This is the first of what I hope to be a weekly feature here at The Phinsider throughout the remainder of the offseason. The idea is simple - I'll tackle some Dolphin-related topic and give my thoughts on it by focusing on three positives and three negatives.
To kick things off today, I have picked a topic that is sure to at least generate a little debate.
THREE OFFSEASON MOVES I LIKED
1. Focusing on the secondary - Last offseason, the Dolphins focused on improving the lines on both sides of the ball. This offseason, with the team's most glaring weakness being the secondary, the Dolphins went and addressed it even before the official beginning of free agency be signing safety Gibril Wilson and teaming him with Yeremiah Bell, who the Fins re-signed the same day. They then brought in Eric Green from Arizona (who I hope doesn't have to be anything more than a 3rd or 4th corner) and selected two cornerbacks in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft - including one of my favorite players, Sean Smith. While I wouldn't expect huge contributions from the two rookies - Smith and Vontae Davis - in 2009, I do think that both will see plenty of action and improve the overall depth of the secondary.
2. The return of Jason Taylor - It goes without saying that all Dolphin fans love this guy - or at least, they used to. And the way Taylor's return to Miami went down really makes it hard to hold any hard feelings towards JT. He has come in, said all the right things, accepted whatever his role in Miami will be, and has made it clear that his heart has always been in Miami - even last year while playing up in DC. Now let's just hope that Taylor's return to Miami is the beginning of a storybook ending for a South Florida sports icon.
3. Declaring Chad Pennington the 2009 starter - One of the most hotly debated topics this offseason began with Tony Sparano informing the media in the wake of the playoff loss to Baltimore that Chad Pennington was his guy and would be the starter entering 2009. I know we all love competitions and we all are hoping and praying that Chad Henne becomes the franchise quarterback this franchise has longed for since a certain #13 retired. But I can't help but love how Tony Sparano and this coaching staff came right out and were honest and up front rather than holding a mockery of a "quarterback competition" like we might have seen from previous regimes in Miami. Pennington put together an MVP-type season in '08 and declaring him the starter heading into '09 was the right thing to do.
THREE OFFSEASON MOVES I QUESTION
1. Not adding enough interior offensive line help - It's easy to say this now following the latest injury to Donald Thomas, who was expected to start at right guard this year. But I felt this way even before Thomas went down. While I'm a fan of signing Jake Grove because he is an upgrade over Samson Satele, he also has a history of missing games due to injury. Meanwhile, Thomas and Justin Smiley were both entering the 2009 offseason with serious health issues. But despite having three starters at guard and center who have injury questions and/or injury histories, the Dolphins traded away Satele - instead of keeping him for depth at center and guard - and brought in just one veteran - Joe Berger - and failed to draft a single guard in the draft. And it's easy to say this now after Donald's latest injury, but you can't tell me the Dolphins wouldn't be in better shape right now if they had taken Duke Robinson rather than Brian Hartline or John Nalbone.
2. Not adding a potential long-term nose tackle - I know that the Dolphins signed undrafted free agent Louis Ellis. But I can't say that I wouldn't have preferred acquiring a young veteran or drafting a more highly-touted prospect like Terrance Taylor or Sammie Lee Hill. The 3-4 defense will not work without a quality nose tackle so now we have to hope that the aging Jason Ferguson can stay healthy and that either Louis Ellis, Paul Soliai, or Joe Cohen can give Jason a breather at times and could step in as a full-time player if absolutely necessary.
3. Signing Eric Green and passing on slightly more expensive options - Above I said I loved how the Dolphins made it a priority to upgrade their secondary. But I did make it a point to say that I hope Eric Green doesn't have a big role. Simply put, I am not confident at all in his ability. But the Dolphins signed Green to a 2 year, $6 million deal. For the same amount of years and $2 million extra per year, the Fins could have signed Bryant McFadden. Instead, he went to Arizona - Green's former team. I can't sit here and say I'm not a little disappointed in this decision. But I'll hope for the best.