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63 posts from December 2010

December 12, 2010

Dolphins lead Jets 10-0 to start second quarter

The Dolphins have brought their defense today, folks.

Nolan Carroll has an interception (yes he held on) and that led to Dan Carpenter field goal.

Bennie Sapp pressured Jets QB Mark Sanchez, Kendall Langford hit him and forced a fumble and Yerermiah Bell recovered the fumble inside the New York 20 yard line.

Brandon Marshall then collected his second TD reception of the year for a 10-0.

Neither offense looks great, I must admit. But when Miami's defense is doing such good work, what does that matter?

The live blog continues in the comments section.

Live blog of the Dolphins versus Jets

This one has the feel of a big game so let's give you the big-boy news first:

Lydon Murtha starts at right tackle for an inactive Vernon Carey. Pat McQuistan continues to start at right guard. Rookie John Jerry will back up both players.

As I tweeted earlier and posted in the comments section of the last post, it makes more sense to go with a more experienced tackle such as Murtha than to move Jerry, who has not been good enough to keep his guard job, to right tackle and start him there. You don't promote and move a player to a new spot for the blitzing, changing Jets defense.

Look for the Jets to match Jason Taylor versus Murtha a lot today.

The only other lineup change for Miami today is Davone Bess starts for Brian Hartline, who is now on injured reserve.

The inactives for today are Nate Ness, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Matt Kopa, Vernon Carey, Eric Chiaciuc, Mickey Shuler, Ryan Baker, and Chris Baker.

We are blogging live from the New Meadowlands Stadium. Gotta tell you for $1.6 billion, this place is nice. But not that nice. It is mostly, just big. But personality?

Not so much.

Meet me in the comments sections for the live blog. I think I smelled a New York Jets collapse being cooked up at the tailgate while I was coming into the stadium.



We get evaluated, Dolphins should be evaluated top to bottom

All of us that have jobs are evaluated at least once a year to mark the progress or regression we've made on the job. Am I right?

So an evaluation isn't an insult.

So, as I write in my Sunday column, the Dolphins need to perform a comprehensive top to bottom evaluation of the entire football side of the franchise.

In other words, coach Tony Sparano needs to be evaluated.

General manager Jeff Ireland needs to be evaluated.

All the players need to be evaluated.

All the assistants need to be evaluated.

I tell you in the column what result the evaluation of Sparano and Ireland should be, barring a final month collapse by the Dolphins.

I also tell you why the Dolphins need to encourage a couple of other high-ranking assistants to find something else to do next season because their work in 2010 won't stand up very well to an honest evaluation, regardless of what happens in the final four weeks of the season.

Those final four weeks begin today, by the way, with the Dolphins facing the New York Jets. We will have a live blog around 4 p.m. I will update the blog and and get us set up for the live blog, with pregame news, well before then.

So come back. 

December 11, 2010

Why not the Dolphins? Let us count the ways

The Dolphins are officially in "Why not us?" mode for the third consecutive year.

What is "Why not us?" mode you ask?

It is defined by not being consistent enough early in the season to have a clear and certain path to the playoffs late in the year. The team asking the question finds itself teetering on success or disaster late in the season. It is defined as being bad enough to be in dire straits, but still good enough to perhaps pull off the improbable and sneak into the postseason.

And that is exactly where the Dolphins see themselves today on the eve of Sunday's possible season-defining meeting against the New York Jets. The Dolphins are 6-6 and longshots to make the playoffs, but coach Tony Sparano is selling his team on the idea that a longshot sometimes sneaks into the playoffs in the NFL.

So, why wouldn't it be the Dolphins?

“This is an important game," Sparano said Friday. "My message to the team is that, the team that we’re playing was 6-6 last year at this time and ended up losing in the AFC Championship game, so … ran off a bunch of wins at the end of the year. We’re still in the hunt, somebody from that group that is in the hunt right now can possibly do that. So, why not us.”

OK, if you are a fan that only wants to read the happy news, please stop reading now and go to the comment section to agree the Dolphins have a solid chance to get in the playoffs. It's all good, see you during the live blog Sunday.

