Saturday, November 26, 2011


Of course Past Interference would post an item entitled "0-16?" just prior to a Dolphin three-game winning streak. PI must note the existence of the question mark after the "0-16), and PI also clearly wrote "the next two games versus the Chiefs and the Redskins are probably Miami's best shot at a win. If they lose to both, 0-16 going to be a strong possibility." Well, it isnt now. Reality intruded. Only one team's ever gone 0-16. It's incredibly difficult and Miami just wasn't up to the task this year. The two-week stretch against the Chiefs and the Skins were Miami's best shots at wins and unfortunately they were able to put it all together. Then getting the Bills at home while that team was in the midst of a high-speed collapse was the final nail in the coffin for a top two draft pick. Goodbye Luck and Barkley.

But beyond that the shocking three-game win streak suddenly opened the door to a new hellish possibility: the retention of the Sparano/Ireland regime along with a commitment to Matt Moore as the team's quarterback of the present and future. Aaaahhhhh! How many times have we been down that road? "Our QB's good enough if we just surround him with talent." "You win with running and defense and not turning the ball over. We just need a game manager who doesn't make mistakes". No. No no no. We're done with that crap. We need a QB who excels, who makes plays. That's how you win. Matt Moore might be better than Henne. He might be playing better than anybody ever expected. He might be playing as well as what we probably would have gotten had the the team squandered dollars on Kyle Orton (waived this week I see!) in the preseason. But he's not a Pro Bowl QB. In all the praise for how well Miami was playing during their little win streak few pointed just how bad the quality of their opponents were. The Skins might be the 2d worst team in football. KC's not much better. And Buffalo's a shell of what they were two months ago. Miami had to go on the road to play a quality football team on Turkey Day and we saw what happened to the fairy tale. We got exactly what we should have expected. What we'd been accustomed to a month ago. A whole bunch of red zone possessions. Field goals instead of touchdowns. And a blown fourth quarter lead. That's what this team does unless they're playing a true bottom feeder. Not turning it over wasn't enough for Moore. The team needed TD's and he couldn't get them. He passed up a perfectly good chance to maybe run it in inside the five, throwing the ball away instead though he was nowhere close to getting sacked. He missed some open guys. He didn't do enough to win. I'm not saying he's horrible or that he can't get better or that I don't appreciate the effort or that he shouldn't be on the roster next year. What I am saying is that right now there is NO reason to believe Moore is the answer at QB and whoever the GM is in 2012 if they don't take a QB in the first round they need to be fired before the second round starts. Hopefully the loss to Dallas makes it clear to all that the Dolphins have not righted the ship and major changes must be made in the offseason.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The 20-17 loss to the Giants might have been an entertaining game for a disinterested football fan, but for Dolphins fan it was just another one of the team's weekly car crashes. We know we're going to lose, we just need to see exactly how it happens this time. This was a fairly standard affair. A surprisingly strong early start featuring two (two!) first half touchdowns. And then the predictable second-half offensive futility followed by the late Giants comeback everybody saw coming. I suppose the best thing to be said is that whatever Sparano's flaws as a head coach (and they are legion), the tems continues to play hard. Nobody's quitting (yet). But the losses keep mounting up.

The Suck for Luck bandwagon keeps gathering steam as the latest loss leaves the Dolphins and the Colts as the league's last two winless teams. SI's Peter King made the logical point that Miami was unlikely to "earn" that number one draft pick to get Andrew Luck as the Dolphins have proven to be the far more competitive team. The Colts are getting spanked every week while Miami's at least coming close. True enough. However, it must be noted Miami was competitive in a number of games in 2007. They lost 6 games by only 3 points but won only a single game that year. Repeatedly getting close doesn't mean luck will even out during the season. 4 of those 6 close losses all came during the 2007 season's first half. Sometimes losing takes on a life of its own If the losses keep mounting for this year's team, who's to say the bottom won't drop out? The 2007 team got crushed in 4 of it's last 5 games (and in the other also won their one and only game gift wrapped by the Ravens). The Colts negative point differential is way higher than the Dolphins, but so's the Rams. But the Rams are the team with a win so far, not the Dolphins.

