Will a change of scenery do Ted Ginn Jr. good?

By trading for receiver Brandon Marshall earlier in the week, the Dolphins instantly made receiver Ted Ginn Jr. expendable. That’s why they shipped him to the 49ers on Friday in exchange for a fifth-round pick in next week’s draft.

There’s no question that Ginn vastly upgrades the 49ers’ weak return game. In 16 games last season, the former top 10 pick racked up 1,296 yards on 52 kickoffs, including two touchdowns in a win over the Jets. He almost single-handily won that game for the Dolphins with 100 and 101-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns in the second half.

But for all his playmaking ability as a returner, Ginn has failed to live up to expectations as a receiver. Ever since he was taken with the ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft, he has failed to make an impact as a receiver. Bigger, more physical corners abuse him at the line and can easily disrupt his route running. That often screws up the timing between him and his quarterback, thus limiting the opportunities he touches the ball in the passing game. He’s great in the open field, but getting the ball in his hands is often the problem.

That said, Ginn leaves a crowded receiver corps in Miami to a rail-thin situation in San Francisco. He can work opposite intriguing youngster Michael Crabtree in the 49ers’ offense, or perhaps out of the slot so that the Niners can attempt to match him up against linebackers and safeties. (A matchup that Ginn will no doubt win based on his speed.)

There have been plenty of players that blossomed with a change of scenery and Ginn could be one of them, although San Francisco will have to find a way to utilize him as a deep threat. If not, at least the Niners didn’t part with a high draft pick and he’ll, at the very least, be able to boost their production in the return game.

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Ginn likely on the move now that Dolphins have Marshall

Much like Donovan McNabb’s trade to the Redskins, the Brandon Marshall deal will likely impact the future of other players, including Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant and current Dolphin Ted Ginn Jr.

The Broncos now become the favorites to land Bryant with the 11th overall pick in this month’s draft, assuming they don’t mind taking on another receiver with a checkered past. If Denver passes on the Oklahoma State product, there’s no telling how far he may fall in the first round, although chances are he’ll go among the top 20 picks seeing as how he’s the top receiver in the draft.

Ginn’s future is a little cloudier. Even before they acquired Marshall from Denver, the Dolphins were shopping Ginn to potential suitors. Now that the trade for Marshall has been completed, there’s little doubt that Miami will move Ginn this offseason, but to whom and for what are the questions.

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Hey, there’s Ted Ginn Jr.!

For much of his short career, Dolphins’ receiver Ted Ginn Jr. has been a ghost. While he remains a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball, the problem is that he can’t get open. He can’t beat jams off the line, he doesn’t have good enough technique to shake defenders and despite his speed, he’s slow getting in and out of his routes.

But for at least one game, Ginn found a way to be useful.

Ginn failed to record a single reception and was targeted just once, but he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to spark the Dolphins in their 30-25 win over the Jets in Week 8. His 299 total kickoff return yards rank him second behind Tyrone Hughes (who compiled 304 yards in a 1994 game for the Saints) for the most return yards in a single game in NFL history.

Ginn’s first touchdown came after the Jets had taken a 6-3 lead early in the third quarter and the second came after Mark Sanchez had cut Miami’s lead to 17-13 with a 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. He set the Dolphins up with great field position as Miami went on to score 27 points in the second half.

As for the Jets, I think this is the team many expected them to be with a rookie quarterback and a first year head coach. There’s a lot of season left, but this is probably a .500 team at best and there’s nothing wrong with that. Under Ryan, they’ve played with more of a swagger and the defense has been more aggressive. Sanchez has a long way to go in his development, but he has flashed promise in his rookie year and has proven on some levels that he can handle being a franchise quarterback.

Both the Dolphins and Jets will remain competitive throughout the year, but the playoffs seem unlikely for both teams. They just don’t have enough overall depth to challenge the top teams in the AFC.

But hey, at least Miami found where Ted Ginn has been hiding. He remains a massive bust, but a bust that has electrifying return abilities.

Dolphins completely blow final series in loss to Colts

I’ll get to the greatness of Peyton Manning in a second, but first I’d like to know what the hell the Dolphins were thinking on the final series of their 27-23 loss to the Colts on Monday night.

For three and a half quarters, Miami’s game plan was executed to perfection. They ran the ball well, grinded out the clock and kept Manning and the Colts’ potent offense on the sidelines.

But once Manning led Indy on one of his vintage drives late in the fourth quarter to put the Colts up 27-23, Tony Sparano and his coaching staff didn’t make any adjustments. The Dolphins played their final offensive series like it was their first drive of the game. They ran the ball, they wasted time by not getting to the line of scrimmage quickly and on least two occasions, they called play action passes.

Now why, in the name of all that is holy, would you run play action in an obvious passing situation? Did offensive coordinator Dan Henning think that he would get the Colts’ safeties to bite on the run with 36 seconds left and Miami needing a touchdown to win? It’s wasted time for Pennington to mimic a handoff to his running back when he could have used it to find open receivers. He should have been in the shotgun or at the very least in a five or seven step drop so he could survey the entire field. Play action doesn’t do Pennington any favors in that situation.

And I’m sorry, but if Ted Ginn Jr. wants to be a No. 1 receiver in this league, then he’s got to come down with that pass in the end zone on 3rd and 10. It wasn’t an easy catch by any means, but he out jumped the defender and Pennington put the ball in only a place where Ginn could get it. I know he had a good night (11 catches, 108 yards), but Ginn has to come down with that ball and give his team a chance to win.

I don’t have the numbers, but I’ve never seen a team win in the NFL by only running 35 total plays like the Colts did tonight. For the Dolphins to execute their game plan for 58 minutes and lose in such a way at the end should piss Sparano off. And if it doesn’t, then maybe Bill Parcells made the wrong choice for head coach a year ago.

As for Manning – he’s a freaking machine. The way he read what Miami was trying to do on that 48-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon was pure Peyton. I love watching Tom Brady play in a tight ball game, but I don’t think any quarterback is smarter than who the Colts employ under center every week.

Ten NFL players facing make or break seasons

Training camp is still a month away but you don’t need daily reports from the grueling two-a-day sessions to see what players are going to have the heat turned up on them this season. I’ve complied a list of 10 players (in no particular order) who, not necessarily the same reasons, face make or break seasons in ’09.

1. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
If Romo doesn’t get the Cowboys to the playoffs in 2009 will Jerry Jones look for other options at quarterback in 2010? No. But if you read between the lines, the Cowboys jettisoned Terrell Owens this offseason so that Romo will have every opportunity to be the team’s most influential leader and hopefully go from being a great quarterback to one of the elite. While it might not technically be a make or break season for Romo, his career is certainly at a crossroads. Romo’s numbers last year were solid – 3,448 yards, 26 TDs, 91.4 QB Rating – but his play faded over the last month of the season and the Cowboys imploded. Since then, Romo’s work ethic, offseason dedication and leadership skills have been questioned and it appears as though the QB’s career has come to a fork in the road. If he continues on the path his currently on, he might put up decent numbers and lead the Cowboys to the playoffs a couple more times before his days are done. That’s certainly not bad, but Jones and the rest of the Cowboy faithful want Romo to be extraordinary and if he completely dedicates himself to the game, maybe he can take this talented team to the next level. One thing’s for sure – with T.O. out of the way, this is now Romo’s team and it’s up to him where he and the Cowboys go from here.

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