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71 posts from December 2011

December 31, 2011

Bush gives offensive line a belated Christmas gift

Reggie Bush is quite appreciative that just concluded his first season with over 1,000-yards rush. Although Bush will miss Sunday's season-finale against the New York Jets, he'll finish with 1,086 yards.

His previous high in a season was 581 yards in 2007 while still with New Orleans.

So, obviously, Bush is thankful that his offensive line helped in his effort. After all, there were some holes Bush ran through that a truck could fit through.

But showed that offensive line his appreciation today by buying every member of the line a Segway. A Segway isa two-wheeled self-balancing transportation vehicle.

Segways
A user commands the Segway to go forward by shifting their weight forward on the platform, and backward by shifting their weight backward. The Segway notices, as it balances, the change in its center of mass, and first establishes and then maintains a corresponding speed, forward or backward. Gyroscopic sensors and fluid-based leveling sensors are used to detect the shift of weight. To turn, the user manipulates the handlebar left or right. Segways are driven by electric motors and can go up to 12.5 miles per hour.

Bush just tweeted: "Direct Quote from the O Line: "This is the coolest gift I've ever received!" Mission Complete!"

December 30, 2011

Reggie Bush is out on Sunday; Daniel Thomas time

Dolphins coach Todd Bowles just told the media that running back Reggie Bush will not play against the New York Jets Sunday as his ailing right knee will prevent him from playing.

It'll be Daniel Thomas carrying the load, such as it is, for the Dolphins running game. The Dolphins can also use Lex Hilliard behind Thomas to help carry the load and Richard Medlin may be available after being signed off the practice squad earlier this week.

Bush finishes his season with 1,086 yards on 216 carries. He played and started in each of the previous 15 games this season.

And while this knee issues won't be considered a big deal now, because the Dolphins are out of the playoff running and the season ends for them Sunday, it raises questions going forward.

This was Bush's sixth NFL season. He has played in 16 games only once in his career, that in his rookie year.

The Dolphins insist they found a workhorse starting running back this year, one that could run between the tackles, take the pounding and, frankly, be the man.

With Bush going through the season healthy, that argument was a winner. Now, with his knee injury a question, that changes.

What if the Dolphins were a playoff team? Another year in which Bush got hurt, again, would be huge news and a huge disappointment. So can they go into next year with Bush as their planned workhorse again?

A thank you and look at Robert Griffin III

[First a thank you: As the year draws to a close, I want to thank you for another wonderful and record-breaking 12 months on this blog. Simply, this is the most popular blog at the Miami Herald as well as the most popular sports blog. It's been that way for years. Although other blogs at the Herald try to talk Dolphins, this is your Dolphins destination blog. And this, the final week of the year, was typical of that. On Tuesday, for example, Dolphins In Depth garnered 50.45 percent of the page views of all the blogs at the Herald -- that includes sports and non-sports blogs. That was No. 1 overall and easily No. 1 in sports, as Eye on the U had 2.9 percent of the page views, Heat Check had 2.42 percent of the page views, On Frozen Pond had 2.03 percent of the page views and the Greg Cote blog was fourth in sports and ninth overall with 2 percent of the page views. Those results are typical. You guys don't take holidays off from this blog. You guys come here in the mornings, afternoons, evenings and even overnight. So thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your comments. I expect 2012 to be even better. -- Armando.]

Did you watch Robert Griffin III play last night?

Griffin, known to his fans at RG3, was merely good for Baylor but you have to understand that by good, I mean amazing by recent Dolphins quarterback standards. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 295 yards with 1 TD pass, 1 TD run and no interceptions.

He had highlight his moments, such as his 24-yard TD run, his block to spring a teammate on a 36-yard TD run, and a 48-yard pass that set up Baylor's go-ahead score that made it 60-56 against Washington in the Alamo Bowl.  Baylor eventually won, 67-56.

Pretty impressive.

Griffin showed incredible accuracy in completing 72 percent of his passes but you must also consider three of his incompletions were a result of drops. He showed great mobility, great speed and good vision downfield.

He wasn't perfect. He missed a wide-open receiver streaking down the sideline on a fourth-down throw that he mistakenly directed into double-coverage toward the middle of the field instead. He held the ball too long in the pocket once, leading to a sack. He also fumbled once when he was blindsided on a strip-sack.

But overall, Griffin III continued to solidify his status as the second-best quarterback prospect in the April NFL draft behind Andrew Luck. But that's only if he declares for the draft, as everyone, including scouts and NFL personnel people, expect him to do.

"We went out in style!" Griffin shouted to his teammates as he paraded the Alamo Bowl trophy around the field. Then Griffin jumped into the stands where his parents, sister and fiance were sitting to share a moment with them. His parents, by the way, are already studying their son's NFL draft prospects and talking to agents.

