Friday, January 29, 2010

Senior Bowl - are you ready for some fundamentals?

There have been so many conflicting accounts of who is doing well and who isn't  at this week's Senior Bowl practices it's impossible to know exactly how many players stock has been affected.

For example, I have read about 50 reports praising Mardy Gilyard, and about 50 reports saying how lousy he's been performing.  A similiar treatment has been given to George Selvie, Perrish Cox, Ciron Black, Danario Alexander, Dorin Dickerson, Austen Lane and Cam Thomas just to name a few.  The truth is, what one scout sees as a strength, another can see as a weakness.  And it's all in the wording as well.  One guy can say a player has a dominating bull-rush and puts blockers on their backs, and the next guy could say he's one-dimensional and can't do much other than bull-rush.

Well, like with just about anything in life, these reports and opinions have to be taken with a grain of salt.  I fail to understand how one scout can say Selvie struggled in coverage as a line-backer and another say Selvie has steadily been raising his stock and has been impressive all week.  Then it dawned on me that these guys are not attending every practice.  There are separate practices for the North and South teams, held either at the same time at different locations (which would make it impossible to attend both) or at different times at the same location (which makes for a long day of watching practice).  The reporters tend to go to whichever practice contains players they are most familiar with - so the Southern reporters attend the South, and the Northern reporters attend the North.  They may check out the opposition for a while, but not with the same fervor of their own side.

And ultimately, if a player gets beat a few times in Mobile, it doesn't necessarily mean he's not the player that shows up on tape.  Anyone can have a bad day or two especially those players being asked to play in new positions.  They are already learning new plays, new terminology, new coaches, new team-mates and being inundated with media attention and attending charity and publicity events.  It's a busy week, and while it gives them a chance to showcase themselves both on and off the field, it is just part of the picture.  College career, game tape, the Combine, Pro Day, and team visits all play a significant role in a player's draft stock.  The Senior Bowl is just a part of that process, but it's singularly important because it's actual football, with Pro coaches, Pro rules, and a higher level of competition than they faced in College.

Below are the Senior Bowl rosters.  Players that are highlighted were on my Top 10 lists I published a couple of weeks ago.  The cornerbacks had the highest match rate, with 7 of my top 10 playing in the Senior Bowl and 1 playing in last week's East West Shrine game.  There were 37 matches to start the week, but two players were injured (Jon Asamoah/G, and O'Brien Schofield/OLB).

I will be keeping my eyes on Dorin Dickerson lined up at WR.  He is one of three players I want the Dolphins to draft at WR (even though he was a TE/FB in College) and want to make sure my projection was right.  I'm also interested obviously in seeing George Selvie lined up at OLB and in Dexter McCluster running the Wildcat.  And I'd love to see this Boise State cornerback everyone's talking about.  I thought his custom paint job on his 1971 prison bus/RV was hilarious.  Also, I'd like to see if Sean Weatherspoon can dispel those early-week critiques about him not being able to play inside.  

Who here will be watching and what player are you most interested in?



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Forget Joey Porter, We have More Important Fish (Dolphins Aren't Fish, They're Mammals) To Fry

It's easy to get caught up in the media frenzy surrounding the unsubstantiated reports of Joey Porter lashing out at the Dolphins and wanting to be traded.  The simple fact of the matter is that no one can quote what he said on a Bakersfield radio station morning show, and no one can provide an audio recording or transcript.  I'm not saying it didn't happen, I'm simply saying there's no reason to believe it happened other than a South Florida resident who doesn't have access to the show in question, saying that it did (I checked, the show is not streamed or podcasted, and even if it was, he would have had no way of knowing that Porter was going to call into it).

And while the Dolphins have insinuated that they may not bring back Porter for 2010, they have also insinuated that fact for just about every player on the team, including Ted Ginn, Ronnie Brown, Anthony Fasano, Pat White, Jason Ferguson, Jason Taylor, Patrick Cobbs, Gibril Wilson, Akin Ayodele, Paul Soliai...should I keep going?  The truth is, every team with any sort of common sense says things like the Dolphins have been saying since the end of the season.  They have not made these decisions yet, so why say something they may have to go back on later.  Tony Sparano couldn't even bring himself to name Chad Henne the incumbent starter in 2010.  He did for Pennington in 2009, but you kind of got the impression that Sparano felt he had to play Pennington after that statement, despite the fact he was absolutely terrible in training camp, the pre-season, and marginally better in the regular season.

So any roasting of Joey Porter at this time is unwarranted and a desperate attempt by the media to latch on to any story they can.  Really, who cares if Porter was suspended for a game in 2009?  2009 is over, and Charlie Anderson had a pretty damn good game in Porter's absence.  It didn't affect us getting into the playoffs or our losing record.  Porter played well in our final three losses.  So having him in the game getting sacks didn't actually help us to win.  

Turnovers, bad referee calls, and stagnant play-calling on both sides of the ball, coupled with giving up big plays, is what prevented an injury-riddled team from putting up another AFC East winning season.  Joey Porter led the team in sacks even in a down year hampered by injury, suspension, and sharing the reps with JT, Wake, Anderson, and Moses.  And the reports of Porter refusing to come off the field are overblown as well.  Porter didn't get nearly the same reps in 2009 that he usually gets.  There was an incident during the season where he refused to come off the field.  THEN he was suspended for the following game.  It had nothing to do with him going out on a Friday night.  Please, if Randy Starks could run over a cop on South Beach and Brandon London (remember him?) could live the life of excess he was living on South Beach and in Manhattan without any repercussions, then surely someone of Porter's status could go to a Miami Heat game in a controlled, family friendly environment without being thrown in the doghouse.  Also, the ridiculous assumption that his saying he wasn't ready to resume practice after a nagging knee injury somehow makes him a prima donna or lazy or worse, a liar, is completely unfair.  Just this past season, there were several players, rookies included that did not practice at all on certain days for the entire season.  Anyone who plays Fantasy Football knows this to be true.  If a 33 year old pass-rusher is banged up and after being evaluated by trainers/team doctors (they do have these people on staff, it's not like the players do their own diagnoses) is deemed to be better off by sitting out and resting (it should be noted that Porter was in attendance at both practices and did stretching and light movement drills - it's not like he was at home playing Call of Duty), then why does a reporter get to call him out on it?

