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Q: Troy, why would the Dolphins come out in the second half running with Ronnie Brown and having success, and then totally go away from it? John Parker, Spring Hill, FL
A: "John that's a very interesting question. One would think that the Dolphins would have continued running the ball with Ronnie Brown throughout the second half after starting the third quarter with a 10-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Ronnie Brown ran hard and accounted for 22 yards on 4 carries. He had just one more carry the rest of the game. The Dolphins' missed opportunity came after the defense forced the Cowboys to punt on their first series of the second half. This is where you would have liked to have seen the Dolphins come out and impose their will against the Cowboys, but instead they go three and out (one running play, a two-yard run by Ronnie), and Murphy's Law went into effect, starting with the big 49-yard punt return by Patrick Crayton. Four plays later, the Dolphins were down 17-13 and would never recover - nor run the ball again."
Q: Why did the Dolphins decide to let Wes Welker go and keep Marty Booker and Chris Chambers, when Welker was our only sure-handed receiver last year? Todd, Cincinnati, OH
A: "Todd, the decision to trade Wes Welker came down to economics. The New England Patriots made an offer to the restricted free agent Welker that the Dolphins were not willing to pay to their No. 3 receiver. Without getting to technical, the Dolphins actually made a good move in working out a deal to trade Welker to New England, which gave the Dolphins an additional seventh-round draft pick to go along with the second-round pick (they would have only gotten a 2nd without the trade). One may ask why would the Patriots step up to pay Welker but not the Dolphins...the answer is the Patriots saw great value in Welker being their return guy as well as a perfect complement to Randy Moss and Donte' Stallworth so they were willing to up the ante...good move by both teams.
Q: First, you seem right on with Ginn. I see no instincts or aggressiveness. Do you think he should be taken off returns? Also, our D-Line isn't getting much pressure at all on the QB and blitzes seem minimal this year. What's up with the D-Line? Eds, Glen Allen, VA
A: "Eds, trust me Ginn will get more then enough opportunities to prove me wrong and I hope that he does, but it appears as if you paid attention this weekend while watching Ginn on returns. Taking Ginn off of returns is not an option at this point. The return game is why GM Muller and Cam selected Ginn, so they will have to sink or swim with him (life preserver anyone). Now on to the D-line. I don't know about you but my hand is on the panic button. The defense is supposed to be the strong unit of this team but in Week 1 they gave up 191 yards on the ground and in Week 2 166. Simply put, the Dolphins are being manhandled up front versus the run and getting very little pressure against the pass. And when they did get pressure on Romo, he made the plays that you like to see your QB make, keeping the play alive and moving the chains. Is it me or did it look as if Dallas was the team that practiced in the Miami heat all summer long? This is the first time in a long time that I can remember when a visiting team came down to Miami in September and looked more fresh. History states that the Dolphins fade in December...on Sunday they faded in the second half."
Q: Who is Jesse Chatman to be getting the chances he is and over Ronnie Brown? Don't you have to stick to one guy? Miguel, Kennesaw, GA
A: "Miguel, Jesse Chatman played for the Chargers from 2002-04 while Cam Cameron was the offensive coordinator. It's obvious that Cam saw things in him that he liked...similar to the Trent Green situation. I do not have a problem with the two-back system because it's working for a number of teams in the league. However, when Ronnie Brown (a No. 2 overall pick) cannot separate himself from Chatman, who by the way has been out of the league the last two years because of weight problems, that should tell you something about Cam's thoughts on Ronnie. There is no question - Cam is sending a message to Mr. Brown."
Q: What was your relationship like with Don Shula? Andrew Reich, Hollywood, FL
A: "Andrew, quick story. Growing up a Dolfan, coach Shula was a larger-than-life figure to me. I can recall meeting him as if it were yesterday. It happened at the NFL combine prior to the 1987 draft. A month earlier I had played with coach Shula's son, Mike, in the Japan Bowl. While at the combine, Mike took me over to meet his dad. I was nervous as nervous could be. Anyway, the next month I'm drafted by the Dolphins and I'm now playing for coach...WOW! In my opinion we had a great working relationship. He loved the way I played and I love how he had our team prepared for every game. Oh, yeah...only one time in his dog-house, but we will leave that for another time."
Q: Bring back Ricky! See what you can do to let Cam & Co. know we need him - a playmaker! Certainly we don't have one RB now. Milt, N.Miami, FL
A: "Milt, sorry but I don't have any pull/power when it comes to bringing Ricky back, but I will tell you this...if things continue as is you will have a lot of fans chanting Ricky-Ricky-Ricky along with you."
