QB Concerns Still Remain

In the giddiness that accompanied the four-game winning streak, it seemed everyone was really high on Joey Harrington, particularly after he threw three touchdown passes in the convincing Thanksgiving Day victory at Detroit. But his performance against Jacksonville last Sunday was a sobering reminder that the Dolphins' quarterback issues are not over. The question is: When will they be?

It's funny because some were suggesting that Harrington should be given the chance to compete for the starting job next fall. Again, that was before he threw two costly picks against the Jaguars.

For those keeping score, that's 13 interceptions in eight games for Harrington. Two or more in five of those eight games.

Is that what you want in a starting quarterback? Look, not everything that happened in Detroit was his fault, but he didn't magically go from a struggling quarterback to a stud just because he changed teams.

Harrington is what he is, a decent quarterback who makes quick decisions and has a nice arm. But the problem is that sometimes those decisions just aren't good ones.

Hate to bring this up because the guy wasn't necessarily well liked during his time in Miami, but Harrington has a lot of Jay Fiedler in him. Sure, Fiedler was a little more mobile and Harrington has a better arm, but their M.O. was awfully, irritatingly similar.

Lot of good plays during the game, one or two really, really bad throws that mess up everything.

So from this vantage point, Harrington clearly is not the long-term answer.

And the truth is we still don't know about Daunte Culpepper. He is on crutches this week, with the hope that he can resume, full blast, his rehab next week.

Maybe, just maybe, we might see him in the lineup at some point in the last weeks of the regular season. It would be nice because right now the Dolphins don't know what they've got with Culpepper.

Clearly, he'll be better when he comes back, if for no other reason that he should at least have some mobility.

But what about the decision-making, reading defenses, the accuracy. Those were all question marks in Minnesota -- before his injury -- after he no longer had Randy Moss to run under his long passes and outjump defenders.

Look back at 2005, Culpepper just wasn't very good before he got hurt, and there are some who will tell you he only was good because of Moss. If that's the case, the Dolphins will have to start all over at quarterback.

Who knows? Maybe the answer is Cleo Lemon. We keep hearing nothing but good things from Nick Saban about this guy, yet he has never thrown a pass in a regular season game, so we don't know.

How about finding out before this season ends. Say, after the Dolphins get officially eliminated from the playoff race.

Saban has said he will play every game to win, but that logic doesn't cut it when it comes to the long-term health of the franchise. Squeezing one more win out of a non-playoff season isn't nearly as valuable as finding out if Lemon has the potential to become more than a backup in the NFL.

The bottom line is this: Nothing against Harrington, but the Dolphins know exactly what they've got in him and we say it's just not good enough for the long term.

The Dolphins absolutely need to find out, hopefully sooner rather than later, if either Culpepper or Lemon can be the guy.


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