If, however, you want the truth, stick around. Here goes:

Why not the 2010 Dolphins?

Well, for one thing the comparison to the 2009 Jets is ridiculous on so many levels I cannot believe Sparano went there.

First, the Jets had one of the NFL's best running game last season. They were No. 1. Their defense was also dominant. They were No. 1 in the NFL in total yards (not important) and points allowed (very important). And New York still required had to profit from the fact both Cincinnati and Indianapolis basically laid down -- playing reserves for a majority of their games versus New York -- for the Jets to back into the playoffs.

The Dolphins have neither the running game at this point nor the defense to carry them into the postseason. And, the chance a couple of teams will lay down for them at the end of the year is not great. The Patriots might, might do it if they've already clinched home field advantage before the regular-season finale, but there is no assurance of that.

Barring that, Miami must travel to Foxboro where New England is undefeated this year and just administered a 45-3 whipping of New York. So the comparison between the 2010 Dolphins and 2009 Jets is just not logical.

I will tell you that "Why not us" mode worked for Miami in 2008. The Dolphins struggled mightily early in the season before finding their identity and rolling to the AFC East title. But, again, that team enjoyed a different and much more favorable situation for turning "Why not us" into "It is us!" than today's Miami team.

The Dolphins had an easier schedule in 2008. Their running game was superior than it is now. Their quarterback, Chad Pennington, didn't make mistakes and ultimately was in the conversation for league MVP. The Patriots didn't have Tom Brady, who was out for the season with a knee injury. The Dolphins were healthy almost top to bottom. And the Jets collapsed.

It was a wonderful sum of all the right circumstances that led Miami to the playoffs.

This year, the Dolphins are not a healthy team. Just Friday, the club announced both right tackle Vernon Carey and wide receiver Brian Hartline are out for Sunday's game.

So the Dolphins might once again be asking everyone "Why not us."

Unfortunately for them, this year there are myriad reasons why not.

December 10, 2010

Marshall, Henne to reunite after nearly a month

Brandon Marshall will be back on the field for the Dolphins this Sunday when they play the New York Jets, according to a source. That barring a setback to Marshall's hamstring, which must be guarded against as he sits with little legroom in a Broadway theater watching the play Lombardi with his teammates this evening.


But I digress.

Marshall must show up big Sunday. He faces New York's Darrelle Revis, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. He must account for and overcome the likely absence of teammate Brian Hartline, who is recovering from surgery on a hand. And there is always that stuff about being on the same page with quarterback Chad Henne.

Marshall hasn't played with Henne in three games, as Henne missed the Chicago game and then Marshall missed the next two. So the two haven't played together since Nov. 18.

Marshall addressed all those issues at his weekly press availability. Here's what he said:

Ooops, wait a second. Before you go to the words from Marshall's mouth, I encourage you to read the words from Ronnie Brown's mouth that he used this week to inspire folks. Frankly, much of the news about the Dolphins has not been positive lately. But Brown shared much of his personal life and that might lift your spirits today.

(On if he’s ever been to a Broadway show) – “Yes.” 

(On if he’s looking forward to going see the play about Lombardi) – “Oh yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a good thing for our team, our organization, and to get a chance to hang out with the guys and spend some time. That’s always good.” 

(On how much does he know about Coach Lombardi) – “You know what, I think we all know something and something about him, but I don’t think we know enough. (You know) I think he’s definitely a pioneer to this game and this is an opportunity for us to learn more.” 

(On how hard did he lobby Coach Sparano for him to be able to play last Sunday) – “You know what, I lobbied pretty hard. But I think it was in the best interest of our team for me not to play. There definitely was some soreness in there and the four days…the three or four days that I had extra to rest was huge, a big difference. I felt pretty—felt okay out there running around on Sunday, but, coming into practice Wednesday was totally different and gave me an opportunity a piece of my mind that thing is healed in there and I should be able to make the plays that I’m normally capable of making.” 

