Q: Do you think that after the season is over it's time to go back to a 4-3 defense and bring in another defensive coordinator that can run it? It seems to be harder to find players to effectively run a 3-4 (nose tackle, big strong DEs, big physical LBs). Randy, Pittsfield, MA
Q: What is going on with our special teams? Why does it seem like Jay Feely is the leading tackler? It seems like no one in the media has given any heat towards that unit. We've given up more special teams touchdowns than we have in several years combined. Scott Dean, Naples, FL
A: "Scott, with so many other areas of weaknesses on this team, the play of the special teams unit is not the top issue that comes to mind when Dolfans are venting their frustrations. Coaches work very hard on special teams because they understand the battle of field position, provided by their special teams, often is the difference between a victory or defeat. Over the years, the Dolphins have had a number of excellent role players who made their living on special teams, adding an ingredient of passion, desire and excitement to the team, that is clearly lacking this year. We have yet to see any one or two players step up and assume that role."
Q: Troy - If the season ended today, who do you place the most blame on? Would you terminate anybody? Randy Mueller, Cam Cameron, Dom Capers -- or give them all one more year? RR, LA, CA
A: "Good question, RR. I would have to place most of the blame on prior personnel decision makers. If you review the last four or five years, there are very few draft picks other than Ronnie Brown who have blossomed into impact players, and it has finally caught up with the Dolphins. Until that changes, the overall quality of players on the field will continue to fall short and the losses will continue to pile up."
Q: Why does Miami keep blitzing Zach Thomas when he almost never gets a sack and he is good in pass coverage? Couldn't the Dolphins blitz someone more adept at getting to the quarterback? Dan, Williamsport, PA
A: "Dan, we would all like to see Zach Thomas get to the QB more when he blitzes, but understand when he blitzes it requires the offense to account for him, using up a blocker. A blitzing Zach should create a one-on-one situation for one of the other Dolphins rushers. And, yes, someone needs to win that one-on-one battle, including Zach, but that has not been the case."
Q: Hey Troy, Did Dan Marino really get in the huddle sometimes and tell the receivers, "Just get open?" Roscoe, Fort Lauderdale, FL
A: "Roscoe, you heard right. Just get open was often said in the huddle by Dan. However, it didn't mean we could just run any route we wanted. We had to stay within the structure of the called play. For example, I've played with quarterbacks who if the route called for you to be at 15 yards but you ended up at 10, it would throw their timing off and they would move on to their next target. With Dan it didn't matter. His quick release allowed him the comfort to get the ball out to you at any time. If you were early or a little late on your route, no problem. Thus the phrase -- 'Just get open!'"
Q: Why are we not seeing John Beck? If we need to see what this kid can do, then let's get the party started! We blew an entire draft by passing on Brady Quinn so why wait? Beck can put a loss on the books as well as Trent Green or Cleo Lemon so lets go. Richard Albury, Bahamas
A: "Richard, I agree with you. The time has come to see what the young (although 26 years of age) John Beck brings to the table. Now understand Beck is going to have his struggles as well. The important thing at this stage is to see him in game situations so the evaluation period can begin. The thinking must be, let's get Beck on the field sooner, so those making the evaluation have 7 to 8 games of which to make their assessment rather then 2 to 3 games.
Q: Troy, I am huge fan of yours from back in the day. I am happy with the offense this season, but the defense has obviously lost their way. Why hasn't the team tried obtaining other defensive backs before the trading deadline expired? Scott, Delray Beach, FL
A: "Scott, we don't know if the Dolphins, in fact, tried to upgrade the secondary prior to the trading deadline. I will say this, however, it's difficult at this stage of the season to find a more qualified defensive back to replace what we have. Teams are not lining up to trade good corners and the chance of finding one who is not currently on a roster coming in and being productive is slim to none."
Q: Troy, I've been a fan for a long time enjoyed watching you play. My question is can a new head coach who has either a defensive or offensive background create balance and build a competitive team on all sides of the ball, special teams included? Don Shula has been the only coach for the Dolphins that had some of his teams balanced. John Shaw, Ketchum, ID
A: "John, every head coach specializes on one side of the ball. Yes, there are coaches out there who have a better grasp of both the offense and defense. But the truth is as a player and coach, your understanding of the other side grows by leaps and bounds each year just from punch, counter punch in trying to master your original side of expertise (I hope that makes sense to you). In addition, when you look at Cam and his offensive background, Dom Capers is supposed to be his balance."
Q: In your playing career, you started out very well, then quickly flamed out. What happened? Were you injured? James Gunther, Youngstown, OH
A: "James, although I was able to return from an ACL injury without any mental hang-ups, physically I was just a second off. My running style was one that allowed me to stop and go on the drop of a dime, leaving defenders in their tracks. After surgery I lost (just a split second) the ability to get separation at will, therefore becoming less effective. When a player's production drops, the end is not that far away."
Troy Stradford can be heard locally on 850 (AM) WFTL Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and on the Web at www.850wftl.com.