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49 posts from October 2012

October 31, 2012

Tannehill injury watch begins in earnest

The prevailing question of this week is whether Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will play against the Indianapolis Colts or not.

This morning he is on the field working on a limited basis. He took snaps with the starters early on in individual drills and then Matt Moore took snaps with the starting offense in team drills. So they are probably sharing work today.

[Update: Coach Joe Philbin said Tannehill was limited in practice.]

Tannehill, who left Sunday's game in the first quarter with a bone bruise in the left knee and deep thigh bruise, seems clearly slower in his drop than he usually does. Perhaps he is planting gingerly but that, of course, is just observation and opinion. It really doesn't matter at this point, anyway.

The thing that matters is how Tannehill reacts to treatment this week and how he looks by Friday.

[Update: Tannehill told the media he "felt good" during practice. He did not take most of the snaps but is spending all his waking hours getting treatment on the injury to maximize his chances of playing.] 

There are other issues for the Dolphins.

Cornerback Richard Marshall is not on the field again. So, once again, his status for Sunday is basically sealed. He's not playing, which would mean he'll miss his fourth game in a row. Nolan Carroll will start.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis interim coach Bruce Arians called newly acquired cornerback Vontae Davis, "a very valuable player for us." He adds that Davis "has been outstanding" and calls him "a model citizen."

[Update: Arians told the Indianapolis media that Davis is not playing Sunday against the Dolphins. Tight end Coby Fleener is also out.]

Tony McDaniel also is not practicing today. He's wearing a knee brace and is working off to the side by himself.

Back to Arians a second, he was the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh last year. And today in speaking about Dolphins center Mike Pouncey he compared him to his twin brother Markice, who plays for the Steelers.

Arians said Mike "is better" than Markice. And then he added jokingly, "Make sure you tell Markice I said that."

Dolphins fans learn not to knee jerk

The waiving of receiver Anthony Armstrong Tuesday afternoon should serve as a cautionary tale against the knee-jerk or the instaneous decision or the jump to premature conclusion.

Think back seven weeks ago when the Dolphins eight spoke with the Redskins about acquiring Armstrong. Fans and some media immediately demanded Miami give up picks for the player to improve the Dolphins wide receiver corps.

When the Dolphins got Armstrong on waivers, fans and some media immediately demanded he play.

Then, when Armstrong played and failed a couple of times, some fans and some media turned their back on Armstrong.

And not long after that Jabar Gaffney became the latest "it" player -- the object of the do-it-now crowd.

Sign Gaffney immediately, those folks said.

Play Gaffney immediately, those folks said.

If Gaffney hasn't played in two weeks he's not the answer, those folks said. 

Gaffney, by the way, caught one pass in Sunday's victory over the Jets.

Start Gaffney, some folks are about to say.

And to those folks I offer this: Chill.

The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint. The meshing of talents and coaches is a process that works on its own timetable. And no knee jerk is wise in weighing a player, coach, team or season.

With that in mind, I ask you with respect to think about what you've just read and think on it. And think on this, also:

The Dolphins are 4-3 now. That doesn't mean they are going to the playoffs. The truth is when I speak privately to folks within the organization there is very cautious optimism about the team. I stress cautious. The things they are hoping and saying privately, they are not willing to say on the record until we see more because they don't want to be proven wrong.

They don't want to knee-jerk.

So Ryan Tannehill is not a franchise quarterback. That is not hate. Remember, I said long ago he has the chance to be the best quarterback the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino. But there is a process he must undergo. He has begun the progress. And he is making strides. And there is reason for optimism. But we don't know for certain yet what he will become. He is not a franchise player yet. And we cannot guarantee he'll get there. So just enjoy watching him. But don't get crazy when he advances or regresses. That has to happen in his development.

The knee-jerk, by the way, works both ways.

And so Michael Egnew is not a bust. He is green. He is raw. He probably isn't going to factor for a long time. But do not give up on the kid yet.

Remember that it took Paul Soliai three years to figure things out. Reggie Bush was considered something of a bust early on in New Orleans. And those folks also considered Ricky Williams something of a bust, too.

John Jerry? Tell the truth, how many of you said he was a bust last year? (No, he's not a star and is currently nothing more than a C-plus player, but he's a starter now and not a bust.)

Matt Moore?

Many of you said last year he was the answer and were puzzled when he wasn't given the job early on in training camp. Others of you saw him play in the preseason and advocated trading him to Arizona.

On Sunday he proved his value to the team right where he is -- as a valuable No. 2 QB.

I admit I've sometime fallen into the knee-jerk mode. Early last year I saw little upgrade in signing Kevin Burnett and getting rid of Channing Crowder. I was wrong. I'm also not a huge fan of what I've seen from Daniel Thomas so far, although I've stopped short of calling him a bust, which he obviously hasn't had enough time to prove or disprove.

My point?

Wait. See. Watch things play out.

Nick Saban espouses this approach. So does Joe Philbin to a degree, with his not-too-high, not-too-low approach.

I know it's hard for fans who are so emotionally invested to keep an even keel and not be overcome by the first reaction they have. That's what fans do.