(On how tough was it to watch from the sideline again, especially when Brian Hartline went out) – “Well it was really tough, but we got to have faith in the guys that we have on our roster and they have to step up and for the most part they did a great job. Of course we made some mistakes out there…and I wish we could have some of those plays back—But, at the end of the day it didn’t make any sense to go out there and play fifteen great plays and on the sixteenth play re-injure my leg but now I’m done for the season, so. I feel good where I’m at now and this week of practice has been great. The excitement is high and we’re ready to play.” 

(On if he watched the Jets vs. Patriots game on Monday night) – “Oh yes, I’m the type of guy, anytime there’s a team in our division on I’m going to watch them with my pen and my pad and take notes. (You know) so that was an opportunity for us to get ahead a little bit and get in front of those guys.” 

(On how he can get more involved in the offense) – “Absolutely I think the great players around the league want to be put in position to help the team but sometimes like Coach Sparano taught me and is trying to teach me still, some days it’s a shot glass and some days it’s a wheel barrel. You got to understand that and you just got to try to be mentally tough and it’s a struggle when you’re used to catching a bunch of balls or being so involved but we got to do what’s best for the team and hopefully get a couple wins here and have some things fall into place for us and get in that postseason.” 

(On what the possible absence of Brian Hartline means) – “I mean that’s all perception. The reality of it is I’ve stretched the field plenty of times. Marlon Moore is probably the fastest guy in our receiver room and he’s more than capable. It’s all about opportunities; it’s all about situation. You understand the way our offense is built teams were kind of afraid to let us go down the field so when you have a shell, you’re going against a shell defense it’s tough to just run down the sideline when you have a guy, his job is just to play you three yards and beat you up at the line and then there’s a guy over top. That’s what we’ve been seeing a lot of and that’s why you see us in the range of five to ten yards working those routes and we did a great job at times but we definitely need to take advantage of more opportunities.” 

(On whether he’s excited to face Darrelle Revis Sunday) – “Well I didn’t say I was excited to play against that particular guy. I mean it’s an opportunity you guys built players around the league up to be great. He is a great cornerback, one of the best in the league now. I’m the type of guy that I love the challenge and look forward to playing against that Jets defense, great defense, tough defense and just want to win.” 

(On whether there is a big difference in the Jets secondary without Jim Leonhard) – “Well you know that guy, you got to give him credit. He’s the quarterback on that defense; he gets guys lined up so definitely when you lose a guy like that it definitely affects your team but this is the National Football League. Those guys are more than capable of making plays and getting the job done. They’re coming off a tough week and we’re going to get their best.” 

(On how much he can take from the Monday Night Football game this past Monday) – “I think you definitely got to study, you got to study that game and see what we can do that the Patriots may have done but at the end of the day it’s about us. We’re coming off of a, off of a bad game and have a nasty taste in our mouth too so we’re excited about this opportunity to play on the big stage and compete out there.” 

(On the Jets trying to position themselves for the playoffs) – “We’re trying to position ourselves for the playoffs too.” 

(On the Jets coming off of being routed) – “Well what about us getting routed? Hey they’re all the same; whether it’s three or 40. Whatever it is that’s a route. We got routed (laughing). I’m just messing around.” 

(On how much the chemistry has developed between him and Chad Henne) – “I think Sunday people will see the connection.”

December 09, 2010

Plans to patch the holes in the works

The Dolphins are hoping right tackle Vernon Carey and wide receiver Brian Hartline can play against the Jets. Sorry, fellas, but hope doesn't often cure a sprained knee and a broken hand/finger.

Therefore the team would do well to make other plans -- just in case.

And it is.

"We have plenty of backup plans," coach Tony Sparano said today, "and we're sitting here on Thursday and [neither] practiced so those plans are in motion."

Hartline is the less likely of the two players to participate in Sunday's game against the Jets. The backup plan with him is for everyone to yell, in unison, "Braaaaandon, please come out and play!"

That's right. Brandon Marshall, who has missed the past two weeks with a strained hamstring, has been limited once again this week in practice. But at least he's practicing. So the Dolphins are hoping he'll be available for the Jets.

That means Marshall and Davone Bess would start while Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore back up and enter in multiple receiver packages. Moore, by the way, has to step up his game off last week. He dropped a pass and ultimately went without a catch against Cleveland -- a step back from the Oakland game.

