AFC East: Sun Life Stadium

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 8

August, 2, 2014
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DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • Saturday was highlighted by the Dolphins’ annual team scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. It was a good day for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw for two touchdowns. Tannehill played mostly against the second-team defense during the scrimmage but looked sharp. His two touchdown throws were for 9 yards to running back Lamar Miller and 7 yards to tight end Dion Sims. Tannehill saved his best throws for the red zone, which will be key this season. “It felt good today,” Tannehill said. “It’s good to be in our stadium. It’s good to be in front of some fans. Myself and the rest of the offense, we’re growing day by day, getting better day by day. I feel myself becoming more in tune with the plays coming in, just having an idea exactly of what to do with the ball every play and that’s exciting for me.”
  • There were several very good plays by the defense in this scrimmage. The two that stood out most were Cortland Finnegan’s deep-ball interception off Dolphins backup quarterback Pat Devlin and rookie linebacker Jordie Tripp’s 70-plus yard fumble return for a touchdown. Tripp stripped rookie running back Damian Williams and recovered the ball in stride for the defensive touchdown.
  • Miller, Miami's incumbent starting running back, had a good day running the ball. He reeled off a pair of runs for 14 yards and 10 yards, showing good shiftiness. Miller also broke through several tacklers, which is something he didn’t do enough of in his first year as a starter last season. “He’s a guy that’s got a lot of skill and talent, and good speed,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said Saturday. “He does have elusiveness. I think that showed up today.”
  • The first-team offensive line actually held up well. There were no sacks allowed from the starting five in the trenches that included left tackle Branden Albert, left guard Daryn Colledge, center Nate Garner, right guard Dallas Thomas and rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James. Miami is still trying to find its right combination up front. But Saturday’s performance was promising. “I think we got better today,” Albert said. “We just did a good job, from the quarterbacks to the running backs.”
  • There was one injury of note: Dolphins starting tight end Charles Clay went down early with an apparent right leg injury. The ailment didn't look serious, but Clay didn't return to the scrimmage.
  • After the scrimmage, the Dolphins announced their 2014 “Walk of Fame” members. The group includes former Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison, running back Tony Nathan, guard Ed Newman and defensive end Jeff Cross. The group will be inducted Sept. 21 before Miami’s home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • The Dolphins are off on Sunday. Miami will return to the practice field on Monday at 8 a.m. ET to continue training camp at the team’s headquarters in Davie.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins are about to have their annual team scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium at 9:30 a.m. ET. I'll be at the stadium this morning to bring you all the latest developments.

Miami head coach Joe Philbin said the goal of Saturday’s scrimmage is to get acclimated to game situations. Assistant coaches will be in the coach's box. Players will be divided on the sideline. It should be a productive scrimmage.

We will have a full report from Miami’s scrimmage in this page later today. But for those who cannot wait, follow me via Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL for live updates and photos from Sun Life Stadium as it happens. Also, be sure to check out ESPN.com's live Dolphins chat.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins took the field for the first of three practices during mandatory minicamp. It was a high-energy first session in what serves as a preview to training camp.

Here are seven observations from Tuesday's practice:
  • It was a strong day for the Dolphins' defense. Miami's defense was disruptive all practice and, by my count, recorded three interceptions and at least four would-be sacks. (The defense is not allowed to hit quarterbacks in practice.) The Dolphins' defense has been together for three seasons and has been well ahead of the offense on days practice was open to the media. “There's going to be days where one side of the ball has the upper hand,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “It looked like the back end and the linebackers, we were doing some good things from a coverage standpoint.”
  • Miami receiver Brandon Gibson continues to make progress from last year's season-ending patella tendon tear. Gibson participated in team drills for the first time this offseason. He still doesn't look 100 percent but is moving around relatively well. At this point Gibson looks well on pace to be ready by Week 1.
  • Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor had arguably his best practice of the offseason. Taylor, who got reps on the first team, recorded a sideline interception off Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Taylor also showed some athleticism by blowing up a running play. Taylor was injured must of last year but is making strong strides this offseason.
  • The Dolphins' coaching staff is putting several veterans on the maintenance program during minicamp. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, defensive tackle Jared Odrick and cornerback Cortland Finnegan sat out team drills Tuesday. It is unknown if that will change during the week.
  • After a plan to renovate Sun Life Stadium was passed by the Miami-Dade County Commission in a 7-4 vote, Philbin credited owner Stephen Ross. “Most important to me is it shows the commitment our owner, Stephen Ross, has to making this a world-class organization,” Philbin said.
  • Miami rookie defensive end Terrence Fede had the play of the day. Fede, who is 6-foot-4 and 277 pounds, dropped in coverage and made a leaping interception off Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore. Fede then advanced the ball about 10 yards as his defensive teammates celebrated.
  • Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan continues to flash in practice. He had another would-be sack on Tannehill coming off the corner. Jordan put on about 17 pounds of muscle since last year and looks ready to make a second-year jump after an ineffective rookie year.