So what's my point? Oh yeah, Miami could still lose them all. This can happen. 0-16 or 1-15 is still a strong possibility. And despite decades as a loyal fan, Past Interference is no longer upset by this possibility. The 12-year failure to find a competent replacement for Dan Marino has become intolerable. The Dolphins aren't the Browns or the Lions or the Cardinals. We've never experienced long periods of losing football. This needs to end and it will end if we can get Andrew Luck. If Miami gets him next year, is anybody going lose any sleep about the losses piled up in 2011? Of course the next two games versus the Chiefs and the Redskins are probably Miami's best shot at a win. If they lose to both, 0-16 going to be a strong possibility.

And the Winner is

With the Steelers and Ben Roesthlisberger triumphing over the Patriots and Tom Brady, our eighth all-time contest between QB's with two or more Super Bowl rings is in the books.  Big Ben's win means that Jim Plunkett is now the only QB of the seven involved in these games who does not and will never have a win against one of the others.  He's also the only one who won't ever be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Coincidence? 

1) November 14, 1976: Miami 3 @ Pittsburgh 14
(Griese 2, Bradshaw 2)

2) November 5, 1978: Dallas 16 @ 23 Miami
(Staubach 2, Griese 2)

3) January 21, 1979/Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh 35/Dallas 31
(Bradshaw 2, Staubach 2)

4) October 28, 1979: Dallas 3 @ Pittsburgh 14
(Staubach 2, Bradshaw 3)

5) December 30, 1979/Divisional Playoffs: Miami 14 @ Pittsburgh 34
(Griese 2, Bradshaw 3)

6) September 22, 1985: San Francisco 34 @ LA Raiders 10
(Montana 2, Plunkett 2)

7) November 14, 2010: New England 39 @ Pittsburgh 26
(Brady 3, Roethlisberger)

8) October 30, 2011: New England 17 @ Pittsburgh 25
(Brady 3, Roethlisberger 2)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Multiple Super Bowl Winning QB's Face Off Again

It's time to update this list.  After 25 years without a single matchup between quarterbacks with two or more Super Bowl rings, we are now about to witness such a matchup for the second straight year.  The same two QB's are involved: Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.  If Brees, Rodgers or Eli Manning can win a second ring this year we might see such historic games on a somewhat regular basis for the next several seasons. 
1) November 14, 1976: Miami 3 @ Pittsburgh 14

(Griese 2, Bradshaw 2)

2) November 5, 1978: Dallas 16 @ 23 Miami
(Staubach 2, Griese 2)

3) January 21, 1979/Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh 35/Dallas 31
(Bradshaw 2, Staubach 2)

4) October 28, 1979: Dallas 3 @ Pittsburgh 14
(Staubach 2, Bradshaw 3)

5) December 30, 1979/Divisional Playoffs: Miami 14 @ Pittsburgh 34
(Griese 2, Bradshaw 3)

6) September 22, 1985: San Francisco 34 @ LA Raiders 10
(Montana 2, Plunkett 2)

7) November 14, 2010: New England 39 @ Pittsburgh 26
(Brady 3, Roethlisberger)

8) October 30, 2011: New England @ Pittsburgh
(Brady 3, Roethlisberger 2)

Suck For Luck

I knew it would happen (see previous post), I just didn't know exactly how. Who could? To find a way to lose a game that hadn't been done in 40 years takes something really special. For 55 minutes Tim Tebow literally could not hit the broad side of a barn and the Dolphins were doing a great job of bottling him up on the ground. But the game lasts 60 minutes and we've known for a long time this team is incapable of putting a complete 60-minute game together. Obviously Miami still would have won if they could just have recovered an onside kick, but an epic collapse takes a team effort and the special teams had to make its timely contribution to an epic loss.

Once the ball slipped through Marlon Moore's hands and into Denver's possession, there was no doubt in my mind Tebow would bring Denver back to tie the game. The outcome was all but scripted. Dolphin fans have seen this before, in 2004 and (especially 2007). Once things start to go wrong on every level, everything just gets worse. There's no turning it around. The season's lost. Only a complete overhaul, a fresh start, can cure the sickness. A new coach, a new quarterback, new talent, a new philosophy. Unfortunately, the current season has to play itself out. Ross could fire Sparano right now but what would be the point? Whoever takes his place is already part of the problem. Who on this coaching staff deserves the promotion to the head job? No outside superstar coach is coming here until the season's over. Back in 2004, Wannstedt resigned during the season, with the team at 1-8. Defensive coordianator Jim Bates took the reins and the team showed a little life, going 3-4 the rest of the way. But why would Miami fans want that to happen? Winning a few more games this year isn't making the future one bit brighter. I hate to say it but yeah, it's Suck for Luck time. We all need to admit it.