Anyway, I don't want to sound like Joey Porter's agent, because you all know I petitioned for Cam 'Earthw'Wake from the get-go and still believe he is the immediate future for the Dolphins.  But I can't stand being beaten over the head with lies, innuendo and drivel.  In the old days they used to call these reports slander and people got sued for it and their careers were over.  And it doesn't matter if the details come out, and audio evidence is provided in the future.  At the time of these reports, there was no evidence.  And there still isn't.

And the Dolphins have not yet decided the future of anybody, not just Joey Porter.  I still would not be surprised if Dan Henning gets fired or pushed into retirement before the draft, Bill Parcells says goodbye to the Dolphins, Pat White is named the starter (okay, that one would surprise me a little) and Randy Starks is traded for two mid-round draft picks.

This week is the Senior Bowl and Pro-Bowl, last week was the East West Shrine Game and Conference Championships.  Still to come, the Texas vs The Nation game, the Super Bowl in Miami, the start of Free Agency, the Combine, the re-signing of current Dolphins and the release of others, trades, more coaching changes, another celebrity minority owner or two, pro-days, the Draft, undrafted free agent signings, Rookie Camp, etc.

There is so much going on of interest and right in front of our eyes.  So why do we focus on things we didn't see, hear, or prove?  And why are we even worrying about it now?  Surely no decisions should or will be made until a plan is in place.   And for all the shouting for Porter to go, it serves only as a distraction from what we should be paying attention to, which are the options.  The Draft scouting, the free agent scouting, the brand new to Miami 'Capologist' (ridiculous job title) the new Defensive staff and scheme, the continued development of young players, the continued outreach to the community in an effort to raise funds for Haiti, Sean Smith's continual search for the best burrito in South Florida.  There is stuff going on people.  Oh yeah, the fact that not a single report on the Dolphins coaching staff's efforts/style at the Senior Bowl has come from the Miami media is another sign that they are distracted by gossip, rumor, and tabloid-reporting.

There is a time for all that stuff, it's called the Summer, when there's absolutely nothing going on other than the occasional rookie-contract signing.  But right now, I'd really appreciate some focus on the football.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Down...89 to go.

Of the 90 or so football players attending the Senior Bowl week, it's likely that the Dolphins are paying attention to all of them, even if they don't play at a position of dire need.  You know they like to 'turn over rocks'.  Well the Senior Bowl week allows them to sit back and have the rocks roll downhill.  They get to see all sides without doing the heavy lifting.

But even at this early juncture it seems that 'heaviness' itself has actually caused the Dolphins, specifically Head Coach, Tony Sparano, to pass judgment on one of the players he is coaching on the South team.  And it's none other than Terrence Cody, the 370 pound Nose Tackle who helped push Alabama to the National Championship a few weeks ago.
 
Sparano was asked if Cody would need to lose weight to make it in the NFL.

"I play in a division where there's some pretty heavy people across the ball," Sparano said. "I would say that it's not for me to say what some of the other teams might consider too heavy or not too heavy and I think that when a team gets him into their system they'll make that evaluation one way or the other.

"I would say that he would have to lose a few for me."

I think it's fair to say that since Sparano made these comments to the media, he's using his usual down-playing verbage, and actually means that Cody would have to lose a LOT of weight rather than a few pounds.  The actual physique of Cody is another issue.  Jason Ferguson is not chiseled by any means, but he definitely is more muscle than fat.  Cody seems to have little musculature at all in his upper body.  

And if they wanted Paul Soliai to come down to 330-ish, then they'd probably want Cody to lose 30 or 40 lbs, which obviously isn't going to happen.  The guy knew he was going to get undressed in front of hundreds of people and get poked and prodded, and he actually turned up weighing more than people expected him to.

There are enough red flags and implications here to safely say that Cody would not be a safe draft pick, especially in the 1st round, and especially for the Dolphins.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tin Bits - Tuesday, January 26th 2010

It wouldn't be Tin's Fins on a Tuesday if I didn't get a Tin Bits article out there, and surprisingly there is a lot of interesting stories out there this week.
  • Wes Bunting of NFP had this to say about the Senior Bowl weigh-ins: "Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody tipped the scales at a whopping 370 pounds and looked every bit of it...On the other hand, Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams carries his 329 pounds very well and possesses one of the thickest bases I have ever seen. The guy has a massive bubble, really powerful-looking thighs and looks built to sit into his stance and overwhelm inside."
  • According to multiple reports, Bill Parcells is not attending the Senior Bowl week at all this year, but did attend at least some of the East-West Shrine Game week.  I wonder who he went to see there....Torrell Troup, maybe?
  • Wisconsin OLB, O'Brien Schofield (#8 on my Top 10 OLB list) was named the Defensive MVP of the Shrine Game, and two days later tore an ACL in a Senior Bowl practice drill.  Schofield probably felt he had to show more of his conversion to LB, but in hindsight he should have gone out on a high note and waited for the combine/pro-days.  Now his draft stock will plummet.
  • WalterFootball.com had this to say about converted QB, Joe Webb (#8 on my Top 10 QB list): "Former U.A.B. quarterback Joe Webb had a pretty good day as he attempts to make the transition to wide receiver. Webb is extremely raw, not very explosive and may not have natural hands but he was extremely physical. Not only did Webb show the ability to get off the line and beat the jam against guys like Taylor Mays and Nate Allen but he did it in a violent fashion. On one rep he simply threw Javier Arenas to the ground and on another he delivered a bona fide headslap to Taylor Mays. Later in the practice Webb drew cheers from the crowd as he beat Patrick Robinson on a deep pass, which may have been the day's biggest play."
  • Florida State Safety and Rhodes Scholar, Myron Rolle, was said to have the body of a 'Greek God' at weigh-ins this week and in practice, "displayed excellent technique, used his hands well and did a nice job of jamming wideouts at the line".
  • And one unidentified member of the Dolphins staff got visibly and audibly angry with USC Safety, Taylor Mays, after he delivered a crushing hit on a WR during practice.  Mays needs to save that stuff for the game, not the first day of practice in shells.
  • Speaking of Dolphins' coaches, here is what Head Coach, Tony Sparano had to say about Mike Nolan replacing Paul Pasqualoni as Defensive Coordinator.  Nolan, by the way, is not working with the staff in Mobile this week.  He is probably relocating and doing Orientation classes, i.e. Sexual Harassment 101, OSHA training, etc.  You know, the kind of thing many of us have to do every year working in corporate America. - UPDATE:  Reader 'son of a son of shula' reports that Nolan was in fact on the field in Mobile.  I got my info from reports on Monday, so maybe he showed up late?
  • There are now 3 confirmed mock drafts from established draft sites now listing Miami taking Jason Pierre-Paul with the 12th overall pick.  Mike Mayock of NFLN has ranked JPP as the top DE in the draft.  If he really is the top DE in the draft, then he will likely go in the top 15, but if he really is the top DE in the draft, then he won't be going to Miami, as they have no need for a 265 lb DE.  Since he is an underclassman, there will be no opportunity for him to showcase his ability to play 3-4 OLB in an All-Star game setting, thus he will be drafted per his game film, which is at DE in a 4-3.
  • My #1 TE (who I actually class as a WR), Dorin Dickerson, is listed on the Senior Bowl roster as a fullback, an obvious conversion, but is getting lambasted by the media saying he can't get any separation.  How much separation does a full-back usually get?  Stay tuned on this one, as once the practices get more physical, I think he will start to gain more positive reviews.  Plus you really have to take these reports with a grain of salt.  For example I saw one report on Sean Weatherspoon that said he was "a strong filler that plays downhill from the middle very effectively. He struggled to move laterally in tight space however, he downright looked silly on the outside."  Well, that's odd considering he played predominantly outside at Missouri and was All Big Twelve at the position.

