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Andy Cohen In The Morning will appear every Monday through Friday until the end of the season, except for the bye week. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m.
By on April 15, 2014 at 5:55 am

140415_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason.

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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It may be the offseason, and the regular season is still five long months away, but the Miami Dolphins are already taking their game to another level.

The level we are talking about has to do with technology, with creating an environment where information can be evaluated far faster and with greater efficiency than ever before, where a simple touch of a screen can provide the type of information that can be crucial when the words “The Dolphins Are on the Clock” vibrate through the airwaves.

Let me take you, as I was taken Monday afternoon, into Dennis Hickey’s second floor office at the Dolphins training complex. There used to be a big magnetic board in this office where players were rated and, as their rating rose or fell, those magnets were moved accordingly.

Today, that big board has been replaced by a huge screen mounted on Hickey’s wall. He calls it a Smart Board. I call it a General Manager’s best friend. It is probably 80 inches in diameter and looks a lot like a Smart TV. But this baby is programmed for football, for scouting, for ranking players at each position and for giving the Dolphins the ability to change directions and to re-think their intentions far quicker than ever before.

“We wanted to push the envelope,” Hickey said. “We wanted to reach another level.”

As Hickey speaks, he calls up a list of draft rankings to demonstrate how easy it is to swap one player with another and how quickly he can access information. The Tampa Bay Bucs, Hickey’s old employer, installed this system a couple of years ago. The day Hickey was hired by the Dolphins, he began the process of bringing it here. There is already a Smart Board in Joe Philbin’s office. There will be two on the draft room wall, one for offense, the other for defense. It’s safe to say there isn’t a magnet left in the facility.

This is all part of Dennis Hickey’s master plan. If there is an advantage, Hickey wants to find it. If there is a more efficient way to do something, Hickey wants to explore it. If speed is an essential element in coming up with the most important decisions, Hickey wants to utilize the most up-to-date technology.

But it doesn’t stop there. Hickey is also creating an Analytics Department where numbers will be crunched like never before, where you can compare statistics and trends and all sorts of numerical oddities. It seems to me just like a scene out of Moneyball. That’s probably still a couple of months away, but you can hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about it.

“I’ve always been a number’s guy,” he said. “Having an analytics department will allow us to test conventional wisdom and have data and numbers work for you.”

I interrupted Hickey for a second. “There is nothing old guard about you, is there Dennis?” I asked.

He smiled: “Not really. The only thing old guard about me is scouting. It still comes down to boots on the ground, watching tape and looking into a player’s eyes. As valuable as these tools here are, they can never replace that.”

I remember when I first started covering the Dolphins back in 1980, Don Shula had a big board with an eraser and statistics written with black marker all over it. That was his computer. That was his technology. That was the only way he knew.

And now, 34 years later, the landscape is different; the technology is so much more advanced. Dennis Hickey would love nothing more than to duplicate the success Shula enjoyed; he simply has different tools now and some very neat things at his disposal.

Hickey is cutting edge. He is about speed and efficiency and making sense of thousands and thousands of pieces of information that are now hidden in the depths of that Smart Board on his wall.

“It all comes down to how we collect the information and how we access it,” he said. “We’re not doing technology for technology sake. We’re doing it to be quicker and more efficient.”

Hickey isn’t sure how many other teams have implemented a similar system. These are things that teams just don’t share with one another. His only concern these days are what the Dolphins are doing and how they are doing it.

Which is why he brought in the Smart Board. I can easily see it as a huge advantage on draft day when there are so many factors to process as the seconds grow short and the pressure builds. But this isn’t only about the draft. It can help in free agency, in evaluating your own roster, in evaluating opponents and in just about every other part of the scouting operation.

“This is still in the infancy stages for us,” said Hickey, standing in front of that big colorful screen on his wall. “There is so much we can still do with it.”

And then he summed it all up perfectly with one sentence. “It all comes down to wanting to be the best that we can be.”

