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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Some general thoughts and observations as the Dolphins prepare for the 2010 season:


  • There’s an awful lot of hype surrounding Chad Henne. Many are expecting him to have a breakout year, especially now that he has WR Brandon Marshall to throw to. Obviously, the Dolphin brain trust is convinced as well or they might not have traded for Marshall. Me? I’m still in wait-and-see mode. I want to see if Henne has improved his touch passing under the pressure of a live pass rush. For some QBs, this is a difficult skill to develop. I also want to see improved decision making.
  • Speaking of touch passing, there’s no one better than Chad Pennington. He doesn’t really have a shot a winning the starting QB job unless Henne is lost to injury, which is as it should be. But what if Henne has a miserable preseason and Pennington plays well? With the heavy investment the Dolphins have made in acquiring Marshall, is it conceivable that Sparano could make a switch? I wonder.
  • I know it was a business decision, but I don’t like how Marshall (and perhaps the Broncos) concealed his hip issue from the Dolphins. Maybe it ends up being nothing of concern. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a whole lot of something. How will Marshall hold up over 16 games of pounding, especially given the number of touches he’s expected to get? I admit I am a bit wary about this.
  • I’m tired of talking about Matt Roth and I hope you are, too. Look, Roth went bust long before the Dolphins cut him. The current regime tried to salvage his career as an OLB in the 3-4 defense, but it was all too clear that he just wasn't good enough. Let me say it again: he wasn’t good enough. The worst of it, besides the lack of trust in him, was the need to constantly hide him on passing plays. He was going to be a liability in the big games against Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and any other good QB standing between the Dolphins and the Vince Lombardi trophy. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy for Roth in that he is finding some success in Cleveland. Good for him. Sometimes a change is what a guy needs. But the dude was d-o-n-e in Miami.
  • Speaking of change, it will be interesting to see how WR Ted Ginn fares in San Francisco. I can’t help but wonder if the Dolphins gave up on him too soon.
  • We’re in Year 2 of Jake Grove’s tenure at center and the concerns about his ability to stay healthy and on the field have clearly followed him to Miami from Oakland. The record shows that Grove missed six starts last year and the signing of former Cowboys G/C Cory Proctor tells us that Grove’s health issues are not forgotten. Was Proctor’s signing an admission by the Dolphins that they erred in signing Grove? Or, is it an attempt to create legitimate competition for Grove in addition to veteran Joe Berger?
  • Life is funny sometimes. How else do we explain Ricky Williams winning the team MVP award? Let’s see a show of hands…who thought Ricky would be MVP of anything except smoking marijuana and strange behavior five years ago? Anyone? Didn’t think so. Then again, only Ricky Williams, a person sui generis, could pull off this type of a turnaround. Should we be proud of him for how he’s seemingly fixed his life and career, or apprehensive of another fall from grace? I now chose to be proud of him, because what’s he’s accomplished thus far is, objectively, pretty uncommon. Personally, I didn’t expect this. I’ll bet you didn’t either.
  • If he can stay healthy and productive, I think Ricky will sign on for 2011. He understands now how hard it is to find a job in the real world that pays anything close to what he can make in the NFL. Given all the income he lost out on during the troubled phases of his career, I’d be surprised if he passes on an opportunity to make up for it. Then again, I suppose I should stop being surprised when it comes to Ricky.
  • Quietly, second year safety Chris Clemons is convincing the Dolphin brass he is the solution to the team’s free safety concerns. As a rookie, he showed us his speed and nose for the football. He also showed us the tentative play that most rookies suffer from. It’s very early, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him thus far in the non-contact OTAs. Defensive back is one position where a guy CAN show his stuff to the level necessary for coaches to start drawing some hard conclusions. Said coach Tony Sparano, “I see speed, I see range. These two things have showed up out here (in the OTAs). Speed, range, and he knows, he understands. He’s been pretty vocal and those are all qualities that your free safety has to have”. The next step? Tackling. “Probably the next part of this process when we get into some of these—in the training camp with the pads on and the preseason stuff to watch Chris making tackles”, continued Sparano. “Because, that guy has to be a good tackler back there. So, that’s the next step…the range, the speed, the mental awareness right now and where he is with our defense is what leads me to believe that the guy can be a good player for us.”
  • For me, the reconciliation of Jake Scott and Don Shula was about more than two men setting aside a long worn out grudge; it was about two of my boyhood sports heroes finally making a family whole again. Now Scott will join his peer and friend Dick Anderson on the Dolphin Honor Roll. Now Scott will finally be able to gain a full share of the credit he deserves for helping the Dolphins to three straight Super Bowls and earning a rare defensive MVP in one (Super Bowl VII). You must know that Shula was behind Scott’s elevation to the Honor Roll, likely a one phone call/one meeting effort. Even now, Shula’s shadow is long.
  • From a purely talent perspective, were the Dolphins wrong to let Jason Taylor sign with the NY Jets? His situation mystifies me because I think the Dolphins are going to be hard pressed to mount an effective pass rush this season. If Taylor is good for 8 sacks in 2010, wouldn’t it have been in the Dolphins’ best interest to have that productivity in Miami? What is the untold story here?
  • LB Zach Thomas recently re-signed with Dolphins for the purpose of retiring with the only team he loves. In making this possible, GM Jeff Ireland redeemed himself somewhat from the clumsy way he shoved Zach out the door in 2008. Maybe Ireland is finally “getting it”. Or, maybe, owner Steve Ross is insisting he “get it”.
  • Can anyone remember a recent first round pick receiving less attention, and generating less excitement, than DL Jared Odrick? Keeping in mind that we’ll learn a lot more about him once the hitting begins, I find the current lack of buzz surrounding his game a bit unsettling. Maybe it’s nothing, but I certainly hope the Dolphins aren’t regretting their draft day decision to trade down.
  • Remember this: rookies are a clueless lot when training camp begins. Physical ability is generally not the issue at this stage of the game; they’re all talented enough to compete or they wouldn’t be Dolphins. It’s the ones who study the hardest and the ones who grasp the concepts of the pro game the fastest who earn the trust of coaches the quickest and make an early contribution.
  • Some guys make better assistant coaches than head coaches. Cam Cameron is one. Mike Nolan is hopefully another.
  • History tells us that we’d better be patient with RB Ronnie Brown as he recovers from his foot injury. Brown’s foot injury could have been a potential career-ender. It was that serious, and the Dolphins know it. This is a big reason why they are taking a wait-and-see approach before offering Brown a new contract. Personally, I don’t expect to see him anywhere near 100% until October at the earliest.
  • Veterans have been reported as saying that QB Pat White is the “most improved” player from last season. The say that, aside from bulking up, his accuracy on his throws is greatly improved. Good news for a player who could use some. White is a player I will be watching very closely when training camp opens. His talents as a college QB cannot be questioned. But can he translate that ability to the NFL? If he does, the Dolphins will have a very dangerous weapon for the Wildcat offense. It could literally become indefensible with the running game and Brandon Marshall factored in. It could also depress the value that Ronnie Brown has to the Dolphins as the Wildcat QB.
  • I’m not overly worried about the unsettled situation at guard. The Dolphins have some solid options at the position. I’m very comfortable that Sparano and line boss Dave DeGuglielmo will figure it out. If they can’t, there isn’t a pair in the NFL who can.
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