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  Dolphins Will Begin Anew
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Rock bottom.


It’s where the Miami Dolphins are today as an organization. It’s why this team must be scrubbed from top to bottom. Nothing, and no one, can be safe or sacred any longer. It’s the consequence of being one of the worst teams in NFL history.


This is the unmistakable reality that owner Wayne Huizenga has accepted. He is beyond fed up with empty promises from front office types, coaches, and players. He is fed up with losing; so fed up, in fact, that he almost sold the team.


Fortunately, Huizenga regained his composure and made perhaps his smartest hiring decision since buying the team over a decade ago.


He hired someone who knows how to run a team from the top. He hired Bill Parcells.


This is what good leaders do. They surround themselves with people who know more than they do, people who understand how to make an organization successful.


This is not an indictment of Huizenga’s own leadership abilities. He admits that he doesn’t know football. Few NFL owners really do. Still, he is a good owner because he cares deeply about winning, demands a first class organization, and puts his money on the table to back it all up. And, despite the fact that he’s the only person with a financial stake in the team, he readily defers to his football experts because he recognizes that he is not a football man.


Parcells, of course, is the ultimate football man. He and Huizenga should make a great team; a football guru together with a deep-pocketed, non-interfering owner.


Parcells comes to Miami as the Senior Vice President of Football Operations, in the very same job that Huizenga once foolishly offered to an unqualified Dan Marino.


The Big Tuna has the experience and football acumen to know when a coach is doing his job, and when he is not. He knows when a personnel department is bringing in good players, and when it is not. He knows when the cap is being managed responsibly, and when it is not.


In short, he knows winning football and how to make it happen.


The Dolphins are in the mess they are because Huizenga trusted the wrong people over the years. They made promises and failed to fulfill those promises. They were excuse-makers or quitters, or both, and Huizenga didn’t know enough to separate legitimacy from incompetence.


When this most miserable of seasons comes to a close, it is Parcells who will be the judge. And make no mistake; he will start will Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller.


To those of you who think it is unfair to fire a coach or GM after just one season, just remember that all bets are off when a team fails as badly as this one did.


I won’t predict whether or not Parcells will retain Cameron or Mueller because injuries laid complete ruin to the plan they had put in place.


However, what will be damning to Cameron and Mueller is that the Dolphins were winless through the first quarter of the season when the roster was still pretty much at full strength. And you can bet that the injuries won’t be completely waived off as uncontrollable.


“You always wonder, ‘Why are these things occurring?’”, said Parcells at his introductory press conference. “I remember I had relayed this to a couple of fellas this afternoon – I remember taking over another team. I first went in there and looked at the medical reports, and the dossier was about, literally, almost four or five inches high of just medical reports. So I took that into the team meeting with me when I met with the team first. I said, ‘Now, there’s something wrong here. Either the athletes aren’t good enough to keep from getting hurt or we’re not in good enough condition to avoid it. Whatever it is, this dossier is going to be about 10 percent of what it is now next year.’”


Starting Monday, the Miami Dolphins will be heading in a new direction. Anything on or off the field that is not conducive to that direction will be changed. Anyone employed by the Miami Dolphins, even in a business role, should be concerned about their jobs.


Again, this is the consequence when a team fails as badly as this one did.


Quite frankly, making coaching and front office changes will be the easy part relatively speaking. The harder work will come in rebuilding the roster.


Offensively, the Dolphins have just seven players that are legitimate keepers, no questions asked: John Beck, Lorenzo Booker, Ronnie Brown, Vernon Carey, Ted Ginn Jr., Reagan Mauia, and Samson Satele.


Defensively, they have just four: Channing Crowder, Vonnie Holliday, Joey Porter, and Jason Taylor. Add Zach Thomas to the list if he agrees to restructure his contract to cover the team in the event that his health fails to permit him to compete.


Including kicker Jay Feely and assuming the team re-signs Rex Hadnot, the Dolphins have roughly 25% of the 2008 roster set.


But even this is a diluted number because the Dolphins don’t know who their QB will be next year, Brown is coming off of a serious knee injury, Thomas has a lingering concussion issue, and five of the aforementioned players are rookies.


Rebuilding really is an oversell. Parcells and the Dolphins are essentially starting from scratch.


No pretenses, no illusions, no false promises. Perhaps this is what’s been needed all along.

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