Monday, September 27, 2010

The Day After: Homecoming Deflated

The Bad news - The Dolphins lost to the Jets.

The Good news - The Dolphins have a winning record after 3 weeks and can still head into the BYE week in 1st place in the AFC East.

The also good news - the game wasn't quite as physical as I expected and it seems the Dolphins came out of it without any serious injury meaning they will be almost fully healed in week 4's matchup versus the Patriots.  The return of Channing Crowder is expected, shoring up probably the weakest spot on the field right now, the spot next to Karlos Dansby which sticks out like a sore thumb since Dansby has been the strongest spot on the field all season so far.

The surprising news - The Dolphins coaching staff STILL can't see what is working on the field, ie, running the ball traditionally up the middle, and use it to the effectiveness of other NFL teams such as Minnesota, Houston, etc.  I honestly feel bad for Ronnie Brown sometimes.  If he had been drafted by someone else his career could've been quite different.  Instead his prime years are being wasted.  

The more surprising news - The Dolphins CAN throw the ball, and its WRs can catch the ball, and get YAC.  They definitely threw too much, and should've ran the ball another 10 plays at least, but when they had to throw they looked above average and were able to move the ball.

The still Bad news:  We lost to the Jets.

The consolatory news:  Most of you haven't read this far and have gone off to burn something, so the healing process has already begun.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

LIVE: Jets vs Dolphins - Week 3

Dolphins inactives: WR Marlon Moore, QB Tyler Thigpen, ILB Channing Crowder, OLB Ikaika Alama-Francis, OG John Jerry, DE Jared Odrick, OT Patrick Brown, and TE Mickey Shuler.

Jets inactives: CB Darelle Revis, RB Joe McKnight, LB Kenwin Cummings, OT Wayne Hunter,  TE Jeff Cumberland, DE Marcus Dixon, LB Calvin Pace, and QB Kellen Clemens.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

GAME PREVIEW: Jets vs Dolphins

Here we are, a day before the 2010 Home Opener for the Dolphins, and it doesn't get much bigger than this one so early in the season.  

Firstly, it's the Jets.  We hate them - END OF STORY.
Secondly, it will mark the first time Jason Taylor plays against the Dolphins.  We hate him - END OF STORY.

Finally, a win puts the Dolphins in the pole position to take the AFC East.  Another strong showing by the Dolphins Defense should rattle the growing confidence of Mark Sanchez, the Jet's cocky wunder-child.  Word is local betting odds include the chances of Sanchez eating a Cuban Pork Sandwich on the sidelines during the 2nd quarter.

Obviously it would be nice for the Dolphins to win both games before the Bye week, but a more realistic split would still put them in good shape for the week off, and a chance to come back healthy (with Channing Crowder) and more in sync (consider the kick return game and Tight end rotation as things that need to be worked out) against Green Bay on October 17th.  This would also be the right time to unveil a few surprises against that mean Packer defense.

But back to the Jets.  There's not a lot to say here.  Most Dolphin fans know just about all there is to know about the Jets.  They're scumbags, and it's contagious.  Now Beard...I mean Braylon Edwards will sit out at least the first series after getting a DUI this week.  New York Islander, Darelle Revis, will miss the entire game with an injury that looked fake at the time (he did after all get burned on the play, then grabbed his leg after the play was well over) but must have been real for him to skip a game...I mean, he's not one to skip any football or team duties, is he?

For the Dolphins, we'll get a look at a new Tight End or two.  I don't think it worth mentioning their names as they may be cut before the game is over.  I really think the Dolphins screwed up at the position the day they cut Kory Sperry, then again they cut Joey Haynos, then again when they cut David Martin.  Now they've cut John Nalbone.  At the end of the year, Anthony Fasano will be a free agent.  Tight end in the first round in 2011?  The new guys are worth keeping an eye on in this game.

I really can't see the Dolphins continuing to struggle offensively.  This is the 3rd game, and it's about time things start to click.  One thing we've always been able to do versus the Jets is run the ball and with Kris Jenkins out, the Dolphins should run the ball 50 times up the middle.  If you have Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in your fantasy league, start them.  I also expect Brandon Marshall to just about rape and pillage the Jets secondary, especially Antonio Cromartie, who couldn't tackle a crossword puzzle.