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on March 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

140327_CohenAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason.

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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This is the back I wanted to see the Dolphins sign. Someone with the entire package. Running. Catching. Blocking. Tough yards. Big plays. Winning pedigree. Knowshon Moreno brings with him the type of resume you relish in a running back, the type of resume that could mean a huge upgrade for the Miami Dolphins.

I have liked Moreno since the first time I saw him at the University of Georgia. There was something about him, an attitude, a passion, one of those intangibles you can’t quite put your finger on but you know it’s there. And then I saw it continue with the Denver Broncos where Moreno enjoyed his finest season in 2013, rushing for over 1,000 yards, catching 60 passes and leveling more than his share of incoming blitzers.

That’s a tough Denver offense to break into, let alone become such an integral part of its success. But Moreno proved he belonged. Proved it every Sunday. And now, he is a Miami Dolphin, in the prime of his career, with a strong, healthy body and still so much to prove. A football team that had made some significant progress early in free agency just took another huge step.

I truthfully don’t mind the fact that Moreno signed just a one-year contract. Keeps the fire burning a little stronger. I think back to Brent Grimes a season ago and how he signed a one-year contract and played like a man on a mission. The end result got Grimes a long-term ticket with the Dolphins. We can only hope that Moreno’s path takes a similar route.

This season will be his time, his chance to demonstrate he can be the long-term answer for this football team. What more could Moreno really ask for at this point in his career?

I know the Dolphins have Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee and these backs have shown some good things. But let’s not fool ourselves. You don’t bring in a player like Moreno unless the intended design includes about 20 touches a game. Now, he just has to do show that he deserves it, which is what the offseason and training camp is all about.

This signing is an important one for the Dolphins in so many ways. It fills a need. It opens up further possibilities in the draft. It creates more alternatives for free agency. I am so impressed with Dennis Hickey’s first offseason here. Not only the way he and Joe Philbin operate as one, but also his calm, calculating demeanor.

But, really, how he acts is secondary to what he does. And what Hickey has done over the past few months is improve this football team, improve it on the offensive line, on the defensive line, in the secondary and now at running back.

Granted, none of us really know how all these pieces will mesh until we see it come together this summer. But, just by judging results, just by going through this team’s needs and how they are being addressed, Hickey is off to about as good a start as any of us could have asked for. He has spent big dollars when necessary, but seems to have also maintained a level of fiscal sanity. The latest signing could be one of his biggest coups.

Knowshon Moreno adds instant versatility to this offense. I like to call him The Back of all Trades. But he is most dangerous with the ball tucked under his arms. It’s no secret the Dolphins had trouble running the ball last season. Statistics don’t lie. There were too many negative plays, too many third-and-stuffs.

Sure, a lot of that had to do with the problems on the offensive line. But quality running backs can make yardage on their own, can break tackles on their own. The Dolphins did not have enough of that last season. Knowshon Moreno, I believe, has the ability to do something about that.

You think Ryan Tannehill likes this move? Now he’s got an elite left tackle and a difference-maker at running back. Folks, he just became a better quarterback.

And the Miami Dolphins just became a better football team.

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on March 26, 2014 at 5:40 am

140326_AC_AM2Andy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason. Occasionally, like today, Andy will provide six things to think about. Thus, the title, “Six at Six.”

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Coach Joe Philbin, General Manager Dennis Hickey and Owner Stephen Ross all spoke at the owners meeting Tuesday and here are some of the things I took away from their comments:

1. I think it was important that Philbin said, “I believe in Mike Pouncey very strongly.” And here is what I believe: Pouncey is a good, decent man and a class act, who obviously made some mistakes in the handling of the Jonathan Martin situation. He will be evaluated, probably accept whatever comes, and move on with his career. We should move on as well. Pouncey, despite his indiscretions, is more a solution than a problem. The Dolphins need more players just like him. And I believe strongly that whatever evaluations are done will clearly depict this.

