With the Dolphins at 1-6 and their No. 1 quarterback on the stationary bike instead of the practice field, Chris Chambers
found himself wondering this week where the team's struggling offense might be if Miami had retained quarterback Gus Frerotte
-- who helped guide
Miami to six straight wins to finish last season -- in addition to obtaining Daunte Culpepper
, who still is recovering from knee surgery.
"It's great to have Daunte, you can't beat that," said Chambers, who had hoped that the former Pro Bowler would help him develop into an elite receiver. "But I think we would be a lot more efficient, we would have been able to execute a lot better (with Frerotte).
"We knew each other, we knew the way that Gus threw the ball. Gus trusted us on the outside, he knew our abilities, gave us a chance to make plays. We would probably be in a better position."
Frerotte was released hours after Culpepper was acquired from Minnesota on March 15. Head coach Nick Saban has long maintained that he wanted Frerotte to stay, at the right price.
"We would have loved to have Gus back on our team," Saban said. "I think the choice for him was, how could he come back after we traded for another quarterback and then be the backup? He obviously didn't feel comfortable with doing that."
The departure of Frerotte, who signed a three-year contract with the Rams worth $6.3 million, left the door open for Miami to obtain Detroit's Joey Harrington, who has succeeded Culpepper as the Dolphins' starter.
As Palm Beach Post staffer Greg A. Bedard noted, neither quarterback has had much success connecting with Chambers this season.
Chambers, with 28 receptions, is tied for 40th in the NFL. Some observers think he has not been adequately involved in the offense. But Miami quarterbacks have thrown to him 65 times, fifth in the AFC, according to STATS, Inc.
Asked if he was aware of the latter statistic, Chambers said, "That probably would surprise me a little bit. But how many actually touched my hands?"
Bedard went on to note that Chambers has just two drops.
Thirty-five passes thrown to him (53.8 percent) were deemed uncatchable. That includes passes that were broken up as well as passes aimed his way when the quarterback was hit.
It also encompasses poor passes by the quarterback. The exact number of those thrown to Chambers is unknown. Overall, 42 percent of the incompletions by Culpepper and Harrington are blamed on poor throws, according to STATS.
Chambers was jolted when told how many uncatchable balls were thrown to him.
"That's unbelievable right there," Chambers said. "That means that we have time and it's not there. It's not there with Daunte or Joey, actually. That's interesting. That just means we need to get on the same page."
Chambers never would have expected to have trouble getting in sync with his quarterbacks after his first Pro Bowl season. In 2005 he set career highs with 82 receptions and 1,118 yards and tied a career high with 11 touchdowns.
Chambers, as he said in spring mini-camp, expected to be catching passes from a "real" quarterback in Culpepper. And Saban said the Dolphins would continue to run Scott Linehan's aggressive, vertical passing offense, though the offensive coordinator left to coach the Rams.
"That got me going," Chambers said.
But as Bedard suggested, the athletic wideout's enthusiasm since has been tempered. Culpepper was benched because of his injury after four games, and new coordinator Mike Mularkey has installed a system that favors short, quick passes. Mularkey is the fifth coordinator for whom Chambers has played in his five and a half seasons.
"I figured the experience that I have and some other guys have, we could overcome it, we could learn how to do it on the run," Chambers said. "But you can't do it on the run. I've learned that over the years."
Chambers said he sees signs that the offense is turning around, and the numbers bear that out. The league's 26th-ranked offense after Week 4 now is ranked 17th.
But Chambers realizes that at 1-6, the resurgence, like the one Miami enjoyed last season with Frerotte, probably is too late.
"It's starting to come," Chambers said. "Unfortunately, it's starting to come now."
Not that Chambers is completely blameless.
According to Pro Football Weekly, the disconcerting lack of consistency displayed by Chambers and tight end Randy McMichael this season has raised questions about whether those players are good enough to help carry an offense that's desperate for playmakers.
Granted the adjustment to a new coordinator and the changes at starting quarterback haven't helped matters.
Still, there's a feeling that both performers should be doing more, especially if they are the star players as they've been billed. In fact, PFW contends that Chambers has failed to get open as often as a No. 1 receiver should and has been eclipsed by slot man Wes Welker as Harrington's go-to receiver.
McMichael has been plagued by key drops and, though his stats look good with 31 catches for 346 yards in seven games, most of his catches have come in comeback mode late in games.
He also has suffered concentration lapses -- most notably in the Week 7 loss to Green Bay when he whiffed on a block of the blitzing Charles Woodson, resulting in a sack, and had a catchable pass deflect off his shoulder pads and get intercepted.