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Yakuza Rich

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: June 24, 2008, 10:15:54 AM



MIAMI DOLPHINS
YR’S PREDICTED 2007 RECORD: 7-9
ACTUAL 2007 RECORD: 1-15

Typically in NFL there are two departures that make it almost impossible for teams to overcome immediately after the exodus…legendary Quarterback and legendary Head Coach. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they lost both of them at almost the same time and have not been anywhere near the same since Don Shula and Dan Marino retired.

After years of frustration and seeing one of the league’s more popular teams become one that can’t sell tickets and looks like the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL, the Fins decided to get the “cleaner” of the NFL in Bill Parcells. Except this time around Parcells will be the head of football operations instead of being the head coach. The Dolphins should undoubtedly follow Parcells’ fingerprint the next few years and given Parcells’ track record, that should get the Fins back on track very soon.


OFFENSE

Projected Starters:

QB: Josh McCown, John Beck
RB: Ronnie Brown
FB: Boomer Grigsby
WR: Ted Ginn, Jr.
WR: Ernest Wilford
WR: Derek Hagan
TE: Anthony Fasano
LT: Jake Long (rookie)
LG: Justin Smiley (16th)
C: Samson Satele (9th)
RG: Shawn Murphy (rookie)
RT: Vernon Carey (12th at LT)


The Dolphins have used primarily a deep pass pattern offense since the Marino years, expect for back in 2006 when Mike Mularkey took over the offense and ran more of a West Coast Offensive style. With Parcells in charge, expect the Fins to continue to use a more deep pass pattern offense.

That being said, Parcells has always been about winning time of possession. Here’s a look at Dallas’ time of possession rankings throughout the Parcells era:

2003…………….2nd
2004…………….12th
2005…………….2nd
2006…………….10th

Dallas finished 12th in TOP in 2007, one year after Parcells left. But the offense scored more points and the team went 13-3 (best it ever went under Parcells was 10-6). Typically the more points a team scores and the better the record, the better their time of possession. But in this case with Parcells, he focuses on time of possession and thus his teams do very well in that category. However, there were plenty of talks of Cowboys assistants wanting to be more aggressive and Parcells reigning them in. So I believe the overall philosophy will be Parcells, but the Fins may be a tad more aggressive than they would be if Parcells was the head coach.

Josh McCown is likely a stop gap and the future QB will come down to either John Beck or Chad Henne. Some wonder why they would draft Henne, but Parcells believes in competition at the QB spot and getting the QB pretty cheap early on in their career. Parcells did get David Lee out of the college game again to coach the QB’s. He’s the guy that Tony Romo credits for his success in the league (not Sean Payton) and is considered an incredible QB coach. Typically Parcells prefers the big, tall, strong armed pocket QB that can make all of the incredible throws. But he’s also been willing to take QB’s that can score points and lead the team, like Tony Romo and Jeff Hostetler. Henne fits the QB that Parcells likes the most, whereas Beck is probably more in the Hostetler/Romo mold. Expect Henne to sit out for at least a year and I wouldn’t be too surprised if Beck sits down for a year and the team still considers him a possible franchise QB. Parcells has stated repeatedly that he considers developing a QB is like developing a boxer and that rushing him to top to get experience can ruin a career.

Parcells likes O-Linemen that are smart, mobile and technically sound. They’ll use mostly man-to-man blocking schemes with a lot of pulling and trap plays. That’s why they got Justin Smiley and drafted rookie Shawn Murphy. Parcells did have Larry Allen and Flozell Adams in Dallas, not exactly guys that fit that profile, but he hated Allen and Adams was too good of a blocker at left tackle for him to let go. Eventually they got rid of Allen and put in the mobile and technically sound Kyle Kosier in there and got Marco Rivera at guard (unfortunately, Rivera had a career killing injury before he ever played for Dallas). I like Vernon Carey and he can play both tackle spots, so if Jake Long struggles at left tackle they can move Carey over there to help out. Samson Satele looks like a possible Pro Bowler in the future.

If there’s one player to look out for I’d probably say Ted Ginn, Jr. He’s the type of guy that Parcells likes to have, a speedster WR who can do returns and whose dad was a football coach. While Parcells did have a thing with Keyshawn Johnson, in large part he wants speed at WR. To put it as simple as possible, the Cowboys would be fine with two speedsters at WR and just keep running them deep up the sidelines in order to stretch the defense. If they can stretch that defense, that allows them to run the ball and win the running game and more importantly, time of possession. And if neither works, that will probably open some things up for the tight end (Anthony Fasano) underneath. Ernest Wilford isn’t exactly a burner, but Parcells was bonkers over him while he was coaching with Dallas and despite his lack of speed, he has a knack for getting open deep. The problem is that he also has an issue with catching the ball.



