Miami Dolphins Tuesday Morning Round-up

Since there wasn't any one thing I wanted to focus on today, I figured I'd throw out a number of topics that I felt compelled to address o this Tuesday morning.

Dolphins must make two defensive free agents top priority

Whenever Dolphin fans have discussed the numerous decisions that this front office must make in the offseason, most seem to focus on their impending offensive free agents. Sure, having Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, and Richie Incognito all free agents is a big story. Lots of tough decisions to be made here for sure.

But there are two no-brainer decisions that should be made regarding two key defensive free agents. Priority number one should be locking up nose tackle Paul Soliai. It's clear that the light has finally come on for the big man from Utah. He's been simply dominant for most of the season since being forced to start at nose tackle - highlighted by his dominant performance on Sunday against the league's top center, Nick Mangold.

It's hard to find good nose tackles. The Dolphins may now have one. While I'm not 100% sold that he's the long-term answer at the position, I don't think the Dolphins can afford to let him walk and then risk seeing him blossom into a bonafide nose tackle for the next 7+ seasons for another team. He won't be overly expensive if you lock him up now before he hits the open market. And it's a move this front office has to make.

The other free agent, also along the defensive line, is Tony McDaniel. McDaniel is one of many guys that this regime brought in along the defensive line to strengthen the unit.

If there's one thing you can say about this regime, it's that they built one hell of a defensive line. Kendall Langford and Randy Starks are very good players. Phillip Merling has shown flashes but needs to develop a bit more. Jared Odrick looked pretty darm good before his rookie year ended prematurely with an injury. And McDaniel has consistently made plays when it's his turn to take the field as part of Miami's DL rotation.

Signing McDaniel, though, will be more of a challenge than locking up Soliai. Why? Because Tony wants to start. He feels he's a starter in this league - and he wants to get paid like one and get more playing time. Hopefully the Dolphins and McDaniel can find some middle ground, though, because Tony is a key piece to this defensive line.

And it's Miami's defensive line that is perhaps the biggest reason why this defense is now ranked 5th in the NFL.

Jets assistant is fined and suspended

Some Dolphin fans and many in the media continue to focus on the Nolan Carroll tripping incident that occurred on Sunday at the Meadowlands. The dumbass who stuck his knee out to take down Carroll, Jets head strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi, has been reprimanded by the team.

Alosi has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the season (and postseason). He was also fined $25,000 to go along with his lost paychecks. While some wanted to see Alosi fired, this punishment seems very fair to me.

Everybody makes mistakes - even really stupid ones. I do not agree with those who wanted to see the guy lose his job over this. He clearly accepted responsibility for his actions, apologized to the parties involved, and will take the punishment handed down. That's good enough for me.

Dolphins add veteran receiver

According to numerous reports, the Dolphins have signed veteran receiver Kevin Curtis to a one year deal on Monday - one day after Chad Henne completed just five passes in a win over the Jets. The deal only lasts through the end of this season.

The Dolphins receiving corps was depleted by the loss of Brian Hartline, who is now on Injured Reserve, leaving just the inexperienced Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace as the third and fourth receivers on gameday. Now the Dolphins will have a smart veteran to help these young receivers and to hopefully make a few plays on the field.

The 32 year old Curtis, though, has only played in three games since 2008 and has not seen the field at all this year. A knee injury cost Curtis the season in 2009. But that knee injury may have well been a blessing in disguise for Curtis.

This past offseason, while undergoing physicals for teams as he attempted to find a suitor for 2010, it was discovered that Curtis had testicular cancer. He had surgery in September (and has seemingly beaten the disease) and then worked his way back to where he was trying out for teams last month.

The seven year veteran is just three years removed from his career year back in 2007 with the Eagles, when he caught 77 passes for 1,110 yards and 6 touchdowns.

I don't know how much of a role Curtis will have right off the bat. But I do expect the smart veteran receiver to be active on Sunday. After all, there are only three games left. If he wasn't going to be able to contribute at all this week, why even bother signing him?

The Dolphins' playoff chances

We're all aware that this team has really dug themselves a huge hole to dig out of in terms of reaching the postseason. The players and coaches know this as well. To their credit, though - and to the credit of Tony Sparano, who has never had an issue with getting effort out of his guys - this team will not go down without a fight.

But how realistic are Miami's playoff chances? Let's just say it will take a lot.

While there are a number of factors to consider here, the easiest way to break this down is by focusing in on the Jets. Why the Jets? Because if there's a three way tie between two teams from the same division and a third team within the conference, the first thing done to break the tie is to break the tie within the division so that you only have one team per division remaining in the tie-breaker. That means if the Jets and Dolphins are tied - regardless of if there are other teams tied as well - the Dolphins have to edge out the Jets to advance to the next step in the tie-breaker.

So how do the Dolphins compare to the Jets in terms of the tie-breaking procedures? Not very favorably.

First of all, the Dolphins must win their three remaining games - home against the Bills and Lions followed by a trip to New England. That would put the Dolphins at 10 wins. The Jets have games in Pittsburgh and Chicago before closing the year at home against Buffalo.

Everyone's favorite scenario seems to be the Jets losing to the Steelers and Bears but then beating the Bills. In all honesty, that's the most realistic scenario. But even if the Dolphins were to win out, they would not beat out the Jets if both were tied.

Why? The two teams would have the same division record and record against common opponents. But the Jets would have an 8-4 conference record while the Dolphins would sit at 7-5.

So the most direct route to winning a tie-breaker with the Jets would still include the Jets losing twice and the Dolphins winning all three. But one of those losses must be against the Bills. That would give the Dolphins a better division record and award the Dolphins the tie-breaker.

Clearly a lot has to go in Miami's favor in order to successfully dig out of that hole they put themselves in.

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