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Thread: Question Marks and their Impact

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    rdoser's Avatar
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    Fins' Weakest Links - Question Marks (and their Impact)

    Some people call it paranoia, others call it pessimism, I call it reality with a healthy dose of pragmatism. There is not a team in the NFL without question marks. However, as we're all aware of, not every weak link on a chain has the same possibility to make that chain break. So, I write this now to bring up the topic of where our beloved Fins have weakness (admittedly perceived, as the topic is nothing if not subjective) and what the potential for serious ramifications is with each weakness. Undoubtedly, this is a topic that a GM and coaching squad are constantly looking at in order to shore up the soft spots, but it does help me a fan to think about where we could get burned. These are only preliminary thoughts by me and I only hope that each of you adds and contributes to what you think is an issue and, by the same token, what is not.

    OLB - The poll on the front page says it all. We're currently choosing between Hodge, Spragan, and Newman. In a defense that many of us feel will continue to ramp up the use of the 3-4, LB's are key key key. Moreover, and this is only based on anecdotal evidence, it always seems like at least one or two LB's per season will at some point miss time due to injury, the position is as rigorous as they come. I see the impact for bad outcomes with this weakness as one of serious importance only amplified by my second concern which is.....

    DB/S - Noone can deny that we were missing at least one or two solid DB's last season. Game after game we got burned on the big pass. The moves we've made in the offseason speak to the fact that Saban and co. are no blind spectator when it comes to this issue, revamping this facet of the team with several key additions. The question is how well they will gel and is only made more important by the fact that we may have issues stopping the run with our current make up on the LB front (mentioned above). If we can't count on our DB's to stop the pass then we can't add that 8th man in the box to stop the run, and that to me spells a whole load of trouble. Allen may be a key player here as many have mentioned his ability to cover the field from end to end. We shall see but to say that our DB's are anywhere near reliable yet is a big question mark to me.

    WR - We have Chambers - the guy has the make up of a champion - this is not about him. This about receivers #2-#4. I mentioned it on a previous thread about Jerry (not Joey!) Porter in terms of the way I'm thinking about so I requote myself from there now. I have faith in Chambers, I have some faith in Booker (though I haven't seen as much of him in Miami as I've expected - we'll see if this changes with Daunte which obviously could be huge for him), and I don't have a ton of faith in Welker, Campbell and the rookies. Welker is a solid player, don't get me wrong, the guy has the heart of a champion, but you know a Honda Civic with the engine of a Ferrari still gets blown away by a Ferrari with the engine of a Ferrari. Welker could be a force though if he focuses purely on kick returns and coming in on 4/5 WR sets. The rookies, they have what looks like some serious potential, especially Hagan, but you know at the end of the day they're still rookies and haven't played one NFL down yet in their lives - I cannot count on blind faith when it comes to the rookies. Hopefully I'm wrong on a few notes and Booker comes out like a true #2 and the rest of the crew raises their level to where a reliable #3 can come about, but if my doubts are warranted then any receiver with the chance of cracking the top 3 is worth a shot in my book - again, at the right price (goes without saying).

    Feel free to praise, demolish, add or subtract.
    Last edited by rdoser; 07-26-2006 at 04:07 PM. Reason: the title wasn't clear or true to the content
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    rdoser's Avatar
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    bump - not one thought to add??!?
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    m3116's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdoser
    DB/S - Noone can deny that we were missing at least one or two solid DB's last season. Game after game we got burned on the big pass. The moves we've made in the offseason speak to the fact that Saban and co. are no blind spectator when it comes to this issue, revamping this facet of the team with several key additions. The question is how well they will gel and is only made more important by the fact that we may have issues stopping the run with our current make up on the LB front (mentioned above). If we can't count on our DB's to stop the pass then we can't add that 8th man in the box to stop the run, and that to me spells a whole load of trouble. Allen may be a key player here as many have mentioned his ability to cover the field from end to end. We shall see but to say that our DB's are anywhere near reliable yet is a big question mark to me.
    I also have concerns with the defensive backfield. I hope I'm wrong.
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    None of these is a glaring need, IMHO. These are definately areas of the team that are weaker than the rest, but I none of these are real holes. No team in the NFL is deep everywhere, not even the Patriots. OLB doesn't bother me that much, I really don't remember Spragan being a liability last year. Upgrading that position would be nice, but it wasn't imperative. Maybe I just wasn't paying as much attention to Spragan, but I really think all the worry about OLB on these boards is a case of groupthink.

