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77 posts from September 2012

September 23, 2012

Bush season not threatened by knee injury

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he didn't know what Reggie Bush's status is and the running back had already left the locker room when the media was allowed in following today's 23-20 overtime loss to the Jets.

But a source tells me the injury to Bush's left knee is not season-threatening.

In fact, Bush initially expected to go back into today's game but then the knee stiffened on him. Bush will go for a re-check Monday to make sure nothing is wrong beyond the minor damage that caused the stiffness.

He should be OK.

[UPDATE: Bush had an MRI Monday morning. He has no major issues. He may miss some practice time but he could be available as early as Sunday's game at Arizona. He should be 100 percent within a week.]

Jets defeat Dolphins 23-20 in overtime as strategy fails

The Dolphins fought in this ugly game but it wasn't enough. And Joe Philbin has some explaining to do.

The Jets kicked a 33 FG in overtime to win the game. The problem is the Dolphins head coach gave them that chance when he called timeout on a previous attempt -- one that Randy Starks blocked. Had Philbin not called time out, the teams might still be playing. Dan Carpenter missed a 48 yard field goal attempt that would have won the game.

Then the Jets answered with their winning drive.

Mark Sanchez completed a 38-yard pass down the sideline to Santonio Holmes. That put New York in field goal position to win the game.

Dolphins and Jets tied 20-20 going to overtime

The Dolphins played not to lose until the Jets forced them to drive for a game-tying field goal.

Having done that, the Jets decided overtime is fine with them.

It had better be fine with you, too because this game is headed to the extra period.

The live blog goes into overtime and we pay time and a half. See you in the comments section.

Dolphins lead the Jets 17-10 to start 4th quarter

This game is getting serious.

Reggie Bush went out with a knee injury at halftime. Darrelle Revis went out in the third with a knee injury and will not return.

Both quarterbacks are throwing more interceptions than TDs.

It's crazy!!!

And the live blog continues in comments section as the Dolphins hold a touchdown lead. See you there

Dolphins lead Jets, 10-3 at start of third quarter

This game has slowed down significantly since the Dolphins got a Richard Marshall interception and converted it into a touchdown.

The teams have swapped field goals since that time. The game is 10-3 Dolphins right now.

Reggie Bush gave the crowd here a scare when he went down only seconds before halftime with what seemed like a left knee injury. I'll get you an update as soon as possible in the comments section. Bush has 61 yards on 10 attempts.

Will say this: Daniel Thomas got a concussion in the final minute at Houston when Miami could have taken a knee and gotten to halftime. Bush got cracked on the knee today when Miami could have taken a knee and get to halftime.

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

Dolphins lead the Jets, 7-0 going to the second quarter

We figured turnovers would play a factor in today's game. So far, so good.

Mark Sanchez threw an interception in the first quarter.

And the Dolphins converted the turnover into a touchdown drive culminated by a Daniel Thomas 2 yard touchdown drive.

Dolphins lead in the turnover and points departments.

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

Live blog of Jets versus Dolphins right here (free)!

The Dolphins' formula for winning football game? Run the ball. Play good defense. Avoid mistakes.

Today's Miami inactives speaks to that idea.

Firstly, the inactives are Marlon Moore, Michael Egnew, Nate Garner, Will Yeatman, Pat Devlin, Rishard Matthews, Ray Feinga, Tony McDaniel.

So the Dolphins will have four running back active today, if you include Marcus Thigpen in that group. That speaks to the team's intentions of running, running, running.

And there is only onedefensive player inactive.

The part about no turnovers? That's up to them.

The Dolphins are wearing all white today. Again.

There's a live blog brewing here today. We'll start in the comments section below and every quarter, I'll post an update and we'll continue in the comments section of the update.

Join me there at kickoff.

Dolphins have advantages over the Jets but passing may not be one of those

When the Jets pass football today I expect the Dolphins to be able to match up well because I don't see a great threat from Mark Sanchez and he's without his security blanket tight end Dustin Keller, who has been ruled out with an injury. When the Jets run the ball I expect the Dolphins to have the advantage because they are outstanding in stopping the run.