Griffin gave a small indication of when he might announce his decision to stay in school or go pro.

"I want Baylor nation to enjoy this," he said. "It's not about me. I've got about two weeks. I'll enjoy this the next day, and then the next day, and then I'll make [my decision]."

Griffin III is rated the No. 10 overall prospect by Mel Kiper. That's conservative.

I don't see him getting past Washington if he comes out and they are picking five, six, or seven. There are even whispers Cleveland is interested in Griffin III. Yesterday, Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur told the local media there he would definitely find a way to catch RG3's game on television and the Browns had scouts at the game.

"Tremendous talent," Shurmur said of RG3.

The Dolphins?

Yes, they were represented at the game as well.

So assuming RG3 comes out, will the Dolphins be in position to land the second-best QB prospect? It won't be easy. If the Dolphins beat the Jets this weekend, they'll be 6-10. That will be better than Minnesota, Cleveland, Jacksonville,  and possibly Washington.

There's no way RG3 will get past Washington. Jacksonville has a young QB in Blaine Gabbert, but there is no one that can predict with certainty the Jaguars would not take a potential franchise quarterback. Obviously Cleveland is interested.

I believe the team to worry about is Washington. If they Dolphins want RG3, they would have to trade up ahead of the Redskins. And the Redskins, knowing this, would probably also be trying to move up to make sure teams behind them don't move ahead.

The price for such a climb? It will be steep. If Luck goes to Indianapolis with the first pick, the St. Louis Rams will probably auction off the second pick for a bounty of draft picks. If multiple teams such as Miami and Washington are involved, we're talking multiple first-round picks to make a deal.

December 29, 2011

Dolphins injury situation for finale not great

Tight end Anthony Fasano said Thursday he expects to play Sunday when the Dolphins finish their 2011 season with a home game against the New York Jets. Fasano missed last week's game with a concussion but he has passed tests this week, has been cleared and is practicing.

The rest of the Dolphins injury news isn't so good.

RB Reggie Bush (knee), CB Jimmy Wilson (hamstring) and ILB Karlos Dansby (personal reasons) did not practice for the second consecutive day Thursday.

Bush's knee is serious enough that Miami signed Richard Medlin off its practice squad earlier this week. Rookie Daniel Thomas, who has been slowed by a knee injury the last couple of weeks, has practice full this week so his timing is good.

Dansby has not been with the team because he is dealing with a death in the family. There is no definite timetable for getting Dansby back at this point. 

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said the issue is not only getting Dansby back, but making sure Dansby's mind is right.

Backup Marvin Mitchell, who is the next linebcker up in the rotation, has been getting snaps in games, and has been working with the first team defense this week, is expected to see playing time regardless of whether Dansby is right or not.

RT Marc Colombo, who missed practice altogether on Wednesday with an ankle injury, returned on a limited basis Thursday. I expect he will play.

WRs Clyde Gates (groin) and Brandon Marshall (knee) were limited in their practice participation today.

December 28, 2011

Jason Taylor talks about retiring, retirement and regret

Jason Taylor doesn't want to make this about him although, of course, it is totally about him.

He confirmed this afternoon what I wrote about in my column this morning and that is he is indeed retiring after Sunday's season-ending game for the Dolphins against the New York Jets.

"Unfortunately this will be my last game as a Miami Dolphin and a professional football player," Taylor said. "I look forward to enjoying this week and soaking it all in the next few days. Obviously, we have a game left to play. So while there will be time for thank yous and good-byes this is not the time. But I will say this will be my last game as an NFL football player so I look forward to it."

Why is Taylor leaving? Obviously he is 37 years old and would be 38 when the 2012 season begins next September. Taylor realizes this is a younger man's game and realizes the Dolphins are going to get younger.

"This organization in the near future is going to make some changes and part of those changes is needing to address some personnel positions and this is the right time for me to go ahead and go and allow this organization to grow and improve," he said.

Taylor spoke from the heart and did admit he leaves the game with one regret.

"If there's one regret I have as an athlete the last 15 years its that I didn't get a chance to bring a championship to Miami and be part of that and help bring it to Miami," he said. "... There's a lot of by-products that come with playing the game -- the fame, the money. But at the end of the day we all want to win. And, unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to do that. As my career comes to an end that's one thing that like so many other great players, I haven't had a chance to do that. That's my one regret."

Any chance he'll ever return? I think there is a chance. But the truth is Taylor intends to pursue a career in the media and television. And he's not going to leave that to chase some end-of-season lark, say, next December. I do leave the door of possibility open should Taylor not be in the media.

