Pasquarelli’s Porpoise Puff Piece

August 1, 2007 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Gridiron, Jackie Manuel | 1 Comment

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Here I was thinking Miami was going to have a really bad season in 2007. Pfttttt…Len Pasquarelli has the inside scoop from training camp!

DAVIE, Fla. — For quarterback Trent Green, it seems appropriate that the Miami Dolphins‘ training facility is located on the grounds of Nova University, since the trade that brought the 13-year veteran here represents a new and exciting opportunity even at this late juncture of his playing career.

I agree with this. The Phin’s training facility IS on the grounds of Nova U, Green IS a 13 year vet, and many defensive ends ARE excited about this new opportunity to murder Trent Green.

There is nothing new, though, about the high regard in which Miami first-year coach Cam Cameron holds Green, which explains why Cameron pushed so hard to acquire the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, and remained steadfast in his pursuit of Green through a nearly three-month soap opera in which Kansas City officials tediously dragged out the trade negotiations.

I’m practically drooling to finally learn why Cammy Cameron crushes so hard for Trent.

Most people peg Cameron’s fondness for Green to the two years the men worked together in Washington (1995 and 1996). Back then, Cameron was the Redskins’ quarterbacks coach and Green a promising but unproven passer who had already been released by the San Diego Chargers, played a season in the CFL and had yet to take his first snap in an NFL regular-season game.

The golden years.

But the genesis of the relationship actually goes back to Oct. 19, 1991, when Green was a junior at Indiana University and Cameron — himself an IU grad who had also played quarterback there, for Lee Corso — was coaching the quarterbacks and wide receivers at the University of Michigan. In front of a crowd of 106,097 in The Big House that day, Green and his badly outmanned Hoosiers teammates led the fourth-ranked Wolverines for much of the contest before succumbing, 24-16. The manner in which Green moved Indiana up and down the field, and even more so the obvious leadership qualities he exuded, stuck with Cameron.

They made, in fact, an indelible impression.

“Watching from the sidelines that day, I thought, ‘There’s really something to this guy,'” Cameron recalled between Monday practice sessions. “And it went beyond throwing the football or running the offense. He competed. And he raised the level of the guys around him. You make mental notes about players like that and you keep an eye on them. When we had a chance to bring him to Washington, to sign him there, I was all for it. He was a guy with whom I really wanted the opportunity to work.”

Harpoon me. Please. I can’t even snark…I…you…I …..CAM CAMERON TRADED FOR TRENT GREEN BECAUSE HE WAS DECENT IN A LOSS TO MICHINGAN IN 1991!!!!!!!!!

1991 For F*cks Sake. I was in junior high. Miami has a Alzheimer’s candidate at QB because of Cam’s hard on from 1991…..I…I…(passing out from anger)

But with a Redskins depth chart that included first-round draft pick Heath Shuler and Gus Frerotte in 1995-96, Green got very little work. For two straight seasons, he was listed as the No. 3 or “emergency” quarterback. It wasn’t until 1997, after Cameron had departed to become head coach at Indiana, that Green made his first cameo appearance, throwing one pass that season.

(waking up) OK..I feel better…it is not just his memory of Indiana Green, Cammy also remembers when Green was not good enough to beat out HEATH SHULER AND GUS FREROTTE. Heath Shuler is in the House of Representatives. Gus Frerotte is dead(not true). That pass was not just any pass. (incomplete)

Green, 37, figures to throw a few more than that in 2007.

Depends on whether we count the pre-season passes before his murder.

He and Cameron represent the latest coach-quarterback tandem trying to recapture the kind of success that Hall of Fame members Don Shula and Dan Marino brought to the franchise. And while Cameron has yet to officially anoint Green as the starter, and insists there is still competition for the job, the veteran will in all likelihood become the 11th different Dolphins starter since Marino retired following the 1999 season.

I’ll assume by He, Len means Trent Green….in which case he just placed Trent Green and Cam Cameron in the same sentence with Don Shula and Dan Marino. Clearly Len bombed the analogy portion of the ESPN entrance exam.

