Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Week 16 Editorial - Part 3 of 3 - "What Now?"

Technically, the Dolphins can still make it into the playoffs.  In order to do this, they would have to beat Pittsburgh, and have ALL of the following happen:  Denver has to beat Kansas City, Cincinnati has to beat the Jets, Oakland has to beat the Ravens, and New England has to beat Houston.  

All possible in any given week, but this is the ONLY scenario in which the Dolphins make the playoffs, essentially four of the five wild-card competitors have to lose and Denver has to win.  The odds of this scenario playing out is 0.03%.  

The Jets will be playing in probably the final NFL game in the Meadowlands Denver doesn't need to win to make the playoffs, in fact, the Ravens and Jets game is more important to them than their own.  They need one of them to lose regardless of whether they win or not.  Oakland hosts the Ravens and has nothing but pride to play for whereas the Ravens need to win to make the playoffs.  Houston needs a win and two f the four other contenders to lose.

I put it to the jury that there's something more important at stake here than the 2009 playoffs.  If we make the playoffs, we'd have to play the Patriots.  If we beat the Patriots we'd have to play the Colts.  If we beat the Colts we'd have to play either the Chargers, Broncos, or Bengals.  Then we'd have to face the NFC champion in the Superbowl, my guess either New Orleans, Minnesota,  Philadelphia, or Green Bay.  

I just don't think we have enough left in the tank for that run.  Injuries, mental fatigue, hometown distractions (it's not necessarily a good thing to have the Pro-Bowl and Super Bowl in your house while you're trying to focus on football).  All this leads one to believe that it would take miracle upon miracle upon miracle to get to the Super Bowl this season.  

Making the playoffs would take us out of the top 15 in draft position.  Not that I don't think the draft won't be so loaded we can get strong talent down the table, but to be 4 or 5 places lower in each round can change a lot of things, like getting THE best player at a particular position as opposed to the 2nd or 3rd best, and also affects potential trades.

Yes, I know it's blasphemous to suggest we lose the game, so I'm going to make this very clear, I am NOT suggesting we not go out and try to win this week's match-up versus the Steelers.  What I am saying is that we shouldn't bank on making the playoffs, in fact, the odds are so stretched against us that you should just put it out of your head, and if it actually happens, be thankful for an extra week of Dolphins football.

But what I am suggesting, no, imploring the coaches do, is to not ignore the fact there are questions to be answered in a blind attempt at making the playoffs.  

If any more starting players get a serious injury at this point, they will not be ready to start the 2010 season.  If Chad Henne, for example, gets injured, we would have no choice but to re-sign Pennington to a big money contract, not even knowing if he's going to be ready either.  Basically, we'd be 'effed'.  What about if Starks or Jake Long get injured?  Forcing the issue here in a virtually un-winnable battle could have serious repercussions on the 2010 season.  We cannot afford to have to start over from scratch.

And there are things we need to know before free agency and the draft.  

  • We absolutely MUST see Patrick Turner on the field running routes.  If they do not give him a ticket and a set of plays, we can consider him another wasted draft pick, but not one who failed miserably like Pat White, but one who was never even given a chance.  
  • We MUST see a Free Safety on the field.  We cannot keep playing with two strong safeties and expect our pass defense to improve.  Chris Clemons is a true free safety, and Tyrone Culver plays the spot better than the two starters.  This needs to be sorted out or we'll have to circle FS as a priority for the off-season.
  • Andrew Gardner - remember him?  With all the injuries and rotation along the offensive line, he must be shockingly bad not to even be activated.  Then again, could he be worse than Vernon Carey?  We need to know, Coach.  Put him in the game.
  • Jason Allen.  At some point we're going to have to trade him, because the coaches hate him so much they'd rather play two rookies and Nate Jones ahead of him.  I've never understood it, because the guy is a playmaker.  But if he's not going to be used, get him some game time so his trade value increases.
  • Let Ted Ginn return punts.  Let Kory Sheets return punts.  Let Chris Clemons return punts.  Let anyone other than Davone Bess give it a go.  Stubbornness is not a good quality in a football coach.  We need to try something other than Bess. For the season, Bess returned 27 punts for 206 yards (7.6 avg - That ranks him 42nd in the league in punt returns), fair caught 15 (36% of the time), fumbled 3 times, and his longest return was 22 yards. 
  • Lionel Dotson, Ikeaika Ilma-Francis, Ryan Baker, Evan Oglesby, Kory Sheets, Andrew Hartline, Eric Walden - are these guys even on the team?  Baker has looked good in limited action, but the rest have failed to make it onto the field this season.  
  • Brian Hartline  - Stop messing about, just start him already.
I know alot of readers will wonder, well Tinshaker, how are you going to get all those young players on the field on game day - you can't dress everyone!  Well that's actually an easy answer.  You rest Jake Grove and either Justin Smiley or Donald Thomas, whichever has the more serious mystery injury.  You rest Camarillo.  You rest Ricky Williams.  You rest one of the regular d-linesmen, you rest Joey Porter and you rest Gibril Wilson.  The loss of Crowder also opens up a spot.  Basically you take all the banged up starters at positions where you have a young guy waiting for game experience:  O-line, WR, RB, DL, S, LB.

