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  Yet Another Quarterback Quandary
    | Home | News Wire | Roster | Depth Chart | Schedule |  

by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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For over 30 seasons Dolfans were spoiled.


Summer would come, training camp would open, and your Miami Dolphins would kick things off knowing (knowing!) they had a guy under center who could deliver the goods.


First it was Hall of Famer Bob Griese, he of three straight Super Bowl appearances and two World Championships, one of only three Dolphins to have their jersey retired.


Next came the combination of David Woodley and Don Strock. “Woodstrock”, we called them. Strock came up under Griese and pitched in relief of Woodley on the occasion when the kid from LSU didn’t have his best stuff. According to Jimmy Cefalo, who caught a TD from Woodley in Super Bowl XVII and played with Griese, Strock, and You-Know-Who, it was Woodley who had the strongest arm of all.


You-Know-Who would, of course, be one Dan Marino…he who need not be named. Another Hall of Famer, “he” was arguably the greatest QB ever to play, and certainly the best passer of the football in history. “He” was a once in a lifetime player.


Since “he” retired, the Dolphins have flailed at finding “next”.


You remember the pretenders…mainly Damon Huard, Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese (who deserved a longer look), Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington.


Pass the aspirin, please.


OK, now fast forward to today and the current brain trust of Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller. Cameron is an offensive and quarterback guru. Mueller has a proven nose for quarterback talent and stockpiles good ones for evaluation and trade.


It’s their job to fix the QB problem.


So we’re surprised that the first thing they do to address the situation brings them a load of criticism and controversy. The nerve!


I am referring, of course, to passing on highly rated Brady Quinn and instead opting for John Beck. Defying Mel Kiper, Mueller and Cameron are convinced that it is Beck who is the true “next”.


It’s a huge gamble, but a well-informed one. Still, Cameron and Mueller won’t be laughing (or perhaps employed) if Quinn becomes the next Tom Brady and Beck flops. For now, Cameron and Mueller deserve the benefit of the doubt.


But it doesn’t end there. No sir.


Returning is one Daunte Culpepper, Pro Bowl quarterback extraordinaire, acquired from the Minnesota Vikings in 2006 for a 2nd round draft pick. You know his story.


Soon to be arriving on a plane from Kansas City is one Trent Green, 37 years old and carrying a concussion history with him. Not exactly a spring chicken, but a fine player.


Many have speculated that when Green arrives, Daunte leaves. The argument is that the Dolphins will simply write off the 2nd rounder by cutting or trading him. Either he doesn’t fit Cameron’s system, or his knee will never allow him to be the player he was.


The quandary begins with Culpepper professing that he will be 100% ready for the start of training camp. If his knee is right, he has what the Dolphins need to go to the next level.


There is no question that Green, apples-to-apples, is a lesser talent. One cannot help but be reminded of another Gus Frerotte walking through the door when Green arrives in Davie, not exactly heart-pumping stuff.


So, does Cameron shrug off Culpepper before the guy can prove himself worthy again?


“You don’t…necessarily”, noted Cameron rather cryptically.


“Necessarily” is the conditional word here.


Does this mean that Cameron is all for a healthy QB competition provided that Culpepper is healthy and is willing to approach things in a positive, non-disruptive manner? After all, it was Green who said that he hadn’t been promised the starting job. And, it is guys like Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor that are lobbying for Culpepper to get a shot.


Fair enough. Just don’t blame Cameron and Mueller for wanting to bring in Green at least as insurance. What if (horrors!) Culpepper’s body betrayed him again? Ditto Green. You don’t want to be in a position to have to rely on Cleo Lemon or John Beck to win, do you?


In the midst of all this second guessing, Cameron will have to render a verdict. And, despite calls from the media to the contrary, there is no immediate rush when it’s the first week in June and there’s nothing to be gained by making a decision today.


All this changes once camp opens July.


We know that in a world where the Dolphins retain three quarterbacks on the roster, a healthy Green and rookie Beck are locks.  That leaves Culpepper and Lemon vying for one job with Gibran Hamdan hoping to somehow crash the party.


We know that Lemon is still cap-friendly trade bait. That changes if he signs an extension with any sort of substantial signing bonus. If Culpepper stays, Lemon is a goner.


We know that the Dolphins are unlikely to get much for Culpepper in a trade. Not after last year’s fallout. They may even have to waive him outright.


The last thing the Dolphins need heading into the season is for a quandary to become a controversy. That could be what the Dolphins would invite by keeping Culpepper and Green for any lengthy period of time.


But do they have a choice?


If Culpepper goes, you pray on a thick rug that Green doesn’t get his bell rung again. Don’t forget that Vernon Carey is your left tackle in 2007, a position he hasn’t proven he can play as a pro.


I won’t even delve into the rest of the line, a group that will be fielding five new positional starters overall. That’s scary stuff for any QB, but especially one with a history of concussions.


It really is a heck of a fix the Dolphins are in. Makes one long for the good ole days.




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