Miami will continue its three-day minicamp on Wednesday morning.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The NFL league meetings are underway Monday in the sunshine state.

Here are some Miami Dolphins-centric items that took place:
  • There was some chatter on improving locker-room culture. The Dolphins set the stage last season when the Ted Wells report pulled back the curtain on their bullying scandal involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Different coaches offered perspectives in Orlando. "I think coaches are held to a standard that sometimes is impossible," Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians explained Monday. "We don't see our guys until April 21st. If they're living in New Orleans or somewhere else, I don't know how we're responsible for what they do. They're men. They have families. They have children. They're responsible for their actions, not the coach."
  • Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said negotiations for stadium renovations are ongoing, and owner Stephen Ross plans to pay about $350 million of his own money into improving Sun Life Stadium. But the Dolphins are seeking property tax relief in exchange. "Miami Gardens is our neighborhood," Garfinkel explained. "We want to work with them, as well as the school board, to make sure that we're doing everything we can to make this work for everybody." The Dolphins' stadium plan is in its early stages and not on the docket at this year's league meetings.
  • Garfinkel also provided an interesting tidbit: The bidding process for the 2019 Super Bowl begins in the summer. Part of the reason the Dolphins are trying to renovate Sun Life Stadium is to make Miami more attractive for future Super Bowls. The Dolphins most likely would prefer to have all the answers on renovations by the summer in order to make the strongest bid possible.
  • Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis didn't completely close the door on Incognito signing with his team. The embattled Incognito, who was the central figure in Miami's bullying scandal, told NFL.com last week that he'd love to play for the Raiders because they fit his bad-boy image. "I'd have to think about that," Davis responded Monday.
  • The Dolphins will have a full slate of media availability on Tuesday. Miami head coach Joe Philbin will speak during the AFC coaches breakfast. GM Dennis Hickey and Ross also are expected to speak to the media on Tuesday afternoon.
Ryan Tannehill and Julio JonesUSA TODAY SportsRyan Tannehill and the undefeated Dolphins will try to upset Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons.
The Miami Dolphins are basking in the light of a 2-0 start while the Atlanta Falcons are just trying to find some healthy bodies.

The two teams play each other Sunday in a game that has big implications in the AFC East and NFC South races.

ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker and ESPN Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas examine this matchup:

Yasinskas: James, like many, I thought the Dolphins would be an improved team. But it's looking like they might be even better than I thought. They've gone out and started their season with two big wins on the road. What's going right for the Dolphins and, more importantly, how good are they?

Walker: It's early, Pat, but Miami is already exceeding my expectations. I pegged the Dolphins to be an 8-8 team this year. That still could happen if the team loses focus, but Miami is on pace to do better. I credit two things: improved playmaking ability and the growth of second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami committed more than $200 million in free-agent contracts to players like receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Brent Grimes and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. All of those players came up big in last Sunday's win over the Indianapolis Colts. When you add in the fact Tannehill has improved in his second year, it's easy to see why the Dolphins are also taking the next step. Atlanta is a team many believe is a Super Bowl contender, but the group is banged up. Pat, how much will injuries impact the Falcons in this game?