Both defenses should show lots of blitzes and QB pressure.  Miami will give up passes underneath while the Jets will be vulnerable deep.  The difference will be the running game, penalties, and turnovers.  

My Prediction:   MIA 28  Jets 17

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Day After: Minnesota

The Dolphins are two and O,
The Dolphins are two and O,
Hi-ho, the merry oh,
The Dolphins are two and O!

Yes, it's true.  The Miami Dolphins are atop the AFC East and are currently the only undefeated division team.  2-0 overall, 1-0 in the division.  Again I reiterate that yes while it is very early and these early records are often not indicative of how the season will pan out, the Dolphins have not been 2-0 for a long time, so let's take a week to enjoy it for what it is.

As some of you noted yesterday, Jason Allen showed why I've been touting him to get on the field for the last 3 years.  But it seems the media will continue their unfounded vendetta against him as in this piece from Rotoworld:  "Dolphins CB Jason Allen recorded seven tackles and picked off two Brett Favre passes in the Dolphins Week 2 victory at Minnesota.
Allen was assigned to cover Bernard Berrian, and held the wideout to 2 catches for 24 yards. Although he won the right cornerback job out of training camp, the former Volunteer doesn't possess the overall talent to have many more games like this."

Sure, they will say the same thing after Chad Henne's first 300 yard game this season, because they are negative and are incapable of disagreeing with each other, taking anything a beat reporter or editor says as fact/truth.  

The reality is that the only facts in the NFL are in the box scores and the only truth is in the win/loss column.

The facts are that the Dolphins did enough to win, creating four turnovers, 3 sacks, a defensive touchdown, and 3 goal line stands (I consider that a 'Hat Trick' for the defense). 

The truth is the Dolphins are 2-0 and in control of their own destiny right now.  A win against the Jets next week would put them in the driver's seat to win the division with a 3-0 (2-0 div) record.  The week after they play the Patriots, who barring a miracle from Buffalo, will be 2-1 (1-1 div).  The worst that can happen if we lose to them would be a tie for 1st place heading into the bye week.

So for now let's feel good about the facts and this truth.  Jason Allen has played very well in the last two games, as has Vontae Davis.  These two look much better early in the season than any Dolphins CB combo looked all of last season.  That is something to be praised, not cast aside as a fluke.  The two starting cornerbacks get my game ball for yesterday's performance.  There's no reason to expect them to get worse as time goes on.  There is no logic in that, just spite.  

If only they would let Dolphin fans cover the team instead of Jets and Patriots fans...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

LIVE: Dolphins vs Vikings - Week 2

Dolphins inactives: LB Channing Crowder, QB Chad Pennington, DL Ikaika Alama-Francis, WR Roberto Wallace, DB Nolan Carroll, OL Lydon Murtha, OL Jermey Parnell and DL Jared Odrick
Vikings inactives: RB Albert Young, CB Cedric Griffin, CB Chris Cook, DT Jimmy Kennedy, QB Joe Webb, OL Chris DeGeare, TE Mickey Shuler and DL Everson Griffen

Saturday, September 18, 2010

GAME PREVIEW: Dolphins vs. Vikings

Sorry for the delay folks, truth is, I wanted to wait til the end of the week for an update since the Dolphins roster still isn't set and it's hard to gauge what will happen on Sunday without knowing who will play.

As flat as the Dolphins offense was last week versus Buffalo, the Minnesota Vikings actually looked worse.  In fact, if it wasn't for Visanthe Shiancoe, the Vikings' tight-end, they might have come away with zero positives after their matchup with New Orleans.  But they've had ten days since that last game to prepare for this one.  They know they have a legit middle of the field target in Shiancoe.  They know they have one of the best work-horse running backs in the league in Adrian Peterson.  And they figured out that they need to utilize Percy Harvin more in the regular offensive gameplan (something they didn't do last week to help me in my Fantasy Football League).
The Primitive Weapon/Neanderthal/Mississippi Jeans Commercial will have had more time to work with his receivers.  Greg Camarillo will have learned more of the offensive scheme.  Altogether, the Vikings should be a completely different team when they face Miami.  And they will attempt to run the ball down Miami's collective throat.

