Saturday, October 31, 2009

Roster Moves and such

The Dolphins have activated Matt Roth off the PUP list, and waived 2009 5th round draft pick, TE John Nalbone, to make space.  

It seems the Dolphins are more interested in keeping their top talent than a certain number of roster positions by depth.  The Dolphins currently have two tight ends and seven outside linebackers.

Roth will not suit up vs the Jets and neither will Channing Crowder who was officially ruled out on Saturday.


Friday, October 30, 2009

The F - Word

Here's a few things to think about, Dolfans:

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Sparano may be getting softer on his players.  Don't get me wrong, he didn't come across as a 'hard-ass' before this season, but some of his comments this year have been downright disheartening to those of us who want the team to get a kick in the arse.  For one, every coach has made some excuse for Ted Ginn's performance in the last couple of weeks.  Sparano has not actually shuffled the roster around at all, leaving Gibril Wilson as starter, and failing to increase Cameron Wake's presence on defense, despite the lackluster season thus far from Joey Porter and to a lesser degree, Jason Taylor.  In a way, he seems to be coddling his veteran starters.  

This is football.  It's a tough game, and sometimes, coaches need to be tough with their players.  The latest words from Sparano on Anthony Fasano's production is a perfect example.  Sparano said that Fasano's drop in production was due to the increased running game, suggesting fewer pass targets.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and call that BS.  If we're going to launch into Ginn for dropping passes, why does Fasano get a free pass?  Truth is, he almost single handedly lost the Atlanta game for us.  He followed it up with another disastrous performance in the Indy game.  He was absent in the San Diego game, especially blocking, allowing the Chargers to have a monstrous day rushing the passer. And of course, he blew it versus the Saints, dropping a perfect 20 yard strike from an under-pressure Ronnie Brown.

Personally, I think the Dolphins made a mistake in thinking that Fasano was the total package.  He seems to be swimming out there, looking confused, and perhaps overwhelmed.  I think a scaled down package would help to get him back in to form.  I also think the Dolphins should dress Patrick Turner and use him in replacement of David Martin, at least a few times a game, to help to open things up for Fasano. Your thoughts?

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The Dolphins two rookie cornerbacks will get a lot more playing time this week.  Regardless of who actually starts, Vontae Davis will no longer be splitting reps with Sean Smith, so both of their rep counts will go up significantly.  Can they handle this?


Last season we saw a dropoff in energy and production from our rookies as they hit that 'rookie wall'.  So the question is, since Davis and Smith were splitting reps until now, does that mean their wall will move back to later in the year, or will it have the reverse effect of having their bodies not adjusted to a full 60 minutes of NFL football, thus wearing them down faster now that they have to play more?


One thing I will say, is that I fully expect our ball-hawkishness to increase.  If Chris Clemons, who got his first action last week playing only special teams, can get on the field at the same time as Smith and Davis, it would be quite a sight, and I'd definitely sit up in expectation of some big plays.

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Tomorrow night is Halloween, be safe, have fun, and then don't forget to turn your clocks back one hour before going to bed.  You wouldn't want to tune in to the game only to have to sit through an hour of CBS pre-game drivel.  Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be the announcers for the game. 



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You're Rexing Me The Ryan Way - or - The Dolphins Prepare to Ground The Jets


Rex Ryan called defending against the Wildcat "personal" and couldn't help but mention that he "squashed it" twice in his Baltimore days.  He also said he was "surprised" by the fact that the Dolphins could throw the ball well enough to beat his team in the first matchup between the Jets and the Dolphins.

Well I have to let Ryan in on a little secret.  Not since Dan Marino and Ken O'Brien used to battle it out in the 'me' decade have the Dolphins really focused on their passing game when playing in the Meadowlands.  Dang it, even if the Jets themselves haven't figured it out (5 interceptions, Mr Sanchez?), that place is not a great place to throw the ball, and the Dolphins are well aware of this fact.  Why do I mention that, Mr Ryan?  Prepare to face the Wildcat, once more.  

The combination of young QB, conservative play-callers, struggling receiving corps, and one of the top rushing averages in the NFL, all points to one obvious fact.  The Dolphins will be looking to run the ball from the onset.  Oh, I forgot one more thing.  Kris Jenkins?  Gone. 

No, we shouldn't have any issue running the ball against the Jets standard defense, but they will undoubtedly do some adjustments to their base to help counter the 100 yards or so that came out of the Wildcat in the first go around.  This is where things could get tricky for the Dolphins.  Or, it could actually benefit them, if they're wise about it.  One thing that we do have on our side that benefits our passing game in a windy stadium, is Chad Henne.  He throws laser beams that can cut through the wind.  It's just a matter of the QB and his receivers being on the same page and in top form.  

Injuries Are To Be An Issue

CB Lito Sheppard will likely be out and Shaun Ellis and Bart Scott are nursing injuries and are limited in practice so far this week.  This could make the left side of the Jets defense the side to attack with the run game, and the right side weak to the pass.  That means Camarillo could be a very active target this week for you fantasy owners.

On the other side of the ball, Channing Crowder will not play - Reggie Torbor will start. (UPDATE - the SS declares he won't play, the Herald declares he WILL play, but reading into Crowder's comments, I disagree with the Herald's take, for now).  Vontae Davis is the most likely starter in replacement of Will Allen, but I wouldn't be surprised if Nate Jones pushes him by the end of the week.  The loss of Leon Washington pushes rookie Shonn Greene into the game, and David Clowney, who had a big 4th quarter catch against us in the first game, is unlikely to play.  An early report said that Braylon Edwards didn't practice, but he didn't seem to be on the injury report.  The Jets starting RG, Brandon Moore, did not practice, and starting RT, Damien Woody, was limited in practice.

Bulletin Board Material

This is Dolphins v Jets.  There's going to be bulletin board material no matter what, but the added spice of Rex Ryan/Channing Crowder and Calvin Pace/Ronnie Brown has really upped the ante.  