Q: Hey Troy, how would you sum up your playing days with the Chiefs? Also, what was it like playing in two totally different offenses with the Dolphins and Chiefs? Bryan T., Framingham, MA
A: "Bryan, although I enjoyed playing out in K.C., it just was not a good fit for me. Great owner in the late Lamar Hunt, great fan base and atmosphere at Arrow Head Stadium, and truly the most all-around, most-talented team that I played on with the likes of the late Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, Deron Cherry, Christian Okoye, Barry Word and others. I can't forget the coaching staff with Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Cowher, Herman Edwards, Tony Dungy and Al Saunders. It was just that the offensive system was designed for the big, bruising backs - and that I was not. In comparing the offensives systems between the Dolphins and Chiefs: In Miami we worked on the passing game 80-85 percent of the time. In K.C., we worked on the running game 80-85 percent of the time."
Q: Troy, you have always been one of my favorite players and remember vividly when you juked and undressed Bill Bates on Monday Night football. Anyway, I'm losing faith in Ronnie Brown. You might as well put back on No. 23 and lace up the cleats. The only players that looked good in No. 23 since the 80's is you and Patrick Surtain. My opinion is Miami has had the softest offensive linemen over the years...never open any holes, always getting dominated. If Ronnie Brown is traded to Denver, he becomes an immediate star. What do you think? Michael Hogue, Washington, DC
A: "Michael, I would have to agree with you when it comes to the offensive line having its struggles over the past few years. But O-line coach Hudson Houck has the reputation as being one of the best in the business, so I have to give him another year to get his unit on the same page. As far as Ronnie going to Denver and becoming a star
there is a very good chance that he would post numbers like all of the other running backs that Denver has plugged in over the years. It's one of the best systems to be in if you are a running back."
Q: I am sure you will agree. Dan Marino never had a complete team surrounding him like Peyton Manning. I am tired of people saying, "He couldn't win the big one." Any comments? Brian, Ventura, CA
A: "Brian, in football never does it fall on one individual, it takes a team. You also need to be a little lucky at times while staying healthy as well. In just looking at the years that I played with Dan, I would have to agree that we never had a complete team around him. We struggled to stop teams from scoring and we struggled to run the ball with any consistency."
Troy Stradford can be heard locally on 850 (AM) WFTL Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and on the Web at www.850wftl.com.
Troy Stardford Q&A (Sept. 11)
Q: Can the Dolphins offensive line improve enough this season for the Fins to have an effective running attack? Could you compare them to the O-line from your days on the team? Dave Rivera, MacDill AFB, FL
A: "In leaning on a number of former NFL linemen, I'm being told that it can take anywhere from half a season up to the remaining few games for offensive linemen to come together. There's a lot of trust that has to be built between all of them before you can expect consistency. With the Dolphins having five guys working together for the first time, I don't think any "Player of the Game" awards are coming from guys wearing numbers in the 60's or 70's. To answer your question about comparing the O-Line from when I played to the line on the curret team, my guys were great at one thing - and that was protecting Danny Boy. We had our challenges when trying to run the ball. The reason for that was because we worked on the passing game 85 percent of the time in practice, so the big guys were more in their comfort zone when pass blocking. The identity of this offense has yet to take shape, so it's too early to say if this O-Line will be better pass blockers or run blockers. But one thing is certain, it will not happen overnight."
Q: Hey Troy, one of the first things you did in your rookie year was return a preseason kick for a touchdown. Why do you think Ted Ginn has not shown much in the return game yet? Roscoe, Fort Lauderdale, FL
A: "Roscoe, you will hear the word patience used often -- from coaches, writers and other so-called experts -- when talking about young players coming into the NFL. I also will use the word patience at times because young players have to learn certain techniques, systems and the little nuances of the NFL to become an effective player. However, when it comes to the return game, there is no place for the word patience in my book because 95 percent of it comes down to instincts. There is not a lot of thinking going on or much that you have to learn. It's all instincts. Now, if you put exceptional ability on top of the instincts, you come up with a special player such as Devin Hester. If you have someone who has average ability (solid catching the ball, toughness) to go along with his instincts, you come up with someone like a Wes Welker. That being said, when I look at Ted Ginn, I see a player who has the ability (good hands and speed) but I have yet to this point see him possess the natural instincts of someone who will be special. Ginn is the type of returner who will shine when his blockers execute to near perfection, allowing him to get to top speed quickly so that he can use his number one weapon, his speed. My early opinion is that Ginn will be a solid returner, breaking the big one only when given the perfect blocks. I also feel that he will be more of an effective kickoff returner then a punt returner because he will have more time and space to allow his great speed to become a factor."
