Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dolphins on the Right Track!

I am thrilled with the Dolphins' hiring of Tony Sparano, who was the Cowboys' assistant head coach, and longtime Bill Parcells prodigy. This move closes the leadership loop for the Fins with Sparano on the field, Jeff Ireland as GM, and Parcells running the whole show. Now, for the first time since I became a Dolphins fan. there is a united approach and philosophy to building a team. Parcells, who begat a laundry list of successful coaches (Bill Belichick), gave Ireland and Sparano their breaks, and they have been molded according to his philosophy. Say what you will about this philosophy; the bottom line is it is a winning one.
For twenty years the Fins have flailed around trying to put a product on the field. They have the greatest pure passer ever to play the game and an unyielding offensive line, but put yokel running backs like Audra Franklin, Woody Bennett, and Sammie Smith just to name a few, behind it. Marino also made it easy to ignore the defense because the 35 points the offense put up was usually enough. Until they reached the playoffs, of course. As the offense and Marino began to fade in the late 90s, the defense pulled itself together and became one of the league's premier units. However, no efforts were made to bring a revitalized and retooled offense to the field.
Underlying this failure was the single-worst front office in professional football for the past 20 years. Yup, the worst. No team has had more ineffectual drafting and more foolhardy trades, not even close. The Dolphins have also gotten the worst production out of their free agent signing, and that takes also takes a toll. In 2004, the death rattle for any team started; a coaching carousel. Dave Wannstedt left, Jim Bates took over. Bates left, Nick Saban (spit on the ground) took over. Next, Saban (spit on the ground) in all his gutless, traitorous splendor, left and Cam Cameron took over. Ugh!
So there is the perfect storm that gave us the 2007 season, where the once-mightly Fins went 1-15. You have a coaching staff in tumult and no clear cut vision for the program's direction. You have an aging defense that has not been retooled. You've got an offense with no leader at the helm and it's best weapon, Wes Welker, traded to divisional rival New England for a second round pick and 12 pack of Diet Slice! You've got a draft that brings, instead of a pedigreed quarterback like Brady Quinn, an injured, undersized punt returner and a butterfingered QB. Throw in a slew of injuries with no depth of talent ready to step in, and you've got a disaster of a season.
Now, in just one month, the Dolphins have gotten back on the right track. Owner Wayne Huizenga finally spent some cash and brought Parcells in as the Vice President of Football Operations, also known as the man behind the curtain. Randy Mueller was thrown out of the GM's office, and Ireland came in. Finally Cameron was sacked, and Sparano brought in. I absolutely agree with firing Cameron, there needs to be unity in this team, and like Ireland said, they weren't sure that Cameron could get on board.
There is going to be stability in the front office and in the coaching staff, and an effective talent evaluation and selection system in place. Next, and you can bet money on this, there are going to be major personnel shakeups: dropping of dead weight, movement with the #1 pick in the draft, and work in the free agent market. Don't get me wrong, this is not going to be a fast cure, because there is a long way to go, but the sun is definitely starting to shine in South Florida!

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