2. Philbin couldn’t have been more correct when he commented on running back Lamar Miller needing, more than anything else, to start breaking tackles. This, in my mind, will define what kind of back Miller becomes. What he did last season – or didn’t do – simply won’t cut it. He can’t go down after the first hit; he must make people miss. I personally want to see the Dolphins bring in a top echelon back to challenge Miller. But it’s up to Miller to determine whether he tumbles down the roster or continues to be a factor.

3. Both Philbin and Hickey spoke about the 2013 Dolphins draft class and how important this season will be for that group. It is too early, in my opinion, to form any conclusions. But I won’t be saying that a year from now. I believe No. 1 pick Dion Jordan will get his shot to be an every down player, just as I believe that Will Davis and Jamar Taylor will contend for the starting cornerback job opposite Brent Grimes. Those are the three second-year players who will go a long way to defining that 2013 Dolphins draft.

4. All indications are that the Dolphins expect wide receiver Brandon Gibson to be back next season after going down with a serious knee injury late in the year. Gibson was having a productive season before his injury and he is a quality slot receiver who balances out very well with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. If he returns at 100 percent – never a sure thing – he will give this offense the diversity it was lacking over the final few games of the season.

5. Some more observations about Hickey. He’d probably make an excellent poker player because he doesn’t give away his hand as much as the media tries to prod. He’ll only talk specifically about the players on the current roster and he refuses to speculate about more signings or draft picks. It is increasingly clear, however, that Hickey and Philbin share all thoughts, evaluate players together, and form conclusions as one. You may not think this is important, but it is essential.

6. And finally, there was Owner Stephen Ross talking about stadium improvements and his hope of bringing a Super Bowl back to South Florida and how this team has taken some positive steps this offseason and how the locker room events of last season “opened everyone’s eyes.”  But, most importantly, he said this: “I want to make this team a winning team on and off the field.”  Now that’s a goal worth striving for.

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on March 18, 2014 at 5:50 am

140804AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason. Occasionally, like today, Andy will provide six things to think about. Thus, the title, “Six at Six.”

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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1. It’s so easy now to see the pieces coming together. A left tackle. A defensive tackle. A guard. A cornerback. It all fits. It all makes sense. It is all part of The Plan to re-tool the Dolphins quickly and efficiently. Week one of free agency gave us the first real sign of what the new tandem of GM Dennis Hickey and Coach Joe Philbin is all about. And, truthfully, how can you not be impressed?

2. The Dolphins showed us a nice mixture of going for the big money talent and going for value. They quickly closed the deal on left tackle Branden Albert, and didn’t hesitate opening the vault. They paid what the market dictated. Then with some of the others, like defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and offensive guard Shelley Smith, they went with players who have just scratched the surface of potential. They paid enough to make it happen, but didn’t overspend. The same with defensive tackle Randy Starks.

3. Dennis Hickey has gotten off to a solid start as the team’s general manager. He clearly does his homework and comes across as sincere and diligent. I’m anxious to see where he goes from here. I like the fact that he didn’t mind rolling the dice a little with a player like cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who struggled last season in St. Louis after putting together an impressive resume with the Titans for six seasons. Low risk, very high reward.

4. Imagine if Finnegan works out. Imagine if he returns to the form that saw him become one of the league’s most consistently good corners. The Dolphins would then have perhaps the smallest starting duo in the league (both Brent Grimes and Finnegan are about 5-9) but the feistiest as well. I just love the attitude that Grimes and Finnegan brings to each Sunday. Let’s just hope it’s contagious.

5. There is still plenty of work ahead on the offensive line but left tackle is set with Albert, center remains solid with Mike Pouncey and you can now pencil in Smith at one of the guard positions. That leaves one tackle and a guard and maybe some added depth to find in free agency and the draft. With three of the five pieces in place, a complete makeover/upgrade is clearly now attainable.

