GOOD MOVE OR BAD MOVE?

QB A.J. Feeley

Not everyone is sold on the Dolphins' imminent acquisition of former Eagles No. 3 quarterback A.J. Feeley to become their starter. But for the sake of the team, as well as Coach Dave Wannstedt and GM Rick Spielman, members of the organization had better hope it was the right decision.

The pros concerning Feeley are that he's guy with a lot of potential, and he was expected to draw some interest as a restricted free agent. He looked very sharp in his five starts during the 2002 season when both Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer were injured.

Plus, there is plenty of precedent of guys who were backups with one team and thrived after being traded and becoming starters. The list includes guys like, first and foremost, Brett Favre, as well as Aaron Brooks, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Delhomme.

The Dolphins did a lot of number-crunching comparing Feeley's stats as a backup in Philly to those guys' stats before they became starters and came away convinced that Feeley will succeed.

That's why they gave up a conditional second-round pick in 2005 for him.

But there are those who see Feeley as nothing special, who will tell you Feeley went 4-1 as a starter in 2002 only because the Eagles defense was so good, that Feeley being No. 3 behind journeyman Koy Detmer speaks volumes.

From this vantage point, we like the move, if for no other reason than it provides a much-needed change at the most important position on the team.

We have liked Jay Fiedler from the start, for his toughness, his leadership, his attitude, but after four years it became clear the team would only get so far with him at quarterback.

Simply put, a change absolutely had to be made, otherwise you were looking at another 9-7, 10-6 season with little hope of advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs.

With Feeley, you just don't know.

Maybe he flops and the Dolphins take a major step back, in which case it means a better draft position next April.

Maybe he thrives, and the Dolphins suddenly find themselves with an offense that actually can complement what is always a competitive defense. And, who knows, maybe that's what carries this team a step further in the playoffs or maybe even all the way.

The bottom line is you just don't know. You knew with Fiedler, it was going to be good but not great. The possibility that there could be something more is exciting.

The reality is we're not really expecting Feeley to come to Miami and suddenly be another Favre. But we can certainly see Feeley becoming every bit as good as Delhomme, and he was good enough to make several key throws that helped get the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl this past season.

If Feeley can attain that level, we will look back at this trade as a major steal for the Dolphins. If not, it will have been a shot worth taking.

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