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73 posts from October 2011

October 04, 2011

Chad Henne seeking 2nd opinion, surgery an option

Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne will this week await a second opinion on his separated left (non-throwing) shoulder, with the word from the doctor probably determining if he can play through pain of the injury or require surgery, The Miami Herald has learned through a team source.

The Herald's Barry Jackson is reporting Henne and the team will this week be sending X-Rays of the quarterback's injured shoulder to an independent shoulder specialist. The specialist will say whether Henne would be better off having surgery on the shoulder or could simply let it heal naturally.

If the option is to have surgery, Henne would miss significant time and possibly the rest of the season.

Henne, who obviously missed Tuesday's practice, would prefer to have the injury heal naturally. That would give him the ability to play as soon as he can handle the pain and manage taking snaps with a stabilized left shoulder -- perhaps the Oct. 23 meeting against Denver.

There is even one scenario under which Henne has been told he might play at the New York Jets on Oct. 17. That, however, is considered a long shot.

Henne will not leave town to seek the second opinion. The X-Rays will be overnighted to the specialist, the club source said.

As Henne is awaiting the second opinion, the Dolphins continue their attempts to sign another quarterback, suggesting the team is not exactly planning to have Henne for that next game against the Jets.

Help Wanted: Dolphins need a quarterback

A month into the season and the issue the Dolphins had the entire offseason remains an issue. They need to add a quarterback.

Yes, the situation is different now. Starter Chad Henne injured his left (non-throwing) shoulder during the San Diego game Sunday and is expected to miss significant practice time and likely the Oct. 17 game against the New York Jets.

So it''s not like the Dolphins are searching for a franchise quarterback.

They simply need an arm or two to help in camp the next couple of weeks and be available to play against the Jets should something happen to expected starter Matt Moore.

That means the Dolphins will go QB searching today.

Carson Palmer is available! (Yeah, then the alarm clock sounded and I awoke from my dream.) Palmer is, in fact, not available. The Bengals will not trade him and have not budged on the idea of not trading him.

Come to think of it, if the Dolphins land a Palmer it more likely would be Jordan Palmer, Carson's younger, less talented, less accomplished brother.

David Garrard is available but the Dolphins have shown puzzingly little interest in him. He is obviously the best QB on the market now.

[1 p.m. Update: NFL Network is reporting the Dolphins reached out to Garrard as well as Jake Delhomme but failed to sign either because the club apparently didn't want to guarantee any player's base salary for the remainder of the season.]

Kellen Clemens makes sense. He played under Brian Daboll once upon a time in New York. He's available. He has experience. Matt Gutierrez, with New England for a couple of years before washing out in Kansas City and Washington, is also out there.

[2:30 Update: Clemens is not an option as a source says the Dolphins are not interested.]

Jake Delhomme is out there. He helped the Cleveland Browns stink last year. He could fit in.

[6 p.m. Update: Delhomme is not interested in playing for the Dolphins, according to a source.]

Troy Smith is out there. Somewhere. He's been playing in the UFL so at least he's warmed up and in shape. Patrick Ramsey, whom the Dolphins had on the roster for about five minutes last season is available.

Marc Bulger is retired and I doubt the Dolphins could talk him out of that life just to serve as a backup a few weeks, but he is available.

Daunte Culpepper, who had a workout with the San Francisco 49'ers last month, is available. He would love the opportunity but I doubt the Dolphins would go there because, well, just have a feeling they wouldn't go there.

Other names the Dolphins can consider: Hunter Cantwell, Sean Canfield, Tom Brandstater, Dan LeFevour, Levi Brown, Drew Willy.

[Practice update: Henne, Nolan Carroll, Koa Misi, and Daniel Thomas missed practiced today. Check back for an another update later this afternoon.]

At least one Dolphin working on red eye rest today

Dolphins players have been open and honest about needing to improve at practice -- not just how they practice, but with the focus they have and pace they show at practice.


Well, one has to wonder how focused and fired up at least one Dolphins player will be at practice today. You see, I've learned that at least one player stepped off a Virgin America flight at 6:30 this morning and headed straight to work because the Dolphins were scheduled to report for work early this morning.

The reason I know this? NFL agent David Canter was on Armando and the Amigo this morning after stepping off the flight in Fort Lauderdale and told the show he saw the player who was on the same flight. The agent refused to name the player.

