Sports Outside the Beltway

Are Miami Dolphin owner Wayne Huizenga and Def. Coordinator Don Capers Clueless?

From the Palm Beach Post-

DAVIE — As the winless Miami Dolphins’ 2007 season disintegrates into the blame game, Dom Capers and his struggling defense stand as Exhibit A in what has gone wrong this season.

In a season of record-setting futility, the 0-8 Dolphins’ collapse from one of the NFL’s best defenses to one of its worst remains the biggest surprise.

Heading into the bye weekend, Capers said a new problem seems to pop up every game.

In losses to Cleveland and New England, Miami yielded nine touchdown passes. In losses to Washington, Oakland and the New York Giants, the Dolphins gave up an average of 226 rushing yards.

“From week to week, it’s varied a little bit,” he said Thursday of the problems. “There’s nobody that is pleased with where we are right now.”

Count owner Wayne Huizenga among them.

“We were convinced we had one heck of a strong defense,” Huizenga said last week. “You want to talk about being surprised.”Just exactly why the defense has struggled remains a mystery.

The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, end Jason Taylor, and the franchise’s all-time leading tackler, Zach Thomas, both returned.

The Dolphins also re-signed tackle Vonnie Holliday and signed linebacker Joey Porter to a five-year, $32 million deal, $20 million of which was guaranteed.

But injuries have sidelined Thomas for three games, Holliday for four and Porter for all four exhibition games. Things are even worse at safety, where the Dolphins have had to start eight different players, a big reason the team has had a different starting lineup each game.

“We don’t use that as an excuse, but it’s a fact of life,” Capers said.

Some other facts of Dolphins life:

A season after finishing fifth in the NFL in scoring defense, Miami is last, allowing an average of 30.5 points.

The Dolphins also rank last in third-down defense (50 percent) and second-to-last in run defense (160.5 yards per game).

Last season, the Dolphins had 47 sacks. This season, they have just 10, along with only four interceptions.

Just two teams have allowed more touchdown passes than the 15 against Miami.

Capers, an NFL coach since 1986, is sure to be one of the hot topics as Huizenga and his top administrators comb through the franchise to help turn the team around.

Huizenga made a point to retain Capers, the team’s defensive coordinator last season, even making him the league’s highest-paid assistant.

Now Capers is being questioned about his role in signing Porter, who hasn’t met expectations, his use of Taylor and his overall scheme.

Capers said he researched Porter, a three-time Pro Bowler in Pittsburgh, and spoke to people in the Steelers’ organization, where Capers coached from 1992-94.

“I gave my input in terms of what I thought Joey was and what he could contribute,” Capers said.

Porter, 30, had right knee surgery Aug. 7 and struggled to learn Miami’s pass-coverage schemes. That’s why, early this season, he often played on the defensive line, facing players 75 pounds heavier.

Lets address several things

1- The Porter signing. For the second year in a row, Miami signed or traded for a player who had a bum knee. The physicians for the Dolphins who gave medical oks for Porter and Daunte Culpepper should be fired.

If management and or coaching were told of the risk and they ignored it, they deserve to be fired. Ok, Nick Saban is gone.

2- The Dolphin defense was ranked 4th in the NFL last year, they were also the oldest starting unit in the NFL. A look at the team’s starting defensive line tells the story. No 2006 starter had less than 8 years experience in the NFL. Going into this season, the team had the oldest front seven in the league

So what does Miami do at draft time? Go out and draft offensive players. Don’t say I didn’t warn people about the age of the Dolphin because I did. Saying at the time of the draft Miami should have selected Amobi Okoye or Patrick Willis rather than an offensive player.

3- New problems popping up. Go read #2 again. Old players are more likely to get injured.

I’m not laying all the blame at Capers feet, the Dolphins defensive woes are the result of poor personnel decisions going back a decade. Capers is just a small part of the picture, but from this article you get the idea the coordinator is just plain clueless. Firing Capers won’t solve the mess, as long as he knows why Miami is where they are today and that they need fixing.

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