Today is the first day of June and that means were are officially less than two months away from training camp kicking off for the Miami Dolphins. These next few weeks will definitely feel like torture, but football will be back before we know it.
But just because we are in the "dead zone" of the NFL offseason doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about. Here's what made headlines this past weekend.
EXPECTATIONS FOR JASON TAYLOR
There was an excellent piece in the Sun-Sentinel on Sunday about how some of the game's best pass-rushers performed from age 35 and on. Jason Taylor will turn 35 on September 1. And if Taylor is as great as we all think he is - and in the same class as some of the all-time great pass-rushers, then we should have a lot to look forward to in 2009.
Taylor currently ranks 14th all time in sacks with 120.5. But if he wants to be included with some of the greats - guys like Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene, and John Randle - then he needs to perform like those greats did after turning 35. Bruce Smith picked up 46 sacks in six seasons to reach 200 - the most of any player in NFL history. Reggie White averaged over 10 sacks per season for four seasons following his 35th birthday. Kevin Greene - a player in which it's a crime that he isn't in the Hall of Fame - averaged 12.5 sacks after turning 35.
If Taylor can register at least 8 sacks in '09, he'll move into the top 10.
But every case is not the same. Richard Dent, tied for 6th on the all-time list, only picked up 11 sacks in three seasons after turning 35. John Randle, also 6th all-time, only registered 12.5 sacks in two seasons upon turning 35.
So what should we expect from Jason Taylor following his lowest sack total since 1999? Chris Doleman, whose 150.5 sacks ranks 4th all-time and who averaged 11.5 sacks per season after his 35th birthday, thinks Taylor will still produce and predicts Jason "will get between eight and 15 sacks this year."
"He takes care of his body," Doleman said. "He doesn't have a huge weight fluctuation. If anything, he gets lighter, not heavier. And you want to be lighter as you get older."
He refuted the notion Taylor's reliance on quickness will cause a speedy regression: "J.T. is one of the strongest guys out there."
Nor does he believe Taylor must completely alter his style: "Play to your strengths. What's the point of getting in a sword fight with a guy you can run away from?"
But it's Taylor's former teammate in Miami - Trace Armstrong - who sums it up best. And Armstrong knows a thing or two about excelling - tallying a career best 16.5 sacks during the 2000 season at the age of 35. Says Trace:
"I'll never bet against Jason Taylor. Pride and ego, all those things, will make him want to be on the field all the time."
Armstrong adds that "provided they figure out the right role and how to use him, can he be a double-digit sack guy? Absolutely." That will be the key and will likely be a very fluid situation both during camp and as the season wears on. How will the Dolphins use Jason Taylor? I think that this coaching staff will learn as they go and will eventually find the perfect role for Taylor. What that role is remains unclear. It could be as a situational pass-rusher. Or Taylor could work with Joey Porter and the team could plan to split their reps at the weakside OLB spot to keep both of them fresh all game and all season. Right now, though, we just don't know yet.
WAS RONNIE BROWN TRADE TALK JUST A NEGOTIATING PLOY?
One of the rumors that flew as the draft approached in April was that the Dolphins were at least putting feelers out to gauge interest in RB Ronnie Brown - whose contract expires following the 2009 season.
But NFL Network's Marshall Faulk told the Palm Beach Post that he isn't buying it - and that he sees that whole situation as Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland simply trying to gain leverage for contract talks with Ronnie:
“In all honesty, you have to love the way Bill Parcells works. How do you get a guy like that on the cheap with his contract (expiring) next year? You say you’re shopping him."
“If they wanted to move him, they could move him. What back in this year’s draft is as good as Ronnie Brown? There weren’t any. He’d be an upgrade on any of those teams that looked for help at that position in the draft.”
Marshall's theory makes sense. Of course, Jeff Ireland did come out on draft day and shoot down those trade rumors. But we'll never really know how much truth, if any, there were to them. You can bet, however, that Ronnie's agent knows.
Like Faulk said, though. If the Dolphins wanted to trade him, they could have traded him. There would have been takers for Brown. And that makes me think that Faulk's theory has more fact to it than fiction. But Faulk did add that Ronnie doesn't have to take the bait here. He knows that if he goes out and has a great 2009 season, he'll get his money - whether it's from Miami or from somebody else.
The question then becomes how badly do the Dolphins want to keep Brown and how badly does Ronnie want to remain in Miami. In an ideal world, the Dolphins would reach an agreement to extend Ronnie's contract prior to the 2009 season. The Miami Herald speculates that following Will Allen's new deal, Brown and TE Anthony Fasano "could be next." But the paper points out that the Dolphins haven't made Ronnie any offers yet.
-Armando Salguero wrote about how the Dolphins need Ted Ginn to be a true #1 receiver. I disagree. While it would be nice for Teddy to become that true #1 receiver that every team wants to have, I don't think a team needs a true #1 receiver. This Dolphins team, in particular, doesn't need one because they seem to use different receiver packages for different situations. And that can get the job done - assuming you have a receiving core with a wide range of abilities. The Dolphins have just that.
-Edgar Thompson ponders something we touched on last week: which players should the Dolphins give extensions to?