Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Dolphins Get Ready To Lay Some Wood On The Steelers

Well this couldn't have set up any better to keep Dolphins fans tied to the TV for a full day of NFL action on Sunday.

In order to make the playoffs, the Dolphins need to beat the Steelers and hope that ALL of the following happens:  New England beats Houston, Oakland beats Baltimore, Cleveland beats Jacksonville, AND Cincinnati beats the Jets.

The Cleveland/Jax and NE/Houston games are at 1pm Eastern, like the Dolphins game, so we could know the Dolphins fate before the end of our game.  Or, we could have to wait up.  Baltimore plays Oakland at 4:15pm Eastern, and then the Jets/Bengals game isn't till 8:20pm Eastern.  FYI, that game will be the final ever NFL game in the horrible Meadowlands.  The Jets and Giants will play in the 'New Meadowlands' starting next season.  The new stadium's main feature is the fact it's clad in LED panels that will change color based on which team is playing.  Of course, it will still have the ridiculous  interchangeable end zone carpet that has crippled several players in the old stadium.

So there's a chance we still won't know if the Dolphins make the playoffs until after bed-time for most of us.

But if they're going to be in that position, here's some things they might want to be taking note of:
  • This will be a playoff caliber atmosphere.  I fully expect there to be a large 'Steeler Nation' contingent in the stands at Landshark Stadium, and the fact that this is CBS' game of the week (because it's the Steelers) there might even be some extra NFL cash spent on the pre-game hoopla.  
  • While most media circuits are on the fence over whether or not Troy Polamalu will play, I expect he willFor one, he's missed more than enough games, and this is the Steelers' last ditch effort to make the playoffs.  Also, this bastard somehow managed to win the popular vote into the Pro-Bowl voting despite only having played in 5 games this year (note:  He ended up losing out to Brian Dawkins in the end) so he might feel pressure to play from his fanbase.  Obviously he is a game-changing asset on the field so the Dolphins need to work the ball away from him if he does play.
  • No one takes more sacks than Ben Roethlisberger.  The guy is tough as nails, but he's also a tackling dummy at times.  If the Dolphins can get past the Steelers average blocking, they will tip the scales in their favor.  The Steelers have been a much more pass-oriented team the last two years, and the first line of defense is to disrupt the quarterback.
  • The next biggest threat is Santonio Holmes.  With Hines Ward looking beat up/questionable, and TE Heath Miller looking pedestrian this season, Holmes is clearly carrying the load here.  Not the most intelligent person in the world, but very good hands and solid all-around football skills.  Who will cover him?  I suspect if Ward is healthy and plays, then Vontae Davis will get Ward and Sean Smith will cover Holmes, based on the physicality of each player.  Holmes likes to work the sidelines and this could be beneficial to Smith, with his long reach and good intermediate/short route coverage.
  • For the Dolphins' offense, the key here is to get around Casey Hampton, the Steelers' All-Pro nose tackle, and win blocking assignments on James Harrison, Lamar Woodley, and James Farrior on running plays.  
  • In the passing game, the key is to throw some different looks at Ike Taylor and William Gay, or to try to avoid throwing outside altogether.  Again, Polamalu is such a force that it affects the gameplan whether he plays or not.  If he doesn't, I would work in a lot of running back screens.  He is the best in the league at defending the screen, but if he's not in the game, there may be a weakness there.  
  • Not that the Steelers have much weakness on the defensive side of the ball.  Ultimately, it's going to be all about everyone winning their individual blocking assignments, the running backs giving 125%, driving forward for an extra yard here, a 3rd and short conversion there, and the receivers finding soft spots to sit down in.  Davone Bess could have a huge game, and there may be opportunity to break a deep ball or two to Ginn.  But the throws will have to be accurate, better so than last week.
  • On a side note, the Steelers signed CB Trae Williams this week to replace an injured player.  He probably will not even be active, but some of you may remember that I stomped up and down like a 4 year old last year screaming for the Dolphins to sign Williams when we were having corner issues.  I also wanted to bring him in this year before we brought in Eric Green, re-signed Will Allen, and drafted Davis and Smith.  Williams is the 'other half' of the USF duo that featured himself and Dallas starter, Mike Jenkins, a duo that was considered the best pair in the country in 2007. It would be a real pain in the arse if he played and scored a pick 6 or something...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Week 16 Editorial - Part 3 of 3 - "What Now?"

Technically, the Dolphins can still make it into the playoffs.  In order to do this, they would have to beat Pittsburgh, and have ALL of the following happen:  Denver has to beat Kansas City, Cincinnati has to beat the Jets, Oakland has to beat the Ravens, and New England has to beat Houston.  

All possible in any given week, but this is the ONLY scenario in which the Dolphins make the playoffs, essentially four of the five wild-card competitors have to lose and Denver has to win.  The odds of this scenario playing out is 0.03%.  

The Jets will be playing in probably the final NFL game in the Meadowlands Denver doesn't need to win to make the playoffs, in fact, the Ravens and Jets game is more important to them than their own.  They need one of them to lose regardless of whether they win or not.  Oakland hosts the Ravens and has nothing but pride to play for whereas the Ravens need to win to make the playoffs.  Houston needs a win and two f the four other contenders to lose.

I put it to the jury that there's something more important at stake here than the 2009 playoffs.  If we make the playoffs, we'd have to play the Patriots.  If we beat the Patriots we'd have to play the Colts.  If we beat the Colts we'd have to play either the Chargers, Broncos, or Bengals.  Then we'd have to face the NFC champion in the Superbowl, my guess either New Orleans, Minnesota,  Philadelphia, or Green Bay.  

I just don't think we have enough left in the tank for that run.  Injuries, mental fatigue, hometown distractions (it's not necessarily a good thing to have the Pro-Bowl and Super Bowl in your house while you're trying to focus on football).  All this leads one to believe that it would take miracle upon miracle upon miracle to get to the Super Bowl this season.  

Making the playoffs would take us out of the top 15 in draft position.  Not that I don't think the draft won't be so loaded we can get strong talent down the table, but to be 4 or 5 places lower in each round can change a lot of things, like getting THE best player at a particular position as opposed to the 2nd or 3rd best, and also affects potential trades.

Yes, I know it's blasphemous to suggest we lose the game, so I'm going to make this very clear, I am NOT suggesting we not go out and try to win this week's match-up versus the Steelers.  What I am saying is that we shouldn't bank on making the playoffs, in fact, the odds are so stretched against us that you should just put it out of your head, and if it actually happens, be thankful for an extra week of Dolphins football.

But what I am suggesting, no, imploring the coaches do, is to not ignore the fact there are questions to be answered in a blind attempt at making the playoffs.  

