AFC East: Dave DeGuglielmo

In case you missed it (hopefully, you had better things to do), the Pro Bowl "draft" was conducted Wednesday night in Hawaii. As you know, in a desperate effort to maintain a game no one cares about, the NFL changed the format, eliminating AFC vs. NFC and instituting a fantasy-style draft.

Mangold
Cromartie
Yawn.

Antonio Cromartie and Nick Mangold landed on the same team for Sunday's Pro Bowl in Hawaii -- Team Rice, in case you're wondering. Offensive linemen weren't part of the actual draft, so Mangold was spared a lengthy stay in the green room, which wasn't a room at all. It was an outdoor tent on the grounds of a swanky resort.

As it turned out, Cromartie lasted until the 11th round, four rounds after former teammate Darrelle Revis was picked. At least Cromartie maintained a sense of humor, tweeting, "All I know is 4 Corners have gone n front of me right now. Feels like 06 draft all over again. Dieon (sic) n Jerry Rice r on something lol."

Elsewhere

In a far more interesting development Wednesday, former Jets offensive-line coach Dave DeGuglielmo was hired by the New England Patriots to replace Dante Scarnecchia, who is retiring after 30 years with the franchise. DeGuglielmo was fired by the Jets after one season, 2012.

"Guge," as they call him, actually did a decent job as a coach, but his abrasive personality chafed people in the organization. He also created an adversarial relationship with the media; he spoke with reporters only three times, I think.

He made headlines when he professed his belief in embattled right tackle Wayne Hunter, declaring before the season that "until they ship him out of this building or until they shoot me dead in my office, that son-of-a-gun is going to be the starting right tackle."

Hunter was traded before the season. There was no bloodshed in Guge's office.

In training camp, Guge threatened to spit tobacco juice on reporters if they didn't take a step back during a crowded interview session. During the season, he engaged in a combative session with reporters, once again creating a headline. He basically accused the front office of forcing the coaches to play Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse in a platoon at left guard, making it clear he wasn't happy with the arrangement.

DeGuglielmo sat out the 2013 season and was hired a week ago by Maryland, but he bailed when Bill Belichick came calling. Guge is a Boston native, so he probably views it as a dream job.

Memo to reporters in Boston: Check on Hunter's availability and watch your shoes if Guge is chewing tobacco during an interview.

AFC East links: Revis sings Tebow's praises

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
9:10
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Buffalo Bills

Bills general manager Buddy Nix assured Ryan Fitzpatrick that he would be the team's starter ahead of the signing of Vince Young, the quarterback told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday.

Fourth-round draft selection Nigel Bradham relishes his role on special teams.

Miami Dolphins

Ovie Mughelli, a two-time Pro Bowl fullback who was a salary-cap casualty in Atlanta this offseason, is in South Florida for a Thursday workout with the Dolphins. It might be a signal, Brian Biggane writes, that the team is worried about Jerome Messam, who underwent his second knee surgery in five months this week.

Former Dolphins running back Ricky Williams shared his views on concussions with ESPN's Dan Le Batard.

New England Patriots

The Patriots signed receiver Jeremy Ebert, their seventh-round draft pick from Northwestern.

According to a Forbes report, Bill Belichick is the highest-paid coach in sports.

New York Jets

Darrelle Revis led a chorus of Jets praising new addition Tim Tebow, the New York Daily News reports. "He's a born leader," Revis said. "... It's the passion within ... of him wanting to be a leader, wanting to win. You see it in him all the time... eating lunch. Walking down the hallway you see it. He's just one of those guys."

Offensive tackle Wayne Hunter, coming off a tough 2011, received praise from new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. "This guy is the starting right tackle," DeGuglielmo told ESPNNewYork.com. "Until they tell me otherwise, until they ship him out of this building or until they shoot me dead in my office, that sonofagun is going to be the starting right tackle."
Here are the latest happenings Tuesday evening in the AFC East:
  • Miami Dolphins defensive tackle and pending free agent Paul Soliai was added to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.
  • The New York Jets hired former Dolphins offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo.
  • New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks about the dynamic of offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien working with future offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
  • The Buffalo Bills look back at tight end Scott Chandler's best game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Here is a recap of this week's AFC East chat, covering a variety of topics.

