NFL Lockout: 7 Things the Miami Dolphins Should Do as Soon as the Lockout Ends
The NFL lockout is coming to an end soon, marking the beginning of the brief 2011 offseason. Every team will be making a lot of moves in a very short amount of time as they scramble to set rosters, run through training camp and prepare for the preseason.
These seven moves should be priorities for the Miami Dolphins when the collective bargaining agreement is finally completed.
Focus on the Offense
This doesn't need to be said but I'll say it anyway: Miami's offense was terrible last year. The offensive line, running game and receiving corps should all be improved in 2011.
The offensive line is gaining the stability and consistency it lacked all season long. G Nate Garner is returning from injury and first-round pick Mike Pouncey will be a starter in Week 1. The better protection and run blocking will open up the offense, for both Henne and the running backs.
Miami drafted WR Edmond Gates in the fourth round in this year's draft. He's not a huge name or a huge steal, but Gates is a fast receiver who can stretch opposing defenses. The Dolphins already have Brandon Marshall's size and Davonne Bess' ability to find holes in the defense. With this small addition to the receivers, Miami might have found the perfect complement to Bess and Marshall.
Break Up with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams
I've always liked Ronnie Brown, but he really hasn't produced like a No. 2 pick should.
Ricky has played well since coming back from retirement, helping fans to forget his quitting on the team back in 2004.
I'm appreciative of the service these two runners have given Miami. But it's time to move on.
Williams criticized the team after the Week 17 loss to New England last year and Brown is looking to play for an established Super Bowl contender. Miami needs to move on with rookie Daniel Thomas, and acquire a quick second option in free agency.
Thank you, Ricky and Ronnie, and good luck.
Sign Reggie Bush
I hope so.
Bush was overhyped coming out of college, and has failed to produce as a No. 1 back in the NFL, but I think he and Daniel Thomas would make a great one-two punch. Bush would bring a star name and good speed to the Dolphins offense, the perfect complement to Thomas' power-rushing abilities.
Trust Chad Henne
Henne was a disappointment last year, but he needs to know that the Dolphins believe in him.
Many fans have been calling for him to be benched or traded, but due to the extremely short 2011 offseason, Henne is the best quarterback option for Miami. Though he'll be working under a new offensive coordinator, his familiarity with the team and head coach Tony Sparano will help Henne over another quarterback.
I'm optimistic Henne will improve this year; he certainly has the tools to do so.
Acquire a Quarterback
The Dolphins only have two quarterbacks on the roster, Henne and Tom Brandstater; they need at least one more to meet minimum roster requirements.
But beyond meeting requirements, Miami needs a new QB to challenge Henne. There are some quality quarterbacks on the market but I don't expect the Dolphins to pay the money it would take to acquire Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton or Carson Palmer.
Vince Young, Donavan McNabb, Tarvaris Jackson and other cheap options could be good choices for Miami.
Some legitimate competition will be good for Henne.
Prepare for a Great Defensive Year
You'll notice the previous slides haven't had anything to do with the defensive side of the ball. That's because this defense doesn't need any offseason additions.
This defense was very good last year, ranked sixth overall. This year the Dolphins bring back all the components of last year, plus 2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick, who missed his rookie season due to injury.
The front seven is deep, solid and reliable. Cameron Wake is a star pass-rusher and Paul Soliai fills up the middle of the 3-4 defense. Miami's offense struggled a lot last year, and the D kept the team in games.
The secondary gave up some big plays and dropped a lot of interceptions. With experience, this defensive unit will be one of the best in the league.
Cut Tony Sparano Some Slack
The front office embarrassed the entire franchise last January after chasing Jim Harbaugh with Sparano still at head coach. Once Harbaugh signed with San Fransisco, Miami attempted to reassure Sparano they believe in him with a contract extension.
Fans and players alike have been disappointed in the coach's results the past two years, as the Dolphins have finished with two consecutive 7-9 records. Expectations have been high for Sparano, who led the team to an 11-5 record in 2008, a 10-game turnaround from the previous year.
Sparano is a good coach. His methods may not be popular with all the players or fans, but he knows football. He, like Henne, needs the Dolphins to trust him. The failed courtship of Harbaugh hurt Sparano's credibility with his team. He needs trust from the front office, the players and the fans. He will improve this team.