If any more starting players get a serious injury at this point, they will not be ready to start the 2010 season.  If Chad Henne, for example, gets injured, we would have no choice but to re-sign Pennington to a big money contract, not even knowing if he's going to be ready either.  Basically, we'd be 'effed'.  What about if Starks or Jake Long get injured?  Forcing the issue here in a virtually un-winnable battle could have serious repercussions on the 2010 season.  We cannot afford to have to start over from scratch.

And there are things we need to know before free agency and the draft.  

  • We absolutely MUST see Patrick Turner on the field running routes.  If they do not give him a ticket and a set of plays, we can consider him another wasted draft pick, but not one who failed miserably like Pat White, but one who was never even given a chance.  
  • We MUST see a Free Safety on the field.  We cannot keep playing with two strong safeties and expect our pass defense to improve.  Chris Clemons is a true free safety, and Tyrone Culver plays the spot better than the two starters.  This needs to be sorted out or we'll have to circle FS as a priority for the off-season.
  • Andrew Gardner - remember him?  With all the injuries and rotation along the offensive line, he must be shockingly bad not to even be activated.  Then again, could he be worse than Vernon Carey?  We need to know, Coach.  Put him in the game.
  • Jason Allen.  At some point we're going to have to trade him, because the coaches hate him so much they'd rather play two rookies and Nate Jones ahead of him.  I've never understood it, because the guy is a playmaker.  But if he's not going to be used, get him some game time so his trade value increases.
  • Let Ted Ginn return punts.  Let Kory Sheets return punts.  Let Chris Clemons return punts.  Let anyone other than Davone Bess give it a go.  Stubbornness is not a good quality in a football coach.  We need to try something other than Bess. For the season, Bess returned 27 punts for 206 yards (7.6 avg - That ranks him 42nd in the league in punt returns), fair caught 15 (36% of the time), fumbled 3 times, and his longest return was 22 yards. 
  • Lionel Dotson, Ikeaika Ilma-Francis, Ryan Baker, Evan Oglesby, Kory Sheets, Andrew Hartline, Eric Walden - are these guys even on the team?  Baker has looked good in limited action, but the rest have failed to make it onto the field this season.  
  • Brian Hartline  - Stop messing about, just start him already.
I know alot of readers will wonder, well Tinshaker, how are you going to get all those young players on the field on game day - you can't dress everyone!  Well that's actually an easy answer.  You rest Jake Grove and either Justin Smiley or Donald Thomas, whichever has the more serious mystery injury.  You rest Camarillo.  You rest Ricky Williams.  You rest one of the regular d-linesmen, you rest Joey Porter and you rest Gibril Wilson.  The loss of Crowder also opens up a spot.  Basically you take all the banged up starters at positions where you have a young guy waiting for game experience:  O-line, WR, RB, DL, S, LB.

I know this all sounds a bit selfish, wanting to know what we've got, especially in the players that were picked up over the course of the season.  Miami had the 2nd highest payroll in the league this year at $126,855,921. I want to know where all that money went, not just 80% of it.  I want to know where we go from here, and need a fuller picture.  I can pretty much imagine where its going to go if we play this game like any other team battling to make the playoffs.  Instead, I'd rather use the game more wisely in regards to the future.

Again, I'm not saying we shouldn't try our asses off to win the game, but in doing so we should be finding some answers to questions that are going to come up immediately should we lose.

Tomorrow we look at the actual head-to-head meeting between the Dolphins and the Steelers.  I should warn any readers in Tampa, you will not be getting the game on local TV, at least not according to the early announcements.  However, we West Coasters will as will 80% of the country.  More details tomorrow.

Okay, now lay into me and my theory in the comments section.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Week 16 Editorial - Part 2 of 3 - "What's Left"

After writing 'Part 1' of this topic, it came to light that the Dolphins had not actually been eliminated from the playoff run, but they are stuck in a box with Rex Ryan sitting on the lid.  So I will carry on with the same mindset, which is to assume the season is over for all practical purposes and to assess the damages.  

Yesterday I brought up the fact that we probably shouldn't have made it this long into the playoff race because of the fact we lost 7 integral players to injured reserve, including our best offensive and best defensive players (Brown and Ferguson).  They were both the anchors of their respective sides of the ball, and both injuries caused massive disruption and inconsistency down the stretch.

At the same time, at least one game was lost due to coaching decisions, and I'm being kind there, it was probably more like 3 or 4.

