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  Offseason Observations
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Some general thoughts and observations as we muddle through the slow offseason (Training Camp starts on July 22 for rookies, July 27 for veterans):


        With the release of Randy McMichael, Marcus Vick, Manny Wright, and Fred Evans, all talented players tainted by past character and/or behavioral issues, there can be little doubt of the fate that awaits Ricky Williams when/if he is reinstated by the NFL.


        I have no actual idea what will come of Daunte Culpepperís arbitration hearing, which will determine if the Dolphins have been fair in excluding him from offseason mini-camps. I do, however, have a feeling that the Dolphins are in the wrong on this one.


        One of the biggest reasons for Miamiís offensive struggles this decade has been a lack of stability. This season the Dolphins will be implementing their fourth new system in the past four years, together with their fourth different season opening quarterback. Oh, and theyíve had six offensive coordinators since 1999. Six! This is why Cam Cameron got the job, to help bring stability so that players can develop.


        One of the smartest things a team can do when implementing a new offensive system is to have a veteran quarterback on the roster with direct experience. Thatís why it says here that Trent Green will be to Cameron what Gus Frerotte was to Scott Linehan. Thatís good news for rookie John Beck, who gets a season to learn what it takes to play well in the NFL.


        The biggest gamble of this offseason wasnít passing on Brady Quinn. It is moving Vernon Carey to left tackle, a position he hasnít proven he can handle. Cameron and line coach extraordinaire Hudson Houck believe that Carey will do better the second time around. If theyíre right, a huge piece of the championship puzzle is in place. If theyíre wrong, and Green suffers another concussion, the team will be drafting in the Top 10 again.


        Trading away kicker Olindo Mare was another huge gamble. Expect comparisons between the newly signed Jay Feely and Mare all season long. Expect second guessing galore if Mare outperforms Feely.


        Iíve never seen a football player separate better than Deion Sanders could. But Ted Ginn Jr. is right there with him. It wonít be long before Ginn displaces Marty Booker or Chris Chambers as a starting WR; it is in the Dolphinsí best interest to have that type of ability on the field as much as possible.


        Speaking of Chambers, what is it exactly that leads Cameron to believe he can trust him? Or, is it that he doesnít have a choice right now?


        Back to Ginn again, wondering if the Dolphins will really sit him out if he doesnít sign on time, as owner Wayne Huizenga has promised to do with all holdouts.


        Worry as we must about the state of the Dolphin offense, the defense is ready to win a Super Bowl right now. Last season, the Dolphins ranked 4th in the NFL in Total Defense. With a full season under their collective belts with defensive guru Dom Capers, and the addition of the dangerous Joey Porter, expect them to be even better.


        AFC East rivals have had a bad time trying to contain Jason Taylor. Over the past two seasons in the 3-4 scheme, he has amassed a collective 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a large assortment of other play-ruining disruptions. Now here comes Porter, whose presence will make it all the more difficult for opponents to concentrate on Taylor. This was a signing that AFC East rivals just didnít want to see happen.


        Aside from the lying, was there anything about the Nick Saban regime that was more disappointing than learning about the repression of GM Randy Mueller in the teamís power structure? All great leaders need people around them who are as good as (or better than) they are from a functional standpoint. Reducing the meaningfulness of Muellerís role was just plain stupid.


        Rookie Brandon Fields is a Reggie Roby-sized punter (6-5, 236), with a cannon for a leg. He also wears #4, same as Roby. But will he be as good as Roby? If he can even out his consistency, heíll be the huge field position weapon that Roby was. On a team with a dominant defense, winning the field position battle can decide 3-5 more games.


        Is anyone else besides me worried about the alarming lack of depth at defensive end? After starters Jason Taylor and Matt Roth, itís a collection of unprovens-in-waiting. Yes, Vonnie Holliday can play DE and has done so many times in the past. Maybe it will be Holliday that lines up at DE when Taylor drops back as an OLB in the 3-4. Still, what will the Dolphins do when fatigue sets in or, horrors, if there is an injury?


        A lot of people out there are still worried about the secondary, especially cornerback. Iím not one of them. Will Allen, Travis Daniels, and Andre Goodman are all quality, starting-caliber corners who can play well. Daniels, in particular, is poised for a breakout year now that he is 100% healthy (which he never was last year). Yes, Jason Allen needs to prove himself at CB after flunking out at Safety. And Shirdonya Mitchell, fresh off a very successful stint in NFL Europa, needs to prove he can carry it over against NFL players. But this should be a very capable group.


        Ronnie Brown is going to love Cory Schlesinger. Trust me on that.


        Have the Dolphins done enough to end their five year playoff drought? Thatís the pressing question.





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