But you are Dolphins fans. You're more sophisticated than that. You are wiser than that. You know more about football than to always succumb to your first emotion.

You've seen how players and seasons and teams can ebb and flow. So be not deceived.  

October 28, 2012

Dolphins whip Jets 30-9 and make a statement

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- What a woodshed whipping this was.

The Dolphins, overtime losers to the Jets in the first meeting at Sun Life, flipped the script today by basically dominating the home team 30-9 and capturing second place in the AFC East.

So what does this mean beyond the standings?

It gives you a tangible measure of how much Miami is improving. Understand that on Sept. 23, the Jets could argue they were better than Miami. They went to Miami and, like it or not, came away with a win.

Now, a month later, the Dolphins have grown to the point that New York was blown out by halftime in their own house. And Miami did it with their backup QB, Matt Moore, who played three quarters for the injured Ryan Tannehill.

[Update: Tannehill said after the game he has a hyper-extended left knee and a deep left thigh bruise. He is scheduled for an MRI Monday.]

That says a lot, folks.

Tons.

Dolphins lead Jets 27-3 to start fourth quarter

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Chris Clemons had a red zone interception with 3:48 to play in the third quarter. And some Jets fans started heading for the exits here with their team trailing, 27-3.

One thought: Hahahahahahahhaaha!

The fourth quarter of the live blog continues in the comments section.

Dolphins lead Jets 20-0 going to the third Q

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Dolphins are dominating this game.

They're winning on special teams where Olivier Vernon has both a field goal block -- just prior to halftime -- and a touchdown off a blocked punt.

They're winning on defense, limiting the Jets to 107 total yards, including only 18 for, ahem, ground and pound.

And they're winning on offense with a TD run by Daniel Thomas as well as fine play from Marlon Moore (38 yard catch), and Matt Moore (7 of 12), who is playing for an injured Ryan Tannehill.

Can this hold?

We'll see in the live blog that continues in the comments section.

Dolphins lead Jets 10-0 to start second quarter

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Let me put it to you this way: The crowd here at MetLife booed the Jets when the quarter ended.

Why?

Well, they've been out-coached, out-worked, out-played. The Dolphins have two special teams gems in a blocked punt for a TD by Jimmy Wilson on the block and Olivier Vernon on the TD recovery and there's a successful onside kick by Miami also.

Ryan Tannehill is on the sideline recovering from a left knee and quad injury. Matt Moore is playing well in his absence.

The live blog continues in the comments section.

On Dolphins vs. Jets, live blog, Pouncy

EAST RUTHERFORD -- It is already windy here.

The combination hurricane-cold front weather anomoly known as FrankenStorm is not here yet. It is coming, but not today. There are gusts inside MetLife Stadium and that promises to wreck plans of throwing the football around all day.

The running game is important today.

That means Reggie Bush is front and center. That means the run defense will be big.

On offense, I look forward to seeing exactly what Mike Pouncey is going to do about the New York defensive front. I'm particularly interested to see what he'll do about Aaron Maybin. While you consider that, please read my column on Pouncey rising in stature as a Dolphins leader. It's good. Really.

I'll have the inactive in the next few minutes.

[UPDATE: Jabar Gaffney is active for today's game. He will work in three-wide sets.

The inactives are Pat Devlin, Richard Marshall, Josh Kaddu, Will Yeatman, Michael Egnew, Rishard Matthews, and Anthony Armstrong.]

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

October 26, 2012

Dolphins working to cure ailing running game

The Dolphins are the No. 11 rushing team in the NFL, which is a pretty good place to be. But the ranking is deceiving.

The Dolphins got off to a magnificent start running the football the first few weeks of the season, ranking as high as No. 2 after the second game of the season. But the last three weeks?

Eighty-six yards against Arizona.

Sixty-eight yards against Cincinnati.

Thirty-six yards against St. Louis. The season's worst mark.

The Dolphins averaged a paltry 1.1 yards per rush against the Rams. The trend is a concern to Miami coaches and players.

"As you guys know, we haven’t been very effective running the ball the last couple of weeks and we’ve got to get our running game back on track," coach Joe Philbin said. "It’s an important part of what we are and what we do. Our run defense and our ability to run the ball on offense, those are kind of core principles of the program. Frankly, we’ve been struggling the last couple of weeks. We’ve got to get ourselves back on track in the running game. You would think that with the success we had the first three weeks that we’d be able to sustain some level of it. But we’ve struggled as of late."

It has been a struggle and it has been a disappointment because one thing the Dolphins strive to be on offense is balanced. Frankly, the passing game isn't effective enough to carry them. And they know it.

“We want to be balanced," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "I think the last couple games have been tough. We haven’t been able to run the ball like we want to. Last time we played the Jets, we were fortunate to get some good runs and establish a run game. Since then, we’ve had some tough games on the ground. That’s kind of our identity. We want to be a balanced team. We want to be able to run the ball and we expect them to do things to try to stop the run. It’s just a battle of who can execute better."

The good news is indeed that Miami plays the New York Jets on Sunday. The last time the teams met, the Dolphins rushed for 185 yards and, as New York coach Rex Ryan notes, "that was with Reggie Bush not playing the second half."

