Let me start off by saying this is definitely a repeat of one or several posts combined, but i felt it was necessary to point out and stress a couple of issues that have people concerned.
I'm not sure why everyone like Matty said, is basically panicing and worrying over the team's decisions over the past week or so. There are so many reasons to be optimistic about this season and we are here a few days away from week 1 worrying about the state of the Miami Dolphins.
1) Bill Parcells- Yes we all know about his three sentence statement that he released yesterday. Today, again like Matty said, he is in his golf cart with Jeff Ireland next to him doing the same thing they did last week and last year. From everything I heard this part of the season basically marks the end of the year for the NFL in terms of not having any free agency or draft preparations left. The roster is set with the exception of one or two players due to injuries or unexpected waiver wires. This was the plan all along, Bill will have his say more than you guys think and until he feels the team is where it should be, he wont be going anywhere. If its one thing I noticed, he doesnt stop working until the job is done, because if he did, he would've taken his $12 mil and left a long time ago when Stephen Ross took ownership.
2) Sean Smith vs Jason Allen- For years we have been waiting for Jason Allen to prove his worth of the 16th overall pick, has he done that yet, no! Now he is finally in the same position for more than a year and according to our head coach flat out has out played Sean Smith in preseason and training camp. Yea it sucks that Sean Smith hasn't made the leap or improved ontop of last year like Vontae has but he'll learn and maybe this will motivate him more than we know. Its possible that he might've lost some of that hunger after starting all 16 games so we need to trust our coaches who see these two practice every day instead of thinking that Jason Allen isnt capable of playing oppositve VD. I'm sure they wouldn't risk losing games by starting JA just to send Sean Smith a message, clearly they feel he has improved and we all saw glimpses of him over the past few years, lets just have some trust in our front office and see how this plays out, either way, with the improvement of our defense and of our players, we hopefully won't have to worry about pointing the blame on one or two players that cost us the game, which leads me to my next point.
3) Karlos Dansby- How many times last year did a tight end beat the living sh*t out of us...um Dallas Clark, Tony Gonz, Antonio Gates, Jeremy Shockey, and i'm sure i'm missing a few. Having a guy like Dansby who is more than capable of covering these tight ends is really going to help this team, most of the time we had to leave Gibril on the tight end because we didnt have a ILB capable of staying on these guys and he got beat because either he couldnt tackle them or was flat out out of position/undersized. I don't see that problem anymore and we realized that was a major issue which is also why we drafted A.J Edds and picked up Bobby Carpenter along with Dansby. This should really improve our defense and allow our safety's to stay on the wr's and occasionaly the rb's where they are more suited.
4) Cameron Wake- Last year we all know that although we ranked top 5 in the league in sacks, we didnt apply enough consistent pressure on the qb and that was a major issue. Wake had almost as many sacks as Porter and Taylor and with a lot less number of snaps. He doesn't have the problems that JP had or the drama that JT had (although I still wish we had him for his leadership if anything, and I thought he was still very effective). This guy gets to the QB plain and simple. We all saw last year and in preseason he is constantly in the backfield and we know that Mike Nolan's whole scheme is to have that one down LB get to the qb like Dumervil did last year.
5) Mike Nolan- No more Paul P...enter Mike Nolan. Like said multiple times before, this guy knows how to run a defense. If you look at our front 7 compared to Denver's front 7 last year, we totally dominate them. Yes they have Champ and Dawkins and we have Bell and Vontae which isnt too bad of an alternative if you ask me. Nolan will get us back to a top 10 defense and if you look at our close games last year, had our defense been better we could've easily went 10-6 and avoided losing the close games to the colts, saints, texans, titans, and possibly Pitt had we not been out of it at that point. This will no doubt add a few wins in comparison to last year's team had we had the same players on the field.
6) Brandon Marshall- All year we were complaining on how Ted Ginn cost us this game and dropped this pass (but yes he won us the second games against the Jets), and we all were praying to find our no. 1 somewhere dug in our practice sqaud as the next Miles Austin, well in came Brandon Marshall. This guy is a flat out beast as we all know and his 100 catches 3 straight seasons speaks more than anything I could say. One of the best if not the best YAC receivers in the game, he'll take 8 out of the box and open our ground game and pass game to the other receivers along with just being more productive then our no. 1 last year, this is somethign defenses need to plan heavily for unlike last year.
7) Healthy Ronnie Brown- Ronnie Brown to me is one of the most important players on our offense. He got hurt in week 10 if im not mistaken and at that point we were on our way to a playoff spot, but then when he went down, we lost the Wildcat and we lost that extra dynamic player that complimented Ricky the way he did. Not to mention we lost Cobbs as well, a healthy RB group is priceless in this league, and we all realized when Cobbs and RB went down, we had to rely on a 1st year starter in Henne to throw 50 times to keep us in games. Well it gave him the experience and now with these two healthy, Henne won't be forced to keep us in games or Ricky wont have to run for 115+ so we can win, a balanced attacked is what we'll rely on and should we need one or two players to step up here and there, well then we won't have to panic because its happened before and we have enough players who are capabale of doing just that.
8) The O-Line/D-Line- Last be certainly not least as i'm a firm believer as are most people that this is where games are won. Am I the only one who remembers us playing last year without Jake Grove for most of the second half and Justin Smily for a good part of the whole year. We had Berger, Thomas, Garner along with a few others filling in and we still ended up with one of the best rushing offenses. Now we have a few new guys, but I think we need to take a step back and realize that this is TS's forte and he'll get this taken care of as this was and still is one of our stronger units on this team. As for D-line, we took a hit losing Ferg last year and Solai showed flashes of being a fill in but not consistent enough, well Randy Starks took care of that and will be our version of Jay Ratliff. He can certainly penetrate as we have all seen from the NT position and Solai is showing that he understands what it takes to be a legit back up NT and a key player on this 3-4 defense. I know its just preseason but with another year of experience and some improvement, this guy has the tools to be a good NFL player, and i certainly trust Randy Starks given what he showed us last year through 16 games. Don't forget he came into this league as a NT.
Ultimately what i'm trying to say is most of the things that concerned us last year, the front office has made it a point to take care of. Yea, if I had a choice I rather had Ryan Clark or Antrel Rolle then Chris Clemons but show me a team that has a stud at every position. This is how you develop players and eventually have your own stud without having to go out and buy/trade for one. Other players will pick up the slack and that certain player will develop and get to a point where he is no longer a liability. If you just look within our conference you have the pats who have lost the best two players on their O-line at this point, their best CB, their best DE and have no running game or pass rush. You have the jets who lost their best run block guard in Faneca, their top rusher in Thomas Jones, Leon Washington who was their x-factor in almost every game and they think they can siimply rely on Sanchez who threw 20 Int's to lead them. I personally think we are in a much better position than these other teams are because we improved where we were lacking and they have not. To me, the Bills are not at our level yet, and C.J Spiller isn't going to be the one that gets them over the hump, it takes more than one player and they will realize that as time goes on.
We have a lot to be optimistic about! Now did we ultimately fix all our holes, no. But we did a good job of improving our weaknesses and our team which is and should be every team's goal each offseason. The rest is on the players to perform and the coaches to execute an effective game plan, but that is why they play the game. Atleast we can be supportive and have faith, again, i know this was said many times, but two years ago this time we came off a 1-15 season...now we are legit playoff contenders and have a shot to make some serious noise in the years to come with young core players like Henne, BM, Long, VD and many more!