If you are a big fan of sizzling offensive football, skip the top portion of this blog and go directly to the Classic Training Camp Moment. If you are a big fan of stifling defense that is made to look better by unproductive offense, then read on.
The Dolphins defense was active and effective in Thursday's afternoon practice. No, there weren't any great fumble strips or amazing diving interceptions. It was just stay in your gaps, mind your coverage type of stuff.
And so the offense got in the end zone a grand total of once during the two-minute (actually 1:44) and going in from the 20 work. That TD by the third-team offense against the third team defense was a Pat White 20 yard run on a bootleg. White continues to impress me, but only out of shotgun formation, which is apparently the only time he feels comfortable.
White played in the spread offense in college so the shotgun is kin to him. Backing out from under center, he seems to be thinking too much about his drop, his reads, and the pressure around him. He obviously doesn't have to worry about a 3-step or 5-step drop in shotgun. He can scan the field more easily. It suits him.
Keep that in mind as the Dolphins try to find what coach Tony Sparano called a "Pat Package."
"We did that with [Dallas Cowboys QB Tony] Romo his first couple of years in the league," Sparano said. "It was more, 'Let's figure out what this guy can do well for us right now and let's not bog him down with what he maybe doesn't do so well just because the coaches want to do it.' We need to figure out with Pat the things he tends to do well."
What the Dolphins did well in practice this afternoon was pressure the quarterback and cover fairly well. You should know the Dolphins have a timed buzzer on every pass play that goes off when play has taken too long. When that buzzer sounds, the quarterback is considered sacked. Well, the buzzer was the MVP of this practice as it must have collected at least half a dozen sacks.
Joey Porter also had one sack and Jason Taylor collected his second batted pass of the day, the first coming in morning drills.
I am searching my notes for something, anything that sounds like great offense and can't find much. How's this: Ted Ginn Jr must have caught at least four passes on crossing routes. Of course, all netted no more than 5 yards.
Ernest Wilford made a great leaping catch in the corner of the end zone on a ball lobbed by Chad Henne. But alas, he was ruled out of bounds. Nice effort, though.
Today's Classic Training Camp Moment goes back to Aug of 1997. Yes, it was Jimmy Johnson's second season with the Dolphins and, as most new coaches do, they bring in players and coaches they're familiar and comfortable with.
So there was an influx of former Dallas Cowboys (the first of what now has become two such migrations) and there were several former University of Miami Hurricanes also brought to camp. Wide receiver Lamar Thomas was one such former Cane brought in in '96.
Thomas was quite accomplished at Miami but his early career in Tampa was derailed by inconsistent performance and some off-field issues that included domestic violence. Despite this, Johnson brought Thomas to the receiver-starved Dolphins in '96 and was rewarded with the player being on his best behavior for a season.
And things were going well for Thomas until the Aug. 23, 1997 preseason game at Tampa. On that road trip, Thomas was in the team hotel parking lot with then-girlfriend Ebony Cooksey. The two had a very rocky relationship.
Well, at one point in their parking lot visit in the car Cooksey brought to the team hotel, the couple began to argue. It was animated enough that hotel parking lot security noticed and told the Dolphins. Jimmy Johnson was livid that Thomas, with a questionable domestic violence reputation at the time, had allowed himself to be involved in a public argument with his girlfriend. So Johnson sent Thomas home without letting him play that night against the Bucs.
No one would confirm why Thomas was sent home, so I called his then-agent Howard Weinberg, who explained to me on the record the reason Thomas got sent home. "It was nothing, Armando, seriously, nothing," Weinberg said. "But you will not believe me if I tell you."
Tell me, Howard.
"You won't believe it," he said.
I want to know Howard. You need to tell me everything.
"OK, but when you write it, you have to be very careful how this sounds," he said.
"Lamar and Ebony got into an argument in the car because Lamar passed gas," Weinberg said.
"He farted," Weinberg said. "And it offended Ebony and they got into an argument about it. It really is pretty innocent."
So I wrote the story for The Miami Herald. And The Miami Herald refused to publish it because the story had the word flatulence in it. Until, of course, Pulitzer Prize Winning humorist Dave Barry thought it classic enough to use in one of his stories. What follows is two paragraphs from Barry's story:
"Team sources said that the cause of the argument between Thomas and Cooksey was that he didn't want to let her have the keys to a house he maintains in Tampa. But Thomas' agent, Howard Weinberg, told The Miami Herald that the real cause was -- I am not making this up -- flatulence. (You did not read this in The Miami Herald, because the subject matter of the story, written by our excellent Dolphins beat writer Armando Salguero, was deemed to be below the taste standards of our sports section. Fortunately for you, here at Tropic magazine we have no taste standards.)
"Weinberg claims that while Thomas and Cooksey were sitting in her car, talking calmly, Thomas -- to use football parlance -- sliced a major hunk of Limburger, thereby causing Cooksey to rapidly exit the car and yell at Thomas in a laughing and good-natured fashion. The Dolphins contend that it was not good-natured. We'll probably never know what really happened, but since an agent is now involved, the whole matter could easily be tied up in some kind of arbitration for the next 10 years. "
Thomas recovered from this foul start to his Dolphins career and played with Miami until 2000. To this day, he remains one of my favorite people for his good heart, strong sense of competitiveness and desire.
And obviously, I feel pretty good about things today because, after all these years, I finally get to tell the story for The Miami Herald.