While Hartline seems less likely to play than Carey, the situation is more serious at the right tackle spot behind Carey because the "plans in motion," pretty much stink, frankly.

Without Carey at right tackle, the Dolphins may resort to Pat McQuistan, John Jerry, Lydon Murtha, or gulp, rookie Matt Kopa at the spot. Maybe the team can convince Ron Heller to come out of retirement for a couple of hours and he can play the spot.

None of this instills confidence because the Dolphins are hoping to fire up an otherwise extinguished running game, and mixing and matching offensive linemen is not the way to do that. If' I'm the Jets, by the way, I'm expecting a lot of running plays to the left.

On the other hand, the Dolphins could resort to throwing the football and hoping quarterback Chad Henne can get the ball off before Jason Taylor or Calvin Pace smashes him in the face after beating whomever is playing right tackle.

Actually, it's not that bad. The Jets are not a great pass-rush team. But the situation I've just painted should show how much the Nate Garner injury really hurt Miami this year.


Miami future cloudy for Brown, Williams

It is clear the Dolphins have no intention of signing either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams to contract extensions before the end of the season. That's interesting because both are scheduled to be free agents for 2011 (assuming there's a season) and neither are absolutely certain of being back with the team for varying reasons.

Both Williams and Brown have addressed the issue to some extent this week. Ronnie Brown was on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo this week, and his words clearly suggested he'd like to be in South Florida, but ...

"It's really out of my control," Brown said. "I want to be here, I love playing for the Dolphins, but that's kind of out of my hands."

The Dolphins and Brown are not currently negotiating a new deal, at least not with any sort of consistency. The Dolphins also haven't slipped Ricky Williams a post-it note with contract extension numbers -- something Bill Parcells did with Williams the last couple of times he offered Williams an extension.

(Obviously, Parcells is gone but I wonder if general manager Jeff Ireland picks up the practice from his mentor.)

Williams, enigmatic and unpredictable, speaks with the local media only rarely for reasons known only to himself. But he addressed his future, sort of, with the New York media on a conference call Wednesday.

"I have no idea," Williams said when asked if he sees himself in Miami next year. "I mean, I'll be a free agent after this year ... after this year it's kind of wait and see. You know if someone wants me and they can convince to do this one more year, I definitely would be open to the opportunity. But if not, I'm happy with what I've been able to accomplish in my career."

It seems to me one or the other, but not both Williams and Brown will return to the Dolphins next year.

Fact is it would be cheaper for the Dolphins to draft a running back and replace one of the two veterans, then depend on one of the two along with rookie during the coming season. Of course, Miami could blow both Brown and Williams out and go with a rookie and Lex Hilliard and someone else in the backfield.

Fact is Brown is likely to get some offers in free agency if he gets to that start of the open market because while he has not put up elite statistics with the Dolphins, he has been solid and could be better behind a better offensive line.

And maybe the Dolphins simply need to change things up a bit with their running back dynamic. I know the Dolphins like Williams and Brown together but neither of them is a break-away back. The Dolphins could definitely use a back that adds more speed to the backfield because the current duo isn't going to pop a 70-yard run to stun a defense very often.

That, by the way, is just my opinion. The Dolphins, plodding and even a bit slow on offense, seem to think Williams, for example, is quite fast, thank you.

"[He] still shows me that he’s got good top end and good burst and runs the ball hard, physical,” coach Tony Sparano said Wednesday.

December 08, 2010

Rex Ryan: Dolphins offense loaded

I had to go pick myself off the floor before I could get around to posting this so please forgive the delay. New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was just on a conference call with the South Florida media and he was routinely interesting. The guy simply has a compelling way of grabbing and keeping one's attention.

But ...

Sometimes Ryan shoots past the the line separating saying things that are interesting and saying things that are just crazy. He was clearly in crazy territory today when he called the Dolphins offense "outstanding" and "loaded."

"The Miami offense is far from being poor," Ryan said. "That's an outstanding offense. You have two great running backs, a young quarterback that always plays great against us, for some reason. I was hoping they'd bench him for our game. To be honest with you, you have the big wide out, Brandon Marshall.