Watching Tebow work his magic, I felt no anger or frustration (unusually for me). Mainly, the whole thing struck me as funny. Absurd. Surreal. Outnumbered by a bunch of Tebow fans in a sports bar, I could feel something electric happening. And I went to UF. I'm a Gator, I love Tebow and I don't have it in my heart to root against him. Ever. I'm well aware of his deficiencies as a QB at this point in his career but the guy just knows how to make things happen on the field. There was exactly one player in Sun Life Stadium that everyone was interested in and he wasn't wearing aqua and orange. What Tebow did last Sunday was exactly why we love football so much. And I'm glad I got to see it. And it's alll too obvious Miami needs a quarterback everyone can get excited about in the same way.

If Miami loses them all they likely would have one next year.

I think this was the game that fundamentally changed things. This kind of devastating loss, after a whole series of painful losses, clarified just exactly where this team is for everybody. It's now 2007 all over again. This team is as bad as any team in the league and could well go winless. The verdict's now in on the Parcells regime: Epic Fail. Let's hope Ross makes better choices at season's end than his predecessor did in 2007.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hail Tebow

                                          Love him
Oh boy.  Today we’ll witness one of the most embarrassing moments in Miami Dolphins history.  And no I’m not talking about the game that I fully expect the Dolphins to lose (no doubt in some strange unpredictable way).   I’m talking about the fact the organization is actually taking the time honor the starting quarterback of the opposing team.   Surely this is a first in National Football League history.  Yes, technically the Dolphins are honoring not the Denver Broncos’ QB but the 2008 Florida Gators national championship team, but they picked today as Gator day because currently on the Denver Broncos roster is one Tim Tebow, the man who led the Gators to the title, and an athlete far more popular and exciting than anyone who’s worn a Miami Dolphins’ uniform in the last 12 years.  Ok, maybe the Dolphins couldn’t have known Tebow would be named his team’s starting QB the very week of this game (proving I was right about Orton) but WTF?  South Florida isn’t Gator Country.  I went to UF and love Tebow and that 2008 Gator team but this is just a joke.  The Dolphins share a stadium with the Miami Hurricanes, a program that’s won five national titles in the time since the Dolphins last won a Super Bowl.   There’s no reason to alienate your community and piss off your players except to sell a few extra tickets to rabid Tebow fans (a plan that worked it must be admitted).  But overall it’s just one more step on this organization’s path to becoming the NFL’s biggest laughing stock.  It’s one more sign that nobody in the organization has a clue as to what they are doing.  It’s one more example that the owner, coach, and GM…ah, what’s the point?!  You want to sell more tickets?  Find a good coach.  Get a real quarterback.  WIN SOME GAMES!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chad Henne Time

The sabbatical is over! Past Interference is back and the 2011 football season is here.