Q: Do you think Ronnie Brown is being used right? Between Nick Saban the past couple of years and just by judging from Sunday, I feel that RB isn't being used right. Is he good, a bust or somewhere in between? Michael Hogue, Washington DC
A: "Michael, when you really break things down, there are only a few ways in which you can use running backs. You either hand it to them or throw it to them out of the backfield. I also am mystified as to why we are not seeing more out of Ronnie Brown, after all we are talking about a guy who has the size, strength, instincts and vision. I will cut him somewhat of a break because his offensive line is still a work in progress (However, Ricky Williams did not have a great line and he put up great numbers). But at some point, a running back has to be able to make things happen on his own. I'm not buying the Cam Cameron line that he is still a young running back in terms of the amount of carries that he has had. As a running back, you either have it or you don't, and every time Ronnie plays a game, he confirms in my mind that he's not -- and will not -- become an elite NFL running back."
Q: Hey Troy, sorry for the off-topic question, but is it true that you are married to a Miami Heat dancer? Andrew Reich, Hollywood, FL
A: "I was going to pass on this one but the truth of the matter is, I was but am no longer. I can also say that the marriage did produce the love of my life, my son Austin, who is 11 years old. He's very smart and a hell of an athlete...remember the name."
Q: Is there anyone on the current Dolphins team capable of executing "the move"? Thanks for all the great years! Mark Haney, Estero, FL
A: "Mark...not on this team. Very few are blessed with the ability to make "the move"!!! Thanks for the compliment."
Q: Why does Ronnie Brown always stutter step before he hits the line? Isn't that a waste of precious time? Howie, Ocala, FL
A: "Howie, there are times when someone is in your face immediately and you are forced to stutter or make a quick move, but I often find myself yelling for Ronnie to just hit the hole and hope for the best, too. I have a saying...if you hit the hole hard and often enough, eventually you will come out the other side. As a runner you can help yourself out by just hitting the hole hard during the early part of the game, sending the message to the defense that it's going to be a long day while setting them up for the stutter step later in the game. It's all about setting the defenders up throughout the game. Ronnie, if you are reading, give it a try...hit the hole hard throughout the first half, then give them a change of pace in the second half. Yeah, just call me coach now."
Q: Hey Troy. I've been watching you since you were at BC. What are you up to these days? Ray Veradt, Taunton, MA
A: "I'm glad that you asked that question because it gives me the opportunity to plug my show. Every Saturday before Florida Gator games and Sunday's prior to our broadcast of the NFL game of the week, I do a radio show on 850 (AM) WFTL. On Saturdays I'm joined by former Gator and Tampa Buc Errict Rhett and former Michigan Wolverine and Raven Rod Payne as we take a look at the college games. On Sunday, I'm joined by former 'Cane and Baltimore Raven Leon Searcy and former Dolphin WR James McKnight as we tackle the NFL. In my opinion, it's the Best weekend sports shows in South Florida. It's the GameDay Insiders, It's the Players Club, It's where the Pros talk to the Pros. Hey it's your choice, do you want to get it from those who played or those who wish they played? Give us a call this weekend 877-850-8585."
Q: Do you think we can stop the dropped passes that have plagued us for years? What's the biggest reason for the drops, and how do you stop it? David, Fort Lauderdale, FL
A: "When it comes to catching the football, it's all about concentration. Granted some guys have better hands than others, but if you are one of those guys who has a case of the drops, you have to go back to the basics of spending extra time before and after practice catching passes. Confidence plays a huge part in catching passes as well. So, if you put in the extra time and stay focused during the game you are less likely to put it on the ground. I think too many guys outthink themselves, and because of that, they have drops. Look at how many guys who will make a great catch in traffic or in a split-second situation, and then drop a pass when they are wide open. There's too much time to think about it. The mind can play serious tricks with you if you don't build confidence."
Q: How do you think Cam Cameron did in his first game as Dolphins coach? Steve Freed, Sayreville, NJ
A: "Steve, there are things that I like and things that I didn't like. I love the fact that Cameron went for the TD right before the half. That shows and builds confidence in your team. I did not like the fact that the offense pretty much looked like the Dolphin offense of the past five years, and the offense is Cam's baby. I was waiting for the Cameron express...but there is always next week. In looking at the defense, which starts and stops with Dom Capers. It's hard to be too critical when the only gave up 16 points. However, not much pressure up front and the secondary struggled, but we knew that would be the case back in March."
Troy Stradford can be heard locally on 850 (AM) WFTL Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and on the Web at www.850wftl.com.