But despite all those important matchups, I still see this game resting on the shoulders of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his ability or inability to overcome the blitz and gets some points throuh the air.

As we know, the Dolphins' formula for winning is run the football, stop the run, avoid turnovers. Well, the Jets' assignment on defense will be to stop the run and force Tannehill to pass. And when Tannehill passes, what the Jets do is attack the passer with exotic blitzes. It's their personality. It's what they do to force mistakes.

I shared with you this week that Tannehill was very good last week -- particularly in the second half -- against the blitz. Truth is so far this season, Tannehill has completed 63 percent of his passes against the blitz. That's better than the 53 percent he's completed when he's not blitzed.

Perhaps the kid is simply better when he doesn't have to think. Perhaps he's better when he going to one target and doing it quickly to get the ball out.

The point is Rex Ryan has been impressed with Tannehill's work so far, as I write in my column today. But does that mean the gamesmanship of the New York coach will be lessened on his blitzes?

I don't think so. And I believe that is where the game will be decided.

September 22, 2012

Dolphins and Jets fans: The love affair

The Dolphins versus the Jets. It's a wonderful day that comes twice a year. It's a time for the locals in Miami or the Meadowlands to open their hearts and minds to their neighbors and show them grace and respect.

Yeah, not really.

It's go-time for some folks. It's a time to lay your heart on the line and hold your head high -- at least until the clock reads 0:00. (How's this for prose, eh?). This rivalry is a classic in the AFC East.

The New Yawkas think they own that new $1.4 billion place up in New Jersey. And they think they own the Dolphins old place down in Miami Gardens, too.

They're wrong, of course.

That place up north belongs to the Giants -- still, and if you don't believe it, count the Super Bowl trophies. And the place in South Florida is a stepchild that nobody really wants to own but we use because it didn't cost us any tax dollars.  

Anyway, it is always special when the Dolphins and Jets play. And it is always special when Dolphins fans and Jets fans gather for the event.

I thought today-- with all the schemes drawn, all the injuries reported and all the practices complete -- would be a good day to simply prepare fans for each other.

Dolphins fans, meet the Jets fans:

 

Dolphins fans? This is what they are when they have a good team for cheer for: 

 

September 21, 2012

Dolphins much healthier than Jets

The Dolphins are relatively healthy. The Jets? Much less so.

Marlon Moore (hamstring) did not practice Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game between Miami and New York. He's not playing, folks.

The rest of the Miami injury report shows a bunch of dings and dents but nothing that will keep anyone out of the game. All these players are probable:

Kevin Burnett (foot), Anthony Armstrong (hamstring), Richard Marshall (back), Jimmy Wilson (back), Jared Odrick (thumb), Lamar Miller (ankle), Koa Misi (foot), Daniel Thomas (concussion), Jonathan Freeny (thumb).

The Jets have bigger problems.

Tight end Dustin Keller (hamstring) did not practice and is listed as questionable. I doubt he plays. Fourth CB Ellis Lankster (lower back) also missed practice and will be re-evaluated Saturday.

Significantly, linebacker Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and fullback John Conner (knee) are doubtful. For a team bent on running the football and stopping the run, the likelihood neither of these players will be available is a blow.

Live blog chat starts at 3 p.m.

The kind folks at The Miami Herald love their readers -- you. They want you happy and clicking on this blog early and often -- kind of like a Miami-Dade County election. And for that reason they have decided that every Friday one of the Herald's star sportswriters will come to this blog and answer all your questions and attend to all your comments about ...

Everything!

This week's star sportswriter is me. Next week's star sportswriter is ... me.

Seriously, every Friday there will be a live chat on this site at exactly 3 p.m. I'll stick around for at least 30 minutes, longer if the response merits. You can suffer me that long, right?

Everything on the table. Like the blog promo says, nothing is taboo.

So I'll be here at 3 p.m. See you in the comments section.

Tannehill versus the Raiders and the blitz

Sunday's game between the Jets and the Dolphins will be the most difficult assignment Ryan Tannehill faces so far in his three-game professional career. I'm not saying it because the Jets offer the best talent or are necessarily the best defense Tannehill has faced.