For a moment during the preseason it appeared quite likely that Kyle Orton would the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback for 2011. If the crowd chanting “We Want Orton” while watching Chad Henne struggle during a training camp scrimmage was a representative sample, then the team’s ultimate decision not to trade for and sign Orton disappointed the majority of Dolphin fans. But not me. It would have been a terrible mistake. Past Interference does not have a short memory. How many times does Miami have to import other team’s jetsam before fans stop clamoring for the same mistakes to be repeated ad infinitum? Must I list them again? Fiedler, Feeley, Frerotte, Lucas, Lemon, Culpepper, Harrington, Thigpen. You want any of those guys back? I didn’t think so. So enough already. Yes, the one exception was Chad Pennington who, when healthy and playing the best ball of his career, actually proved capable of leading the Dolphins to the playoffs. However, the result of that one playoff game demonstrated precisely the limits of how far Pennington’s arm could take a team and his unfortunate fragility meant that 2008, fun as it was, was nothing more than a fluke, a one-shot deal, rather than something to build on. Orton may be an upgrade over Henne. He probably is. But he’s not taking Miami to the playoffs. He’s not good enough and, in his 7th season, it’s unlikely he’s going to get better. He is what he is. So if the Super Bowl is the goal (and it’s supposed to be) why would Miami want him? No, we sink or swim with Henne in 2011. If he doesn’t improve, if he can’t develop, then the team almost certainly pulls the plug on not just the Henne experiment, but on the whole Parcells regime. Stephen Ross will blow the whole thing up and start over in 2012. Signing Orton accomplishes nothing but maybe improving the team’s chances of winning another game or two while undermining Henne’s confidence. At least give him the chance to prove he can be better than a Kyle Orton. Odds are he won’t be but at least the potential still exists. For all the criticism of Henne, all the shots he’s taken, the most important thing people need to remember is this: he’s started exactly 30 games in his career. Two seasons, that’s it. Mark Sanchez has started 31 and Jet fans aren’t down on him are they even though his career stats to date are extremely comparable to Henne’s. People still expect Sanchez to improve. So cut Henne a little slack. Yes, he ain’t Dan Marino. He didn’t enter the league fully formed and demonstrate greatness from the get-go. But nobody else has either. We might not see anything like that ever again (I hope you appreciated it). Even some of the all-time greats struggled in the early years of their career. The Henne Haters’ homework this week should be to check out the stats for the formative years of Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, or Drew Brees sometime. Then try Dan Fouts, Warren Moon, and our own Hall-of-Famer Bob Griese. And that’s just off the top of my head.

However Henne’s Dolphins career turns out, the fact that the organization drafted and a commitment to him at least demonstrates a long overdue recognition that trying to find a starting QB on the cheap ain’t gonna work. It never has for this team. Free agent QB’s haven’t worked. Trading away lower round picks for QB’s hasn’t worked. You want to win, you pick the right guy and draft him. Period. Now Henne might not be the right guy. Generally (not always), you get your guy in the first round. Second round QB’s like Henne hardly ever pan out. And if this doesn’t, I fully expect Miami to take a first-round QB next year. But just think about the first round QB’s conspicuously not taken despite the team’s desperate need for young quarterback talent. Brees in 2001. Rodgers in 2005. The last two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Did you see the passing duel they just put on in the NFL opener two days ago? Either one could be helming the Fins right now. Instead, this team’s whacked out priorities have seen them spending top picks on running backs instead. Two for Ricky Williams! A number two overall pick for Ronnie Brown (when Rodgers was available)! And with both of them in the backfield at the same time Miami can’t even play .500 football.

Williams and Brown have now departed without having helped the team to get any closer to the promised land. Despite occasional moments of brilliance from both men it cannot be said the number one picks invested in them paid off. If you’re counting that’s three first round picks spent on running backs in the last decade, none on QB’s. The 60’s and 70’s are over and hopefully the organization finally realizes the need to stop overspending to build a running game when the key to victory in today’s NFL is an effective passing game. Now Orton would not have been that expensive, Denver supposedly wanted a 3d-round pick. But recall how Dave Wannstedt kept frittering away 2d and 3d-round picks in panicky attempts to keep his job and avoid the rebuilding process. Those picks are still valuable if the person using them knows what they’re doing on draft day. Plus, Orton wanted a long-term contract. The absolute last thing this team needs is to commit that kind of money to a stop-gap solution. If a new regime does take over in 2012, then the new boss is going to need that money to sign his quarterback of the future, whomever that may be. No, better to sink or swim with Henne in 2011. It’s all on his shoulders. If he can’t become one of the league’s better quarterbacks then so be it. The team will have to move on. But Henne’s saying all the right things. Sparano’s saying all the right things. Brandon Marshall’s saying all the right things. Henne’s looked solid in preseason. All his receivers are back. He’s got another target in Reggie Bush. The opportunity is there. Let’s see if Henne's the future.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