I'm not judging the player one way or the other. Frankly, grown men are free to make their own decisions. They are free to show up to work in whatever state of preparation or with whatever amount of sleep they feel is necessary.

But I have to wonder how anyone, under the circumstances -- with the team winless, with players talking about the need to be more focused and attentive at practice -- can schedule his return on a cross-country overnight flight only hours (if that) from the moment he has to be working.

Yes, even during a bye week. 

Of much less interest to me is TMZ gossip that following the Dolphins loss to San Diego Sunday night, running back Reggie Bush went clubbing in Hollywood.

I don't think I have much of an issue with this. Bush is a grown man. His work ethic is beyond reproach. He was able to make his own way back to South Florida as was any other player, apparently. And the players were off Monday, so what he did Sunday night doesn't bother me.

That's the difference between what I perceive Bush doing and what the unnamed player did. The unnamed player allowed his social calendar to overlap onto a work day. Bush was off Sunday night and was off Monday as were other players.

The only way I have an issue with Bush? If he was the unnamed player. And that is not known.

Nolan's defense has damaged coordinator's reputation

I'm never one to dismiss a good conspiracy theory. How can I? I've covered the NFL and dealt with agents and the changing of guards at Dolphins headquarters for two decades.

But sometimes things are as they seem. And this is one of those times.

So let me address this issue here and now:

Why is Tony Sparano the head coach of the Dolphins today? Why did owner Stephen Ross call Sparano, "the right coach," during a radio interview with the team's radio show on 940-AM Monday?

He gives the Dolphins the best chance to win right now.

Sparano's Dolphins are 3-1 lifetime versus Rex Ryan and his Jets. Sparano's Dolphins are 3-0 at the Meadowlands since 2008.

Similarly, why is defensive coordinator Mike Nolan not in a position to replace Sparano despite his previous experience as a head coach with the San Francisco 49'ers?

His work with the Dolphins' defense, a unit that has regressed this season amid expectations it would be a team strength, has hurt Nolan's reputation even within the organization. The organization simply believes if Nolan was the answer or had the answer, he'd be delivering it already as the defensive coordinator. And he's not.

It would be a different story if the Dolphins were 0-4 while Nolan's defense was the only unit playing with fire and putting up the kind of performances it did a year ago. But that isn't the case. The defense, in fact, is the biggest disappointment on the team based on expectations it could actually be elite this year.

It is not elite -- nowhere close. Nolan is in charge of the unit. And so that has cost Nolan.

As for Sparano? The organization believes he's the best they got. Simple. Logical.


October 03, 2011

Where 'o where have the playmakers gone?

SAN DIEGO -- What is the Dolphins biggest problem in 2011?


They have no one making plays.

They have no playmakers.

The Dolphins have plenty of heroes that step forward after the game, as I wrote in my Herald column today. But playmakers that actually make plays during the game?

No one comes up with the key interception. No one comes up with a strip sack and ensuing fumble recovery. No one punches the ball out for a fumble and recovery. No one catches that pass that converts the tough third down to a first down. No one hangs on to the difficult catch.

No one avoids the sack and throws the improbable TD pass.

The folks that are supposed to get things done this year simply have not.

The NFL's greatest cornerback tandem that Vontae Davis spoke of in the preseason? A mirage.

Jason Taylor as a complementary pass-rusher from the off side? Nope.

Reshad Jones as a playmaker in the deep secondary? Only if playmaker for the offense counts.

Reggie Bush as a matchup problem for the defense? Not too much.

Clyde Gates as the speed threat that can blow the top off the defense? Waiting to see it.

Anthony Fasano a threat in the red zone? Myth.

Davone Bess as a stronger Wes Welker? Not this year.

Kevin Burnett as a great coverage ILB? Not so much. He's been a downgrade from Channing Crowder so far and that's saying a lot.

And a quarterback that can put the entire offense on his shoulders? Chad Henne isn't that guy. His left shoulder, as a matter of fact, is messed up today so nothing's going on his shoulders.

The biggest disappointment to me? Brandon Marshall.

He's in his prime. He's supposed to be renewed emotionally. He's done it in the NFL before. And yet something just isn't clicking.

He's dropped four TD passes this year by my count. The latest of those was a deep sideline pass he apparently lost in the sun and went through his hands.

Frustrating. Very frustrating. But don't believe me.

Let Marshall tell you.


