Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes….

Sep 12, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (85) before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Let me first say that even though the Dolphins have been my favorite AFC team forever, when I first started writing here, the plan was to concentrate on the Carolina Panthers. It’s a Panthers’ blog, hello.

The problem is that the Dolphins have done so many interesting things since hiring Joe Philbin it’s almost like watching 2 trains on the same track headed towards each other on a collision course, but there’s a switch in-between them that may or may not be thrown in time. You just can’t look away.

When I posted my 3000-word essay on the state of the strength and weaknesses of each of the NFL’s eight divisions on Sunday morning, I inserted a line that said something like “don’t be surprised to see Chad ‘Press 1 for English’ Ochocinco wearing Aquaman colors this fall.” The featured photo is apparently of Press 1 saying his goodbyes to his teammates.

Well…since I’m wrong plenty (aren’t we all?), I feel it necessary to point out that “Press 1″ did indeed sign a 1-year contract with the Dolphins the very next day. NFL.com had a big write-up about how Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland is able to now step out of the shadow of Bill Parcells, and they’re right. Parcells was the dominant (even domineering) personality that shaped the franchise for years…even after he left the organization.

Ireland must’ve felt like a college freshman there for a bit. “Are they really gone?” (parents) – “Am I really and truly free to do whatever I want?” (fear of parents showing up) – then in his second semester, reality hit him. He IS in control now! WOO-HOO!!

Fine. With that, however, comes all the responsibility.

The NFL changes quite a bit from decade to decade and as a person gets older, they generally get more set in their ways. That’s another reason football is often referred to as a “young man’s game.” Those that can adapt, survive.

Since I’m currently talking about the Dolphins, let’s look at Don Shula as an example. He basically went from Tony Sparano in the 1970′s to Don Coryell (or Mike Martz for you younger folks) in the 80′s and 90′s when Dan Marino fell in his lap. The duo never won a Super Bowl (and I know why, but that’s a different discussion and has nothing to do with Dan Marino), but they won about a dozen divisional championships. It was their lack of having a consistent defense that did them in during Marino’s tenure.

Now, things have changed quite a bit. The Dolphins “overdrafted” a young, talented but very raw QB in Ryan Tannehill. “Overdrafted” is a harsh word these days considering the rookie wage scale makes it easier to take a risk on such a guy, and the QB position is more important than ever before in today’s game. Tannehill is a complete and utter steal if you compare him and his draft position with Blaine Gabbert and his.

The fact is, the Dolphins are probably in the top-5 in the “change” category since last season. They have a new Head Coach and staff. They drafted a hopefully-for-them franchise QB with their top pick. They got the right tackle they needed in Andrew Luck’s Stanford Cardinal LEFT tackle, Jonathan Martin, and NO, people, it is NOT a “really big deal” to move someone from LT to the right side as a few of you apparently think. They’ve added Lamar Miller, RB from “tha U” – U of Miami – with their 4th-round selection, giving them pretty much the full range of running styles.

Daniel Thomas, a rookie last season, is the designated short yardage/power back but injuries kept him from getting on track last season. Reggie Bush, as everyone should know, is the opposite. Not a big strong guy, he’s a great receiver and speedster out of the backfield and had his first 1,000-yard rushing season in 2011. Miller has a little bit of everything and his blocking/blitz pickup ability should dictate his time (or lack) on the field in his inaugural NFL campaign.

The most publicized move they made was in trading WR Brandon Marshall to Chicago for 2 third-round picks in this past draft. Word is that he would have been cut if they couldn’t trade him, so I suspect the organization had had enough of his off-field issues. We all should know the man’s negatives by now but he was by far the best receiver on the team last year.

However, it doesn’t take a genius to know that the Dolphins are bereft of talent on the outside now. Sure, they’ve got one of the better slot receivers in the league with Davone Bess, but that is IT, folks! Legadu Nannee, Brian Hartline and Marlon Moore aren’t exactly names that strike fear around the league.

Neither does Press 1′s these days, but he has at least shown a pile of talent in the past with the Bengals. Since he was signed for the veteran minimum salary (just under $1 million for the season and he’s 34 yrs old), and can be waived if he doesn’t show anything in camp, it’s really not much of a gamble for the Dolphins. Sure, Chad’s as big a hot dog as there is in the league, but the guy is harmless. He’s a ham and a camera hog, but he doesn’t go out and punch cops or break laws and it isn’t like he’s competing with some Great Talent on the other side. There’s also the thought (or hope) that he can help the younger guys like 2nd-year rocket car Clyde Gates with the finer points of the game.

If he does make the team, well, I see “Hard Knocks” ratings going even higher. Viewers will tune in to two attractions now – the other being Mrs. Tannehill. I wonder if Chad will clash with the young lady over camera time. I guess we’ll find out in a couple of months. If I can’t look away, it won’t be because of Press 1′s presence. You figure it out.

Topics: Brian Hartline, Chad Ochocinco, Dan Marino, Daniel Thomas, Davone Bess, Don Shula, Jonathan Martin, Lamar Miller, Legadu Nannee, Miami Dolphins, Reggie Bush

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