The Jets are simply the most aggressive and most multiple defense Tannehill has faced.

The Jets will come with every blitz imaginable and some that haven't yet been imagined by the rookie. And that will be a stiff test.

But all is not lost.

Tannehill has seen the blitz before. He saw it 13 times against Oakland last week and handled it progressively better as the game wore on.

Tannehill was blitzed seven times by the Raiders in the first half of the Miami victory. He completed three of those passes.

In the second half, he was blitzed six times and he was an impressive 5 of 6, including completions on all three of his opportunities in the fourth quarter. The kid got better as the game wore on.

That suggests Tannehill may take a while to adjust. But he will adjust.

Our friend Joe Alvarez, who last week provided this blog with every Tannehill throw in the Houston game, is back this week with the video below of every throw the quarterback made against Oakland. Joe actually improved the look of the video by showing you the blitzes the Raiders used.

It's pretty interesting stuff.

By the way, Joe was kind enough to include touchdown runs by Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller in this video. Meanwhile, I'm going to include for you the column about Reggie Bush that I wrote in today's Miami Herald.

It shows how Bush has not been exactly what anyone -- including the Dolphins -- thought he would be. He's been more.

September 20, 2012

Thursday practice report update here

The Dolphins are on the practice field. So are the Jets, presumably. And here's what's happening.

Firstly, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters cornerback Darrelle Revis, who had been nursing a concussion, has been cleard for contact. Barring a setback, Revis is expeted to play against the Dolphins. That's good for the Jets.

That's bad for the Dolphins.

I asked wide receiver Brian Hartline what happens if Revis plays Sunday and the New York coaches decide he should defene Miami's most productive receiver (so far) on every snap.

"I couldn't tell you. It depends on our game plan, it depends on what we want to do. It depends if Reggie [Bush] is running down their throat. Again, I'm going to be prepared for every situation I can be, but if he is, I'm going to look forward to it."

For the Dolphins, Kevin Burnett is not practicing at all today due to some sort of right leg issue. He has a noticeable limp as he's walking around today.  Jason Trusnick is the next man up if Burnett cannot play.

Tony McDaniel (knee) also is not practicing.

Finally, earlier today I told you the Dolphins are working in both Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller in that No. 2 running back spot.

It looks as if Thomas is the guy based on his ability to pass-block better than Miller. That doesn't mean Miller will automatically be inactive. Maybe the team can get him in some sort of package, like maybe on screens or something. But it seems Thomas is the guy.

Miller and Thomas in a mini competition for snaps

Daniel Thomas was back to work Wednesday, the first day the Dolphins started full practice preparation for the New York Jets game. After missing the previous week's victory over Oakland due to a concussion, Thomas was totally and completely cleared.

He practiced full.

But he did not step right back into all his repetitions at practice.

This week, you see, Thomas finds himself in a battle for the No. 2 running back spot on the team with rookie Lamar Miller. Miller replaced Thomas last Sunday and not only did the job, but actually seemed to do the job better.

Thomas had gained 11 yards on three attempts against Houston in the season-opener. He added a reception for 32 yards. That's 33 total yards from scrimmage from the second running back. Not bad.

But Miller had 65 yards on 10 rushes against Oakland (a whopping 6.5 yards per carry). Miller contributed a 19-yard touchdown run that showed his explosion now and promise for the future. He didn't factor in the passing game, but neither did he seem lost on passing downs, which is the major worry about rookie RBs when they are assigned to block blitzers on passing downs. 

So what to do with the No. 2 RB spot now?

You can't just reward Miller for a fine outing by shelving him. You can't really hand Thomas his job back without him proving he's 100 percent and better than the next option, which is Miller.

So you have a mini competition and whoever does the best work over the week probably gets the snaps on Sunday. And that is what's happening now.

Bush admits players were 'not in favor' of Hard Knocks

A few last words on Hard Knocks before we put that subject to bed: The Dolphins participated in the show for five weeks during the preseason because coach Joe Philbin was convinced it would be good for the team.

