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  New Coach, New Structure Brings New Hope
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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A fresh breeze blew into Davie last night, forcing out the foul, stale air that had lingered since Benedict Saban soiled himself on his way out of town.


The Miami Dolphins have a new coach, a solid choice in Malcom “Cam” Cameron. They have a new, more balanced power structure with GM Randy Mueller gaining a real voice in the direction of the team. They have a new spirit of cooperation, not just between Head Coach and GM, but among all the people in the organization who truly make a difference in winning.


The Dolphins have a new beginning, a renewed commitment to winning. That’s the beauty of the changes, they bring hope for better days.



During his inaugural press conference, Cameron repeatedly preached the “team” concept to reporters. His emphasis of this remedial message was a sad reminder that the situation behind Saban’s “one voice” façade was not as aligned nor as harmonious as it should have been.


The most surprising revelation in this regard was that Saban had foolishly minimized Mueller’s role in personnel evaluation and decision-making. Wasn’t it Saban that had correctly touted the need for a solid personnel man when hiring Mueller as GM in 2005, on the heels of Rick Spielman’s departure?


Maybe the simple reason why Saban’s teams were so inconsistent was because their coach was inconsistent, too.


Cameron’s arrival signals the thankful end of Saban’s failed reign and grants us the opportunity to look forward to a bright future, to return to postseason glories. For sure, Cameron’s arrival is like no other in team history.


For the first time, the Dolphins have hired a head coach whose expertise and reputation is primarily on the offensive side of the ball where it is so badly needed. Heck, Cameron will even be calling the plays.


Said Cameron, formerly offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, ''The ability to manage the game and control the game, that's one of the things I do best”.


True enough. Cameron’s reputation across the league as one of the game’s best offensive minds is a huge reason why he got the Dolphin job.


Again, hope springs eternal. Maybe Cameron is the guy to finally deliver the goods. Aren’t you sick of watching boring offense? Isn’t it time to put the “O” back in D’lphins (dull-fins)?


Nothing’s guaranteed, of course. It’s fair to observe that most coaches would look smart with guys like Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Antonio Gates to work with.


Then again, it takes real coaching talent to be 2nd in the NFL in rushing when you only run the ball 40% of the time. Smart coaches know when to catch the defense with their pants down, know how to put their best playmaker (in this case, Tomlinson) in a position to do maximum damage.


Great playcallers (coaches) aren’t made, they’re born. It’s an art, grounded in feel and instinct. Cameron has proven he has it.


Still, all the instinct in the world won’t amount to much if Cameron doesn’t have the horses to work with.


Enter Mueller, a guy with an impressive track record for finding and acquiring personnel, especially QB talent. Working in a peer relationship with Cameron, the Dolphins will employ a division of power approach in a more meaningful way than they ever had before.


Mueller knows better than anyone that he must find the talent to rejuvenate the sorry Dolphin offense. The first, and most important, question is at the quarterback position. Should they stick with Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, and Cleo Lemon? Or, will the go shopping for a new face?


Other priorities abound, namely #1 wide receiver and offensive line.


Hey Randy, wouldn’t Ohio State WR Ted Ginn look just superb in Dolphin colors?


Don’t overly worry about the defense. Despite the buzzing about their overall age, they figure to stay pretty good in 2007 especially with Dom Capers at the helm. And, if people will look closely, there is solid young talent in the pipeline to develop.


Kevin Vickerson, Fred Evans, Travis Daniels, Rodrique Wright, Jason Allen, Derrick Pope, Channing Crowder, and Matt Roth are all young talents with good upside. Throw in Manny Wright if the guy can get his head on straight.


Mueller knows that one solid off-season could vault the Dolphins back into the playoffs. One. We see it with at a least one team every year. It’s not that big a gap for these Dolphins to bridge, especially with a top 10 draft pick and good flexibility to chase attractive free agents. With Saban off his back, Mueller can now do the job he was hired for.


Meanwhile, Cameron’s practical approach to reenergizing Miami’s moribund offense is simple, yet exactly what’s been needed for oh-so-long.


“As a coach it's my job to make this personnel work and find a way to score”, said Cameron. “You don’t have to have everything on offense to score. The philosophy would be (to) maximize every guy that you have, and ask every guy, starting with each guy individually, what does this guy do best? Ask him to do what he does best.”


“The bottom line is, you got to take what you have and make the most of it. If you have the ability as of today to run the ball better, run the ball. If you can't run the football, you better try to throw it.”


“You find ways to use all your most talented guys”.


You find ways to use all your most talented guys.


How often Saban’s offensive coaches missed that critical point!


What wasn’t missed in yesterday’s introduction of Cameron was the pomp and circumstance, and empty promises, which accompanied his pre-determined predecessors. We’ve had enough of that. It was enough to hear plain talk and a pragmatic view of the job at hand, together with an explicit commitment to the team and to the community.


Cameron, and the Dolphins, appear to have started off 2007 on the right foot.



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