"Miami Dolphins Article From CNNSI" (merged)

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Posted: Tuesday June 11, 2002 4:33 PM




M I A M I D O L P H I N S
Go-To Guy | Weakest Link | Burning Question | Offseason Movement

Glance
Head coach: Dave Wannstedt

2001: Results

2002: Draft picks

Training camp: July 25 at Nova University in Davie, Fla.

2002 Schedule
Date Vs. Time
Sept. 8 DET. 1 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Ind. 1 p.m.
Sept. 22 NYJ 1 p.m.
Sept. 29 at K.C. 1 p.m.
Oct. 6 N.E. 1 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Den. 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 BUF. 1 p.m.
Oct. 27 Open
Nov. 4 at G.B. 9 p.m.
Nov. 10 at NYJ 8:30 p.m.
Nov. 17 BAL. 1 p.m.
Nov. 24 S.D. 1 p.m.
Dec. 1 at Buf. 1 p.m.
Dec. 8 CHI. 9 p.m.
Dec. 15 OAK. 1 p.m.
Dec. 21 at Min. 1:30 p.m.
Dec. 29 N.E. 1 p.m.


By B. Duane Cross, CNNSI.com

Not since the days of Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris or Jim Kiick have the Miami Dolphins had a running back of Ricky Williams' caliber. Not Tony Nathan, or Karim Abdul-Jabbar, or ... well, you get the picture.

Sure, the Dolphins thought they had a go-to back with Lamar Smith, but after his yards-per-carry fell by more than half a yard and his TD total dropped from 14 to six, it was clear something had to change.

Enter Williams, the once-proclaimed savior of the New Orleans Saints.

"It's like a dream come true to come to this kind of situation where I have a chance to join an already really good team and try to make them better," said Williams, acquired when the Dolphins traded their No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft and a conditional third-round pick in '03 to the Saints.

Another key offseason move was re-signing safety Brock Marion. "He has been an integral part of our defense," head coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We knew it would be difficult to keep our starting safeties from last year, and we're happy we re-signed Brock, which gives us continuity at that position."

Wannstedt knows the new-look AFC East, which lost the Indianapolis Colts because of realignment, will still be a tough nut to crack, considering the defending Super Bowl champ Patriots are in the division.

"The fact that three teams (New England, Miami and New York) from our division made the playoffs last season shows how competitive the AFC East is year in and year out," he said. "In fact, a different team has won the division each of the last four years.

"The same three teams that made the playoffs last year should be in the mix once again, and with the Bills getting Drew Bledsoe from the Patriots, to go along with players like Eric Moulds, Peerless Price and Larry Centers, they should be back fighting for a playoff spot.

"With the Colts now out of the division, and only four teams, every divisional game takes on added significance because you're only playing six games instead of eight," Wannstedt said.

Fact
After three seasons, Ricky Williams' career rushing total (3,129 yards) would rank fifth all-time for Miami.



Ricky Williams, RB -- As one former coach said, "In my opinion, I don't know that Ricky is a great back. He's a good back, tough back. He's rushed for lot of yards, but he's never gonna take it the distance. He'll pound on you, pound on you."

Nonetheless, the Dolphins figured that for pounding the ball downfield, Williams fit the ticket. And don't think it was lost on Travis Minor; he yeilded his uniform number (34) to Williams and wears 28.

"From a football standpoint," Wannstedt said, "when you talk about Ricky Williams I think the first thing that comes to everybody's mind is the Heisman Trophy, breaking NCAA records and all the rushing statistics. But he's really a complete player. I mean, he’s a very good route runner; he caught 60 passes last year."

Williams also will have a chance to catch the ball under Dolphins offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Last seen in San Diego, Turner left the Chargers after last season, when RB LaDainian Tomlinson caught 59 balls, while rushing for 1,236 yards and 10 TDs.

"He's a physical runner," Wannstedt said. "That was his forte in college. ... I know from Ricky's standpoint he never wants to come of the field."

As for that "conditional" draft pick? "He would have to get up or over 1,500 yards, which would lead the league and put him in the Pro Bowl and, hopefully, put us in the Super Bowl."

Fact
Jay Fiedler is Dartmouth;'s all-time leading passer. No. 2 on the list? N.Y. Mets farmhand Mark Johnson.



Jay Fiedler, QB -- It's a good thing offensive coordinator Norv Turner is considered a quarterback guru, because the Dolphins don't have Troy Aikman. Fiedler threw a career-high 19 interceptions last season.

