Last Second Audibles: Dolphins and Vikings Make Moves at Receiver
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The Vikings realized when Sidney Rice got hurt — or more specifically, was hurt and finally decided to get surgery — that their receiving corps were inadequate. Percy Harvin was great as a rookie, but his illnesses make him unreliable. Adrian Peterson had about as good of a game as a runner could have behind that line against the Saints, and was relatively a non-factor. The Vikings defense really showed up to play, and…they still lost, by a comfortable margin. Brett Favre looked old.
Help might be on the way. The team traded for WR Greg Camarillo in the offseason. He didn’t play much in this game, but he did have the longest reception of the day. TE Vicante Shiancoe still looks very, very athletic. Now, Mike Florio reports that the Vikings are emerging as a primary suitor for Vincent Jackson, disgruntled Chargers receiver.
Needless to say, if the Vikings land Jackson, they are looking at a second half a year with the best receivers in the league for Brett Favre to throw to. Sidney Rice may or may not ever be healthy this year (or again), but given a positive outlook, and a trade for Jackson, the Vikings have Rice and Jackson on the outside, and Harvin/Camarillo with Shiancoe on the inside. At which point, no team would be stronger.
This is all highly prospective as of this point. Clearly though, the Vikings need to get some help from Favre — or otherwise, they might as well stop wasting time preparing for next year. They can win the division if they beat the Packers twice and handle the Bears and Lions at least once each. Favre gives them the best chance to do that, but trading Sage Rosenfels gives them little option if Favre can’t get it done other than to swallow their pride and rebuild with Joe Webb/Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.
For the Dolphins, who traded the valuable Camarillo to the Vikings for a late round pick, less is more. No team has done more with less at receiver than the Miami Dolphins since, oh, let’s set an arbitrary line at round 2 of the 2007 NFL Draft. They wanted to keep two undrafted receivers, Marlon Moore (Fresno State), and Roberto Wallace (San Diego State). So getting something for Camarillo was certainly in the Dolphins best interest. Their WRs coach, Karl Dorrell, has done an unbelievable job developing both raw players who other teams stayed away from, as well as technicians with limited physical skill.
Dorrell was the head coach at UCLA as recently as 2007, so he could be in line for an NFL offensive coordinators job — or more than that — but his biggest task as an NFL coach will be coaching up Brandon Marshall. Two people who have held the offensive genius title, Josh McDaniels and Mike Shanahan, have failed to use Brandon Marshall in a way that is conducive to generating points. That awesome talent remains, but he’s running out of time. Dorrell may be the very last guy who can find something that Brandon Marshall does well enough to be a productive NFL player who does more than just catch a lot of passes for a minimal game.
One thing to watch: Marshall in the red zone. He was a lost man there in Shanahan’s offense, but McDaniels turned him into a scoring threat. He doesn’t have to be the deep threat in this offense: that’s Brian Hartline with help from Davone Bess.
It’s hard to say who has the better receivers grouping right now, Dolphins or Vikings, but they’ve built their groups very different: one is all about heavy early-round pick investment, the other about finding diamonds in the rough and carefully developing them. Both should feel good about their methods, because they’ve resulted in plenty of wins.