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73 posts from October 2011

October 23, 2011

Broncos beat Dolphins 18-15 in OT

The Dolphins snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

God, they are terrible.

They allowed Tim Tebow, who was sacked seven times and didn't seem to have a clue for 3 1/2 quarters to author a comeback victory. He helped the Broncos score two touchdowns and then get the winning field goal in overtime.

Owner Stephen Ross spent the entire final 5 minutes and overtime standing next to former Gators coach Urban Meyer. That doesn't mean anything short-term because Meyer isn't a coaching candidate today. But add him to the eventual list that will interest Ross. No doubt.

Also, the future of current coach Tony Sparano hangs in the balance tonight. Check back later for updates.

Dolphins and Broncos in overtime tied at 15

There's no way Tim Tebow, so terrible for thee-and-one-half quarter could rally the Broncos to two touchdowns and a two-point conversion right?


The Broncos did it.

And so the game is in overtime. The live blog rolls on in the comments section.

Dolphins in sight of season's first victory

The Dolphins continue to hold on to a 6-0 lead going to the fourth quarter. The way things are going today, the Dolphins own a two-score advantage.

But seriously folks, this game is ugly.

But in a beauty contest of wildebeests, the Dolphins are the one without the hideous beard.

The live blog continues in the comments section. Here we go.

Dolphins lead Broncos 6-0 to start third quarter

The Dolphins are destroying the Broncos, 6-0!

The Dolphins have caused two fumbles and recovered one. The defense is playing well. I can't tell you it's a beautiful game, but a 6-0 lead is better than a deficit.

Dan Carpenter is a monster!

As I write this, the Gator celebration is happening on the field. Most of the crowd is booing the "honoring of the Gators.

The live blog continues in the comments section. Join me there.

Dolphins lead Broncos 3-0 in 2nd quarter

The Dolphins have a short field goal from Dan Carpenter.

Matt Prater has missed two field goals for the Broncos.

It's a shootout here at Sun Life Stadium!

The live blog continues in the comments section.

Live blog: Gator Day celebration

There are more than a few Denver Broncos fans in the house. The Gator pep band or whatever they call it is here. Lots of Gator fans.


Anyway, the Dolphins inactives today are Reshad Jones, Steve Slaton, Ike Alama-Francis, Ryan Cook, Will Barker, Will Yeatman, and the mighty Pillip Merling. Tyrone Culver starts for Reshad Jones.

There will be a live blog today. It happens in the comments section below. I update the blog at the start of every quarter. So join me at kickoff.


Where's the big improvement after all these years?

"We're not an 0-5 football team."

"There's too much talent on this team for this."

"We're better than our record."

I keep hearing these phrases in the Dolphins locker room. And I don't believe them anymore. The NFL is about producing and getting results and the ideas that Dolphins that are one or two players away from being good and one or two plays away from having a couple of wins don't fly with me anymore.

That's because the Dolphins are a really bad football team right now.

Their 0-5 record screams that.

But here's the troubling part: The Dolphins have been a really bad football team in recent years. They were really awful in 2004 and terrible again in 2007. And people were fired and new people were hired and steps were taken and yet, here we are again.

Right back where we were in 2004 and 2007.

That's the point of my column in today's Miami Herald. The Dolphins have the same record today as they did after five games in both 2004 and 2007. Nothing has changed. We've wasted a bunch of years and a bunch of draft picks and a bunch of resources for, well, nothing.

The organization is running in place -- and going nowhere.

The record so far proves that.

But I decided to take a bit of a closer look at the situatiion. I looked at the rosters of the 2004 and 2007 team to see how close the three teams really come. You know what I found?

Today's Dolphins have no more stars on the roster than the 2007 team except for Jake Long. And the 2004 team was better than this bunch of today.

That speaks poorly of the personnel department that replaced the 2004 crew. And it speaks poorly of the personnel crew that is currently in place. The current personnel department -- headed by GM Jeff Ireland -- has failed to fill a ton of holes.

The free safety hole is glaring and moreso today with Reshad Jones, who is no great shakes to begin with, being out and replaced by Tyrone Culver. The right side of the offensive line is still a work in progress -- as much of the offensive line has been built, torn down, rebuilt, torn down and rebuilt during this current administration -- with none of the construction proving good enough.

Tight end is still a hole. The reach for an alpha receiver in Brandon Marshall has so far backfired. The 2009 and 2010 first round draft picks -- Vontae Davis and Jared Odrick -- are solid players but neither is excellent. The exchange of Kevin Burnett for Channing Crowder has brought a net loss.