Rex Ryan, in his presser read this quote from Brown:
"Coming into the game we're watching how they blitz and we were like, 'Okay, we'll just sit back and play football then and let's see who has the tougher 11 people on the field.'"

Ryan also read that quote to the players this morning in the team meeting. It definitely touched a nerve. 

"It's on me, there's no question about that," Ryan said, alluding to the first game, in which the Jets blew three fourth-quarter leads. "I'm responsible for how we played, so I can't wait for this game. I'm the only one with the guts ... not the only one, but one of the few that have the guts to admit it, that I absolutely want to play this game again. I wanted to play it three seconds after that first one ... We'll see if it's going to be different on Sunday. I believe it will be."

DE Shaun Ellis: "When Ronnie Brown scored (the game-winning TD) and he was doing that little Dolphin dance, oh, that irked the (crap) out of me."

CB Darrelle Revis: "They thought it was the Super Bowl. We saw that and we took heed of that."

Meanwhile...

Today, Ronnie Brown had this to say on the Jets thinking the Wildcat is a 'gimmick':
"That's their own personal opinion. We're all entitled to our opinion, but at the same time, if I remember correctly, I think they've actually gone into the same formation a few times."

And on why the Ravens could stop the Wildcat but the Jets couldn't:
"Look at their personnel. (The Ravens) obviously have a lot of people on that side of the ball that can make plays, taking nothing away from the Jets."

Tin Bits - Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

  • Channing Crowder is not doing full practice today, instead doing conditioning drills on the sideline.  Jeff Darlington/Miami Herald reports it looks like some kind of shoulder injury. UPDATE:  Crowder's injury is 'SERIOUS' and he WILL NOT play this week vs the Jets.

  • Local TV listings for Sunday's matchup versus the Jets.  Florida - Everywhere not in Jacksonville territory, i.e. Jax, Orlando, SE part of Georgia.  So, yes, it will be on local TV in Tampa.  The rest of Georgia and 90% of South Carolina and North Carolina will get the Dolphins game. Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York State (Western NY will get Buffalo game) as well as the entirety of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine.
  • It looks like Ted Ginn will still start on Sunday, but expect Brian Hartline to get the lions share of playing time.  Hartline and Patrick Turner got a lot of reps with Henne during the off-season, but Turner fizzled to third team early on whereas Hartline has moved up in reps much in the same way Henne has.  There should be some good chemistry going there.  I'd still like to see Turner at least dress for the game and start getting some experience.  The not-dressing leads to thoughts of practice-squad eligibility next year.
  • I will post my Jets preview tomorrow.  Leon Washington is out for the year, and that figures to alter the make-up of the Jets team.
  • OKlahoma State wide receiver, Dez Bryant, has been ruled ineligible for a full year of eligibility (will miss approx 10 games) after being banned for lying about "inappropriate interactions" with NFL employee, Deion Sanders.  He was expected to declare for the 2010 draft before this happened, and that likely won't change as he is projected as a first rounder.  I'd label him as one of the top 3 WRs in next years draft and a definite possibility as a Dolphin target.  At the very least, he could be the next "we could have drafted [insert name here]".
  • Remember my 2008/2009 man-crush, safety William Moore out of Missouri?  Well he was just put on injured reserve.  He missed the first 4 games of the season, then played in the next two before being re-injured.  He finishes the season with 2 tackles.  One of my other favorites of the 2009 draft, LB Tyrone McKenzie out of South Florida, was injured in mini-camp and place on IR then. LB/DE Connor Barwin from Cincinnati backs up Mario Williams in Houston, and has accrued 7 tackles, 1 sack and 2 pass deflections.  James Laurinaitis, meanwhile, has a reported 66 tackles and 2 interception with 2 passes defensed through 7 games.  That puts him on pace to get 150 tackles on the season.  Are the rest of the Rams stepping out of the way so he can do all the tackling?   
  • This just in from Ken LaVicka (760AM) "Ted Ginn dropped a perfect deep ball from Henne in 1-on-1's drawing an angry "FINISH IT!" from Sparano."
  • The Dolphins have added safety, Nate Ness, to the practice squad. 6'1", 190lbs.  He was previously with the Seattle Seahawks.
  • Matt Roth was back at practice today.
  • Per David Neal of the Herald "practice: After Pat White makes a terrible throw on an out route, Sparano yells, "Put the ball where he can G--d--- catch it!"
  • Per Omar Kelly/SunSentinel: "Jets coach Rex Ryan on the loss of Dolphins CB Will Allen: "We've lost a Pro Bowl NT, and a Pro Bowl RB, so boo hoo hoo.""
  • "Jets coach Rex Ryan said of Sunday's game vs. Dolphins: "We can play it early if they want to." 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dolphins brass have really lost their mind now

The Dolphins have re-signed ILB, William Kershaw.  Unless there is an injury that we don't know of to one of the linebackers, I don't see any logic behind this signing whatsoever.  Ayodele, Crowder, and Torbor have all shown improvements in their play as of late, and the injury to cornerback, Will Allen begs for a bolstering of the secondary, not the linebacker position.  Also, this can't bode well for getting Matt Roth back on the field.



Where are they going with this?  I'd say 'your guess is as good as mine' but I can't even offer a guess at this point in time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Will Allen gone for rest of the season

As if the shameful loss of the game versus the Saints wasn't bad enough, now it's been reported that Will Allen, Miami's most experienced cornerback, has been placed on IR with a torn ACL and will be gone for the rest of 2009.  Vontae Davis is expected to be the starter alongside Sean Smith.   Expect more playing time for Nate Jones and Jason Allen and for practice squadder Will Billingsley to get called up for active duty.



Now with Chad Henne at starting QB, the two rookie corners starting, Jake Long and Donald Thomas starting on the o-line, and Kendall Langford and Philip Merling getting the lion share of reps on the d-line, it seems like the Trifecta's draft picks are all getting immediate starting jobs one way or another.  After the dismal job by the receiving corps today, I wouldn't be surprised if Brian Hartline was starting next week as well.

