Thursday, July 2, 2009
When Ronnie Brown came into the league back in 2005, the TV airwaves were consumed with ads featuring the ubiquitous question, "What can BROWN do for you?" While this phrase was originally meant to display how a cargo company with a monotone color scheme could outperform its flashier rivals, the phrase also become a motto of sorts for Ronnie Brown during the 2005 draft and beyond.
Like UPS, Ronnie Brown also had to compete to elevate himself above the flashier names of the 2005 draft class. One of those names was none other than his Auburn teammate and close friend who came equipped with a hell of a catchy nickname - Carnell "Cadillac" Williams.
While the Cadillac was consistently spinning his wheels onto the highlight reels, Ronnie's consistent, workman-like, and often-times pounding style of play provided the fuel to a dynamic and dominant rushing attack which helped drive the Auburn Tigers all the way to an undefeated season in 2004.
Ronnie also had to eclipse the heir to Ricky Williams' Texas throne - Cedric Benson. Although, Dolphin fans wanted no part of any Ricky Williams protege' given the situation at the time.
Brown began to separate himself from the pack at the 2005 NFL combine where he posted a 4.45 40' time. His speed along with his size helped push him toward the top of the (at the time) strong RB crop.
Nick Saban (The backstabbing, Lil' Debbie-eating, conniving, lecherous, deceitful, pint-sized control freak from the Boonies that every fan in Miami thought was God incarnated in the flesh at the time) used his extensive knowledge of the SEC to select Ronnie Brown with the 2nd overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.
This would be Saban's first decision as head coach of the Dolphins, and it would remain his best following his short-lived, disappointing reign as Miami Dolphins' dictator.
So what DID Brown do for the Dolphins? Well, just about everything.
He has conquered the cries of "bust" from the loyal (and sometimes delusional) fans - and not just once, but several times, as the cries of "bust" rear their ugly heads during almost every season.
He has crawled his way out of the early-season doghouse that each coach had placed him in for some mind-numbing reason each pre-season.
He has returned punts for Cam Cameron's pre-season fail forward fast all-stars.
He has broken tackle after tackle after tackle after tackle after tackle after tackle after tackle.
He has made safeties wish they were never born to receive the level of national embarrassment that comes with being absolutely demolished and tossed to the ground like Raggedy Andy.
He has racked up astronomical stats and still managed to go winless over a span of several games (Thanks Cam!).
He has at times been the team's best blocker, best runner, and best receiver.
He has torn his ACL, and proceeded to kick rehab's ass into submission, returning to the field at full strength and with no lingering issues in just a few months.
Oh, and he also became the poster boy for the league's hottest new craze in the ferocious WildCat Formation. He was the first player to actually make Bill Belichick (The New England Variety) look like a chump, and send thousands of Boston fans fleeing in shame out of Gillette Stadium for the first time in a decade.
Four years, 3,433 yards, 23 touchdowns, 137 receptions, 1,151 yards receiving, a pro bowl berth, and a whole lot of ass-kicking later, Ronnie Brown might be preparing for his last year as a Miami Dolphin.
Yes, another UPS, the United Parcells Service might be getting ready to send Ronnie Brown packing at the end of the season.
Ronnie Brown's contract expires at the conclusion of the 2009 season, and the team might be willing to part with the all-pro.
It mostly comes down to money. I am sure Sparano and Co. would love to keep a football player of Brown's caliber on the squad, but not at the cost he might come at.
Bill Parcells has always been one to take a blue-light special approach to runningbacks. He believes that as long as you have the hogs up front to do the dirty work, you can find a servicable enough running back just about anywhere.
If you look at his history, he never takes running backs in the first round of the draft, nor does he often pursue big name, big money backs in free agency.
He looks for the young and hungry in the later rounds ala Marion Barber. Or the old and forgotten with something to prove in Ottis Anderson.
The lone exception to this rule that I can conjure up at the moment was when he traded for notorious Dolphin-killer Curtis Martin. Parcells sent a 1st and a 3rd round pick to his former employer in exchange for the services of the future hall of famer.
While Jeff Ireland is the real Dolphins' General Manager, one can assume that he shares a similar philosophy with his boss on this matter.
Ronnie Brown is likely to remain a big ticket name during the 2009 season. With his multi-faceted talents and mastery of the now popular WildCat Offense, Brown should command big money out in Free Agency in 2010. Given that the Dolphins are unlikely to want to tie up such a huge sum of money on a running back nearing the end of his twenties, He will probably try to see what kind of value awaits him out on the market.
And if Brown disappoints in 2009 and fails to reach the level of play that fans and the Dolphins expect of him, he will also likely be gone. As was previously stated, the organization believes they can get solid play at that position at a bargain price, either through the draft or by rummaging through the heaps of discarded backs around the league. Case in point: Patrick Cobbs.
So who will replace the dynamic Ronnie Brown if he leaves in 2010?
Well, there is already a replacement for one of his jobs on the roster - Pat White, WildCat Specialist. Perhaps the drafting of White was a sign that the Dolphins have no plans to keep Ronnie Brown, the current king of the WildCat, past this season. They will get White prepared to usurp the role by having him become Ronnie Brown's 2009 WildCat understudy.
As for who the Dolphins might pick up to take over for Ronnie Brown's other, more important role in the offense? A tandem of Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs could be servicable, but I doubt they would be content with an ancient (yet enlightened, and for once, trustworthy) Ricky Williams and a supplementary guy like Cobbs (regardless of the spark he provides to the team in spots) as their only rushing options on what they hope will be their first legit shot at the Super Bowl in 2010.
If you want to find the future of the Dolphins' backfield, start looking at the unheralded, yet tough and consistent, workhorse running backs in the college ranks.
Ronnie Brown, should he leave after the 2009 season, will have entrenched himself as the best running back that the Miami Dolphins have fielded since the 70's (Ricky's 2002 masterpiece excluded).
Fortunately, we still have a full season of Ronnie Brown south beach smack downs to enjoy before he might be off to his next stop on the NFL delivery route.
[NOTE: If you liked this article and would like to get updated whenever I post new content, please sign up for my RSS FEED. It only has 2 lonely readers at the moment. You don't want it to die of depression, do you? How could you live with yourself! Give my poor, little RSS some love please.]