The club is paying $12 million to Paul Soliai and he's not playing up to the salary, and there's no youngster behind him that is coming up and can replace him next year when Soliai asks for another $10 million guaranteed plus a nice base salary. Oh, and there's also no future QB on the roster -- still. In four years, this personnel department has failed to find a franchise quarterback as surely as the one in 2007 failed and the one in 2004 failed before them.

Read the column. See if you can make the point after looking at the actual people involved  that you'd rather have the roster today or 2004. And see how far this team has really come since 2007. The record so far would suggest not far.

October 21, 2011

Brian Daboll talks Dolphins offense

Brian Daboll's a good guy. Very competitive. Smart. Hard worker.

But the Dolphins offense isn't producing and Daboll is the offensive coordinator. So he takes this stuff personally.

"There are two types of people," Daboll said Thursday. "Excuse makers ... and you got people that roll up their sleeves and go to work."

Daboll's been working on improving an offense that is coming off its lowest point production of the season last week -- managing only two field goals -- with backup-turned-starting QB Matt Moore at the helm.

In the video below, Daboll discusses Moore's penchant for locking on receivers in his first start of the year. He tells why the Fins tried passing the ball to unproductive rookie Clyde Gates when he was matched up against Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis last week. He discusses the effectiveness of rookie Daniel Thomas, particularly in the red zone. He discusses his other wide receivers.

Take a gander:

Sparano attempts to offer reasons for hope

It's tough being a Dolphins fan these days.

The team is winless.

The team's home field no longer offers advantage.

Players say they are monsters but play like pussy cats. Others challenge reporters to strap on pads during interviews but cannot make tackles when they count. Others are upset they are being asked to "Suck for Luck," when, in fact, no one is asking them to do anything other be themselves -- which should take care of things just fine.

And, of course, a coaching staff about to be replaced inside of two months so far has no answers for turning the thing around.

But there is hope. No, we're not back talking about Suck for Luck. If you listen to coach Tony Sparano there is a bright side to these dark days. Sparano was asked Thursday what fans -- you folks -- can dig your fingernails into and hold on to as hope.

His answer:

"Well, the only thing I can say in that situation is the team is playing hard. These guys are playing hard and they practice hard. If you want hope, I mean, they’re playing hard, they’re practicing hard, there’s improvement in different areas, there really is.

"I can point to three phases in the special teams game right now that has improved tremendously. Now the phase that we’re not quite where we want to be right now, we’re not anywhere where we want to be right now, is in the kickoff return phase. We have to be better in that because that’s going to help us finish drives better offensively. Just field position, we’re not very good in that phase right at this particular time. We got to do a better job there. But that, the defense from a run standpoint right now has gotten themselves a little bit better. We’re starting to play better there.

"Offensively we’re running the ball better and doing some different things. You’re getting bigger plays, you’re getting chunk plays. That’s all I’ve heard from three years here is trying to get the ball down field. We’re one of the top teams in the league in getting the ball down the field right now. I’d be encouraged about those things. I’d be encouraged about the players that are out there playing right now, the (Charles) Clays, the (Daniel) Thomas’, the (Mike) Pounceys, the Jimmy Wilsons. You know, the list is long, talking about a lot of young, Reshad Jones. I mean these guys are all young players right now. For me, I think those things are all really positive.

"And I think the more those guys play, the better this football teams going to get. This team is just going to continue to get better and that’s what I really believe in my heart that this thing is going to turn. I know the attitude of the people in that locker room. I’ve coached four teams here now and I love this team. I just, for whatever reason, I don’t know what it is, they just come to work every day and they go to work. I don’t know if that gives them optimism. When you’re 0-5 I understand that there’s not a lot of it but in that locker room these guys come in here and they are trying to win every single game that we play."


Did that work? Feeling more hopeful, Dolphins fans?

October 20, 2011

Thanks Tim Tebow, Dolphins on TV Sunday

Some of you hate the Dolphins celebration of the Florida Gators 2008 championship at Sun Life Stadium Sunday.

Some of you love the Dolphins' celebration of the Florida Gators 2008 championship at Sun Life Stadium Sunday.

And apparently those who love it are getting the upper hand.

That's because the number of tickets the promotion helped to sell -- estimated by the Dolphins to number between 5,000-7,000 -- has helped drive sales to the point where the team is now in position to guarantee a sellout of the game and thus televise the game on local television in South Florida.

The club will announce later this afternoon that the game will be sold out as it will guarantee the sellout. The Dolphins, in conjunction with sponsors, similarly guaranteed the sellout of the Sept. 18 game against Houston.

