The disrespect that the Miami Dolphins receives from the media especially the four letter network is simply absurd. Recently ESPN Writer Mike Sando made a list of his top twenty Quarterback’s in the National Football league. Players such as Kyle Orton, David Garrard, and Trent Edwards graced this list but Chad Pennington was nowhere to be seen. ESPN Senior Football Analyst Chris Mortensen even said that the list was crazy since Chad Pennington’s name failed to appear. If you watch the NFL Network or ESPN or read any website’s you will all see that the so-called “experts” are already saying that the division belongs to the Patriots. They admit what the Dolphins did last season was special but was attainable because of their “soft” schedule. I didn’t know that the Miami Dolphins franchise was charged in creating league schedules.. WAIT, they are not. All the Dolphins did was play the schedule they were given and since when did any game in the NFL become an “easy” game. No one is picking the Dolphins to go back to the post season citing that they have the hardest schedule in the league but the last time I checked the Pittsburgh Steelers had the toughest schedule last season and they worked pretty well for them. The truth is no one can predict the NFL due to implications such as the salary camp and NFL draft that keeps all thirty-two teams competitive. The so-called bottom feeders of the league such as the Raiders, Lions, and Chiefs all have superstars on their teams such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Calvin Johnson, and Larry Johnson. I just think it is unfair that the Dolphins do not get the credit he deserved but hopefully that makes them hungrier.
What the Dolphins did last season was spectacular if not a small miracle. A team with no identity and coming off a 1-15 season turned the boat around enough to attain an 11-5 record and win the AFC East division title. The Dolphins did win eleven games and beat good football teams such as the Patriots, Chargers, Broncos, and Jets. Equally as impressive is that the won their final five games of the season against the Jets, Chiefs, 49ers, Bills, and Rams. Also impressive is the fact that the Dolphins won nine of their last ten football games. Easy schedule or not that is signs of being a very good football team. The fact of the matter is that we are the CURRENT AFC East Champions and to quote the Nature Boy Ric Flair, “To be the man you have to beat the man”. Right now we are the “man”.
Bill Parcells came to Miami with an outstanding reputation of turning very bad football teams around and ultimately making them good football organizations from top to bottom. What Parcells did in Miami last season was his greatest accomplishment to date and further engraving his legacy as one of the great football minds of all-time. The truth about the Miami Dolphins is that before Bill Parcells came into town they were a very poorly run football organization that led to bad free agent acquisitions and terrible draft days which ultimately lead to a lack of talent. A poorly run organization mixed with a lack of talent and you throw in bad coaching and you are a doomed franchise. Ever since Jimmy Johnson left Miami we have been doomed by bad drafts, bad coaches, and a losing. Dave Wanndstadt had some solid seasons but with the talent he had on those teams and no rings to show for it just shows how bad of a coach he truly was.
Parcells’ first move was getting the right General Manager and bringing Jeff Irleand on board was the right move. The next move was to replace the previous spineless coach of the Miami Dolphins Cam Cameron will a coach who demands respect and Tony Sparano was brought on board. The fact that Tony Sparano did not win NFL Coach of the Year last season is laughable. I know the Falcons also had a great turn around but nowhere near the magic that happened in Miami. A majority of the Miami Dolphin fans had seriously lost their faith which lead to empty stadiums for home games. The Miami Dolphins, one of the major organizations in all of professional sports was in serious disarray but Bill Parcells had a plan. This “plan” was executed to perfection and Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano were the guys who did the dirty-work for the team. A major roster overhaul was done which turned this team into a bunch of people into a talented football operation. The two list below show the players before Parcells and the roster after Parcells and you will clearly see where the talent of this organization came from…
*Ted Ginn Jr.