As for the Dolphins, they come into Sunday's game with the number 1 overall Defense in the league - albeit a task completed versus the Bills and after only one week - still an impressive showing for a Defense with so may questions and more than half the starters being different from a year ago.

But the Vikings will be a much tougher opponent than Buffalo primarily because of their Defense.  The front 4 alone can wreak havoc, making it unnecessary to load the box with 9 players.  This will close down some passing lanes that are usually open downfield.  The Dolphins best bet here is to unleash some of the secret Wildcat plays along with several underneath passes to Brandon Marshall and Anthony Fasano, in an attempt to get the safety to creep up.  Then go deep to Ted I don't know who to throw deep to, maybe John Nalbone?  Patrick Cobbs?

If they can figure out that element, they should be fine offensively.  The rest of the game will rely on 3 defensive MUSTs:

1.  They MUST pressure Brett Favre.  Hit him, grind him into the turf, sprain a finger or two on his throwing hand, etc.  

2.  They MUST keep Adrian Peterson under 120 yards.  I know that sounds like a lot but with the reduced weaponry in the passing game, Peterson could get up to 35 carries, and a measly 120 yards is anemic for that amount of reps.

3.  They MUST contain/prevent big plays.  Stop the run, pressure Favre, and the Vikings will have no choice but to run screens to Percy Harvin and the running backs.  If they can prevent first downs more than they give up, this tactic will not work.  At no point should Harvin take the ball 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage and make a 30 or 40 yard gain.

If the Dolphins Defense can do these 3 things, and the Offense can put points on the board with more consistency, the Dolphins will be 2-0.

My Prediction:  Dolphins 23 Vikings 21

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Day After: Buffalo

For just a moment there, somewhere around the mid to late 1st quarter of yesterday's meeting between the Dolphins and the Bills, I honestly thought to myself, "I think my 24-0 prediction is going to be right on the money".  Shortly after, the Bills kicked a field goal to deflate any hopes of a shutout.  Still, the Dolphins came about as close to shutting out a team as anyone did yesterday, and they did it with fewer big name players on defense than the average NFL team. Sure, we got Dansby....anyone else your buddies in Oakland or Phoenix could name?  Hell, even I, a proprietor of a Miami Dolphins blog who talks about these players constantly, spent the entire game referring to #55 as 'Rookie'.  

Truth is, we don't have any real star defenders outside of Dansby, players who get voted to the Pro-Bowl based on their name-recognition.  Yet,  our Defense looked as good as any in the league yesterday (save for the one drive where Buffalo suddenly seemed to be faster and stronger than us) and the defensive scheme in the first half was like a symphony orchestra showing off it's musical chops.

Unfortunately, my dream of 24-0 was not entirely up to Mike Nolan's creativity or the solid play of Chris Clemons shutting down the middle of the field.  The better the defense, the more reps for the offense, and once again the Dolphins showed that no matter how many weapons they have on the field, they don't know how to use them.  Still, after 3 years, they just don't get it.  They don't get that Ronnie Brown if given the chance will run over Buffalo for 120+ yards and that Ricky can be used in the I-formation to just pound the rock over and over and over again and they don't get that this tactic leads to big 50+ yard runs eventually if you just don't give up on it.

But this coaching staff seems to have some kind of issue actually planning out a full 4 quarters of football.  They almost always seem to reach a point where they are 'satisfied' with the running game, and then abandon it altogether until it's time to run out the clock.  They don't seem to get that they don't ever need to check down the ball ever again if they are not going to throw deep at least 5 times a game.  Not stretching the field means the guys underneath will never have space to run after the catch.  Sure they tried it a couple of times, but not nearly enough.