No QB For You

I knew it.  I knew it I knew it I knew it.  The Dolphins needed to draft a top QB prospect.  We all knew it.  But for the 28th consecutive season, and the 12th since the retirement of Dan Marino, the organization would not pull the trigger on one.  Three times in the past decade Miami chose not to use a first round pick on what would have been a franchise quarterback.  Drew Brees in 2001.  Aaron Rodgers in 2005.  Matt Ryan in 2008.  All could be Dolphins right now.  (To their credit the team also passed on Brady Quinn in 2009).  No matter who has had the final say in personnel matters for the franchise, the common denominator has been that none of them believe in gambling a top pick on a quarterback.  All have preferred the safety of free agency.   And nothing changed in 2011.  Jeff Ireland had a chance to say yes to Ryan Mallet, Colin Kaepernick, or Andy Daulton in the first round.  He said no.  Miami went the safe route and went Mike Pouncey, a center/guard.  The pre-draft consensus had Pouncey as a solid dependable player but not quite as good as his brother DeMarkice, a ? for the Pittsburgh Steelers  (I saw one commenter at The Herald say "Great.  We got the Frank Stallone of the draft").     Well, it's not the like the team didn't need another good lineman.  But a new center or guard isn't taking this team to the Promised Land.   
Ok, maybe if a qurterback fell Miami could still get a bargain in the next round. Problem was the Fins didn't have a 2d round pick. Well, as it turned out they had a good amount of later round picks to use and they packaged them in a deal to move up into the 2d round. And Ryan Mallet was still there. Would this be the awaited quarterback move? Uh, no. Miami grabbed RB Daniel Thomas instead. Well, it's not like the team didn't need to get a new running back. But focusing on improving the ground game isn't how you win in the 21st Century NFL. Look at all the stud QB's that have won Super Bowls over the last 15 years. Favre, Elway, Warner, Brady, Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Brees, Rodgers. Eli Manning was a #1 pick and has been a Pro Bowl QB. The only two Super Bowl winners who might be considered below average, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, also happened to play for teams with all-time great defenses. It wsn't the running game that got those teams over. The Dolphins might field a fine defense in 2011 but I doubt it's going to be the kind of defense that can carry a team to a championship.
There's no obvious answer in free agency and as the lockout drags on there might even be the opportunity to grab a free agent QB. So once again it all rides on Chad Henne's shoulders. Sometimes a team just needs to roll the dice and grab a potential franchise QB. Sure it can blow up in your face but you're not going to win anything unless you try. Look at the Chargers. Could that Ryan Leaf pick have turned out any worse for that team? But just a few years later they got Drew Brees. And a few years after that they spent an even higher pick on Phillip Rivers. They haven't made the Super Bowl yet but they've been a perennial contender at least for the last seven years. Seven! Because they focus on the QB position. Miami doesn't. And until they do they aren't contending for a Super Bowl. Unless Chad Henne busts out of that cocoon in 2011 of course.

Sunday, May 1, 2011




Thursday, April 28, 2011

Miami Dolphins 2010 Wrapup, Part Three: What Do They Do Now?

Not going to get too deep in the weeds on this one.  It's not that complicated.  Miami needs a quarterback.  Not a free agent stopgap.  Going down that route has never ever worked for this team.  Neither has taking a QB outside the first round.  Nope, Miami needs to use their 2011 first round pick on a QB.  As I type these words the Dolphins are about an hour or so away from making their selection and a lot of QB's are still on the board.  Will they pull the trigger on the highest available QB on their board?  Given their track record and the current front office situation, I'd be surprised honestly.  Whoever they take isn't going to play much, if at all this year, and when you've got a team with a GM worried about job security, you've got a team that's in trouble.  Why? Because if a GM thinks he's gone if his team comes up a loser, why would that GM do what's in the team's long-term best interest?  He's going to draft in the team's short-term best interest.  This is what Parcells has wrought.  His presence gave Ireland and Sparano job security.  When he bailed early, their job security vanished.  They know they need to win now so for Ireland a running back or maybe an O-Lineman make more sense to win a few more games in 2011.  But this team's never a winning a Super Bowl without an upgrade at QB.  We all have to know that at this point.  I still think there's a shot Henne could take that step forward in 2011, but the odds are agin' it and ESPN keeps telling me this is the Year of the Quarterback.  So let's take one! 

Miami Dolphins 2010 Wrapup, Part Two: Where Did It All Go Wrong?

