The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack


With the season upon us, it looks like Fins’ cast-off Jason Taylor may have the last laugh after all is said and done. Although the Czarcells team believed last April that this year’s roster was going to be too strong to waste a spot on J.T., the current roster leaves one with a number of question marks.

Most Dolfans didn’t see this coming, but notwithstanding the free agency signings of Brandon Marshall and Karlos Dansby, the Fins face the 2010 season with a bunch of roster woes which have Dolfans singing the blues. And those blues go well beyond the loss of sentimental favorite, Jason Taylor, who might end up being happy the Fins were once again unwilling to let him play out his career in orange and aqua.

The defensive back problems which the Fins faced last season only got worse with Will Allen being lost for the season once again (this time before the season even began) and Sean Smith coming off a rather poor performance in the preseason. Smith has been having such a bad time of it that he lost his starting job to much-maligned Jason Allen. That is pretty frightening in and of itself.

To make matters worse, safety Chris Clemons’ performance in camp does not suggest that he has yet to significantly improve his level of play over his performance as a rookie last season. The off-season has come and gone with no significant additions to an inferior defensive backfield. The desperation move to acquire journeyman Benny Sapp in a trade for Greg Camarillo appears to be just that, a desperation move, and no one can seriously argue that he will be a significant upgrade to their troubled defensive backfield. To make matters worse, reports are that Vontae Davis is currently hobbling with an injury. Greg Camarillo must be giddy at the thought of how many Brett Favre passes he will catch in Week 2 when the Fins travel to play the Vikings.

Speaking of desperation moves, how about the signing of two offensive linemen this week, neither of whom has ever played a down in a game that counted and both of whom were undrafted free agents. Joe Reitz was a two-year member of the practice squad for the Ravens; Jeremy Parnell has one year of experience riding the bench for the Saints. It is more than somewhat scary that days before the start of the season these two novices were believed to be more worthy of roster spots than any of the bodies that had labored through the summer in Davie. Tells you what Jeff Ireland thinks of the bottom tenth of the roster. But wait, there’s more. The day after Joe Reitz was signed, he was waived to make room for running back Clifton Smith, another undrafted player, who was presumably signed for his ability to return kicks.

And don’t forget how heavily the Fins are counting on rookies Jared Odrick and Koa Misi on defense. Speaking of which, even if they both work out, the Fins still have to hope that Randy Starks plays well (and stays healthy) at nose tackle where there is an obvious lack of depth. Starks was forced to move from end to tackle because Jason Ferguson got suspended (and then retired) and first-round pick Jared Odrick was regarded more as an end than a tackle.

Then there’s the tight end position to cause Dolfans to lose more sleep. When Joey Haynos was cut a few weeks ago, it looked like the Fins were nevertheless set with the tandem of Anthony Fasano and David Martin. But now David Martin has been cut leaving them with only Fasano and John Nalbone (a player not deemed good enough to suit up once last year) on the roster, this from a team that typically shows a lot of double tight end formations. Looks like someone else will be shuffled in soon, but who knows.

Sparano has also been shuffling centers Jake Grove and Joe Berger throughout training camp, apparently not really satisfied with either, but understanding that one of them will have to be selected to start against Buffalo on September 12. Maybe the countdown clock Sparano had installed in Dolphins’ Camp was really for himself . . . so he’d know how much time he had left to decide between these two!

The Fins are doing so much shuffling lately that perhaps they should be playing cards instead of football. Even Czarcells has become part of the shuffling with the sudden announcement that he is giving up the personnel reins to Jeff Ireland. And who knows what move will be next.

It has all been rather dizzying lately and as the team gets ready for the season opener in Buffalo this weekend, it remains rather unsettling. Considering the roster deficiencies this team has at this juncture, even the Buffalo game is anything but a sure bet.  And behind the Bills, looms the Vikings, Jets and Patriots, in that sobering order.  This team could easily go 0-4 if they don’t get their act together against the Bills.

With each passing day bringing more shuffling of a roster having a number of obvious holes, last year’s 7-9 finish is beginning to look better and better, especially in a division which includes the perennially strong Patriots and the surging Jets. And as the chorus of Dolfans singing the blues grows ever louder, it looks more and more like Jason Taylor may have the last laugh after all.

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