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Diner morning news: A good deal for both teams

Dolphins need playmaker, Broncos couldn’t extend Marshall’s deal. Michael Lombardi

Print This April 14, 2010, 10:30 AM EST

QUOTE: “You are educated when you have the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or self-confidence.” -- Robert Frost

Marshall traded to Miami

The Dolphins have been very quiet this offseason, but that ended this morning when they officially acquired Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall for what is believed to be two second-round picks, one this year and one next year. I love the deal for both teams, especially for the Broncos, who never were going to sign Marshall to a long-term deal after this season. They cashed out one year early and received a nice payout. I love the deal for Miami, which desperately needs a playmaker on the outside whom opponents fear.

This move makes sense for both, and now we know why Miami is trying to move down in the first round, which I reported Sunday -- to recoup the picks it sent for Marshall.

Miami and Marshall

The Fins are a well-coached team. When you watch them on tape, they execute extremely well and get the most out of every single play. But they often fall short on their production because they just don’t have the skill players to take a play from a four-yard gain to a 40-yard gain. Their design is very good, but clearly they lack the talent to enhance the design. That will change with this trade. Marshall will give them a big-play receiver who can make plays with the ball in his hands. His size creates matchup problems for opponents — not from a coverage standpoint but from a tackling standpoint. Facing Marshall, the first question that must be addressed in game-plan meetings is not who’s going to cover him, but who’s going to tackle him.

Miami offensive coordinator Dan Henning does a very good job creating the right matchups for the players he’s given, and now with Marshall in fold, this will help the Dolphins’ running game and prevent teams from always loading up the box. Henning knows how to feature a great skill player without having to run a play for him, as he understands this is not the NBA, where teams run plays for players.

In the NFL, you must run your offense, and Henning can design the offense to feature the skills of Marshall. And those skills center on his ability to make plays with his size, not his route running. He’s not a polished route runner, or a crafty one, but he has power and size that enable him to make plays. Marshall is a great jump-ball wideout who seems to always be in balance to attack the ball in the air. Henning will highlight Marshall’s strength, and this will help the Fins make explosive plays in the passing game.

Last season, the Fins finished 31st in the NFL in passing plays over 20 yards, so they knew they needed a big-play player to go along with the big arm of Chad Henne. In spite of the lack of big-play talent on offense last year, they had the Colts and Saints beaten but were unable to close the deal. With this move, and perhaps by adding speed to their defense in the draft, they can finish the job. One thing is clear to me: The more talent Miami has, the harder it’s going to be to beat because it does one of the best jobs of coaching in the NFL.

Denver without Marshall

So where does this leave the Broncos? From my perspective, in a very good place because this deal’s key component was the fact they were never going to sign Marshall to an extension. This was an organizational decision, not a “he couldn’t play for coach Josh McDaniels” decision. The Broncos’ past and present regime did not trust Marshall enough to place significant dollars on the table — they have been burned too many times in the past thinking a player would change. That lack of trust in Marshall stems from his history of behavior his entire life and most specifically in his time in Denver.

Marshall needed a new team, a new city and, most important, a change of social environment. Once the Broncos decided an extension was too risky, they needed to cash out. With additional second round picks the next two years, which are like gold assets in building a team, they’ll be able to find the right players to help them build the kind of team they want.

There will be no Diner tomorrow since I’m heading to Denver to visit with McDaniels for a one-on-one interview for NFL Network. After our talk, I’ll have more insight into the Broncos’ thinking on this trade and what they can expect from the draft.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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