Dolphins are malcontents on interior O-line

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
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There's a commonly held belief the Miami Dolphins boast one of the NFL's best offensive lines.

They have one of the game's best left tackles in Jake Long. Right tackle Vernon Carey is effective.

But all the clutter between those bookends makes me wonder how the Dolphins can be considered elite. In the three years since Bill Parcells assumed control of football operations and hired offensive-line coach Tony Sparano to run the show, the Dolphins have turned over their interior with alarming frequency.

The Dolphins on Thursday released center Jake Grove. The Dolphins identified him as a critical upgrade last year and signed him to a four-year, $29 million contract.

Now Grove is gone, just like their big free-agent signing from 2008, left guard Justin Smiley. The Dolphins signed Smiley for five years and $25 million. He lasted two seasons.

They'll use their third center over the past three opening days and have constantly changed guards.

No other unit in football depends on chemistry as much as an offensive line, but the Dolphins have been malcontents with their centers and guards.

Let's take a look at O-line personnel the Dolphins have rototilled since Parcells, Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland came aboard with emphasis on starters.

Assistant coach

Hired offensive line coach Mike Maser in January 2008, fired him in January 2009.

Hired offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo in January 2009.

Left guard

Smiley started 12 games in 2008, 12 games in 2009 (released).

Andy Alleman started five games, including postseason, in 2008 (traded).

Nate Garner started four games in 2009 (injured reserve).

Richie Incognito projected 2010 starter.

Center

Samson Satele started 16 games in 2008 (traded).

Al Johnson was 2008 backup (released).

Grove started 10 games in 2009 (released).

Joe Berger started six games in 2009, projected 2010 starter.

Right guard

Donald Thomas opened 2008 season with job, started 12 games in 2009 (released).

Ikechuku Ndukwe started 15 games in 2008 (traded).

Garner started four games in 2009 (injured reserve).

John Jerry projected 2010 starter.

Others

Guard Shawn Murphy, 2008 fourth-round draft pick deactivated all 22 games (released).

Center/guard Steve McKinney played zero games in 2008 (released).

Guard Evan Mathis played seven games in 2008 (released).

Guard Matt McChesney played one game in 2008 (injured reserve/released).

Guard Andrew Hartline played two games in 2009 (released, practice squad).

Guard Cory Procter signed, released last week and re-signed Thursday.

Tackle/guard Pat McQuistan acquired last week in a trade.

Camp Confidential: Dolphins still eager to prove

August, 16, 2009
8/16/09
11:30
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  Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
  Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano wants his team to stay hungry.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

DAVIE, Fla. -- As long as Tom Brady stays healthy and Bill Belichick is in charge, the New England Patriots will be considered a Super Bowl contender.

Stands to reason they also are prohibitive favorites to take the AFC East crown.

Camp Confidential: AFC East
Bills: Thurs., July 30
Jets: Sat., Aug. 1
Patriots: Wed., Aug. 5
Dolphins: Sun., Aug. 16
Training camp index
Understandably, some of the Miami Dolphins are upset. Outside linebacker Joey Porter publicly expressed indignation that the defending division champs are being disregarded. Inside linebacker Channing Crowder got into a sniping match with New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, who declared his team's objective was to win it all.

But don't expect Dolphins coach Tony Sparano to cause a ruckus over a perceived oversight. He's quietly embracing it. Sparano doesn't want his team to act as if it has accomplished anything.

"What I don't want to do is to think we are good by any stretch of the imagination," Sparano said this past week during a break at training camp. "I think that we need to make sure this team stays hungry and continues to want to do the hunting out there."

Key Questions

Who will emerge as Chad Pennington's top target?

Analysts listed receiver as an area of grave need. The Dolphins' front office obviously didn't agree. They didn't sign any free-agent help and waited until the second day of the draft to select any receivers.

Miami wide receivers caught only five touchdown passes last year and managed only 11 receptions of 25 yards or more. The top three averaged 11.9 yards per catch.

Greg Camarillo was Pennington's obvious go-to guy last year, grabbing 55 passes through the first 11 games. But a torn knee ligament sidelined him for the final five games and puts a dubious spin on his projected role.