* Davone Bess
The roster changed from a bunch of ageing veterans such as Zach Thomas, Vonnie Holliday, and Renaldo Hill into a plethora of youth. The only acquisition that has proved to be a disaster is the Ernest Wilford experiment but it seems we have recovered from this quickly. There is plenty of work to be done but let’s look at the two drafts that we have had since Parcells took over. The list doesn’t contain any Eddie Moore’s or Jamar Fletcher’s which were draft picks that could have very well landed us Drew Brees and Anquan Boldin but we opted to take a some serious risk that never ever panned out. Our first draft landed us Jake Long who made the Pro-Bowl in his first season in the National Football league; we also landed Chad Henne who is clearly our Quarterback of the future and someone who our front office holds in very high regards. We landed Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford who seem to be the best young tandem of defensive end’s in the game. Donald Thomas seems to be a major steal as he earned a starting position at Right Guard in his rookie season. Injury sidelined him for the rest of the season but he looks like a lock to be our starting Right Guard this upcoming season. Shawn Murphy has made some serious strides this off-season and it was understood that he could be a bit of a project but he looks strong this off-season and the long term benefits could prove well worth the risk. Lionel Dotson is another guy the front office likes and he seems a lock to be in the rotation of the defensive line in 2009. The fact that we landed Dan Carpenter and Davone Bess as undrafted free-agents shows how much time this front office put in their draft research. Dan Carpenter was clutch all year long and Davone Bess looks like a future Pro-Bowl slot receiver. Although our current 2009 Draft Class has yet to play a down in the NFL early signs point to this class being special. In my opinion the Dolphins got the two most talented corners in this draft in Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. I feel that this young tandem of corners has the potential to surpass the level of play that the famous Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain combination did for the Dolphins. Sean Smith is a rare specimen standing at 6”3 but his fluid hip movements and natural ball skills gives our secondary a play-maker which we currently lack. Vontae Davis is just as physically gifted and talent wise was a top 10 player in this draft. The Patrick White pick in Round 2 was a perfect pick for this team as it makes our “Wild-Cat” offense very dangerous. Pat White was one of the best football players in the nation last year and when the ball is in his hands he is very special. When I was doing some research on the draft I asked some people at West Virginia who closely follow football about Pat White and one guy told me that Pat White was an “icon”. Patrick Turner was a pick that the “experts” criticized but I feel that Turner could be a very special player for us. I think initially he is a great red-zone threat and eventually he will be a perfect complement for Davone Bess and Teddy Ginn Jr. Tuurner is 6”6 and a very polished route runner but more importantly he is willing to put in the work that makes one great. Andrew Garden and Chris Clemons were very solid picks. I do not know much about JD Folsom so I will not comment on him but I will be the first to say I question the Brian Hartline pick in Round 4. I thought Duke Robinson or Shawn Nelson was the pick in that spot but Jeff Irlenad, Tony Sparano, and Bill Parcells know far more about football than I ever will. I hope Hartline pans out and only time will tell. I can tell you since we drafted this kid I have watched film on him and can say that he gives his all on every play. He is a special team’s ace who runs very polished routes and can make things happen with the ball in his hands.
I could state my obvious love of Chad Pennington again but it’s not needed. His play speaks for itself and he is currently the best player on this team. No one will give Chad his fair due but he will continue to prove everyone wrong. Pennington is a very special player, a leader, an absolute warrior and this team believes in him. Signing him last off-season saved this franchise and he is the best Quarterback this franchise has ever seen with the exception of the best ever, Dan Marino. The Chad Pennington signing was the best move that the Parcells regime has made to date and that includes the draft selection of Jake Long which was a home-run.
The front office was smart enough to take Jason Taylor back and lure Cameron Wake away from the CFL to improve our pass rush. Our signing of Gibril Wilson combined with the drafting of Chris Clemons, Vontae Davis, and Sean Smith will improve our secondary. The signing of Jake Grove combined with the return of Justin Smiley and Donald Thomas will greatly improve our Offensive Line giving us one of the strongest lines in the league. The 2009 Miami Dolphins team will be even better than the 2008 Division Champion Dolphins because they are more talented and because they have a full off-season in the current regime’s system has a full year of operation. Despite the schedule seeming to a bit harder than last seasons’ I see this Dolphins team in the playoffs again. I think this team is one draft away from being among the league’s best teams. Bill Parcells is without question a football genius and there are very few men that have an eye for talent like the Big Tuna. The foundation has been laid out and as long as Ireland and Sparano follow the plan this team will bring a Super Bowl ring to Dolphin nation.
Neal Driscoll is a columnist for FinHeaven.com and goes by the username RealDriscoll on the forums. He is an avid fan and brings a real fans perspective to you through his commentary. Send him a PM and let him know what you think of his article.