Miami Dolphins' Free Agent Pickups Fail to Excite

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Miami Dolphins' Free Agent Pickups Fail to Excite
Last Thursday night on the eve of the NFL free-agency period's beginning, Dolphins fans nestled all snug in their beds while visions of quarterbacks danced in their heads. They just knew that with Santa Parcells and his elves, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano, coming down the chimney, they were going to wake up Friday to find an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time under their tree.

Instead, they ended up with socks.

Not that the Dolphins didn't need socks. With all the holes to fill on offense, Justin Smiley and Sean Ryan are a start. Picking up Ernest Wilford to replace the recently released Marty Booker added four inches and shaved two years off the receiver voted most likely to line up across the field from Ted Ginn.

Nice socks, but, still, socks.

Of course, the addition of Josh McCown was more like swapping Aunt Clara's pink bunny jammies from last year for a version that's two inches taller. If you look at McCown's numbers compared to Cleo Lemon's from last season, they both played in nine games, with McCown completing 58.4 percent of his passes to Lemon's 56.0. Lemon passed for 622 more yards than McCown. They both were right at a 1:1 TD-to-interception ratio (Lemon six TDs against six picks, McCown 10 and 11). With passer ratings of 71.0 (Lemon) and 69.4 (McCown, respectively, they are virtually interchangeable with regard to the effect on their respective offenses.

Dolphin fans could have probably done without the bunny jammies.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins brought in Charlie Anderson, Randy Starks, and Reggie Torbor via free agency. Anderson, 26, was an outside linebacker in the Texans' 3-4 system and is the type of big (6-foot-4, 243 pounds), fast LB whom Parcells favors on the outside. Torbor is a little more perplexing because he was only a spot starter with the Giants, though he should keep the Dolphins' feet warm on special teams.

The 24-year-old Starks, on the other hand, may turn out to be a really nice pair of dress socks. Having played both defensive end and nose tackle in the Titans' 3-4 scheme, the 6-3, 312-pounder may well turn out to be the best of this year's free-agent bunch.

Still, he's no Red Ryder air rifle.

In addition to their signings, the Dolphins added another defensive tackle, Jason Ferguson, via a trade with Dallas. After playing only one game and making only one tackle in 2007, maybe the best thing you can say about Ferguson is that at least he's not awaiting prosecution on felony assault charges in Michigan.

But do not despair, Miami fans. Socks will be around long after the carbine action would have broken off, the compass had fallen out of the stock, and the thing that tells time no longer told time. Socks may not be sexy, but they're functional. Of course, it's not so easy to explain away Aunt Clara's jammies. But socks are a solid, practical gift. You should sit down right away and send Santa Parcells and his jolly elves a thank-you note for all of the nice socks they brought you.

Besides, you can always hold out hope that the air rifle is hiding behind the desk on April 26.

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