But he will be and he puts locks and chains on his door.

"Look, Sunday is my last game," Taylor said. "I'm going to go ahead and walk away -- hopefully healthy ... I'm not even going to leave the door open for any of that stuff. As a matter of fact, I might even change my cell phone number so they can't get me." 

Follow me on twitter please.

Going further in-depth about Jason Taylor retirement

While everyone is digesting the news that Jason Taylor is retiring after Sunday's regular-season finale -- something I have been told by a Dolphins source Taylor is scheduled to confirm during a press availability today -- let me keep you guys ahead of the curve with something more to chew on and digest:

This retirement means something significant.

This retirement is something to celebrate for its nostalgia and meaning to the history of the club. But it also is meaningful in that it speaks, no, speaks is understated ... It screams the Dolphins have yet another significant hole they must fill this offseason.

Outside linebacker.

The hole is not new. It was obvious when the Dolphins drafted Koa Misi in April 2010. It was obvious when the Dolphins put in a waiver claim for Shawne Merriman in the winter of 2010, just before he was awarded to the Bills. It was obvious when the team came crawling back to the 37-year-old Taylor in July even though two seasons before the front office cryptically referred to him as a "progress stopper."

Seems Taylor wasn't a progress stopper in July, considering no young player on the roster other than Cameron Wake could rush the passer as well Taylor.

And that means this:

Misi has not developed into the pass-rusher the Dolphins hoped he'd become by now when they drafted him in the second round.

And the Dolphins will have to somehow -- either through the draft or free agency -- acquire another pass-rush threat to replace Taylor and compete with Misi.

None of this mean Misi is a bust. He is, after all, in his second season and everyone I talk to says he works hard at his craft and is seriously trying to get better. But it does say that Miami is ready to hedge its bet on Misi. The Dolphins cannot simply let Taylor retire and be confident Misi will take his repetitions and fill the production void.

They need an alternative to provide competition with Misi. They need someone else who must be better than Misi is right now and has the probability of being as 7-sack good as Taylor.

It's interesting that a 3-4 defense team must have outstanding outside linebacker play to be effective. And yet the Dolphins will go into this offseason with only one OLB (Wake) anyone has certainty will make plays on a consistent basis.

So, yeah, add a playmaking OLB as a major need for the coming offseason.

Jason Taylor retiring: My favorite memory and the HOF

I have reported in Wednesday's Miami Herald that Jason Taylor is retiring following Sunday's regular-season finale against the New York Jets.

Read my column on this breaking news here on The Herald website. The column gives all the necessary details you need.

This blog?

I want to share my favorite memory of Jason Taylor.

Believe it or not, it came in the forgettable 2006 season when Nick Saban's team was underperforming and disappointing former players as well as fans. The seemingly overmatched Dolphins were winners of only one game in their first seven and the Bears were undefeated at 7-0 when the two teams were scheduled to meet at Soldier Field, where the Bears had outscored their opponents 152-30 in their previous four games.

No one gave the Dolphins much of a chance.

And Taylor was angry as I've ever seen him in his 15-year career. He was angry nobody gave the Dolphins a chance. He was angry the media wasn't respecting the team. He was angry former Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg had told the Chicago Tribune the Dolphins had "no soul" and a victory over Chicago was "not even remotely possible."

That week, Taylor said Kuechenberg needed "a hug and a hobby." And as for the Bears, he refused to say they were better than Miami while acerbically calling them the "Almighty Bears."

I frankly dismissed it as pregame bravado that wouldn't amount to much. Taylor made it amount. Plenty.

Taylor had a strip-sack that notched a turnover and intercepted a Rex Grossman pass that he returned 20 yards for a touchdown. The Dolphins won 31-13. And in the locker room afterward, Taylor didn't play the smug I-told-you-so athlete. He simply explained how he and his teammates felt.

"We were 1-6 and had faced a lot of criticism," he said. "I don't mind if you criticize us. That's fine. But the disrespect is what bothers me. When someone questions your heart and all that, that gets my attention. It got all our attention."

It gets my attention, as we look back on Taylor's career, that some Dolphins fans still believe he was disloyal to the team because he was traded away in 2008 and signed with the Jets in 2010. For the record, he did wish to be traded in 2008 but soon found out that was a mistake. So he returned in 2009, hoping to finish his career in Miami but after that season was told nothing about playing in Miami in 2010. So that forced his hand to sign with New York.

As far as loyatly is concerned, he was always loyal to his coaches publicly and privately. He defended Dave Wannstedt, Jim Bates, Nick Saban and Tony Sparano staunchly. No, he wasn't too fond of Cam Cameron. No he never defended Cameron publicly or privately. Um, I understand why.