I know it sounds like I want them to force the issue, but that's not it - I understand that adjustments have to be made during the course of a game because of what the other team is doing.  I just choose to believe that taking the first initiative and stamping your seal on the game from the get-go will force the defense to adjust first.  If you have a proper game plan, you will know the adjustment is coming, and work against it.  Football really is like Chess, and the Dolphins offense at times seems more like a backgammon board.  Lots of pieces and possibilities, but no attention to details and no forethought.

Now, despite my editorial above, and the Dolphins inability to put up an impressive score yesterday, the Dolphins did actually come close to blowing out the Bills.  Chad Henne was criticized throughout the game by the announcers but Ronnie Brown dropped a pass, Ricky Williams dropped a pass, Brian Hartline dropped two passes, Brandon Marshall dropped two passes, even Lousaka Polite dropped a pass.  Davone Bess had a drop where he only half-heartedly jumped 3 inches off the ground for a ball that was 5 inches high.  If you add these up, Henne's stats would have been spectacular and the Dolphins would've had several more points.  Benny Sapp dropped a pick six as did Jason Allen.  That was an easy 14 points thrown away. Dan Carpenter missed a field goal. The Dolphins could've easily put up 30 more points in this game had they been able to execute.

But they weren't, and since they didn't have the gameplan to account for these mishaps, they fell behind.

Next week's opponent are the week 1 shockingly bad Minnesota Vikings.  I expect them to be shockingly good in week 2.  I think the Dolphins can beat them.  If they come prepared.

LIVE: Dolphins vs Bills - Week 1

Dolphins inactives: OLB Ikaika Alama-Francis, third QB Tyler Thigpen, WR Robert Wallace, ILB Channing Crowder, DE Robert Rose, OL Jeremy Parnell, OT Lydon Murtha and DE Clifton Geathers.

Bills' inactives: OLB Reggie Torbor, LB Antonio Coleman, LB Akin Ayodele, OG Kraig Urbik, OT Ed Wang, DE Alex Carrington, DE John McCargo, and QB Brian Brohm.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

GAME PREVIEW: Dolphins vs. Bills

Week one is finally here and we're facing the Buffalo Bills - finally a chance to start the season with a win, something we haven't done since...well a long time ago.  The Bills may have looked decent in the pre-season while the Dolphins looked anemic at times, but the reality is, on paper the Dolphins are a lot better, and on game-day the Dolphins should have little problem winning the majority of the one on one matchups.  

The only real strength the Bills have is their secondary, sure they have some decent linebackers and defensive linemen, but most of them are playing in a 3-4 for the first time in their career.  ILB Andra Davis being the exception coming from Denver last year where he played for, guess who, that's right, Dolphins' Defensive Coordinator, Mike Nolan.  The entire Bills defense is playing under the instruction of former SpIreland assistant coach, George Edwards.  Kawika Mitchell is not playing, and Jairus Byrd is not starting.  Reggie Torbor and Antonio Coleman are both listed as OUT for the game.  This is a weakened Bills defense that is run by player and coach that we know all about - advantage Dolphins.

Offensively, the Bills have CJ Spiller - a major threat to score from any angle, but not much else.  It's yet to be seen if Eric Wood is fully recovered from what was called at the time a career-threatening injury last year.  There is no real veteran presence on the O-line.  Trent Edwards is a streaky QB who's streaks usually only last 3 quarters at a time.  Last year the Dolphins got beat by Terrell Owens - so the Bills let him go and now start Lee Evans and Steve Johnson - a player I've never even heard of.

The Bills best offensive threat are their running backs, Spiller, Marshawn 'Predator' Lynch, and Fred "I should be starting' Jackson.  But their O'line versus our front 7 looks like a huge tilt towards the Dolphins good fortunes.  
Honestly, I believe if the Dolphins can move the ball on the ground effectively (say, 150 + yards) and can contain the Bills running game and screens (there will be many), they should be able to keep the Bills under 10 points for the game.  Personally, I expect them to do even better.

My Prediction:  Dolphins 24  Bills 0

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Parcells Goes Poof!

We all are rummaging through our collective consciousnesses trying to remember if we made any actual financial bets on when Bill Parcells would step down from the role of Vice President of Whatever The Hell He Does for the Miami Dolphins.

