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69 posts from November 2009

November 04, 2009

Can Dolphins give Brady another difficult day?

I interrupt the Internet discussion about whether the Dolphins should sign Chris Chambers (a moot point anyway) to discuss a player the Dolphins truly do have on their radar and must seriously study and concern themselves with this week:

Tom Brady.

'Memba him?

He's the guy living the great life winning Super Bowls, and throwing TDs, and marrying supermodels, and spending his bye week last week on South Beach. He's also the guy whom the Dolphins have owned throughout his career.

Ok, so maybe the Dolphins haven't really owned Brady. But they definitely have leased him throughout his career.

Consider that during Brady's career he has an impressive 34-8 record against AFC East opponents. Well, five of those eight losses came against Miami.  And, yes, the Pats are 9-5 against the Dolphins with Brady at the helm dating back to 2001.

But even in victory, Brady has suffered some rough outings against the Miami defense. On Oct. 4, 2004, for example, the Patriots beat the Dolphins 24-10. But Brady completed only 7 of 18 passes (36.8 percent completion rate) for 76 yards.

The fact is Brady has had a QB rating under 80, the mark considered about average, in 10 of his 14 games against the Dolphins.

Now, to be fair, Brady has also had some fantastic afternoons against the Dolphins. He threw six TD passes in a 49-28 whipping in 2007. Brady could have thrown 10 TD passes that day if he'd wanted to. But Brady has also had five games in which the Dolphins limited him to one or fewer TD passes.

This Sunday's meeting between the Dolphins and Patriots marks the first that Brady has played in since 2007. Remember he didn't play last year while he recovered from a blown out knee.

But lately Brady has started to resemble the player the Dolphins saw in 2007. In his last five games he's completed 117 of 173 passes (67.6 pct.) for 1,438 yards with 13 TDs and 2 ints. That's a 113.3 passer rating.

It will be interesting to see if the young secondary the Dolphins put on the field these days will be able to follow other Miami secondaries and defenses in giving Brady a tough time. I fear they will not. I fear the Miami secondary is about to get exposed this week.

But, of course, the damage can be limited if Jason Taylor, Joey Porter and friends make Brady uncomfortable in the pass pocket. That, I believe, is the only way the Dolphins can continue their history of giving Tom Brady a tough day.

November 03, 2009

SI poll: Joey Porter NFL's 2nd dirtiest player

We all know Joey Porter can have a potty mouth that keeps everyone not wearing a Jets uniform entertained. But in the Sports Illustrated that hits the stands and mailboxes Wednesday, we learn Porter has a dirty reputation, also.

In a poll of 296 NFL players, Porter tied Washington's Albert Haynesworth as the second dirtiest player in the league.

Six percent of players who responded said Porter and Haynesworth were the dirtiest. Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, the master of the blind side block, garnered 11.6 percent of the votes to be considered the dirtiest player in the NFL.

Porter is 14th on the Dolphins with 12 tackles this season. He has 2.5 sacks, which is tied with Cameron Wake for third on the team in that category, behind Jason Taylor (5.5 sacks) and Randy Starks (3.5 sacks).

November 02, 2009

Victory Monday update from Tony Sparano

The players were off today but the coaches were working and this is what coach Tony Sparano's view of his team is 24 hours after the 30-25 victory over the Jets.

First, after getting the game ball for his two kickoff return touchdowns against New York, it seems unlikely Ted Ginn Jr. will be getting added special team duties as Miami's punt returner anytime soon.

"Right now I'm thinking we'll leave it the way I have it and coach the heck out of it," Sparano said before adding that punt returner Davone Bess, who had a fumble on Sunday, "can't make bad decisions" on his returns.

I think this is a mistake. Ginn played only 22 snaps Sunday and, while he remains limited in what he can do as a receiver, he does have special and elite skills as a return man. So why not use those skills more?

It might be easy to forget that in college, Ginn returned both punts and kickoffs and was actually more explosive on punts. He returned 64 punts for a 14.1 yard average at The Ohio State University and six of those were for TDs. He only returned two kickoffs for TDs.

Ginn actually returned 9 percent of his punts for touchdowns while returning 5 percent of his kickoffs for touchdowns. But hey, Miami's coaching staff is insistent that isn't going to happen right now.