6. What now? What should we expect in Week Two and beyond? The answer is simple: More of the same. I expect the Dolphins to continue to look for value, and there’s still plenty of that out there. Oh, Hickey may have one or two big splashes left (running back? right tackle?) but I don’t see panic on the agenda and I continue to see a well-defined plan of attack unfolding before the draft fills in most of the final pieces.

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on March 13, 2014 at 5:55 am

140313_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason. Occasionally, like today, Andy will provide six things to think about. Thus, the title, “Six at Six.”

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Another day passes, and the Dolphins stay busy, in the wildest beginning to free agency I can remember. Press conferences to introduce Branden Albert and Earl Mitchell. The surprise re-signing of Randy Starks. A trade late Tuesday with San Francisco. More rumors flying everywhere. What’s next? Do we get a minute to catch our breath? Apparently not.

So while your head is spinning and the Dolphins keep moving on, here are six thoughts from Day Two.

1. It’s still early, but I like what I’ve seen so far from new General Manager Dennis Hickey. It is clear he has a well thought out plan, just as it’s clear that Hickey and Coach Joe Philbin are working in sync, both with the same objectives. It’s truthfully refreshing to see.

2. We got to meet the team’s new left tackle Wednesday and Albert is an impressive looking man who said all the right things. “I’m going to make a difference,” he said confidently. There isn’t much of a gamble in this signing. The Dolphins know what they are getting and there seems to be a real comfort zone within the organization now that the most important position on the offensive line has been filled.

3. The Dolphins regressed last season at stopping the run, which had a lot to do with the quick, decisive signing of defensive tackle Earl Mitchell. Asked to describe himself, Mitchell quickly responded, “passionate.” I would choose another “p” word: Productive. Mitchell – only 26 years old — is coming off his best season with the Houston Texans (87 tackles, 1 ½ sacks) and he takes a lot of pride in being a force against the run. “I’m ready to make plays,” he said. And you get the feeling he really means it.

4. You can now check the defensive line off your list of offseason needs. With the signing of Mitchell and the re-signing of veteran Randy Starks, the Dolphins are loaded up front and can now move on to other areas. I didn’t expect Starks to return, but this is a huge bonus for this defense and the trio of Mitchell, Starks and Jared Odrick will give the Dolphins plenty of flexibility. I always thought Starks was as consistent as any player on this team. Great to see him back.

5. The trade of Jonathan Martin had to happen. The Dolphins, plain and simple, could not have kept him on their roster after the events of last season. Working out a deal with San Francisco was a smart idea for everyone concerned. It is home for Martin and he’ll be playing for his former college coach (Jim Harbaugh). As for the Dolphins, they did not get back anything close to the second-round pick they had invested on Martin. But at least they got something and at least they can say they did what was best for the player.

6. What’s next? I’m sure the Dolphins will be looking for another tackle and some guards to help fill out the offensive line. Maybe a cornerback or linebacker. The more they accomplish in free agency, the more options they’ll have in the draft. I’m also very interested to see what unfolds at running back. There are some intriguing possibilities in free agency, players who have already had productive careers. But do you move in that direction or wait until the draft? Who knows, maybe Day 3 of this wackiest of weeks will bring us that answer.

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on March 11, 2014 at 6:22 pm

140311_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason.

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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The Dolphins wasted no time. They found their left tackle. The most glaring need on this football team has reportedly been filled. Branden Albert has put together a football resume over six seasons that makes you feel confident that this is the right choice at precisely the right moment.

The offensive line, even with so many questions still out there, looks a lot better today than it did yesterday. The Dolphins deserve credit for getting their man. For moving swiftly and confidently. For recognizing what the market dictated and paying the price that needed to pay to acquire a talent of this significance. The contract is reportedly for five years.

