In case you haven't heard, Chris Mortensen reported during Monday Night Countdown that Dolphins LB Joey Porter is not expected to play on Thursday night when his team travels up to Carolina to take on the Panthers. In fact, Mortensen added that Porter might not be playing again "anytime soon." And all this comes after Porter was deactivated for this past week's game against Tampa Bay - described by the Dolphins as a "coach's decision."
There have also been multiple reports that the original reason for Porter's deactivation against the Buccaneers was related to Joey, who was nursing an injury and not feeling well, being allowed to leave the facility early to go home. However, Joey allegedly didn't go home - he went "elsewhere." The team learned of this and made the decision to sit him against the Bucs.
But you have to wonder if Mortensen's report on Monday night is actually accurate. Joey spoke to the media earlier on Monday and did said, among other things, "It was coach's decision. There's nothing else to talk about. It's already behind me."
Head coach Tony Sparano made it seem like this whole situation was behind him as well. In fact, he actually defended Porter's lack of production this season when asked about it by the media:
"I see different things that Joey does, different things that Joey has gotten better at, things that you guys won't see unless you watch the film with us. That is a credit to Joey. When you can teach an old dog a new trick — that is a positive."
This is why I'm having a hard time believing Mortensen's report that Porter won't play on Thursday night. Maybe he won't start - and maybe he doesn't even deserve to (we'll get into that in a minute). But you can't sit here and tell me that Joey Porter isn't as good as a guy like Quentin Moses - who would be the player who would get Porter's spot on the 45-player gameday roster if Joey is indeed deactivated again.
I also find it hard to believe that Tony Sparano would tell the media one thing - and defend Joey to the reporters - while bashing him behind closed doors. I just don't see Sparano as that kind of coach - one who would be that disingenuous.
With that said, Sparano did make it clear to the media that he plans to use a rotation among all of his outside linebackers from here on out:
"I will be honest with you and I might have mentioned this after the game, but our plan going in was to have a rotation and we will continue to have a rotation and get as many of these guys in the game that we can get into the game. I think Cameron and Charlie were both productive yesterday so there is no reason for them not to get into the game and play."
This means that, with or without Porter, the Dolphins will continue to rotate in all of their top outside linebackers - Jason Taylor, Charlie Anderson, Cameron Wake, and Matt Roth. But wouldn't the Dolphins benefit from including Porter in this rotation?
You would think so. But it's important to also keep in mind that we don't really know what has been going on behind closed doors. Perhaps Joey was told by Sparano that he would be rotating the outside linebackers in and out of the game more often moving forward and Joey - being the competitor he is - was not happy. Again, that's just speculation - but it would make sense.
Regardless of the reason, however, would the Dolphins really miss Joey Porter on the field if he is indeed deactivated again? The statistics lead you to believe they would not.
On the season, Joey Porter has played 378 defensive snaps. Of those, Porter has 2.5 sacks and 8 quarterback pressures. Meanwhile, everybody's favorite CFL transplant - Cameron Wake - has taken just 90 snaps. In those 90 snaps, Wake has 4.5 sacks and 12 quarterback pressures (which are the most pressures of any Dolphin, one more than Jason Taylor). It's also worth pointing out that Charlie Anderson has taken 92 snaps on defense and has one sack and two quarterback pressures.
If you wanted to average these figures out, Wake is getting a sack or pressuring the quarterback on one out of every six snaps and Anderson one out of every 31 snaps. Porter, meanwhile, is averaging just one sack or pressure out of every 36 snaps.
Of course, Wake is rushing the passer on pretty much every snap he sees. That's what he does. Anderson and Porter are asked to do more - like drop into coverage. You also need to adjust those numbers for opponent's play selection. And if we did that, odds are that Wake sees a much greater ratio of passing plays to running plays than either of the other two.
But still, these stats aren't really telling us something that we haven't seen with our own eyes when watching these games. And the fact has been that, for most of the season, Joey Porter has not been effective at getting to the quarterback. And when you are the weakside outside linebacker in a 3-4, that is your primary job.
If I was Joey, I'd be on my very best behavior - because I think we might be getting to the point where these Miami Dolphins no longer need Joey. Or perhaps Joey has already realized this, possibly resulting in the spat between Porter and the team behind closed doors.