Of course, they were insistent on not letting Ginn return kickoffs until Patrick Cobbs blew out his knee.

Sparano didn't say whether Ginn gets his starting WR job job anytime soon, but did say there were two pass plays against New York on which Ginn got behind the defender and quarterback Chad Henne was unable to get him the ball.

On other subjects:

Sparano said he attempted the two-point conversion when the team was up 11 in the fourth quarter because, "I was trying to take a scenario out of play in that the only scenario that could beat us was two touchdowns."

In other words, Sparano wanted a 13-point lead so that the Jets could not tie with a touchdown, a two-point conversion and a field goal or win with one touchdown and two field goals. Obviously Miami failed on it's bid for the conversion.

This season in the NFL two-point conversions are successful approximately 30 percent of the time.

On the subject of Miami's two rookie cornerbacks, both of whom will be under much scrutiny this week with Tom Brady and Co. on the schedule, Sparano was generally pleased with Sean Smith and Vontae Davis.

"Both picked different points to play well," the coach said. "Both had bumps and that's what's going to happen."

Although they combined for a total of 162 plays, Sparano said the cornerbacks had no mental errors. There were, however, technical errors that numbered in the single digits between the two that need to be cleaned up.

By way of a player update, Sparano said rookie receiver Patrick Turner's "had a couple of good, solid weeks of practice right now and he's getting better and better. I would say sooner or later we'll see him."

The afterglow from sweeping the J-E-T-ZZZZ

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As he walked past the Jets locker room on his way to where the Dolphins dressed for Sunday's game, Jason Taylor put the Jets in their place: "It's like a damn graveyard around here," he yelled. "Talk about that for two weeks."

The Jets spent last week talking and threatening and trashing the Dolphins. Those very Dolphins put them in their place with a 30-25 victory and now the Jets can eat humble pie during their bye week -- or at least one would think.

But as I write in my column for the Monday Miami Herald, the Dolphins answered the bell in this game after a week of lineup changes and criticism. And the Jets responded to this whipping by acting like a bunch of horse's rumps.

Read the column and see if you don't agree with me.

It is as if the Jets are delusional. They truly believe they outplayed the Dolphins because they outgained the Dolphins.

"We dominated, basically 400 [yards] to 100," offensive tackle Damien Woody said. "That's dominating a football game."

Guess the Jets don't count the 299 kickoff return yards they gave up and resulted in two touchdowns. Guess the Jets overlooked those 48 fumble return yards that resulted in another touchdown. Whatever, let them live in their big-talk, little-production little world.

I can handle boorish winners. You earn the right to boast when you, well, when you earn the right to boast. But to boast when you lose? Ridiculous.

Anyway, I have written this in my column, the grades for the game, and now this blog: The Miami coaching staff is very smart, but it needs to complete what it started when Ted Ginn Jr. became Miami's kick returner. They gave Ginn the kick return duties when Patrick Cobbs went out for the season with a knee injury.

Give Ginn the punt return duties as well, please. Davone Bess had a fumble doing the job Sunday and he doesn't ever really break anything. Give the job to Ginn, who has good hands back there and does have the speed to break something.

Ginn, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same quarter Sunday, said he's never had two kick returns in one game, but then unwittingly made the case for himself to become the punt returner.

"I've had two different returns before, a punt and a kickoff in the same game," he said. "But not two kickoff returns in the same quarter." 

Moving on. Did you notice the Dolphins started three rookies in the secondary Sunday?

They started rookie cornerback Sean Smith, rookie cornerback Vontae Davis and rookie free safety Chris Clemons along with vetern strong safety Yeremiah Bell.

"It caused me a little bit of a sleepless week," Sparano admitted afterward. "I do have a lot of confidence in thse players. I thought they got it really hard out there today, I really do. That's a good group. Braylon Edwards gives this team a different dimension in my opinion and I thought those [rookies] hung in there. They just kept fighting. They hung in there pretty good."

Well, it was a good job that could have been better had Smith hung on to an interception at the goal line in the first half. But ...

