|Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland: ‘We have to close the gap’ with the Patriots||02.21.13 at 12:01 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots have been in pretty firm control of the AFC East for the last decade or so — New England has won nine of the last 10 division titles, with the only break coming in 2008 when the Dolphins finished first.
But heading into the 2013 season, the team who has the best chance to challenge the Patriots for the division title appears to be Miami. The Dolphins surprised several people with a strong finish — including wins in two of their last three games — on the way to a 7-9 finish and second place behind New England. That, combined with the fact they are more than $40 million under the cap, gives Miami GM Jeff Ireland hope that the Dolphins can close the gap in the not-too-distant future.
“There’s a gap,” Ireland acknowledged Thursday morning at the scouting combine. “Certainly, [the Patriots have] won the division quite a bit. We have to close that gap. I think it’s a five-game gap, right now, in wins and losses. That’s what the gap is. We have to close that gap, and we plan to do our best job and put our best foot forward and getting that done this offseason. Whether we can completely close the gap … we have to get back on the field and close the gap on the field. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to talk about it right now.”
Part of the reason for the gap between the Patriots and the rest of the division is because of the quarterback — no matter the supporting cast, Tom Brady has been able to consistently give New England enough separation between the Patriots and the rest of the division. In Miami, Ireland expressed optimism that Ryan Tannehill — who just finished his rookie year — is trending in the right direction.
“As I’ve said before, Ryan has 35 or 36 games under his belt as a starting quarterback combined, from a college and pro career. You’d normally like to have 35 games under your belt as a graduating senior,” Ireland said of Tannehill, who ended his first season with 3,294 passing yards, a 58 percent completion rate, 12 touchdowns and 13 picks.
“I still think there’s a bunch of upside left in Ryan’s potential. I like what I see so far. I love intangible makeup. I love his athletic skill set. We have a long way to go — he knows that. But he can get a lot better. I’m confident in that.”
|Has former Patriots assistant Brian Daboll already gotten the Dolphins into trouble?||03.01.11 at 4:20 pm ET|
Interesting goings on down in Miami — Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne talked to the media about new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and sounded excited about the new direction that they plan on taking down in Miami. Daboll, a former Patriots assistant, is installing a new system with the Dolphins, one that Henne describes as “similar to what I was used to at Michigan. It’s a New England offense — New England with a little Jets in it. It’s a good offense for a quarterback.”
No shock there, as Daboll made his bones as an assistant under Bill Belichick in New England. Daboll served as the Patriots’ defensive coaching assistant from 2000 to 2001, and then was the wide receivers’ coach from 2002 until 2006. (He was one of the assistants who left with Eric Mangini, becoming the Jets’ quarterbacks coach in 2007 and 2008, and later, serving as Mangini’s offensive coordinator with the Browns in 2009 and 2010.)
However, the voluntary meetings between Henne and Daboll — get-togethers that are apparently designed to have Henne help install the offense with the other Dolphins in case of a lockout — appear to be in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, as interpreted by a recent NFL memo to each team that said players are not to meet with coaches and receive playbooks during this time in the offseason. Henne’s declaration could put Miami coach Tony Sparano in jeopardy of an NFL fine. (UPDATE: It appears that the Dolphins will not be punished, according to Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald.)
Of course, many former New England players and executives probably aren’t surprised that something like this has happened to Daboll. When Daboll was initially hired by Miami, former Patriots fullback Heath Evans took a shot at the hiring, saying, “The Dolphins probably just got worse. … When he was in New England, he was never a guy that I would have considered the brains of the operation.” And at the NFL scouting combine over the weekend, former Patriots’ GM Scott Pioli was asked by Miami reporters what his memories of Daboll were when they were together in New England.
“I remember that [Daboll] was a part of a great deal of success there,” Pioli said, simply. Whoa.
For their part, the Dolphins are backing Daboll. This past weekend at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, GM Jeff Ireland said Daboll’s track record was what sold him on Miami.
“His history with quarterbacks, his history being a defensive coach and offensive coach. Coach Sparano and myself were really impressed with the way he put a plan together for our offensive players on the football team,” Ireland said. “I wasn’t necessarily looking at what his production was with Cleveland. I know there were some things there that were different, but we’ve got different personnel and the way he presented his play with us with our personnel was very impressive.”
In addition, quarterback Chad Pennington — who played for Daboll in New York and was in Miami the last three seasons in Miami — said Daboll was a tremendous teacher.
“A lot of the coverage knowledge that I have and understanding defenses comes from Brian,” Pennington recently told the Palm Beach Post. “The year I spent with him, I just learned so much about how defenses attack offenses and all of the nuances of coverage that I didn’t understand before.”
|Jeff Ireland says Chad Henne is starting QB, leaves open possibility of Jeremy Shockey||02.24.11 at 11:01 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland took the podium Thursday morning to discuss the state of his team and the coming draft. Though Ireland repeatedly prefaced answers by saying he wouldn’t reveal his strategy, he did have some interesting things to say.
Like the Bills, the Dolphins are a team with a starting quarterback but who might benefit from an upgrade.
“Right now our starter is Chad Henne,” Ireland said, though he noted that the Dolphins “don’t have a lot of depth” at quarterback. The GM deemed quarterback “obviously a position that we’re going to look hard at.”
- Ireland expressed interest in potentially getting a tight end with some speed. He said there have not been talks with Jeremy Shockey, who was recently released by the Saints, but he left the door open.
“I’m a guy that’s going to look at every acorn that falls off a tree,” Ireland said. “[Shockey] is another one, so I’m going to do that.”
- He wouldn’t get into specifics regarding offensive linemen, but said the team “had some issues there this year and certainly have to fine-tune some stuff.”
Miami finished third in the AFC East last season with a 7-9 record.
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