As practice nears, Dolphins’ story far from over
Wow. It’s been an eventful offseason for the Miami Dolphins.
HBO’s series “Hard Knocks” will document some of the offseason tumult when it airs next month. But to tell the whole story they’d have to turn the cameras on themselves. The decision to allow “Hard Knocks” to film the team during training camp is part of what’s made things interesting since January.
So, to get you ready for the opening practice, which is July 26, let’s quickly review what’s gone on since the Dolphins finished 6-10 to post their third consecutive losing season:
— Miami hired Joe Philbin, the former Green Bay offensive coordinator, for his first head coaching job. He replaces Tony Sparano, who is now the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator. Some say it’s Sparano, not Philbin, who is in a better place.
— General Manager Jeff Ireland kept his job despite a small fan uprising outside the team headquarters (a few dozen people showed up). The unrest caused a ripple nationally, but it might as well have been a tidal wave to owner Steve Ross. He telephoned a couple of the protesters.
— Wide receiver Brandon Marshall was traded. This was unexpected. The trade came days after a nightclub incident in which Marshall might well have been innocent. But his culpability wasn’t the point. The Dolphins were tired of Marshall’s diva wide receiver antics and shipped their Pro Bowl selection to Chicago for a pair of third-round picks.
— Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was signed. This was also unexpected. If you thought the Dolphins were sick of diva wide receivers, you were wrong. They were sick of a particular diva wide receiver.
— Philbin said the team will switch to a 4-3 defense, and he wants to be up-tempo in everything, from breaking the huddle and getting to the line of scrimmage to the pace of practice.
— Linebacker Jason Taylor retired and strong safety Yeremiah Bell was released. Bell signed with the Jets, Miami’s most bitter rival. Somehow, that’ll end up biting the Dolphins on the butt, watch and see. By the way, among Taylor, Bell and Marshall the Dolphins lost most of their Pro Bowl experience. Left tackle Jake Long, running back Reggie Bush and Ochocinco comprise the bulk of the remaining Pro Bowl talent.
— “Hard Knocks” inquired, and Miami was all too happy to allow them to film the team during training camp. The Dolphins need the publicity, and this should help. You can be assured “Hard Knocks” won’t reveal anything damaging (they never have in the past). The omnipresent cameras could be a minor distraction, but overall this will be a positive.
— It was reported the Dolphins’ attendance projections are so low they’ll likely use tarps to cover sections of the upper balcony. That prevents the indignity of thousands of empty seats being shown on TV. Yikes.
— Miami finally drafted a quarterback — Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill — in the first round, the first time that’s happened since (let’s all say it together) the Dolphins drafted Dan Marino in 1983. The best thing is although Tannehill was taken with the No. 8 pick, there’s no pressure on him to start. Veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard are favored to win the No. 1 job.
— Bush maintained a low profile overall, despite co-hosting “Live with Kelly” and raising eyebrows worldwide with a controversial tweet after the UEFA Champions League soccer final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich. We won’t repeat the tweet but you could probably find it with minimal digging.
— The Miami Heat won NBA title. Normally, that wouldn’t mean much to the Dolphins. But it’s a big blow to the Dolphins’ local standing. The Miami Marlins have a new name, a new stadium and a colorful new manager (Ozzie Guillen). The Florida Panthers made the NHL playoffs for the first time in a decade and went seven games in their opening-round playoff series. And the Heat, led by the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, are arguably the most popular team in America. Oh, yeah, and James might be the most popular athlete in America.
The Dolphins? They started last season 0-7, and now they have three consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the 1960s.
If you thought the last few months were interesting, wait until we get another six months down the road.