We've obviously spent a lot of time talking about next month's draft recently - and we'll continue to do so over the next several weeks (including some interesting scouting reports from bloggers who cover these players week in and week out). But today I wanted to take a break from the draft talk to discuss some of the other news surrounding our Dolphins this week.
Miami residents beware: Dolphins sign Incognito
The big news from Wednesday was Miami's signing of versatile but volatile guard Richie Incognito. The "mad head-butter" - as he's been dubbed - is a talented player who has seen action at three different positions along the offensive line. He's very strong and plays with the kind of "mean streak" that Tony Sparano and company like from their linemen.
It's that same "mean streak," though, that makes this signing a risk. Incognito's past issues - including head-butting two players in one game resulting in penalty yards and a $50k fine - are well documented. There's no need to rehash them. The key here, in my opinion, is how low of a risk this signing is. The one-year deal, if Richie meets all incentives, would pay him only $1.35 million. It's simply a low risk, high reward move.
When Incognito arrived in South Florida two nights ago, he was open in speaking to the Miami Herald about his past transgressions. He told the paper, "It comes down to me being accountable for my emotions on the field. It's not time to place blame anywhere else except squarely on my shoulders. It's something I have to take care of. That's the message I'm trying to convey. I'm willing to explore all options to help myself get to a better place."
Clearly the first step is realizing there's a problem and Richie has done that. Now he has to take the steps necessary to control himself on and off the field. Luckily, I think the Dolphins have the kind of people around that can help keep Incognito on the right track. It starts at the top with Bill Parcells, a man who doesn't like problem-children but will invest his time into players if he feels they want to better themselves. Tony Sparano is the kind of coach that players seem to love playing for. And Richie's teammates along the offensive line - guys like Justin Smiley, Vernon Carey, and Jake Grove - are strong leaders and should help Incognito along the way.
Look for Incognito to come into training camp and battle for a starting spot at either guard position. If Justin Smiley is healthy, I do think the starting left guard job is his to lose. But if he struggles with injuries in camp, Richie could have a shot to steal some time. More likely, though, is that Incognito battles Donald Thomas and Nate Garner - the two primary right guards last year who spent much of the year rotating in and out. This regime likes Thomas but it's clear they aren't sold he's the long-term RG solution. If Incognito impresses in camp and keeps out of trouble, there's no reason to think he can't win the starting right guard job. At the very least, he'll provide some solid depth along the interior offensive line.
Dolphins on Monday Night?
It's expected that the NFL on Monday will announce the opening week prime-time games for the 2010 season as well as the Thanksgiving Day games. It's been all but confirmed that the Jets will host two of these games - the Monday Night Football season opener and the Thanksgiving Night game. And there's already speculation that the Dolphins could be one of New York's opponents in either of these two games. PFT even went so far as to guess that the Dolphins will head to NJ to play the Jets on the season-opening Monday Night Football game.
However there's a problem with that line of thinking. The Marlins, who share Sun Life Stadium with the Dolphins, will be on the road on Sunday, September 12 - the first Sunday of the NFL regular season. But the Marlins will be playing at home the following Sunday, September 19. They are off on the 20th but are again at home on Tuesday the 22nd.
What's all this mean? If the Dolphins were to travel to open the season at the Meadowlands against the Jets, they'd likely be opening the season with two consecutive road games. The only other way the Dolphins could be home in week two would be if they hosted the Monday Night game that week. But that would mean back-to-back Monday Nighters and that never happens (not to mention the quick turnaround from baseball stadium on Sunday to football on Monday and then back to baseball on Tuesday).
Bottom line? Don't expect the Dolphins to open the season at the Meadowlands in week one. Instead, expect the Dolphins to open at home before going on the road in week two.