Davone Bess, who possesses a similar skill-set to Camarillo's, had 54 receptions last year. Ted Ginn finished with a team-high 56 catches for 790 yards, uninspiring numbers for the ninth overall pick of the 2007 draft.

Seven of tight end Anthony Fasano's 34 receptions were touchdowns.

But when the Dolphins need to convert a critical third-and-8 play, whom will defenses worry about?

Third-round draft picks Patrick Turner and Brian Hartline have had decent camps so far. Turner is tall and catches anything he gets his hands on, while Hartline is more of a possession receiver. Maybe one of them can emerge, but it's too soon to count on either of them.

Can a rookie win the starting right cornerback job?

 
  Joel Auerbach/US Presswire
  Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis is expected to compete for the starting spot.
The Dolphins drafted Vontae Davis 25th overall, making him the first pure cornerback off the board. They took Sean Smith with the 61st pick.

Both were expected to compete with veteran free agent Eric Green for the starting spot opposite Will Allen. But a week into training camp, Smith was taking Green's first-team reps.

Earning a coach's trust is difficult for a rookie, especially at a position as pressure-drenched as cornerback. Smith has been convincing.

He's 6-foot-4, and the Dolphins drafted him to compete with the likes of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Andre Johnson and the other big receivers they'll face this year. But to overtake a higher draft pick and a veteran so early in camp is an encouraging development.

Will new center Jake Grove and new assistant Dave DeGuglielmo transform the offensive line's personality?

Dolphins football operations boss Bill Parcells and Sparano didn't like what they saw out of their offensive line last year. One of the first offseason moves was to fire veteran O-line coach Mike Maser and hire DeGuglielmo, a New York Giants assistant.

One of their chief personnel priorities -- maybe the biggest -- was to find a run-blocking center.

The Dolphins wanted better success between the tackles. It didn't help that both of their opening-day starting guards were lost along the way. But they identified the main problem was second-year center Samson Satele, who started all 32 games of his career.

They signed Grove, an Oakland Raiders free agent, and then traded Satele to the Raiders for a sixth-round draft pick and a swap of fourth-round picks.

Newcomer to watch

Taylor
Jason Taylor looks familiar in his uniform, but don't expect him to be the same player he was before the Dolphins traded him to the Washington Redskins last summer.

Sure, Taylor still can be an impact pass-rusher. But he will be playing a new role and a different position from the one where he amassed almost all of his 120.5 career sacks.

Porter is the weakside outside linebacker. Taylor, a fixture all those years with his hand on the ground as Miami's right defensive end, will be the strongside outside linebacker. That means Taylor usually will line up on the left side in a two-point stance.

The Dolphins brought him back to be more of a situational pass-rusher, not to play every down. He should split snaps with incumbent Matt Roth (a run-stopper with limited coverage skills) and Cameron Wake (a Canadian Football League phenom who recorded 39 sacks in two seasons).

A mysterious situation has kept Roth sidelined through the first two weeks of camp. His agent claimed he had a groin injury. The Dolphins claimed he was ill and out of shape. Either way, that has allowed Taylor to get more reps so far.

Market watch

Ginn
Dolfans have been waiting for Ginn to live up to his billing and can only hope this is the season he finally puts it together. The club showed confidence in the speedster by declining to go after any veteran receiver help.

"Teddy is going into his third year, and I think it's time for him to really show what he was drafted here to do," Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said prior to the draft.

Observation deck

Ronnie Brown, who got off to a slow start in training camp last year because he was coming off knee surgery and a wrist injury, has looked sharp. His quickness and maneuverability stands out next to the other backs, including Ricky Williams, who doesn't look as explosive as he did a year ago. ... Williams is 32 years old and starting to show it. ... Rookie quarterback Pat White better be able to contribute from the Wildcat formation because he has been lousy as a quarterback. What makes White a threat is his ability to pass and run out of the formation, but his arm has been scattershot since he arrived. Defenses should force him to throw it. ... Kickers always have been expendable on a Parcells team. The Dolphins unearthed a gem last year with undrafted rookie Dan Carpenter, allowing them to save money by cutting Jay Feely. But Carpenter might have lost his footing. The club signed free agent Connor Barth to push him. Carpenter hasn't responded as well to the competition as the front office hoped. ... Rookie receivers Turner and Hartline, both third-round draft choices, have looked impressive. Turner is a tall target with soft hands who could turn into a third-down and red zone weapon. ... Sparano seems to be gaining confidence in third-year defensive tackle Paul Soliai, a fourth-round draft pick in 2007. Soliai is listed at 6-foot-4, 355 pounds. He twice was suspended for one game last year for weight issues. "A year ago I questioned how important this whole thing was maybe to Paul. ... From a professional standpoint, I think this guy is starting to get it. He is starting to figure out that this isn't only a hobby," Sparano said.

