Things couldn't be better for the Dolphins, except for the following:
?They have an unsettled situation at quarterback.
?They've been shopping around for a feature running back.
?Their prize acquisition at wide receiver is out for the season.
?They've got four new starters on the offensive line.
?Almost half of their starters on defense are 30 or older.
Had enough? Oh, we could go on. After Miami finished out of the playoffs for the second straight year in 2003, owner Wayne Huizenga took action. He gave coach Dave Wannstedt a two-year extension, but Huizenga stripped Wannstedt of his final-say authority on personnel matters. The owner installed Dan Marino as ... well, it was hard to know just what his title and responsibilities were, except that he would be the overseer, above Wannstedt and Rick Spielman, who was promoted from vice president to general manager. Marino resigned three weeks later, saying he couldn't devote the time he needed to do the job right.
On the field A.J. Feeley, who came off the bench and showed flashes of brilliance during a 4--1 run for the Eagles two years ago, was acquired in a trade to challenge quarterback Jay Fiedler. He is the fourth player marked for Fiedler's job since 2000. "I try to keep the negative thoughts out and do the best I can," Fiedler says. "I have too much respect for the guys in here to listen to rumors and outsiders who don't know what's going on."
The knock on Fiedler is his inaccuracy. The big plus is that he's a tough competitor who knows how to win and is well-liked by teammates.
Miami had a hole to fill at running back after Ricky Williams retired one week before the start of training camp. The leading candidate is Travis Minor, but at 5'10" and 205 pounds he's hardly built for heavy-duty work; Williams averaged a league-leading 24.2 carries per game during his two years as a Dolphin, but in three years Minor has never carried more than 59 times in a season.