    The secondary is a wildcard. Its hard to judge these guys considering how many of them are brand new. One thing that's undeniable however is the improved depth at the DB position. You've gotta remember that last year we had guys claimed off waivers playing the nickel and dime slots for most of the year. The starters may or may not be much improved, but there are no Eddie Jacksons, Kiwaukie Thomases, or Norman Lejunes on that roster. Amazingly enough though, our defense was ranked 9th in yards per pass attempt. On the other hand, our 3rd down conversion rate was a problem (around 24th, IIRC). This was an area where Saban showed a very Belichick like ability to cobble together a decent pass defense with limited talent in the secondary. Although no one knows what'll happen, the infusion of talent from Jason Allen, Will Allen, and Will Poole may be all we need to be elite in this area.

    At WR, we've got a stud in CC and a solid guy in Booker. If neither Campbell nor the rookies are able to step up at the #3 slot, then we may be limited in our 3 WR sets (something we'll want to utilize with Culpepper back there) but that wont be crippling. Hell, we still managed to go 9-7 with Frerotte and Welker in there and one of those positions has been massively upgraded. Put it this way, if you replaced Frerotte's completion % with Daunte's career average and kept all other offensive stats constant, the Dolphins would have had the 3rd or 4th best offense in the league last year. Replace that number with Daunte's 04 ratio and we're #1. This wont take into account what such a pass threat would have done for our running game.

    I'll tell you what makes me so optimistic. A few months back I did an analysis of where the Dolphins ranked among the 32 teams in a large number of statistical categories. I was surprised to find that we were 7th in rushing yards per play both offensively and defensively. We were also ranked 9th defensively in yards per pass attempt. I forget where we were ranked in yards per pass attempt, but it was somewhere in the middle of the pack. We were also 4th in sacks allowed and 2 in sacks. You'd expect those kind of numbers from a playoff team, so why did we finish 9-7? Well there were 3 areas where we were much worse. We were 24th in defensive 3rd down conversions. Of those 3 that was the least striking problem. The other 2 were that we were ranked 32nd (dead fing last) in completion percentage. Due to the previous 2 issues, it's not surprising that we were 30th in time of possession. Now keep in mind that these things tend to follow a bell curve, so the gap between 16th and 24th is not nearly as big as the gap from 24th to 32nd. The fact that our defense was on the field for longer than 29 of 31 teams was the reason were ranked so much lower in defensive total yards than in yards per play.

