Dolphins Watch

June 6, 2010 2:33 PM

Ross ratchets up the pressure

ROSS.bmpI'm sure Bill Parcells and Coach Tony Sparano were happy to see Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross predict the Fins would be in the Super Bowl next February.

When asked if he was heaping undue pressure on Sparano, Ross said, "Put it this way, he thinks that too. So does every player on that team. I don't think there's any pressure on it. We've just got to go out and do it."

Of course, every coach and player quietly thinks they have a shot at a Super Bowl, until the realities of August and September hit them flush in the face.

But to come out publicly and say something like that, especially in the wake of a sub-.500, playoff-less season, does heap an added bit of stress onto Sparano's plate.

Ross went on to say he hopes young quarterback Chad Henne will go down "as the greatest quarterback in Miami Dolphins history."

That's another tall statement, seeing as how he'd have to enjoy a better career than the legendary Dan Marino or Bob Griese, which I don't think is possible.

But, Ross is the second owner of a South Florida pro sports team to make a boastful prediction in the last few months.

Earlier this year, Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria publicly said the Marlins would make the playoffs -- and should make them this year -- despite his failure to upgrade the poor relief pitching that doomed the team last season.

It seems like today's owners, taking a page from the Dallas Mavericks' Mark Cuban, are more P.T. Barnum than Art Rooney.

It's all well and good to make boasts in the offseason, but you can't predict what will happen when the ball kicks off in August.

The Dolphins have a lot of new parts that need to mesh quickly for Sparano to meet Ross's expectations, but I hope those inflated hopes aren't crushed like a balloon in January.

Zach gets his day
Last month, Dolphins legend Zach Thomas got a long overdue sendoff, when the team allowed him to sign a one-day contract and retire as a Dolphin.

Thomas played the first 11 of his 12 seasons in Miami, where he was a seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time First Team All-Pro.

He was the heart and soul of those very good Dolphins defenses of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But what fans loved most about Zach was how much he cared; he was every bit as passionate as the fan base.

When the Dolphins struggled to beat the Jets in the early part of the last decade, losing seven straight times to New York, Thomas had enough and finally vented, only to have to apologize later that week.

Fans didn't care; he was simply reiterating what they had been saying: That they were tired of losing to the hated Jets, and someone had to do something about it.

He came in as an undersized unknown, a fifth-round pick in Jimmy Johnson's first draft in 1996.

Thomas went on to become the second-best middle linebacker of his era, behind only Baltimore's Ray Lewis.

In my opinion, Zach is a Hall-of-Famer. But I fear the fact he didn't play for a great team and never went deep into the playoffs will hurt his candidacy.

Still, it was nice to see the ill will that developed between Thomas and the Dolphins when Parcells took over and Sparano released him in 2008 dissipate with Zach's final goodbye.

Dolphins fail to address arrests
One unfortunate offseason development has been the arrest of four Dolphins for various offenses.

Defensive end Phillip Merling was the latest to spend time in jail, for aggravated battery against his pregnant girlfriend last month, a sickening charge.

Merling joined defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, running back Ronnie Brown and corner Will Allen on the police blotter.

For such a no-nonsense guy as Parcells, this has to be an issue. However, the organization reacted by doing nothing, not even suspending Merling from offseason workouts or minicamp.

You would think that was surprising, until you remember Parcells also tolerated Lawrence Taylor for the bulk of his career, when LT was a self-professed madman.

Now, Taylor is facing jail time for allegedly engaging in intercourse with a minor.

It was disappointing the organization, which prides itself on discipline, did not apply the same standard with these troubled players this offseason. It sends a negative message to Dolphins fans, and the rest of the NFL.

Something should have been done, especially in Merling's case, which was so disturbing.

If Merling is convicted of the crime, or admits to any wrongdoing, the Dolphins should suspend him, end of story.

Let's hope Parcells isn't letting talent get in the way of doing what is right, as he did with Taylor all those years ago.

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