So what went wrong? Or, more importantly, who can I blame? Well, there’s a lot of blame to go around as usual but Past Interference is going with H. Wayne Huizenga as our Ground Zero. He’s no longer the owner but his fingerprints are all over the 2010 Miami Dolphins. I’ve written before about all Huizenga’s mistakes in installing a winning management/coaching team but it seemed like he’d learned his lesson in 2008. He cleaned house, canned both his failed GM and head coach, and turned the whole thing over to Bill Parcells to fix. A man who’d taken four different franchises to the playoffs and won two Super Bowls, Parcells appeared to be the perfect guy to fix the organization. One minor problem though—Parcells was a great football coach but he wasn’t hired to be Miami’s football coach. No, he was going to run the football side of the operation. He was going to get the Dolphins a coach, a GM and then find some guys who could play.

How hilarious has it been this week watching Bill Parcells serving as a draft guru for ESPN? We know the guy can coach but his track record as a personnel guy is a mixed bag to say the least. Mike Greenberg somehow overlooked Pat White when he was going over all of Parcells’ draft “finds” in his introduction. In Parcells’ most successful tenure as coach, the Giants years, he had little to do with personnel decisions. Parcells left that gig so he could get more personnel juice somewhere else. And after a few years he would keep leaving those new jobs no matter how successful he’d been. So the while the Dolphins hoped for a successful marriage they should have known it was unlikely to be a long one. Still, Parcells had a lot to do with winning Super Bowls and Dolphin fans were getting far too accustomed to losing. How bad a move could it be? But in hiring Parcells Huizenga planted a time bomb. A Tuna time bomb.

Turns out Miami wasn’t the only team interested in hiring Parcells. Atlanta wanted him and went after Parcells hard. Parcells preferred Miami but when news surfaced that Huizenga planned to sell the team, Parcells wanted nothing to do with an unstable situation and decided to sign with the Falcons. Huizenga put the full court press on Parcells and convinced him he wasn’t selling the team. With that reassurance Parcells inked with the Dolphins and Atlanta “settled” for hiring the unknown Thomas Dimitroff as GM. The Falcons have since made the playoffs the last two seasons and had the best record on the NFC last year. Meanwhile, turns out Huizenga planned to sell the Dolphins after all (surprise!) and there was only one way for the organization to keep Parcells from walking—give him the option to leave the team at any time after the sale while still collecting his full salary for the life of the contract! (Haha. It’s true). Predictably, Parcells began to turn over the key decision-making over to his handpicked GM and coach after just two years on the job and pretty much stopped having anything to do with the Dolphins partway through the 2010 season so he’d presumably have more time to count the money he was earning by doing nothing. But at least he left the team in a whole lot better shape than they were in before his arrival right?

Well, back-to-back 7-9 seasons and the worst offense in the league aren’t what anybody had in mind. Remember, Miami was 7-9 in 2006, Nick Saban’s last year. Parcells clearly failed at making Miami a Super Bowl contender. The team can’t score. And the main reason they can’t score if because they don’t have a good quarterback. And the reason they don’t have a good quarterback is because none of the regimes installed since the departure of Don Shula have valued quarterbacks enough to spend a lot to get a good one. Including Parcells. Miami still has not spent a first round pick on a QB since they grabbed some guy named Marino way back in 1983. Dave Wannstedt traded two number one picks to get Ricky Williams. But he wouldn’t draft a quarterback. Nick Saban used the number two overall pick in a draft to take Ronnie Brown. But he wouldn’t spend what it took to get Drew Brees. And Bill Parcells used the number one overall draft pick in 2008 on an offensive lineman, Jake Long. The QB he passed on, Matt Ryan, fell into the lap of the aforementioned Tom Dimitroff in Atlanta. Now I’m not convinced that when their careers are over this move is going to be a clear mistake. In fact Long is the better player at the moment. But when you are desperate for a QB and you pass up on a top prospect like Ryan, you better have a good backup plan. Miami’s was to spend second-round picks on Chad Henne and Pat White. White proved to be perfectly useless and Henne appears to be on the train to Bustville (but I haven’t given up hope yet!). In two years Miami used three second-round picks on quarterbacks. John Beck and Pat White are no longer with the team and Henne may also not be long for the aqua and orange.