The more important question is did Taylor do enough to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Assuming he doesn't collect more sacks in his final game, he finishes ranked fifth on the all-time sack list. That alone makes him a HOF candidate. He probably has to wait for guys such as Chris Doleman and Michael Strahan to get in before he does. That's probably fine with Taylor.

He's got five years before he's eligible for consideration anyway.

By the way, the Dolphins have retired Dan Marino, Larry Csonka and Bob Griese's numbers. Should 99 be retired?

Discuss ... And give JT a warm sendoff, people.

[RADIO NOTE: It'll be JT all the time on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, this morning. We'll talk about his legacy, his time with and away from the Dolphins, and where he stands in Dolphins history. We'll take your phone calls toll-free from anywhere in the United States at 1-888-640-9385. And you may watch the show stream live video right here at The Miami Herald website from start to finish, 6-10 a.m., if you wish.]

December 27, 2011

Pro Bowl team to be announced tonight: Marshall!

The Pro Bowl teams for the AFC and NFC will be announced tonight on NFL Network.

If you're expecting to tune in for a bunch of Dolphins love, I'd say you'll be disappointed. Miami's, with a 5-10 record, has a 1,000-yard rusher, an 1,177-yard receiver, a quarterback with a passer rating of nearly 90, a great punter, a solid middle linebacker, and a left tackle who's never missed a Pro Bowl in his first three season.

But of all of those, I'd think Brandon Marshall has the best and perhaps only chance of getting named to the Pro Bowl team.

[Update: Marshall was indeed voted as a reserve player. Long was voted in as a starter, but obiously his injury status probably will prevent him from attending.]

Marshall ranks 10th in the NFL with his yardage, but he is third among AFC wide receivers behind only New England's Wes Welker and Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace. I do believe each conference will include three or four wide receivers so there's room for Marshall.

Reggie Bush is No. 9 in the NFL with 1,086 rushing yards. But he faces a tougher road than Marshall because Houston's Arian Foster, Baltimore's Ray Rice and San Diego's Ryan Mathews have more yards than he does, while Denver's Willis McGahee is only 32 yards behind. McGahee will get the large contingent of University of Miami players in the league voting for him, something I know happens. I'm not sure if USC players all vote for each other or not. The Broncos are also a better team than the Dolphins so there's that.

Regardless of whether Jake Long is selected to the Pro Bowl, it is almost a certainty he will not play in it. So you can forget that big Dolphins helmet towering over the rest of the offensive line during the Pro Bowl telecast.

I would hope punter Brandon Fields has a chance, but Oakland's Shane Lechler -- who has a better gross average than Fields -- is almost always a lock while New England's Zoltan Mesko has a better net average than Fields.

On defense, Miami's best chance is getting Karlos Dansby on the team. Dansby's 101 tackles make him a candidate. But he's a long shot because Ray Lewis always goes -- regardless of injury or not -- and Buffalo's Nick Barnett has more tackles and has made more plays this year.

We'll see. Team will be announced at 7 p.m. EDT.

Report: Gruden getting back into coaching in 2012

Jon Gruden, long a name connected to the Dolphins as a possible target to fill their head coach opening, is leaving ESPN and returning to coaching according to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Written in the context of Gruden joining general manager A.J. Smith in St. Louis if Smith is fired by the San Diego Chargers, the report makes it seem as if Gruden's return to the NFL is practically guaranteed.

"People familiar with Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s plans said Monday that Kroenke is waiting for [Chargers owner Alex] Spanos to make a move on Smith. If Smith is available, league and agent sources strongly indicated that Smith will be hired as Rams’ general manager and bring along Jon Gruden as head coach.

"Sources said Gruden has decided to return to coaching in 2012 and that his current employer, ESPN, is already preparing for his departure."

The story does not say what will happen if Smith isn't fired by the Chargers. Would he hire Gruden in San Diego to replace Norv Turner, who is expected to be fired? Would Smith hire someone else in San Diego? Would Gruden seek another NFL coaching job?

Despite those questions, the possibility of Gruden return anywhere is interesting amid the context of his repeated denials he's interested in an return to coaching and despite a statement earlier this year released through ESPN that he had extended his broadcast contract and would not be leaving the Monday Night Football booth for the sideline.

Despite that statement, by the way, sources at ESPN have told The Herald's Barry Jackson that Gruden is free and able to leave the network for a coaching job at his whim.

Two weeks ago, the Herald tried to question Gruden about his intentions following the season. But on a conference call, the ESPN representative did not call on the Herald reporter to ask a question, ostensibly because he knew the question coming would be about Gruden leaving the network.