"This is a team that's loaded."


To be real with you, please understand the Dolphins are ranked No. 29 in the NFL in points per game. Some fans and media (me included) believe offensive coordinator Dan Henning is not doing a good job. And quarterback Chad Henne was benched earlier this season, if only for three plays.

And Ryan expects us to believe he believes they're good? C'mon, man!

If Ryan truly believes the Dolphins offense is loaded then he must think the coaching staff is doing a terrible job with that talent because the results have been poor. Ryan doesn't thinnk Miami is terribly coached. He said as much.

So, he was just blowing smoke, right? 

To his credit, Ryan turned off his coachspeak filter later in the session when he was talking about his own defense. In fact, he was extremely hard on his No. 8-ranked defense.

"We have to play better, there's no question about that," Ryan said. "We have to tackle better. We're not making any plays. We're not getting any interceptions. We're just out there. It doesn't seem like we've been as successful. I think we're eighth in th league in defense which is poor for our standards. We have to get it going better. Our communication hasn't been great ..."

 So it sounds like the Miami offense is poised to pummel the Jets defense, right coach?

"... this is a big challenge this week," Ryan said, "but I think our guys will respond, I really do."

December 07, 2010

Dolphins to hit road early this week

Tony Sparano is apparently doing whatever he can to shake his team up a little. And so, he is taking them on the road to their meeting with the New York Jets a bit early this week.

The Dolphins, which normally leave on Saturday for their Sunday road games, are hitting the friendly skies on Friday this week. They will practice at the New York Giants practice facility on Friday morning and be at their team hotel in the Meadowlands Friday and Saturday, rather than just on Friday.

So why the change?

Coach Tony Sparano will give his official decision on Wednesday when he meets with the media.

To me, frankly, is feels like a grasp at keeping things interesting as we begin the regular-season's final quarter.

The Dolphins went on the road a day early for the Oakland game their last road game and seemed to play well. So maybe Sparano likes how that worked out. Of course, that says nothing for the four other road victories this year in which Miami left for the venue the day before.

Maybe the coach has become superstitious.

Maybe he likes the idea of being in control of his players on Friday night -- including curfews at a team hotel -- instead of having them home where the lure of South Florida's nightlife might be too strong.

Maybe Sparano wants his team to get used to the fact it is cold up north now -- although I doubt anyone could acclimate in one extra day.

Maybe it's just a desperation move to, as I suggested earlier, shake things up a bit and keep players on their toes.

It must be noted the Dolphins are a better road team (5-1) than they are a home team (1-5). So maybe Sparano wants to get his guys on the road as early as possible.

I would say this: If the Dolphins beat the Jets, maybe they should attack their home dysfunction by getting on a flight for the games at Sun Life Stadium. Maybe they should fly from Fort Lauderdale to Miami and make the players believe it's a road game.

Because, after all, it is that 1-5 home record that seriously glows in neon as a problem -- much more than the 5-1 road record, which should be a source of pride for the team.

Henne remains the starter, but evaluation coming

Despite another three-interception game, Chad Henne remains the Dolphins starting quarterback -- for now.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Monday he is not considering benching Henne (again), this time for Tyler Thigpen. "No, I don’t think so right now," Sparano said.

But ...

Sparano admitted some re-evaluation will take place by the Dolphins at the quarterback position. Perhaps not now, but eventually? Absolutely. Like at the end of the season.

“Listen the guy’s a young player right now. He’s, I think, getting better at a lot of things. At the end of the year we’ll have to sit down and from our standpoint we have to evaluate the whole big picture, I mean, we really do but there’s obviously some areas there where Chad needs to continue to improve and he would tell you that. One of the areas is, is this, this turnover thing.

"We just cannot, nobody can; I mean I’m watching one of the best in the league the last couple weeks have some problems that way (Peyton Manning), so you just can’t overcome them in this league. The margin is, it’s just too hard to overcome those kind of turnovers and unfortunately what you see is the guy throwing the football doing it. We don’t see all the other factors around it and there are a lot of other factors that go into how the quarterback plays in general and, and I think what the outcome is. In other words the result of an interception or all and any of those things.