Monday, January 25, 2010

East-West Shrine Game Re-Cap A La Dolphin

I know what happened.  Some of you probably decided to watch the East West Shrine Game for the first time in your lives this year, got about 4 minutes into the 3rd quarter, and promptly fell asleep.  I don't blame you.  I struggled to keep my own eyes open after a late night and a morning filled with extravagant LEGO architectural planning and utterly incompetent construction.  



The first 3 quarters of the game were completely dominated by both defenses.  The East, in particular, completely shut down the game, led by South Florida's Kion Wilson, Connecticut's Lindsey Witten, and the pair of free safeties, Virgina Tech's Kam Chancellor (pictured above taking off the helmet of BYU tight end Dennis Pitta) and Eastern Carolina's Van Eskridge - but it was the West who finally broke the scoring drought in the 4th quarter and looked to have it all but wrapped up after blazing performances by a trio of tight-ends - namely, Pitta, Eastern Washington's Nathan Overbay, and UCLA's Ryan Moya.

Then, despite the low-scoring affair and the rough and tough front four that both teams had shown all game, the true purpose of the game itself came to light.  The scouts don't attend the games, they attend the practices, before packing up and moving on the the Senior Bowl, but they do watch the game tape, particularly to see competitiveness on the field.  And this year they will see a young Quarterback who may have just played his way onto an NFL team's draft board with his game-winning drive that showed he had nerves of steel and lots of potential.  Northwestern's Mike Kafka (pictured below) took possession of the ball with 1:49 left on the clock trailing by four points, and led his team on a 10 play drive that was capped by the game-winning touchdown pass to Penn State tight end, Andrew Quarless, with 6 seconds remaining.  During that time he showed excellent management of the clock, and he knew who to throw to when the game was on the line - Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes.  He also made an incredible escape from a sure-sack.  It reminded me a bit of Big Ben.



It was a thrilling end to an otherwise unthrilling game.  However, there were several stand-out performances that should get some notice by the NFL.  Here are my risers and fallers:

RISERS

  • Freddie Barnes, WR - Barnes showed his route running is immaculate and he's as sure-handed as they come.  Despite a lack of respect from the various Draft websites, Barnes is one of the top-tier receivers in the draft.  there's a reason this guy caught 155 passes in 2009.
  • Kion Wilson, LB - Wilson hasn't been mentioned anywhere in the linebacker conversation, but like another South Florida linebacker a year ago (Tyrone McKenzie), the guy just gets downhill in a hurry and makes plays.  His size will hurt him, but he made the first 3 tackles of the game and showed he can play MLB.
  • Mike Kafka, QB - I'd never seen this kid play before Saturday, and he was the only QB in the game who didn't look overwhelmed at times.  Romeo Crennel rotated the QBs twice, so no one had a great chance to get in a rhythm, but he definitely took advantage and learned from his 1st set of reps.  
  • Lindsey Witten, DE - This UConn defender was constantly in the backfield and showed that a 6'4", 250lb player can stay on the D-line.  He made a wise choice not to switch to OLB like O'Brien Schofield did.
  • Andrew Quarless, TE - He didn't get quite the opportunities and exposure as the West's tight-ends, but what Quarless did do was flex his muscles and show that he was the physical specimen of the game.  He and Darryl Clark must be absolute gym freaks up at Penn State.  And of course, showing your red zone prowess and composure is ultimately what he was there to do, and he did.

