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Miami Dolphins must find balance during these final two weeks

Some Dolphins fans - at least, that's what they try to call themselves - think that the Dolphins should lose their final two games of the season to improve their draft position. But that's a ridiculous idea and one that would never go over well inside a professional locker room.

So if you're a "Dolphins fan" who is hoping for two losses to close out the season, then you've come to the wrong place.

But the Dolphins do have to walk a fine line these final two weeks. On one hand, the Dolphins can now try some new things - get some of the younger players more snaps, for example - since the playoffs are no longer a possibility. On the other hand, some members of the coaching staff and front office - head coach Tony Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland in particular - could be in a situation where their jobs are on the line.

I don't know if Ireland and Sparano both survive a second consecutive 7-9 season - not with some big name head coaches lurking in the background. That's why these final two games, despite being "meaningless" in terms of the postseason, are actually quite interesting.

Getting some unknowns more snaps

"I do think there could be opportunities for a few guys to play a few more snaps that maybe haven’t played X-amount of snaps. It ain’t going to be anything different than the people that you’ve seen," said Sparano earlier this week. "But I think maybe getting a guy in the ballgame a little bit more in some of these situations so you know a little bit more about him down the road I think would be important."

So who are "few guys" Sparano was referring to?

Perhaps the one guy who jumps out the most in terms of being a relative unknown is running back Lex Hilliard. The big third year back has not received a single carry this season. Last year, Hilliard did get some carries - taking 23 hand-offs spread over the final seven games of the year. He ended the season with 89 yards rushing but also had 158 receiving yards on 20 receptions - including a nine reception performance against Houston in week 16.

With Miami's top two backs - Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams- both free agents following the season, it's probably time to see what, if anything, Hilliard has to offer as a 10 to 15 carry per game tailback.

Hilliard, along with Patrick Cobbs, are both restricted free agents who probably will not cost much to keep. But does Hilliard have anything to offer this offense?

Remaining on the offensive side of the ball, the Dolphins have three receivers who are all young, inexperienced, and unknown quantities to this point.

Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore have some action this year - especially with the injury sustained by Brandon Marshall that caused him to miss two and a half games as well as Brian Hartline's season-ending injury. Neither has been consistent, though both have shown flashes.

Julius Pruitt, currently on the practice squad, is another receiver whom the Dolphins have limited film on. He's been in Miami for two years now but has never been on the active roster. Perhaps now is a good time to see what, if anything, Pruitt can bring to this offense after nearly two full years on the practice squad learning the offense.

Allow Henne to have more say

I know some of you want to see Tyler Thigpen get more work. I, however, strongly disagree with that idea. Instead, I actually think Chad Henne deserves to not only start these final two games, but to also have more say in the offensive game plan.

On Wednesday, Tony Sparano made it clear that he was sticking with Henne for these final two games - though he might look to get Thigpen some work in some situations.

"You've got to continue to develop Chad. We'll see where we are in these football games. If there's a point in these games where you might be able to do something like that, you think about it," said Sparano. "But for right now we want to continue to develop Chad as we go forward."

I agree - and I want to go one step further.

Many people, myself included, think that Dan Henning's offensive game plans and play-calling have held Henne back a bit. But with Henning on his way out (hopefully) after the season, I don't see what harm would be done to let Henne have much more say in the offensive game plan these final two weeks.

After all, it's his job on the line. He's under as much scrutiny as he's probably ever been under before at any level. Why not let the kid decide how he wants to attack these defenses? Why not let him clearly provide the coaches with what he's most comfortable with? What's the worst that could happen by letting Henne tell the coaches how he wants to play?

Empowering Henne could not only boost the kid's confidence - which clearly has been rocked these past few weeks - but also provide him with a certain comfort level on the field.

The obvious risk

In our latest poll, 52% of the over 2,800 people who voted said they want to see Tony Sparano back as head coach next season. While that's a higher percentage than I thought, that's still down from over 70% a couple weeks back. And you have to imagine that number would plummet some more if the Dolphins do not beat the Lions on Sunday.

So you can understand why Sparano might not be so inclined as to drastically increase the playing time of some of these young and inexperienced players. Sure, it would benefit the organization in the long run because it would give them some idea as to what they might have in these players. On the other hand, this regime might not be around long enough to benefit from getting these players more experience.

If you thought all of the drama of the 2010 NFL season was over for the Dolphins just because the playoffs are not a possibility anymore, you thought wrong. These final two games should be very interesting.