I know this all sounds a bit selfish, wanting to know what we've got, especially in the players that were picked up over the course of the season.  Miami had the 2nd highest payroll in the league this year at $126,855,921. I want to know where all that money went, not just 80% of it.  I want to know where we go from here, and need a fuller picture.  I can pretty much imagine where its going to go if we play this game like any other team battling to make the playoffs.  Instead, I'd rather use the game more wisely in regards to the future.

Again, I'm not saying we shouldn't try our asses off to win the game, but in doing so we should be finding some answers to questions that are going to come up immediately should we lose.

Tomorrow we look at the actual head-to-head meeting between the Dolphins and the Steelers.  I should warn any readers in Tampa, you will not be getting the game on local TV, at least not according to the early announcements.  However, we West Coasters will as will 80% of the country.  More details tomorrow.

Okay, now lay into me and my theory in the comments section.


  1. Tin - great job on all 3 posts.  Very insightful on all fronts.
    I think the biggest weak link on our team, as you mentioned, is our linebackers as a whole.  I suspect that the only reason we re-signed Crowder is because we didn't have an alternative, and the coaching staff was nervous about going into the unknown (FA, draft, etc...).  Rarely does he shoot the right gap.  Maybe it's unfair to compare him to Zach Thomas, but Zach always shot the right gap and got a sack and/or a tackle for loss.  Crowder does not have the instincts and regularly plays the wrong angle.  I could say the same about the other guys at LB.  This brings me to something you said earlier.  Is this coaching staff too stubborn?  We'll find out. It was easy when Sparano and co came in after Cam and decided what needed fixing, but how about when they look in the mirror?  Will the trifecta have the guts and honesty to recognize THEIR mistakes and begin correcting them (at all positions).  Our long term growth as a team depends on it. 
    Regarding Vernon Carey, he is a good player but strikes me as the guy who doesn't know how to play once he gets nicked up with an injury.
    I like our receivers, but they'd obviously do much better with a top flight guy.  However, i certainly don't want any egos/divas on our team.  We always seem to bypass good receivers.  It made me sick to see Devin Aromashadu (fins cut him) score the winning points for the bears on Monday night.
    -Bess needs to be replaced on punt return duties.
    -FYI I certainly like Lex Hilliard and believe he's a solid backup.  Depending on the shape of Patrick Cobbs, I'd even suggest trading him for a pick in the draft. 
    - JT and JP need to GO BYE BYE.  I love JTs leadership, but as a player, he's marginal at best.
    -It hurts to see Roth playing so well with the Browns, but i think getting rid of him sends the right message to the team.  Nobody is indispensable. 

  2. The ages/inconsistencies of both JT and JP are what makes it so important
    that the Coaches get someone like Wake more playing time. Hell, even
    Quentin Moses looked better than JT last week, and I had forgotten he was
    even on the team.

  3. Yes, yes, and yes! Pull key starters to evaluate back-ups in a meaningless game (playoffs=monumental fluke), evaluate the coaching staff top-to-bottom and don't worsen the draft pick!

    Is there any way that we can contact Bill Parcells to get you a job with the Dolphins like Sherm Lewis has in Washington?


  4. I've been a huge D. Bess fan for sometime now, but I still have yet to figure out why in the hell he's still returning punts. Also, I think Knight pointed out yesterday, I don't love Crowder, but the drop off on D with him out of the lineup is noticable.