  • Jamar Wall, CB - Wall looked cocky after every play, but he was making those plays, so he can talk.  He just entered the conversation.  I think I had him rated about 15th position-wise, but he showed even at 5'10" he can be disruptive and may have crept up to about 12th
  • Van Eskridge, FS - Another player who was not really on my radar before the game.  Watch the highlights and see the way he plays 'center-fielder' for the INT.  He made a couple of good plays after that one as well.
  • Rahim Alem, DE - Alem showed real corner-turning speed and ability in getting to the QB.  Fortunately for him the scouts will be watching official game tape instead of the TV presentation, as Alem made at least two big plays while the commentators were talking about Brian Griese's  illustrious career or the fact that there was nice weather in Orlando, FL.
  • Kam Chancellor, FS - the knock on Chancellor was that he was too big to play safety.  He proved he can play safety, can cover, and, excuse my language, can knock the shit out of people.  He reminded me of why I liked him so much in 2008 with two bone-cracking hits and a redzone leaping deflection that forced a 4th down.
  • Blair White, WR - There's a load of college WRs that get labeled as 'slot' receivers the second they enter the draft.  White showed he could line up outside, work the sidelines, and well as get underneath in zone coverage.  He led all receivers and backs with yards from scrimmage
  • Torrell Troup, DT - Troup's name didn't get called a lot, but he absolutely destroyed any chance of the West running the ball up the middle.  On one play he just burst up the middle in about a millionth of a second to get to the running back in the backfield right at the moment of the handoff.  It's fair to say he was one of the main reasons the East's defensive ends look so good throughout the game.  
FALLERS
  • All of the running backs.  They just couldn't get any running games going in this one.  I think QB scrambles accounted for 90% of the rushing totals.  Andre Dixon, Chris Brown and Javarris James were the only recognizable names, but they didn't impress.  James suffered from having Clark as the QB, who failed to connect with James on two screen passes.
  • The QBs not named Mike Kafka.  Other than a little glimmer of hope from Max Hall on his final drive, his favoring his college tight end, Pitta, showed that he was afraid to go elsewhere with the ball.  Clark showed his inaccuracy, at one point missing an open Freddie Barnes on the goal line, resulting in a near INT instead of a sure TD.  Todd Reesing played horribly (though he was the top rusher in the game) and came into the game weighing 188 lbs.  His chances of a pro-career are just about shot.
  • Joe Pawelek, LB - My 6th ranked LB failed to impress.  With both the East and West defensive lines owning most of the game, it was surprising to not see more big plays from linebackers.
You may have noticed I didn't put Dennis Pitta in my 'Risers' section despite him having probably the best game of any offensive player.  Well the reason for that was I already had him ranked as the 4th best TE in the draft.  I feel he played as well as that and thus doesn't drop or rise on my board.

Next up is the Senior Bowl which includes 3 dozen players from my Top Ten lists.  One of them, Alabama's Terrence Cody, has just weighed in at 370 lbs, thus has already made my 'Fallers' list before the week even gets going.

Friday, January 22, 2010

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - DEFENSIVE END

Well, despite being out sick this week, and being under deluge of winter storms, I actually have here the final Top Ten list posted before the deadline I set for myself which was the end of the day on Friday.

That's because, you see, tomorrow is the first All-Star game, and of the 109 prospects I've listed in the past two weeks, a whopping 13 of them will be playing in the East-West Shrine game on the 23rd. Of the remaining 96, a whopping 30 are confirmed to play in the Senior Bowl on the 30th.  A surprise attendee of the Senior Bowl is Myron Rolle, the 2009 graduate of Florida State who chose to accept a Rhodes scholarship and put off the Draft for a year.

So enjoy the final list, keeping in mind that in a 3-4 defense there is always some crossover between DE, DT, and OLB and it's too early to guarantee where any of these players will line up in the NFL.


2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

It wouldn't surprise me if the Dolphins did not make an attempt at picking up a big name OLB this offseason.  They got another camp body in Brian Johnston, and they have a stable of young players in Wake, Walden, Moses, and Anderson.  They may choose to keep both Porter and Taylor as well.  Another camp body or two and we'd have a full menu.  But it all depends on what Coach Sparano and Mike Nolan come up with as their initial proposal to a defensive scheme.  This would give Jeff Ireland a sense of direction in which players to keep and/or pursue.

In any event, the Coaches are likely to be tempted by what they see at the Senior Bowl next week as well.  I also feel that the addition of a dynamic inside linebacker and a few tweaks to blitz schemes would greatly decrease the need to get another top-price pass-rusher this year.


While I welcome the addition of any of the players on the list below, I really do feel that we already have a future Pro-Bowl talent at pass rusher in Cameron Wake.  In a way I suppose I'm saying I'd rather draft a run-stopper than a pass-rusher in this category, though it would be nice to have someone who can do both.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - OFFENSIVE LINE

I'll be the first to admit that offensive line is something that I pay attention to, but never really enjoy thinking about.  I'm not into high-priced free agents, or top draft picks.  I just want some 300-plus pound men to stand in a line and block somebody.  I don't care if they make $10 mil a year or $400k.  Just block your guy.  But for the sake of a Top Ten listing, here goes:



2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - CORNERBACK

While I see no need to draft a cornerback in the first day, I wouldn't be against the Dolphins picking up another body during the draft in addition to one in free agency.  We really didn't have enough competition there last year, which led to Sean Smith being named the starter early on.  He got beat a lot last year, and failed to intercept a single pass.  Vontae Davis, on the other hand, after a shaky start, seemed to get better as the season went on.  Eric Green was a bust, Will Allen missed most of the season to major injury (he wasn't playing well before the injury, either), Jason Allen is considered just a special teams specialist, and Nate Jones simply gets burnt time after time.  We seriously need to fine tune the entire secondary - it's not as simple as just plugging in new players - but it all starts with competition in camp, and thus we need more bodies.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - QUARTERBACK

I think Henne will start.  I think Thigpen will be 2nd.  I don't know what will happen to Pat White.  Either he will be seen as a waste and let go, or they will figure out a better way to use him.  In case the Dolphins need to pick up another QB in 2010, here is my Top 10 list.  

I didn't put draft projections on this list because QB is a very  subjective position.  I would never have put Mark Sanchez as top 5 pick, or Pat White on the first day in 2009, for example.  I also don't understand how Todd Reesing (see below) could be listed as 32nd best QB in 2010's draft. So while I'm sure some team will draft Colt McCoy in the first 40 picks, I wouldn't grade him higher than mid round 3.  But like I said, it's all subjective.





FYI - if you'd like to be able to see all the top ten lists, just type 'top 10' into the search box, or use the navigation option at the right hand side to browse thru the posts in chronological order.

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - RUNNING BACK

Miami's future at running back is very uncertain right now.  We could go into free agency/draft preparations needing to pick up 2 or 3 backs.  We may end up not needing to pick up any.