Turner says most of those mistakes were part of the "growing process." After all, Fiedler was only in his second full season as the starter. Other than the INTs, Fiedler's numbers improved across the board, with career-highs in yards, touchdowns and an 80.3 QB rating, seventh-best among AFC passers.

It's the upside -- not the missteps -- that intrigue Turner. "I am really excited about what he is able to do," Turner said, particularly infatuated with Fiedler's mobility. "I think he fits the offensive system we want to run -- he is very quick with the football and makes very good decisions."

Turner turned the raw Aikman into a Super Bowl-winning QB. If he can do the same with Fielder, much of the naysaying among critics of Turner being a perfectionist will subside. But his detail-oriented system will remain.

"You're going to find the guys who had their best year in football in our system, and if that is getting the most out of abilities, we take a lot of pride in that," Turner said.

For second-year WR Chris Chambers, is the sky the limit?

Fact
Nat Moore holds the Miami record for most seasons leading the team in receiving (six -- 1974-79), but he never had 1,000 yards in a season.


Know this about Chris Chambers: He's a serious competitor and hates to lose. Maybe that's why he took exception to falling into the second round of the 2001 draft

The seventh wide receiver selected, Chambers' rookie season was all that -- and more: 48 catches, 883 yards, 18.4 yards per catch average, seven touchdowns. His receptions total was third-most for a Dolphins rookie in team history, while his yardage total, per-catch average and TDs set the franchise marks for first-year players. Chambers also had three 100-yard games, which tied the team record for rookies.

With Turner joining the South Florida fray, look for Chambers to improve on his first-year numbers. Still, Miami needs Chambers to emerge as a legit deep threat; he cannot be a flash-in-the-pan. The Dolphins must stretch the field, and the hope is that Williams' backfield presence opens up the passing attack.

For his part, Turner expects to intertwine Williams and Fiedler/Chambers for maximum production. "If we can run the football and then we can be productive in the passing game, that gives you the best chance of being successful," Turner said.

The toughest part of last season for Chambers came off the field -- "Just getting adjusted to my surroundings and adjusting to being around older, professional guys," he said -- which cannot bode well for opposing defensive coordinators.


CNNSI.com's 2002 Preseason Team Previews

Offseason Movement
Players Signed From Players Lost Status
DT Tim Bowens re-signed TE Hunter Goodwin Vikings
DT Larry Chester Panthers OL Andy Vincent retired
RB Robert Edwards free agent OL Heath Irwin Rams
QB Jay Fiedler re-signed DE Kenny Mixon Vikings
S Shawn Wooden re-signed WR O.J. McDuffie released
OL Leon Searcy Ravens S Brian Walker Lions
RB Ricky Williams Saints DT Damian Gregory released
FS Brock Marion re-signed RB J.J. Johnson Browns
LB Scott Galyon re-signed CB Terry Cousin Panthers
S Scott McGarrahan re-signed RB Lamar Smith Panthers
DE Adewale Ogunleye re-signed OL Spencer Folau Saints
TE Jed Weaver re-signed DE Lorenzo Bromell Vikings
WR Jeff Ogden re-signed P Matt Turk Jets
P Mark Royals Buccaneers

Sources: Newspaper and team reports
 

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"Miami Dolphins Article From CNNSI"

Not since the days of Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris or Jim Kiick have the Miami Dolphins had a running back of Ricky Williams' caliber. Not Tony Nathan, or Karim Abdul-Jabbar, or ... well, you get the picture.

Sure, the Dolphins thought they had a go-to back with Lamar Smith, but after his yards-per-carry fell by more than half a yard and his TD total dropped from 14 to six, it was clear something had to change.

Enter Williams, the once-proclaimed savior of the New Orleans Saints.

"It's like a dream come true to come to this kind of situation where I have a chance to join an already really good team and try to make them better," said Williams, acquired when the Dolphins traded their No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft and a conditional third-round pick in '03 to the Saints.

Another key offseason move was re-signing safety Brock Marion. "He has been an integral part of our defense," head coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We knew it would be difficult to keep our starting safeties from last year, and we're happy we re-signed Brock, which gives us continuity at that position."

Wannstedt knows the new-look AFC East, which lost the Indianapolis Colts because of realignment, will still be a tough nut to crack, considering the defending Super Bowl champ Patriots are in the division.

