The coaching staff was troubled by our former #1 CB Vontae Davis' inconsistency. Now he's gone and will have to get used to living in Indianapolis instead of South Florida. He also gets to match up against his favorite life coach Brandon Marshall in week 1 (Bears vs. Colts).
I didn't see the trade coming. Nolan Carroll looked very good in the Atlanta game, with a nice pass deflection while up against Julio Jones. Vontae looked solid as well but had a boneheaded pass interference penalty that was totally deserved after he threw a receiver to the ground as the pass was thrown. Hard Knocks showed how much that one play in particular may have factored into the trade. Still, despite Carroll's apparent development, having Davis on the roster would help us this year, while picks don't help us until next year, with one notable exception. Ireland could use these picks to acquire our greatest need - a healthy WR who can catch the ball not named "Davone Bess." Ideally a trade for a WR would happen as soon as possible, so that way our young QB who unexpectedly won the starting job can build some chemistry with the new guy. A few beat writers are hearing whispers about a big trade after Wednesday's game. Failing to acquire a wide receiver after weakening our secondary with this trade is a tacit admission by Ireland that this year is a rebuilding year - and fans don't want to hear that.
As the regular season nears, we're learning more and more about our 2012 Miami Dolphins from Hard Knocks.
1. "Power struggle? Child, please."
I saw some debate over whether there might be a brewing power struggle between Philbin and Ireland. I'm going to try to end it right now:
Stories and perceptions of Bill Parcells' exact responsibilities vary, but we can all agree that once Parcells took his money and bailed on the team in 2010, we began the Ireland Era. I just wanted to point out that Ireland, despite being free of Parcells and receiving a vote of confidence from Stephen Ross, is not running a dictatorship. In his latest press conference about the Vontae Davis trade, Philbin said, "I fully support the direction in which we moved." He said Jeff Ireland "is very inclusive" in personnel moves and that "everything is a joint effort."
To me, Philbin doesn't sound like a guy waging an epic power struggle with Ireland. He sounds like a guy who was included in the trading process all the way and agreed that Vontae was expendable. Last night's Hard Knocks episode confirms their collaboration.
To sum up: Ireland makes all the decisions now, but Philbin gets very heavy input.
2. "So how about Philbin speaking softly but carrying a big stick?"
Jeff Ireland spent his first few years as GM excusing misconduct (Phillip Merling) and recruiting talented guys with character issues (Brandon Marshall). So when Ireland starts cutting and trading guys due to character concerns, that's Philbin exerting his influence.
A question with Philbin is, at what point is he hurting the team?
Mike Singletary of the 49’ers didn’t give up on Vernon Davis – he coached the hell out of him, benching him, berating him, etc. until something clicked. Now Vernon Davis is a huge contributor to a probable playoff team. Is Philbin giving up on players who could have been huge contributors? With Chad Johnson, maybe but unlikely. With Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis, possibly.
I'm not giving up on Philbin - nobody should before the real games start! But, if Richard Marshall gets injured, Nolan Carroll gets exposed as not ready for prime-time, and/or if the receiving corps looks talentless all year, don't forget the talented guys who could've been on the roster. Ireland may be running the show, but Philbin could have taken those talented guys off the trade market if he said, "We HAVE to keep Vontae Davis and Brandon Marshall to win." They're gone because Philbin didn't feel like keeping them.
The best defense of Philbin's actions is that our veteran core has led us to 7-9, 7-9, and 6-10 seasons the past 3 years, and in a very telling admission in last week's Hard Knocks episode, the members of the Leadership Council admitted that the players hadn't done a good job holding each other accountable in the past. It can be argued that a purge is what this team needs to escape mediocrity.
3. "Did Jeff Ireland make a fair trade?"
The second-round pick of the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts is pretty fair value for Vontae, who was a late-first round pick (25th overall). Vontae is on the second-to-last year of his rookie deal, meaning he's due for a hefty pay-raise soon, and he missed 4 games due to injury last year AND has had maturity/discipline issues throughout his career. Due to a rough schedule, the Colts will get at best 7 wins, so the Dolphins get a top-12 pick in the second and sixth rounds. I expect Vontae to satisfy the conditions for the likely 6th round pick since he became the best cornerback on the Colts roster as soon as they traded for him. Their coach already said Vontae is a probable day 1 starter.
When it comes to trades, there are three kinds of offers: "It would have been dumb NOT to accept that trade", "Fair value, but nothing to get too excited about," and "Somebody call the police - We got mugged."
The Vontae trade fits the second kind - we probably got enough to justify the trade, but nobody should feel we became tremendously better. We got a good 2nd round pick but also added CB depth to the list of concerns (if it wasn't already on the list.)
4. "Who else is for sale?"
In addition to picks, we have players who other teams would want that our team has a reason to possibly trade. That list includes Reggie Bush, Jake Long, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Tony McDaniels, and Matt Moore.