    So what does this mean, well basically it means that our QB play was dragging down the entire team. I don't want to ignore the 3rd down conversion issue, that indeed was a problem, but I'm fairly confident that our biggest liability on 05 has become one of biggest strengths in 06. Once we start playing the games, anything can happen. Ronnie might go down, Daunte may be out with a swelling knee, the DL will suddenly get old, etc etc. However, barring any inordinate bad luck we should be a very strong team this season and have as good a shot as anyone at winning a Superbowl.
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    I agree with much of what you said. The last linebacker spot is a concern, and especially in terms of depth. I don't think there's alot we can do but pray. Adding a guy like Berryman might pay off in the future, but not right away.
    As for the backs, I think you're right to expect them to take time to gel. Who would've thought that Travis Daniels and Renaldo Hill would be veteran leaders in the secondary this time a year ago?
    I'm not quite as down on Booker as you, but it is clear that there is a drop-off in dependable talent after him. I'm not too worried about it because I'm expecting McMichael to have his best receiving year yet. I wouldn't say we're stacked at WR, but I it doesn't bother me as much as the LBs.
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    I think Spragan did a very good job last year in the somewhat limited time he saw. I have absolutely no problems whatsoever about him being our starter. The only two things that worry me a little are the running back position, ( i.e. if ronnie were to get injured), and our new secondary players learning nick's defense. Travis Daniels and Will Poole are obviously good to go in that department, but it might take a while for Jason and Will allen to get the hang of it. but over all, as far as depth is concerned, Miami is light years ahead of most other teams as a whole. Which makes Nick's transformation of this team all the more impressive considering the wannstedt era was notorious for having almost no depth at any position. I love you Nick Saban and I am not afraid to say it. OF COURSE I mean that in a platonic way. God bless our fins!!!!
    Sho誰uff: Am I the meanest?
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejetssuck
    I think Spragan did a very good job last year in the somewhat limited time he saw. I have absolutely no problems whatsoever about him being our starter. The only two things that worry me a little are the running back position, ( i.e. if ronnie were to get injured), and our new secondary players learning nick's defense. Travis Daniels and Will Poole are obviously good to go in that department, but it might take a while for Jason and Will allen to get the hang of it. but over all, as far as depth is concerned, Miami is light years ahead of most other teams as a whole. Which makes Nick's transformation of this team all the more impressive considering the wannstedt era was notorious for having almost no depth at any position. I love you Nick Saban and I am not afraid to say it. OF COURSE I mean that in a platonic way. God bless our fins!!!!
    P.S. YES!! I am drunk!!!:drinker:
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    Go Giants

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    Quote Originally Posted by thejetssuck
    P.S. YES!! I am drunk!!!:drinker:
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    Hakeem Nicks, WR UNC
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    OLB - Spraghan was solid for us for 10 games last year. Newman brings a solidity (is that a word) to the position that Spraghan or Hodge can't. While he's not a Lavar Arrington, he's pretty solid in all three facets of the OLB game that you want...pass rushing, pass coverage and run stuffing. Spraghan is a better run stuffer while Hodge might be a better pass cover guy, but Newman brings more balance of all three attributes you want in a SOLB. I do expect to see a combination of LBs under Capers game planning specifically for opposing teams weaknesses by using Hodge more often in pass coverage, etc...

    WR - If you haven't been impressed with Booker, then you must have been satisfied with the QB play we've had for several years ?? WRs are only as good as the scheme and QB's ability. We saw what scheme can do with a mediocre QB last year. We've been hampered since Danny left with subpar QBs. Now we have a guy who can get the ball where its supposed to be, when its supposed to be there. At any rate, don't underestimate Kelly Campbell. He's got the one thing that you like the most in a #3...speed....he also has the experience to know how to get off the LOS and off defenders that the rookies will inevitably have trouble with. Hagan and Aroma will need time to develop although, based on their college careers, Hagan is ahead of Aroma. Vick, I personally don't see much happening with him either. Murphy might make some noise in camp as well. But I do see us having a more solid #3...as we might have WW in at times and might have Campbell in at times. However, if any of the rookies and/or Campbell can show some return abilities, WW might be on the outside looking in. He's a nice role player with lots of heart, like you said, but really his potential is tapped out...He's a fan favorite and those of us who say that he's limited in his abilities usually get blasted by others, but that's the way I see it... But even if WW wins the #3 position we are still better than last year with Campbell, Hagan and Aroma as our #4-#6 guys. You also have to figure that having a bonifide NFL caliber QB is going to help all our recievers...

    DBs - This is the area of the team that I am most interested in watching. We all saw how it took a 'veteran' group half the year to gel last year. How long will it take these guys. While they all have starting experience (except J. Allen), they haven't started together. None of us can tell how far along Saban and crew are from deciding who the starters will be, but right now I'd have to say that a lineup of Daniels, Hill, Allen, and Allen will be there when the games start. What's so interesting is that with Cooper, Tillman, Bell, Goodman, Poole and Mitchell we have much better depth than last year. Poole, IMO, will be the most interesting. If he returns to where he was last March, he may just push Daniels to the nickel spot. Mitchell is another guy that hasn't shown much because of injuries, but is likely to make some noise if for nothing more because of his speed. Again, I see this secondary, no matter how it shakes down as better than last years. Schulter was pedestrian at best, Jones was washed up before he ever got started. Madison's age and dissenchantment with the Fins organization showed thru like a shining star last year. Daniels was the lone bright spot, although Tillman and Bell showed that they can play due to injuries later in the year. As in every year, that'll happen again this year and having guys that can fill in and know the system is critical. It will just be pretty interesting to see how these guys mesh. More importantly, we may be cutting a guy or two who either started last year or was our primary backup or #3/#4 CB. It's by far, to me, the most interesting battle going on in camp.