That's the Jets they were facing. That's a rookie QB they just beat. The Patriots are next. Tom Brady is next. I have serious, serious concerns about starting three rookies DBs against Brady that I don't have against Mark Sanchez.

Seems to me it's time to reinsert Gibril Wilson back in the starting lineup. Wilson, by the way, had a good game Sunday. He had two sacks and didn't miss any tackles.

The experiment worked Sunday, but the Dolphins should not go crazy.

The Pats are not the Jets.

November 01, 2009

Dolphins defeat NY Jets, 30-25!

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wipe that sweat from your brow because this one was a three-hour thrill ride.

The Dolphins, riding two, count 'em, two kickoff return touchdowns by Ted Ginn Jr., one fumble return TD by Jason Taylor, and some heart-stopping defense play by the defense on the final drive, beat the New York Jets today.

The Dolphins improve their record to 3-4 and 3-0 in the AFC East. The Jets are now 4-4.

The Dolphins are living dangerously as their offense had only one TD. The defense yielded scores on three of New York's final four drives.

The offense gained a grand total of 104 yards while the defense allowed 378. The Dolphins had the ball only 25:54 to New York's 34:06.

But those are just details that do not trump important things -- like the final score.

Amazingly, I just got back from the locker rooms and while the Dolphins were fairly humble about winning, Jets linebacker Bart Scott was a bit of a jerk after losing. Judge for yourself.

"They're a great team," Scott said of Miami. "They'll probably contend for the Super Bowl. They have a tremendous offense -- great running backs, a great quarterback, a great tight end. They are stacked across the board. I'm serious. They are great."

And later he continued.

"They have a tremendous offense and they showed it today. They are Super Bowl contenders and they will probably take it all the way." 

Dolphins lead Jets, 24-19 going to the 4th Q

EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. -- Well, this game got all sorts of crazy in the third quarter.

Ted Ginn, doing the job he was meant to do all that time the Dolphins made Patrick Cobbs their kick returner, took two kickoff returns to the house in the period. He went 100 yards and 101 yards, respectively. Jason Taylor returned a fumble recovery 48 yards for a TD.

Great job by the Miami offense!

Actually, this game is not over. The fourth quarter starts now.

The live blog continues in the comments section.

Dolphins, Jets knotted at 3-3 going to 3rd Q

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After a half that might have set the NFL game back five years, the Dolphins and Jets are tied as they prepare to go into the third quarter.

Neither team is converting third downs, neither quarterback is having a good day, and the top two running games in the league are, basically, running as if on a treadmill -- going nowhere.

That's the down side.

The bright side? Miami ain't losing after having erased a 3-0 deficit with 48-yard Dan Carpenter field goal in the second quarter.

Join me in the comments section below for the continuation of the live blog.

Dolphins, Jets scoreless to start 2nd Q

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There's been plenty of pushing and shoving but not much moving of the football.

And definitely no scoring.

So the Dolphins and Jets will keep bobbing and weaving and trying to make the other team blink first in the second quarter.

The live blog continues in the comment section below.

Live blog here with inactives information

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- [Update: Kerry Rhodes and Joey Porter just engaged in a shoving match during pregame warmups.

[I guess this will be a physical game as promised.]

This is the Dolphins final game in this facility.

The next time the Dolphins play here in the regular-season, the game will happen in the new facility being built just across from this one.

The Dolphins seem to be the better team to me today. Think about it. Yes, the Dolphins are without Channing Crowder, but the Jets are without nose tackle Kris Jenkins. Reggie Torbor will start for Crowder.

Ted Ginn is active today, but Brian Hartline will start at WR in his place.

Yes, the Dolphins are starting two rookie cornerbacks and they will have their growing pains, but that's not Kurt Warner playing QB for New York today. And the Jets don't have their full set of CBs as Lito Sheppard is out. Dwight Lowery will start at right cornerback in Sheppard's place.

I would tell you the Jets clearly have a special teams advantage and we saw that in the first meeting this year. But Leon Washington is not there anymore as he's now out for the year.

I just see the Dolphins as the more physical of these two very physical teams.

The Miami inactives today are Crowder, Andrew Gardner, Lionel Dotson, Lydon Murtha, Kory Sheets, Patrick Turner and Quentin Moses.