October 02, 2011

Sparano safe but his eventual exit expected

SAN DIEGO -- I had an interesting text exchange with a Dolphins source who insists coach Tony Sparano's job is safe for now so nothing has changed from last week.

But ...

This exchange was different in that out of it I am now convinced Sparano's days with the Dolphins are numbered, anyway. Seems the only way the coach can save his job on a permanent basis is to get the team in the playoffs.

And, if you've been watching the way the Dolphins are currently playing, they do not resemble anything close to a playoff team. So unless the Dolphins undergo a drastic, dramatic and unexpected change soon, Sparano is basically just keeping the seat warm.

Talk about a new definition to the coaching hot seat.  

Sparano might be keeping the seat warm for a week ... Until the next home game, which is October 23 against the Denver Broncos ... Or possibly until the season-finale.

But is he the Dolphins coach in 2012? Well, if he somehow makes the playoffs, sure.

Otherwise ... no.

Miami Dolphins lose to San Diego, 26-16

SAN DIEGO -- The first quarter of the season is over and the Dolphins are winless.

Sunday's 26-16 loss to San Diego sealed Miami's winless mark at this stage. The Dolphins are one of only four winless teams in the NFL.

And I am stunned because although I never would have thought this to be a playoff team, neither did I envision winless at this point.

The problem?

Only the offense.

And the defense.

And the coaching.

And the personnel department.

And everyone else.

Seriously, the offensive line is a turnstile. The secondary is a Sun Pass device allowing opposing quarterbacks to fly down the field. No one seems to want it. No one makes plays consistently. They don't play angry or with a great amount of emotion.

And the talent is simply not up to standards at this point.

The Dolphins have a bye week next week. Will there be changes?

I hope to have some answers in a bit. Check back.

Chargers hold a 23-13 lead over Miami to start 4th quarter

SAN DIEGO -- The Chargers extended their lead in the third quarter.

The Dolphins got a field goal in the third quarter. The Chargers got a touchdown and a field goal.

Do the Dolphins remember what a touchdown is? Do you guys remember the days when this team would score two or three of those in one game?

Will today be one of those? We'll see as the live blog continues in the comments section below.

Chargers lead Dolphins 13-10 to start third quarter

SAN DIEGO -- It could be worse. No, really.

The Dolphins are without quarterback Chad Henne, who injured his left shoulder and has been holding the arm as if in a sling while on the sideline. They also lost Mike Pouncey for two plays in a moment that drew the breath out of the visiting sideline.

And yet, despite all this, the Dolphins trail only 13-10 at halftime.

Moore has acquitted hismelf well, completing 8 of 9 passes for 85 yards.

But the only way the Dolphins win this game is if the defense shows up. The secondary has no clue in coverage. Phillip Rivers has thrown for 191 yards on 14 of 19 passing. Vincent Jackson has caught three passes for 108 yards. Terrible.

Miami has no coverage and very little pass rush outside Cameron Wake.

Join me in the comments section as the live blog continues.

Dolphins and Chargers tied 7-7 going to second quarter

SAN DIEGO -- Tons going on.

Chad Henne left the game with a left shoulder injury. Matt Moore took over.

And the Dolphins completed an 11-play, 92-yard drive for their first TD and a 7-0 with Moore in the game. He handed to Lex Hilliard for the payoff. Who knew these guys were the solution to Miami's red zone problems?

Anyway, the Dolphins cannot stand prosperity.

Phillip Rivers found Vincent Jackson on a 55-yard TD pass the very next possession. No one, absolutely no one, was covering Jackson.

So the teams are knotted. And the live blog continues in the comments section. Join me there.

Live blog of Dolphins at Chargers right here

SAN DIEGO -- Two teams will limp into this contest. One will limp out with a victory.

That's how it looks from this vantage point as the Dolphins and Chargers both have significant injuries that are affecting their lineups.

For the Dolphins, linebacker Koa Misi is out and Jason Taylor starts in his place. Nolan Carroll starts for Vontae Davis. Reggie Bush starts at running back and Steve Slaton is active for the game while Daniel Thomas is inactive. Slaton was claimed off waivers Wednesday and didn't arrive to the team until Thursday.

The rest of Miami's inactives are: Roberto Wallace, Ryan Cook, Tony McDaniel and Will Yeatman.