Saints vs Dolphins Live Chat

Dolphins Inactives:   Quentin Moses, Tyler Thigpen, Kory Sheets, Andrew Gardner, Lionel Dotson, Patrick Turner, Lydon Murtha and John Nalbone.  
Saints Inactives: K Garrett Hartley, QB Chase Daniel, RB Lynell Hamilton, CB Leigh Torrance, CB Malcolm Jenkins, OLB Scott Fujita, C Nick Leckey, and NT Kendrick Clancy

FOR THE CHAT PORTION, GO TO http://chatroll.com/signup/free AND ENTER YOUR E-MAIL AND CREATE A PASSWORD.  IT'S VERY EASY AND THEY DON'T EVER E-MAIL YOU, IT'S JUST FOR REGISTRATION PURPOSES. 


Friday, October 23, 2009

Matt Roth, London, and why neither may be in our near future.

Matt Roth was such a fan-favorite in 2008 that it's no question it's hard to accept the truth here.  And that is that we probably need to move on.  OK, ok, I moved on back in August, but I understand other views on the matter, and also, deep down inside, wish that he could get healthy, get on the team, and help us to win games.  Ok, it's not that deep down - obviously that would be a win-win situation.  But then what?  Even if Roth, who has now practiced just once in the last FOUR MONTHS, (before sitting out the past two with an ankle injury), were to come back, make it onto the team, and start contributing, there is that question to be answered.  Now what?

Being a contract season for Roth, it would be in his best interest to put up good numbers, which he's not going to do due to missing at least 6 games, and to no longer being a starter on a team with much more depth at OLB.  The truth is, he could end up making LESS on a new contract than his original contract.  If the Dolphins offer him a pay cut, wouldn't he automatically reject it and test the free agency waters?  When healthy, he's good enough to start for most of the teams in the NFL.  His only chance at making any money with the Dolphins would be if Jason Taylor retires immediately following the season.  Even then, with Cameron Wake in waiting, that scenario isn't guaranteed to keep Roth around.

In fact, it seems less and less likely that the Dolphins and Roth would have the kind of relationship in the future that was originally anticipated by both parties before 'Groin-gate' reared it's ugly head (pun not intended). 

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots will play in the now-annual London regular season matchup on Sunday, which thanks to being on the West Coast, means I can watch live NFL games from 9am to 9pm on Sunday.

Interesting note - the Pats decided to go on Thursday night, with practices at the Brit Oval (Cricket Stadium in South London) on Friday (full) and Saturday (walkthrough).  The Bucs, meanwhile, decided to spend Friday on the plane, leaving in the morning and arriving in time for curfew, in an attempt to acclimate to London time immediately.  They will then have a full practice on Saturday morning and walkthrough on Saturday afternoon.  Where will they practice?  At Wembley Stadium, of course.  So the question is, which team will be better prepared?  Sure, the Pats are a much better team, and should win in a landslide, but will the Bucs be better than anticipated due to their schedule?

The Dolphins played in London in 2007, where Ted Ginn Jr scored his first ever touchdown in a 13-10 loss to the Giants. The Dolphins were the home team in that game and left on Wednesday  and had 3 full practice days in Wembley, whereas the 'visiting' Giants left on Thursday and had only the walkthrough in the Stadium. 

The NFL announced this morning that there would never be a Super Bowl held in London unless there was an NFL franchise based there.  They also said they are looking into the logistics of having an NFL franchise in London.  Personally, I would move the Detroit Lions there.  The London Lions would be a perfect fit, and it would allow the US to officially close down Detroit and use it as a giant paintball facility.  And since the Lions play in the NFC Central, the Dolphins would likely only have to play there once in every 10 years or so.  In any event, such a move wouldn't be taken by the NFL in the next several years, as they are currently still trying everything in their power to prevent any of the current teams from moving to Los Angeles.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday Update - The Saints Are Coming

Updates throughout the day, so check back often:
  • The TV listings have changed since yesterday.  The announcers will be Dick Stockton and Charles Davis.  Here are the locations that will be airing the Dolphins game on Sunday evening on Fox:  Eastern Maine and Western New Brunswick, Canada;  Buffalo, New York;  Patriots Country, i.e. Eastern Mass and Southern New Hampshire/Vermont;  the entire state of Florida EXCEPT for Tallahassee area;  90% of Louisiana;  95% of Mississippi; and Southwest Alabama (Mobile area)I will update with any changes.
  • Matt Roth is injured just one day after returning to practice.  According to reports, Roth is present but not practicing and has his ankle taped up and is limping.
  • When asked who would be returning kickoffs, Coach Sparano replied, "Not telling you.  You'll just have to see at the game."
  • On the Saints being undefeated, Channing Crowder said, "They're undefeated, they're probably smelling themselves, rubbing each other's balls, all that shit..."
  • Saints LB Scott Fujita and CB Malcolm Jenkins looking less likely to play on Sunday.  Both did not participate in today's practice.  Jenkins has been out for a while, but the big drop-off is in not having Fujita on the field. 
  • Mike Berardino thinks you're all lazy and stupid despite his lazy reports and stupid attempts at naming everything.  BTW, Mike, the Porter-Taylor-Wake alignment (Tri-rail?) that you write about, doesn't exist.  They have not all been on the field together at the same time, and Cam Wake barely got any snaps in the games when Porter was active.
  • Omar Kelly thinks the O-line should be called the Wildebeests.  Besides this being ill-timed the name itself makes little sense.  For one, it doesn't sound very intimidating.  Wildebeests are like nature's free sample tray at Costco.  They're begging to be eaten and ARE eaten by just about every predator in Africa.  Crocodiles....Lions....Hyenas....Vultures....Humans....Tse Tse flies...etc.  But back to the name itself.  I get the 'beest' part because it sounds like, and actually translates to 'BEAST' which is a football cliche already.  But 'wilde' is pronounced 'will-duh', which doesn't even match up with the WILD-cat.  I have many better suggestions but I have a sudden desire to eat a Wildebeest so I have to get going....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dolphins Trade 2008 4th round pick to Buccaneers for Nothing

The Tampa Bay Bucs have claimed former Dolphin guard, Shawn Murphy, off of waivers.  Murphy was a disappointment in 2008.  After being drafted in the 4th round, he spent the entire year inactive on the 53-man roster.  