It’s a start. A nice start. An important start. Now there is more building to do, especially on the offensive line. Now the Dolphins must find players to help complement Albert’s abilities. They’ll do it in free agency. They’ll do it in the draft. They’ll research every possible avenue. That’s what you need to do when one area needs as many new pieces as this offensive line.

Albert fits the mold the Dolphins are looking for. He excels at protecting the passer, clearly a major need as evidenced by the 58 sacks given up by the Dolphins a season ago. He is big, strong, agile and has a track record of consistency. What more can you really ask for?

The Dolphins were interested in trading for Albert last season, but it never reached fruition. Their interest only intensified when Albert became an unrestricted free agent. It is clear that General Manager Dennis Hickey and Coach Joe Philbin are on the same page here. Both coveted this player. Both realized the importance of starting this reconstruction project at left tackle, Ryan Tannehill’s blind side. Now, it becomes easier to fill in the rest of the pieces.

Quality tackles, let alone left tackles, are a valuable commodity. There is a reason you don’t see many out there in free agency. So when one becomes available, as Albert did, you have to move quickly, have to move decisively. The Dolphins did both.

Another benefit to making this move in free agency is that it gives the Dolphins more options with their first-round pick in the draft. You go into the draft without a left tackle and you absolutely have to take one early on and hope he matures in a hurry. Now, the Dolphins have the freedom to go in a different direction. And that freedom is like a piece of gold with a team having as many needs as the Dolphins.

Another one of those needs was taken care of on Monday when the Dolphins signed free agent safety Louis Delmas, who was available early because he was released by the Lions. Delmas will team with Reshad Jones to give the Dolphins a pair of productive safeties. What do I like most? Delmas brings an added physical presence – translation: he loves to hit – to a defense that could certainly use more of that.

What happens next? Plenty. There are reports that the Dolphins are in contract talks with Texans nose tackle Earl Mitchell. If Mitchell signs, he will fill the void vacated by free agents Paul Soliai  (signed with Atlanta) and Randy Starks. Those are difficult players to replace. But the Dolphins obviously have a strong conviction that Mitchell, just 26 years old, has a big upside.

The Dolphins, I believe, will continue to be active players in free agency. They have more decisions to make at linebacker, at running back and, of course, all over the offensive line.

Except for left tackle. You can now check that off your list. The Dolphins have a good one, a real good one. And now they can move on, comfortable that the most important position on the offensive line is in capable hands.

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 RELATED CONTENT

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on March 11, 2014 at 5:55 am

140311_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason.

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Who will the Dolphins sign? How aggressive will they be? Do they go for the marquee names in the first week or sit back, evaluate the landscape, and then make their move? Yes, the sweet smell of free agency is in the air. And isn’t it refreshing?

This is a franchise that desperately needs to move on and Free Agency 2014, which begins today, affords them the opportunity to do exactly that. The rumors are flying everywhere. The agents are whispering to their confidants. The negotiations have reached the fast lane. And the Dolphins, with plenty of money and all sorts of needs, are right in the middle of it all.

I expect the Dolphins to be aggressive over the next few weeks. Kind of like a hurry-up offense in mid-March. But I’m also realistic about what can be accomplished. You don’t turn around an entire football team in one free agency period. That’s for dreamers. But you can, nonetheless, fill all sorts of needs, build some real offseason momentum and set the stage for a productive draft.

Yes, the fun is about to begin. No, it doesn’t come close to replacing that feeling of a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon in September at Sun Life Stadium. But, as far as the offseason goes, free agency and the NFL Draft are about as good as it gets.

It’s time for research to produce results, time for convictions to produce contracts, time for the Dolphins to start improving as a football team. There is plenty to do and the decisions that are made over the next several weeks will have a profound affect on both the short term and long term fortunes of this team.

Dennis Hickey and Joe Philbin, you are on the clock.

I’m really interested to see how the offseason game plan takes shape, the strategy Hickey and Philbin utilizes in re-building this offensive line and the areas, other than the line, where change is deemed most important. Running back? Linebacker? You’ve heard the rumors. Now they start coming to life. Now we start getting a clear sign of the goals and priorities.