Here is my list of backs that could be on the Dolphins' radar.


Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - TIGHT ENDS

I'm not convinced that Miami needs to draft a TE at all, but if they do, they should consider the following 10.


Why not 'Sunny D' Stadium?

This latest news at first gave me a queasy feeling, then I realized, hey it's better than 'Land Shark', but then I realized it's a financial institution and got queasy again.


Dolphins home gets another new name
Posted by Mike Florio on January 18, 2010 11:44 AM ET

As the Miami Dolphins prepare to host yet another Super Bowl, the venue is getting yet another new name.

Terry Lefton of SportsBusiness Daily reports that the team will announce on Wednesday that Sun Life Financial has purchased the naming rights to the stadium previously known as Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, and Land Shark Stadium.

The five-year deal will pay out roughly $7.5 million per year.

The prior arrangement with Land Shark Lager was due to expire before the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl; thus, the name of the place where the two prime postseason games will be played immediately will become Sun Life Stadium.

Hey Florio, the Dolphins are not the ones hosting the Superbowl....what do you think is happening - is Channing Crowder going to passing out ouer d'ouvres and Henne will be taking coats at the door?

The stadium and the community are hosting it, not the pro-team that plays there.  Or are the Hurricanes and Marlins also hosting it?

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - SAFETY

For the purposes of the Dolphins, I have focused almost exclusively on Free Safeties below as I feel between Yeremiah Bell, Tyrone Culver and Gibril Wilson, we're quite stacked at the Strong Safety position (and yes, the Dolphins really have no choice but to move Wilson to Strong Safety - perhaps working Culver exclusively at free in the offseason).

The Trifecta seems to like safeties in the 6', 200 lbs range but that doesn't mean they won't choose someone bigger if they move just as well in space and have speed and sound tackling because there's quite a few big boys in this year's draft.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - DEFENSIVE TACKLE

The Dolphins will be naming a new Defensive Coordinator soon, and whomever it is, he's going to inherit a Defense that has lots of questions to be answered regarding personnel.  Some are getting long in the tooth, some are facing free agency, and some just don't exist and need to be found and plugged in to the framework set by the first two years of Trifecta management.

Below is a preliminary ranking/sample of Defensive Tackles in the upcoming draft.  I've actually had to redo this at the last minute after some players decided (at the last minute) to stay in school.  I didn't want a repeat of the Greg Jones incident.  As far as I'm aware, all of the guys on the list will be entering the draft.  The deadline for announcing is actually tomorrow, and I was going to post this then but it could be a busy day in Dolphins news tomorrow so I moved up the publishing date.

Once the dust settles, I will post the Top Ten Safeties and the Top Ten Tight Ends.  The rest of the positions will follow with a goal of having them all posted by the 23rd when I will do an East-West Shrine Game intro with a recap of all the 'Top Ten' players that are set to play in the game.  The following week is the Senior Bowl practices and I will recap the players in that game (30th) as well.  

This will all culminate what I'm calling 'Mock Week' by which we'll know the full draft order, and thus we'll all begin piecing together our preliminary mocks.  Once we have an idea how the draft may go, and teams have had a chance to start applying tags and resigning players, we can start to focus on Free Agency, which starts on February 27th.

So for now, the Defensive Tackles:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - INSIDE LINEBACKER

Well the first Tin's Fins Poll of 2010 just wrapped up and as I expected, Rolando McClain of Alabama took 1st place when the question asked was who should the Dolphins choose with their 1st round draft pick this year.  He took about half the vote despite there being 6 solid choices.  Terrence Cody (NT) came in 2nd, with Dez Bryant (WR) in third but McClain had more votes than both of them combined.

So clearly the people have spoken, and clearly they want an inside line-backer in the first round, and clearly the one they want is McClain.  For the record, Brandon Spikes of Florida came in a respectable 4th.

Below is my latest Top 10 List of Inside Linebackers available in the 2010 draft.  It's not a hugely impressionable list, so it might be the wisest move to use that 12th pick rather than wait.  


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tin Bits - Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Check back throughout the day as I update frequently. (new 'bits' appear at bottom of page).

  • Ricky Williams talks about his 2004 retirement here
  •  Al Groh talks about his future here.
  • With Pasqualoni, George Edwards, and Jim Reid gone from the Dolphins defense, a new coordinator will likely be named immediately (as in the next 48 hours).  They have contacted former Giants DC Bill Sheridan but it is believed by the Miami Herald to be interviewing for the linebacker coach position.  Personally, I don't think that makes much sense - surely they would hire a coordinator first, and that new DC would have some say as to who his assistants were.  
  •  There are those of you who want defensive back coach, Todd Bowles, to join Pasqualoni in the unemployment office, but keep in mind that Bowles was interviewed TWICE last year for Head Coach vacancies, and came in second in the race for the prize of the Detroit Lions.  He is also the Assistant Head Coach of the Dolphins, meaning he's Sparano's right hand man, and probably his most trusted member of the defensive coaching staff.  And he has been praised by the Dolphins players for two years for his coaching style.  I know he's a lot more upbeat/confident than Pass The Baloney ever was, and his energy could be contagious.  He may not be a fan favorite because of the Dolphins' secondary issues, but he clearly has the best 'inside' shot at the D.C. job, and making him Coordinator would mean a new secondary coach would have to be brought in.  Also, players tend to be happier when someone is promoted from within because they don't like a lot of big changes.
  • The Dolphins also said farewell to senior vice president, Bryan Wiedmeier, who spent 29 seasons with the team.  Wiedmeier decided to become the Browns' executive vice president of business operations.  Weidmeier is probably the man most responsible for the Dolphins' community presence, as a frequent organizer of charity events, youth camps, etc.  He joins the new operations team with the Browns, a team we will face in 2010.
  • The Dolphins have signed a new offensive lineman. G Dimitri Tsoumpas is another player the Dolphins have found in Canada.  The 6'4", 310 lb right guard for the Calgary Stampeders  played college ball at Weber State with fellow Dolphin, linebacker JD Folsom. The Dolphins currently have 70 players on the roster.

Monday, January 11, 2010

D-D-D-DONE!


