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Miami Dolphins

Apologies warranted for joke “Rooney Rule” has become

Jason Cole

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I must apologize to Miami Dolphins assistant coach Eric Studesville.

The “Rooney Rule” just isn’t a meaningful way to help black coaches like him. It’s an empty promise that things will change and that upper-level NFL management, including owners, presidents and general managers, will actually do something about talent development.

I’ve known Studesville (above) for more than a dozen years, dating to when he was a running backs coach in Buffalo and tutoring the likes of Willis McGahee, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. He’s a likeable man, engaging and energetic. When he talks about his craft and the men he coaches, he is passionate and smart. Players who have worked with him trust him and play hard for him.

The fact he has been a coach in the NFL for 23 consecutive years, including a four-game stint as an interim head coach in Denver in 2010, indicates that he brings something to the table in terms of quality.

Studesville is also a bit stubborn and prideful.

On the many occasions I told him he needed to make the progression to quarterback coach or offensive coordinator so he could get on the head coaching track, he looked at me and said: “Why? Why can’t people see my ability as a running backs coach?”

I’d smile and say: “Dude, it doesn’t work that way. You have to call plays, design the game plan and show you can work with the quarterbacks.”

Then, Joe Judge happened, and my argument evaporated.

Judge, who gave his dramatic, tough-guy monologue on Thursday as the new head coach of the New York Giants, rose to that post by age 38 after only eight seasons in the NFL. With the exception of this season, all of them were spent coaching special teams for Bill Belichick in New England. This year, Judge added wide receiver to his responsibilities.

Now, there’s no question that the Patriots special teams play was excellent this year. The Patriots blocked four punts and returned them for scores, helping cover for an offense that proved to be substandard. At the same time, the results at wide receiver were terrible. The Patriots failed to develop anybody to help quarterback Tom Brady and No. 1 receiver Julian Edelman.

N’Keal Harry, who was a first-round pick this year and was an excellent player in college, did nothing. Josh Gordon was cut. Demaryius Thomas was let go, too. Antonio Brown lasted one game. Jacoby Meyers was just a guy.

Some of that is on Judge, such as the lack of development by Harry. Some isn’t, such as Gordon’s failure to live up to his glorious talent and Brown inglorious exit from the league.

Still, when it’s all said and done, you look at Judge’s resume and say, “OK, this is interesting, I’d like to see more of him.” Two years ago, people around the NFL were talking about how Judge had a bright future. That’s great, but to look at him and say, “OK, let’s make him a head coach right now” is a leap of faith.

Hopefully, Judge is great. I don’t wish him any ill-will.

That said, no one really knows how Judge is going to do? Just like no one knows if Studesville, or Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, or Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will ever be good head coaches?

There’s a lot that goes into being a head coach, including the most basic issue about whether you have a decent quarterback.

But, Judge getting the first chance out of those four is a slap in the face to the other guys and a ridiculous undercutting of the advice they have been given. Judge leapfrogging the field when men like Studesville can’t even get into the development process is shameful.

For the past five years, people around the NFL have talked about getting more black coaches “in the pipeline” by being quarterback coaches, offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators. I’ve even bought into it with my silly advice to Studesville.

Then a guy like Judge comes along and destroys the notion of a pipeline. Why? I’m sure Judge was terrific in the interview process. Just like his speech on Thursday, I’m sure it sounded good. But you can’t help but think that some of it is also because Judge looks the part of the leaders this country has projected for years. You know, men like Patton or Schwarzkopf or Lombardi or Shula.

A lot of white dudes.

I know that a lot of people out there are screaming, “Stop talking about race and just hire the best guy for the job.” Those people aren’t necessarily wrong. It would be nice if we lived in a world where the NFL didn’t need a Rooney Rule, which requires that teams interview at least one minority candidate for the head coach or general manager jobs.

But, it does. In a game where black men are the majority of players and a growing number of them are quarterbacks (10 of the 32 starters at the beginning of the season were black and that doesn’t count some fine work by Teddy Bridgewater when Drew Brees was hurt), the head coach position still lags.

Currently, there are only three black head coaches: Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores and Anthony Lynn.

That’s not because black coaches are incapable. There are plenty of black assistant coaches. In fact, there are 62 black assistant coaches currently working as running back, wide receiver or some derivation of secondary coach (defensive backs, cornerbacks and/or safeties).

That’s out of 93 total assistant coaches at those spots.

In other words, black coaches are good enough to occupy two-thirds of those position-coach jobs (which is, of course, stereotyping of black coaches). Yet, when it comes to head coach, less than 10 percent of those qualified to get a chance are black.

Again, teams should hire the best guys. I’m just not sure anymore what “best guy” means. This is a league where Dave Wannstedt was allowed to be a coach for 11 years of stunning underachievement. Jason Garrett was given 10 by Dallas.

Rich Kotitle, Jim Tomsula, Wayne Fontes, Charlie Winner, Chip Kelly, Joe Philbin, Tom Cable, Dave Campo, Ray Handley, Ben McAdoo, Steve Spurrier, Freddie Kitchens, Dick Jauron and Lindy Infante are among a parade of white men, who were either in over their heads from the start or, worse, complete morons who fooled some owner into hiring them.

