The Genius that is this Regime by: Jared Nagle
I wanted to issue a breakdown of our roster in regards to how far it has come in the 2 seasons since this regime has arrived, and also the next steps that need to be taken in order for this good but inexperienced team to become a serious contender. It is my belief that Dolphins fans and NFL fans in general don't quite appreciate just how effective this regime has been in 2 seasons since a 1-15 season. I also feel as though we don't realize how close we are to a championship contender in South Florida
The current roster is divided into five categories based on how they were acquired: draft pick, undrafted, waiver wire (including players being poached off of another teams practice squad), march free agent signing, and trades.
Currently, the Dolphins roster consists of 22 players that have been acquired through the draft. Of those 22, 14 have been drafted in the last two drafts alone. The only players drafted by this regime not on the roster are shawn murphy, john nalbone (ps), jalen parmele, and J.D. Folsom (ps). This is impressive not only for the quantity of the players but also the quality (ex: Henne, Long, Langford, Davis, Smith, Hartline etc.)
Not only has this regime been effective with their draft picks, but they have turned this team around in spite of the last 3 regimes ineptitude when it came to the NFL draft. There are only 8 players on this roster that were drafted before Parcells arrived and none of them were drafted prior to 2004. Of those 8, one is a punter and two are first round busts (Jason allen, Ted Ginn). Plus, the other 5 (Carey, Bell, Crowder, Soliai, Brown) have seen there best days after this regimes arrival, especially in the case of Soliai who is looking like the lone bright spot from a dismal 2007 draft. The off season extensions of Bell, Crowder and Carey showed this regimes nack for identifying talent even if they don't carry the same loyalty that a draft pick would recieve. I expect Ronnie Brown to also recieve an extension during this off-season if he becomes an unrestricted free agent, though that is looking less likely by the day.
This regime in two seasons has had remarkable success when it comes to undrafted free agents. Not only did they find a playmkaing slot reciever in Davone Bess, but they also signed one of the top 10 kickers in football in Dan Carpenter and a defensive end in Ryan Baker who has shown potential as an NFL level backup.
Waiver Wire/Street Pickups
This is where I feel this regime deserves the most credit. 15 players currently on the roster were picked up off of other teams practice squads, off the waiver wire after final cuts, off the street midseason, or from a different league. Of those 15, outside of Greg Camarillo, Patrick Cobbs and Quentin Moses the remainder have been signed by this regime in the past two seasons. This includes Pro Bowl calibar fullback Lousaka Polite, emerging starter Nate Garner, Tyrone Culver, Joey Haynos, and Cameron Wake who was taken from Canadien Football.
Between draft picks, UDFA's, and waiver pickups, this regime has brought in 30 players currently on the roster in the past two seasons, all of which (outside of Patrick Turner, Kory Sheets, Andrew Hartline, Lydon Murtha, Evan Ogelsby, and Ikaika-Alama Francis) have seen the field, shown longterm potential, and many have even become effecttive starters for the Dolphins.
Many have critcized this regime when it comes to free agency, but I am here to show what a great job Parcells and company has actually done. This roster consists of 12 players that have been signed as unrestricted free agents. Of those 12, only 2 (Will Allen, Joey Porter) were signed by previous regimes. The free agents signings this team has made currently on the roster are: Jason Taylor, Jake Grove, Justin Smiley, Randy Starks, Nathan Jones, Joe Berger, Gibril Wilson (MISS), Reggie Torbor, Charlie Anderson, and Chad Pennington. Outside of Gibril Wilson (who I will admit was one of this regimes few mistakes), this team has done a remarkable job of signing starters as well as key role players in free agency. Randy Starks was plucked from obscurity in Tennessee and is now playing at a Pro Bowl level. We all know what Pennington did for us last year. Also, Jake Grove, Justin Smiley, and Jason Taylor are starters this season and Anderson, Torbor, and Berger have been thrust into starting roles at certain points due to injury and have done more than an adequate job. Nathan Jones is also one of the better nickel corners in football.