Yasinskas: Atlanta has some major injury problems. The Falcons had to put defensive end/linebacker Kroy Biermann and fullback Bradie Ewing on injured reserve this week and there are reports that running back Steven Jackson will miss a few weeks. The loss of Biermann means the Falcons will have to play rookies Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow at linebacker and second-year pro Jonathan Massaquoi at defensive end. If Jackson is out, the Falcons will have to go with Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling as their running backs, and that's a sharp drop-off. That probably means the Falcons will pass even more than usual and rely on Roddy White and Julio Jones. Is Miami's secondary ready for that tandem?

Walker: I had a good conversation with Miami's top cornerback, Grimes, on Tuesday. He was complimentary of both White and Jones -- and Grimes would know. The former Falcon watched both receivers grow in Atlanta and practiced against them. It will be fun to see who has the advantage between Grimes and White/Jones, depending on the play. Grimes told me they all know each other so well that it's probably a push. The bigger concern for Miami's secondary is the other cornerback spot. Veteran starter Dimitri Patterson didn't play in Week 2 due to a groin injury. He's working his way back and could play Sunday. Rookie corners Will Davis and Jamar Taylor also returned to practice this week, which could provide depth. Similar to the game against Indianapolis, Miami must do a lot of things schematically to cover up its issues opposite Grimes. That includes using the safeties over the top and getting a good pass rush. Speaking of pass rush, the Dolphins have nine sacks in the first two games. Can they exploit the Falcons in this area?

Yasinskas: Miami's pass rush has to be a major concern for the Falcons. Atlanta revamped its offensive line in the offseason and it's taking some time to come together. The right side of the line is of particular concern with guard Garrett Reynolds and Lamar Holmes as the starters. Reynolds is average at best and Holmes, a second-year pro, was thrown into the starting lineup when Mike Johnson went down with an injury in the preseason. Holmes is very much a work in progress, so the Falcons will have to try to give him some help by getting their tight ends and running backs involved as pass-blockers. Still, Atlanta should be able to move the ball through the air because it has Matt Ryan, Jones, White and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Has Tannehill developed enough to win a shootout?

Walker: That's an interesting question, Pat. I'm not sure anyone -- even Miami's coaching staff -- has the answer. I did notice the Dolphins' game plan in Week 1 against Cleveland was fairly conservative compared to Week 2 against Indianapolis. Those are two different teams, and perhaps the Dolphins realized they needed to be more aggressive throwing and take more vertical shots deep to match Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. This is a similar type of challenge, because Atlanta's offense is built around scoring points in the passing game. Tannehill is getting better at taking over parts of a game in Year 2. His play in the second half the past two weeks has been terrific. The Dolphins are outscoring opponents 24-6 in the third and fourth quarters, in part because Tannehill is moving the chains, putting points on the board and keeping Miami's defense fresh. I don't expect this game to be all on Tannehill's shoulders. The defense remains the strength of the Dolphins. Keeping Atlanta's scoring around 23 points or fewer, as opposed to having Tannehill throw for 400 yards, is probably Miami's best shot to win.

On Stephen Ross' donation to Michigan

September, 4, 2013
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MIAMI -- If there is one thing we know about Miami Dolphins billionaire owner Stephen Ross, it's that he's not afraid to spend money.

Ross opened his wallet again this week with a huge, $200 million donation to the University of Michigan, both the school and Dolphins announced Wednesday. Ross is a proud Wolverines alum and made the single largest donation in the school's history.

"This historic gift is not only an investment in the University of Michigan, but also in our state,” Michigan school president Mary Sue Coleman said. “Steve Ross believes deeply in our collective future as national and global leaders."

While this is a great thing for the University of Michigan and its state, this may rub some Dolphins fans in South Florida the wrong way.

Ross and the Dolphins just went through a lengthy and bitter battle with the state of Florida over getting public funding to upgrade Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins put together a package where Ross and the state would share costs. However, the state legislature in Tallahassee nixed the bill before it went to public vote. Ross and the Dolphins were furious, because they felt they had enough momentum on their side with Florida residents. Ross told the media in August that he will not give up seeking public funding for Sun Life Stadium and may try again in 2014.