And ESPN representative then told The Herald the network that is supposedly a news gathering organization felt no need to expose Gruden to questions not having to do with their weekly game broadcast. The ESPN rep directed the Herald to the previous statement on Gruden extending his contract.

... A contract and extension Gruden is prepared to leave in the dust if the San Diego Union Tribune story is correct.

On importance of the offseason, Schottenheimer rumor

This blog for weeks has been taking routine and well-planned detours from what is currently happening with the Dolphins every game week because, as I wrote in my column in today's Miami Herald, what is about to happen this offseason is a lot more important and exciting than what is currently happening in season.

Please check the column because it gives some insight as to what owner Stephen Ross wants to accomplish this offseason.

Along those lines, I caught ESPN insider Chris Mortensen speculating on the Dolphins coaching search last weekend, warning advising Miami fans not to be surprised if New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer ended up a solid candidate for Miami's soon-vacant head coaching position.

With all due respect to Mortensen, one of the best in the business, I would say ain't no way that is a serious thought.

Yes, I know Brian Schottenheimer is the son of former Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Yes, I know  Marty is a long-time favorite of Carl Peterson, who is part of Ross's advisory committee and a trusted confidant to the owner.

But not even the Dolphins are this dumb.

The young Schottenheimer's body of work hardly merits a head coach look yet. In fact, he's more likely to get fired as the Jets offensive coordinator than hired as Miami's head coach. In New York this week, critics have renewed calls for Schottenheimer's firing.

Schottenheimer is under such fire that head coach Rex Ryan had to come to his and quarterback Mark Sanchez's defense Monday. He's under such fire that the team had to make him available to the media so he could explain his thinking and play-calling, following the Jets loss to the Giants on Saturday.

"I have a huge amount of confidence in both guys there's no doubt," Ryan said.  

"As far as Brian Schottenheimer goes, shoot, we'll just keep working side by side and shoulder to shoulder and we're trying to find a way to beat Miami."

The Jets are terrible 27th in the NFL in total offense. And that is with Schottenheimer getting help from consultant Tom Moore, the former Colts offensive coordinator who was brought in when the season began and and was brought this month because his work was obviously not complete.

Nope, doesn't sound like a guy the Dolphins will be hiring as head coach this season. Man's got to prove he's rocking the OC job before he gets the big promotion to head coach. And the young Schotty isn't rocking his current job just yet.

December 26, 2011

The case for Jake Long as trade bait

In the summer of 2008, just before the Dolphins opened their first training camp of the Parcells-Ireland-Sparano era, the man himself, Bill Parcells, told me during a phone conversation about his team that everyone was trade bait.

"With the exception of Jake Long," he said, "but only because the salary cap ramifications make that impossible. Otherwise, everyone is on the trade block all the time."

A week or so later, Parcells traded Jason Taylor to the Washington Redskins for a second-round draft pick.

Fast forward three years and the question has to be asked: Is Long still the only commodity the Dolphins cannot consider trading, or has he joined the group of everyone that is available for the right price?

The question merits a look because Long is very good, highly marketable, and well-regarded within the Dolphins organization, but frankly, his value might be greater on the trade market than to this team.

Long will go on injured reserve this week with a torn right biceps muscle, ending what has been his most difficult season. ESPN first reported the injury on Sunday.

Long missed two previous starts with a back injury. He missed practically the entire preseason with other injury issues. He's not really been 100 percent the entire season.

And, even if he has been 100 percent healthy he hasn't played like it ... or at least he didn't play to the same lofty levels of the previous couple of seasons. It would not shock if Long misses being named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.

That alone probably doesn't land him on the trade block.

But this would for some teams: Long will be in the final year of his contract in 2012. If the Dolphins want to extend him, it will be very, very, very expensive. Long made $11.2 million in base salary this year and will cost $11.2 million next year. (The sixth year of his original $57.75 million contract voided when he surpassed play-time markers his rookie year.)

So in the final year of his deal, Long is no longer not tradeable due to salary cap ramifications. The only reason the Dolphins would deem him not tradeable is if they consider Long untouchable.

Obviously the decision will belong to general manager Jeff Ireland and owner Stephen Ross (yes, this one rises to that level). But if either think like Parcells, no possibility can be dismissed.

The fact is while Long is very good, he doesn't score touchdowns. He doesn't prevent touchdowns. The Dolphins missed the playoffs in three of his first four seasons. The Dolphins had significant injuries to their starting quarterbacks in three of his four years. The Dolphins at times had injuries to their backup quarterbacks in two of his four years.

And now Long is coming off a year in which he is starting to show wear. He dealt with back, knee, shoulder and now the biceps injury this season. He had shoulder and knee issues in 2010.