So, closing down 2009, we know certain things to be evident:
  • Tony Sparano trusts his assistant coaches 100%.  Or at least he did.  Comments he made this week about it all being his fault may have sounded like what any decent head coach would say, but ou could also read into it that maybe he misplaced his trust.  Only time will tell.  In any event, no matter what Sparano decides in regard to his bumbling coordinators, it would be surprising if there isn't pressure from some of the half dozen celebrity owners to at least look into who else is out there, and if we have the right guys for the job (Dolfans are almost unanimous in their opinion - NO!).
  • We went into 2009's season knowing that Chad Pennington, David Martin, Matt Roth, Anthony Fasano, Jason Ferguson, and Ronnie Brown were closing out their contracts and decisions would have to be made.  Many of us were very clear cut on what should be done - Ronnie/Roth/Fergie should be extended, and the rest decided on after the season.  Well, fate stepped in and took control.  Rothgate ended with a loud slamming of the door, and he's shaken off the rust in Cleveland.  Pennington's early season exit led to a weed-like growth in confidence in Chad Henne by fans and coaches alike., meaning Pennington's future with the Dolphins is dependent entirely on if he wants to retire to backup status (goodbye Pat White) or compete to start (goodbye C. Pennington).  David Martin was unceremoniously put aside and swept out with the floor droppings.  He was desperately missed on the field though.  Fergie and Ronnie both went down, but Ronnie may not be a free man just yet, as 2010's uncapped year seems more and more a reality about to happen, which would mean Ronnie isn't going to be an unrestricted free agent, and could end up being Miami's first 'Franchise' player in a long time.  Ferguson may have played his last down of football, but if he's cleared to return, he will undoubtedly return with the Dolphins.  The only one really up for debate is Fasano.  He really did not do enough to dig himself out of my doghouse.  He single-handedly lost the first two games of the season.  He missed an entire month with a mysterious 'nagging' injury that was really being in the Dolphins dog-house too (they just would never say so to the public).  At times in 2008 I thought he was horrible both at blocking and at running routes (and he dropped a lot of passes in the middle of the season).  He still looked poor in route-running this year and his blocking was not spectacular either.  I often found myself involuntarily closing my eyes when the ball was thrown to him this season.  I think that gives away which side of the fence I'm on.
  • We know we did well forming a defensive line - Langford, Merling, Starks, McDaniel are here to stay and Soliai and Ferguson will be doing what they can to stay in a Dolphins uniform in 2010, and their odds are better than 50%.
  • We know we don't understand linebackers.  JT, JP, CC, and AA, all had down years.  At times JT looked solid, at times JP looked solid, but almost always against weak opponents.  CC and AA were suspect all year long, and Reggie Torbor pretty much got the torching of a lifetime last week.  The only linebacker who showed any consistency was CFL import, Cameron Wake, both consistent in his inability to get on the field, and his ability to pressure the opposing QB.  Once again I can't help but point a finger to the coaching staff, and their inability to coach him up to defend versus the run and drop back in coverage.  They have had him for the better part of a year - where is the progress?  There is none because this coaching staff believes in 'situational' players, as opposed to 'all-around' players.  They probably haven't even scratched the surface with Wake.
  • We know that Brian Hartline has a future in the NFL.  We know that Patrick Turner may want to look into getting a contractor's license.  We know that Ted Ginn has more touchdowns called back than any player in the NFL.  Essentially if he scores a TD, there's a 50/50 chance there's a flag on the ground.  And we know that despite being guilty of one of the flags above, Lousaka Polite is our most pro-bowl worthy candidate on the offensive side of the ball.  We also know that we have hit on first-rounders two years in a row, first Jake Long, and now Vontae Davis (keep in mind EVERY corner gets burned from time to time) who has ridiculous numbers for a rookie corner - 49 tackles, 45 of which are solo (meaning he doesn't need help bringing down receivers) and four INTs including a pick 6. And finally, we know we have a 'QB of the future' and that he is ready NOW.
  • Here's what we DON'T know.  If Sean Smith is starting material.  He started out so well in pre-season and training camp, completely dominating the competition between rookie corners, but has been inconsistent during the regular season, most notably incapable of registering an NFL interception.  He has just 12 pass deflections.  In comparison, the NFL leader, Darelle Revis of the Jets, has 37.  Andre Goodman, the guy that Smith replaced, has 19 PDs, 4 INTs, and a fumble return for a TD.  I feel bad for saying this because I think Smith is one of the nicest guys on the team, if not the nicest, but he has not won the job, in my opinion, and has not progressed the way Davis has.
  • We also don't know what to do about our WRs.  We have a 'serviceable' group.  We have guys like Camarillo and Bess who starred in 2008, their first real shots at real playing time, who have both had up and down years.  Camarillo's numbers are embarrassing by NFL starter standards.  Bess dropped more passes than Ted Ginn did in 2009.  Ginn has been on the hot-seat for dropping passes, but some of them were very difficult catches, and the ones Bess dropped were almost all right in between the numbers.  Then there's the question of if Ginn would fit in as a third receiver and be successful in that role - returning kicks/punts and coming in on 3rd and long.  To do that, obviously we'd have to improve the starting line-up - Bess and Camarillo are not the answer there.  Hartline perhaps.  But we still need one more.  Someone tall, fast, aggressive, with good feet and ability to move the chains.  Hmm....Vincent Jackson anyone?  If not Jackson, then it would have to be trade or draft, because no other free agents fit that mold unless Dallas lets Miles Austin loose.  To think, we could have had Austin this year for a 2nd round draft pick that was used carelessly on Pat White.
  • We don't know what to do about the inside linebackers.  Crowder's foot injury will likely sideline him throughout the entire preseason of 2010, meaning he won't be ready to go when the season starts.  Ayodele has some ability, but doesn't seem to have the quick reaction to changes on the field.  Torbor is the most inconsistent player in the NFL.  He's either dominant or looks like a peewee player.  JD Folsom is slower than molasses.  It looks grim here, boys and girls.  This collapse of the back interior could seriously disrupt our ability to get free agents and rookies of need in other areas.  Forget drafting two per position, we may have to draft three here.  Is William Kershaw still out there?  There will be some very good free agent linebackers, but they're almost all too old for the Dolphins' liking.
 So what's left from the 2009 season?  Well, if it takes a full season to find a franchise QB  in Henne (I still think we should've played him in 2008), a solid O-line (they all have lots of experience now but Carey got lucky with his contract - he is the weak link but we will have to deal with it), a future pro-bowl pass rusher (Wake), and a now experienced yet young secondary, then so be it.  I honestly believe that plugging back in the injured players, we wouldn't be having this conversation now but would be talking about who we were going to face in the playoffs.  I thought that heading into 2009, that we were 20% better than the 2008 team.  I couldn't have anticipated the injuries, the White-Pat-Of-Butter, or the inability of the coaching staff to adjust during a game, or to bring the right players in uniform.  I couldn't have anticipated Fasano being SO bad in the first two games, or so many calls going against us - the Saints INT return for a TD, and the 'two-step incomplete pass' from last week spring to mind.  These were game-changing calls.  

There were so many things that just didn't fall into place for the Dolphins in 2009.  But they are not as bad as their record indicates.  Let's keep in mind that in the off-season, they were predicted to get no more than 5 or 6 wins.  They topped that, and they gained experience along the way.  

(Even though they had chances to be but ended up not being a part of this, 2009 came and went with the 1972 Dolphins STILL being the only undefeated team in NFL history.  So even if you're disappointed in the current team, as Dolfans, the last week has been pretty exciting anyway.)

In my closing article of the 'Week 16 Editorial', I'll get into why Sparano is making a mistake by treating the Pittsburgh game as 'any other' and I'll map out what exactly I think needs to be the direction of the Miami Dolphins heading forward.  Thanks for all the comments this week, they really make me want to jump in on the draft and free agency, but despite my eagerness, a certain amount of protocol must be followed, so I will wait until the season is officially over.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Week 16 Editorial - Part 1 of 3 - "The Loss Of A Season"

It's important to note, that while the season has one game remaining, versus the Steelers (a game that still has playoff implications, though not for us), the week 17 finale will be more of a pre-season game in a way.  With that in mind, this week I will be offering up a 3 part thesis, of which below is the first part, starting out with a somber tone and gradually picking us all back up by the end of part 3.  Because I know you want to mourn right now, and I know you can't just switch it back on.  Hopefully by the end of the week, you'll be looking forward to the Steelers game, and perhaps to the offseason (trust me, there will be plenty of blogging going on once the season ends officially).

It wasn't over when starting quarterback and 2008 team MVP, Chad Pennington was lost for the season in week 3.  It wasn't over when they started out with 3 consecutive losses.  It wasn't over when David Martin and Matt Roth, two integral pieces of the previous season, were moved along.  It wasn't over when veteran starting corner, Will Allen, and jack of all trades, Patrick Cobbs, both succumbed to season-ending injury.  And it wasn't over when we lost our best offensive player, Ronnie Brown, and our best defensive player, Jason Ferguson, also to injured reserve.