No one can argue that Ross is not putting money and resources into his own team. The Dolphins spent more than $200 million in free agency this offseason and made various upgrades to the uniforms, logo and other areas of the organization. My train of thought is it's Ross' money. He earned it and can spend it however he chooses.

But, right or wrong, don't expect Ross' $200 million donation to Michigan to sit well with many Florida residents and perhaps the state legislature if the Dolphins seek public funding again next year. The natural reaction is some of that money could have went to upgrading Sun Life Stadium, where the Dolphins have had attendance issues for many years.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins completed their annual scrimmage Monday night at Sun Life Stadium.

Here are several notes and observations:
  • The top two plays of the night go to Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill connecting with his tight ends. First, Tannehill made a nice 24-yard connection to fullback/tight end Charles Clay for a touchdown. Clay got open over the middle, caught the ball in stride and rumbled past safety Jimmy Wilson for the touchdown. Tannehill also connected with starting tight end Dustin Keller on the sideline for an impressive 14-yard touchdown reception. Tannehill had three touchdowns total on the night, with his third going to tailback Daniel Thomas on a swing pass.
  • Dan Carpenter was the only healthy kicker in the scrimmage and had a rough night. Rookie Caleb Sturgis sat out with a reported groin injury. Carpenter was 3-of-5 on his field goal attempts. He missed two 49-yard field goals wide left. Carpenter also had an extra point blocked, and you cannot win a lot of games that way. Carpenter already is in the hot seat for missing timely kicks last season. He certainly didn't help his case in this scrimmage by leaving seven points on the board.
  • The turnout was impressive, especially considering how much Dolphins fans have been bashed for not showing up to Sun Life Stadium. The announced crowd was 22,876. Afterward, coach Joe Philbin thanked the fans for showing up.
  • Dolphins starting receiver Brian Hartline was held out. He was dressed for the scrimmage during warmups but appeared to pull something and sat out the rest of the night. Fellow starting receiver Mike Wallace also didn't play.
  • Miami No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan got some quality reps. He registered a sack on backup quarterback Pat Devlin. Jordan also lined up against starting left tackle Jonathan Martin and ran by him to pressure quarterback Tannehill on another. It’s good progress for Miami’s top pick. Jordan has been brought along slowly by the Dolphins. Starting defensive end Olivier Vernon also had a strip sack against No. 2 quarterback Matt Moore in one of the top plays for the defense.
  • It was an up-and-down night for Dolphins rookie RB Mike Gillislee. He started fast in his first career appearance at Sun Life Stadium. Gillislee caught a screen pass for a first down and also made a couple nice runs outside. But Gillislee fumbled on a run up the middle late. It was a rookie mistake that won’t make the coaching staff happy.
  • Miami free-agent signing Philip Wheeler also made some nice plays. He had a big hit on receiver Marvin McNutt and also two pass defenses. Wheeler displayed the good mix of speed and physicality.

The Dolphins will shift their attention to the Hall of Fame game this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys. Miami will take Tuesday off and return to the practice field on Wednesday.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins will hold their annual training camp scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium Monday at 7 p.m. ET. This is the first chance for the 2013 Dolphins to play under the lights in their home stadium.

Expect the intensity to be increased from practice. Miami will be going over real-game scenarios in this scrimmage in preparation for its first preseason game Aug. 4 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Here are five things to watch:

    [+] EnlargeMike Pouncey
    Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsThe Dolphins may experiment with the roster some by moving Mike Pouncey to right guard during training camp to offset injuries on the line.
  • Stability on offensive line: This has been the weakest unit so far in Miami's training camp. There were already concerns about this group entering the preseason. But starting guard John Jerry's injury has resulted in further instability. The Dolphins are trying out multiple combinations to fill in for Jerry’s absence. One combo actually included moving stud center Mike Pouncey to right guard, which I think is an awful idea and weakens the center position. Monday's scrimmage will be a good showcase to see if Miami's offensive line can figure things out.