I am not saying this team hasn't missed on a few (ex: Gibril Wilson, Ernest Wilford), but they have had success in an area where teams usually fail. Remember, when a player hits free agency it means that the team that drafted them got to watch them play for 4 or more years, and then decided that they weren't worth keeping. Because of this fact, free agent busts are very common. This regime has done an excellent job at hitting much more often then they have missed, and deserve praise for this fact. Also, there are other signings like Eric Green, Sean Ryan, and Josh McCown that should be discounted due to their fringe roster status.
6 players currently on the roster were acquired via trade. Of those 6, 5 of them were acquired by this current regime. Ricky Williams is the lone player who was brought in from a past regime, and although his price was steep (two 1st rounders), I think after this season it is safe to say the Dolphins made a good move despite his 2 and change missed seasons. Of those 5 players, only Tyler Thigpen has not been a starter or a key role player during this past season, and I for one believe picking up Thigpen was a good move, as he is better QB than Pat White at this point if Henne were happen to go down. The key here is the Dolphins under this regime have given up 2nd day draft picks for important, starting calibar players. This regime picked up Tony McDaniel from Jacksonville for a 7th round pick. This regime got both Akin Ayodele and Anthony Fasano for a 4th round pick, and on top of that, they traded Lorenzo Booker that same year to retrieve a 4th rounder, and now Booker is out of the league. Fasano and Ayodele, although they aren't the most popular players (especially Ayodele as of late), have atleast been effective in their roles. In my opinion, Anthony Fasno is a good NFL tight end when you combine his pass catching and run blocking ability. Also, this regime acquired Jason Ferguson for a 6th round pick and he was maybe the number one reason this team was sound against the run in his short stint with the team.
This regime also has done a nice job in terms of trading players away. Parcells and company traded Samson Satele, Lorenzo Booker, Travis Daniels and Josh Mccown for draft picks and none of those players have made any kind of impact for the teams they were traded too and Daniels and Booker are either out or almost out of the league entirely. They also made the greatest trade of all in trading Jason Taylor for a 2nd round pick only to re-acquire him a year later in free agency.
I have 3 realistic goals for this off-season that if accomplished I believe will put the Dolphins in position to win a division championship next season and thrust them into the elite class of teams in the NFL.
1st Goal: Re-signings
This is all dependent on the new CBA, however these are our notable free agents for this off season:
Ronnie Brown, Anthony Fasano, Chad Pennington, Jason Ferguson, Jason Taylor
Right off the bat I feel that it is time to move on from Pennington and Ferguson. They did a nice job while they were here but I feel the Dolphins have young players at both of these positions and they are no longer needed. Ronnie Brown is the Dolphins best player in my opinion, and while he may only have 4 seasons left in his legs, he is worth keeping at any cost. Fasano is a good tight end, and while a playmaker at this position would be ideal, there aren't that many of them in the league and if you have a quality starter he shouldn't be left unrestricted. Jason Taylor has had a good season and hasn't shown many signs of his age as of yet. He isn't quite the pass rusher he once was but he seems to be gaining steem as a strongside linebacker with run stopping ability. I feel it would be a good move to re-sign Taylor on a 1 year deal.
2nd Goal: Cuts/Trades
The 3 starters that jump out to me as being in immediate need of replacing are Ted Ginn Jr, Gibril Wilson, and Akin Ayodele. Ginn is at best a marginal kick return specialist with deep threat ability (maybe). Gibril Wilson I think can be a good strong safety, but we have Bell and Wilson has shown himself to be a liability in coverage. He actually has been a downgrade on Renaldo Hill. Akin Ayodele is a decent player, but the Dolphins need a playmaker at ILB, and Ayodele unfortunately should be the casualty. Channing Crowder isn't a playmaker either, however he is a better player than Ayodele in every facet and needs to be paired with a playmaker. I expect Wilson and Ayodele to be released and Ginn to be either traded for a low draft pick or kept as a special teams player only. If the team is cash strapped at any point, cutting Will Allen should be considered as he doesn't seem to have a clearly outlined role with the emergence of Sean Smith and Vontae Davis.