    That said, some great points here Tin. Actually, both Culver and Clemons played FS in college, and I think it's fairly obvious our secondary is desperate for a true FS. Also, I can admit I was a Hartline hater at first (#1 because I'm 6'2 190 and he's 6'2 190, which is ok except for the fact that he's got the most potential out of all the WRs on my favorite football team.) I wanted this guy to do nothing but lift weights for a year and I'm happy to say I was dead wrong. Why isn't he getting the most WR snaps every game? It just seems he flashes every game. Also, is it just me or has Hartline actually gotten bigger as the season went on? Something is telling me this guy is going to be a soled #2 for us.

  5. Nose tackle will also be a huge thorn this offseason.  Soliai "flashes" at times, but certainly hasn't shown any reral consistency.  And let's face it, we need a replacement for fergy.  It's foolish to think he'll last a whole season, even if we do bring him back.  I think we should draft a nost tackle(or two) in the later rounds.  It would be too risky to draft one in the first few rounds because rarely do they live up to the billing.  Guys like Glenn Dorsey don't always pan out... But in the later rounds we might find a steal, at a low risk.  Our defense is a top priority, even tho we also need a WR. 
    Also very encouraged with Henne.  the guy has no real playmakers who can get consistent YAC, and he's getting better.  I really think he'll be a top flight guy.  He's different than all the other guys we've brought in, certainly ten times better than John Beck.

  6. Make it so!

    And the thing is if they actually do it, and they play great, kick the Steeler's collective ass, how pissed off will we all really be?  I mean think of it, take Patrick Turner as an example.  What if he plays and does just a kick ass job?  Only one way to find out....DO IT!

    HSB's head would explode!  :-D

  7. I tried locking him in the bathroom during the draft, but he got out just in
    time for the second round....

  8. Defense obviously needs two or three starter quality guys to be brought in,
    but the def. coordinator also is making people look bad. Ultimately our
    payroll is too high, and certain free agents shouldn't be brought back at
    increased wages, ex. Fasano.
    Their will be a lot of talent in the draft, but we could definitely use a
    couple more draft picks to cover the holes.
    I'm not going to hide my feelings that the WR situation should be dealt by
    bringing in two more to compete. whether it's 1FA/1rookie or 2 rookies,
    doesn't matter, we just need to upgrade and give Henne the best opportunity
    to succeed.
    LB is more of a conundrum because of the fact this regime *is* a stubborn
    one, and all the ILBs they have are 'their guys' including Crowder who just
    got resigned this year. If they can be honest with themselves 'in the
    mirror' then there's a chance for change. Otherwise, it'll be the same 3
    next year.

  9. I said a couple of weeks ago Hartline has to be around 200lbs if not
    slightly more. He's the only WR to get any praise from the coaches this
    year (unless you count 'The Defense of Ginn'), and his numbers would be on
    par with a number one receiver IF he had the reps.
    I don't understand why you'd hate someone because they were the same size as
    you? lol

  10. There is always that risk, that the younger guys play better than the vets,
    but there's no looking back from week to week. You can only concentrate on
    one game at a time. Plus there's no way to know if Patrick Turner catches 9
    passes for 180 yards and 2 TDs vs the Steelers that he would've had the same
    effort/success vs the Falcons.
    Still, it would vindicate some of us who have been urging for him to get a
    chance. For the record, I was touting Miles Austin for a year before he
    actually got any playing time, and in his first real playing time he put up
    250yds receiving! (reminder, we could've had him for the same draft pick we
    used on Pat White)

  11. Only because I keep having this dream of Chad Henne throwing to a Anquan Boldin/Andre Johsnon hybrid in the Super Bowl. But yeah, I'm think Hartline is pushing 200 now as well.... Now if the trainers could just get Pat White to eat a gallon of ice cream a day and do nothing other than  running sprints and lifting weights all day, who knows maybe he'll stop looking like he's still junior high too! 

  12. Also what do we have to lose? Why not have P white run back a punt or two back as well. It's not like we'd have our backs broken if he gets hurt. Who can honestly say he'd be a better QB than Thigpen? IDk, maybe no one. 