    OL - OL is another area that is going to be interesting to watch. I am growing less and less impressed with Carey...is this the year that he ends up on the bench ?? Again, Saban has filled the roster with guys that have starting experience under their belts. Pearson, Anderson, McKinney, Big Mac all have a shot at fitting in somewhere. Alabi and Smith are just a fraction below those guys as someone who might find a roster spot. IMO, Anderson has the best shot at RG, with Pearson and Big Mac battling out the swing tackle spot. Alabi and Smith will have to show that they've improved from last year, but both have ability. McK has the edge as a backup interior guy, but if Alabi or Smith show something...you never know.

    Backup QB - This is also a question mark. Harrington was traded for just to be that guy, but Lemon has more time in the system. Most of us are under the impression that Lemon was a by-product of the need to get rid of AJ Feeley and his cap hit, but positive minicamp reports have piqued all of our interest in just how good this guy can be. Will he push JH ?? Can JH get his head out of his butt and play like he showed once ago ?? Holland should easily beat out Berlin as our PS QB, IMO. Holland has also shown well in minicamps, but that'll be an interesting battle. Again, the roster has two guys that can start for us and 3 who have some potential...a major upgrade from last year.

    So, you're right that there are questions, but no more questions than there usually is during a TC. Lots of guys with potential and a short time for them to prove that potential. The one thing that seperates this camp from the last several is that we could end up cutting some starting caliber players at various positions...or at least some guys that could have or did start for us in recent years...
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarryFinFan
    OLB - Spraghan was solid for us for 10 games last year. Newman brings a solidity (is that a word) to the position that Spraghan or Hodge can't. While he's not a Lavar Arrington, he's pretty solid in all three facets of the OLB game that you want...pass rushing, pass coverage and run stuffing. Spraghan is a better run stuffer while Hodge might be a better pass cover guy, but Newman brings more balance of all three attributes you want in a SOLB. I do expect to see a combination of LBs under Capers game planning specifically for opposing teams weaknesses by using Hodge more often in pass coverage, etc...

    WR - If you haven't been impressed with Booker, then you must have been satisfied with the QB play we've had for several years ?? WRs are only as good as the scheme and QB's ability. We saw what scheme can do with a mediocre QB last year. We've been hampered since Danny left with subpar QBs. Now we have a guy who can get the ball where its supposed to be, when its supposed to be there. At any rate, don't underestimate Kelly Campbell. He's got the one thing that you like the most in a #3...speed....he also has the experience to know how to get off the LOS and off defenders that the rookies will inevitably have trouble with. Hagan and Aroma will need time to develop although, based on their college careers, Hagan is ahead of Aroma. Vick, I personally don't see much happening with him either. Murphy might make some noise in camp as well. But I do see us having a more solid #3...as we might have WW in at times and might have Campbell in at times. However, if any of the rookies and/or Campbell can show some return abilities, WW might be on the outside looking in. He's a nice role player with lots of heart, like you said, but really his potential is tapped out...He's a fan favorite and those of us who say that he's limited in his abilities usually get blasted by others, but that's the way I see it... But even if WW wins the #3 position we are still better than last year with Campbell, Hagan and Aroma as our #4-#6 guys. You also have to figure that having a bonifide NFL caliber QB is going to help all our recievers...