The Dolphins have finally come to their senses and fired Defensive Coordinator, Paul Pasqualoni.  

Pasqualoni (frequently referred to a 'Pass the Baloney' on this site) will now have to fry his eggs elsewhere.  While there have been rumours that the Dolphins are interested in Romeo Crennel as a replacement, Crennel is reportedly joining the Kansas City Chiefs.  With Al Groh reportedly joining Georgia Tech, and Crennel's contract perhaps not yet signed, it's possible the Dolphins will swoop in to steal one of these guys before the end of the day.  A signing would have to be immediate to snatch one of the big names before they sign elsewhere, so stay tuned...

...in a related note, the Dolphins coaching staff are scheduled to coach the Senior Bowl, and at the moment, they only have two defensive coaches left - Todd Bowles (DBs) and Kacy Rodgers (DL) Both Bowles and Rodgers have outside chances of promotion.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 Draft – Tinshaker’s Top 10 by Position Projections - WIDE RECEIVER

Below is my current ranking of WRs in the 2010 NFL Draft.  I know a lot of you will disagree heavily with it, but keep in mind, I will not change my opinion just because you say I'm wrong (that said, you are welcome to tell me that I am wrong).  The most important thing to understand is that in all my lists I am basing opinions on who I think presents the best NFL projection, not who had the best college career or the most interviews on ESPN.  There is also the influence of the Dolphins' needs at the position taken into account.  And, as with any draft projections/opinions, they are likely to be altered considerably by the time the Draft actually happens in April.




Tin Bits - Thursday, 1/7/2010

I'm having some technical difficulties getting my Wide Receiver Top Ten List up the way I want it, so I thought I'd share some of the news I've found interesting today in the meantime.

  • The agent for Josh Cribbs told NFL.com late Wednesday that his client will formally request a trade from the Browns.  The Browns, under Mike Holmgren even, are offering Cribbs a raise to just $1.4M a year. Another of Cribbs' player reps hinted at a trade demand earlier today. Agent J.R. Rickert confirmed it. "We’re going to formally put in a request for a trade," Rickert said. "(Cribbs) will not set foot in that facility again. If they had offered even something like $2.5 million per season we could have worked with them, but to me this offer is indefensible."
  • South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul will forgo his final season with the Bulls and enter the NFL Draft. JPP only played one year at USF after transferring from JUCO, but paced Jim Leavitt's annually stout defense with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss, and forced a pair of fumbles.  Despite his lack of NCAA experience, Pierre-Paul is considered by many scouts to be one of, if not the best physical specimen in the draft at 6'6", 265 lbs and has been rated as high as #12 at several Draft websites.  Personally I feel that rating is actually based on how people think he will perform at the Combine.  As a USF fan, I can tell you that JPP got better as the season went on, but I'm still wary of the one-year wonder tag.


  • The Dolphins signed TE John Nalbone to a two-year futures contract.  Nalbone spent most of the season on the practice squad. With Anthony Fasano's status with the team uncertain, Nalbone could have an impact on the active roster in 2010. The Dolphins also signed S Nate Ness, WR Julius Pruitt, WR Taurus Johnson, OG Ray Feinga and RB Tristan Davis to two-year futures contracts. The signing of FB Rolly Lumbala and WR Ryan Grice-Mullen yesterday essentially adds up to all 8 practice squad spots being retained for the 2010 off-season.  The Dolphins currently have 69 players on the team with  7 on injured reserve.  TE Joey Haynos, K Dan Carpenter and WR Davone Bess are all scheduled to be ERFAs (Exclusive Rights Free Agents) this year.  QB Chad Pennington, CB Nate Jones, NT Jason Ferguson, and OLB Jason Taylor will all find their contracts coming to an end in February.  RB Ronnie Brown has an option year in his contract which will kick in if the NFL agrees to a new CBA - however, that would happen AFTER the actual 'Free Agency Sweepstakes', thus making it likely he'd miss out on a big contract anyway.  TE Anthony Fasano is also due to become an unrestricted free agent, but a lack of a new CBA will revert him to restricted status.
  • The Dolphins added WR Ryan Grice-Mullen to their squad this week.  Grice-Mullen is the 2nd former BC Lions (CFL) player to be signed this week, and third in the span of a year.  He was also a team-mate of Davone Bess at Hawaii and also got signed into the NFL as an undrafted rookie in 2008 after forgoing his senior year.  He did not stick on any rosters though and spent two seasons in the CFL, including his rookie campaign being Cameron Wake's final season there.  The same can be said about new FB Rolly LumbalaIn late November, Grice-Mullen set the CFL record for longest playoff punt return when he returned a punt for 106 yards in the second half for a touchdown.  At 5'11", 185 lbs, Grice-Mullen comes into Miami as a return specialist and with the dreads it will be hard to tell him apart from Davone Bess at times in practice (Bess is #7, Grice Mullens #1 in photo).  He is significantly faster than Bess, however.  He was timed between 4.27 and 4.38 during his 2008  pro-day workouts after posting a more conservative 4.46 at the NFL Combine.



  •  The Dolphins also signed DE/OLB Brian Johnston, a free agent most recently with the KC Chiefs.
  • The South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee unveiled plans to upgrade Dolphin Stadium in order to compete for future big events, including the Super Bowl. Click HERE to see the images.  Personally, I think the image showing young waifish ladies walking down the spiral exits whilst texting is extremely irresponsible on their part!  
    • It's official!  The first staff loss/change of the way is under way.  Dolphins Outside Linebacker Coach, Jim Reid has officially been announced as the Defensive Coordinator for the Virginia Cavaliers. This article explains Reid's motivation in leaving the Dolphins.
    • Word just in that INSIDE linebacker coach, George Edwards, has also left the team to become the Defensive Coordinator for the University of Florida.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Breaking News! Dolphins sign a Fullback.

    B.C. Lions lose Rolly Lumbala to Miami Dolphins

    Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 | 12:40 pm
    Canwest News Service

    VANCOUVER - Rolly Lumbala is hoping his second go-round with the Miami Dolphins is finally a charm.

