Dolphins Watch

April 14, 2010 6:02 PM

Dolphins agree to Marshall plan

MARSHALL.bmpThe move Dolfans have been waiting for all summer has finally happened.

Wednesday morning, it was announced Miami traded two second-round picks for Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who is coming off three straight 100-catch seasons, and whose 10 TDs last year were more than the entire Dolphins receiving corps had in 2009.

He instantly upgrades what had been a mediocre group of receivers, and now Ted Ginn, Briant Hartline and Davone Bess can settle into their true roles as complementary players, while Marshall attracts most of the attention from opposing defenses.

Marshall presents a host of problems for defenders. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, he has the size and strength to fend off corners and safeties, and he has surprising speed.

Last year, Marshall wove his way through the Dallas secondary for a 51-yard TD catch that gave the Broncos a 17-10 victory in Week 4. And in a December game against the eventual AFC champion Colts, he broke Terrell Owens' NFL record with 21 receptions, gaining 200 yards and scoring two TDs in a Broncos loss.

His playmaking ability gives the Dolphins offense an explosiveness in the passing game they have only seen glimpses of in the past -- mainly through Ginn.

And finally, the Dolphins can truly evaluate third-year quarterback Chad Henne's progress now that he has a legitimate No. 1 receiver to throw to.

This deal not only puts Marshall -- who has had several run-ins with the Broncos and the law -- under a microscope, but Henne as well. Now, there are no excuses. If Henne does not raise his game to another level this season with Marshall, the Dolphins may be searching for a new quarterback this time next year.

The 26-year-old Marshall was a two-time Pro Bowler in Denver, but he was undoubtedly a major head case as well, which is why the Broncos were glad to part with him.

His transgressions date back to 2005, when he was still a student at UCF. Marshall was arrested for charges of assault on a law enforcement officer, refusal to obey, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.

He was present the night cornerback Darent Williams was fatally shot in 2007, and speculation is that was part of why Marshall wanted out of Denver, as Williams' assailant has never been found.

Marshall has also been arrested on charges of domestic violence, for a DUI, for misdemeanor battery charges and for disorderly conduct. Then there were his issues with the Broncos, such as being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team in preseason for an embarrassing lack of effort in practice. And on Jan. 3, Marshall was suspended for the rest of the season when the team believed he was faking a hamstring injury.

Normally, this is a player Bill Parcells would run from on sight, but the Dolphins' need for a playmaker was so great -- and the frustration in the fan base equally so after the high profile moves made by the rival Jets -- that Parcells' hand may have been forced.

Now, the task falls to Coach Tony Sparano to try and keep Marshall in line, after having limited success with another historic malcontent, Joey Porter.

There is no question Marshall has the talent to become a special player for Miami, but will the Dolphins rue the day they acquired him?

Only time can answer the last question, but from a football standpoint, the Dolphins made a sound decision.

Marshall is the final piece to an offense that should put up points next season. Team a rejuvenated passing game with the Wildcat and one of the top running games in the league, and the Dolphins should have few problems moving the ball and scoring in 2010.

That means speculation about Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant is now over, and Miami will most likely focus on defense when the Dolphins make the 12th overall pick in next week's NFL Draft.

And with Marshall joining fellow free agent acquisition Karlos Dansby, you can already call this offseason a success in Miami.

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