Report Card Grades for Every Miami Dolphins Free Agent Acquisition so Far
Entering training camp, the Miami Dolphins had more than 10 free-agent signees on their roster.
Today, only three of those signings are on the active roster.
Jeff Ireland doesn't deserve all of the harsh criticism thrown his way, but this is indicative of his offseason failures.
But, of course, if Ryan Tannehill succeeds, then all will be forgotten.
Anyway, the Dolphins—after adding Anthony Armstrong and R.J. Stanford just prior to the start of the regular season—now have five free-agent signings on the active roster. Now that one fourth of the 2012 season is in the books, it's time to check in and see how these acquisitions are faring.
The Dolphins delegated Marcus Thigpen solely to return duties upon the outset of the regular season.
So far, he has been both brilliant and boneheaded.
In Week 1, Thigpen sliced through the Texans' punt coverage unit en route to a 73-yard return touchdown—the Dolphins' first since 2007. By the end of Week 3, he was averaging 25.4 yards per kickoff return, which ranked him 10th amongst players who returned more than five kickoffs.
And, his 17.7 yards-per-punt return average ranked him first amongst players who returned more than five punt returns.
Thigpen took a step back against the Cardinals on Sunday, however. He returned only one punt for zero yards and used some very questionable judgement when fielding others—which ultimately buried the Dolphins deeper into their own territory.
Overall, though, Thigpen is a pleasant surprise, and he's the best return man in recent franchise history.
Last year, Jorvorskie "J-Train" Lane was a 304-pound furniture truck driver.
Now, he's a 258-pound NFL fullback.
And Lane isn't just any fullback—he's emerging as one of the best in the league.
After four weeks, Lane grades as Pro Football Focus' 11th-ranked fullback. He is largely responsible for Reggie Bush's rampant success, and he's even contributing on offense, recording a pair of goal-line touchdowns and two receptions for 25 yards.
Desperate for some help at wide receiver, the Dolphins claimed Anthony Armstrong off waivers just prior to Week 1.
Although Armstrong's two-year stint with the Redskins was mostly uneventful, he immediately stepped into a prominent role in the Dolphins offense. He couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to establish himself as a viable weapon, but instead, he has been a ghost.
Through three games, Armstrong has a measly three receptions.
In Miami's Week 3 loss to the Jets, he dropped three passes and caught only two of the six passes thrown his way.
Armstrong is yet to prove that he's anything more than a substandard backup wide receiver.
The Dolphins cut Legedu Naanee on Tuesday, according to Adam H. Beasley of The Miami Herald, but let's quickly recap just how disastrous his brief tenure was.
In four games, Naanee registered 121 snaps. He was targeted five times and caught one pass. On his first target of the season, he let Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph undercut him and intercept the pass. On his fifth and final target, he reeled in a pass and then promptly fumbled the ball.
Naanee will go down in Dolphins' infamy as a monumental disappointment.
Artis Hicks held down the starting right guard spot from the outset of training camp well into the preseason, but an untimely neck injury sent him to injured reserve.
Miami's coaching staff appeared to view Hicks as a viable starting offensive guard; however, his injury may have been a blessing in disguise.
When Hicks went down, the Dolphins gave John Jerry one last chance to redeem himself, and he has. Granted, Jerry hasn't been spectacular by any means, he is becoming a steady and reliable presence on the offensive line.
In fact, Pro Football Focus ranks him 36th amongst NFL offensive guards, which is far greater than anybody could have conceived before the regular season.
The Dolphins inked Richard Marshall to a three-year, $15 million deal back in March, which has proven to be a mistake, thus far.
After four games, Marshall ranks 85th amongst cornerbacks (per Pro Football Focus). He has been thrown at 23 times and yielded 14 receptions, including a 46-yard touchdown to Andre Roberts on Sunday and a 37-yard reception to Santonio Holmes in overtime of Week 3, which set up the Jets' game-winning field goal.
Marshall was outstanding against the run last season but has been only pedestrian against it this year, racking up 18 total tackles.
Miami signed Marshall to play nickelback, but he has been given a greater role due to Vontae Davis' departure. He deserves some time to adjust to this increased role and settle into this new setting, but so far, things are not going well.
The Dolphins scooped safety R.J. Stanford off the waiver one week before the regular season began.
So far, he has been delegated solely to special teams duties.
In fact, he's yet to play a single snap on defense.
Miami only appears to view Stanford as a special teams asset, but he has filled that role rather well. Through three games, he has registered 2.5 tackles—good, but not great.
Although Stanford won't contribute on defense, that's not what he's in Miami to do. He's here to bolster special teams coverage units, and that's exactly what he has done.