    DBs - This is the area of the team that I am most interested in watching. We all saw how it took a 'veteran' group half the year to gel last year. How long will it take these guys. While they all have starting experience (except J. Allen), they haven't started together. None of us can tell how far along Saban and crew are from deciding who the starters will be, but right now I'd have to say that a lineup of Daniels, Hill, Allen, and Allen will be there when the games start. What's so interesting is that with Cooper, Tillman, Bell, Goodman, Poole and Mitchell we have much better depth than last year. Poole, IMO, will be the most interesting. If he returns to where he was last March, he may just push Daniels to the nickel spot. Mitchell is another guy that hasn't shown much because of injuries, but is likely to make some noise if for nothing more because of his speed. Again, I see this secondary, no matter how it shakes down as better than last years. Schulter was pedestrian at best, Jones was washed up before he ever got started. Madison's age and dissenchantment with the Fins organization showed thru like a shining star last year. Daniels was the lone bright spot, although Tillman and Bell showed that they can play due to injuries later in the year. As in every year, that'll happen again this year and having guys that can fill in and know the system is critical. It will just be pretty interesting to see how these guys mesh. More importantly, we may be cutting a guy or two who either started last year or was our primary backup or #3/#4 CB. It's by far, to me, the most interesting battle going on in camp.

    OL - OL is another area that is going to be interesting to watch. I am growing less and less impressed with Carey...is this the year that he ends up on the bench ?? Again, Saban has filled the roster with guys that have starting experience under their belts. Pearson, Anderson, McKinney, Big Mac all have a shot at fitting in somewhere. Alabi and Smith are just a fraction below those guys as someone who might find a roster spot. IMO, Anderson has the best shot at RG, with Pearson and Big Mac battling out the swing tackle spot. Alabi and Smith will have to show that they've improved from last year, but both have ability. McK has the edge as a backup interior guy, but if Alabi or Smith show something...you never know.

    Backup QB - This is also a question mark. Harrington was traded for just to be that guy, but Lemon has more time in the system. Most of us are under the impression that Lemon was a by-product of the need to get rid of AJ Feeley and his cap hit, but positive minicamp reports have piqued all of our interest in just how good this guy can be. Will he push JH ?? Can JH get his head out of his butt and play like he showed once ago ?? Holland should easily beat out Berlin as our PS QB, IMO. Holland has also shown well in minicamps, but that'll be an interesting battle. Again, the roster has two guys that can start for us and 3 who have some potential...a major upgrade from last year.

    So, you're right that there are questions, but no more questions than there usually is during a TC. Lots of guys with potential and a short time for them to prove that potential. The one thing that seperates this camp from the last several is that we could end up cutting some starting caliber players at various positions...or at least some guys that could have or did start for us in recent years...
    some good points. Yeah OLB is an area of concern. Spragan is my player of choice because he is solid (although not spectacular) and makes plays. He showed enough at the end of last year to set himself up as the guy to beat.

    You are right; Newman probably is the better balanced between being a good run defender and pass defender but does not have the athleticism of Spragan or Hodge or particular excel beyond expectation at a particular skill set. We are going to get varying strengths and weaknessed depending who is playing in certain game situations.

    Hodge has excellent size to speed ratio and is definitely solid at pass protection because of his speed. His knock coming from the Saints was that he did not grasp the mental part of the game and most of his issues were between the ears. Of course, part of this could be bad coaching and playing for the wrong scheme before he got to Miami.

    One thing is WR will be an area of strength but questions marks at who could be #3 and below. Where exactly do Hagan fall in place? Logic dictates Campbell #3. But, how about if Hagan just absolutely blows up and now we have a nice problem on our hands,as far as finding out who is the #3. The development of Aromashodu will decide these things. And, how will Welker be utilized now that we have more depth and talent at WR than last year and there are new faces with more speed and athleticism than Wes? What kind of minutes can we reasonably expect from him beyond PR duty.

    I won't go too much into the difference made by adding Joey and Daunte to Qb corps. Well explained by many knowledgable fans on this board. Simply put, we no longer have an average, pedestrian at best and at times insufficient QB corps. The Wrs will definitely feed off this and improve beyond previous years performances
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