Despite losing the above 7 players, losing the ability to run the wildcat altogether, suffering through lingering injuries to Joey Porter, Anthony Fasano, Jake Grove, Justin Smiley, and some of the worst use of personnel and play-calling on both sides of the ball that I've ever witnessed, it wasn't over until yesterday, in week 16, when we finally just let the flood gates open, and fell behind 27-0 to a Houston team that continues to be unbeatable by the Miami Dolphins.  The Texans now hold a 5-0 edge in head to head match-ups with Miami.  And this one stung the hardest because it not only knocked Miami out of slim playoff contention, but it was embarrassing to watch.  

At least the first half was.  The second half was borderline brilliant.  But that was sort of how it played out for the Dolphins this year, wasn't it?  Unable to play 60 minutes of consistent football.  Unable to get a lead.  Unable to not trip up on their own shoelaces.  Missing out on that Ginn TD that was called back was detrimental.  It was clearly an accidental trip that was called on Lousaka Polite, but it was the right call by the refs.  They did make some blunder-ific calls, but half of them benefited the Dolphins - however, they got it blatantly wrong on the forced fumble that they called an incomplete pass.  The receiver secured the ball immediately, turned, took two full steps forward, and then was hit by Vontae Davis, jarring the ball out.  It was as clear as night and day (unless you live in Lapland).  Those two calls clearly cost us the game, but we didn't really deserve to win.  Good effort in the 2nd half, but Houston's first half was even better, and they deserved to pull this one out.

Doesn't make it any easier to swallow for Dolphin fans all over the world, most of whom are sulking and trying to avoid reading about their favorite team right now. 

It's important to note, that while the season has one game remaining, versus the Steelers (a game that still has playoff implications, though not for us), the week 17 finale will be more of a pre-season game in a way.  With that in mind, this week I will be offering up a 3 part thesis, of which below is the first part, starting out with a somber tone and gradually picking us all back up by the end of part 3.  Because I know you want to mourn right now, and I know you can't just switch it back on.  Hopefully by the end of the week, you'll be looking forward to the Steelers game, and perhaps to the offseason (trust me, there will be plenty of blogging going on once the season ends officially).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Texans @ Dolphins

Dolphins Inactives:  WR Patrick Turner, QB Tyler Thigpen, RB Kory Sheets, DB Evan Oglesby, OG Andrew Hartline, OT Andrew Gardner, DE Lionel Dotson, and DE Ikaika Alama-Francis.

Texans Inactives:  RB Chris Henry, CB Mark Parson, OG Tutan Reyes, QB Dan Orlovsky, CB Fred Bennett, OT Ephraim Salaam, and DE Tim Jamison

This is the feed link.  Click if embedded video is not working or if you prefer a popout.
Click here to popout the chatbox as well.  Putting both windows as popouts is the most efficient way to join the fun.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Houston, we have a problem.....

I'll be the first to admit when I don't know much about a football team.  Does anyone really know anything about the Houston Texans?  

I hope that the Dolphins players and coaches do, because I know little other than the fact that they have possibly the best WR in the league (Andre Johnson), certainly one of the top 5, one of the best tight ends (Owen Daniels), and one of the best slot receivers (Kevin Walter) and they had a beast of a running game last year with then rookie-of-the-year nominee, Steve Slaton showing off why HE was the real reason for Pat White's success at WVU. But they have lost both Daniels and Slaton to injury and even their second stringers are banged up.

The Texans have never finished over .500 in a season, and part of the reason why is that they've always had an average at best defense.  While they don't lack firepower, they rarely contain their opponents on the other side of the ball.  This year, as try to finish with a winning record, they have to battle an abysmal offensive line (they can not run the ball AT ALL), and the fact that history may come to Miami's rescue this week.
The Dolphins, having never beaten Houston (the only NFL team to claim that honor), simply can't keep losing in a balanced NFL.  That and the way they lost last year, both teams winless, with Miami making big plays on defense, followed by Houston making huge plays on offense to come back, and then to give up a 4th down cakewalk of a touchdown at the end to lose the game....if I were Miami, I'd be smelling blood right now.  Plus, obviously, if we lose, the season is over, and the following week we'll see Patrick Turner and Pat White starting.

Notable Notes:
  • Miami's rookie cornerbacks have had time for mistakes and time to grow.  This week they face two of the most dangerous receivers in the league.  It is time for them to show that they were worth the high draft picks used on them.
  • Brian Cushing, starting MLB for Houston, and prime shareholder in the 'Man-siere' holding company, is the clear fore-runner for rookie of the year.  However, if Vontae Davis gets another INT, and helps get his team to the playoffs, I would argue against Cushing.
  • Houston is a little banged up, with Cushing himself having no less than three separate issues reported.  Most significant is that starting Left Tackle, Duane Brown, will dress but it's unknown how much he will play because of a sprained knee.  Miami has no significant injuries.
  • My biggest fear in this game is actually special teams.  Houston WR, Jacoby Jones, is one of the top returners in bot punts and kickoffs in the NFL this season.  He is comparative to Josh Cribbs.  Keep an eye on him during the game. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Practice Squad Update 12/23/09

When I wished jokingly for a second punter, I never expected the Dolphins to go through with it, but lo and behold, they have.  Just in time for Christmas, the Dolphins have signed former Tennessee bad boy punter, Britton Colquitt, to the practice squad.  I know what you're thinking, Britton is not a proper boy's name, especially for a football player, but he's a kicker, so cut him some slack.  Philip Fulmer did not cut him any slack, suspending him twice and ultimately taking his scholarship away.  He is one of four Colquitts to punt at the University of Tennessee - talk about a 'lack of range' in that family...

He was signed as an undrafted free agent by Denver but did not make the team and was released after training camp.

C/G, Mark Lewis, who was let go once before, is the latest casualty.

Here's the up-to-date P.S.: 

1.  Tristan Davis, RB.
2.  Julius Pruitt, WR.
3.  JD Folsom, LB.
4.  Britton Colquitt, P.
5.  Ray Feinga, OG.
6.  Taurus Johnson, WR.
7.  John Nalbone, TE.
8.  Nate Ness, S. 

Thanks to David J Neal for the report/update.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is A Sense Of Calm

After Sunday's devastating loss to the Titans, it now would take a couple of miracles for the Dolphins to make the playoffs.  I'm not holding my breath, instead treating that outside possibility as just that.  I won't focus on it heading into the final two games of the season.  Instead I have set other goals for this team of 2009.  And they are laid out below.

