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  Final Grades and Awards for 2005
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Here are my final grades and awards for the 2005 Dolphins. I have also listed the players I believe the Dolphins will definitely retain for 2006. In the end, expect somewhere between 25-40% turnover on the 2006 roster.





Offensive Line = B

Comment: The play of this unit was improved dramatically over 2004. Once again, credit Hudson Houck and hard work by the players. Really, there is no way this team could have won nine games without the improvement this group made. That being said, the offensive line still needs a real talent upgrade…especially at left tackle.

Definite Keepers (3): Rex Hadnot, Jeno James, Vernon Carey

Potential Job Openings: 6-7


Running Backs = A-

Comment: Ronnie Brown proved his worth as the second overall pick in the draft. He’s only going to get better. Ricky Williams proved that Nick Saban was right to welcome him back to the team. It says here that Ricky will be a Dolphin in 2006 as his value to the team exceeds the compensation they’d receive in a trade.

Definite Keepers (3): Brown, Williams, Sammy Morris

Potential Job Openings: 2


Wide Receivers = B+

Comment: Starters Chris Chambers and Marty Booker produced over 1,800 yards of receptions with Chambers going from “decent” to Pro Bowler over the final six games of the season. The grade here would be higher if not for all the dropped balls. Slot receiver and return man Wes Welker once again proved his mettle; pound for pound, he may be the best player on the team.

Definite Keepers (2): Chambers, Welker

Potential Job Openings: 3


Tight Ends = B-

Comment: Solid work blocking, much improved over 2004. Starter Randy McMichael stepped up his game over the last third of the season, better justifying his new contract.

Definite Keepers (2): McMichael, Lorenzo Diamond

Potential Job Openings: 1


Quarterbacks = B

Comment: Gus Frerotte was a good improvement over A.J. Feeley and Jay Fiedler. Expect to see Gus in a Dolphin uniform next year, as a starter or as a backup; valuable vets like him are tough to come by. Sage Rosenfels won two games in relief, canceling out his horrid effort against the Browns. Nevertheless there will be at least one new QB on the 2006 Dolphins, maybe two.

Definite Keepers (1): Frerotte

Potential Job Openings: 2




Comment: From the moment offensive coordinator Scott Linehan traded in his press box seat for a sideline view, playcalling and production improved. The offense was the key to the six game win streak.




Defensive Line = B+

Comment: Better than expected production from this group as Keith Traylor, Kevin Carter, and Vonnie Holliday proved to be terrific free agent pick-ups. Expect them all back next season. Jason Taylor is a warrior, earning a Pro Bowl berth while fighting through a painful foot injury and learning a new scheme. Is there any doubt that he is the best defensive end in team history?

Definite Keepers (6): Traylor, Taylor, Carter, Holliday, Manuel Wright, Matt Roth

Potential Job Openings: 3-4


Linebackers = B

Comment: Pro Bowl MLB Zach Thomas proved that he can play great football in any system. Channing Crowder had an awesome rookie campaign and will be a Dolphin fixture for years to come. Donnie Spragan was a solid free agent pick-up. With all of the other needs this team needs to address, will Junior Seau be able to sneak on to the 2006 roster?

Definite Keepers (3): Thomas, Crowder, Spragan

Potential Job Openings: 3-4


Defensive Backs = D

Comment: This unit seemed to be on its heels all season long. Major changes are coming. Will Sam Madison return? Can Will Poole successfully return from major knee surgery? Will safeties Travares Tillman, Tebucky Jones, and Lance Schulters be retained? Will Reggie Howard be released? Stay Tuned.

Definite Keepers (4): Schulters, Travis Daniels, Yeremiah Bell, Poole (if healthy)

Potential Job Openings: 5-6




Comment: This unit was much better against the run than the pass though they did tie a team record for the most sacks in a season (49); only the Seattle Seahawks got to the QB more (50). They also set a new team record for the most safeties in a season (3).




Comment: Donnie Jones had a solid season, earning Pro Bowl honors as an alternate. Olindo Mare was #3 in the league in average kickoff distance and in total touchbacks. Long Snapper John Denney quietly turned in a solid year, silencing the ghost of Ed Perry.

Definite Keepers (3): Mare, Jones, Denney

Potential Job Openings: 0




Comment: Saban and his staff made a lot of progress cleaning up the big mess that Dave Wannstedt and Rick Spielman left behind. The 2005 Draft was a smashing success as every pick made the team in one capacity or another. The Dolphins also got a good amount of productivity from its free agent signings; for 2006, the salary cap is expected to be in excellent shape ($12-15 million under). On the field, the coaching staff was successful in translating new philosophies into wins. However, there could be changes forthcoming as Saban re-tools his staff and other head coaching jobs become available; Linehan will reportedly interview for the Texans job while Will Muschamp was considered by Middle Tennessee State.




Comment: All things considered, nine wins is a major accomplishment this team should be very proud of. Of special note is the team’s 6-0 record after a dismal 3-7 start, including a 5-0 record during December and January, a sure sign of the mental toughness that’s been wanting in the past. The only way this team could have earned a higher grade (A+) was by making the playoffs. With another solid offseason the Dolphins could return to the postseason as early as next year. 





Comeback Player of the Year: Ricky Williams


Most Improved Offensive Player: Chris Chambers


Most Improved Defensive Player: Yeremiah Bell


Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Rex Hadnot


Most Outstanding Offensive Back: Ronnie Brown

(Honorable Mention: Gus Frerotte, Ricky Williams)


Most Outstanding Wide Receiver/Tight End: Chris Chambers


Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman: Jason Taylor

(Honorable Mention: Keith Traylor)


Most Outstanding Linebacker: Zach Thomas


Most Outstanding Defensive Back: Lance Schulters


Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Wes Welker


Most Valuable Player: Jason Taylor

(Honorable Mention: Zach Thomas, Keith Traylor, Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers)




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