This year he was much-improved, and didn't embarrass himself in taking over the starting role for the then-injured Donald Thomas.  But it took literally days for Thomas to win his starting job back, and in the pre-season games it was night and day who was the better guard.  

Still, it was a surprising move yesterday when the Dolphins waived him and signed Lydon Murtha off the Lions' practice squad.  According to Coach Sparano, it was a humbling experience having to let Murphy go, but he felt they were in need of an offensive tackle.

The roster move begs for speculation, and here is mine.  The Dolphins are not comfortable with Andrew Gardner yet and bringing in Murtha provides another young tackle to compete with.  Nate Garner will likely continue to work at both Tackle and Guard, and will dress as the backup Tackle, with Joe Berger continuing to dress as the reserve Guard/Center.  I suspect that whomever looks the best between Gardner and Murtha will remain on the team while the loser of that battle may be the victim of Matt Roth's re-activation.  Since NFL rules dictate that Murtha must remain on the roster for 3 weeks, it could be an indication that the Dolphins are in no rush to bring Roth back on to the 53.  Of course, if Murtha outshines Gardner, then it could all be moot.

The players more in danger of losing out to the Roth dilemma are Erik Walden and Quentin Moses.

For the record, today was Matt Roth's first practice, and Sparano said he looked lively out there, but needs to see how his body handles the work before deciding when/if he rejoins the team.  Earlier today, the Miami Herald posted this AP article, which was clearly written by someone in Germany, not South Florida.

Blessed and Highly Favored - or - The Saints Are Coming! The Saints Are Coming!



One of the best things about playing a team twice in the season is that as a blogger, I get to recycle some of my first match-up article for use on the second match-up. Unfortunately, when we met the Saints in week 4 of the pre-season, both teams fielded a completely different version of themselves so I can't do that here.

We didn't face Drew Brees and his assortment of receiving goodies, and we didn't face what has turned into one of the top defenses in the NFL. We faced the 2nd and 3rd stringers, and the hapless Joey Harrington. At one point they wheeled Mark Brunell onto the field, and we took advantage. It's amazing how the team with arguably the best starting QB in the league had such mediocre depth at the position. They have since gotten rid of Harrington and have Brunell and Chase Daniel as the back-ups.


I'm not going to lie to you. Miami's best shot at winning this game is for Brees to get food poisoning mere minutes before the game.

Even that may not be enough. I'm by no means a Saints fan, but they have several things going for them that make them an intimidating opponent.

The Receiving Corps
Not to take anything away from Brees, but just about any QB would look good with this group of receivers. Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, and of course Jeremy Shockey are the main event but they use running backs, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, and Heath Evans in the passing game as well. The ability to put 8 or 9 legitimate receiving threats on the field in a game is one of the tactical advantages New Orleans brings to the game. The wide receivers make the kinds of plays that show up on highlight reels on a consistent basis. Brees knows he can put the ball up for them to make a play on it, and they will make the effort to get it. In watching the Giants/Saints game this past week, you can see Brees time and again making throws that most people would expect to fall incomplete or be intercepted. But for the most part, his receivers were ready for the early throw, or battled it out for the deep lob.


The Defensive Backfield
Eli Manning had tons of time to make throws, and went deep time and again, and the Saints secondary was all over it. Talk about speed - Jabari Greer looks like he's found new legs, and Tracy Porter continues to be the best cornerback you've never heard of in the NFL. Starting safeties Roman Harper and Darren Sharper seem to be in a perpetual cover-2 scheme, making the deep ball very tough to place. But there is another dimension to the Saints' DBs - the Blitz. Sean Payton sends blitzes frequently and from all different angles. The safety blitz is something the Dolphins can expect to see a good ten times a game, and they will blitz a nickel corner a few times as well.

These two units, combined with Drew Brees' quiet leadership and poise, and very accurate, very brave passing, and Sean Payton's coaching, is my opinion on why the Saints are undefeated and getting the media buzz they are. Being unstoppable in the passing game, and preventing other teams from passing on them makes for a pretty harsh opponent.

But since I only pointed out two specific units as strengths, you can probably foresee that I'm about to point out more weaknesses than you can shake a stick at (I don't know what that cliche actually means, but it fits here, right?).

Weaknesses

Offensive Line
This isn't a bad group, but they're not that great either. Pro-Bowler Jammal Brown is on injured reserve, and while the rest of the group has been moving the chains, I wasn't impressed with the pass-protection I saw from them. Brees gets hit a lot. They're not forming a pocket around him. And a lot of their running game comes from the outside. It will be work, but there's no reason why we won't have a good chance at getting pressure and limiting their running game.


The Linebackers

If Scott Fujita can't go on Sunday, then backup Troy Evans takes over. Johnathan Vilma is on pace to end up with 50 fewer tackles than last year. These guys are not really designed to stuff a power running game coming off a Bye week. If we can get past their defensive line, we should be able to push for extra yardage. They're also not a huge pass-rush threat, though the Saints will find other ways to create pressure, as mentioned above.


Special Teams

This could be the first time we face an opponent this year with worse kick coverage than ourselves. They looked awful vs the Giants, allowing Dominic Hixon to rack up 230 yards on 7 kick returns and 51 yards on 2 punt returns. Considering this will be Ted Ginn's first opportunity at more than one return in a game, there could be opportunity here for the Dolphins.