It's always been my belief throughout the year that this year's roster was, and still is, significantly better than 2008's version, and miles better than 2007s.  But I can't really prove that with our current record.  Still, I think the following is solid evidence in favor of my argument.   
First, we have lost 7 games.  In those 7 losses, we have turned the ball over 18 times.  Take aways caused ever single one of those losses.  And at least half of those turnovers were fumbles by Fasano, Williams, and Bess, all considered to be the more sure-handed players on the team heading into the 2009 season.  Take even half of these turnovers away and we could have a dramatically different record right now.  Something more in line with 12-2 than 7-7.

Secondly, our star player, and offensive focal point, Ronnie Brown went on injured reserve, yet our running game has barely been affected.  Our best defensive plug in the middle, Jason Ferguson, also on injured reserve, yet our run defense did not have a huge drop off.  These things are not due to coaching tricks or band-aids, but due to a solid roster full of depth, something we haven'[t had for a long time.  The patchwork offensive line has gotten better as the year has gone on, unlike last year when we had similar injury issues, and seemed to be shaky on every other play.

Third, our coaches have seemed to be doing hard drugs for much of the year.  I would say the Jacksonville game was the first time I didn't have more than a dozen moments of 'WTF?!?!' in response to an offensive play call or defensive strategy.  There certainly were plenty in the Tennessee game (the sudden re-instating of the Wildcat, the Pitter-Putter-Pat-Cat-Heart-Attack, the absolutely lackluster beginning to the 2nd half - I guess there were no inspirational half-time speeches in the locker room, etc).  Yes they came back to tie it up, but they missed two opportunities for scores, first because they wouldn't go for a FG at the end of the first half (which in retrospect would have given them the win), instead forcing the throw and causing a turnover, and coming out of the locker room, I believe they had a 3 and out.  These are ultimately down to the coaches getting away from good football.  It's not a drag race, it's a chess match.  You gotta always be setting up the NEXT move, not just trying to get a checkmate in as few moves as possible.  3rd and manageable, Henning.

Despite this impatient, lackluster, and sometimes saboteurish effort by the Dolphins coaching staff, the players have more or less done a good, solid job most of the time.  I know some people think I'm placing blame in the wrong place by blaming the coaches, but keep in mind, this is the staff that called a full-back dive on 3rd and a long 3 on Sunday.  They must have forgotten this is the NFL, not pee-wee football. 

But back to my original point.  No matter who you choose to blame for the Dolphins shortcomings this year, keep in mind that it's better to be disappointed in your team just missing out on the playoffs, and coming in 2nd, than to be worried if they'll even get a win (2007) or who the hell is going to play QB (2008), or how we will replace our pro-bowl pass rusher (wake for porter).  The truth is, we complain about anything we can get our hands on, and I'm sure during the 1972 season, some of you yelled at your TV, spit expletives at a ref, cursed a player for fumbling the ball, or said to a buddy that "Griese is not the answer".  Truth is, part of being a sports fan is to hold your team up to unreasonably high standards.  It would be fantastic if religious people (I'm not one of them) held up their gods to the same standards.  I would love to see a born-again Christian yell out that Jesus was a prick for dropping the ball and allowing thousands of innocent people to die in a tsunami or mudslide.  But it seems the sports teams are wanted to be held accountable more-so than gods, accountants, and politicians.  

Personally, I think the Dolphins have had a better season than all three.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dolphins @ Titans

Dolphins Inactives:  RB Kory Sheets, QB Tyler Thigpen, WR Patrick Turner, DE Ikaika Alama-Francis, CB Evan Oglesby, OL Andrew Hartline, G Andrew Gardner and DE Lionel Dotson.  Jake Grove is staring at Center, and Nate Garner is starting at RG over Donald Thomas.

Titans Inactives:  LB David Thornton, DE Jevon Kearse, WR Dominique Edison, RB Javon Ringer, CB Rod Hood, OL Troy Kropog, TE Craig Stevens and DE Eric Bakhtiari

This is the feed link.  Click if embedded video is not working or if you prefer a popout.
Click here to popout the chatbox as well.  Putting both windows as popouts is the most efficient way to join the fun.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Titan-ing Up For The Final Stretch - or - Miami vs Tennessee

Before I get started with our little look in to the road game vs the Titans, a special thank you goes out to reader, Kent from Tennessee for his help getting me acquainted with a team I know very little about.  Enjoy the game from your luxury suite, Kent.

In typical NFL/CBS fashion, the match-up between two East Coast play-off contenders will not be aired locally in 90% of the East Coast  (subject to change) although for some reason it's being aired in Greenville, North Carolina and in Savannah, Georgia, two places full of both Titans and Dolphins fans.  The majority of the East Coast will get the New England/Buffalo game.  However, if you're in North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Washington or Oregon, the Dolphins are on your local TV this week, so congratulations. (also being aired in FL, GA, AL, AR, TN, MS, IN, IL, MI, and NE - this just in, Austin, TX, and Tyler, TX just picked up the game - they must not like the texans in those two cities). On top of that luck, Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts will be commentating.  Those two, while not perfect, are clearly a notch above CBS' other regulars, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Dan Dierdorf, Greg Gumbel, Solomon Wilcots, Rich Gannon, and Steve Tasker.


So I think it's been well accepted by most NFL fans that the Titans have a top notch coaching staff, starting with Jeff Fisher.  Despite his poor sense of humor shown when he donned his Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts jersey in wanting "to feel like a winner," he has gotten his team to turn things around after an 0-6 start to the season.  They have won 6 of their last 7.  Miami has won 5 of their last 7.  

So these two teams have started out pretty badly and now have narrow playoff hopes that make this a playoff-type game in it's own right.  Lose and you're eliminated.  

Expect this to be a very physical, smash mouth type game.  Tennessee is 7th in the league versus the run and 31st versus the pass.  A stat that will likely lure Miami into a pass-first game plan. I do worry about Henne's arm being over-used in this final stretch, but it may be our best option for now.  It seems like our O-line is coming back into full-strength/health and we may be able to push around Tennessee's 4-3 defense a little bit.  We should match up our strength and size versus their speed.

In the past, when talking about the Titans, one would focus on their defense, but these days it's their offense that makes the most noise - averaging 360 yards per game including 165 on the ground - good for 2nd in the league (the Dolphins are currently third with 150 per game).  Chris Johnson is clearly the best player in the league this year, besting his pro-bowl recognized performance of 2008 in fewer games this year (this is in part due to the fact the Titans decided to just eliminate their two-headed attack featuring Johnson and Lendale White, and go with the feature-back system starring Johnson).

Meanwhile, Vince Young, who didn't look to even be in the Titans plans for this year, is having his best season since entering the NFL, posting a 90.9 QB rating.  He has committed just 4 turnovers in 9 games - something that has always been his downfall (he had 20 in 2007, 16 in 2006), but he is prone to fumbling the ball.  He's also prone to scrambling and taking off when he's chased out of the pocket.  If you're a Miami fan, you'll know how dangerous that trait has been and could be headed into Sunday's game.