He is in the minority within his own organization.

I've talked to people at every level of the organization. I've talked to players. For attribution, they tow the company line, either endorsing the Dolphins' participation or saying it didn't affect things negatively.

Privately, multiple players I've spoken with say they didn't like the idea of Hard Knocks. I also know the personnel department generally didn't like the idea of Hard Knocks.

And while all that initially remained a whispered sentiment, the bloom is finally coming off that rose publicly now. Last week Reggie Bush, who so far is Miami's best player this young season, told the media that the attitude of players toward Hard Knocks was, "Let's just deal with it."

Said Bush: "I don’t think guys were in favor of it, but we used it to our best advantage and just had fun with it and made the most of it (and) tried to continue to play football.”

The idea that most players were not in favor of Hard Knocks surfaced again publicly Wednesday when Bush told New York reporters on a conference call, "“I don’t think it helped us.

"I guess, if anything, it was a great show. I think they do a great job at capturing just what it takes to be in the NFL, to go through an NFL season and training camp, the business side of things, sports side of things. I think that’s great for fans. I think, for football players, I don’t think it makes or breaks us.

"I think a lot of guys probably prefer not to have the show around because then you kind of have to watch what you say and how you act, speak differently and walk differently. Especially in this day and age, you just never know, especially when they’re cameras around. You just never know what kind of things get out there. You always want to err on the other side of just, err on the side of caution."

I know for a fact that one reason general manager Jeff Ireland has been getting more attention both on the road and obviously at home games from fans is because they recognize him more than in the past based on his appearances on Hard Knocks. That attention turned negative last week when a fan told Ireland he should fire himself.

I know players that were negatively portrayed on the show hated it. Roberto Wallace didn't appreciate coaches making fun of him, calling him, "Ankle weights Wallace" as they watched tape of a practice.

Meanwhile, Philbin remains a staunch defender of the show and would recommend it to fellow coaches.

“Well I think every situation is unique and different," he said. "I would say if somebody asked me, the NFL Films is a first class company in every regard. Their staff are true professionals, they treat players with great respect, they’re very hardworking, dedicated people.

"So in my opinion, anytime you can associate, you know, if you’re in the banking industry and you can associate yourself with Goldman Sachs, you might want to at least investigate it and see if it is the right decision for you and your company. So if you’re in football and the NFL and NFL Films comes calling, you can make up your own mind but I was very impressed with the quality and the professionalism of their staff."

Four things:

First, Goldman Sachs is a prestigious 250-year-old investment bank but it bet on the 2007-2008 sub-prime mortgage housing collapse and profited from people losing their houses. It also took $10 billion in government TARP money then turned around and offered nearly 1,000 employees bonuses of $1 million each with that taxpayer money. So Goldman perhaps isn't the best analogy here.

Secondly, Hard Knocks was very careful to never, ever show coaches in a bad light even as they were helping to craft an 0-4 preseason record right along with the players. The show made a very clear distinction that it was the players not meeting standards but never suggested coaches could improve also -- which they needed to, by the way.

Thirdly, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said he learned to steal the Dolphins snap count by watching Hard Knocks.

Finally, Philbin admits he never watched the show. So his minority opinion is based on, well, what?

September 19, 2012

The Tony Sparano factor in Jets-Dolphins matchup

Tony Sparano was not a big Rex Ryan fan when he coached the Dolphins and Ryan was leading the Jets. Ryan was admittedly not a big Sparano fan, either.

"It's funny because I never liked him," Ryan said moments ago on a conference call with the South Florida media. "It was the same way. My big thing is he thought he was tougher than me. He thought his team was tougher than mine and I thought mine was tougher than his and I was tougher than him."

So why did Ryan hire the former Dolphins coach to be his offensive coordinator this year?

"One thing I did is I always respected him," Ryan said. "I recognize him being an outstanding football coach and his teams played hard and cared about him. He's passionate about the game so that was why it was easy for me when we had the job as offensive coordinator open, that's the first guy I went to."

