Farewell to Fiedler?

After Jay Fiedler was placed on injured reserve because of a neck injury, we are looking at the distinct possibility (probability might be a better word) that he has played his last down for the Dolphins. This will not cause great anguish to a lot of Dolphins fans who never warmed up to Fiedler. But if it indeed is it for Fiedler in Miami, how should he be remembered?

Fiedler probably will be in a different uniform next season because he's due a $2 million roster bonus in March and his cap figure for 2005 stands at just under $5.8 million.

That's way too big a price tag, especially when the Dolphins also have A.J. Feeley on the roster.

It's not impossible that Fiedler comes back with a restructured deal, but the feeling is that both the Dolphins' new regime and Fiedler will figure it's best for Fiedler to move on.

That, we can assure you, will be good news to a lot of Dolphins fans.

And right off the bat let us tell you that Fiedler always has been treated by Dolphins fans a lot more harshly than he should have been.

And it's not just because of his 36-23 record as a starter, which certainly was pretty good. We're not big fans of won-loss records being the end-all to judge quarterbacks. Hell, Chicago rookie Craig Krentzel won his first three starts despite stinking up the joint because he made one play a game and the Bears defense was awesome for those three weeks.

No, Fiedler deserves more respect than he got simply because he couldn't be as bad as many fans made him out to be.

But Fiedler has always looked like -- and continues to look like -- a backup quarterback. Sure, you can win big with him, just like Baltimore won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer. But to do that, you need a defense having an out-of-this-world season.

The Dolphins haven't had that since the Killer B's back in 1982. The recent Dolphins defenses have been good, at times very good, but they have needed more help from the offense.

Fiedler wasn't the type of game to make an offense dangerous through the air. He is a caretaker quarterback.

His best football in Miami was at the beginning of the 2002 season when he had Ricky Williams behind him. At that point in the season, he had nine touchdown passes and six interceptions, four of which had come in a 48-30 loss at Kansas City when the Dolphins played catch-up the whole afternoon.

But Fiedler was never the same after coming back from an injury sustained in that thrilling Sunday night victory at Denver.

And, as much as anything, Dave Wannstedt's insistence on sticking with Fiedler wound up costing him his job.

There were reasons to like Fiedler. For one thing, he was the ultimate team player. He also showed a lot of toughness, often playing hurt and never showing any hesitation to throw his body around if only to make a block for a running back.

Unfortunately, those qualities don't win championships.

Truth be told, Fiedler was put in a tough spot from the start having to replace the legendary Dan Marino.

Fiedler's biggest problem with the Dolphins is that he seemed to regress instead of improve.

Fiedler has always been limited physically, most notably because of a below-average arm. He also wasn't a very big guy, which became a problem when he started taking a lot of punishment behind shaky offensive lines.

During his five years with the Dolphins, Fiedler made his share of bad mistakes, but there was a reason he had appeared in only 12 games in four previous NFL seasons before coming to Miami and had been out of the league for two straight years.

Fiedler is what he is, an average quarterback who would make a solid backup. He was given plenty of chances to prove otherwise in Miami, but never was able to pull it off.


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