Nearly six years after leaving the Dolphins, Alabama coach Nick Saban tried to set the record straight during a radio interview Monday, saying he feels badly about the manner he left and insisting that contrary to reports over the years, the Dolphins offered Drew Brees a contract during 2006 free agency.
It has been widely reported that the Dolphins offered a contract to Daunte Culpepper, who ultimately signed with them, and not to Brees because team doctors decided that Brees was more of a medical risk because of his surgically repaired shoulder. That decision has haunted the Dolphins for years.
But Saban told Dan LeBatard on 790 The Ticket on Monday that the Dolphins first made an offer to Brees but “quite frankly, he didn’t pass the physical. And we were forced to go in another direction.”
Saban also discussed leaving the Dolphins job after the 2006 season — his second year in the job — despite saying he was not going to take the Alabama job. “The big thing with me is not handling the way I left well,” he said. “That’s always been a thing with me I’ve never felt good about. I’ll probably never feel good about it.”
The Dolphins have only 12 takeaways — well below their fewest ever in a season (19 in 2010). They have forced 19 fumbles but recovered only three. And they have just one takeaway in the past seven games.
“We’ve got to make more impacting plays on defense,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. “We’re not creating field position like great defenses do, and ultimately that’s what we want to be.”
• The Dolphins (6-8) enter the season’s next-to-last week with the slimmest of playoff hopes. For Miami to force a multi-team tie at 8-8 for the final wild-card spot, the Dolphins would need to beat the Bills and Patriots; the Steelers would need to beat the Bengals but lose at home to the Browns; the Bengals would need to lose to the Steelers and Ravens; and the Jets would need to lose twice or lose once, with one loss coming to Buffalo.
It appears as though the Dolphins would be positioned to win the tiebreaker in that scenario, though a league spokesman said he was unable to confirm that on Monday.
• Tight end Charles Clay sustained a torn knee ligament and will undergo season-ending surgery this week, agent Harold Lewis said. Philbin said he’s hopeful that Daniel Thomas and Nolan Carroll will be able to play again this season after sustaining knee injuries, but the Dolphins are considering placing Thomas on the injured reserve.
• Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said Jonathan Martin, in his third game at left tackle, “did OK” on Sunday and “has a chance to be an excellent left tackle or right tackle in this league, wherever he ends up next year.”
Jake Long, on injured reserve, can become a free agent in March, and Sherman’s comment marked the first time anyone in the organization acknowledged the possibility of Martin playing left tackle next year.
As for fill-in right tackle Nate Garner, Sherman said: “You worry a lot about how is he going to handle the pass-rushers, but he seems to have done a pretty good job. I’m really excited about how he has played and what he has done in the run game.”
• Receiver Armon Binns, claimed off waivers last week, played 10 snaps and “had a winnable grade — did what we asked him to do,” Sherman said.
Beyond Binns, here’s how the Dolphins allocated receiver snaps in Davone Bess’ absence: Brian Hartline played 60 of Miami’s 73 offensive plays, Marlon Moore 37, Rishard Matthews 31 and Marcus Thipgen 29.
• Coyle and coach Joe Philbin praised cornerback Bryan McCann’s work filling in for Carroll, who logged just 16 snaps before his knee injury. McCann played 38 of Miami’s 63 defensive snaps — more than fellow defensive backs Jimmy Wilson (45) or R.J. Stanford (15). Sean Smith played all 63 of Miami’s defensive snaps.
• Coyle said safety Chris Clemons “had probably his best game of the year. He’s been very quietly consistent for the most part, doing his job and doing it well.”