Ryan knows that Sunday's game against the Dolphins is special for Sparano. How can it not be? He coached the Dolphins four seasons and built relationships with players and assistants. 

"Anytime you go against a group or a team you used to coach -- with me I spent 10 years in Baltimore and I know how special it is," Ryan said. "Those players, I promise you, he cares about them a great deal. Without question. Without question.

"He has great memories from coaching there and people and the organization and all that. There might be some people in the organization he doesn't care for but I can tell you this: I know how special it is competing against the players and the guys you care about. Those guys have bled for you and things and that's something you'll never forget."

Although Sparano is familiar with much of the talent, particualarly on defense, he will have no direct pipeline to Miami's scheme because the Dolphins have changed on both offense as well as the defense he will face.

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The Dolphins are practicing today. Daniel Thomas (concussion) is working at least on a limited basis. Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) is working at least on a limited basis.

Tony McDaniel (knee) is not practicing.

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Reggie Bush, who gained 172 rushing yards and 197 total yards against Oakland last week, was today named the AFC player of the week.

Picking this game is about knowing Revis status

It's Jets week. That means something for Dolphins and Jets fans. And as this is the first time in a couple of years that the Dolphins and Jets meet with both teams still clutching hopes of doing something this season, this is the biggest Dolphins versus Jets game in a while.

My pick?

Darrelle Revis.

That's what this game will boil down to, in my opinion. Darrelle Revis.

The Jets cornerback missed last week's New York loss to Pittsburgh because he had not been cleared to play following a concussion the week before. Although he has reported progress, his status for Sunday against the Dolphins is uncertain at this moment.

I believe if he misses the game, the Jets lose.

I believe if he's 100 percent and plays, the Jets win.

Simple as that.

Why?

With Revis, the Jets can do something that can cripple the Miami offense. And it's hard to win a football game without an offense. With Revis, the Jets can basically game plan to erase Brian Hartline from the Miami offense.

Hartline has emerged as Miami's only legitimate threat at wide receiver. He has caught 12 passes for for 161 yards so far this season. He is gaining a reputation not only as a threat, but a downfield threat that merits rolled coverages and, in some cases, double coverage.

And that's how the Jets would probably have to deal with Hartline if Revis sits out. But if Revis plays, he checks Hartline and that's it. He's on Hartline and, with respect the Miami receiver, he's erased. End of story. Revis is that good.

With Hartline out of the picture, the Jets can then pool the rest of their defensive resources to stopping the Miami running game that shredded the Raiders for 243 yards last week. If Revis is checking Hartline man-to-man, the Jets can stack the box on runs and blitz as they often do with relative confidence that some other Dolphins receiver won't take them deep.

Without Revis, the Jets aren't assured of either checking Hartline, cannot blitz with impunity, and their commitment to stopping the run cannot be as sold out as it could be otherwise, thus affecting their run defense.

Revis is a future Hall of Fame candidate. He's simply the best cornerback in the game today.

And his presence or absence Sunday could be the difference between victory or defeat for these two teams.

Picking this game is about knowing Revis status

It's Jets week. That means something for Dolphins and Jets fans. And as this if the first time in a couple of years that the Dolphins and Jets meet with both teams still having hopes of doing something this season, this is the biggest Dolphins versus Jets game in a while.

My pick?

Darrelle Revis.

That's what this game will boil down to, in my opinion. Darrelle Revis.

The Jets cornerback missed last week's New York loss to Pittsburgh because he had not been cleared to play following a concussion the week before. Although he has reported progress, his status for Sunday against the Dolphins is uncertain at this moment.

I believe if he misses the game, the Jets lose.

I believe if he's 100 percent and plays, the Jets win.

Simple as that.

Why?

With Revis, the Jets can do something that can cripple the Miami offense. And it's hard to win a football game without an offense. With Revis, the Jets can basically game plan to erase Brian Hartline from the Miami offense.

Hartline has emerged as Miami's only legitimate threat at wide receiver. He has caught 12 passes for for 161 yards so far this season. He is gaining a reputation not only as a threat, but a downfield threat that merit rolled coverages and in many cases double coverage.