"The fact that three teams (New England, Miami and New York) from our division made the playoffs last season shows how competitive the AFC East is year in and year out," he said. "In fact, a different team has won the division each of the last four years.

"The same three teams that made the playoffs last year should be in the mix once again, and with the Bills getting Drew Bledsoe from the Patriots, to go along with players like Eric Moulds, Peerless Price and Larry Centers, they should be back fighting for a playoff spot.

"With the Colts now out of the division, and only four teams, every divisional game takes on added significance because you're only playing six games instead of eight," Wannstedt said.

Fact
After three seasons, Ricky Williams' career rushing total (3,129 yards) would rank fifth all-time for Miami.



Ricky Williams, RB -- As one former coach said, "In my opinion, I don't know that Ricky is a great back. He's a good back, tough back. He's rushed for lot of yards, but he's never gonna take it the distance. He'll pound on you, pound on you."

Nonetheless, the Dolphins figured that for pounding the ball downfield, Williams fit the ticket. And don't think it was lost on Travis Minor; he yeilded his uniform number (34) to Williams and wears 28.

"From a football standpoint," Wannstedt said, "when you talk about Ricky Williams I think the first thing that comes to everybody's mind is the Heisman Trophy, breaking NCAA records and all the rushing statistics. But he's really a complete player. I mean, he’s a very good route runner; he caught 60 passes last year."

Williams also will have a chance to catch the ball under Dolphins offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Last seen in San Diego, Turner left the Chargers after last season, when RB LaDainian Tomlinson caught 59 balls, while rushing for 1,236 yards and 10 TDs.

"He's a physical runner," Wannstedt said. "That was his forte in college. ... I know from Ricky's standpoint he never wants to come of the field."

As for that "conditional" draft pick? "He would have to get up or over 1,500 yards, which would lead the league and put him in the Pro Bowl and, hopefully, put us in the Super Bowl."

Fact
Jay Fiedler is Dartmouth;'s all-time leading passer. No. 2 on the list? N.Y. Mets farmhand Mark Johnson.



Jay Fiedler, QB -- It's a good thing offensive coordinator Norv Turner is considered a quarterback guru, because the Dolphins don't have Troy Aikman. Fiedler threw a career-high 19 interceptions last season.

Turner says most of those mistakes were part of the "growing process." After all, Fiedler was only in his second full season as the starter. Other than the INTs, Fiedler's numbers improved across the board, with career-highs in yards, touchdowns and an 80.3 QB rating, seventh-best among AFC passers.

It's the upside -- not the missteps -- that intrigue Turner. "I am really excited about what he is able to do," Turner said, particularly infatuated with Fiedler's mobility. "I think he fits the offensive system we want to run -- he is very quick with the football and makes very good decisions."

Turner turned the raw Aikman into a Super Bowl-winning QB. If he can do the same with Fielder, much of the naysaying among critics of Turner being a perfectionist will subside. But his detail-oriented system will remain.

"You're going to find the guys who had their best year in football in our system, and if that is getting the most out of abilities, we take a lot of pride in that," Turner said.

For second-year WR Chris Chambers, is the sky the limit?

Fact
Nat Moore holds the Miami record for most seasons leading the team in receiving (six -- 1974-79), but he never had 1,000 yards in a season.


Know this about Chris Chambers: He's a serious competitor and hates to lose. Maybe that's why he took exception to falling into the second round of the 2001 draft

The seventh wide receiver selected, Chambers' rookie season was all that -- and more: 48 catches, 883 yards, 18.4 yards per catch average, seven touchdowns. His receptions total was third-most for a Dolphins rookie in team history, while his yardage total, per-catch average and TDs set the franchise marks for first-year players. Chambers also had three 100-yard games, which tied the team record for rookies.

With Turner joining the South Florida fray, look for Chambers to improve on his first-year numbers. Still, Miami needs Chambers to emerge as a legit deep threat; he cannot be a flash-in-the-pan. The Dolphins must stretch the field, and the hope is that Williams' backfield presence opens up the passing attack.

For his part, Turner expects to intertwine Williams and Fiedler/Chambers for maximum production. "If we can run the football and then we can be productive in the passing game, that gives you the best chance of being successful," Turner said.

The toughest part of last season for Chambers came off the field -- "Just getting adjusted to my surroundings and adjusting to being around older, professional guys," he said -- which cannot bode well for opposing defensive coordinators.

:eat:
 
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