There is an old saying... "Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't really out to get you." The same might apply to Chicken Little Syndrome (CLS) and the Miami Dolphins.... Just because you might have CLS, doesn't mean the sky ISN'T really falling.
Beginning with fiasco of the final preseason game last week, and continuing through today with the announcement that Bill Parcells will cede full operational control of the team, effective immediately, to Jeff Ireland, the Miami Dolphins have the look of a team in transition. Unfortunately, it is NOT the look of a team transitioning from preseason to the games that count. The Miami Dolphins look more like they are transitioning from a playoff team into a rebuilding team.
In just a week, the Miami Dolphins have seemed to fall apart. And with the first game only 5 days away, I am not sure they will have time to get it all put back together again.
Those of you who know me, know that I tend to be optimistic. If you look at a football team in the early part of the preseason, it is easy to look for the best case scenario of how the season will go, if the players and the plans work out pretty much as envisioned by the coaches.
But as the preseason wears on, the "possibilities" get whittled down into a "reality". Players get injured, rookies don't perform, roster cut downs happen, and before you know it you are faced with a 53 man roster of fact. The hope, of course, is that you end up with the best 53 players... not just the most talented, but the most consistent players who fit the plans for the offensive and defensive schemes the team will be running.
Injuries can throw the biggest monkey wrench into a team's plans. And the later an injury occurs in the preseason process, the bigger the monkey wrench thrown. Philip Merling was injured early on, so the team was able to focus on his rookie replacement and sign some free agent depth. Will Allen occurred a little later, but because he never actually made it back from the previous injury, the team had gone on without him, hoping he would return but not counting on it. But what if Jake Long never gets back to 100% this season? How would the team recover from losing their starting left tackle?
The second biggest thing that can throw a curve ball to a team's plans is when a young player who is counted on to be a producer does not develop at the rate the coaches hoped for/planned on. While Koa Misi and Jared Odrick seem to be doing okay in their roles so far, 2nd year starting cornerback Sean Smith has been benched. With Will Allen now out for the season, this position has suddenly gotten thin enough in depth that the Dolphins traded away sure handed wide receiver Greg Camarillo for a reserve CB. And second year man Chris Clemons, who is being counted on to fill the starting free safety spot is questionable. While I believe he will be fine, he has not shown anything in preseason to put Dolphins fans minds to rest, and erase the
nightmares memories of Gibril Wilson from last season.
Change is sometimes good, but change for a football team is rarely good a week before the season starts. Let's take a quick look at some of the significant change that have happened very recently.
David Martin cut - and then signed by Buffalo! You are kidding yourselves if you think the Bills aren't grilling him about Dolphins game plans/play books.
- Jake Long with an injured knee; Lyndon Murtha filling in. Murtha? Really? If Long is out, Vernon Carey will probably move back over to LT.
Vontae Davis sitting out the last game with an undisclosed injury was seen limping after Monday's practice. Would anyone argue that he is NOT currently our best CB?
- Channing Crowder - undisclosed injury
- Sean Smith - starting CB - benched, in favor of (drum roll please...) Jason Allen???
- Joe Berger starring as "The Center"
- The D-line, a surprising strength of the team during preseason, lost Charles Grant and Marques Douglas to the final cut down. Weren't these guys playing pretty well? Is the team that confident in Jared Odrick as an every down DE?
And just for the record, I'll weigh in on the Bill Parcells debate. I have seen most of the arguments and it really boils down to two questions: "Why now?" and "How will it effect the team?"
Yes, making the announcement now makes about as much sense as any time, I suppose. Personally, I think it would have been better right after the draft, since he would still be around to "advise" Ireland on the second round of free agency and it would be less disruptive. But it WILL effect the team to some degree. It will throw just one more uncertainty in the mix for them to think about. Most of the free agents that ended up coming to Miami cited Bill Parcells as a part of the reason they had confidence in the building of the team, and from the looks of things at the moment, it certainly is not complete. So I understand the arguments on both sides, but I think it is ridiculous to think that it will not have some kind of impact on the players, announced just 5 days before the first game.
So why now? Again, how can anyone think that Parcells doesn't see the disarray the team is currently in? If he is as talented (and cunning) as people tend to give him credit for being, then don't you think he has thought this through 9 ways to Sunday? It's not a conspiracy theory, it's just common sense. We all know Parcells would be leaving - sooner rather than later - and if this season goes in the tank, he does not want to be obligated to hang around for another year (or two) to get it fixed. So by distancing himself now, he can avoid the fallout if things go south. But if things go well, he still gets the credit for the successful rebuilding. But don't think for one second that Parcells is not seeing the problems that have come up in the last few weeks and factored that risk into his decision to disassociate himself for the team.
Such a thing as "coincidence" may exist, but I suspect it is a much rarer happening than most people would assume.
I'm an optimist, but realistically this team just might have more question marks now than they did to start training camp. I would not be all too surprised to see the Fins drop this first game to Buffalo. And Bill Parcells probably wouldn't either, don't you think?