Sparano explains why he axed Fins O-line coach

February, 23, 2009
2/23/09
9:55
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL scouting combine provided the first chance for us to ask Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano why he decided to fire offensive line coach Mike Maser last month.

Maser was the only assistant dismissed from the staff even though he was Sparano's first hire -- two days after the Dolphins named Sparano head coach. Maser was on the Jacksonville Jaguars' staff with Sparano in 2002.

Maser oversaw a line that suffered season-ending injuries at both guard positions and helped rookie Jake Long make the Pro Bowl.

The Dolphins ranked 12th in total offense, 11th in yards per run attempt and 10th in fewest sacks allowed.

The firing seemed odd. Sparano didn't give a specific reason for removing Maser and hiring New York Giants assistant offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. But Sparano indicated communication was a significant problem and he didn't want to second-guess his gut.

"Well, to be honest with you, there's something that from my end -- and I don't want to get into it too much because I really think an awful lot of Mike and what Mike did for us -- but you have a feeling sometimes," Sparano said. "From my end, what I didn't want to do is if I have those kinds of feelings on where we need to be ... That group is a finicky group, that offensive line group.

"I think that to my end, communication-wise, I think it's important. Mike did a great job out there coaching them on the field. But I felt there needed to be a change. I moved in that direction.

"I didn't want to move in that direction a year from now and sitting here, saying 'Why didn't you do this a year ago?' I felt like this is the time to do it. We evaluate players. We evaluate coaches. My coaches know that."

(Read full post)

Around the AFC East: Fins hire new O-line coach

January, 15, 2009
1/15/09
11:57
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Miami Dolphins

Buffalo Bills

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Dolphins unhappy with O-line development

January, 14, 2009
1/14/09
9:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The Miami Dolphins, not content with their 11-5 record, have fired veteran offensive line coach Mike Maser.

Maser's next media guide entry will state he helped the Dolphins pull off one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in league history, shaped the line for an offense that set a record for fewest turnovers in a 16-game season and sent running back Ronnie Brown to the Pro Bowl.

Not bad. But obviously not enough to keep his job.

Miami Herald beat writer Jeff Darlington reports New York Giants assistant offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo is the leading candidate to replace Maser. Here is DeGuglielmo's bio from Giants.com.

Two days after Tony Sparano took over as head coach, he named Maser his first assistant.

The Dolphins ranked 11th in rushing offense, averaging 118.6 yards a game. They surrendered only 26 sacks.

But as I wrote in a blog the day after the Baltimore Ravens ousted the Dolphins from the postseason, there are serious questions about a ground game many expected to be elite behind Brown and Ricky Williams.

In 11 games, Brown failed to rush for at least 60 yards. Williams failed to reach 60 yards in all but two games. Seven times, Williams ran for fewer than 30 yards.

The Dolphins had trouble locating serviceable depth and patching together their three interior linemen, especially after left guard Justin Smiley went down with a season-ending leg injury in Week 13.

Second-year center Samson Satele was one of the rare bright spots of 2007, but he turned into such a liability the anxious Dolphins signed Al Johnson off the street Nov. 29.

Sixth-round draft pick Donald Thomas surprisingly emerged from training camp as the starter at right guard but suffered a foot injury in the season opener. Even so, disappointing fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy was inactive every game.

The list of free-agent centers or guards the Dolphins signed and cut included Mike Byrne, Steve McKinney, Ruben Riley, Pedro Sosa, Trey Darilek and Evan Mathis. Matt McChesney was an in-season free agent who landed on injured reserve.

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