The Miami Dolphins traded receiver Brandon Marshall to the Bears as the clock struck 4:00 p.m. ET on March 13, the launch of the 2012 league year and, in turn, the trading period.
They have not replaced him with a free agent or a hot-shot rookie, and they are now embracing the ensuing youth at the position.
“As it stands right now we’re going in with a young group,” G.M. Jeff Ireland recently said, via Brian Briggane of the Palm Beach Post. “I’ve got a couple of players with a lot of experience in Davone Bess and Brian Hartline. They have a tremendous amount of experience at the position. We’ve got a couple of other guys, Legudu Naanee, who looked really good in the on-field sessions, and we’ve got some young guys who are very good football players.”
Use of the phrase “as it stands right now” means that the door is open for possible additions, possibly if for example “Packer for life” Donald Driver ends up being a “Dolphin for a year.”
“We’ve got draft choices, we’ve got Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace that have shown well on this football team. [Clyde] Gates still has to develop,” Ireland added. “We’ve got a lot of young guys that have a developmental ceiling, they haven’t developed yet, and we’re going to see that this year hopefully.”
It was a calculated risk to refrain from pursuing any of the various free-agent wideouts who were available as of the moment Marshall became a Bear. And while it appeared when the trade was made that the Dolphins were merely dumping a guy who was facing another legal entanglement and potential suspension, he has been cleared of any charges arising from the allegation that he punched a woman in the face.
And so there’s a chance that the performance of the Dolphins’ receivers will leave the fans feeling like they’ve been punched in the gut. Again.
That said, a great quarterback can help make great receivers. But while the Dolphins used the eighth overall pick on a quarterback, they’re trying their best to make sure no one anoints him prematurely as a guy who’s supposed to be great.
And it’s starting from the top of the organization.
“We drafted [Ryan] Tannehill because we thought he’d be a great franchise quarterback,” Stephen Ross said. “He has all the intangibles, [he’s] a great athlete. The important thing is not to have great expectations up front, and bring him along. See how it works for him. He certainly has the talent, and you don’t want to get a guy down early. We’ve seen that before. So it depends on each individual. Obviously there’s a big competition for the quarterback slot. We’re not going to rush him into it, that’s for sure.”
Maybe Reggie Bush really will lead the league in rushing this year. If he’s capable of staying healthy during each of his 600 attempts.