DEFENSE

Projected Starters:

DE: Randy Starks
DT: Jason Ferguson
DE: Vonnie Holliday
OLB: Jason Taylor
ILB: Channing Crowder
ILB: Akin Ayodele
OLB: Joey Porter
CB: Jason Allen
CB: Will Allen
S: Travis Daniels
S: Yeremiah Bell


Since 2005 the Dolphins have been talking about going to a 3-4, but never committed to it because of their personnel. Now, come hell or high water, they’ll be using the 3-4. It’s going to be a 2 gap scheme and with Paul Pasqualoni as the D-Coordinator, it’s going to be very simplistic and very conservative.

They actually are not too bad with their front seven personnel. Starks should definitely be able to play the 2-gap, although I think he’d be more effective playing a 1-gap scheme. Ferguson has the obvious experience in this scheme. Taylor isn’t used to playing linebacker, but if Greg Ellis can do it and get 12.5 sacks, Taylor should be fine if his heart is in it. Porter and Ayodele have 3-4 experience. Expect Ayodele to take on the blockers while Crowder handles more of the pass cover responsibilities.

Miami couldn’t stop anybody on defense last year as opponents had a 92.4 QB rating against their defense. Will Allen is pretty much running on fumes and Jason Allen has been a colossal disappointment. This may be the regime that gets Jason Allen to turn things around, but he struggled under Nick Saban and Saban is good friends with Parcells. Yeremiah Bell has some skills. They’ll probably get killed here again because of the predictability of the scheme and I’m not sure Taylor is going to be that effective if he’s not properly motivated. They’ll need Taylor and Porter to play like beasts to make up for deficiencies in the secondary. Not to mention that Pasqualoni is like “Mush” from A Bronx Tale. He has an uncanny way of turning everything that he touches into mush.

SPECIAL TEAMS

PR: Ted Ginn
KR: Ted Ginn
P: Brandon Fields (22nd)
K: Jay Feely, Dave Rayner

Tedd Ginn averaged 9.6 yards per punt return and 22.7 yards per kickoff return which is pretty average. So on one hand he wasn’t bad as some people think, but on the other hand he was a guy drafted so high in large part because of his return ability and he didn’t light the world on fire. It should be noted that he had a higher kickoff return average than Devin Hester, who had 2 TD’s to help his numbers. Parcells will first try to boost the special teams as he’s done that wherever he’s gone, so Ginn could be a threat here. If he is, he’ll immediately become a Parcells guy as Parcells loves good punt returners.

The Fins got a great year of punting from Donnie Jones back in 2005 and then he fell off the face of the earth in 2006. In 2007 they went with Brandon Fields who I had as 22nd best punter according to my punter statistical rankings. He was 17th in gross average, 19th in net and 20th in percentage of punts that were returned. So he was no better than average in main punter statistics.

I’m not a big fan of Feely as he’s a so so kickoff guy who has never been that great at kicking field goals. He’s pretty streaky as he tends to have some good moments and then miss chippies left and right. Rayner has a huge leg, but he’s never been able to consistently make the field goals to win a job.


OUTLOOK

The Fins finished last in QB Rating Differential last year (QB Rating – QB Rating Allowed) which has a correlation coefficient (how strong it correlates to wins) of 0.843 which is extremely strong. Even still, they were projected to win 3.97 games last season, but instead came away with just one victory. So they were an awful team, but not awful enough where they should have came away with only one victory in which they needed Matt Stover to miss the field goal. Usually I find that teams that are well below or well above their projected wins based on QBRD are due to coaching, and then special teams play. The Dolphins weren’t that bad on special teams, so you can do the math of what went wrong from there.

Expect the Dolphins to play a bit like the Redskins played last year and be extremely conservative even when they have a sizeable lead and just need to put the final nail on the coffin. While Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells have been bitter rivals, they share the same philosophy of winning the ball control game and feel if they can keep things close, they stand a good chance of winning 10 games. Tony Sparano will probably adopt the same philosophy and you’ll see them win a few surprise games and then lose some games that they should have won. The rest of the AFC East looks a little better and the Fins do have more talent than just a 1 win team, but there’s still major weaknesses at QB and the secondary.


YR’S PREDICTED 2008 RECORD: 6-10

benchwarmer69

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#1 : June 24, 2008, 12:05:24 PM

People tend to forget that R. Brown was a awesome RB until he got hurt. If he comes back healthy, I would like to think the phins go to an 8-8 season. However, with the "big tuna" on board they may do even better.

We have rebound seasons all the time.. there's no reason to think the dolphins can't pull off a 15-1 season lol.

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