The Miami Dolphins are like a student cramming for an exam the night before. Jeff Ireland realizes he has a glaring weakness at wide receiver as is evidenced by the team releasing B.J. Cunningham, Jeff Fuller, Clyde Gates, and Roberto Wallace. Fan favorite rookie UDFA Chris Hogan is safe… for now.
The Bad News
The Dolphins finished the pre-season 0-4, and looked anemic on offense. The receivers dropped more passes than a team realistically should in an entire regular season. Undrafted project WR Roberto Wallace has been cut, failing to live up to his stature as a big physical receiver after 2+ years with the team. Similarly, speedster Clyde Gates got the axe after being drafted in the fourth round last year. Gates failed to establish himself as the deep threat the team hoped, and lacked explosion on kickoff returns (to put it nicely).
After trading Vontae Davis to the Colts earlier this week, the Dolphins still need to sign at least one veteran cornerback to join Sean Smith, Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll.
Fans are extremely upset that Ireland and the Dolphins front office have yet to address the need at receiver after trading Pro Bowl MVP Brandon Marshall to the Bears. Rookie Rishard Matthews might end up being a nice player, but he doesn’t replace Marshall. So, ten days before the Dolphins first game at Houston, Ireland is frantically on the phone with other teams talking trades and scouring the waiver wire.
It’s an unsettling feeling when your team’s roster
isn’t 98% set by the end of the pre-season. Dolphins are probably around 80%.
The Good News
The quarterback position is not an area of need for the first time in years. Rookie Ryan Tannehill played well in the pre-season despite being victim to double-digit drops by many now-former Dolphins receivers.
The Dolphins have a vision
. Many fans and media (loud-mouths) may not agree with it, but at least they have one for the first time in forever. I haven’t been shy in my public support of Philbin-Ireland ticket. Although Ireland has had many personnel failures, I believe he’s had equally as many successes. The problem is he needs to start reducing the failures and increasing the successes before the Dolphins do better than 5-7 wins a season.
The defensive line is stacked, and the linebackers are solid. While the safeties still need help, they are improved despite the loss of Yeremiah Bell (now with the Jets). I liked Bell’s career with the Dolphins, he was excellent in run support, but he gave up way too many big plays — especially to tight ends. Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons are improved, and the depth is there with Tyrone Culver and hybrid S/CB Jimmy Wilson.
The running game was purposefully quiet in the pre-season. That position is set, and has very good depth.
Trade in the Works for Wide Receivers
Rumors have it that Ireland is talking to the Redskins about acquiring former Dolphins practice squad player Anthony Armstrong in a straight-up deal for Steve Slaton. Armstrong emerged as a legitimate deep threat in 2010 with the Redskins. This would fill the need created by the release of Clyde Gates (or what he was supposed to be), and Steve Slaton would be released anyway.
The door isn’t closed on trading with the Green Bay Packers for WR James Jones. The Packers supposedly want a 2nd round pick for Jones, but Ireland does not want to go higher than a 3rd. Should the trade work out, expect Legadu Naanee to be cut.
Should both these trades happen, the Dolphins immediately look better at the receiver position. Jones would be coming from the same offensive system in Green Bay, and most likely see significant playing time week 1 if not start alongside Davone Bess.
Brian Hartline, injured all camp, is returning to practice today which is also good news for Miami. He’s a solid route runner with some speed, and rarely drops the ball.
Still Need a Veteran Cornerback
Miami will have to fill their fourth cornerback position with another team’s release. Miami released Vincent Agnew and Quinten Lawrence today too which means they’ll have to sign a 5th corner for depth as well. The Dolphins are definitely not better after the trade of Vontae Davis, but it’s a move that will pay off in the long run.
Trade Rumor Involving QB Matt Moore Invalidated
Sid Rosenberg, of Miami Sports radio, fiendishly spread a rumor over the air earlier in the day that the Dolphins had dealt Matt Moore. Dolphins media members quickly discredited this claim, however, Jeff Ireland has received calls about Moore’s availability.
Surprising Cuts So Far Around the League
- Patriots WR Deion Branch
- Patriots QB Brian Hoyer
- Patriots OL Dan Koppen
- Rams DE Vernon Gholston
- Eagles S Oshiomogho Atogwe
- Redskins RB Tim Hightower