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Tony Sparano Speaks

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For the first time since his hiring, new head coach Tony Sparano formally met with the media yesterday.  And the highlight of this press conference when Sparano confessed that he still is unsure what kind of offense and defense the Dolphins will run next season.  Is he leaning one way or another?

"Right now, we really don't have an idea one way or the other of the direction we're heading."

But here's what he does know.  He will not try to establish a system and force the players to fit it.

"We need to make the system fit the players...We're watching 16 games of film, all sides of the ball, going back to possibly last year on some guys and also watching preseason tape. That is how thorough that we're doing this. When we finish that process, we'll know the answer. We'll know this is what we can be because of the people that we have right now."

Now that's a different approach from what most coaches do.  Often times, new coaches come in and try to instill their own schemes and philosophies in their new players.  That's exactly what Cam Cameron did last year.

This year is clearly going to be different.  How different?  Well, considering the Dolphins ran a 4-3/3-4 hybrid the past couple of years as well as considering Bill Parcells is involved, many believed the Dolphins would convert to a more typical full-fledged 3-4 defense system.  But not so fast, everyone:

"Obviously we have exposure in both systems right now, and so do the players here. They've been involved in 3-4. They've been involved in 4-3. We really need to identify the pieces that are in place that way. As far as my philosophy goes, philosophy is one thing. Something you wish for. Something you hope for. But at the end of this we have to do what's best for our people here and the Miami Dolphins."

For a Dolphins fan, hearing these kinds of things has to be refreshing.

So what is going to happen on defense?  Will the Dolphins run a 3-4?  It's rather early to say and I think a lot of this will hinge on what the Dolphins do in free agency and the draft.  For example, should the Dolphins somehow land Albert Haynesworth (which is very unlikely), we could see a 3-4 defense with Haynesworth playing the NT spot.  But without a true nose tackle, it seems like running the 3-4 would be unlikely.  And even if Keith Traylor returns, he's older and does get worn out quick.  So running a full 3-4 with Traylor at the NT spot is probably not in the best interest of the team unless they find a player who can spell him when he needs a rest.

The other thing needed for a successful 3-4 defense is big, athletic outside linebackers who can get to the quarterback.  That's something the Dolphins do have with Jason Taylor and Joey Porter.  However, both of these guys can play just as well in a 4-3 defense.  Taylor, we know, is an elite defensive end (even at his age).  However, in a 4-3, we might not be getting all we can out of Porter, whose pass rushing skills wouldn't be as utilized.  Of course, his pass rushing skills were underutilized last season anyway.

Regardless of what defense this team runs, it really isn't going to matter.  This team needs talent.  And no schemes nor philosophies will matter without talent.  What's encouraging to know is that because Sparano believes in fitting the schemes to the talent.  That means this team won't pass on players just because they may not fit the system.  For example, if the Dolphins agree that Glenn Dorsey is the best player in the draft, then it's good to know the Dolphins won't pass on him because he wouldn't fit a 3-4 defense.  Talent is what this team needs right now.  And this regime understand that.

Here are some other things that Sparano covered, courtesy of the Palm Beach Post:

-He has met with concussion-troubled LB Zach Thomas but wouldn't provide details of what they spoke about. As for Thomas' future, Sparano said "we're still in the evaluation process right now of going through any of this. We have not sat down and talked about that at all."

-Sparano said Saints QB coach Pete Carmichael never was interviewed or offered the offensive coordinator's job. "There was no job offers that way at all," Sparano said. "Dan Henning was offered the job. There was no process (for Carmichael)."

-No more assistants will be added.

-Because he was busy assembling his staff, Sparano said he hasn't bothered to think about free agency or the No. 1 draft pick yet.

Thoughts on any of this?