With the final four games now in front of us, with so many young players trying to make a lasting impression and with back-to-back road games against the Jets and Giants next on the menu, it's time for your Dolphins' questions and I assure you none of my answers will be penalized for taunting.
Q. I'm finally a believer in DeVante Parker. He has managed to stay healthy this season and put together excellent statistics. Is he now part of the long- range plan? — John Patten
AC: Parker will turn 27 in January. He is in the midst of his peak years and I firmly believe he has already convinced this coaching staff that he deserves to be a major part of this re-build. Parker was brilliant against the Eagles, every bit as good as we hoped he would be when taken in the first round of the 2015 draft. Now he has chance to build off of that and become an elite receiver. It's clear to me by now it'll be with the Dolphins.
Q. Considering our lack of a run game lately how impressed have you been with Fitzpatrick and his ability to lead this team on drives? — @Owlizee
AC: Very, very impressed. In many ways this team has taken on the personality of its quarterback. Fiery. Intense. Tough-minded. Resilient. Fitzpatrick has turned out to be exactly what this offense needed and I marvel at how productive he is at 37 years old and with his eighth NFL team.
Q. I am a big Alabama fan and love the accuracy and decision making of Tua. Even with the injury, do you think the Dolphins will try to draft him? Love your columns. Fin fan from Indianapolis. — Dennis LaPerle
AC: I believe everything is in play right now and that certainly includes drafting Tua. I'm not sure how his draft status will be affected by his recent hip surgery, but you can be sure the Dolphins remain interested.
Q. Hello sir. Love Xavien Howard. His chronic knee problems are truly concerning to me. — David Campbell
AC: Hello David. I'm assuming you are asking me if I am also concerned about Xavien Howard's knee issues and the answer is a partial yes. I'm always concerned when a player has more than one procedure in the same area, but I've also covered many players through the years who have left chronic injury problems in the rearview mirror as their careers progressed. I believe that Howard is young enough and talented enough to overcome his knee problems. I would still invest heavily in his future.
Q. Firstly I would like to say thank you for all that you do on miamidolphins.com. As a UK based fan it is a key part of me being able to follow the team. My question is wouldn't it be sensible for the Dolphins to give Josh Rosen another chance toward the end of the season to see if he has learned from them and worth bringing back even as a backup? — Sean Jeffries
AC: Firstly, I would like to say thank you back for your kind words. Regarding Josh Rosen, I understand your point but I also believe Fitzpatrick has earned the right to lead this offense through the final games of the season. The Dolphins have now had Rosen on the practice field since May so I believe they have a good understanding of what he can and can't do. Having said all of that, playing him at some point I'm sure will be considered.
Q. AC, when I was younger I always said how lucky the Patriots are and now that I'm older I realize the coaching staff can see something others don't in talent. I think Coach Flores and his staff are now bringing that to the Dolphins. What's your take on that? — Greg Rogers
AC: I agree with this: Flores and his coaching staff, as well as the personnel department, are excellent at unearthing players. We've seen examples of this all season with undrafted rookies who are now getting extensive playing time.
Q. The players seem to be playing hard for Flores. Does this help attract free agents? — @Glenn75108970
AC: No doubt about it. Players around the league talk to one another. They know what's going on with each team. They understand which teams have stability and which don't. The right head coach is a big part of the equation and if there is respect for what Flores is doing, and I believe there is, it could certainly have a positive impact on free agency.
Q. Do you think that Fitzpatrick could be the starter next year over a rookie QB from the draft? — @NYROCKERSBLUM
AC: I've actually thought about this a lot. I wouldn't at all be opposed to bringing Fitzpatrick back and, in fact, he could be the perfect mentor for a young quarterback. I mean what hasn't Fitzpatrick seen? What hasn't he experienced? He could serve as an invaluable resource. But that's a decision that will be made following this season.
Q. Do we draft a running back or get a seasoned veteran free agent? — @JamesFinhead825
AC: I've always been a believer in drafting running backs. Mainly because, with few exceptions like Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson, it is a young man's position where the best years are usually the early years before the poundings begin taking a toll. I see at least a half dozen college backs that have a chance to become elite players in the NFL. Wouldn't mind at all if the Dolphins selected one of those.
Q. Can you share some insight on the locker room climate from Week 1 to now? And how does it compare to last year's team? — @MarcosVieiraNFL
AC: This is a very interesting locker room because, for the most part, everybody is so young. It is refreshing to talk to these players because so many of them come with a story that has so much to do with perseverance and second chances. A year ago it was a much more veteran team. Several players, in fact, had specific days when they would only talk to the media. This year's team and these players make you feel genuinely welcome when you approach them for an interview in the locker room. It has been that way all season.
Q. What exactly was the plan for this season? The potential tank was clear, we jettisoned a lot of talent to stockpile draft picks. But if the plan was to try to compete, which we now seem to be doing, surely keeping Minkah and Tunsil was the better approach? I'm really confused. — @paynotron
AC: Allow me to try and clear things up for you. The plan all along was to reset this roster. That meant getting rid of some inflated salaries and trading away some current assets in order to acquire more future assets, in this case draft picks. The unknown was how this restructured roster would perform. Well, as it has turned out, the Dolphins have been competitive, which is a credit to this coaching staff. The end result is a best of both worlds scenario: The Dolphins are now loaded with resources to get better in a hurry and at the same time are putting a respectable product on the field. Hope that makes things a little clearer.
Q. Do you like Jalen Hurts as a future franchise QB? Especially with the top QB's right now having similar characteristics. — @NikesOwn_
AC: Yes, I like Hurts a lot. He is as good a dual threat passing and running as any quarterback in the draft. If he plays well in his conference championship game and bowl game his stock will continue to rise. I look at him as a certain first round pick.
Q. AC: Tell me the one thing that impresses you most about Ryan Fitzpatrick? — @cindyreed28
AC: The way he approaches the game, how he loves what he does, how he looks like a kid after scoring a touchdown and how his enthusiasm and energy are the perfect compliment for such a young team. Not sure that counts as just one thing, but with Fitzpatrick there's a lot to be impressed with.
Q. Hey, Andy: Are we going to see any more Matt Haack to Jason Sanders passing touchdowns this season? — @Billyboy17
AC: Hey, Billyboy: With this coaching staff, I wouldn't at all be surprised.