"I mean, we had two protections yesterday where for all intensive purposes we’ve blocked these protections 150 times during the course of the season and what occurred yesterday on those two protections should never occur in that particular protection but it did and he got hit as he was throwing and at the end of the day you don’t convert a third and four. That stops a drive and that kills you in some of those things. The quarterback kind of takes the blame for that and there’s a lot of people around him.

"I feel like we got to make sure that the people around him are getting better as well. That’s probably a long answer to a short question but I do think this guy’s getting better. We’re going to have to evaluate everything at the end of the year."

Seems like Henne will get at least this coming game to get out of the Cleveland hole he dug himself. If he wins, he continues. If he loses, well, he probably continues because benching him at that point would be moot. The Dolphins would be out of the playoffs for sure, rather than almost definitely out of the playoffs.

The only reason Sparano would have for benching him at that point is if the coach believes Thigpen has a better chance to win him some games and he feels the need to get himself some wins for his own job security.

It otherwise seems wise that Henne might just keep his job until the end of the season and gets those games to prove himself.

Either way, it seems the Dolphins will go quarterback shopping this offseason. They will either try to find backup help or a quarterback that can compete for the starting job. That, of course, will all depend on that evaluation of Henne that will come when 2010 is over.

December 06, 2010

Ross skips out on postgame locker room -- again

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano or general manager Jeff Ireland or both have a problem -- and it has nothing to do with what you think.

It doesn't have to do with the fact quarterback Chad Henne is inconsistent and both are tied to Henne as the franchise QB. It has nothing to do with the fact no one in Miami's defensive backfield can be trusted to catch a potential interception delivered directly to the hands. It also has nothing to do with the fact the running game, around which the offense is supposed to be built, has been absent the entire season.

Those problem pale for Miami's top football men compared to this: Owner Stephen Ross is clearly not happy.

And Ross makes the final call on both Sparano's and Ireland's job status.

Ross was at Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns at Sun Life Stadium. But when the Dolphins lost, he made himself scarce. Unlike other games in which Ross goes from his suite to the team's locker room, Ross skipped the trip on Sunday.

And it was at least the second home loss after which Ross skipped joining his team in the locker room after the game. He wasn't there after the shutout loss to Chicago Nov. 18. So that's two consecutive games after which Ross does not go see his team.

This, by the way, may not seem significant to you. But how the owner's feels about his team is something the football people must be keenly monitoring if they want to enjoy some sort of job security. And it is clear those absences are a sign of disapproval.

It doesn't end there.

Ross is clearly not happy with Miami's 1-5 home record. That record is terrible for any team, but particularly frustrating for a team that has managed a 5-1 record on the road. Clearly, if a team can win on the road, it should be able to manage some wins at home as well. If that isn't happening, it suggest they are under-achieving at home. Certainly, Sunday's loss to the previously 4-7 Cleveland Browns suggests that.

And that is bad because Ross wants his home games to be fun and entertaining and an event. He has spent many resources -- celebrities, concerts, noise, etc ... -- on making home games a bigtime experience.

The problem is all the appetizer and side dish stuff loses its meaning when the main course, the actual football team, is not palatable on its home turf. What's more, the Dolphins are not only seldom successful at home this year, they are boring in the process.

The Dolphins are averaging 16.3 points per game at home this year. They are averaging 19.5 points on the road.

That is not good. And it is especially not good when the owner is so keen on entertainment and showtime and offering people a compelling reason to attend games.

That leads me to the next issue: The Dolphins have two more home games at Sun Life Stadium this season. Never mind whether they win or lose those games against Buffalo (Dec. 19) and Detroit (Dec. 26).

The fact is neither one of those games is sold out at this time. The fact is, barring some unexpected series of events, neither of those games is likely to sell out in time to avert the local television blackout.

That sets a bad tone, folks. Home games that are not sold out make the owner (more) unhappy.

And that is increasingly an issue for folks like Sparano and Ireland.