The challenge now will be for Green and Cameron to fit together the pieces of an offense that has not added many new personnel to a unit that statistically ranked 20th in the league in 2006, but which sorely needs some upgrading. The line clearly is a work in progress. Third-year tailback Ronnie Brown needs to become more of a centerpiece-type player. Veteran wide receivers Chris Chambers and Marty Booker have to overcome some inconsistencies and the Dolphins have to identify a No. 3 guy to go with them.

Did Green happen to major in miracles at Indiana?

Finally landing Green, though, and for the palatable price of just a fifth-round draft pick, provides Cameron the keystone piece to the jigsaw puzzle.

Here is the completed puzzle.

“He’s definitely a leader,” said Chambers, a talented six-year veteran whose production plummeted precipitously in 2006 after a career year in 2005, but who should benefit from having Green on board. “He knows the offense and he knows how to win. He’s had some big seasons and, except for the [head] injury last year, he probably would have had another good year. So, yeah, you look to a guy like that to make a difference. I’m not sure people realize how good he has been.”

Cam has no idea.

The head trauma Green suffered in the 2006 season opener, when he scrambled out of the pocket and was hit by Cincinnati defensive end Robert Geathers, cost him eight games and, perhaps, ultimately, his job with the Chiefs. But there are no residual effects; Green has passed all the neurological tests and is girded to be a 16-game starter again.

Don’t forger about the head trauma. I’m girded for a 3 win season.

If he can put up the kind of passing numbers he did during most of his Kansas City tenure, the Dolphins figure to get two or three more seasons from Green. That would allow them to groom Green’s likely successor, second-round pick John Beck, who has thrown the ball well in the early stages of camp. After years in which it appeared the Dolphins’ organization had done little long-term planning at the quarterback position, it now seems there is a blueprint of sorts in place. After years of waiting to work together as coach and starting quarterback, Cameron and Green feel they’re in a good place, too.

“It’s where I wanted to be, with a coach I wanted to be with, and you don’t always get that,” Green said. “Now it’s up to us to make it work.”

Just f*ck and get it over with.

If that quality journalism wasn’t enough to ruin my week, Pasquarelli also has five observations besides Cammy hearts Trent:

DAVIE, Fla. — Five observations from Miami Dolphins training camp, gleaned from the team’s July 30 practices:

1. Defense still going strong


Because of the success that first-year head coach Cam Cameron had in San Diego as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator, much of the attention in camp has focused on that side of the ball. But it’s the Miami defense that has set the tone in the early days of camp. If the Monday practices are an indication of what’s to come, a unit that statistically ranked No. 4 overall in the NFL in 2006 could be just as good in 2007. Cameron made an excellent decision in retaining coordinator Dom Capers from Nick Saban’s staff, and so the Dolphins weren’t forced to undergo the kind of transition on defense they are encountering offensively.

Continuity of scheme certainly is evident at this early juncture. While the perception is that the unit is an aging one — a justifiable concern, given that seven starters have at least six seasons of experience, five have eight years or more in the league, and the average age is 27.8 years — the defense doesn’t appear to have slowed down very much. In the Monday morning session, the defense had five interceptions, and the secondary allowed few open windows into which the Dolphins’ quarterbacks could throw. The outside pass rush combination of Jason Taylor and Joey Porter could be very good — assuming that the Pittsburgh Steelers, who released Porter, weren’t correct in their estimation that he is in decline. He looked fine on Monday, but in the afternoon walk-through was corrected several times by coaches because of mental errors. One unheralded player to watch is fourth-year safety Yeremiah Bell, who demonstrates awareness and seems to get everyone aligned in the right place.

Yep that defense is destroying. When do we play Miami this season….oh you mean most teams have a QB under 35 not coming off of severe head trauma protected by a….

2. New-look offensive line


Another of the assistants retained by Cameron, standout offensive line coach Hudson Houck, could be critical to Miami’s success in 2007. The unit certainly is a work in progress and, while Cameron cautioned to not read too much into the various combinations that he has used so far, the Dolphins could field a starting quintet that doesn’t have a single player back in the same position as 2006.