What we know right now is that the status quo isn’t the answer. We know that what happened at the end of last season simply won’t suffice. The mandate is clear and undeniable. Fix the problems. Upgrade the talent. Spend wisely.

I’ve said this before and I will keep repeating it. It doesn’t matter what decisions Hickey has made in the past; it matters what he does with this team at this time. That’s how he will be judged. That’s how he should be judged. It’s all about making prudent decisions just like the one that was made in signing cornerback Brent Grimes to a four-year contract. That sent an important message. What happens over the next few weeks will send an equally important message.

I’ve been asked numerous times over the past few months which of the available left tackles the Dolphins should go after in free agency. My answer is always the same: The right one. I’m not being funny as much as I am truthful. We’ve seen this franchise select “the wrong one” far too many times over the years at all sorts of positons. We’ve seen millions of dollars spent on the offensive line alone without the results any of us were looking for.

That needs to change. And those changes need to begin now. Hickey and Philbin have established an excellent working rapport in a short amount of time. They share similar views and strategies and have, I’m told, put together a well-calculated plan of attack.

Today, that plan begins to unfold. A different type of March Madness has arrived for the Miami Dolphins.

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 RELATED CONTENT

2014 Free Agency: Complete Preview
Free Agency Preview: Offensive Linemen
Free Agency Preview: Defensive Line
Free Agency Preview: Wide Receivers
Free Agency Preview: Tight Ends
Free Agency Preview: Running Backs
Free Agency Preview: Linebackers

 

 

 


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on March 4, 2014 at 5:55 am

140304_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason. Occasionally, like today, Andy will provide six things to think about. Thus, the title, “Six at Six.”

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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1. This was an important first step. Placing a franchise tag on Brent Grimes wouldn’t have been the desired result. He is too talented to lock up for just one year and there were too many salary cap ramifications that would have limited the team’s flexibility this offseason. A win-win for everyone involved.

2. Grimes was arguably the best player on the defense last season. He is 30 years old and still in the prime of his career. We know what we are getting in Grimes and the importance of a shut down corner, capable of making big, game-changing plays, can not be overstated. The Dolphins clearly have a lot of work to do this offseason, but this was a huge piece and it set the right kind of tone heading into free agency.

3. Interesting how things can work out for a player of Grimes’ pedigree. Supposedly too small his entire life. Undrafted out of tiny Shippensburg University. Suffered a serious Achilles injury two years ago in Atlanta. Who would have given him much of a chance of standing at that podium Monday afternoon at Dolphins headquarters, talking about a four-year, multi-million contract with a nice piece of change guaranteed? Grimes is a great example of the inexact science of evaluating players. As Grimes once told me last season, “they haven’t figured out yet how to measure heart.”

4. With the Grimes situation resolved, what happens next with the Dolphins secondary? Safety Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent and cornerback Dimitri Patterson has a huge cap number to consider before bringing him back next season. Is this where a pair of last season’s rookies, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, get a chance to move up? One thing for sure: Filling in those pieces is a much more palatable thought with Grimes locked up.

5. The start of free agency is a week away. There are some important decisions that must be made in-house before things heat up too much. Seems like the most significant issue at this juncture involves veteran defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Randy Starks, both unrestricted free agents. Do the Dolphins try to re-sign both? Do they opt for one of them? They are both valuable pieces on this defense. It’s a tough call because, even with significant cap flexibility, the Dolphins have a long list of needs, starting with an offensive line that needs just about a thorough makeover.