Meanwhile, the likes of Studesville sit around, grinding away at their jobs, not getting developed, going unnoticed and being told by people like me that they “just need to get into the pipeline.”

Sorry Eric, my advice was empty.

Jason Cole is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector who has covered the NFL since 1992. He has worked for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, Yahoo Sports! and Bleacher Report. He is the author or co-author of six books, including Giant with Plaxico Burress and Heart for the Game with Simon Keith.

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins “limbo game” with QB Josh Rosen remains

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins continue to do their diligence on the possible drafting of a franchise type quarterback that they may be able to get their hands on in the upcoming in April. However, there remains a looming question with what to do with the former first-round pick QB that they acquired last April.

Josh Rosen remains, for now, part of the Dolphins plans, yet, even his biggest supporters have to concede ,that Rosen is likely “the odd man out” should Miami take one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.

That’s because GM Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores are obviously committed to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. We know this because Fitzpatrick not only rallied the team for several wins down the stretch of the season, but that Miami has also gone and hired Fitzpatrick’s former offensive coordinator and head coach at two of his other stops, Chan Gailey for this season.

That’s not something that the Dolphins brass did lightly, and it foreshadows that Fitzpatrick will likely be the quarterback that they begin the regular season with, just as they did in 2019.

So, where exactly does that leave Rosen, who played very little last year, but has a salary cap friendly contract?

It likely means that he’s only “an insurance policy” that could be dropped at any point for very little salary cap ramifications.

We wrote near the end of last season that it did not make any sense that Miami wasn’t at least giving Rosen game action and some live reps in games last December, if only to see once and for all, if they could develop him into a quarterback for the future?

Obviously, the Dolphins spoke loudly with their actions, and by not even playing Rosen in any of the last seven games, they were indicating he’s expendable.

Dolphins beat writer for the Miami Herald Armando Salguero wrote Wednesday morning about Rosen situation, but shed very little light on what his actual future is. This is primarily because whether it’s Salguero, other media or anyone else not named Flores/Grier, they don’t know for sure what Rosen’s immediate, much less longer range, 2020 future is.

Sure, they could hang on to Rosen through the offseason and have him try to compete for playing time.

But, that seems to be a futile exercise if the Fins have already made up their mind that Fitzpatrick will start the year. And then, you’re drafting a rookie quarterback drafting a rookie quarterback, again to potentially be the future of the franchise.

Then again, Fitzpatrick is 37 years old and could break down physically along the way, well before the start of next season. So, keeping Rosen as that insurance policy along with the rookie Miami likely drafts, isn’t the worst idea.

However, for now, the 23 year old former UCLA star is in limbo.

And, for all we know, he could be cut to begin free agency coming up.

Certainly not giving Rosen a start in any of the last 11 games on an awful team is a clear indication that Grier and Flores didn’t believe in him. This after acquiring him and watching him all offseason, preseason and in the games that he did play.

We now await their next move with Rosen, and certainly, he does, too.

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Miami Dolphins

Stafford trade rumor reminder Dolphins better be ready to trade up

Florida Football Insiders

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday morning a report surfaced that the Lions, who are currently slated to pick third in April’s NFL Draft, were actively looking to trade former Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Stafford. And, while that report has now been debunked, for teams like the Dolphins sitting in the fifth Spot, this is reminder of their reality of what could happen if someone jumps in front of them, in particular for a QB.

First, the report surfaced late Wednesday night from a local Detroit TV station that their sports reporter/anchor had learned that the Lions were looking for a trade partner for the 11-year veteran Stafford:

That report was quickly squashed by lions GM Bob Quinn and numerous NFL media reporters and salary cap experts pointed out that Stafford’s cap hit would be a massive $32 million dollars, if he is traded or released this season.

So it’s not likely, no matter how bad the situation is with the Lions, the Stafford is going anywhere.

But, that doesn’t mean that the Redskins, who are picking second and the Giants were picking 4th after the Lions and obviously both before the Dolphins at five, aren’t going to also be in the market to listen to trade offers for their picks.

This is, because Washington seems to be committed, for now with a new head coach and Ron Rivera, to last year’s first round quarterback pick, Dwayne Haskins

And likewise, the Giants have obviously made a commitment to their number one pick up last year, Daniel Jones. This after 2 time Super Bowl winning veteran quarterback Eli Manning announced his retirement, recently.

So, both NFC East teams appear to be targets, if a team (including the Dolphins) would look to try to increase their draft position.

This is in particular if that team were interested in the second best quarterback available in the draft, which is likely Alabama Tua Tagovailoa.

As was reported earlier this week, Tagovailoa is on schedule to heal from a fractured hip suffered last November in Alabama’s game with Mississippi State. While Tua won workout at the NFL combine later this month, it’s believed that he would likely work out for teams Alabama facility later in March or April.

One final factor in favor of the Dolphins and GM Chris Grier: they have some trade capital, including extra first-round pick this year and next year, with which the potentially move up if they so desire.

It’s all part of the evaluation process and then, the drama of what the teams at the top of the first round will look to do later this Spring.

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