There have been alot of chicken or the egg arguments around with the GM or Head Coach as who is responsible for this disaster. My opinion is the Coaching was more at stake, but the GM has also been at best average. I have plenty of free time, since we will not be playing in the playoffs, so I will do a series on each position and how we rank (as unbiased as I can be) compared to the AFC. My feeling is if we are in the top 6 on average then the blame lays on Philbin, if not then it rests at the feet of Jeff Ireland.
Here is my ranking of Miami position by position to the rest of the 16 AFC teams. I will continue in this post by comparing the DB spot.
This is a tough spot to rank. Do you go with consistency, or “game changing plays”? At DB most teams want guys that are consistently good at shutting down the passing game. I look at it slightly different. I am looking for guys that make plays that take the ball away. To me a DB must be solid in coverage, but he must also be a “ball-hawk”. I want a guy turning the ball over to my offense and making plays at DB.
So if we are looking for a guy that is tough to beat and takes the ball away from the offense, let’s with the best offseason move we made this year in Brett Grimes. I love this guy. He is not exactly a tough tackler all the time, but he does get the job done. What he shines in is pass coverage. He is the best we’ve had back there since the Patrick Surtain/Sam Madison days. His pick 6 against Cincy was one of my favorite plays (along with him knocking the ball down against the Chargers to secure the victory). This guy (if we are smart and re-sign him) will be a gem in our defensive backfield for the next 3-4 years.
The rest of the DB’s based on talent…so-so. I love Patterson, but we took a risk knowing he was prone to injuries and it bit us in the butt. Worth the risk (if you have depth at corner). I think since his contract is non-guaranteed we keep him only if he is in great health and will start (which he should if he is healthy).
Jones was not used correctly in my opinion. He is one of the best safeties in the AFC near the box (blitzing or reading eyes of QB). This season he looked lost at times playing in a role I don’t think he should be used in. I do think the talent is there and the coaching, just not the scheme. We need to fit our defense around guys that make plays (pick 6 against Baltimore and several last season), not make them fit our scheme.
Clemons is the picture of a “solid” guy. Not all bad at FS, I’d rather have solid than a guy letting TD’s go by every play. But I cannot think of one “big” play he made all season. He had several pass deflections (or as I call them dropped INT’s). I like him back there, but think we need to upgrade if at all possible. He reminds me of an “almost” player. He is almost making game changing plays only to drop the ball too often.
Now onto our backup DB’s (although Carroll had to start most games). I didn’t see enough of the rookies to really make a judgment and I think Philbin’s philosophy has always been to bring them along slowly. Nolan Carroll is progressing, but if any GM sees him as more than a special teams guy and nickel corner please do not hire them. He is a guy that can come off the bench or cover as a 3rd corner. That is about the height of his potential. Jimmy Wilson is special teams ace and a guy as a 6th DB. Anything over that is asking for trouble.
Teams we rank ahead of in the AFC (in my opinion by far).
New England: While Talib is a good corner, I think they benefit from 2 major factors that we don’t: 1) Coaching and scheme and 2) They play from ahead and most teams in bad situations as to needing to pass.
NYJ: Cromartie struggled this season and Milner was awful until the last two weeks. The safeties are not very good either.
Indy: Anyone mad about the Vontae trade now? Didn’t think so.
Jacksonville, Tennessee and Houston: Don’t know much about them, but I’d say (with Patterson) our DB’s were better.
Pittsburgh: 2-3 years ago they had the best DB’s in the AFC. Now I see us slightly ahead of them due to the age and speed issues they are facing.
Baltimore: Not a terrible group of guys, I’d give slight nod to our group.
KC: Anyone see the Indy game or any of the last 5 of the year?
Denver: Age catching up to great player in Champ Bailey. Again a group that looks better since they are always in the lead.
Teams we are similar and possibly behind (depending on opinion)
San Diego, Cincy, Buffalo (although they could fall with Jarius Byrd leaving)
The top of the class in my opinion is Cleveland with their group. Sad that they have skill at DB spot and WR spot, yet haven’t answered the most important question (who is the QB to lead them).
So according to my rankings Miami comes in between #3-5 in the AFC. If you are keeping score that is Ireland 4, Philbin 3.
Update: Obviously now Ireland is gone (Ross must be reading my blogs!!), but the question still remains, how much of this was on Philbin as well?
I will do one last blog in this serious going over the groups and seeing who was at fault the most for our disappointing season this season. I am not an Ireland supporter, but it does look as though we had enough talent to finish in the top 6 in the AFC according to our rankings.