Shades of 2004

There's a new coaching staff in town, which is reason alone to expect bigger and better things for the Dolphins. But there also have been a few disturbing trends and comments coming out of Dolphins camp recently, things that might make one scared it's going to be 2004 all over again.

The most glaring comparison to last year, of course, is the quarterback battle. Like last year, we have gotten late into the preseason with no starting quarterback announced by the head coach.

Last year it was A.J. Feeley vs. Jay Fiedler; this time it's A.J. Feeley vs. Gus Frerotte.

Perhaps there's a little bit of a difference this time because Frerotte has taken the snaps with the first-team offense for a few weeks now, something that didn't happen last year with Coach Dave Wannstedt at the helm.

Of course, we can blame Nick Saban for not coming out and making an announcement to end all the speculation once and for all, but Frerotte could have made things easier by playing a little better in his starts against either Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay.

Like last year, the bottom line is the Dolphins don't have a front-line quarterback, and that's the most troubling thing about the entire Dolphins team.

It also leads one to wonder: When are the Dolphins ever going to have a big-time starting quarterback again?

The other disturbing reminder of last year came Sunday when offensive line coach Hudson Houck spoke to the media and talked about the progress of his unit.

The comment that struck us -- and in the wrong way, we might add -- was Houck saying it might not be until next year that the offensive line starts playing better.

That unfortunately sounds an awful lot like something old offensive line coach Tony Wise said last year. And we all know how the offensive line did last year.

Now, we're actually expecting this year's offensive line to be better than last year's, but Houck's comments aren't terribly reassuring.

The Dolphins appear to have better talent at the skill positions than they did last year, mainly because of the return of Ricky Williams, the drafting of Ronnie Brown and the recovery of David Boston.

But the Dolphins won't sniff a playoff berth or even a break-even record if they don't get better play from the quarterback and offensive line spots.

And the signs we've seen so far have been less than encouraging.

Then again, it's only the preseason, and the preseason doesn't mean a whole lot.

Still, it would have been nice to have seen some progress in those two areas this summer.


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