Reggie Bush
What's strange to me is that Bush is listed first on the Saints depth chart when basically all he does is return punts and run for negative yardage. I don't understand the Saints love-affair with Bush, especially considering Miami's hate affair with Ginn. Say what you like but Ginn has made more of an impact than Bush has for their respective teams. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the Saints having Bush active is much the same as the Dolphins having Pat White active on game days, so they sort of cancel each other out.


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Ok, here's the deal. The Saints are a damn good football team. But they are not unbeatable. They win by having a very balanced offense, and running a lot of play action. which sets up big plays down the field. Basically a very normal, un-gimmicky offense that is just executed very well. If an opponent facing them was able to do the same thing, then they'd have a good shot at defeating them. That opponent might as well be the Dolphins.


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INJURY REPORT - FRIDAY, 10/23/09
New Orleans Saints at Miami Dolphins

New Orleans
Questionable: LB Scott Fujita (calf), CB Malcolm Jenkins (ankle)

Probable: LB Jonathan Casillas (calf), TE Jeremy Shockey (shoulder), CB Leigh Torrence (hamstring), DE Jeff Charleston (rib), G Jahri Evans (toe), LS Jason Kyle (knee, ankle), P Thomas Morstead (right ankle)

Miami
No injuries to report.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dolphins sign OT Lydon Murtha

Well the media sure was quite today, but the Dolphins did in fact make a roster move, signing former Nebraska left tackle, Lydon Murtha, while releasing 2008 4th round draft pick, OG, Shawn Murphy.

If Murphy clears waivers, which is doubtful, I'd expect him to end up on the practice squad.

Murtha is a hometown boy, from Homestead, Florida. Listed at 6'7", 315bs, he had an impressive combine, but his lack of strength brought him down to the 7th round where he was drafted by Detroit. He had an arm injury that sidelined him for training camp/pre-season. He ended up on their practice squad despite massive interest in him from many other teams, including Miami but as the worst team in football a year ago, they could have waived anybody without fear of losing them.

It's an interesting move because it puts the make-up of the o-line all out of whack, with 5 Tackles overall. I have a feeling the Dolphins will end up waiving him in hopes of getting him onto the practice squad and if Murphy is still around he'd go back onto the 53 man roster. The NFL has a rule stating a player has to stay on the 53 for 3 weeks if signed off another team's practice squad.

That's my take on it.

Trade Deadline Day

Think of it as Career Day for those who don't get to choose where they work.

The Dolphins have been quiet so far, but the Patriots are shifting their roster around making space for new players. First they released OLB, Tully Banta-Cain, and now at least two reports are saying they have also released WR, Joey Galloway (update - looks like this move was to make room for rookie WR/KR Brandon Tate to come off the PUP. According to Belichick, tate will likely be active this week). The ongoing rumour is that they are looking to trade Adalius Thomas. Banta-Cain is of the impression the Pats are going to bring him back. Obviously, if they manage to trade Thomas and get someone better than Banta-Cain in the deal, then his impression may change. UPDATE - The Pats have released another player, this time it's tight-end, Michael Matthews. Another update! Now the Pats have released LB, Eric Alexander. They have now released four players, and have two coming off the PUP list - Tate, and OL, Mark Levoir.

Meanwhile, the Jets already made a big trade a couple of weeks ago, but don't count them out of the picture just yet. I've heard rumours that they're not done building their WR group and now with Kris Jenkins on injured-reserve, there's reported interest in Shaun Rogers out of Cleveland (yes, the same Shaun Rogers I said the Dolphins should have picked up during training camp when he was a free agent). Maybe they will trade Rex Ryan for an extra practice blocking dummy.


And speaking of Cleveland, there is another rumour that pro-bowl left tackle, Joe Thomas, could be on the trading block as well. He would likely cost a 1st round pick and some sizable change as well.

I'll keep track of any trades here in this post so keep refreshing.

  • The Pats re-signed Tully Banta-Cain.
  • Today Matt Roth becomes eligible to return from the PUP but the Dolphins don't have a practice today. They are having a fan-appreciation day at Landshark Stadium. On a Tuesday? More like unemployed/homeless appreciation day.
  • The Jets have signed NT Howard Green to replace Kris Jenkins.
  • The Pats re-signed Eric Alexander mere hours after releasing him. This ends any serious chance of them trading for a player. They were obviously using today to re-structure a couple of contracts without hurting their salary cap.
  • Lendale White went over to the darkside, signing on with agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
  • With less than an hour to go, it looks like we could make it through the day with NO trades at all.
  • A TRADE!! The Eagles have acquired LB, Will Weatherspoon, from the Rams for a 2010 5th round pick and WR Brandon Gibson. Just about 40 minutes to go.
  • OK, that's all she wrote. Barring any secret unreported deals, there was only one trade today.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tin Bits - Monday 10/19/09

Despite the Dolphins being off on a Bye, week 6 turned out to be a very exciting one for the NFL and possibly for Dolfans. Let's get into it:
  • By now, you all know that the Bills overcame the struggling Jets in over-time to knock them to 3-3 on the year. See the standings box in the sidebar on the right.
  • By now, you also know that the Patriots finally looked like the Patriots of old yesterday, as they ran up the score on the Titans. The game was over halfway through the 2nd quarter, and my starting fantasy QB, Tom Brady, had a career day, throwing for 380 yards and 5 TDs. He had 345 yards passing in the first half alone.
  • So now the AFC East picture is starting to take shape. The Dolphins are currently in third but could move into 2nd place with a win over the Saints next Sunday. The Dolphins are currently in 11th place out of 16 AFC teams.
  • That might not be so easy, as my fantasy backup QB, Drew Brees, had a great game of his own, throwing for 369 yards and 4 TDs against the formidable Giants. After this week, don't be surprised if the media starts touting a New England vs New Orleans Superbowl. In both these games, despite the high-flying offenses, the winners held the time of possession by significant margins. The Dolphins will need to win that battle to keep the ball out of the hands of Brees. I'll do a full preview a day early this week (Wednesday) to get into that further.
  • After Josh Cribbs reminded Cleveland why they need him yesterday, returning a kick 98 yards for a TD and gaining 45 yards on 6 wild-cat attempts, it doesn't look like he'll be traded today. I still feel like the Dolphins are going to try to make some noise before the end of the day tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Question Time - Cribbs Trade

So, I posed the question yesterday that the Dolphins may be looking to trade Matt Roth straight up for Josh Cribbs. Then last night I realized something.

