Miami's Brandon Marshall backs coach
Big offseason changes are likely for the Dolphins, who rank next to last in the AFC in scoring and will sit out the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years. But Marshall said he hopes Sparano returns as coach.
"I've never been around a coach before who gives me goose bumps in a team meeting during the week and in OTAs before season even starts," Marshall said Thursday. "His ability to motivate guys and be a people person and talk to guys and have his door be open is amazing. You don't always get that. I'm glad they brought me here."
The Dolphins traded for Marshall in April to upgrade the offense, and while he became their biggest threat, his streak of more than 100 catches in three successive seasons likely will end with Sunday's finale at New England. He has 81 receptions, only three for scores, and said he failed to play anywhere near his potential.
Marshall didn't blame quarterback Chad Henne or coordinator Dan Henning for Miami's lack of productivity, but he didn't rave about them, either. When asked if his partnership with Henne can become great, Marshall said: "I'm not sure. We had some opportunities this year to do that, and we didn't get it done. I guess we have to evaluate what we've done this year, and see if we can improve, and see if can become good before we become great."
As for Henning: "Like any relationship, especially in sports where you're around someone every day, you may have your ups and downs. But he's a wise man."
Henning isn't expected back next season, while the futures of Sparano and Henne are uncertain.
But everyone agrees the offense needs a jump start. The Dolphins (7-8) have scored more than two touchdowns in only two games. They rank 29th in the NFL in yards per carry, and Henne's quarterback rating is 27th. The offense has been especially feeble at home, where Miami went 1-7.
Sparano said he has scheduled a meeting to discuss his future with owner Stephen Ross and looks forward to sharing his ideas for improving the situation.
"I'm confident in my ability," the third-year coach said. "I'm confident in the direction we're headed. I like where we're going; I don't like where we are."
Sparano led the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2008, his first season as an NFL head coach, but he's 14-17 since then. If Ross has yet to decide whether he wants Sparano back, perhaps Marshall's opinion will influence the owner.
"My first touchdown -- even though I haven't had many -- I gave Coach the ball, and on the ball it says, `The first of many,' " Marshall said. "We haven't had many, so we've got a lot more to do.
"As a player, you want to be able to have some stability. Change isn't always the best thing."
Henning agreed. The 68-year-old coordinator, who has coached for nine NFL teams, said it's often a mistake to seek improvement by changing coaches -- or players.
"Too many people have done that in this league for years and years," Henning said. "You change the quarterback, you change the coach, you change this guy and that guy, and next thing you know it comes around in a circle again."
Henning said Sparano has a vision of how to make the Dolphins better.
"Tony Sparano has the clearest vision of anybody in this building," Henning said. "If anybody knows what the problems are, and what the possible solutions are, Tony does. If I was going to start to try to find out the way to get this thing squared away, that's the guy I would go to first."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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