Without the Tuna to lead the team to a championship, Miami’s stuck with his handpicked GM, Jeff Ireland, and his handpicked coach, Tony Sparano. But Steven Ross’ all-too-public flirtation with Jim Harbaugh made it all-too-obvious Ross has 0 confidence in Sparano as coach (ignore the face-saving contract extension). A losing season in 2011 surely results in Sparano’s firing and probably Ireland’s too. So once again the Dolphins are led by people in desperate need of short-term success, something that’s worked out so well before. Thanks to Parcells Miami is now just a year away from engaging in yet another search for that elusive “messiah” to overhaul and rebuild the team into the champion Miami’s been waiting for for four decades.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Miami Dolphins 2010 Wrapup, Part One: Wha' Happen?

Past Interference has been less than diligent in chronicling the weekly struggles of the 2010 Miami Dolphins. In my partial defense, the team’s performance was so uninspiring, so tedious and dull, that even had I felt like writing something about something, the subject would not have been the 2010 Miami Dolphins. But I do write about the team from time to time and seemingly overnight the Dolphins have ceased being tedious and dull. Well, at least ownership and management aren’t dull. They are…what’s the word? Pathetic? Inept? I mean I thought Huizenga’s mismanagement couldn’t be topped but wow, the Harbaugh/Sparano clown show Steven Ross premiered might have just raised the bar. I’m going to wait a little longer to process it though. Let me just say this. While the whole debacle was going on I was fully engaged and frantically seeking the latest Dolphins news at all hours, something I was most definitely not doing during the season. So at least you gotta give Ross some credit for creating some excitement around the team.

Alright. They say you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been right? Well it’s something like that anyway. So how did the team get here? Where did it all go wrong? Let’s cast our minds back to the beginning of the season. It all began so promisingly remember? Yeah, I know. It seems like a million years ago. But Miami actually came out of the blocks 2-0. Two road wins, each against teams that made the playoffs the year before. And that turned out to be their longest winning streak of the season. Their only winning streak of the season. Two games. Two losses at home followed and after that it was a frustrating pattern where every subsequent win was followed by a loss. Every time, until the late season collapse of course. They were good enough to win 6 of 8 road games, but bad enough to notch just a single home victory.

After a particularly atrocious loss, a bad beatdown by Ravens in week 8, the season’s key moment arrived. Chad Henne had played horribly in defeat. Miami was 4-4 and winless at home. So prior to the week 9 game against Tennessee Coach Sparano announced he was benching Henne. Replacing Henne would be the hero of 2007, Chad Pennington. This communicated two things to Dolphin fans: (1) After 21 starts Sparano (and presumably GM Jeff Ireland) had lost complete confidence in Henne; and (2) Sparano (and presumably GM Jeff Ireland) was now more worried about his own job security than about the team’s long-term future. So it was a panic move. Word had already gotten out that Bill Parcells (more on him soon) was no longer part of the organization in any capacity but informal advisor. And without the Tuna’s protection his protégés felt they had to win some games right now to keep their jobs. Not what you want. And of course it didn’t work anyway. Pennington predictably got hurt (though I don’t think anybody in the pool picked the second play of the game) and Henne was back in the saddle again. Before Henne too went down with a knee injury he responded with a fine performance, helping to lead the Dolphins to a comeback win. Henne’s injury wasn’t that serious but he had to miss the next game. So enter third-string QB Tyler Thigpen.

Given Henne’s prior benching and Pennington’s season-ending injury, everyone understood that week 10 was Thigpen’s audition for the starting job. And previous flashes of mobility and big play ability had some predicting success for the new QB. Those people somehow ignored the fact that Thigpen hadn’t ever been able to actually win a game in any of his previous game action. But we all hoped for the best. And we got the worst. Thigpen played about as badly as a quarterback could play. I believe “crapped the bed” would be the appropriate expression. It was Ray Lewis all over again. Except I don’t think Lewis ever presided over a shutout at home. So back to Henne in week 11 at the home of the hated Raiders. And Henne was great! He and the team played their best game of the season: a 33-17 thrashing of the Raiders. Clearly the benching lit a fire under Henne and he stepped up his game in response like a true competitor. At 6-5 and with three home games left against the Brown, Bills and Lions, a winning season seemed likely. And if Miami could steal a road win against either the Jets or Patriots, a 10-6 record and a wild card spot wasn’t out of the question. Things were looking up.