Well, today the Dolphins formally announced that Parcells was in fact stepping down into a 'consultant' role, which translates into he'll be going to the racetrack and fishing alot more than anything else.  

General Manager, Jeff Ireland will continue to run the ship, as he has been since day 1 of the Trifecta.

Of course, this latest news brings with it a change that will ripple through the media and possibly bring down the entire construct of Miami Sports reporting altogether.  No longer any mysterious 'guesses' as to what Parcells is doing in his office, away from the lights and cameras - now we know he won't be in the office at all.  But the biggest change, and one that affects even myself, is the loss of the word 'Trifecta'.  No longer will the media have their snappy one-word label for the entire management team.  And no longer will I use the term in jest here.

From now on, I will refer to the men running the Miami Dolphins as 'SpIreland' and make amazing comments about how they're going to take this team to the 'top of the spire', the pinnacle, the apex, etc etc.

Now that Parcells has made it official, we can finally stop pretending that he had that much impact....or maybe we can speculate that he actually got asked to step down after the Pat White experiment came to an end...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Practice Squad In Formation

After cutting 20 players yesterday, the Dolphins have patched together their practice squad and may signed 4 players to their 53 man roster while releasing some surprising names.

Below are the signings updated as they happen:

Practice Squad:

LB Chris McCoy 
LB Austin Spitler
TE Nathan Overbay
S Jon Amaya
WR Julius Pruitt
NT Ryan Baker 
G Ray Feinga

    * CB Will Allen placed on IR.
    * OL Cory Proctor cut.
    * DE Charles Grant cut.
    * DE Marques Douglas cut.

    * OLB Charlie Anderson cut.

    * Signed ILB Bobby Carpenter.

    * Signed DL Rob Rose, 6'5" 295lbs, Ohio State

    * Signed OT Jermey Parnell 6-6, 290, second year out of Ole Miss. Was on Saints  
       practice squad in 09. Has played OT, DL and TE (per mike berardino).

    * Signed DE Clifton Geathers, 6'7" 300lbs. South Carolina.

    * Signed OL Joe Reitz, 6'7", 320lbs, Western Michigan.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Feed the Wolf, Release the Hounds!

The Dolphins have started axing players and there are some surprises in the list:

DT Montavious Stanley
LB Austin Spitler
LB Erik Walden
WR Patrick Turner
OG Donald Thomas
DE Lionel Dotson 
QB Pat White
OT Andrew Gardner
OC Andrew Hartline 
CB Kevin Hobbs 
DE Ryan Baker
LB JD Folsom
WR Julius Pruitt 
TE David Martin
SS Johnathon Amaya
OG Ray Feinga
LB Chris McCoy
FB Rolly Lumbala
CB Nate Ness 
CB Ross Weaver

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dolphins vs Cowboys

Recap: boring game, lack of rhythm offensively, we were only in the game due to defensive penalties by Dallas. Pennington can't throw deep, Thigpen can't throw short, Henne can't throw the ball away, White can't get on field. Defensively, Will Allen and Vontae Davis needed back ASAP, Sean Smith in the doghouse, look for Jason Allen to start week 1, Nolan Carroll good special teamer, horrible in coverage, but not as bad as Sean Smith. Koa Misi no longer starter, Odrick still invisible - did he play? Actually only Tony McDaniel flashed on the d-line IMO. Wake is gonna rack up the sacks. Reshad Jones is going to be trucking people his clothesline tackle on kick coverage was the highlight of the game. Folsom and Spitler are possibly the worst players on the team - no Patrick Turner and Pat White still are.

OK, those are the quick hits from the game which was hard to watch and didn't offer enough standout performances from the bubble players for my liking. Despite the media's contention that Patrick Turner is safe on the roster, he just doesn't seem to have any fight in him, he lazily drops balls and trots back to the huddle. At least Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore look upset if they screw up.

