For the first time since 2007, Bill Parcells will not be a part of the Dolphins draft war room.It’s no secret the Miami Dolphins draft strategy the past few years has revolved around the ever famous double-down approach.It consists of drafting two players for the same position during the same draft, fostering competition among rookies.Placing rookies in situations to succeed takes more time and effort this teaches them at the same that it helps coaches know who’s ready to contribute right away and who’s not by comparison.
In most cases, the end result has been favorable, with the lower draft pick outplaying his fellow rookie. For example, defensive end Kendall Langford starting over Phillip Merling, running back Jalen Parmalee was cut in favor of Lex Hillard, guard Donald Thomas outplaying Shawn Murphy, all drafted in 2008. In 2009, this approach led to Vontae Davis competing against Sean Smith as cornerbacks for playing time.This same year third round wide receiver Patrick Turner and fourth round Brian Hartline competed for the same position, ultimately leading to the release of Turner and the emergence of Hartline as a valuable asset.
The question remains: How will this approach change as a result of the “new” Jeff Ireland regime? Although criticized by the fan base and media in Miami, Dolphins General Manager has proved to be a good talent evaluator. He has been credited for finding undrafted free agent gems like Cameron Wake, Davone Bess and Dan Carpenter. With Ireland in charge, the Phins may be in a transitional year with regards to how they approach personnel needs.
During his tenure in Miami, Bill Parcells used his “formula” to build a team from the inside-out. As he “shopped for some of the groceries,” he believed that bigger is better. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, his vision may have been proved obsolete in recent years. Coaches and General Managers from the Parcells tree of management in Dallas, New England, Kansas City and New Orleans evolved their teams to be faster and more athletic at skills positions. One could say that Parcells’ Dolphins proved to be a tough, physical team on the field. However, last season his Dolphins were often beat for having a slow, time consuming offense that consistently failed to move the ball in long drives enough to score. Similarly, their defense allowed big yardage, game changing plays from more athletic opposing teams.
Bigger is better is not necessarily the way Jeff Ireland sees his team. He has acknowledged the Dolphins deficiencies and seems to have an idea of the teams needs. One of his team’s weakness lies within the interior offensive line where a more athletic pulling guard could make the difference. Another weakness lies in the backfield where a fast, good receiving running back or halfback is needed to complement/replace either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams. Finally, the team needs speed at the tight-end and wide receiver positions to fulfill the “New England” type offense new Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll wants to implement.
To further complicate matters, Ireland must deal with an Owner and Head Coach who don’t seem to be on the same page. Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has been quoted publicly to state he wants an aggressive, creative offense that is “not playing just to keep it close.” Meanwhile, Sparano has told reporters at the owners meeting in Indianapolis, “We’re going to continue to run the football because that’s my nature. It might not be popular with everybody.” For the betterment of the Miami Dolphins, Ireland must become the single voice and the franchise philosophy leader.
As for the 2011 NFL Draft, expect the Dolphins to continue the double-down approach under Ireland by trading multiple times to acquire more picks fostering team building from the inside-out. It’s likely they will draft faster more skilled players in the later rounds to increase team speed and their playmaking ability.
You might be asking by now, “What about the Quarterback situation?”
Well, that’s another story for another time.