6. Finally, new General Manager Dennis Hickey now that he has been on the job for about a month. My initial impressions: Not much flash, but plenty of substance. Hickey is an extremely hard worker who seems to have his priorities in order. I like the rapport he has built with Coach Joe Philbin. Despite the fact that he has never been a general manager before, this job doesn’t seem too big for him. Hickey has spent almost two decades waiting for this chance. But like those before him, he will not be judged by his work ethic or his compatibility; he’ll be judged on the decisions he makes to upgrade this roster. Here’s hoping the prudent decision to sign Grimes was only the first of many more to come.

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on February 21, 2014 at 5:55 am

120221_AC_AM2Andy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason. Occasionally, like today, Andy will provide six things to think about. Thus, the title, “Six at Six.”

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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1. Joe Philbin did what he had to do, said what he had to say. He took ownership of the future and regretted he didn’t do more in the past. What more can you really ask for from a head coach at this point in the process?

2. There is no disputing that this was the ugliest chapter in the history of this franchise. Jobs were lost. An entire locker room came under the most powerful of microscopes, and justifiably so. Each day seemed to bring new revelations, new issues to confront. There are many to blame from the top on down and nothing depicted that better than the 144-page report. But I ask you this: Haven’t we all suffered enough? When can we start moving on? I’ll tell you one thing: The beginning of free agency (March 11) can’t come soon enough.

3. I am glad that Owner Stephen Ross is planning to soon meet with Jonathan Martin. It’s important. It’s the right time. I’m not sure what Martin’s future holds. But I do know that he deserves a chance to play again and I’ve got a feeling, even with his Stanford degree, he’s learned an awful lot from this regrettable episode.

4. Something else about Philbin you need to understand. He made a point in his press conference to pledge to be “more vigilant, more diligent, more visible and have a better pulse” in the future. But it’s not as if he hasn’t been all of those things already. I have covered very few head coaches who are any more “hands on” than Philbin. He has a voice and an opinion on every conceivable facet of the football operation. That’s why I can understand his frustration when he said he didn’t see any of the indiscretions occurring.

5. If there is one thing I have learned during this whole ordeal, it is the importance of strong, tough-minded, high-integrity leaders inside that locker room. A Jason Taylor. A Zach Thomas. I’m beginning to see it in Ryan Tannehill. If I had one suggestion for General Manager Dennis Hickey at this early juncture, it would be this: Yes, draft talent, but also draft character.

6. And finally, now that Philbin has spoken, now that the Ted Wells report is out, can we turn our thoughts this weekend to 40 times and vertical leaps? I truthfully never thought they would seem so appealing.

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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By on February 3, 2014 at 5:55 am

140203_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason. Occasionally, like today, Andy will provide six things to think about. Thus, the title, “Six at Six.”

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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1. This was a win for the old guard, the guys on defense. Somewhere, the No-Name Dolphins were smiling. You had the No. 1 defense against the No. 1 offense and this one wasn’t close. Seattle’s defense lived up to its ranking with a performance as dominating as you’ll see on a stage this big. Yes, in this high-powered world of offensive dominance, defense still lives and prospers.

2. I never thought Peyton Manning and the Denver offense could be throttled this convincingly. I knew Seattle could make it tough. But this tough? This convincing? I really believed Denver had all the pieces, but it was Seattle that had all the answers. The precision passing attack of the Broncos looked dazed and over-matched.

3. Now you’ve got to wonder whether Manning will ever win his second Super Bowl. Time is running out on a remarkable career and the Seahawks, it does appear, aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

4. A word of praise for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. No, he doesn’t put up inspiring numbers. But he is efficient, smart, rarely makes glaring mistakes and appears to be the perfect compliment for a team with a defense as strong as this one.

5. Pete Carroll has now taken his game to another level. With a college championship on his resume from USC and now a Super Bowl title, he has to be considered one of the elite coaches anywhere. I like his demeanor. I like the way he relates to his players. To build a team this strong in the manner that he has done it, is a remarkable accomplishment.

6. Now the Dolphins know how high the bar is set. Now they have another championship blueprint to study. And now, after watching what the Seahawks did, they know how important it is to continue to build their defense.

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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