Let it be known: There are still plenty of tickets remaining. So the club is hopeful a significant number of those can be sold in the days leading up to the game. But the fact the perfect storm of having this Gator Day celebration coincide with the promoting of Tim Tebow to be the Broncos starting quarterback Sunday worked for the home team.

Since the Tebow promotion announcement in Denver, the Dolphins say 10,000 tickets have been sold for the game. Previously, as many as 28,000 seats remained unsold.

Obviously, not all the tickets sold the past two weeks went to UF fans or alumni. Hey, maybe the 3,000 to 5,000 estimated not to be Gator-driven tickets were bought by University of Miami fans who will come to boo Tebow -- something that would suit the Dolphins.

Or maybe, those tickets were simply sold to full-fledged Dolphins fans.

What a concept!

Reshad Jones only player sitting out practice

The Dolphins are working this afternoon -- everyone except Reshad Jones, that is.

Jones, nursing a knee injury, did conditioning off to the side.  Tyrone Culver is the next man up as the depth chart suggests.

Brandon Marshall (quad) and Reggie Bush (groin), both missed practice Wednesday but were back at work Thursday. It is impossible to know if Bush and Marshall were limited in practice or did everything. That will be clear when the injury report is published later today.

All the players who were limited in practice Wednesday -- Nolan Carroll, Chris Clemons, Daniel Thomas, Cameron Wake and Will Yeatman -- were all present and practicing today.

October 19, 2011

Dolphins banged up on a short week

It's a short week to prepare but also a short week to recover from injuries as the Dolphins prepare for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos.

The team has a lot of recovering to do.

Brandon Marshall has a quadriceps injury and missed practice today. Reggie Bush has a groin injury and missed practice today. Reshad Jones has a knee injury he's nursing and he also missed practice today.

The club also has a handful of players that worked on a limited basis as they also continue to nurse injuries. Chris Clemons (hamstring), Daniel Thomas (hamstring), Cameron Wake (hamstring), Nolan Carroll (hamstring) and Will Yeatman (shoulder) all were limited during today's practice.

Not Naughty by Nature: You down with Ohhh and 16?

I told everyone in my column following the Dolphins latest loss that the team was bordering on joke material, that it might not be long before the late night comics latched on to the Dolphins' struggles and use them for giggles.

Well, a local Miami comedian has beaten them to the punch.

Hialeah's own Will Lopez, whose twitter page says he is the lead singer for the group "Guajiro" (if you're not Cuban, nevermind), has put together a little ditty about the Dolphins road the rest of the season. Lopez apparently is set on that road leading to Andrew Luck.

And, of course, the quickest way to get to Luck is to go 0-16. Thus, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, 0-16:


October 18, 2011

Dolphins consulting with Eric Mangini

Remember last year when deposed Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini called team owner Stephen Ross to discuss I-don't-know-what?

Well, the Dolphins shoved that phone call under the proverbial rug as simply a coach reaching out to an owner because the two had an ongoing relationship rooted in Mangini's days with the New York Jets and Ross's residency in New York.

Well, the two are talking again.

Multiple sources are telling me Ross talks to Mangini on a fairly regular basis to get his opinion of the Dolphins. Apparently Mangini tells Ross what he thinks of various areas, including coaching. This is interesting considering Mangini is not ever around the team to find out what game plans are, what injury concerns the team is nursing and other factors critical to decisions made on and off the field.

Despite this relationship and the fact Ross obviously respects Mangini's opinion, I am told the former Jets and Browns coach is absolutely, positively NOT a candidate for the Dolphins coaching job either on an interim basis should Tony Sparano be relieved before the end of the season, or as a long-term option following the season should the Dolphins fail to overcome their 0-5 start.

Again, Eric Mangini is not a candidate to be the Dolphins head coach.

But he is regularly speaking with the Dolphins nonetheless.

Players react to another loss, being 0-5

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- I have nothing else to say about Miami's 24-6 loss to the Jets. I've made peace with the result in this column that appears in today's Herald.

This, meanwhile, is what players said after the Dolphins lost to the Jets on Monday night:

Wide receiver Bradon Marshall, who dropped a TD pass and fell out of bounds as he was running up the sideline on a play that could have been yet another score: "It's tough right now. When you lose, everything looks bad. It's a nasty feeling in the building. The only thin we can do is try and fight to get a win. We're not going to give up. We have way too much character in the locker room. We owe it to the city of Miami. We owe it to ownership to play better. This is embarrassing. We have way too many players in our locker room to be sitting at 0-5. Hopefully we can get this turned around."