  • Ryan Tannehill: As usual, all eyes at Sun Life Stadium will be on Miami’s starting quarterback. Tannehill started training camp slowly, but he’s really heated up in the past several days. Let's see if he can carry that momentum into this scrimmage and also into next Sunday's first preseason game against Dallas. Tannehill is developing an increasing rapport with his new targets: Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller. Most importantly, he's taking care of the football. Tannehill hasn't thrown an interception in four straight practices.

  • Dion Jordan: Miami’s No. 3 overall pick got his first action in 11-on-11 drills Sunday, and he’s expected to play Monday night. The Dolphins have brought Jordan along slowly after his shoulder surgery in February. Jordan has showed strong flashes of athleticism and pass-rushing ability. His play in this scrimmage could dictate how soon Jordan will be ready to participate in preseason games.

  • Cornerback play: Miami was 27th against the pass last season but looks improved at cornerback. Brent Grimes has been one of the top performers in camp so far, and Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall have staged a good competition for the No. 2 corner slot. This is a good opportunity for players to begin carving out roles in the secondary, particularly for young corners like rookie Will Davis, R.J. Stanford and Nolan Carroll.

  • Running backs: There haven’t been a lot of big plays so far from the running backs. Some of that is due to Miami’s run defense, which is stout. Tailbacks Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee appear to be the top three options for the Dolphins at this stage. Miller, the starter, appears to be the best of the three. But there haven’t been a lot of running lanes. This is another byproduct of the Dolphins' instability on the offensive line. This unit is regularly getting hammered by Miami’s defensive line, which is very deep.

I will have a full report in the AFC East blog from Miami’s scrimmage late tonight. But if Dolphins fans cannot wait that long and want immediate analysis, follow my Twitter account for live updates and observations as they happen.

Are the Miami Dolphins one step closer to moving to Los Angeles?

That is the worry in South Florida on Monday after the Dolphins failed to secure public funding for renovations of Sun Life Stadium over the weekend. The Dolphins were looking to add about $400 million in stadium upgrades, and according to team president Mike Dee, owner Stephen Ross would have paid for about 70 percent of the cost. However, the Florida House prevented it from going to a public vote and those plans are now null and void.

"We cannot do this without a private-public partnership," Dee told television station WFOR-TV in Miami. "At this time we have no intention of investing more."

It’s unknown if the public vote would have fared well for the Dolphins. The elephant in the room was the Miami Marlins recently fleecing South Florida for public money to build their new stadium. That left a bad taste that the Dolphins had to overcome. But the team did a lot of work in the community to gain public backing and felt good about its chances. That is why the Dolphins are so upset the vote never went public.

Will the Dolphins leave Miami as a result? The short answer is definitely not in the near future.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said several times on record that the team will remain in South Florida as long as he's the owner. Ross completed the $1 billion purchase of the Dolphins in 2009 and hasn't given any indication that he intends to sell.

But here is the biggest concern for Dolphins fans: What happens to the team when Ross, 73, is no longer the owner? That is when things could get murky. It's in Ross' best interest to sell the Dolphins to the highest bidder, even if that person wants to move the team.

Just about any team with stadium issues is rumored to be heading to Los Angeles, and I think it's fair to now add the Dolphins to that list of speculation. However, do not expect anything to happen on this front for at least the next several years.

Dolphins sign kicker Nate Kaeding

December, 21, 2012
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The Miami Dolphins signed veteran kicker Nate Kaeding, the team announced Friday. Incumbent kicker Dan Carpenter was hampered by a groin injury and placed on injured reserve.

Keading is a former two-time Pro Bowl selection with the San Diego Chargers. He will replace Carpenter for the rest of the season.

Miami has been fortunate with injuries all season, but the injury bug is hurting the team in December. In addition to Carpenter, Miami could be without starting wide receivers Davone Bess and/or Brian Hartline, who are dealing with back injuries.

The Dolphins will host the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

Revis: Dolphins game 'a must-win'

September, 20, 2012
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New York Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis made significant progress from his concussion and is expected to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. But Revis' comments upon his return provide even more insight to how big this game is.

"This is a must-win for us," Revis said, according to ESPNNewYork's Rich Cimini.

Why is Revis calling a Week 3 game a must-win? It's simple: Look at New York's upcoming schedule.