If the Dolphins are in a situation where they might need to trade a significant asset on draft day to climb higher in the draft to pluck a potential franchise quarterback, say Andrew Luck, Long might be a chip that takes the place of multiple draft picks -- perhaps a first and a second-rounder.

I'm not saying it should or will happen.

I'm saying the Parcells influence is still around the Dolphins in that Ireland learned much of his GM trade from Parcells and under that thinking, practically everyone is always on the trade block.

I'm saying the Dolphins would be foolish to not consider it. The team is 5-10, people. There should be no sacred cows.

December 24, 2011

NFL truths escape the Dolphins

FOXBORO, Mass. -- The NFL regular season is 16 games long. It begins the second week of September and ends the final weekend of December. An NFL game lasts four quarters. That's 60 minutes of football.

I write this hoping the Dolphins read it, as many are wont to do, and learn the truth about the NFL because they are apparently not aware.

I write this hoping this organization figures out that playing well starting in November isn't good enough. I write this hoping this team realizes you cannot shut out the New England Patriots 17-0 in the first half and expect that will be good enough in the second half.

The Dolphins, a team that began the season 0-7, played well again at times Sunday. They indeed had that 17-0 lead against the Patriots and Gillette Stadium was shockingly quiet. But the Patriots got to play in the second half. And they put 27 points up to beat the Dolphins.

"In those first four or five minutes of the second half, the momentum shifted to their side and that’s not good, especially with the group of guys over there – coaches and players," receiver Brandon Marshall said. "When you have a team down, you have to put them away so you have to learn and grow and have that be part of he building blocks for next year."

The frustrating thing?

During their little runs, the Dolphins show glimpses of being good.

Today they had Brady running for his life, sacking him three times in the first half. Brady had a 51.9 passer rating in the first half. Today, Matt Moore looked great in the first half. His passer rating was 120.3.

But the game wasn't over!

And apparently the Dolphins didn't realize it.

The Patriots adjusted and suddenly there was no pressure on Brady. Suddenly, Moore was a turnover machine, throwing an interception and fumbling once -- with both turnovers leading to TDs.

This game ends the Todd Bowles experiment. His team showed the same inconsistencies under him as under Tony Sparano. They started fast but couldn't finish.

The Dolphins need to add someone that changes the culture. They need to hire someone with an alarm clock that signals the start and ending of a season as well as the start and end of games.

Seasons run 16 games. Games go four quarters.

New ballgame: Pats-Dolphins tied at 17 going to 4th quarter

FOXBORO, Mass. -- It could have been 24-3 had Clyde Gates not gotten tackled by kicker Stephen Gostowski in the third quarter.

But he was. And he didn't get the TD. And the Patriots made their comeback, fueled in part by a Matt Moore fumble that led to a TD.

The game is tied 17-17 after Miami led 17-0 at halftime.

The live blog continues in the comments section below.

Dolphins lead Patriots 17-0 to start third quarter

FOXBORO, Mass. -- This is a butt-whipping in the making.

And the Dolphins are doing the whipping on the Patriots, 17-0.

Matt moore has thrown two TD passes. Tom Brady has spent much of the afternoon on the ground, avoiding an angry Miami rush, behind a leaky offensive line.

The Patriots are playing with two rookie tackles, and a backup left guard. Matt Light was inactive today and Logan Mankins is out with a knee injury.

Oh, and New England's 32nd ranked pass defense is playing like a 32nd ranked pass defense, complete with two pass interference penalties.

New England's best chance for a score in the first half came and went when Stephen Gostowski missed a 51-yard field goal just before halftime.

Go figure.

The live blog continues in the comments section.

Dolphins lead Pats 3-0 to start second quarter

FOXBORO, Mass. -- One quarterback completed a 30-plus yard pass down the sideline. The other QB has started the game 2-fo-9. One quarterback has moved his team. The other QB seems frustrated and troubled by the opposing pressure.

Yes, Tom Brady is struggling and Matt Moore is doing quite well.

Just like everyone expected, right?

Well, obviously not. The Miami defense has blitzed on numerous occasions and gotten good pressure on Brady. That's why New England hasn't moved the ball.

Miami leads 3-0 on a 47-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter.

Will it last?

The live blog continues in the comments section so the answer awaits.

Live blog of Dolphins @ Patriots right here

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have something to play for today. If they beat the Dolphins, they clinch home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. That's a big deal for a team that dosen't lose at home very often.

The Dolphins have something to play for today also. They're playing for jobs. They're playing for pride. They're playing for a win.

I cannot tell you which, if either, really matters more. I assume as professionals, a certain amount of pride will kick in once the game begins.