The left side of the line seems set, with tackle Vernon Carey having moved there from the right side, and free-agent addition Chris Liwienski. The composition of the right side, at least on Monday, was somewhat surprising. The guard was rookie Drew Mormino, a sixth-round draft choice, and third-year veteran Anthony Alabi, who has never started a regular-season game, was at tackle. Curiously absent were L.J. Shelton and Rex Hadnot, neither of whom has worked a snap yet with the first unit.

The Dolphins moved Hadnot, who started all 16 games at center in 2006, to right guard, ostensibly because they feel his size and ability to pull could make him a star there. Shelton started 16 games at left tackle last year. The coaches love rookie center Samson Satele, their second-round pick, and he seems all but certain to start. Despite playing in a run-and-shoot offense at Hawaii, Satele looks like a strong in-line drive-blocker and he’s a very dedicated worker with nice football smarts.

Satele is strong, dedicated, and smart…not very good at football but that’s overrated. Holy God that paragraph is scary.

3. Brown’s expanded role


Like his former Auburn running mate, Cadillac Williams of Tampa Bay, tailback Ronnie Brown probably is going to be used more as a receiver in Cameron’s offense. A polished receiver in college, Brown had 65 catches in his first two NFL seasons. While the team’s 2005 first-round pick might not catch as many balls as San Diego’s Ladanian Tomlinson did in Cameron’s five seasons as coordinator there — the Chargers’ star averaged 69 receptions and posted 100 catches in 2003 — Brown will definitely figure into the Miami passing game more than in the past.

He also can expect to handle the ball more in general, after averaging 256.5 “touches” in 2005-2006. Which is fine with Brown, who has dropped five pounds from his former 235-pound playing weight.

“I want this offense to be able to rely on me,” Brown said. “I’m ready to carry the load, whatever it is, running the ball, catching it, whatever they want.”

Miami needs to develop a backup to Brown, and look for mighty-mite Lorenzo Booker of Florida State, a third-rounder this year, to evolve into a complementary-type back. Booker has big-play elusiveness and, if the Dolphins can get him the ball in space, he can make things happen.

The important parts of this are: 1. Ronnie Brown want to touch the ball more. 2. He lost weight. 3. His backup is a rookie. At least we have a plan.

4. Ginn’s learning curve


First-round wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., the ninth-overall selection in the draft, will help in the punt return game, but doesn’t look accomplished enough as a receiver yet to assume the No. 3 role behind starters Chris Chambers and Marty Booker. It’s not difficult to discern the dynamic open-field skills of Ginn on punt returns, and the coaches have been impressed by his fearlessness in that area. But the former Ohio State star, who still isn’t 100 percent yet physically after suffering a severe foot sprain in the national championship game in January, doesn’t play nearly as fast when he’s aligned as a wideout.

Still, given his home-run skills, it’s going to be hard not to put Ginn on the field and hope he can handle the learning curve as a receiver. Cameron also might elect to use Booker in the slot at times. For now, the No. 3 wide receiver is probably Derek Hagan, a second-year veteran. The Dolphins released one of the better receiving tight ends in the NFL in Randy McMichael, and the presumptive replacement, six-year veteran David Martin, isn’t nearly as proven a pass-catcher. The former Green Bay tight end has 87 receptions in six years and has never posted more than 27 in a season. McMichael never had fewer than 39 in a year.

I forgot about Ginn…..but its good to hear the WR’s speed does not translate to WR. Completed passes from Green to Ginn at 7.5….anyone want the over?

5. Youth movement


Miami has brought in some big, young bodies on the defensive line, and needs some of them to grow up to provide the team better depth, and to set themselves up as the eventual replacements for aging veterans such as Taylor (32), Keith Traylor (37) and Vonnie Holliday (31). The most intriguing might be Rodrique Wright, a seventh-round pick in 2006 who missed his entire rookie campaign because of a shoulder injury. A dominating player at times during his college career, Wright has size and athleticism, and is being used more at end than tackle this season.

Third-year pro Kevin Vickerson and rookies Paul Soliai and Brian Soi are big, beefy tackles, and third-year end Matt Roth looks like he is making progress.

Ah yes…when I think of the 2007 Miami Dolphins I think youth….and wonder when the next rebuilding project starts.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jackie Manuel has a posse.

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  1. Jackie Manuel was signed by the Boston Celtics today. That is how I, and probably some others, ended up at your site…


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