The Jets (1-1) have back-to-back games against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers (2-0) and Houston Texans (2-0) in Week 4 and Week 5, respectively. Both are top 5 teams and very tough matchups for the inconsistent Jets.

A loss by New York Sunday would drop the team to 1-2, and a 1-4 start would be very possible for the Jets. Chaos would break loose with that record in New York.

But a win over Miami would give the Jets at 2-1 and some leeway against tough opponents. The Jets imploded the last time they played in Sun Life Stadium. They need to keep it together this time in order to leave Miami with a victory.

Here is an AFC East poll to see who our community thinks will win this rivalry game.
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday morning in the AFC East: Morning take: "Scared" is a pretty strong word. I don't know about that. But rest assured teams have taken notice of the Bills' offseason moves. Buffalo must now earn their respect on the field.
Morning take: Stallworth last played for New England in 2007. But he's been in various systems since then and has to re-learn some things. Stallworth is one of several receivers who has to earn a roster spot.
Morning take: The stadium could definitely use improvements. But it's the atmosphere that needs an upgrade the most. The only way to fix that is by winning consistently.
  • New York Jets backup receiver Chaz Schilens was one of the stars during their first day of minicamp.
Morning take: Schilens made some nice plays, including a touchdown catch over Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis that you rarely see. Injuries have been Schilens' biggest issue in the past. So he must stay healthy.
The Miami Dolphins cannot help themselves. The Tim Tebow temptation is just too strong.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Miami is one of four teams expressing interest in the popular Broncos quarterback. As we mentioned Monday in the AFC East blog, this move would make little sense in terms of Xs and Os. But the Dolphins' front office has proved this offseason that logic rarely applies.

Going after Tebow is strictly a public relations move for the Dolphins. Tebow, who played for the University of Florida, would quickly put fans in the seats at Sun Life Stadium. But Tebow running a precision passing, West Coast offense on the field would be a train wreck waiting to happen.

If Tebow would have any success in Miami, the team would have to go away from the West Coast principles rookie coach Joe Philbin and first-year offensive coordinator Mike Sherman were brought to Miami to implement. Is it worth undermining your entire coaching staff for Tebow?

An educated guess is this interest has owner Stephen Ross' fingerprints on it. It hurts Ross to go to games and see so many orange, empty seats. Based on the moves and non-moves the team made this offseason, Ross is probably anticipating more empty seats this year and desperately wants to change it.

Tebow would provide a short-term buzz, but eventually Miami has to win to keep fans interested. That is where Miami's thought of adding Tebow should stop.

The New York Jets are also mentioned as one of four interested suitors for Tebow. But Schefter reports Tebow to the Jets is a "long shot." New York just gave starter Mark Sanchez a $58.25 million extension that ensures he will be the starter for at least the next two years.

Dolphins should avoid Tim Tebow

March, 19, 2012
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Don't do it, Miami Dolphins.

[+] EnlargeTim Tebow
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesThere are a plethora of reasons the Dolphins should avoid falling into the Tim Tebow trap.
Do not make a quarterback mistake that could stagnate the franchise for the next several years.

Do not, under any circumstances, trade for Tim Tebow.

I know this thought will cross the mind of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, if it hasn't already. Peyton Manning agreed to join the Denver Broncos on Monday. Now, Tebow is expected to be available.

Ross is desperate to make a splash to help fill an empty and often lifeless Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins even came up with the idea last year to honor Tebow and his national champion team with the Florida Gators even though he was the opposing starting quarterback.

It would be na´ve to assume the Dolphins' front office wouldn't be interested in Tebow. Getting the wildly popular Tebow would put more fans in the stands. That is one of Ross' main objectives. But from a pure football standpoint, the Dolphins should want no part of this.

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Miami is implementing a precision-passing, West Coast offense under rookie head coach Joe Philbin. Last year Denver had to gut its offense to mold around Tebow’s strength, which is more run-oriented. Acquiring Tebow and making him your starter would completely undermine everything Philbin and new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman were brought to Miami to do.

