Behind Enemy Lines: Miami Dolphins

Keeping up with the competition in the AFC East is a never-ending task, so we took a stroll around the division to see what's new and how the Patriots' opponents have fared since the end of the 2006 season. This time, we check in with Dolphin Digest's Alain Poupart to find out what's going on with the Dolphins.


1) What are the expectations for Trent Green now that he's finally in Miami? If Green cant perform (injury or other) what other options do the Dolphins have?

Alain Poupart: For the first part of the question, it depends on who you ask. There is a mixed bag of opinions as to just how effective Green can be after a lackluster season that was marred by his concussion in the season opener.

The concussion issue, to me, is ridiculous because it's not as though we're dealing with a cumulative effect where the guy is going to get "concussed" every time he gets hit. He took a knee from a 290-, 300-pound defensive end right in the head, and probably every single quarterback in the league would have sustained a concussion on that play. As he noted, it took him quite a while to get back into the lineup because the Chiefs doctors wanted to err on the side of caution, and also because Damon Huard was playing so well.

As for his poor numbers, a lot of that was due to the new offense K.C. installed last year as Herm Edwards took over as head coach. Before that, Green put up big numbers in an offense very similar to what Cam Cameron will be using in Miami. So what do I expect? I'm not expecting Green to throw for 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns, but I also expect him to give the Dolphins their best quarterback play since the arrival of the new millennium.

If Green can't get it done or gets hurt, the next guy in line will be Cleo Lemon, who started last year's finale against Indianapolis. John Beck was drafted in the second round in April to be the QB of the future, but the Dolphins want him to watch and learn as a rookie before he takes over the reins of the offense.

2) Ted Ginn Jr. was a curious pick for Miami when they had so many other needs. Do you feel they should have used that pick for a player at a different position, or is Ginn really that much of a difference-maker?

AP: First off, let me say I'm glad they didn't take Brady Quinn, who was the most overhyped player in the draft and was a can't-miss prospect simply because some draft analysts said so and because he played at Notre Dame.

The Dolphins' biggest need in my eyes was a franchise left tackle, but they weren't going to get one at No. 9 because both Joe Thomas and Levi Brown already had been picked.

I liked the Ginn pick for this simple reason: The Dolphins haven't had an explosive weapon on offense or special teams, with the exception of Ricky Williams in 2002, for longer than anybody here cares to remember. I'm talking about a guy who can turn a short play into an 80-yard touchdown basically every time he touches the ball.

Unless you have a great quarterback, like Tom Brady, it's very helpful to have one of those on offense to make life easier for everybody.

On kick returns, Wes Welker did a nice job for the Dolphins the last few years, but he's just not a very explosive guy.

Now, did the Dolphins pick Ginn too high? Maybe, but there was word out of Houston that the Texans were ready to pick him at No. 10. The Dolphins did try to move down in the first round and still get Ginn, but couldn't find any trading partners.

Combine those factors, and I have no problem with the Ginn pick.

3) Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas are perennial Pro Bowlers, yet Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi fill much the same roles in New England and don't get nearly the same credit. Why do you think that is?

AP: Sounds like a little bitterness coming through in that question.
[Editor's note: =) not bitter… grrrrr]

Sorry, but Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi get plenty of respect outside of New England. Jason Taylor just makes too many plays, year in and year out, to not get recognized as one of the top three or four defensive players in the league. Seymour is a stud, too, but he doesn't make quite as many game-changing plays as Taylor does.

As for the Bruschi and Thomas debate, I would have agreed with you a few years ago because I thought Bruschi would just as good as any linebacker in the league -- except maybe Brian Urlacher. But -- and you can correct me if my perception is wrong -- Bruschi hasn't been a dominant player in recent years (of course, there have been mitigating circumstances) while Thomas has yet to slow down.

4) Have the Dolphins been able to upgrade their secondary enough to match up with the new talent the Patriots added to their receivers group?

I seem to recall the Dolphins having little trouble containing the Patriots passing game in December when they blanked them, 21-0, in Miami.

The Dolphins secondary actually is pretty much the same as it was last year, and it was pretty darn good in the second half of the season after Nick Saban finally got smart enough to put playmaker Yeremiah Bell in the starting lineup at safety.

Will Allen (even though he's got terrible hands and can't get picks) is a solid corner, and Andre' Goodman is coming off a terrific season (although he had shoulder surgery in the offseason and will miss the start of camp). With Bell and Renaldo Hill, the Dolphins are solid at safety.

It's a group that lacks a big-name player, but as mentioned before the secondary played well at the end of last year. Another bonus is this year they won't have Saban in their face 24/7 the way they did the last two years when Saban always focused most of his attention on that group because that was his area of expertise.

Bottom line is I think the Dolphins have the secondary -- and the defense overall -- to be able to contain the Patriots offense.

5) Are there any lingering remnants of the Nick Saban regime in Miami that need to be cleaned out, or is Cam Cameron going to use some of those?

Saban is gone and, thankfully, almost totally forgotten in Miami, which has welcomed a new day with the arrival of Cam Cameron.

The Saban way of doing things pretty much left with him.

Saban was the de facto defensive coordinator the last two years, but the Dolphins still will use a hybrid 3-4 under Dom Capers. Capers will throw in some of his wrinkles in there, and given his background and reputation, the defense still has the potential to be difficult to deal with.

Offensively, Cameron will be running the show, which means you will see an offense that comes from the Don Coryell tree, and is similar to what Norv Turner, Al Saunders and Mike Martz have used.

Curiosity question:
Do you feel the Dolphins have enough to get past the Jets or the Bills to challenge New England for the Division title?

AP: I'm not sure about challenging New England for the division title because the Dolphins do have big question marks along the offensive and defensive lines, but it's not like the gap between themselves and Jets/Bills was that big that they couldn't overtake them.

Look, with any kind of quarterbacking, the Dolphins would have won at least four more games -- easily -- last season. That's the difference between 6-10 and 10-6. So even though the appearance is the Dolphins are headed for a long year, it's foolish to think they can't surprise people and make a run for a playoff berth.


Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. If you have a question for Alain, you can reach him here

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