And that's how the Jets would probably have to deal with Hartline if Revis sits out. But if Revis plays, he checks Hartline and that's it. He's on Hartline and, with respect the Miami receiver, he's erased. End of story. Revis is that good.

With Hartline out of the picture, the Jets can then pool the rest of their defensive resources to stopping the Miami running game that shredded the Raiders for 243 yards last week. If Revis is checking Hartline man-to-man, the Jets can stack the box on runs and blitz as they often do with relative confidence that some other Dolphins receiver won't take them deep.

Without Revis, the Jets aren't assured of either checking Hartline, cannot blitz with impunity, and their commitment to stopping the run cannot be as sold out as it could be otherwise, thus affecting their run defense.

Revis is a future Hall of Fame candidate. He's simply the best cornerback in the game today.

And his presence or absence Sunday could be the difference between victory or defeat for these teams.

September 18, 2012

Dolphins sign defensive tackle Fluellen

The Dolphins have signed defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, a former Florida State product who was cut recently the by Detroit Lions.

Fluellen, 6-2 and 302 pounds, had been with the Lions since being their third-round draft pick in the 2008 draft.

The signing was confirmed by Fluellen's agent Jerrold Colton on twitter.

Fluellen will fill the roster spot previously taken by Ryan Baker. Baker was waived Tuesday afternoon.

Fluellen is promising if for no other reason than he was caught in a numbers game in Detroit, who had Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and others.

GM Jeff Ireland has 'regret' over unpleasant exchange

Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and one Dolphins fan had an uncomfortable exchange at halftime of Sunday's game between the Dolphins and Raiders and the organization is trying to figure out what to do about the issue even as fans are calling a local radio station to report the matter.

According to multiple eyewitnesses who called local station The Ticket and a highly placed club source who confirmed the exchange to The Herald, the Dolphins general manager was walking through the Sun Life Stadium concourse at halftime when the incident occurred.

After visiting his wife and family in his suite, Ireland exchanged pleasantries with a couple of fans, signed autographs and took pictures with at least two other fans as he headed back to his seat where he watches the game. Before he got there another fan called him over and Ireland, believing he was about to exchange more pleasantries, found himself listening to the fan complaining about his work.

That fan complained to Ireland about what he said was his poor management of the team. And at one point that fan said to Ireland, "We need you to fire yourself."

According to everyone I've talked to including team officials, Ireland responded by using the term "a--hole" either directed at the fan or loud enough for the fan to hear as he walked away.

The Dolphins contend there was no argument between Ireland and the fan. The fan, going by the name Sean, called The Ticket and confirmed there wasn't an argument. But the fan did say,  "The sum and substance of what I suggested is that he should fire himself."

Sean told The Ticket's Eric Reid Show that Ireland patted him on the shoulder, said, "Good one," called him the epithet, and walked away.

"I don't begrude the guy for not appreciating what I had to say," Sean told the station. "I can't tell you I wouldn't respond any differently if someone said I should fire myself. By the same token, I'm not the general manager of a professional football team.

"I feel like I expressed an opinion he probably needed to hear."

A Dolphins source has a different version of the events. The team's version is that Ireland simply walked away and that as he was walking away he said "kind of out loud" the word "a--hole."

The Dolphins are expected to meet in the coming hours to decide what course of action or response the uncovering of this incident will get, the source said.

Update: Jeff Ireland just called me. The Dolphins did indeed discuss the matter internally. He told me he regrets the incident.

"It did happen at halftime and I was going back to my booth after seeing my wife and I did talk to several fans that were very nice. But as I'm walking back this guy introduces himself to me and says I should fire myself," Ireland said.

"It caught me off guard. I just turned and walked away but I did say the word. I regret I used the word I used. I thought I was using it under my breath. I guess I kind of said it loud enough that he could hear it. I literally said it under my breath. At the time I felt I handled the situation pretty good. Probably muttered it a little too loud. I regret that I said anything."

The Dolphins are planning to use Ireland's quote to me as their official statement on the matter.