With Tebow, the Dolphins would not run the Packers' system or any pass-heavy system in Miami -- at least if they want a chance to compete. The only system you can successfully run with Tebow is the read-option offense he ran in college and last season with the Broncos. That is why Denver desperately did everything it could to land Manning.

Despite all the reasons to the contrary, expect a lot of speculation linking the Dolphins and Tebow. Miami's front office has made some curious decisions lately and doesn't appear to have a clear-cut plan this offseason. So you just never know with this group.

But what I do know is if Miami's starting quarterback search ends with Tebow, that is the biggest mistake Miami's regime could make.

Leading Questions: AFC East

February, 20, 2012
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With the offseason in full swing, let's take a look at one major question facing each AFC East team as it begins preparations for the 2012 season:

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Who is the quarterback?

It won't be Matt Moore. That much is clear entering the offseason. Miami has not been shy to say the team will explore all options to find a franchise quarterback for 2012.

Is it Peyton Manning? Is it Matt Flynn? What about Robert Griffin III? Everything is up for discussion, according to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland. Expect Miami to be in the hunt for every big name at quarterback who becomes available.

Look for Miami to see what happens with Manning first. The Dolphins want to make a splash with a proven quarterback who can put fans back in Sun Life Stadium. Manning obviously fits the bill. The only question is his surgically repaired neck, which reportedly has been operated on four times.

The next option would be Flynn, who played under rookie Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin in Green Bay. Flynn is a bit of an unknown commodity, but he has played very well in limited opportunities.

Griffin would be a third and unlikely option. The Dolphins hold the No. 8 or No. 9 pick and would have to trade up to get the Baylor quarterback. With so many teams interested in Griffin, the Dolphins don't have a strong chance.

But a lot of parts are in place in Miami. The Dolphins are a franchise quarterback away from being a playoff contender. The Dolphins will be a team to watch in 2012 if they fill that void.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

How will they improve the defense?

You know Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn't happy with his 31st-ranked defense. He built a reputation being a defensive guru, and Belichick will do all he can to get that side of the ball fixed.

The good news for New England is the team has plenty of cap room and flexibility. Twenty free agents have cleared up more than $20 million in cap space. Belichick will have the option of trying to re-sign the players he wants to keep -- Wes Welker and Matthew Slater, for example -- while using the rest of the salary cap to upgrade the roster with outside free agents.

In terms of the draft, the Patriots have two first-round picks and two second-round picks. Belichick is always looking to trade down for more picks. But this could be the year he cashes in and gets the most out of his picks. New England can use help at cornerback, safety and another pass-rusher on the edge.

BUFFALO BILLS

Will they really be players in free agency?

Bills general manager Buddy Nix surprised a lot of football observers this offseason when he said the team will spend to the cap and chase the best free agents. Buffalo is infamous for keeping a low payroll, but Nix said the Bills will spend this year.

Buffalo lived up to that early billing by recently going after CB Stanford Routt, who has reached an agreement with Kansas City. Even though Routt didn't choose Buffalo, it was a good sign the Bills are willing to go after top-end talent.

The biggest issue for the Bills: Can they convince big-name free agents to come to Buffalo? It's not often talked about, but the Bills traditionally struggle to land good free agents when competing against winning teams in more desirable cities. If the money and years are equal, Buffalo often comes up short.

This is a good year to spend money in free agency. There are a lot of very good players available, and Buffalo may have to overpay to get some on the roster.

NEW YORK JETS

Can they fix the offense?

New York's 25th-ranked offense sprung leaks everywhere last season. Sometimes it was the offensive line. Sometimes it was the quarterback and receivers. Poor play calling also was a factor.

This offseason the Jets' biggest priority is getting their offense back on track. The Jets already made steps in that direction by replacing offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, who is responsible for improving chemistry and getting everyone on the same page.

Veterans such as starting receiver Plaxico Burress and future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson are not expected to return. New York won't have much cap space, so the team must get creative while making upgrades.

This is also a huge offseason for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has made only marginal strides in his three seasons. The Jets publicly back the third-year quarterback. The team knows if Sanchez plays well and remains confident, everything else on offense falls into place.

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