NFL Insider: Florida Combine Blog
With the football world once again descending to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, Charlie Bernstein is on the scene with news, nuggets and updates.
Quarterback News for the Dolphins
According to the Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Dolphins are parting ways with former second-round pick Chad Henne. The move comes as a shock to no one as the team actively pursued a replacement before the 2011 season.
“Chad has done what we’ve asked him to do,” Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said. “I like Chad personally very well. He’s very smart. Very intelligent. Very tough. A football guy. He loves being around the game and is a very good teammate. But this football team didn’t win enough games when he was quarterback here. But that doesn’t mean he did everything wrong, or right.
“If he goes somewhere else, Chad’s a good football player. He can play in this league.”
The Dolphins are naturally rumored to have interest in free agent to be and Green Bay backup Matt Flynn. Few people know more about Flynn’s attributes than new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who directed the Green Bay offense before taking the Miami job.
What is Philbin looking for in a quarterback?
“We’re looking for a great decision-maker. We’re looking for a leader. We’re looking for an accurate passer. We’re looking for a guy that has excellent game-management skills, excellent decision-maker, a guy that has pocket presence and awareness, the leadership skills. Obviously, the stronger and the more velocity to the arm, the better. We’re looking for a guy that can manage a team, lead a team, make good decisions in critical times and make some big plays when games are on the line,” Philbin explained.
It sounds like Joe Philbin is looking for Aaron Rodgers, not his backup.
It’s no slam-dunk that the Dolphins will go after the Green Bay backup as there are several other options available to them. They could stand pat with Matt Moore, who was a respectable 6-3 as a starter in 2011. They could trade up to try and acquire Robert Griffin, III, or they could make a push at Colts legend Peyton Manning who will likely be available in the coming weeks.
“We’ll use every avenue available to get the best player available for every position,” Jeff Ireland said at the Combine.
-Breaking News: The Dolphins won their Friday morning coin toss with the Carolina Panthers and will select eighth in the first round of April’s draft.
Schiano Preaches Slow and Steady
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the last team in the NFL to hire a new head coach and thus they are the last team to fill out their coaching staff. In fact, there are still three positions available, according to head coach Greg Schiano.
Schiano doesn’t believe that being last in hiring is going to affect his club as he wants to hire the best men for the jobs, even if it’s not his first or second choices.
“I’d rather be a month late in hiring our staff than a day early,” Schiano said.
“I wasn’t going to rush to fill up a staff. It’s taken longer than maybe I would’ve liked but the coaching won’t be compromised.”
One of the main challenges with Schiano’s hiring was that he didn’t want to let potential assistants know of his involvement until he acquired the job. Schiano didn’t want to jeopardize his recruiting at Rutgers if things didn’t work out.
“Unlike most other candidates I couldn’t pick up the phone and ask other guys if they would be on my staff if I got the job,” Schiano explained.
Schiano announced that the team hired LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper to coach the secondary.
The mix of NFL and college coaches will be an interesting test as Schiano didn’t get a chance to get his “exact guys,” but still believes that he will put together an excellent staff.
“We’re going to make mistakes, I’m going to make mistakes. We just need to limit some of them,” Schiano said.
When asked about Ronde Barber’s future with the team, the new Bucs head coach skirted the question.
“I haven’t had a great chance to evaluate our team,” Schiano admitted. “I’ve only met with Ronde (Barber) for about 10 minutes. I’m going to talk with him when I get back from the Combine.”
The new Tampa Bay head coach will have plenty of tough decisions to make as he pairs and prunes a roster which is currently on a 10-game losing streak.
Receiver Options Limited for Jags
Desperate for help at wide receiver and loaded with cap space, the Jaguars are expected to be a major player in free agency. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, it seems as if the team may have to settle at the position as a lot of the big names likely won’t be available.
Jacksonville isn’t going to be a player for Steelers Pro Bowl wideout Mike Wallace, as he will likely be given a first-round restricted tender.
“Having a great player like Mike Wallace isn’t a dilemma,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. “I’m sure he’ll be protected with a first-round tender at minimum. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure Mike Wallace remains a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
Our sources tell us that Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson and Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe will receive the franchise tender, taking them off the market as well. The next player up is Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson, who the Bills will make an effort to retain.
“He’s very important to us and we’d love to have him,” Bills head coach Chan Gailey said. “The thing you learn to say in this business is you don’t ever want to say you can’t live without somebody because as soon as you say that, you learn to live without them. But we would like to have him. He’s very important to our football team.”
The best bet to be available for the Jaguars will be the New Orleans Saints duo of Marques Colston and Robert Meachem. With the Saints cap restrictions, they likely won’t have the available funds to ink both players and possibly not either as their first priority will be getting quarterback Drew Brees a new deal.
At this point almost any available free agent receiver would likely represent an upgrade for the team. The Jaguars need to just sit back and see who becomes available.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie