AFC East: Steve McKinney
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.
Hired offensive line coach Mike Maser in January 2008, fired him in January 2009.
Hired offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo in January 2009.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
New York Jets
- Dave Hutchinson of the Newark Star-Ledger reports WR David Clowney could miss several weeks with a collarbone injury.
- Pro Football Weekly columnist Matt Sohn wonders if Brett Favre will have a negative impact in the Jets locker room.
- New York Post reporter Mark Cannizzaro writes coach Eric Mangini didn't like what he saw from K Mike Nugent on Saturday night.
- Buffalo News columnist Bob DiCesare takes a look at the Bills' enviable problem with their kick returners.
- Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News writes CB Jabari Greer got the message when the Bills drafted a cornerback 11th overall and two more the next day.
- Bryan Sullivan of the Canandaigua Messenger Post catches up with LB John DiGiorgio, an undrafted free agent who started 14 games last year.
- TE Derek Schouman is out indefinitely and likely for the rest of the preseason with a left knee injury.
- Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post reports RB Ronnie Brown is day-to-day with a thumb injury and will not practice Monday afternoon.
- Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero says veterans such as offensive lineman Steve McKinney should be thankful they're getting cut early.
- Miami Herald beat writer Jeff Darlington gives a report on the offensive line's progress.
New England Patriots
- Boston Herald scribe John Tomase takes a look at the Patriots without Tom Brady and sees an ordinary team.
- Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe writes they "better hope they don't need the backup," whoever that will be.
- The Boston Globe's Christopher L. Gasper shares notes from Sunday night's game, including an injury to S Brandon Meriweather.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was a lazy Sunday in the AFC East. Three of the four teams took the day off, with the New England Patriots the only ones on the field. They rested Friday.
So what is there to write about, other than whether Brett Favre sat on the aisle or in a window seat on his flight into Green Bay?
Here are some random notes from my travels:
- The Dolphins still have two openings on their 80-man roster after cutting TE Aaron Halterman and G Rueben Riley on Saturday. They recently worked out troubled QB Quincy Carter and have looked into WR Terry Glenn. Hmm? Hmmmmm?
- I had an interesting chat with Jets C Nick Mangold after Saturday's scrimmage. I asked if the O-line was under the microscope with the high-profile acquisitions of G Alan Faneca and T Damien Woody.
"None of our skill guys are going to be able to do anything if we don't block," Mangold said. "That's how you really judge yourself -- if your skill guys have a good game. You take a little pride in that because you don't get too many stats as a lineman. So you always feel a little bit of the weight of the offense on you, but that's part of the fun of being an offensive lineman."
- The Bills' youthful offense has been struggling on installation days, which isn't comforting, but it's understandable. They have a second-year QB (Trent Edwards), a second-year RB (Marshawn Lynch) and a rookie No. 2 WR (James Hardy). The TE position is sorting itself out, and T Langston Walker has been switched to the left side because of Jason Peters' contract dispute.
- Bill Belichick, the only coach to speak with reporters today, addressed the Patriots' backup QBs.
On Matt Cassel: "Matt has had a good camp. He has had a real good off-season. He did a nice job in the spring. ... I am confident in Matt. This is his fourth year so he has a good understanding of what we are doing and he has done a pretty good job of it when he has had the opportunity to play."
On Matt Gutierrez: He is probably as hard a working player as we have on this team, so he's worked hard to get better and build off of last year. ... It will be interesting to see Gutierrez play with a year under his belt. He played last year at this time. He was obviously a rookie but had very few snaps, very little experience and won a spot on the team so it will be interesting to see how those two guys do."
On Kevin O'Connell: "Kevin has made improvement since the spring. This is kind of the second time around in terms of teaching our plays and all that. We taught them all in the spring and then we go back and re-teach them here in training camp. I think that has really helped him. He seems a lot more comfortable and confident and is playing quicker at the line of scrimmage."
- Most scouts viewed Dolphins rookie G Donald Thomas a long-range project when the Dolphins took him late in the sixth round. He didn't play organized football until he was discovered playing pickup hoops at Connecticut. He didn't start until he was a senior.
But Thomas has been Miami's starting right guard for about a week. He has outperformed fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy, while veteran free-agent acquisition Steve McKinney has rebounded slowly from knee surgery.
- Bills rookie LB Alvin Bowen, probably gone for the season after suffering a right knee injury Friday, was looking like a fifth or sixth linebacker. But his biggest value would have been on special teams, where the Bills need bodies.
- Here's a leftover quote I've been meaning to share from Andre Tippett's pre-Hall of Fame news conference in Foxborough, Mass. He was asked, since he wore both helmets, whether he preferred Pat Patriot or the Flying Elvis logo.
"If I had to pick," Tippett said after hemming and hawing, "I just have love for the old Pat Patriot. He just looks like a rugged dude. I would go down a dark alleyway with him any day."
- From my room on the 10th floor of the Long Island Marriott, I can see the Jets' facility on the Hofstra University campus in the distance. But just a long kickoff away from my headboard is decrepit Nassau Coliseum. With the Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets all moving into new digs, can't people find a way to implode the dump where the Islanders play (or at least attempt to) and build something the long-suffering locals can be proud of?