If Cribbs were to come to Miami, he would instantly be inserted into the Wildcat formation. The Dolphins have started using Ricky Williams as the 'QB', mixing it up a little and would probably continue to do so as the season goes on.

Cribbs is the Wildcat 'QB' in the Browns version (I think they call it the Wild Brown Rice). Cribbs is actually more of a viable option quarterback than a receiver. He would instantly, in my opinion, jump over Pat White in the Dolphins 'gimmicky' offense.

So, I pose to you this question. Would you trade Pat White for Josh Cribbs?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dolphins Want To Trade Matt Roth For Josh Cribbs?

What a busy week in Miami. In an effort to improve their return game, the Dolphins have gone shopping and saw something they liked in the window. Return specialist Josh Cribbs from the Cleveland Browns. Cribbs is an absolute game-changer on special teams but is not an upgrade in the receiving department. He leads the NFL in return yardage both on punts and kickoffs.

Now you may have read earlier that the Dolphins have sent a letter to the NFL asking if Matt Roth can be activated before the trade deadline. Could this be because they want to offer Roth as compensation for Cribbs? Cribbs comes with 3 years remaining on his contract at under $800k per season but is unhappy with his contract.

There would likely be a bidding war if Cribbs is indeed on the market, which according to two Cleveland sources, he is.

I fully expect the NFL to say "No" to Miami's request, but I don't understand why they can't activate Roth on Tuesday, which is the actual trade deadline.

New Dolphin - Kory Sheets, RB


Ok, there's no doubt here why Sheets was 'poached' off of the 49ers practice squad. The Dolphins are looking for a kick returner. This is an area I wanted them to focus on before the season, but at least they have learned after 5 games that this was a huge weakness on the team. It has been acknowledged by Coach Sparano that there is an open competition ongoing this week to decide on a kick returner. I would suspect Sheets, Ginn and Hartline are the main competitors.

Sheets is not really known for his kick returning abilities, posting average numbers in college (38 returns for 768 yards, 20.21 average). However, he is known for the ability to change direction and make people miss. With a 4.39 Forty time, he's significantly faster than Davone Bess and Patrick Cobbs, whose roster spot was filled with Sheets.




Sheets is an impressive running back, there's no doubt about that, but he has had discipline issues and gotten into the locker room doghouse a time or two in the past. Considering he had a good combine, these issues may be more serious than it seems on the surface, because it's not every day a running back of this talent-level goes undrafted.

Live Chat Tonight

Starting at 7:30 EST / 4:30 PST, the #8 ranked Bearcats of Cincinnati take on the #21 ranked Bulls of South Florida, and it will be aired here (barring tech issues like Monday night) and the Tins Fins Chat-Roll will be up and rolling as well.  We can discuss College ball, the Dolphins cheerleaders, Kory Sheets' ankle-breaking ability, how to do long division using Roth Math, or whatever comes up.  Don't be too worried if things go quiet after a George Selvie sack of Tony Pike.  The most likely scenario is that, in my excitement, I've accidentally tossed my laptop out of (or thru) the nearest window.

The Live Blog/ESPN feed will be posted an hour before kickoff, with me making my grand entrance around pre-game time.  See you then!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Roth Math

It's amazing how much confusion the media can cause when left unchecked, so here's the deal on Matt Roth eligibility.

NFL rules clearly state that a player on the inactive PUP list is not allowed to practice until AFTER WEEK six. This means that he is technically allowed to practice starting on Tuesday morning (10/20/09).

He's allowed to put on pads/helmet/jock, etc. and bang heads starting no sooner than that day.

The Dolphins need to have him activated by the weekly deadline in order to have him eligible for the game that week. This part I don't know for sure but I believe it is Wednesday at 7pm Eastern. This is why no one is ever traded or signed late in the week.

So, despite the fact that Matt Roth may be at practice on Tuesday morning, he will not technically be a part of the 53 man roster, therefore he is in-eligible to play until Miami makes a decision on whether to 'activate' him (he is signed, and does count against the salary cap, just not the 53), or place him on season-ending injured reserve. They have three weeks to decide.

The confusion is coming out of the fact that Miami has a BYE in week six. The rules are not about the individual team games, but the physical time, i.e. 6 weeks, not 6 games.

However, the likelihood that Miami would rush to decide on whether to activate him after only Tuesday and Wednesday practice, is low. I'm not saying it won't happen, but I know if I were the GM, I wouldn't even think about making that decision in the first week. Besides the fact that Roth would be coming in (even if 100% healthy) at week 1 speed when everyone else is at week 7 speed, there is also the conundrum of having to let another player go before activating him.

So to summarize, Matt Roth is allowed per NFL rules to rejoin the team as soon as Tuesday as an active member. Being 'allowed to be activated' and 'being activated' are too very different things and could be days or weeks apart.

This Is An Announcement!

Hey folks, just to let you know, if you don't watch the National news, there was a pretty nasty storm here yesterday, and it knocked a lot of stuff over and a few people were killed, etc. Basically it was like a Hurricane in Northern California, and is hitting Oregon as we speak. The main cause of all the damage was the wind (we had readings of 70 mph here at work, and 7 inches of rain) and the fact that the storm lasted for 15 hours. My next door neighbor's giant tree came down, fortunately in the opposite direction of my house, but my own front yard tree was about 20 minutes away from doing the same. Needless to say there were Halloween decorations on my house that I didn't actually put there!

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to let you know that I have very limited internet today (had zero for the first 3 hours) and am currently sitting at my desk at work in the dark. I take solace in knowing I was the first in Dolphinsland to report the Kory Sheets signing, as I'll probably be out of the loop for today.