Outside linebacker Jason Taylor, who had one tackle, on whether he felt a sense of 'here we go again' when the game began to slip away: "I never feel that way."

Tight end Anthony Fasano, who caught one screen pass for 13 yards, on whether he felt a sense of 'here we go again,' when the game began to slip away: "When things go badly, it's tough not to revert back to what you've been doing but good teams don't do that. I think we're a mentally strong team, but we're not showing it right now."

Safety Yeremiah Bell, who led the team with seven tackles, on whether the effort was good for four quarters: "Oh, the effort is there. We're just not getting it done. We have to get that first one out of the way. With our team, we haven't figured out how to get on top and how to win games yet. We get out there, we're playing hard, but it's just things aren't going our way sometimes. We're giving up plays here and there and it's hurting us."

Defensive end Kendall Langford, who had one tackle, on whether the effort was good for four quarters: "We're digging ourselves in a hole. Miami is beating Miami. Those guys, they made some plays out there and hats off to them. But at the end of the day we got to play 60 minutes of football. We can't just play 30 minutes."

And finally, linebacker Karlos Dansby, who had six tackles and a sack:


Tony Sparano safe despite 'brutal' night

Tony Sparano is unlikely to be replaced this week, according to a source. And I'm starting to hate my job.

I hate that the Dolphins terrible 0-5 start is roosting directly in the doorstep of Sparano, a good man and a good coach who is not blameless for his team's record but also is not completely to blame for it either.

And so with each passing loss, the watch to determine if Sparano remains or goes grows more focused. And I am tasked with monitoring it.

And I hate it because I think a good coach is about to get whacked -- if not now, eventually, and almost certainly by the end of the season.

Monday night's loss to the Jets was especially harmful to Sparano's tenure. His team lost in horrible fashion. After a bye week. Against a team that had lost three in a row.

"Tonight was brutal," a club source told me.

And that is bad for coach because owner Stephen Ross, who last week gave him something of a midseason vote of confidence, was apparently very, very disappointed. Again. And the disappointment was augmented by the fact Ross sees it as something of another home loss because New York is his home.

"It is fair to say that the fuse is burning," the source told me.

However, the fact this is a short week, with the Dolphins returning to the field on Sunday only five days from now, makes a change significantly less likely, the source said.

So coach is safe for another week despite not being able to coax a victory from his team all season.

I know you guys don't care one way or another about Sparano because he's not a person to you. He's simply the guy you see on the sideline and the guy you see as not giving you something good to cheer about and feel good about. You transfer your frustration to him.

I get that. His team stinks. So he stinks.

But I don't believe he stinks. He's still the same guy that got the Dolphins to 11-5 in 2008. And he is a person. He has a family. And, unlike other Dolphins coaches that I believed to be somewhat inept and in need of replacing, I don't share that feeling about Sparano.

So following this story is not fun for me. Nonetheless the job will get done. That's the reason you come here.

(And now I'm sure your comments will discuss what a sap I am. So be it.)

October 17, 2011

Jets beat Dolphins: Suck for Luck continues

The Dolphins are 0-5 tonight after losing a 24-6 decision to the New York Jets.

This team is bad.

And the prospects the rest of the season seem bleak.

Going to the locker room now to see what the deal is. Will report back

Jets lead the Dolphins 17-6 to start fourth quarter

Reggie Bush has a neck injury and his return is questionable.

Sean Smith is also out of the game because he has cramps. His return is questionable.

It is also questionable the Dolphins can mount a comeback against the Jets, as they trail 17-6.

Let's see if the can.

Join me in the comments section below as we finish out the live blog.

Jets lead Dolphins 14-6 to start third quarter

Well, at least Brandon Marshall didn't get tossed from the game in the second quarter.

Other than that, it's a bad night so far for the Dolphins. Yes, they've actually outgained the Jets 215 yards to 100 yards. But Matt Moore's interception to Darrelle Revis, which he returned 100 yards tips the scales toward New York.

The Dolphins offense is terrible on third down -- 0-for-6.

The defense just gave up an 80-yard drive to the Jets prior to halftime.

This is not good, as you might guess.

The live blog continues in the comments section. Go there now.

Jets lead Dolphins 7-3 to start second quarter

Very frustrating in the first quarter for the Dolphins. They've had opportunities. And they've refused to take those opportunities.

Matt Moore has missed wide open recievers -- including Charles Clay in the end zone for a TD. Then he threw an interception returned 100 yard for a TD.

The Dolphins, trailing 7-3, have been otherwise up to the task of playing even against the Jets.

The live blog continues as the Dolphins are inside the 10-yard line to start the quarter. Join me in the comments section.