  13. You're going to have to let that Pat White thing go or you're going to need more Botox than I do!

    I was thinking though, the difference between practice and a game, kind of like the difference between those who study well but suck taking an actual test, and those who can't seem to study/concentrate, but then do well when test time comes.  Since I obviously never played football(I went out with a HS coach for a time, does that count for anything?), this is the only analogy I can think of to make my point.  Maybe these other guys aren't good at practice but come game time could be awesome.  Not likely I know.  But if it did happen, would you think it was a fluke, or are they really good.  arrggh!  This is the kind of stuff that can give you wrinkles! ;)

  14. Agree completely with the 1 FA 1 dratt approach at positions of need. Just keep wondering with our personal (Solali, McDaniels, and Starks who TS considers a DT; also Wake as a DE, and even Crowder as an OLB) Why not consider moving back to a 4-3? Obviously this would hinge on being able to acquire an elite ILB, IDK I guess with guys like malualuga and laurenitis being drafted so late and NT being coveted so early lately, who knows maybe the move wouldn't be the worst thing for us (besides we need to upgrade at the ILB pos. anyway, right?) 

  15. The addition of Thigpen made Pat White obsolete. Once Thigpen is 100%
    comfortable with the playbook, there is no need for White. Not as a QB
    anyway. make him return punts, line him up at tailback in a pistol
    formation, do something other than what they are forcing.

  16. "(I went out with a HS coach for a time, does that count for anything?)"
    Only if he brought his playbook into the bedroom...
    Ultimately I'd say game performance trumps practice performance. Guys like
    Randy Moss and Brandon Marshall aren't known for their great practice
    efforts, and neither are Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. But you wouldn't
    head into a game with any of those guys on the bench, would you?
    But either way, there has to some sort of consistency. Still, I'm a firm
    believer in the idea that every player on an NFL team should be made to
    play. We're not subsidizing their giant salaries for them to just practice.

  17. lol, it would have to be Chunky Monkey ice cream

  18. Yes but the draft is particularly weak at ILB/MLB in 2010. I suppose that
    would support your argument of a switch because those inside guys are hard
    to find and finding one is easier than finding two.
    But I think it will be a cold day in hell before Parcells allows a 4-3 to be
    run under his name. Usually that sort of thing is the responsibility of the
    def. coordinator, but I don't see Parcells hiring anyone who wouldn't run a

  19. The Knight who says Ni!December 30, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    Being that I didn't read what Tin wrote, I'll just say Hartline has a lot of promise and is probably our best WR with the most upside.  8-)

  20. No Chunky Monkey ice crap.  It's not needed.  PW has the #2 rated Ice Cream shop in United States rated by the food channel.  It's right there in his own back yard.  Jackson's Ice Cream located in Dania.  For those that live down there and have never been there shame on you.  They can fatten him up with one scoop. :)

  21. I was thinking the same thing those top 5 picks are the most uncertain picks of the draft.  Mostly because they are picked because of potential.  The potential to hit it big or flop.  IMO the best players are those from pick 8 or 9 or down.  That's where the solid players are.  The Dolphins were really lucky with Jake Long he was everything he was advertised as.  How many guys do we see as a total bust in those top few picks.  Plenty of them I'll tell you that...

    Those top picks are what I call influence picks.  A team picks them because of all the hype, potential, and what the fans want.  Many times it's not what a team really needs.

  22. I'll be expecting that advertising fee in the mail ;)

  23. well most of the time it's a QB or a LT. Both positions are very hit and
    miss. You can't fix a broken QB (John Beck, Joey Harrington, Brian Griese,
    etc) and you can't turn around a starting left tackle in the course of a
    couple of months.
    When it's a defensive player it's noticeable straight away if he's not as
    good as advertised. Strength issues can be seen right away but not fixed in
    the course of one off-season. It makes me think it would be a wise idea for
    the Combine to actually instead of being a bunch of exercises, take
    pro-bowlers from the NFL and line them up one on one versus the rookie.
    That way you can see BEFORE you burn a draft pick - of course if they did
    that they may get to about round 3 and teams would stop picking players.
    In any event, I fully expect at least 8 of the top ten picks in 2010 to be
    starting on day one. It's not like Ndamukong Suh is suddenly going to suck.
    The only risk is whether the Rams will take Suh or go for Clausen or Okung.
    Everyone including myself automatically thinks Suh is the top pick, but the
    Rams could decided they need the QB or Tackle more.