Please continue to comment, as I get those in my e-mail inbox and can comment back via e-mail as well. To those of you to the North of me, tie down anything you don't want flying away and prepare to have a 'rainy-day' at home if you can. And beware of semi-trailers, as they catch the wind and tip over easily, i.e. stay away from them on the roads.

Tomorrow I'll be hosting the South Florida/Cincinnati game here with chat, and I welcome Dolphins discussion during that. Until then, mi amigos, ciao!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

!TIN BITS TO THE EXTREME!

Well, despite the BYE week for half the teams in the NFL, today has been crammed with news and quite a bit of it is related to the Dolphins, so here we go:
  • The Cleveland Browns are once again shopping Brady Quinn. Now is your chance, Ginn haters. Ginn for Quinn straight-up? Personally, I'd go Pat White for Quinn straight up.
  • The Dolphins are working out a receiver that possesses every quality you look for in a wide-receiver, but some qualities you hope not to find in an NFL player, i.e. can't stay out of trouble with the law, injury issues, etc. The Dolphins are among several teams suddenly interested in former Jaguars receiver (no, not Wilford), Matt Jones. The Jets were also interested, and may still be due to Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith both suffering injuries in last night's loss to your Miami Dolphins.
  • It turns out that Patriots left tackle, and all-around A-hole, Matt Light, did not seriously injure his knee, despite the fact he was on the ground for a long time then couldn't put any weight on it as he was carried to the sideline during the Denver game. The MRI results showed 'no significant ligament damage'. It's unknown when he'll return to action.
  • Click HERE at 2pm Eastern to view Coach Sparano's 'Day After' press conference.
  • Patrick Cobbs has a torn ACL and will be placed on season ending Injured Reserve.
  • Ricky Williams had a mild strain in his ankle and is expected to be fine.
  • The injury to Ricky Williams must be more serious than first thought because the Dolphins have signed Kory Sheets off of the 49ers practice squad according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Once again this causes an issue with getting Matt Roth back on the roster. I do like Kory Sheets as a runner though. He's got playmaker skills, but I don't know if he'll still be on the roster come the New Orleans game.


Dolphins Show They Can't Be Stopped


(c) NFL Video

The Dolphins O-line committed several penalties last night in their 31-27 dramatic win over the New York Jets, but when they weren't committing penalties, they seemed fundamentally as sound as they have been all year. Sure they've been able to move the ball on the ground, but this performance included impressive down-field blocking by Justin Smiley, absolute brick wall pass blocking, and Jake Long's best performance of the year, and the first time he looked to be back in his 2008 form.

It wasn't just that they held the Jets to zero sacks, it was the way in which they did it. They stopped the pressure altogether. And that gave Chad Henne a chance to show what he can do. To my memory Henne only had one poor-looking pass in the entire game, a rocket of an overthrow to Anthony Fasano. His other 5 incompletions included a terrible drop from Ronnie Brown on a check down pass that ricocheted off Brown's chest as he turned to look upfield before the ball arrived.

That was one of the few mistakes by Miami in the game. There were a couple of iffy pass interference calls on Miami that should never have been called, including one on Will Alllen late in the game that resulted in a 49 yard gain for the Jets, and a touchdown on the following play.

There was also the call against Gibril Wilson when he came up to hit the Jets tight end on a deep route. There was the holding penalty on Jake Grove that negated a big play. And of course there were TWO fake punts by the Jets that burned Miami.

So this game shouldn't have been so close, but it was, we got the win, and head into the Bye week looking like a significantly better team than our 0-3 start suggested.

We didn't come out unscathed, however, as both Patrick Cobbs (who got quite a few snaps) and Ricky Williams (138 yards from scrimmage) both left the game in the 4th quarter with injuries. Ricky came up hobbling on what was likely an ankle issue, but he was jogging to the sideline so it probably wasn't serious. Cobbs on the other hand looked to be in serious pain of the 'something just popped' kind. I wouldn't expect him to be back anytime soon if at all this season, but we have Lex Hilliard already active so there shouldn't be a huge drop off. In fact, this could be a blessing in disguise because being a man down and NOT needing to sign another running back, the injury leaves us a man down on the active roster, meaning either Chris Clemons or Patrick Turner could finally get a chance to dress for the game. More on that as information comes in.

We now have a week off, so I will be doing some fun stuff over the dry period to keep the blog going, including hosting a non-dolphins game (blasphemy!) on Thursday as my alma mater #23 South Florida hosts #8 Cincinnati in (play dramatic music here) THE BIGGEST GAME IN SCHOOL HISTORY (being a relatively young program, we get to say that at least twice a year).


Monday, October 12, 2009

Post Game Video

video
video

Jets @ Dolphins Live Chat

Dolphins Inactives:   Quentin Moses, Tyler Thigpen, Shawn Murphy, Chris Clemons, Andrew Gardner, Lionel Dotson, Patrick Turner and John Nalbone.  
Jets Inactives: QB Kevin O'Connell, CB Lito Sheppard, CB Donald Strickland, CB Ahmad Carroll, LB Westerman, G Slauson, DE Pitoitua


FOR THE CHAT PORTION, GO TO http://chatroll.com/signup/free AND ENTER YOUR E-MAIL AND CREATE A PASSWORD.  IT'S VERY EASY AND THEY DON'T EVER E-MAIL YOU, IT'S JUST FOR REGISTRATION PURPOSES. 


From Out Of The Ashes...

8 days ago Miami was out of contention.  Done for the year.  In rebuilding mode.  General Manager-itis had set in.  Today, with a win, the Dolphins will be one game out of first place.  

Thanks to the worst game of the week, nay, season, the Bills fell to 1-4.  The Patriots and Broncos traded turnovers and punts throughout the fourth quarter until they stumbled into over-time.  The Broncos won the coin toss.  The Pats are 3-2 now.  If the Dolphins defeat the Jets, they'll be 2-3 heading into the bye week with the Jets tied at 3-2 with the Pats.  During the bye week, the Jets host the Bills and the Patriots host the Titans.