3rd Goal: Free Agency/Draft
This team has 5 prime needs going into this off-season. It is my opinion that this team is set at QB, RB, FB, TE, OL, DE, and CB. Of course, young players are needed at all positions and those positions are no different (ex: a low draft pick on an interior lineman, tight end or runningback). Of those 5 needs, I believe wide reciever is clearly the number one need for this team. While Davone Bess and Brian Hartline have great potential as complimentery recievers, and Camarillo is as solid as they come, the Dolphins need a downfield threat to maximize Henne's enormous poential. After wide reciever, free safety, nose tackle, inside linebacker, and rush linebacker are all other important needs that can be addressed in one of two ways.
Wide reciever- There are alot of options in how to fill this need though admitadly this will be the hardest for the Fins to fill. Of the free agents, Miles Austin, Brandon Marshall, and Vincent Jackson stand out as the 3 that should be pursued. However, none of them are likely to hit the open market (Austin probably has the best chance). If free agency proves futile as it likely will, a trade can be pursued. While many dream of a scenario where Andre Johnson or Calvin Johnson become available, it is much more likely that less attractive guys like Anquan Boldin, Dwayne Bowe, and maybe Steve Smith are made available for trade. I expect the Dolphins to seriously consider using a 1st round pick on a wideout, whether it be a rookie or a trade for a number one.
Free Safety- I think that the hope is that Chris Clemons fills this role and the Dolphins can address other needs. If that is not the case, then the Dolphins need to make this a priority. Free agency wise, Nick Collins is the most attractive free safety because of his production and relative youth. A high draft pick is also possible but I think all fans should hope that the Fins already have their future safety in house in Chris Clemons. Game changing players only come along once in a wile at this position and its not a coincidence that alot of the top teams have pro bowl free safeties. Gibril Wilson needs to be replaced and this hole needs to be sured up.
Nose tackle- With the impending loss of Jason Ferguson, that leaves only Paul Soliai. I think Soliai is a pretty good player with a whole lot of potential. He might even turn out to be a starter in this league. However, at the very least this team needs another nose tackle to spell Paul. Also, if the team feels they can do better at that position, Soliai would be a hell of a backup. Nose tackles are hard to find in the draft but expect the team to look for one rather early. Also, the free agent pool is rich with Nose tackles with Vince Wilfork, Aubrayo Franklin, Ryan Pickett, and Casey Hampton all set to hit the market.
Inside Linebacker- The Dolphins have a good but not great set of inside linebackers. I don't think this is a pressing need, however, a playmaker here is needed to have a great defense and the Dolphins don't have one. I expect Ayodele to be replaced by either a free agent or a high draft pick. If not, the team can keep Ayodele or go with Torbor, and draft one later in the draft to develop. Again, not a pressing need, but this a place where the team can really improve if the oppurtiniy presents itself in free agency or the draft.
Rush Linebacker- Currently, the Dolphins have two good veterans in Joey Porter and Jason Taylor, and a future star in Cameron Wake. The Dolphins would probably be in good shape next year with those 3, but long term, this team will need a stongside linebacker to pair with Wake. If Parcells and company sees a potential rush linebacker they like in the draft I expect them to pounce. Also, a name on the open market to consider is Shawne Merriman. He was once a dominant player in this league. Next year will be is second year off of reconstrucive knee surgery, and San Diego is likely to let him walk.
This team, before anything else, needs to get a number one reciever. That is the biggest goal of the off-season simply because it is the only position on the team without a young player with potential to fill that void. While NT, FS, and linebacking positions are also needs, the Dolphins have players (ex: Clemons, Soliai, Wake,) that have great potential at those positions.
I feel that if the Dolphins can fill any one of these needs through free agency, then the rest can be covered in the draft. I feel the Dolphins are a good draft and a stud free agent signing on either side of the ball away from taking the neccesary steps they need. This team has specific needs that can be addressed in one off season.Think about how far we have come. Two seasons ago, we had no direction and no hope. This regime deseves so much credit and Im confident they will have another successful off-season. History shows that Parcells and Company are likely to bring 1 or more good free agents in, give us a solid draft class from top to bottom, make a clever trade, and maybe even pluck a few gems off the scrap heap.