A few of us argued last night on which WRs will get the 4th and 5th spots - my contention was that I didn't like the bottom end of the rotation and wished to upgrade through the waiver wire. Others defended wither Moore or Wallace staunchly. No one defended Turner - I think everyone agrees we should cut him loose. I just can't see Miami not being interested in several teams cuts at the position, especially those teams that are very deep at WR, like Dallas, Denver and the Giants.

The cuts are already under way for some teams and I find it hard to believe the Dolphins would trade away Greg Camarillo without having had talks with some of their NFL friends about who would be available. If I were a gambling man, I'd put money on the Dolphins picking up at least one WR in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Pre-Season Wanes

Tin's Fins had its Fantasy Football League Draft last night, just another milestone along the way that signals that Football is almost here in full glory.  With the final pre-season game against Dallas tomorrow serving essentially as the determining factor in the line-backer and cornerback competitions (to a lesser degree the offensive line and 5th receiver), the game could be as exciting as watching paint dry, and not the final coat but just the primer.  That's really not very exciting.

Still, the Dolphins need to cut about 19 players following the game in lead up to Week 1 of the regular season, and while any of us could easily shave off at least 10 of those men without trying too hard, the last few could be really tough decisions.
Take, for example, the fact that we don't have any 'camp-body' tight ends this year.  With Kory Sperry released last week and Joey Haynos put on IR this week, John Nalbone, the obvious candidate for the waiver wire, is now guaranteed a roster spot.  The question then that pops into my head is if uninspiring WR, Patrick Turner can be quickly converted to tight-end at least in a hybrid role a la David Martin.

Nate Garner was placed on IR and in my mind is the biggest loss of the season thus far.  I'm not sold on our O-line this year, unlike in the previous two years when I was much more optimistic.  The Jake Grove/Joe Berger enigma really bothers me.  If Berger starts and goes down, I don't see Donald Thomas, John Jerry or even 3rd string, Andrew Hartline playing Center full-time.  So you'd have to keep the most expensive backup center in the league in Jake Grove - even though the team obviously feels he's lacking in certain areas.  Maybe Cory Proctor is the best option as a backup - but he's not likely to make the team as a Guard, so why keep him as a sole Center backup.  Let's face it, we need Grove to pick it up and win the starting job back.  Berger is a great option to cover Guard and Center, and starting him at one precludes him from supporting the other.  Who knows, there may be a last minute waiver wire pickup who solves the problem, or maybe we just carry on and take an extra lineman to the games.

But despite the worries of the tight-end/o-line positions (which directly translate to problems for the entire offense, and indirectly affects the Defense as well if the O can't stay on the field and get first downs), the 4th PS game focus will be on the Defense, especially that of the defensive backfield and the linebackers.  The previous 3 games didn't give us any clues as to who's going to play on game day and at what positions.  Several outside linebackers took reps inside, there were injuries to a few players that kept them out of the gameplan, and there's also the unrevealed scheme of our new defensive coordinator.  

One thing is for sure, if Benny Sapp repeats his performance from last week, he'll make the team, and possibly push a previous favorite to the practice squad.  This year, more than ever, we're going to have to sneak a few players onto the practice team without being poached.  The questions is, can we get a guy like Micah Johnson, Nolan Carroll, Chris McCoy, Johnathon Amaya, etc past the waiver wire?  Carroll is probably safe if we take 6 CBs, but he's in no way a lock, and  despite Johnson's clear outplaying of the Trifecta-drafted JD Folsom and Austin Spitler, the Dolphins staff made some clear favoritism-based calls last year and I wouldn't put it past them again.  They'd rather hold on to Spitler and develop him than play the clearly more physically talented Johnson.  Chris McCoy has played more inside snaps than outside, either a clear mistake by the Trifecta, or part of the preparation for the 'master plan'.  I'd like to think he's going to make the 53, but again it depends on if the Trifecta thinks they go with the player with the most upside or the penalty-riddled maxed out Charlie Anderson, who makes a ton of money, by the way, more than Wake, Misi, McCoy, and IAF, all who appear above him on the semi-official depth chart.

So keep an eye on these performances versus Dallas.  And finally you'll have a chance to play the Pat White drinking game and actually get drunk this time...