    The second-year B.C. Lions fullback decided to sign a two-year contract with Miami following a workout Tuesday in Pittsburgh, his second with a National Football League team in the span of a month.

    Lumbala said the offers from the Dolphins and Steelers were essentially the same, but he chose Miami after concluding that the Dolphins were a better fit. It will be his second try at making the 'Phins. Lumbala signed with Miami in 2008 after the NFL draft but was released soon after following a three-day mini- camp. He then signed with the Lions, who selected him ninth overall in the 2008 CFL college draft from the University of Idaho.

    The African-born, Calgary-raised running back spent two seasons with the Lions as a blocking back and special teams player.

    "I grew up watching the CFL and loving the CFL," Lumbala said. "But I just couldn't pass up this opportunity. I'm still young [he turns 24 on Jan. 30] and I would kick myself if I didn't take the chance. It's really just a beginning. I haven't accomplished anything yet. It's just the first step in trying to make the team."

    Lumbala worked out with the Dolphins just before Christmas on a tryout arranged by his agent, Ty Barnes. The option-year signing period for CFL players began on Monday and goes until Feb. 15.
    While he didn't receive the offer of a signing bonus from either the Steelers or Dolphins, Lumbala said he was encouraged by the example of former Lions teammate Stefan Logan. The pair met up Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Like Lumbala, Logan didn't get a signing bonus from Steelers. But he made the team following an eye-opening 2009 pre-season campaign and finished his first season as the NFL's No. 3 leader in kickoff return yardage, setting a Pittsburgh single-season record in the process.
    "Stefan went out and competed and look what happened," Lumbala said. "You can get all the signing bonus you want, but you still have to make the team."

    Lumbala hasn't had the opportunity yet to break the news to Lions head coach and GM Wally Buono or assistant Neil McEvoy, both of whom are on vacation.

    mbeamish@vancouversun.com

    2010 Draft Order As Of Now, and Why 2010 Free Agency Is A Bust

    By now, unless you've been living under a rock, or just generally don't read the news or listen when people talk, you know that there is no CBA agreement in place for the 2010 fiscal year.  What does that mean?
    • If no new agreement is reached by spring of 2010, the rules of free agency change. The salary cap vanishes, allowing teams to spend as much or as little as they please. The top eight teams face several restrictions in pursuing players, and players would need six years of credited service, instead of the current four, to be unrestricted free agents.
    Yes, that's right - every player who was scheduled to enter their 5th season and become an unrestricted free agent this year (including Ronnie Brown, Anthony Fasano, and key FA-hopeful, Vincent Jackson, the Chargers WR) as of now, would have to accumulate 6 total years of NFL service to qualify.  It's important to note that this would actually work in favor of the 'elite' teams out there because they wouldn't lose any of their young talented 5th year players, and they could keep them at a reduced rate of pay.  Obviously, that doesn't work in the favor of the players themselves, and their has been talk of a strike/walkout for months now.  Of course, the NFL is the most successful franchise in American sports, so if such a thing were to go down, they would bring in Bill Clinton to intervene and make sure we didn't miss any football in 2010.  I know that sounds like a joke, but I bet they would.

    What this all ultimately means, is that with an uncapped year, a top pick rookie, say like Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska is likely to be in April, could walk away with the largest contract on NFL history because: a) there will be very few high-priced free agents out there so teams will have the cash, b)  A team could pay Suh (for example) a massively front-loaded contract, thus protecting against any future cap restrictions, and c) the effects of a) and b) combined will drive the contract price of all rookies upwards dramatically.  

    There is a minimum limit on rookie wage scale, but there is no maximum.  So Jake Long's salary could look like chump change after this year.  OR teams could decide that since they're not required to spend over a certain amount, that they could actually put a kibosh on spending altogether.  One thing they cannot do is just cut high-priced players with no repercussion.  Any players released in an uncapped year, would immediately have their remaining bonuses hit the 2009 salary cap.  We saw this happen last summer with the Dolphins release of Ernest Wilford.  That transaction was most of the reason why we came so close to our salary cap limit (unsubstantiated reports had us as close as $1 million under).

    So, while there will be some quality older players, and the opportunity to bid on 'tagged' players and restricted free agents, the waters will be relatively thin for young, NFL-proven talent unless a new CBA agreement is reached.  According to some of the articles I've read, the chances of such an agreement happening are between slim and none. 

    This is why the 2010 draft will be like no other.  I expect it to be absolutely cut-throat and there to be more Draft-day trades than ever before.  Below is the current top 20 draft order.  The final 12 are to be decided by playoff loss order.

    1. St. Louis (1-15)
    2. Detroit (2-14)
    3. Tampa Bay (3-13)
    4. Washington (4-12)
    5. Kansas City (4-12)
    6. Seattle (5-11)
    7. Cleveland (5-11)
    8. Oakland (5-11)
    9. Buffalo (6-10)
    10t. Denver (Traded from Chicago) (7-9)
    10t. Jacksonville (7-9)
    12. Miami (7-9)
    13. San Francisco (8-8)
    14. Seattle (Traded from Denver) (8-8)
    15. New York Giants (8-8)
    16t. Tennessee (8-8)
    16t. San Francisco (Traded from Carolina) (8-8)
    18. Pittsburgh (9-7)
    19t. Atlanta (9-7)
    19t. Houston (9-7) 
    >

    Miami is sitting pretty with the 12th pick, with strong trading partners in Kansas City sitting with the 5th pick.  NFL Draft Scout currently lists Clemson OLB/DE Ricky Sapp listed as the 12th best talent in the draft.  That will change if Alabama ILB, Rolando McClain declares for the draft (which he will probably do if he wins the National Championship on Thursday (which he probably will do).  McClain and Florida MLB Brandon Spikes are the clear logical targets at #12 for Miami.  Obviously McClain would be first choice considering he already plays in a 3-4.

    Stay tuned for more information on free agency and the draft.

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Let's Talk About Draft, Baby!

