Looking at this offseason, some Dolphin fans are upset with what Jeff Ireland did his first week, where he basically traded Marshall for two thirds (value of a 2nd round pick) and not being aggressive in free agency like other years. But Philbin and the new staff are trying to implement a new philosophy, even if it has a few bumps in the road at first. It WILL pay off in the long run, though. The Miami Dolphins have noticed what the teams in the playoffs consistently do: Draft a QB and build through the draft.
2011 Playoff Teams
The Miami Dolphins have a hard time getting in the playoffs. Why? We try to rely on free agent QBs who would've been signed long-term if their team viewed them as the "franchise" quarterback. Let's look at the 12 playoff teams last year and see who drafted their starting quarterback:
New York Giants- Drafted Eli Manning (1st overall)
Atlanta Falcons- Drafted Matt Ryan (3rd overall)
San Francisco 49ers- Drafted Alex Smith (1st overall)
Detroit Lions- Drafted Matthew Stafford (1st overall)
New England Patriots- Drafted Tom Brady (199th overall)
Baltimore Ravens- Drafted Joe Flacco (18th overall)
Cincinnati Bengals- Drafted Andy Dalton (35th overall)
Of the twelve teams in the playoffs last season, ten of the twelve drafted their QB and groomed him to their system. Drew Brees was really good his last year in San Diego, but shoulder problems and Phillip Rivers waiting in line led to him being pushed out on the open market. Matt Schaub was groomed very well by the Houston Texans, as he was a promising prospect but had limited reps to base off of him. Tim Tebow is an exception to this rule, however, as you can see by the Broncos recently pursuing Manning vigorously to try to find a bidder and get rid of Tebow and is awful throwing mechanics.
Each team on here has a great chance of competing for a playoff spot, as most of them already do consistently. Why? The coach has filled their scheme with the quarterback, producing the best results for both sides. They also draft a QB in the top 40 picks, as 10 of the quarterbacks above were last season.
Ireland recognizes this and isn't going to hope Matt Moore becomes our franchise quarterback next season. He wants somebody who fits Philbin's offensive scheme, not try to mask Matt Moore's deficiencies and use a different scheme than wanted (i.e. Broncos and Tebow).
That is why I've come to the conclusion that the Dolphins, who sit at 8 and 42, will take a QB at one of the two spots, whether it be Tannehill at 8, or Cousins at 42. They will sit one of the two quarterbacks behind veterans David Garrard and Matt Moore, both who have the personality to mentor the young drafted QB. When Matt Moore and David Garrard become in free agents in 2013, the drafted quarterback will then take the reins of the offense and hopefully execute the scheme to perfect for the Dolphins.
The Foundation of the Green Bay Packers
Our head coach has learned from the football guys in Green Bay like Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy, so it's only natural he would pick up the tendencies they used while he was employed there. The Packers are not a huge free agency team. They build the way all the great teams build. You draft well and resign your own once their cheap labor has been fulfilled or upgrade again in the draft. You'll have some busts. It happens in each draft. Coming out with 2 or 3 starters is seen as a success for most teams. But you have to find those "star" players, like a franchise QB or that all-pro cornerback. It can't ALWAYS be busts and solid role starters. You need to have that player that takes you to the next echelon. Lets look at the 2011 Green Bay Packers team and some might be surprised in what they see.
LT: Marshall Newhouse. Drafted by the Packers in the 5th round of the 2010 draft and started 13 games last season.
LG: T.J. Lang. Drafted by the Packers in the 4th round of the 2009 draft and started 16 games last season.
C: Scott Wells. Drafted by the Packers in the 7th round of the 2004 draft and started 16 games last season.
RG: Josh Sitton. Drafted by the Packers in the 4th round of the 2008 draft and started 14 games last season.
RT: Brian Bulaga. Drafted by the Packers in the 1st round of the 2010 draft and started 12 games last season.
All five offensive line starters of the Packers were drafted and they also have Derek Sherrod, who they drafted with the last pick in the first round of the 2011 draft, probably ready to start next year. They were drafted in various rounds, including two in the 4th, one in the fifth, and even Scott Wells in the 7th, but was signed by the St. Louis Rams this offseason period. The Dolphins will definitely draft a lineman in this upcoming draft and with this new philosophy, a lineman drafted in any round has a chance to start.
QB: Aaron Rodgers. Drafted by the Packers in the first round of the 2005 draft and started 15 games last season.
RB: Ryan Grant. Undrafted in 2005 and signed with NY Giants. Was on PS in 2005 and missed all of 2006 with a non-sports related injury. Green Bay sent a future 6th round pick for Grant in 2007. Played in 15 games last season.
RB: James Starks. Drafted by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2010 draft and played in 13 games last season.
FB: John Kuhn. Undrafted in 2005 and debuted for the Packers in 2006. Played in 16 games last season.
WR: Greg Jennings. Drafted by the Packers in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft and played in 13 games last season.
WR: Jordy Nelson. Drafted by the Packers in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft and played in 16 games last season.
WR: James Jones. Drafted by the Packers in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft and played in 16 games last season.
WR: Randall Cobb. Drafted by the Packers in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft and played in 15 games last season.
TE: Jermichael Finley. Drafted by the Packers in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft and played in 16 games last season
Every main skill position on offense in 2011 for the Packers were either:
a). Drafted by them
b). Signed/traded for a undrafted free agent
Do you ever see the Packers going out and spending in free agency? No. That's why even though they have all these great pieces on offense they still sit in the 6 million dollar range under the cap. The Dolphins are trying not to overspend in free agency. Many people are upset we didn't go after a WR to make up for Brandon Marshall's loss. But with the deepest WR class in about a decade, would you rather draft two young, promising receivers that fit Philbin's scheme or pay 5 years, 32.5 million dollars and 13.6 million guaranteed to Laurent Robinson? He was nothing special until he had Tony Romo throwing him the ball and Dez Bryant and Jason Witten taking all the coverage.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Expect probably the most important draft in Jeff Ireland's entire career. He has to showcase the future of the Dolphins in the upcoming draft to Stephen Ross, current players, future free agents, and most importantly, the fans. If we implement the Packer's philosophy, don't expect a first round wide receiver. They love to get those in the second and third round, as you can see with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones. Chris Givens, Marvin McNutt, Rueben Randle, and Mohamed Sanu are all solid options in those two rounds. I expect us to draft one in the second and in the third.The Packers love to utilize the tight end, and we might take a shot on one with one of our third round picks, which is where Jermichael Finley was drafted. Orson Charles and Michael Egnew are both solid options in the third. I think we'll draft a guard or tackle in the later rounds, probably in the fourth or fifth.
But now comes the toughest question of the draft. Do you trade back in the first, take a pass rusher like Nick Perry, and then use the extra 2nd round pick on Kirk Cousins? Or do you sit at 8 and not risk anything and ensure you get Ryan Tannehill? That's the most important question for Philbin and Ireland, because this quarterback will be looked at as the future for the Dolphins when 2013 rolls around.
If I had to make a mock draft, mine would look like this:
Trade back in first, pick up 2nd round pick.
1. Nick Perry, OLB.
2a. Kirk Cousins, QB.
2b. Chris Givens, WR.
3a. Marvin McNutt, WR.
3b. Michael Egnew, TE.
4. Dwight Bentley, CB.
5. Will Blackwell, G
6. Tavon Wilson, SS
7. Risard Matthews, WR