It's that time of the week again - the time of week where we really start talking about Buffalo's upcoming opponent. Who better to discuss the Dolphins with than Matty I from The Phinsider? Matty has been kind enough to grace us with his presence many, many times before today, so we've all seen just how knowledgeable he is in regards to his Dolphins.
Feel free to not show Mr. Phinsider any mercy, however - Miami does, in fact, still lead the all-time series between these two teams by 16 games (49-33-1). So his team may be 0-12, but there's no sympathy from us. Respect, absolutely; sympathy, absolutely not.
Nonetheless, we're glad to have him talk about the recent failings of his Dolphins, and about their matchup with our Bills in just about 51 hours' time. Without further ado, here's Matty's responses to my questions (which appear in bold):
The switch has been made, for better or for worse. What's your quick take on John Beck's play thus far?
TP: First and foremost, the switch is certainly for the better when looking at the long-term success of this franchise. And despite his struggles last week, I've been pretty satisfied with John's play so far. He's played 2 games in absolutely terrible conditions in the most hostile of environments and didn't play too bad. He's shown that he has the arm strength to succeed at this level and his underneath accuracy has been impressive. But what has really impressed me about John this year is his poise in the pocket and quick release. He's the kind of quarterback who will hang in the pocket as long as he can and deliver an accurate ball even when he's under fire and knows he's going to take a shot. And it's those kinds of things that I look for when trying to evaluate a rookie quarterback. Now does he need to improve in certain areas? Of course. And seeing how he bounces back from last week's performance will tell me a lot about his mental toughness. But I'm not ready to say he is or isn't the QB of the future for this team right now, nor will I be able to say that once this season is over. Seven starts with a terrible team that lacks any true #1 receiver and lacks a running game is simply not enough to form any strong opinion one way or the other.
I know he's out, but I have to ask: yay or nay to Ricky Williams? Would he have made an impact this year? Is he a Dolphin next year, factoring in Cam Cameron's willingness to let him join the team so quickly?
TP: Well I do think he would have made some kind of impact if he was still around this year. Considering the Dolphins are down to possibly having to start a running back who wasn't even on the team at the start of the season, it's crazy not to think Ricky wouldn't have made some impact. After all, he is Ricky Williams and that name alone means defenses can't simply forget all about Miami's running game. But the only 6 carries of the year for Ricky were in terrible conditions where even Willie Parker looked like a bad running back. So I don't put much stock into his 15 yards rushing that game. On one run, in fact, Ricky showed that old explosiveness and power that we were used to seeing back in his "glory days."
Now next year is going to be an interesting case. For one, it's no guarantee Cam Cameron is still coaching this team. And if he isn't, then all bets are off on what the future holds for Ricky. If Cam is back, though, I'd bet that Williams will at least be with this team into training camp and the preseason. It's obviously going to be impossible now to try and trade him and it doesn't make any sense to just cut him when he'd make a very low risk, high reward type of backup to Ronnie Brown, who by the way is coming back from an ACL team (so he's an unknown as well in terms of what we can expect). So if I had to guess right now, I'd say Ricky is a Miami Dolphin in 2008.
Keith Traylor called this Dolphins team the worst he's ever played for. Is there a silver lining in this storm cloud of a season?
TP: Of course there is a silver lining. In this league, there's always something to look forward to. For the Dolphins, despite this dreadful season they are going through, they are allowing John Beck a chance to gain some valuable experience. Because of the season ending injuries to 4 different safeties, we are getting a chance to see if Jason Allen will ever be able to contribute. Because of Zach Thomas' injury, we are able to evaluate if Channing Crowder will be the guy who takes over that middle linebacker spot once Zach calls it quits. Ted Ginn Jr. has shown some great flashes and thanks to the trade of Chris Chambers, Teddy is really getting a chance to evolve as a receiver and is growing each week in that regard. And rookie Samson Satele has shown that he has what it takes to be a very good/great center in this league, starting since day one and really playing well.
Of course, the other benefit to sucking this bad is the #1 overall pick. That's the most exciting silver lining there is for a team like the Dolphins. And that's not because of who they can select with the pick. But rather, it's the potential trade the Dolphins could work out for a team who wants the #1 pick badly. That could mean an additional 1st round picks, 2nd round picks, or 2009 draft picks. And that's really how to rebuild a team that is this inept. Get as many good players as you can in the draft.
Most coaches get a pass in their first year on the job. If the Dolphins go 0-16, does Cam Cameron deserve that pass? Even if Miami does win a game, do you want him back next season?
TP: This has been a hot topic on my site and most other Dolphin-related sites. And you'll find that most Dolphin fans fall into one of two categories: the "one more year" group and the "fire Cam" group. I, personally, still do not know what Miami should do. There's still a quarter of the season remaining, so anything could happen. And to put the blame on Cam if this team does go 0-16 isn't really fair, either. You need to consider the injuries and the overall lack of talent on this team when trying to figure out how a team could go 0-16. But that also doesn't mean Cam doesn't deserve some of the blame. In my opinion, there's no way this team is that bad enough to go winless.
So do I want him back? Here's what I'll say right now. The only way I do not want him back is if the Dolphins know they can get a proven head coach. That means it would have to be somebody like Bill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer. No retread coaches. No college coaches. No coordinators. If you can't get that proven, successful NFL head coach, then you keep Cameron and hope that the stability in having the same coach/philosophy/system brings more success in 2008 than it did in 2007. But just making a change for the sake of change is a bad idea. There has to be a top NFL coach ready to sign on the dotted line in order for the Dolphins to fire Cam.
What, in your very knowledgeable opinion, has been the biggest factor in Miami losing so many close games? Is it youth, not knowing how to win, bad luck, a combination of those, or something else?
TP: It's probably a combination of many things. Youth and inexperience, especially at the quarterback position, has played a key role in losing 6 games by 3 points. Bad luck has certainly played a big role as well. In the loss to the Texans, the Kris Brown made 3 field goals of 54 yards or over, including a 57-yarder with no time left to win the game for Houston. The defense not making critical stops has also proven very costly in those 3 point losses. And that's especially true for the first three losses by 3 points, where the Dolphins allowed the opposing offense to convert on 54% of their third downs. The inability to stop the run has also proven to be an absolute killer. And I can't forget coaching. Cam is a rookie head coach and he's made some rookie head coaching mistakes. He's misused timeouts, made bad decisions on when to kick a FG, when to punt, and when to go for it. Some of his offensive play calling has been suspect. And when you combine all of that mess, you come away with an 0-12 record with half of those games being by just 3 points.
Once again, we'd like to thank Matty I for stopping by to discuss his Dolphins. For continued excellent coverage of the Fish, be sure to stop by The Phinsider for coverage leading up to the game.