Finally, the NFL is back and the Miami Dolphins will soon be taking the field. Should be Dolphin fans be optimistic? Sure, why not? Parcells and Sparano have methodically jettisoned the mistakes of the Wannstadt/Speilman/Mueller/Saban/Cameron eras and slowly replaced the players from the earlier regimes with better ones (for the most part). The team lacked star players though and recognizing this, the organization traded for Brandon Marshall and signed Karlos Dansby in free agency (and I’m kind of liking the Clifton Smith pickup; he’ll be a better returner than Ginn). Of course not every personnel move made by the Parcells/Ireland/Sparano trio has paid off. Witness the recent waiving of last year’s second-round pick QB Pat White and third-round pick WR Patrick Turner. And Peter King went a little over the top calling Miami’s 2009 draft “disastrous”. Ok, two picks busted but first-rounder Vontae Davis fourth-rounder Brian Hartline are starters and second-rounder Sean Smith will still see the field a lot even if he’s lost his starting gig for now. (You want a disastrous Dolphins draft? Try 1984 or 1987 or how about every draft from 2000 to 2004?
Nobody hits every pick. Not Bill Walsh. Not Bill Polian. Nobody. But you have to like how Parcells/Ireland/Sparano have logically addressed the teams needs over the past two years after taking over a team with a hollowed-out talent base. And not everyone would have approached things the same way. Witness the Denver Broncos shedding quality players from their roster while passing up can’t-miss prospects in the draft to take “character” guys instead. Or how about the Redskins, forever mortgaging their future, trading away draft picks, and year after year riding that veteran free agent train to nowhere. Miami fans have been down that track and we never want to go back.
So I’m not going to lie to you, I’m excited about the Dolphins this year. Mainly it’s going to come down to Chad Henne. I liked what I saw him do last year, the way he approached the game. He rarely did stupid things, he never panicked and he throws a nice deep ball. He looks like a guy who's very confident in his ability. Hopefully he builds on all that and takes the team to the next level. Having Brandon Marshall around should make that a lot easier. Let’s say 9 wins and a wild card.
I love this time of year. Everybody’s still got a chance. Miami could be the surprise of the league. And all my fantasy football teams can still win it all. I can’t wait for kickoff.
PI does want to note here the departure of one of my favorite Dolphins of the last few years, Greg Camarillo. After unwisely trading away Wes Welker, the Dolphins needed some receiving help in 2007 and picked up Camerillo off of waivers. He only caught 8 balls that year but one of them became one of the great plays in Miami Dolphins’ history, his 64-yard game-winning TD in overtime that saved Miami from going 0-16 season. 2007 was such an awful, awful season and Camarillo’s play gave us the one and only highlight that I never ever get tired of watching. Watch it for yourself
It’s got me in the mood for some NFL football! Go Miami.