Yesterday's Offseason Training Activity brings us a lot to talk about. And yet again, Jason Taylor has found a way to make himself the top headline - and he wasn't even there.
As you all know, Tony Sparano told the media yesterday that's he's been informed Taylor will not be at any of the off-season activities and also does not plan on being in training camp once July rolls around. Instead, he wants to be traded. I don't want to continue to harp on this subject, but I did want to throw in my 2 cents.
And basically, my thoughts on this are pretty basic. Jason Taylor is wrong here. He's now a liar, having written in his ESPN blog that he'd be in Miami for all the mandatory practices as well as having said on the radio that after this dancing stuff was done that he'd be back in Miami, and I'm having a hard time trying to convince myself of anything other than that Taylor is just dead wrong here. All he's doing now is tarnishing his reputation in South Florida.
Here's the bottom line: Taylor is under contract with the Miami Dolphins for 2 more seasons and for $16.5 million dollars. If he decides not to show for camp in July, then he's breaching the contract and will be fined each day he is absent. And now the question arises as to what the Dolphins should do about this situation.
And make no mistake about it, this is a big decision for the front office to make. Giving in to Taylor's demands and trading him for less value than they originally were looking for will set a very bad precedent going forward. Giving in and trading him for minimal value will just allow future Dolphin players to think they can get away with this same crap under this new regime. Much like the Bengals are doing with Chad Johnson, the Dolphins must also stay strong and not give in to players who demand trades and threaten to hold out while awaiting their trade. And it's my thinking that they need to hold their ground and not trade Taylor for anything less than a 2nd round pick, though I could also live with a 3rd rounder with something extra thrown in.
If the Dolphins can't find the right deal for Taylor, they need to just hold onto him, fine him for every day he misses, and wait for him to return during the regular season. Should Taylor decide to retire, then that's fine. He'll be the one missing out on $7+ million in 2008 and it will free up some room under the cap for the Dolphins to work with going forward.
And no, I don't think they should just cave to Taylor because of how valuable he's been to this team in the past. Yes, he's been a model citizen in this town for years. He's an absolute fan favorite and a great person off the field, too. But that gives him no right to do what he's doing. This organization should in no way simply cater to Jason's demands. All athletes need to understand that when they sign a long-term contract, they have to honor it.
One final thought on this: no one player is above the team. I'm a Miami Dolphins fan first and foremost and only care about what is best for the team, not for one individual player.
Now, let's get into some things about the players that are actually participating this offseason. And to do so, you'll have to make the jump...
What we know right now is that John Beck and Josh McCown will be alternating days as the starter, with rookie Chad Henne working with the 3rd team. On Wednesday, John got the chance to work with the starters first. What this means is what's been widely expected (except for the national media, who seemingly automatically jumped on the Henne bandwagon). Beck and McCown will likely battle for the starting spot in camp and in the preseason while Henne gets a chance to learn the ropes as the 3rd stringer. It also gives this new regime a chance to really see what they got in Beck. For John, this is likely his "make or break" season.
One thing I noticed watching the OTA highlights from the team's official site is that Beck has the quickest release among the 3 quarterbacks. McCown's release is just behind John's, while Henne's is the slowest. Now I'm not saying Henne's is "Byron Leftwich slow." It's just not as quick as Beck's or McCown's. Again, not a major issue, but it is something to note.
TALKING FRONT 7
Not surprisingly, the Dolphins worked out of a 3-4 defense on Wednesday. The linebackers, which will bear a lot of attention in camp because of Taylor's absence, were as follows: Joey Porter at strongside LB, Charlie Anderson at weakside LB (JT's position), with Reggie Torbor and Akin Ayodele at the inside linebackers. Channing Crowder didn't participate in the team drills, likely still slowed by that knee injury from last season.
The inside linebacker competition figures to be between Crowder, Torbor, and Ayodele. And, really, I don't have any idea how it will end up. But make no bones about it (yes, I stole Sparano's favorite line), this is a "make or break" season for Crowder. If I had to bet, I'd say he and Ayodele open the season as starters. But I'm not confident in saying that.
Meanwhile, Porter seems locked in to the strongside spot, but the weakside spot is up in the air. With Taylor not around, it's anyone's guess as to who might man the position. Anderson and Quentin Moses will likely get opportunities to win the job. and maybe even the loser of the inside LB battle could get a look at WLB.
As for the defensive line, Jason Ferguson is all but a lock to start as nose tackle. The first team ends yesterday were Matt Roth and Vonnie Holliday, with Randy Starks and Phillip Merling backing them up. I expect a DL rotation for much of the season. However, I wouldn't be shocked to see Roth lose his job to Merling or Starks. One thing that highlight video showed was just how much of a size difference there is between 4-3 DEs and 3-4 DEs. At one point, Roth was standing next to Kendall Langford and Roth just looked puny in every way. I don't think he's cut out for this defense.
-It's interesting that Andre Goodman worked as a starter opposite of Will Allen. He was ahead of Michael Lehan.
-Justin Smiley worked at right guard while the left guard spot with the first string was occupied by Ikechuku Ndukwe (we need to get a nickname for Ndukwe).
Thoughts on anything at all below...