  24. oh, and *another* thing...would you rather get the money of being the top
    pick or the chance at winning at being pick # 10? I feel bad for someone
    like Suh who couldn't end up being the highest paid rookie ever, yet stuck
    on a team like the Rams, with no fans, no wins, and no merchandising. Oh,
    and have to live in St Louis.

  25. I'd like to see these guys do there stuff on the field in full gear at the combines.  Lets get real here.  We don't see WRers running in shorts with track shoes in a game do we ? 

    Some times I think these combines are no more than a freak show for us fans.  So we drool over some hyped up guy loaded up with roids.

  26. I'll second that.  But I would sure like to know if Ted Ginn can really play.  I think they will give him one more year, although if I ran the team, he would get a pay cut.  I'd let him go and if no one picked him up I'd bring him back at a discount.  The problem with that is he'll go to another team before the waiver wire ink is dry.

  27. That's the point, if they don't practice well, they don't get near the field.  It seems in Turner's case in particular, that is the thing you hear, he isn't exactly making a stellar impression in practice, therefore not active for any games.  Or if he was active at all this year, I don't remember seeing him.  I'd just hate to have this sick feeling this Sunday, if he or any of these other guys mentioned for that matter, of what might have been if they had been given an opportunity in a game situation.  Guess we will find out soon enough. 

    Thanks again for the blog, the insight and the game chat.  It makes it so much more fun to watch football when you can 'talk' to others watching the games.  Oh, and before I forget, thanks again for the cocktail recipes you supplied me with earlier this summer.  My sister got me an absinthe gift thing for Christmas, a 'proper' goblet I suppose you would call it, another of those slotted spoons, and some absinthe sugar cubes.  I still have plenty left from before, so I'll be trying that recipe again.

    I hope you and all the crazy Dolphin fans I know here have a fun and safe New Year's celebration.  If you are out and about, take a cab, a DD, or spend the night wherever you might be!  See you Sunday, and good luck to your USF Bulls on Saturday!    :-D

  28. Now what indeed ...    I'd like to think the dolphins are better than last year, but to be honest I'm just not sure.  The dolphins defense was such a letdown.  I have no idea how anyone can think we are any better than last year unless they have blinders on.  Sure we have a few peices here and there.  The defensive line played pretty good, until as Tin said Fergie went down.  Yet they are not the real problem.  The real problem lies at the feet of the LBs all of them.  They just don't have it.  They do little against the run, and in the passing game they are nowhere to be found.  They are basically useless, and the effect they have had on the entire unit had reared it's head all year long.

    So that brings us to who runs the team.  They need to answer some questions as a few of you have said.  Look themselves in the mirror.  If they do the team will improve and move forward.  If not, they have no one to blame but themselves.  The ball is in their court and next year will be their third year, they won't get any free passes after that.  Just like the players produce or get out of town.

    I don't care who's stamp is on this team, and don't care what players or coaches come or go.  I'm not married to any of them.  I follow the Aqua and White, with the little stuped dolphin on the helmet.  I could care less who's name fills those colors.

  29. True, the best they could do is to extend his contract with new terms.
    They'd sooner try to trade him than just release him. Because of the
    uncapped year any cuts they make will hit this year's cap limit, which is
    probably about 2 mill from hitting the ceiling right now.

  30. Thanks, herdfan. Happy Holidays to you as well. My Bulls are playing at
    Rogers Centre in Toronto....when are any of my teams going to come play
    within 2000 miles of me, eh?
    For the record, Turner WAS active for one game, played two special teams
    reps and that was it. He did not get any chance on offense.

  31. I would say any veteran with limited up side is in jepordy because of cap space.  I guess that COULD include RB, CP, JP, JT, TG, and yes even your fav Vernon Carey.  I hate to say this, but i think it would be better if we lost this week.  If that happened the management has to look at what they are doing and we fans can put the pressure on them to produce, because the free pass is over.

  32. Well their is no cap for next year, so teams will not cut high priced
    players because the hit would affect THIS year instead, and most teams don't
    have that kind of space available. For example, the Dolphins couldn't cut
    Carey if they wanted to.

  33. It will be great to watch Miami Dolphins, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.