For San Diego, starting tight end Antonio Gates is out with a foot injury. He will be replaced by former Dolphins TE Randy McMichael. Starting cornerback Quentin Jammer is also out. He is replaced by Marcus Gilchrist. And defensive tackle Luis Castillo remains out as well. Strong safety Rob Sanders was placed on IR earlier this week.

There will be a live blog here today. You know there will.

I'll be in the comments section for the live blog. Join me there.

Dolphing going back to Cali ... and that's not good

SAN DIEGO -- The Dolphins will work against the Chargers today and afterward we'll see where they stand with a bye week coming next. (Join me for a live blog of the game starting in the comments section at 4 pm eastern.)

In the meantime, I want to draw your attention to why the bye week and, indeed, things that are happening at the highest levels of the Dolphins organization have been affected by club owner Stephen Ross and the plane trip he took to California back in January.

In a column that appears in today's Miami Herald, I make the point that that plane trip to interview then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh -- the last big cross-country trip for the Dolphins until this one to San Diego -- hurt the Dolphins in ways beyond what meets the eye.

Worse, that trip hurt the Dolphins perhaps in ways that cannot be solved.

For example, I report that plane ride absolutely ended the friendship between head coach Tony Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland. Oh, they used to be friends. Their wives used to be friendly. That is no longer the case now.

I describe their relationship as professional -- which is fine. But it may never again be what it was.

I outline how that plane trip hurt Ross's reputation. Two other owners have told me they dismiss practically anything Ross says based on losing respect for him, in part, because of that plane ride. One says "the lack of sophistication" by Ross in taking that course was embarrassing for the entire NFL ownership community.

It is thus no wonder to me Ross has not been able to convince as many owners as he wanted to place his FanVision devices in their stadiums. Other than the Dolphins, only 11 of the NFL's other 31 teams have put FanVision in their stadiums, according to the device's website.

So that plane ride cost Ross prestige among his peers. It cost him prestige among fans because some now see Ross as a man who cannot close. He went to interview Harbaugh but could not or would not pull the trigger on hiring Harbaugh. What's up with that? Harbaugh went to the 49'ers and their current record is 2-1.

The trip also cost Ross money because he had to give a coach he was thinking of replacing two more guaranteed years on a contract extension and then had to do the same for the general manager.

And, finally, I make the point  that plane ride could affect Ross as he makes a decision on a coaching change either at the bye week or the end of the season or whenever he decides he wants to do it.

Bottom line, that whole plane ride thing start to finish was a loser for the Dolphins.

We'll see if this weekend's plane ride to the West Coast is more fruitful.

October 01, 2011

It'll be 6-3 Sean Smith vs. 6-5 Vincent Jackson

SAN DIEGO -- Vincent Jackson is a beast.

He's 6-5 and 230 pounds and runs like a deer. That's bad.

Sean Smith is something of a beast himself. He's 6-3 and can jump to the moon.

So on Sunday it will be Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith covering chargers receiver Vincent Jackson. All the time, practically.

The Chargers expect the Dolphins to match up Smith on Jackson and follow him all over the field. The Dolphins, I'm told, will oblige by doing exactly that. At least that's what a club source is telling me is the plan.

Obviously, plans can change once the game begins. If the matchup is a loser for the Dolphins they would be wise to abandon it. But the idea initially is to let Smith show what he's got.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was coy about the idea Friday.

“Well, we’ll see, you just got to watch the game, I guess," he said kiddingly. "Are you going to the game? Just watch it, you got to watch it on TV? You’re going to miss good weather I guess.”

I'm in the nice weather. It's nice, The Miami Herald has learned.

With Smith on Jackson, the Dolphins can do a lot of things behind him. They can roll coverages to help Smith out. They can double Jackson behind Smith.

I'm not sure that will be the case every single down. You see, with Vontae Davis not playing on Sunday, Nolan Carroll will be matched against Malcolm Floyd much of the time. [Davis is having a season from heck as he'll miss his second consecutive game after failing to finish either of his first two games with various issues. The hamstring is keeping him out of this one. Koa Misi (neck) and Daniel Thomas (hamstring) are also out.]

This matchup of Dolphins DBs versus San Diego WRs is a study in who is least injured. As you know, Davis is out for Miami. Well, Jackson is managing an abdomen injury and did not practice at all on Wednesday or Thursday. And Floyd has a groin injury and also didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. Both are listed as questionable.