It'll be interesting to see what Charles Clay does today, as he's the team's only legitimate receiving tight end option for Miami. I believe the Dolphins will be using multiple receiver sets most of the day. That's the best way to attack a New England's secondary that is low on numbers due to injuries. It also makes more sense to use Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Brandon Marshall than Will Yeatman or Jeron Mastrud.

It'll be interesting to see how the Dolphins deal with New England tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who arguably are the best pair of tight ends in the NFL.

And then there's this: It'll be interesting to see how you react to today's game. You know the stakes. You know what a win means, both positve and negative, assuming you've been keeping up with the college quarterback situation. You also know that a loss has certain meaning, both positive and negative, relative to players who want to stay, relative to draft draft position, etc ...

The inactives today are Ray Feinga, Steve Slaton, Ryan Baker, Ryan Cook, Anthony Fasano, Will Barker and Pat Devlin.

There will be a live blog today. It begins in the comments section at kickoff. Meet me there.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukka!

Former Dolphins key in new concussion suit vs. NFL

 

Former Dolphins tight end Jed Weaver contends he suffered multiple concussions during his playing days. They went untreated, he says. He was never warned of the dangers of returning to work to quickly after those concussions, he says. And as a result today he says he suffers from depression, anxiety, daily headaches, extreme irritability, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating.

Former Dolphins receiver Oronde Gadsden also contends he also dealt with multiple concussions during his playing days. He contends he was returned to the field before it was medically suitable. He contends he also was never warned of the risk of returning to play too early by Dolphins doctors. And he also contends today suffers from, among other things, headaches, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.

Same story with Patrick Surtain. He suffered concussions playing for the Dolphins. Was never warned. Was never educated on the long-term risks of getting back on the field too quickly. He says he suffers from memory loss.

The three former Dolphins are among six former Dolphins and a former University of Miami player -- Leon Searcy -- who on Friday joined to sue the NFL in Miami Federal Court over what they contend was a "long-time coverup of concussion related risks."

 

 

 

 

 

An NFL spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Similar lawsuits have been filed on behalf of players and against the NFL in California and Pennsylvannia.

Filed by Ricardo Martinez-Cid, Stephen Rosenthal, and Ray Rasco of the Miami-based firm Podhurst Orseck, the lawsuit alleges that NFL officials, including the League’s medical experts, were aware of these risks and deliberately ignored and concealed them.

This is the largest lawsuit of its kind filed in the United States to date and the first to be filed in Florida. The suit was brought in federal court in Miami and names 21 former NFL players as plaintiffs, including: Marvin Jones, Leon Searcy, Patrick Surtain, Oronde Gadsden, Daryl Porter, Lamar Thomas, Troy Drayton, and Sean Hill, among others.  According to the complaint, “the NFL has known for decades that multiple blows to the head can lead to long-term brain injury, including memory loss, dementia, depression, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy [a progressive degenerative disease] and its related symptoms.”

Rather than take immediate measures to protect its players from these known dangers, the suit contends, the NFL instead formed a committee to study the issue in 1994. The suit calls this committee a "sham." This committee, the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee (MTBI), which the NFL claimed to be comprised of an independent panel of experts, actually consisted of five members already affiliated with the organization, the suit contends.  The suit further contends the NFL failed to appoint any medical professionals with expertise in neurology and instead appointed Dr. Elliot Pellman to head the panel – a rheumatologist with no formal training related to concussions and who had previously been fired by Major League Baseball.

The complaint also alleges that the MTBI Committee did not publish its first findings on the risks of concussion-related injuries until 2003, nearly 10 years after its inception. These findings claimed that contrary to years of independent findings, there were no long-term negative consequences associated with sustaining concussions.

As such, the complaint continues, NFL teams, including the Dolphins, continued the practice of allowing players to continue playing football during the same game in which a concussion was suffered.

"The NFL is a nine billion dollar per-year enterprise,” said Ricardo Martinez-Cid, attorney for the plaintiffs and partner at Miami-based law firm Podhurst Orseck. “They knew for decades that repeated blows to the head would lead to serious life-threatening and chronic injuries, yet they intentionally turned a blind eye and led players to believe they were okay to keep playing because they didn’t want to risk losing money in their coffers."

December 23, 2011

What now that Barkely isn't turning pro?

You should know by now that Matt Barkley is staying in school at USC, as I wrote in today's Miami Herald.

In my column, I present a couple of options the Dolphins have now that only two quarterbacks with top 10 grades -- Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III -- will be in the draft in a best-case scenario.

That means the Dolphins may have to trade up to get RG3 or Luck, if they have a conviction about him. Or they may simply have to find a lower-rated quarterback and believe he will become a great professional.

Who?

The Dolphins must hope, indeed pray, that Oklahoma’s Landry Jones enters the draft even though his season’s final month was a disaster and scouts are saying he needs an extra year in school.