    Sure, free agency will rear its ugly head first, but there's some things we should all know before then, and that is, which areas can be left until the draft to address.  Ideally, you'd like to go into the draft with little or no needs at all so you can just draft the best players available on the board.  But with the lack of a CBA agreement forcing 5th year players into 'restriction', the free agency period could look rather anemic.  Teams aren't going to want to dole out any draft picks in exchange for restricted free agents, not unless it's someone really good or at a position of weakness in the draft.

    I can tell you now that there are a couple of weak areas in the 2010 draft - unfortunately, Inside Linebacker is one of them.  Tight End is another.  These are areas that the Dolphins will want to address in free agency or trade before the draft arrives.  I'm not saying Rolando McClain shouldn't be targeted, but he may have been claimed when we choose, and then what?  So it's in the Dolphins best interest to at least get one of each during the FA signing period.

    Areas of particular strength in this year's draft include Wide Receiver, Quarterback, Offensive Line, Defensive End/Outside Line Backer, Cornerback, Safety, and of course, Kicker.  It gets a bit murky with the always difficult to diagnose area of Nose Tackle, but there are more options here than there were in 2009's draft if not more talent.  For the record, the NT I graded as best in 2009's draft, Terrance Knighton, was selected 72nd by Jacksonville, finished his rookie campaign with 16 starts, 45 tackles, and 1.5 sacks, and finished the year by being voted as team captain on defense.

    Below is my very first 2010 draft ranking.  Keep in mind this is NOT a mock draft, but just a list of the 32 top players available.   And keep in mind this was made before any Bowl games, and thus is likely to be a little out of date/order.  But it is my initial opinion to get things started.

    I will soon begin releasing my 2010 Draft Top Ten lists, which breaks down the players at each position (WR, ILB, DT, etc) that I consider to be the best picks in the draft.  I can tell you I've already gotten into a heated debate or two over the first one I did and showed around.  Mel Kiper I ain't.

    So prepare to heartily disagree with my opinions, to share your own, which I will disagree with equally as harshly, and to see a side of the off-season you won't find on any of those commercial sites.  Are you ready?




    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Tin Bits - First of the New Year! 1/05/09

    Below are the latest stories from the Miami Herald and The South Florida Sun-Sentinel with additional notes from the folks at Rotoworld who clearly have the best weed...

    • Ronnie Brown (Lisfranc surgery) confirmed Monday that he will not opt out of his contract this offseason.
      Brown is locked in through 2010 with a $5 million salary, barring an unexpected CBA deal. He says getting a contract extension would be "ideal," but the Fins won't go that far with Brown coming off such a serious injury.
    • Impending free agent Anthony Fasano says he's been given no indication that the Dolphins want him back in 2010.  Fasano struggled badly this season, even before he was sidetracked by a hip injury in November. Miami will add tight end to its list of offseason priorities, which includes No. 1 receiver, nose tackle, inside linebacker, and free safety.
    • Davone Bess' team-leading 76 receptions are the fourth most in franchise history.
      Bess is a pre-eminent slot receiver, but his lack of touchdowns makes him a fantasy asset strictly in PPR leagues. While the Dolphins will look to bring in a playmaking No. 1 receiver, Bess' job in the slot is safe for 2010.
       
    • Dolphins FS Gibril Wilson was replaced by Chris Clemons in nickel and dimes situations for Sunday's season finale.
      Clemons struggled mightily, getting burned for two touchdowns and shying from contact on a Rashard Mendenhall tackle. It's the second time this season that Wilson has been benched, and Clemons isn't the answer. Miami will have to address the position this offseason, with Wilson likely on the outs.
    • The Dolphins are expected to make nose tackle a priority this offseason.
      Impending free agent Jason Ferguson (torn quadriceps) is 35, but wants to re-sign for 2010. The Fins' run defense slipped from No. 7 to No. 14 with Ferguson out of the lineup in the last six weeks. Ferguson may return, but Miami needs to target a long-term solution at the position in the early rounds of the draft. Alabama's Terrence Cody would be an ideal pick.
    • Dolphins RT Vernon Carey is scheduled to undergo surgery on his right knee.
      The Dolphins have not detailed the severity, but it's likely just a routine scope. Though Carey merited Pro Bowl consideration this season, his play had slipped of late with the nagging knee and back injuries.

    • Impending free agent Jason Taylor remains undecided about his plans for 2010.
      Taylor signed a one-year deal for $800,000 plus incentives before the season. The 35-year-old outperformed the deal as the Dolphins' best linebacker, so the team may have to up the ante to bring him back.


    Ok, obviously these guys look only at stats and not at actual games. 

    To say Vernon Carey merited Pro-Bowl consideration is like saying Rachel Ray is a top chef.  

    And did Jason Taylor outperform his deal? We don't know what his incentive bonuses were, so how could we know if he outperformed it? 

    Bess is a pre-eminent receiver? Someone needs a dictionary.  Yes, Bess managed to put up the 4th most receptions in a season for the Dolphins, but they don't have a history of huge seasons by individual receivers.  He also had 6 fumbles, and despite mysteriously not being included in the NFL stats for dropped passes, I counted 10 on the season, which was one more than Ted Ginn Jr is reported to have had.

    • Coach Sparano, when asked if Chad Henne was the definite starter heading into 2010, said he'd "need to look at the whole body of work" which to me suggests that they intend on bringing back Chad Pennington to compete next year.  
    • He also said he 'hadn't decided anything yet' on whether or not the whole coaching staff would be  back in 2010, which to me suggests that they won't be.  Or at least that he's thinking of letting someone go.
    • The entire Buffalo Bills coaching staff has been told to look for work elsewhere.  They choose 9th in the 2010 draft, and recently hired an 80 year old GM who has no GM experience (honestly, if it takes you that long to get to be the boss, perhaps retirement is a better option).  It's pretty much guaranteed that the 9th pick will either be a QB or an OT two areas we won't be targetting in the 1st round, so that's one in our favor when we choose 12th.
    • Either today or tomorrow, we will find out which practice squadders will be kept on to stay with the team through the off-season program as the Dolphins will sign worthy candidates to 'Future' contracts.  It's essentially just a formality so they can use the facilities/hold on to the playbook/etc.  Last year they signed the entire squad initially, but there is only one 2008 practice squadder left on the current team - Lex Hilliard.