So tonight's game isn't just an early season rivalry game - there is something on the line here.

Go Phins!

P.S.  My prediction came true and the Dolphins are now the top ranked rush defense in the league after Baltimore got absolutely slaughtered on the ground by the Bengals.  They gave up their first 100 yard performance by a running back in 40 games!  The Steelers gave up 110 yards to the Lions, knocking them out of contention also.  The MAGIC NUMBER for the Dolphins to stay as numero uno is 111 yards.  If they give up no more than 111, they will retain the top ranking.  Live Chat at 8pm EST/5pm PST.

Friday, October 9, 2009

How To Be Good


I tweeted yesterday that the Dolphins will likely get to claim the Number 1 ranking in run defense on Sunday as it would be tough for both the Ravens and the Steelers (the other teams virtually tied right now in top three) to hold their opponents to the number required to stay where they are (1. Ravens) or move up (3. Steelers).  Of course, that will only last a day, as the Dolphins will have just as hard a task of keeping the Jets dormant on the ground on Monday Night.

I bring this up because there's definitely a correlation between the top rushing average on offense and the 2nd best defense against the run.  Competition makes for better practice and performance and thus it's no surprise that the two aspects of the team's make-up is so strong.

And the same correlation goes in hand with the Passing game and the Pass Defense.  It's not a surprise that they are the two weakest elements of the team, having to practice against each other.  Now, with Chad Henne taking the lion's share of the practice reps I expect this to slowly but surely change.  The competition between Sean Smith and Vontae Davis during the pre-season got them ready to play in the NFL.  But now that it has been re-ignited, it could prove to be the catalyst for pro-bowl level performance.  I would suggest that Will Allen's sub-par play thus far this season is due to not only the weak competition at WR, but also the fact that his biggest competition on his side of the field is Nathan Jones.  

But a couple of things are likely to change our pass defense woes.  First, the rising stars of Brian Hartline and Patrick Turner, and secondly, the improved passing from Chad Henne.

In a way, they go hand in hand, because Henne has practiced pre-dominantly with Hartline and Turner for months before becoming the Dolphins starter. Turner has apparently started to turn it on, and why wouldn't he now that his 2nd team QB has been promoted?  How many of us have been stuck in a rut with the B team at one point in our lives, only to get motivated when one of our peers actually makes it out of that rut first?   There's no doubt, seeing Hartline and Henne rising to the top, has lit a fire in Turner to try to elevate his game also.  And Hartline has been steadily rising from day one.  He makes a lot of mistakes, but what rookie doesn't, and the fact he's getting the opportunities to make those mistakes shows how the coaches feel about him.  It's likely Hartline could be with this team longer than any other receiver on the current roster.  

But back to my main point, which is, the defense now will have to compete more against the different receivers, taking more shots downfield, faster passes, different QB, etc.  It will force them to up their game in practice.  I'm a firm believer in the 'Practice Hard - Play Hard' motto.  The faster and more challenging the practice, the more likely the team is going to be able to go into the actual game in full-speed mode.

So while it's unlikely we can get our passing game rankings in the top 10 or 15 by season's end, I wouldn't be surprised if we end up a respectable 'somewhere in the middle' (i.e. 15 through 20) . If we keep on playing the run the way we have, we should end up in top 5 or 10 both rushing and stopping the run.  But it's early yet.  Lets work on it in practice.


 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Give You Your Miami Dolphins Celebrity Owner Of The Week!


SERENA WILLIAMS in ESPN MAGAZINE - The Body Issue

Why The Schedule Is Good For Chad Henne

by The Knight Who Says Ni!


Let's start with him getting thrown into the fire in San Diego when Pennington went down. He played okay but threw a bad pick for 6 that basically sealed the deal. Okay he got a quick lesson in how important protecting the ball is.


He seemed to learn from it by not turning the ball over once in the Bills game despite being sacked 6 times and fumbling twice, but he recovered. He rebounded in that game with an unspectacular but solid performance against the Bills and got a good home win against a division rival.


The next two games with the Jets and Saints with a bye in between are at home. So he gets to settle in and not play in a hostile environment on the road for a few weeks. He along with the entire team gets to stay in Miami for a couple more weeks. The bye comes at a good time for him to get a little more up to speed. That week could be used for the entire team to work on what everyone is doing well and continue to build our identity on both sides of the ball. Special teams could use some work too.


Yes the home crowd could be tough if Henne struggles, but it's still not nearly as significant as being on the road with crowd noise and no fan support. Unless he completely implodes at home and the crowd gets on him because the feeling is that the season is lost and he's a bust. Most fans are short-term result oriented; you're great, you suck, you're great, you suck. 


Then again they'll just blame Ted Ginn and Channing Crowder so he should be okay. :  )


I'm excited to watch the development of Chad Henne because the trifecta is high on him and he will be given every chance to succeed. This 2008 2nd round pick has the prototype size (6-3 235), arm strength and he's a decent athlete. He reminds me of Phil Simms. Jake Long reminds me of Jumbo Elliot. So I see a Parcells stamp here. Not that he drafted them because he didn't, but he coached them and he likes those types of players. The Michigan style of football is Parcells' style. Yes I know Simms didn't play at Michigan but Jumbo, Long and Henne did.


So Henne has the physical tools. Does he have the other intangibles a QB needs? 


1. Does he have the leadership (command of his troops), do they believe in him?
2. Can he read defenses and execute game plans?
3. Can he protect the ball consistently?
4. Can he handle tough, big game situations and play under pressure?
5. Can he make the players around him better?
6. Is he durable?


As we all know, there will be ups and downs with a young QB so we have to patient. At the same time Chad has to show he can do some special things. We shall see.


Let's support our young QBs and not run them out of town before they have a decent body of work to fairly evaluate them.


Go Phins!!!!