Haha. Sure they were. Oh, Miami stole a win from the Jets alright, but that was no thanks to Henne. He was awful. Luckily Mark Sanchez matched Henne awful throw for awful throw and the defense pulled it out. But they couldn’t pull out wins in any of the home games. All hree winnable games, all games Miami gave away because Henne couldn’t make a play. I do not know what happened to the guy. What happened to the guy who led the Dolphins to a comeback win in that Monday Night games versus the Jets in 2009. The guy who wasn’t afraid to take a shot downfield? Now Henne just robotically proceeded through his reads and checked down time after time. He never tried to make anything happen. Even in desperation time. Both the Bills and the Lions games ended when Henne threw short checkdowns that guaranteed the clock would run out instead of passes into the end zone that at least would have given Miami a shot at a victory.

Did the coaching staff screw up Henne’s development? Dan LeBatard makes a convincing argument they did they did. Maybe Henne was never going to be on the fast-track to greatness but benching your starter before he even has two full seasons under his belt is never a good idea.  I've been watching football long enough now to see a number of guys need several years to develop into great QB's (Griese, Bradshaw and Brees among others).  And you know what else is never a good idea? When your worthless offensive coordinator (yes, you Dan Henning) calls play-action pass after play-action pass even though his QB is on record as hating play-action, and the worthless OC continues to call play-action even on the most obvious of passing downs where no defense is biting on the fake for even a second.  Sparano, Henne, and QB coach David Lee have to take some blame here. I’m not saying Henne’s going to have a better career than Mark Sanchez, but LeBatard is absolutely correct to note that Henne's stats for his first two seasons are actually a little better than Sanchez and while Sparano undermined Henne’s confidence, the Jets organization was patient with Sanchez and surrounded him with playmakers. Unlike Miami, a team with no deep threat, no offensive skill players with speed, and a running game that’s just a shell of what it used to be. Henne never had a fair chance. 

On the other hand the team managed to construct a very good defense. Wake, Dansby, Misi, Smith. These are good players; the team’s actually not far from having a great defense if they keep making solid personnel moves (never a sure thing with this franchise). They were good enough this to win some games on their own and put the Dolphins in position to win a few others. But the incredibly weak passing game just killed this team time after time. Henne led a few comebacks in 2009, but in 2010 we stopped expecting anything out of the guy. Except turnovers and useless checkdowns. We’ve been here before, for the better part of a decade now. A good but not great defense. An offense tasked with simply not losing the game. And they proceed to do so anyway because you can’t win that way! You need to be able to throw the ball and score and you can only do that with a good quarterback. For the ninth time in the last ten years, Miami didn’t have one.

The Dolphins were at least competitive in the games they lost down the stretch. Competitive until the Week 17 finale that is. The team rolled over and got rolled by the Patriots. One of the all-time franchise embarrassments. After that game team owner Steve Ross, previously inclined to stick with Sparano, suddenly changed his mind and Dolphin fans just had to wait out the coaching search to find out who the new head man was going to be. Right?

Friday, January 7, 2011

The People Have Spoken

While I continue to compose my thoughts about the ongoing Dolphins trainwreck, here's a Twitter sampling of Dolphin fans reactions to the Harbaugh fiasco:

Another season of glass half-full coachspeak, and fist pumping for field goals. I'm rooting for a lockout. F*@! this team!!!

More micromanaging, scare your quarterback into playing like a pussy, fist pumping field goals, saying K every 5 f-----g seconds bullshit.

I know the off season is long, but I'm honestly having trouble envisioning myself watching the Dolphins on TV next year.

Stephen Ross, you are now officially on my s--t list.

I'd say this loud, public, futile coaching search tops Jacksonville 62, Dolphins 7 as the most embarrassing day in Dolphins history.

Players from other teams are retweeting jokes about the Phins....this has reached "I s--t my pants at work" embarrassment level.

How is it that the Jersey Shore cast has shown better people skills than Miami Dolphins management?


The Fins have made me so upset, that I've been forgetting to fast forward commercials on DVR

Just to be clear, The Miami Dolphins, can suck a whole bag of d---s
Good times
P.S.  I'm pretty good about giving the proper links when I quote something but I forgot to match the tweets to their tweeters at the time I saved the comments.  Sorry. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Meet the New Coach, Same As the Old Coach

Ohmigod.  You know what?  Suddenly I feel motivated to write about the Dolphins again!  Tune in tomorrow...