Wake was on the list, but we gave him his (deserved) big deal, so he's no longer a bargain-priced pass-rusher teams would be after. I don't consider Karlos Dansby to be tradeable - he's a a very good linebacker but is paid like a top 5 linebacker with 3 years left on his deal.
The best trade deal involves Matt Moore because QBs are valuable, and we have 2 veterans with fair deals. Matt Moore could probably start for the Arizona Cardinals. However, I only see a trade happening if Garrard gets on the practice field in the next week or so, and that looks unlikely since Garrard hasn't been cleared for jogging yet, much less playing backup quarterback in the NFL.
Next up on the list is Tony McDaniels, who could serve as a dependable backup defensive lineman. Plenty of teams have suffered defensive line injuries, and rookie 7th round pick Kheeston Randall's emergence as a solid (and cheap) backup tackle has made McDaniels expendable. Starks and Soliai are both high quality defensive linemen on reasonable deals, and the team would likely to prefer to keep both veterans, but the Vontae trade proved that if a young DB on a cheap deal is fair game, older veterans on short-term deals are fair game.
Reggie Bush would be next on my list, but Daniel Thomas is in the dog-house due to unprofessional behavior, and as Hard Knocks revealed the coach is "queasy" about Thomas, so I don't see us giving away our top running back when the coach doesn't trust the backup. Jake Long probably can't be traded while injured, his current injury has revealed we have NO offensive tackle depth due to Lydon Murtha's injury, and Ireland trading one of our most popular players would probably lead to open mutiny.
5. How about our wide receiver corps full of potential Wes Welkers, Victor Cruzes, and Davone Besses?
Well, as Mike Sherman pointed out in a press conference, it turns out we have just 1 Davone Bess. I'm not in full panic mode because I am expecting Ireland to make moves at the waiver wire (at the very least) and probably a decent trade - and Ireland said that the receiving corps would have some new faces. Plus, Bess looks as good as ever, and Armando Salgeuro reports that Hartline is running on the sidelines (almost but not quite cleared to practice), so he should avoid IR. Still, we just cut Julius Pruitt, one of our few receivers to show anything in pre-season. Everybody else is inconsistent, including our new #1 WR.
"[Naanee]'s long been a thoroughly ineffective NFL receiver in actual games, and this preseason has been no different. The journeyman-caliber wideout has two catches for 20 yards on seven targets through three exhibition contests" - Rotoworld
Naanee has one more preseason game to prove me wrong, and I want him to prove me wrong.
6. "It's late August, so for Dolphins fans, it's time to look forward to the next draft!"
I'm kidding about that - there's a ton of reasons to watch the Dolphins this year, but Tannehill's development is the most compelling. If he develops quickly, we could have long-term stability at QB position for the first time since Marino. That's worth watching.
Assuming Miami receives the conditional 6th round pick as part of the Vontae Davis trade, and assuming we get a compensatory fifth round pick after losing Kendall Langford in free agency, next year, we could have plenty of resources to build a great young team around Tannehill
First round (MIA)
Second round (IND + MIA)
Third round (MIA + CHI)
Fourth round (MIA)
Fifth round (MIA + Compensatory for Langford)
Sixth round (IND - only 1 pick in the 6th because we traded our 2013 6th-round pick to move up to draft Lamar Miller)
Seventh round (MIA)
5 picks in the first 3 rounds to address top needs plus 5 picks in the fourth round and later. Next offseason will define Philbin's tenure as much as this year's did, especially since we have a ton of cap room along with several veterans who will be due for new deals.
7. "Jeff Ireland might have done well by selecting Tannehill after all. Fire Ireland!"
You know what's weird?
Tannehill has exceeded expectations (for the most part). The defense against a *very good* Atlanta offense in pre-season game 3 showed what it was capable of, assuming Carroll is ready to be a nickel CB. The special teams unit has been consistently solid in all 3 games. And the run-game returned against a Mike Nolan-coached defense, with Bush and Thomas (both Ireland acquisitions) making some good runs.
So why the anger?
I think it's the way that the wide receivers and tight ends seem to be sabotaging both Tannehill and Moore that has gotten the fans the most angry. The national media expected to come away from games featuring Tannehill with critiques of how RT17 is too raw. Instead, they have to admit he looks solid but his receivers are letting him down. Using a top 10 pick on a controversial QB but depriving him of targets has completely overwhelmed the positive feelings Ireland should have earned for apparently (and it's very early) doing okay by selecting Tannehill.
That's why I'm 100% sure Ireland will make sure a pretty decent WR will be joining the Dolphins - pure self-preservation.
In conclusion: This Davis trade might be the start of a very much needed plan to improve our WR corps this season. Ireland could pull off something unexpected and dramatically change public opinion. However, if no move is made, we appear well-placed to continue to build a young team around Tannehill with next year's draft and salary cap room - the question is, will Ireland be around to make the acquisitions?