Today, we're going to take a look at the Miami Dolphins. In 2007, the Miami Dolphins wrapped up a 1-15 campaign that will undoubtedly rank among mankind's most awful crimes.
QB: The Dolphins made their big move of the 07 off season by swapping out their young, injury-prone QB, Daunte Culpepper, for and old, injury prone QB, in Trent Green. While Culpepper found a new shot at mediocrity in Oakland, Green suffered a second straight season ended by a severe concussion. Green's done in the NFL, regardless of what he claims, we saw it with Aikman, we saw it with Young, we saw it with many a QB. Concussions beget more concussions which beget early retirement. No one's going to invest in a 38 year old concussion case.
Cleo Lemon came in after Green's shattered remains were carted off the field, and fared slightly better. Slightly better in the manner that death by drug overdose is better than death by radiation poisoning, in the end, you're still losing everything, but you get to see some pretty things before you shove off. Lemon's 71.0 QB rating was sandwiched between Vince Young and Tavaris Jackson, not great company for a passer. Lemon's 4 rushing TDs helped mitigate his weak passing, but still not enough to make him anything other than an average backup.
Which brings us to John Beck. Dolphins fans, John Beck is not the answer, he lacks accuracy, can't find the endzone, and has no positive rushing value to compensate for that. He's a little short, and his deep passes have a tendency to flutter. Normally, you might stash such a player as a backup for a few years behind an aging starter during his youth so that when the prior starter leaves, you can have a transition with relatively few bumps. Unfortunately, John Beck has no youth left, he's older than Phillip Rivers, who was drafted 3 years ahead of him. Typically at age 26, a team is deciding weather to keep a QB as their franchise, or dump him, with John Beck, that age has come and gone, the time he spend developing is now coming at the cost of his prime years.
RB: The lone bright spot of the early season was the great play of Ronnie Brown. Unfortunately, Ronnie Brown tore his ACL during the 7th game of the season. ACL tears usually take 2 years for a running back to fully recover from. Edgerrin James can attest to that. So the Dolphins won't be able to lean on Brown next season. With Ronnie Brown yet to complete an entire season, the Dolphins might want to consider looking for a good backup to take some of the pressure off him.
After Brown went down, the Dolphins brought out a cavalcade of mediocrity. Jesse Chatman, Samkon Gado, Lorenzo Booker, Patrick Cobbs, even the burnt out, smoked out, shell of Ricky Williams. None of whom should be anything better than a 3rd stringer at this point. Obtaining a decent backup is a must.
WR: The Dolphins had one decent WR at the end of the 06 season. That wide out had a monster season in 07, catching for 1,175 yards and 8 TDs. Unfortunately, in their infinite wisdom, the Dolphins management traded Wes Welker to the Patriots before the season began.
This left them with Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, and Ted Ginn jr. Chambers has been deceptively bad in Miami, making several highlight reel catches, but for every phenomenal catch he made, he dropped a dozen easy catches. In the management's one intelligent move in recent history, they managed to get decent value for Chambers in a trade with the Chargers.
Marty Booker is a decent slot receiver, but when you're playing a natural 3rd receiver as your no. 1 receiver, you've got some issues.
Ted Ginn jr, was drafted with the 9th pick in the 2007 draft, in a move that just oozed nepotism. Ginn is an unpolished project who was drafted essentially to be a return man. Apparently no one told the Dolphins that you shouldn't draft a return man with a top ten pick when a franchise QB is still on the board.
TE: The Dolphins had a decent receiving TE in Randy McMichael, but they jettisoned him in favor of Justin Peelle's superior blocking skills. Questionable call, but given Brown's explosive early season, one that is at least understandable.
OL: Vernon Carey might be a pro bowl caliber player at guard. However, because the rest of the line is so terrible, he's forced into service at LT, out of position. The rest of the line is unspeakably bad. This is evidenced by the the Dolphins averaging 5.05 yards per carry off left tackle, and less than 4 ypc up the middle or off right tackle. Throw in 42 sacks allowed, and you have nothing to write home about.
DL: The D-Line suffered under the Dolphins' schizophrenic 4-3/3-4 defensive alignment. Jason Taylor still made plays, but Keith Traylor and Vonnie Holliday looked lost when asked to rush the passer from the inside. Matt Roth had a weak showing too, notching a meager 3 sacks. Traylor is retiring, and Taylor is getting old, so replacements will need to be found for them. The depth is shallow, with Rodrique Wright looking like a capable backup, but marginal starter, and no one of note after him.
LB: Zach Thomas, the normally stalwart ILB, went down for the season in the 5th game. He'll be 35 this season. Channing Crowder has been decent when on the field, but seeing as the Dolphins are going to shift to a 3-4 under their new coach, two ILBs will be needed, and Thomas is rapidly approaching the end of his career. Ernie Miles is next in line, but he's undersized, and lacks Thomas' instincts. OLB Joey Porter was disappointing, but some of that could be chalked up to his playing out of position quite a bit when the Dolphins run the 4-3. Derrick Pope is extremely undersized, and is out of place in a 3-4, his inability to pressure the QB will limit his usefulness to Coach Sparano.
CB: Neither cornerback is a real playmaker in the Champ Bailey mold. They combined for 2 INTs, one each. Will Allen was targeted on 20% of opponents pass attempts, despite only allowing 4.5 yards per pass attempt. This becomes even more inexplicable when you realize that Michael Lehan is allowing 8.1 yards per attempt.
S: Jason Allen wedged his way into the starting lineup, and while he didn't play like a pro bowler, he played decently. Cameron Worrell also worked his way into the starting lineup,but didn't play as well, and certainly not living up to the potential he displayed as the man who filled in for Broken Mike Brown.
Overall: The Dolphins are a broken franchise right now. Every position needs to be upgraded more or less. They're at least three years away from contention. but hey, there's still a reason to be a Dolphins fan...