TIME FOR NEW QB

There figure to be many changes on the Dolphins after this season, probably including the coaching staff, but one area that definitely should have a new look in the quarterback position.

We have defended Jay Fiedler for a while because we felt he always was taking cheap shots from Dolphins fans who simply couldn't accept the fact that Dan Marino was gone.

Fiedler was never as bad as some Dolfans would have had you believe.

But it also has become apparent that he has journeyman skills and therefore should be nothing more than a backup.

Fiedler has not had an impressive season, and that's being kind. It's also one of the reasons the Dolphins offense has struggled so much.

Not that Brian Griese was much better, and that's why the Dolphins went back to Fiedler after he recovered from his knee injury.

Fiedler did have his moments this season, most notably the Thanksgiving Day victory at Dallas, but those were too few and far between.

Coach Dave Wannstedt has suggested a couple of times that Fiedler was hurt by windy conditions, but that happened because Fiedler simply doesn't have the arm strength to succeed in anything order than ideal conditions.

Fiedler's decision-making might be an even bigger problem, with his penchant for making ill-advised throws once or twice a game.

That having been said, Fiedler does have some redeeming qualities. He has some mobility, he's tough and he's a great team player who will give up his body for his teammates.

But Fiedler has stopped progressing and now that he's 32, it's obvious he's not going to get any better.

He did play some pretty good football early in the 2002 season before being injured in the Sunday night game at Denver, but has never been able to rediscover that form.

It's now time to accept that he won't.

So who should the Dolphins go after? Unfortunately, there won't be much in free agency and spending a first-round pick in the draft means you're looking at having your new quarterback spend a year watching and learning.

Among free agents or QBs who figure to become available, the most appealing possibilities include Jacksonville's Mark Brunell, the Rams' Kurt Warner and Baltimore's Anthony Wright.

In the draft, the names to remember are Eli Manning, Ben Roethsliberger, P.J. Losman and Philip Rivers.

Of the lot, Brunell probably is the most appealing option, but that would be a short-term solution.

Whatever happens, something needs to be done.

It would make sense for the Dolphins to take a look at Sage Rosenfels in Sunday's meaningless finale against the Jets, but Wannstedt already has said he's not playing any lineup changes.

That might help the Dolphins get their 10th win, but they should look at Rosenfels instead to see if he's an option.

What's clear is that Fiedler shouldn't be option No. 1 next season.


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