[I'll be discussing this very topic on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, today from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. I'm sure the other local morning hosts that read this blog for material will pick up on this, but I would encourage you to listen to me directly so I can share other tidbits on this topic with you. Armando and the Amigo is on 640 Sports in South Florida.]

December 05, 2010

Browns beat Dolphins, 13-10

Folks, the Browns beat the Dolphins 13-10 today.

Terrible. Season over? Probably.


Browns lead Dolphins 10-3 to start fourth quarter

The Dolphins need offense.

They trail, 10-3 after the Browns went 94 yards on six plays in the third quarter.

The Dolphins are driving. But they haven't reached the dead, I mean, red zone yet. So we'll see what happens.

The live blog continues.

Dolphins and Browns tied at boring to start third quarter

Well, both teams got field goals in the second quarter.

Dan Carpenter connected on his FG near the end of the first half. It went ... wait for it ...

Sixty yards!

Carpenter is Miami's best offensive player today. The FG is the longest in Dolphins history, beating a 59-yarder by Pete Stoyanovich.

Chad Henne has two interceptions, which makes him Miami's least productive offensive player.

The defense is getting the job done so far. Of course, they are playing against the Cleveland Browns.

I am soooo excited! The live blog continues in the comments section.

Dolphins, Browns knotted at boring to start second quarter

Nothing happened in the first quarter, folks.

Both offenses kinda stunk.

Both defenses kinda did mediocre work.

The Dolphins special teams, God bless them, had a field goal attempt blocked.

It's 0-0.

The live blog continues in the second quarter comments below.

Fun on the field and the live blog today

It is a beautiful day in South Florida, perfect for football. There were not a thousand Cleveland Browns fans outside the stadium as a drove in -- defined as people wearing a Browns jersey or dog faces.

So stuff is good so far!

It's time to have some fun, folks. Let us hope the Dolphins have some fun. The Dolphins did not have much fun earlier in the season, but I write in my column today that Tony Sparano's team has focused on having some fun while on the field the last couple of weeks.

Brandon Marshall, prominent in that he's eager to have fun, is not expected to play today. He is questionable, which raises questions about his availability, but he was on the field and running around. Curious.

He seems to be ready to go but the Dolphins may hold him out for preventative measures. He missed last week's game with a hamstring injury.

[Update: Marshall is inactive.]

I do not believe Channing Crowder plays today. He was doubtful with a knee injury this week. Al Harris is also not likely to play today as he is doubtful with a hamstring injury.

{Update: Crowder is inactive.]

I'll give you the update on those guys 90 minutes prior to kickoff when the team announces the active roster and its inactive players.

[Update: the full list of inactives is Brandon Marshall, Al Harris, Crowder, Ryan Baker, Chris Baker, Eric Ghiaciuc, Mikey Shuler, and Matt Kopa.]

And, of course, there is a live blog on this site today. We start below in the comments section.

Let's have fun!




December 04, 2010

Dolphins may not miss Crowder's contributions

When I tweeted Friday that Channing Crowder is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, one of my followers answered my tweet in stinging fashion. If Crowder cannot play Sunday as expected, after not practicing all week on an injured knee, my follower noted the inside linebacker will not have any fewer tackles than he had last week against Oakland.



But it is true. Crowder, even when healthy this year, has not exactly posted impressive statistics. After missing the first four games with some sort of abdominal/groin injury, Crowder has only 22 tackles in 7 games.

That averages out to slightly over three tackles per game. That's good for a cornerback or a nose tackle. But it is not very good for an inside linebacker. Karlos Dansby, by comparison, averages more than seven tackles per game.

Crowder has had five tackles or more in a game only once this year, when he collected six against Chicago. Dansby has had five tackles or more in a game nine times.

That's not the most frustrating thing. It would be acceptable if Crowder wasn't a tackle machine but came up with timely plays -- momentum-changing plays here and there. He hasn't been doing that, either.

He doesn't have a sack. He doesn't have an interception. He doesn't have a forced fumble. He doesn't have a recovered fumble.

That doesn't mean Channing Crowder isn't a solid player. It does mean he's just not having an eye-opening season. And he's not a big contributor.

Tim Dobbins would be the expected starter for Crowder if he sits out as expected. 

