmage, we began to see some glimpses of what might be.  We saw Chad Henne, actually looking comfortable, leading the team.  We saw him completing passes to the Dolphins Alpha Receiver, Brandon Marshall.  Not only passes, but 3 of the 4 passes from Henne to Marshall went for touchdowns.

Henne finished the Dolphins scrimmage going 10 for 16 for 146 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT.  Did we mention that was against the Dolphins first team defense?  You know, the defense that was top 10 in the NFL last year?  We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, because after all, this was a practice scrimmage in the first week of training camp.  But maybe…just maybe, Chad Henne is starting to get it.  Maybe Brian Daboll’s new Dolphins offense will take advantage of Chad Henne’s strengths.  Maybe the Dolphins offense will focus more on letting Brandon Marshall do what he does best.  Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to see Henne and Marshall relationship growing…it can only help the Dolphins.

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Dolphins’ Rookie Clyde Gates impresses at first week of camp

In the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected the fastest wide receiver to attend the Combine this year.  The Dolphins drafted Clyde (don’t call me Edmund) Gates, hoping that he would bring some much needed speed to the Dolphins offense.  We wrote, during the lockout, that we loved the drafting of Gates.  However, we cautioned that it might take some time for the rookie to get acclimated to the NFL level of play.  After all, Gates is jumping from Division II to the NFL, which is a HUGE jump.

Since he was a 4th round pick, it was highly likely that Gates would make the Dolphins roster for 2011, but nothing is a given.  Gates is said to be a hard worker and early reports from Dolphins’ camp indicate that he’s adjusting to the NFL level, just fine.  It’s still very early in training camp, but we’ve seen a number of reports that suggest that Gates is ‘burning’ cornerbacks with his speed.  Please keep in mind that there is minimal contact in these practices….But it is encouraging to see that Clyde knows how to use his best weapon..his speed.

Gates can run a fly pattern, that much is already clear.  The thing that will make him a steal for the Dolphins in the 4th round will be his ability to run the other routes on the WR route tree.  Yes, he has the speed of a gazelle, but does he have the quickness to get in and out of breaks?  How precisely can he run his routes?  Can he make the hard catches in traffic?  It’s still WAY to early to answer those questions, but we’ll know soon enough, once the preseason games start.  If nothing else, at least the Dolphins finally have a speedster that might be able to help stretch the field come September.

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How does Dolphins QB Chad Henne compare when using Total QBR stat (by ESPN)?

Let’s face it Phin Nation, the Miami Dolphins will be entering the 2011 season with Chad Henne as their starting quarterback.  We know that the Dolphins wanted to bring a solid veteran QB to Miami this offseason, but were unable to.  So what the Dolphins have to do this upcoming season is to rely on a great defense, a solid running game, and an improved offensive line. In case you missed it, we told you last week about the familiar Blue Print the Dolphins are following.  The Dolphins thinking is to surround the quarterback (Chad Henne) with as many weapons and as much talent as possible.

Photo by Ed Yourdon

In 2010, Chad Henne was thought to have taken a step back from his decent 2009 season.  Last year he had a QB Passer Rating of 75.4, which ranked 26th in NFL.  Well, leave it to ESPN to find a way to make Chad Henne appear worse last year, even after the season was over.  ESPN didn’t like the Passer Rating calculation (neither did we actually), and decided to come up with one of their own.  They call it the Total Quarterback Rating (Total QBR).  The even had a primetime show on Friday night to explain it to all of us.  REALLY?  If you actually wanted people to understand this new statistic, why would you televise it on a Friday night?

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Dolphins sign OT Ray Willis

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Miami Dolphins signed another offensive lineman. Yes, the Dolphins today signed another lineman to add depth at the tackle position. Today’s lineman of choice is Ray Willis, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks.

Willis missed the 2010 season due to injury, but started all 16 games for the Seahawks in 2009. Willis adds depth for the Dolphins behind Jake Long and Marc Colombo. He’s also an insurance policy for the Dolphins in the event that Colombo can’t rebound from a sub par 2010 season.

Miami Dolphins sign QB Kevin O’Connell to 1 year deal

While reading my timeline on Twitter a few moments ago, I saw that the Miami Dolphins have signed Kevin O’Connell to a 1 year deal.  This tweet is courtesy of Adam Schefter:

[blackbirdpie id="99555094940499968"]

I had to stop and concentrate for a second about the Dolphins newest acquisition of this offseason….Because, if I’m not mistaken….isn’t Kevin O’Connell the short kid from Entourage?

Photo by David Shankbone

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Dolphins workout Larry Johnson, looking to add a RB

I’m not sure if the Miami Dolphins realize that it is 2011.  I say that because some of the people the Dolphins have been connected to recently, would be nice additions….if it were 2006 or so.  And NO, I’m not talking about Brett Favre!  The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reports that the Dolphins have brought former Chiefs running back, Larry Johnson in for a workout this week.  This comes on the heels of the Dolphins bringing Tiki Barber down to Miami for a workout, earlier this week.  Maybe Jerome Bettis is next?  How about bringing in Larry Czonka?  Marshall Faulk anyone?

Photo by SteelCityHobbies via Flickr

Johnson had only 5 carries for the Redskins last year, amassing a total of 2 yards.  In 2009 he played for the Bengals and Chiefs, rushing for 541 yards on 178 carries (3.0 ypc).  Johnson put up gaudy numbers in 2005 and 2006 when he rushed for over 1,700 yards each season with the Chiefs.  Like Barber, you have to wonder how much Johnson has left in the tank.  He’ll be 32 years old in November.

We can’t say that Tiki Barber or Larry Johnson excite us as potential running back options for the Miami Dolphins….it is 2011 and not 2006, after all.  We are happy to see that the Dolphins realize that they are an injury away from relying on Lex Hilliard or Kory Sheets as a primary tailback.  As we mentioned before, there are some other running backs out there (Jerome Harrison, Ricky Williams, etc.)  We’re confident the team will add another running back, the question is “Who will it be?”

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Why the Dolphins blue print for success in 2011 CAN WORK

The Miami Dolphins entered the 2011 offseason with a strategic plan.  In fact, they came into the offseason with plans A, B, and C.  Due to moves that other teams have made, the Dolphins have needed to modify their approach and use a little of each plan.  The big question all Dolphins fans are asking now is “Will the plan work?”  That question will only be answered once games are played.

However, we are beginning to understand what the Dolphins “big picture” plan looks like.  We’ll get to what we think the plan is in a few moments.  The only problem that most of us Dolphins fans have with the roster is the quarterback position…..and rightly so.  But before we go any further, we want to see what you think about the following 2 quarterbacks.  Which one would you choose to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2011?

Quarterback A – 54.8 completion percentage, 3,291 yards, 6.49 yards per attempt, 17 TDs, 5 fumbles, 75.3 QB rating.

Quarterback B – 61.4 completion percentage, 3,301 yards, 6.71 yards per attempt, 15 TDs, 1 fumble, 75.4 QB rating.

* Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

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