Another strength of the Titans are their tight-ends (Bo Scaife, Alge Crumpler, Jared Cook, Craig Stevens).  These guys are all know for their blocking, but Scaife is fast and Crumpler is huge, and both provide safe pass targets.  Word today out of Dolphins camp is that Yeremiah Bell was limping, taped up and sitting out individual drills today.  That could spell trouble.  If he doesn't play, I would hope the Dolphins would put in Chris Clemons at Free Safety and slide Gibril Wilson over to strong safety, but my hopes in that regard are rarely met by the coaching staff.

The Titans have a decent WR group, featuring rookie Kenny Britt (remember him?  he was my favorite WR not named Crabtree in the 2009 draft).  He has started the last 5 games and in that span has caught 18 balls for 346 yards (19.2 ypc) and 3 TDs.  

Britt and Scaife are the biggest threats downfield, but the leading receiver on the team is Chris Johnson.  Tennessee is a team that runs the screen.  You know how Miami does against the screen.  

So, the good news is that we're 98% healthy heading into this game and focused on fundamentals and playing mistake-free football.  The bad news is this game is probably our toughest remaining on the schedule, and it will be played in their house under playoff-type atmosphere.

Other than a big win, coupled with a surprise unveiling of Buffalo's new 'gimmick' play, the 'WildBill' vs the reeling Patriots, what are you looking forward to seeing on Sunday?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Practice Squad Update 12/16/09

Yesterday, a big Tonga Truck tried out for the Dolphins.  Today, he is on the practice squad.  BYU's undrafted (partly due to his missing the combine due to injury) big boy, Ray Feinga, 6'4", 337 lbs (at last measure) was signed as an UDFA by the Rams the day after the draft, but didn't make the cut and ended up spending some time on San Diego's practice squad.  He was one of my pre-draft targets for the O-line but he is a project as the Coach would undoubtedly like to re-work Feinga's chubbiness into a more defined 330 lbs.

He takes the place of injured CB, Will Billingsley.

Here's the up-to-date P.S.: 

1.  Tristan Davis, RB.
2.  Julius Pruitt, WR.
3.  JD Folsom, LB.
4.  Mark Lewis, C/G.
5.  Ray Feinga, OG.

6.  Taurus Johnson, WR.
7.  John Nalbone, TE.
8.  Nate Ness, S.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Playoff Hopes Becoming Desperate, But Hope Exists

Dolphins vs. JaguarsWell it's not often that a team plays their most complete game of the season against an average opponent and only comes out with a 14-10 eke of a win.

As most of you have already surmised, had we not committed three turnovers, two of which were costly, and had our kicker jinxed by the CBS commentators, we would have likely had a nice 'comfortable' win, but instead we had to wait till the end to get a result.

But despite that there was something that was very different about this game.  Despite our inability to hold on to the ball at key moments, the team played solidly for 4 quarters.  We did not score in the 2nd half, but if you take away the 63 yard pass from David Garrard to Torry Holt, where free safety, Gibril Wilson, was once again out of position, the Jaguars were shut down in the 2nd half.  Our defense was not explosive by any means - not many big plays - but they were consistent.  The Jaguars had 12 possessions.  7 of them were 3 and outs.  By comparions, Miami also had 12 possessions, of which only 2 were 3 and outs.

Of course, 3 of our 12 possessions ended abruptly in a turnover, so it was by no means a perfect game.  But it was still our best one of the season.  I know some will say we had better games versus Buffalo and the Jets, but this game was bigger because of the timing, the injury-stricken squad, the playoff implications, and the fact it was a road game in front of approximately 13 screaming Jacksonville fans in one of the worst stadiums in the entire country.  

It was by far Chad Henne's best game of the season - some of his throws were awe-inspiring - and I can't say enough about our O-line and the unstoppable Lousaka Polite - who deserves another round of Pro-Bowl voting from us all for his performance on Sunday.  Also, props go out to Cameron Wake, who contributed a tackle, a sack, a QB hurry and a pass deflection, but most noticeably, for making big plays when it counts.  For the second straight game he made the game-winning hit on the QB as time expired.  Last week he pulled down Tom Brady, forcing a basketball pass into the chest of Channing Crowder - which was like two big plays in one, because it was Crowder's first career INT.  This week, Wake came around the edge and Garrard stepped up to avoid the rush, then rolled out to his left and got away from everyone.  Everyone, of course, except for Wake, who did not give up on the play, coming back to nail Garrard in the back to end the game.

So, all in all, a game full of impressive performances, just not an impressive score - but December ball is all about just getting the W at the end of the day.  Our playoff hopes were not helped by the fact that both New England and Baltimore won - and Tennessee's high scoring win versus the Rams points out that they have the ability to stir the pot, and should not be taken lightly.  They will be a much bigger test for our defense than Jacksonville.  More on that later in the week.

Winning the AFC East remains our only realistic way of making the playoffs, and for that we need to win the rest of our games, and have New England lose just one of theirs.  I suppose technically we could lose one as long as New England loses two, but that's unlikely.  Wildcard possibilities are slimmer than Nicole Richie circa 2004, but could happen IF Jacksonville now wins out and we do as well or if New England beats Houston and we win out.  Another scenario that could get us in is if Pittsburgh beats Baltimore and we beat Pittsburgh (and win out).  Basically the only way we are getting a wildcard is to win EVERY game.  It's that time of year where we start paying attention to what other teams are doing.  Still, ultimately I'd prefer to win the division.

Now, give your kudos to the Miami Dolphins for yesterday's win.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dolphins @ Jaguars

Dolphins Inactives:  RB Kory Sheets, WR Patrick Turner, C Jake Grove, third QB Tyler Thigpen, OT Andrew Gardner, DE Lionel Dotson, DE Ikaika Alama-Francis, and LB Erik Walden.

Jaguars Inactives:  CB Rashean Mathis, OLB Chris Harrington, WR Tiquan Underwood, DT John Henderson, OG Kynan Forney, DB Courtney Greene, DL Julius Williams, and OG Paul McQuistan.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'd Jag Myself Off But I've Got A Game To Play - or - The Dolphins vs. The Jaguars

"I'll Steal Myself A Car, Ferrari or a Jaguar, I'll Drive it a crazy speed, Straight over a cliff and into the Sea" ~Catherine Wheel, "Car"

In the song, the singer pronounces it JAG YOU ARE, but today we're going to talk about the JA-GWARS.  This Sunday, in a game obviously only locally televised in the State of Florida, the Dolphins will travel a short distance in NFL mileage in order to come face to face with one of the greatest football players of this decade.  For years he has struck fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators, as they try to gameplan against him.  If he had a better supporting cast, there's no doubt this player could be garnering MVP-type praise from the media and building upon a future spot in the NFL Hall of Fame.  He will no doubt be cause for concern for Pasqualoni and Sparano.  Will 2009 Charity Man of the Year, Akin Ayodele, be able to keep up with the scorching speed, and sweaty-brow determination?  The Dolphins, in the past, have never been able to figure it out.  The multiple threat abilities of this player is matched only by his tongue action on a double-stuffed Oreo and his willingness to step on any starving children on his way to get his hands on one...or an entire bag of said sweet treats.  That's right, bitches!  Forget Peyton Manning!  Forget Randy Moss!  We got real problems this week!  We got to face Ernest Wilford!