December 03, 2010

The third QB? Might be Ronnie Brown

The Dolphins have but two quarterbacks -- Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen -- on the active roster.

So what happens in a game, including Sunday's against the Cleveland Browns, if the unexpected happens and the Dolphins have to go to a third QB? (By the way, the unexpected happened already on Nov. 14 when starter Chad Pennington blew out his shoulder in the first series and then Chad Henne suffered a day-ending knee injury in the third quarter.)

Well, after they waived Patrick Ramsey this week, the Dolphins have been working on figuring out their options.

"We have a couple of different alternatives," coach Tony Sparano said today. "We've done some work out there on the practice field, so we'll so how it goes. Obviously one of the things would be if we only had the two guys, then Ronnie [Brown] would be involved in some of that."

That's a possibility. Brown is a running back by trade. He is not a quarterback. But he's played the part, even this year in that Tennessee game, when he took QB snaps out of the Wildcat package. One supposes if both Henne and Thigpen go down, Brown could close out the game in a pinch.

It's not optimal, but it is possible. Brown has one pass attempt this year.


The Dolphins have former Denver QB Tom Brandstater on the practice squad. He's gotten some work in practice this week, mostly with the scout team. He is an option, but that would mean the Dolphins must sign him to the active roster by Saturday.

At least he would be more of a passing threat. That's in case, you know, the Dolphins need to throw the football.


December 02, 2010

Brandon Marshall: 'It's too calm' around the Dolphins

Brandon Marshall hasn't been on the field since the Chicago game two weeks ago. He hasn't been in the end zone but once this season.

The guy's obviously bored. (I know the feeling, by the way as I cover team mediocre.)

Anyway, Marshall today said his hamstring that has kept him out of the line is "feeling fine" so that suggests he'll be playing Sunday against Cleveland. What he does with that opportunity is unclear because Marshall wants to make it unpredictable.

"I've been thinking of other ways where I can push the envelope without getting penalties or getting fined," Marshall said while talking about the taunting penalty he got for playfully tossing a caught ball at former Denver teammate Jay Cutler two weeks ago. "I got to get creative. I've been too boring this year.

"Of course, I got only one touchdown, but If I get in the end zone, I need to do some celebration or something. Do something. Any ideas, let me know. Just give me something. Something! I don't know, say something. Spark some controversy. It's too calm."

OK, you heard the man. He wants suggestions of what he should do to stir things up a bit. Get to it, people!

Follow me on twitter and you'll get the real-time updates of what players and coaches are doing and saying. You'll also get stuff on the Heat and Hurricanes and whatever else comes across my information desk.

Henning: Henne shouldn't be looking for Marshall

Pehaps I am a conspiracy theorist. But it just seemed to me last week against Oakland that quarterback Chad Henne seemed more comfortable without Brandon Marshall in the lineup than he has previously been with the Pro Bowl wide receiver.

Perhaps that was a fact that Oakland had a hobbled defensive backfield. Perhaps it was just that Henne hit a stride that was going to show itself regardless of the receivers in the lineup.

But he looked more comfortable. So I asked offensive coordinator Dan Henning moments ago whether he believe Henne is more comfortable without Marshall.

Henning didn't exactly shoot down the idea but he did say that shouldn't be the case.

"I think you have to ask Chad that one," Henning said. "Shouldn't be. We try to treat them all the same and obviously they're all different. I understand that. Everybody's the same. But when they pick their checks up they're not the same.

"They're not the same and sometimes that holds water with who they are and what they are. And then you take a guy like [Davone] Bess who has to fight his way up. And now he's got a little credibility because of where he came from. When you get into the game and they come across from the front office, who brings them in, and signs them, and pays them, and they come to us, we try to treat them the same. What we see is what we get. We go by what we see.

"We shouldn't be looking for Brandon any more than the read takes us there. Now, we do try to design certain things for the better players. There's no question about that, that's what we should do. That's our job. But most of the time there's a read system that Chad has to go through and if he breaks that read system then that's his fault. He knows that and he's called down for it. He's put on the carpet anytime he breaks his read. But you'd have to ask him what his comfort zone is with different people."