The Dolphins must hope that Ryan Tannehill is ready for the NFL even though he was recruited to Texas A&M as a receiver and never played quarterback until the seventh game of the 2010 season. (Very raw prospect, this kid.)

The Dolphins must hope less eminent quarterbacks such as Arizona’s Nick Foles or Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins are diamonds waiting for the next Miami coach to polish them into treasures.

I''m not a Jones fan. I saw him play a handful of games, including several late and he simply wasn't a take-charge guy. He didn't make any throws that impressed me. His arm was exceedingly strong or accurate. He puts up great numbers, I grant you, but Blaine Gabbert put up great numbers in college. And Jones reminds me of Gabbert.

I haven't seen Foles or Cousins. I hope they are legit. I have to study them more. (By studying them more, I mean I have to ask scouts and personnel people about them. I'm not a pesonnel man and don't front like I am. But I do have access to experts, and I'll share with you what they share with me soon enough.)

I know with Barkley out of the picture, the Dolphins will be studying them more, also.

December 22, 2011

Carl Peterson likely role? President of the Dolphins

These are three things I'm hearing:

General manager Jeff Ireland will remain in the GM role throughout the 2012 season, as I first reported two weeks ago, owner Stephen Ross confirmed during a press conference a day later, and everyone in the organization I've asked maintains as truth rather than temporary P.R.

Yes, there is a slight chance Ireland might not be around if, say, Bill Cowher changes his mind, wants to coach and is hired by the Dolphins. But sources insists the chances of that happening are slim to none. Thus Ireland's chances of getting bounced are slim to none.

So there's that.

I've also heard from good sources that on the business side, CEO Mike Dee is safe. The Dolphins had good business years in 2009 and 2010. This year has been a bomb. No, actually it has been a bomb dropped in a sewer. It''s been bad because no win, no sellout ... no sellout, no money ... no money, no good.

The Dolphins have conducted internal diagnostic studies, if you will, to gauge the performance of the organization's business side. Sources tell me these studies encouraged employees to openly rate their supervisors. And some nerves were frayed by this at certain levels. But, apparently, the very top of the organization's business side is expected to remain stable.

So there's that.

And finally, I'm hearing that owner Stephen Ross continues to seriously consider adding Carl Peterson to the Dolphins -- essentially transfering him over from his FanVision business to his greater, more valuable, more important business.

The NFL team.

But if Peterson isn't coming as the GM (thank God) because Ireland is that, and Peterson isn't coming as the CEO because Dee is that, what the heck role would Peterson fill?

Here's a purely speculative possibility based on the purely speculative whispers from within the organization: He'd come as the overseer of all things Dolphins.

He would come as club president over Ireland and Dee. He would be charged with presenting the Dolphins as one united organization under one umbrella rather than a divided organization that on the one hand plays football and on the other hand considers itself a business that happens to play football, as one internal memo last year maintained.

Peterson has done this before. His role with the Kansas City Chiefs was president, general manager and chief executive officer. So obviously he's got experience in all three. He obviously knows what all three jobs entail as his time in Kansas City spanned 20 seasons.

And he could come on board as a liaison between football operations and the business side -- working to unite the two sides of the franchise as owner Stephen Ross has been thinking about and wanting to do for several months.

So there's that.

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December 21, 2011

Nolan's career worst day? Against the Pats

Mike Nolan has coached 25 years in the NFL so he's seen a lot of games come and go and his defenses have given up yards and stolen yardage from offenses. But he's never seen a day like the season-opener this year when the New England Patriots piled up 622 yards on the Dolphins defense that Nolan coordinates.

"It humbles you, I would say that," Nolan said Wednesday. "And that's a good thing in the long run but you just wish you could learn humility without having to go through that. And that's not the first time. I've been at it long enough so I've had some other bad days, too. That was, without question, the worst. But like I said, humility is not a bad thing. You just want to learn the lesson once and hopefully that's it."

Note Nolan didn't say the September opener was one of the worst game for him. Note he didn't say it was among the worst. he said that was the worst.

"That was the worst game game, sure," Nolan said when I asked to make sure I understood his meaning.

Worst for him?

"Oh, yeah," he said.

Ever?

"Oh, yeah," he said. "It doesn't get much worse than that, I can tell you right now. You've got to coach a long time to go through a bad day like that. They put up 600-some yards, guys. You hear about that in college sometimes, but you don't hear about that in the NFL. But again, they had a very good plan and we played poorly and the thing that surprised me more than anything else is about midway through the third quarter it was still a 14-14 game. But then that long pass when they were backed up, again playing poorly, I think the game kind of changed right there."

For the worst.

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