As has always been a Dolphins-esque routine, we release or trade a player only to have him come back to haunt us.  And while I doubt Wilford will have a big day on Sunday, what if he did?  Wouldn't that just be the most horrifying, embarrassing experience imaginable?

But seriously, there's much more to the Jaguars than Wilford, who is the 2nd TE behind some guy named after - wait for it - a car!  They also have a 3rd tight end.  You wouldn't believe me if I told you what his name was.  Ok, I'll tell you.  It's Zach Miller.  Yes, Zach Miller, the NFL tight end.  How did Zach Miller end up as the 3rd string TE on Jacksonville behind a German car and a Oreo-obsessed born again who was once covered in a game by a stack of yellow pages (I remember it very clearly - Wilford got called for offensive pass interference)?  Because it's a different Zach Miller, of course.  Not the big bruiser for the Raiders who puts up the kinds of numbers we only wish one of our TEs would, but some rookie who has 10 catches on the season.

Oh, but Tinshaker, the Jags can run the ball, what about the running game?  Well, there's a rumour that Maurice Jones-Drew won't be playing, and if he's not playing, there is no running game.  Oh but Tinshaker, what about that Jax WR that absolutely killed us in the pre-season game?  Troy Williamson?  He's on injured reserve.  Their biggest threat now is Mike Sims-Walker (they like double barrels in Jacksonville), and even he is injured and was limited in practice all week.  Oh but Tinshaker, surely they have a game-changer QB who can avoid the pass-rush and make things happen?  David Garrard is his name, avoiding the pass-rush is NOT his game.

Nope, offensively the Jags just don't have much going for them if Jones-Walker-Sims-Drew doesn't play.  And it's been reported that they don't generate much of a pass rush but I wouldn't look into that stat too much.  keep in mind that they play Indianapolis twice a year, and how many times did we get a finger on Manning when we played them in week 2?  The Titans and the Texans have pretty good o-lines as well as mobile QBs with big TEs and WRs to get the ball out to quickly.  Not saying the Jags will rack up the sacks against us, I'm just saying, who you play does have an impact on the stats.  Case in point, we played Buffalo twice and got 12 sacks in those two games alone.

As has been the case for a couple of years, the real strength of Jacksonville is their secondary.  To put it bluntly, when they're healthy, this is possibly one of the top starting secondaries in all of the NFL.  The stats may not back that up, but again, look at their division and you can expect the pass-against yardage to be high. The latest report from the Sun-Sentinel suggested that the Wildcat was over with and that Henne would be running a similar passing attack to the Patriots game.  I disagree with this, at least I should say, it's not what I would do.  I don't believe the Wildcat was used last week simply because the Patriots stopped it the first time around this season.  Also, Ricky Williams got injured, and the Dolphins were not going to even think about it with both Ronnie and Ricky out.  I would expect by this week they will have found a way to re-incorporate it into the offense and a suitable new cast member (to be honest, I'm shocked they haven't activated Kory Sheets yet, as he would be my first choice, and I'm disappointed they haven't been working on using Pat White as well - gotta be better slasher than QB).

Combined with more traditional running attack with the Jaguars D-line banged up, and their 4-3 defense, I see no reason for Henne to throw another 50 passes.  With every game from here on out being a must-win, we can't afford to have Henne's arm get fatigued.

After the debacle in Buffalo, I don't want to call this on an easy win, especially since the Jags are on a roll, but I expect the Dolphins to come out confident and swinging and get out to an early lead.  If Jones-Drew is limited or out, I don't think the Jags would be able to overcome a big deficit.

My prediction:  MIA 24 - JAX 13

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

RE-CAP: New England vs Miami - Sort Of (with roster move)

Well, certainly didn't make it easy for me to re-watch the Dolphins narrow victory over the creme de la creme of the AFC East.  First I was locked out of NFL Rewind thanks to Monday Night Football, then last night I had to deal with really poor quality and stop and start streaming.  I will not be paying for that next year, that's for sure.

Anyway, I decided to watch Manchester United instead, so I go into this re-cap without any real evidence of what I'm talking about, but since most of my readers have stopped reading by now (this IS the second paragraph after all), I don't suppose it matters that much. Not much to say on the game itself other than that's why they show up to the games right?  The bigger news was that we entered the playoff race officially, and that Tom Brady dissed his fellow team-mates on the radio, and today he and Giselle Bundchen had a baby boy today.  Here is a photo of the happy father and son:

I had a little back and forth between both Omar Kelly (Sun-Sentinel) and Armando Salguero (Miami Herald) this past week as they both brought up the fact that only 1 New England draftee from 2007 was still on their roster whereas Miami had a handful.  Seemed a pointless argument since New England traded away half their draft in 2007 to get Randy Moss and Wes Welker, both of whom are impact players the like of which Miami doesn't have now, nor did they pick up in 2007.  In fact, we lost Welker in 2007, so doing the simplest math there, they topped us twice in that regard.  Add the fact they got Meriweather, by far their defensive MVP this year, along with their now 3rd year punter, and three other players who have started games this year, including Sammy Morris, Adalius Thomas (whom Salguero called a 'bust'), and one of their O-linesmen, who was a backup but is currently starting (forget his name).  Anyway, obviously if you have 6 or 7 starters from a draft 3 years prior, you can't act like they bombed in the draft.  They both disagreed with me, but Salguero was the only one who thought I was nuts. 

But I bring this up because it makes one wonder again about how we will be thinking of the drafts/free agent moves of the current regime in 2 or 3 years' time.  And it made me take a step back from all the praise of several players lately including Chad Henne, Randy Starks, etc.  Because there's no way to tell how a player will be from year to year.  At this time last year, Matt Roth was cementing his status as a long-term fixture for the Dolphins.  Philip Merling was starting to get his second wind and looked like a steal in the draft.  Don't get me started on Shawn Murphy (first he was a project, then he was a bust, then he was potential starter, then he was a bust - there was no real sliding up and down there, he was either starting or not good enough to be on the team).  I definitely am not going to heap praise on Davone Bess after one great game.  He's been subpar to awful all year long and started the Patriots game with an easy drop.  Even Ted Ginn made more impressive catches than him in the game.  And all the talk of Bess being the next Welker...I thought it particularly funny when Phil Simms got excited on the play where Bess caught a short out on a Patriots blitz and rookie CB Darius Butler found himself on an island with him and made a fingertip tackle.  Simms pro-nounced that it 'was a close one', insinuating that had Butler not held on to make the tackle, that Bess would sprint free and untouched for a 60 yard TD.  Let's not kid ourselves, Bess has not shown the ability to get any YAC, and it would've shocked me had he gained more than 4 or 5 extra yards before the safety caught up to him.

Most of us fans know that players/teams/management cannot be judged on one game alone, and that often a season can only be fully understood once it is over and significant time has passed.  And I think most of us would rather have 11 consistently 'good' players than 11 up and down ones on the field at any time.  

Who do you folks think has been consistent in the last two years?  Other than Jason Allen on special teams and Randy Starks on Defense, I can't name anybody.  I do think Tony McDaniel and Cameron Wake have been consistent THIS year, but I prefer to take a larger sample game-wise for my analysis.  For example, Jake Long was very consistent LAST year, but has been a bit off this year at times.

Let me know what you think, and then ponder this - the Dolphins took TE David Martin off of injured reserve and then released him yesterday.  That means he is free to play for any team immediately as long as he passes a physical.  Do you think the resurgence of Anthony Fasano had anything to do with it?  Keep in mind, Martin was going to be a free agent at the end of the year anyway, but he could have been resigned for low-end money.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Patriots @ Dolphins

Dolphins Inactives:  RB Kory Sheets, WR Patrick Turner, C Jake Grove, third QB Tyler Thigpen, OT Andrew Gardner, DE Lionel Dotson, DE Ikaika Alama-Francis, and OT Lydon Murtha.

Patriots Inactives:  WR Julian Edelman, NT Ron Brace, CB Terrence Wheatley, OG Stephen Neal, OT Sebastian Vollmer, CB Shawn Springs, RB Fred Taylor, and DB Bret Lockett.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Tin Bits - Friday, 12/4/09

  • Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel posted on Twitter that "Despite his limited playing time Dolphins OLBer Cameron Wake leads the team with 15 quarterback pressures. JT is 2nd with 13."
  • Quentin Moses wasn't at practice today, which makes me think they put him in the Buffalo game to see if he was worth keeping around.  It could be he was just an excused absence, but it could also be they have made space on the roster for another defensive back or wide receiver. Stay tuned for updates. UPDATE:  Moses had 'family reasons' for not being at practice.
  • Joey Porter did not practice today.  I wouldn't look into it too much, he was not riding the bike or anything, just observing, so I'd guess they're just trying to not over work him.
  • Justin Smiley was back at first unit left guard today, but Nate Garner wasn't going anywhere, lining up at RG with the first unit.  Again, don't read anything into this regarding Donald Thomas, who will likely be the starting right guard for the Dolphins for as long as he has his health.  Just trying to get Garner to be as good as they can get him.
  • Patriots running back, Fred Taylor, was back at practice for the first time in two months.  Probably still won't play in Sunday's game.
  • Buffalo probably wishes they could have saved some of their 24 points scored in the 4th quarter of their game vs Miami for last night as they fell to the Jets 19-13 in a short week.  The win gives the Jets a half-game lead over Miami for second place in the AFC East.  And while the Dolphins aren't out of the playoff race yet, they HAVE to get a win over New England in order to have a chance at winning the division, and that would only happen if New England lost at least 3 games out of the next 5 while Miami won every game.  In a wildcard scenario we have a very clear-cut path.  The final 4 teams we we play are all either 6-5 or 5-6 and vying for the wildcard spots.  So basically we have to win those games.  If we win all 4 we're looking good.  We could still get in if we win 3 (not including NE), but if we lose another two games we're probably out for sure.  So basically if the Dolphins want to get into the playoffs they could eke it out with a 9-7 record but a 10-6 record would probably get us in. Again, we'd only win the division IF we beat New England AND they lose another 2 or more games after that.
  • It's just been reported that Larry King will be doing color commentary for the Dolphins/Patriots game on WQAM 560 AM radio on Sunday.  Per the brilliant blogger, Brian Mcintyre, "As strange as it may sound, the 76-year old broadcast legend handled color commentary duties for the Dolphins back in the early 70s. With new Dolphins owner Stephen Ross reaching out to celebrities to enhance the live-game experience, it makes some sense for the franchise to spruce up its broadcasts, as well.  Even it is with a guy who looks like a frog."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Might As Well Drink Through This One Too - or - The Pats vs The Dolphins

A couple of weeks ago I got pretty toasted by playing a drinking game during the Dolphins game, taking a large swig of a 151-based concoction everytime an obscure player showed up on camera.  To be honest, by the end I was taking a shot anytime the Dolphins did ANYTHING impressive.  And they won the game, so I drank more than I thought I would.  

Well, I fear I may be doing the same thing on Sunday, because I've run the numbers and I don't think this is a highly winnable game.  I'm not going to do a huge breakdown here, we all know what the Pats like to do to the Dolphins, and when they execute, they put up 40+ points on us, time and time again.  With Ronnie Brown out, and no big plays coming from our passing game, we simply cannot compete with that.  Our only hope is that our defense makes big plays, and scores a TD or two.  That's pretty high hoping considering how they've played down the stretch.

Another problem is that Jake Grove will sit out again, and may miss the rest of the season, per early reports this morning.  Grove was brought in specifically to matchup versus the Jets', Kris Jenkins, and the Pats', Vince Wilfork.  Jenkins did not play in the 2nd game versus Miami due to injury and in the first New England matchup, the Pats played Wilfork at DE, taking him away from being face to face with Grove.  Now Grove won't play on Sunday.  The following week we face Jacksonville who is starting Terrance Knighton inside (he was my NT prospect in the 2009 draft, who was on the board when Miami picked.  At least we don't have to face Haynesworth when we play Tennessee.  

But Miami faces 3 teams in the final 5 games that are in the top ten in run defense and they may do it with a backup o-line.  Not something that inspires optimism in Dolfans minds.  

So I may be drinking on Sunday.  I may be hungover to start because my company's Christmas Party is on Saturday night, and the game is on at 10am Sunday thanks to the NFL changing the time so the nation can watch he who shall not be mentioned here.  And I'll tell you what my drinking game will be - anytime the announcers of the Miami game (Phil Simms, Jim Nantz) mention the QB who shall not be named here during the Dolphins/Patriots game.  If Dierdorf was commentating, I'd drink anytime he showed his man-love for the Patriots, but thankfully, I won't have to fill up the shopping cart at BevMo this time...