So it stands to reason this is the week the Dolphins hope to regain their ground game mojo.

The reason the ground game has sputtered is, in part, that teams are basically loading up against the run. They are challenging the Dolphins to throw the ball while stacking the tackle box against runs.

That's not good for anybody, except for Tannehill. Indeed as teams have loaded up on Miami's run game, Tannehill has benefitted. He's been able to deliver his three best games in that his completion percentage went from 63 against Arizona to 65 against Cincinnati to 72 against St. Louis.

Tannehill's quarterback rating has similarly improved going from 86.5 to 92.3 to 112 in the last game.

And, ironically, while the Dolphins have been unable to run with much effectiveness, they've won two of the three games in which they struggled.

Still, despite the success, the team wants the problem resolved.

“I think it’s important for us, just we want to be balanced," Tannehill said. "I think that, if you’re able to run the ball, then you’re going to open up some passing lanes, open up play action and things down the field. Like you said, we haven’t had the run game we wanted to the past few weeks, (but) we want to build and get better there."

October 25, 2012

War of words getting heated now

You already know the Jets are flappin' gums about how they have Reggie Bush intimidated and worried about getting hurt based on the last meeting in which the Dolphins running back suffered a knee injury.

You know LaRon Landry said incidiary things and referenced head-hunting. Well, so did Aaron Maybin.

"We want to knock him out but we want to do it legally," Maybin told ESPNNewYork.

I predicted that kind of stuff would be answered today by the Dolphins. Well, the Dolphins are answering.

Enter Dolphins center Mike Pouncey.

"He won't even play enough to hurt Reggie," Pouncey said of the reserve Jets linebacker. "I don't even want to talk about talk about him. He's a joke."

Game on.

Pouncey also made the point that if he wants to get at Maybin it'll have to be on special teams.

Ziiing.

By the way, the Jets have made 469 tackles this season. Maybin has accounted for one of those.

Mild mannered Richie Incognito (sarcasm), meanwhile, was more cryptic in his commentary.

"We hear all the talking going on," Incognito said. "We understand it's part of Jets week and all that. But all the talking stops on Sunday."

As Randy Starks chimed in, "We do our talking on the field."

Coach Joe Philbin, predictably, wants nothing to do with the trash talking. In his typically calm manner he said, "It's a free country. They can say what they want."

Marshall to miss third game with back injury

Richard Marshall, the Dolphins cornerback who has missed the last two games with a back injury, will also miss Sunday's game at the New York Jets as well, according to a source.

That should really come as no surprise. Marshall hasn't practiced since Sept. 28 and hasn't played since Sept. 30 against Arizona. He missed the games against Cincinnati and St. Louis without even practicing the weeks leading to those contests.

He didn't practice last week during the bye. And he missed practice again today, to go with his missing practice on Monday and Wednesday.

He's not available and will miss his third game of the season.

Nolan Carroll, who has started the past two games for Marshall, will do so again Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

On another note, defensive tackle Randy Starks is back at practice today. He missed practice Wednesday for personal non-football reasons.

YB: Still the same cool cat

The divorce between Yeremiah Bell and the Dolphins was too cold for me. Bell played eight seasons for the Dolphins and was a starter most of that time. He was even a Pro Bowl player for them one year.

And yet when he was waived by the Dolphins in the offseason it was done and he was gone and no one said good-bye and no one gave a statement and that was that. Cold.

Bell has found a new home as a New York Jets starting safety. In fact, there are a handful of former Dolphins on the Jets including Lex Hilliard and Clyde Gates and coaches including Tony Sparano and Mike Westhoff and Dave DeGuglielmo.

And those former Dolphins no doubt have embraced the Jets culture and now want to whip the Dolphins as much as they wanted to whip the Jets when they worked in Miami. But hard feelings?

Not for Bell, despite the untidy send-off.

"No hard feelings," Bell said late Monday evening. "I know it’s a part of the business. I would have maybe liked to have finished my career there, but that’s not what happened, so no hard feelings. The Dolphins gave me the opportunity to pursue a career and I thank them for that. I have nothing bad to say about them at all."

YB is a classy cat. Always was. Remains that way. He is the anti-LaRon Landry.

What else did he tell the Miami media during his conference call with the locals? This:

On Reshad Jones: The thing I see from Reshad is that he’s really growing up as a player. He’s really embracing his role as a starter. When I was there with those guys and kind of got to tutor them a little bit, I could tell that they were going to be good players if they keep their heads in it (and) listened to what the coaches told them. The more games they play, the better they’ll be. It’s just good to see that he’s maturing and becoming a good safety in this league."

On Miami’s offense: "They’re really spreading guys out and getting them the ball in places where they can get it and make plays. They’re getting guys the ball in space, kind of letting them do their thing and they’re doing a good job at it. They’re a lot quicker as far as getting to the line of srimmage, huddling up and getting a play started. I think they all have a pretty good understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish on offense." 

On Ryan Tannehill: He’s poised and he’s confident. You don’t see that much from rookie quarterbacks, the confidence level that he has. He’s playing some good ball. The higher your confidence is, the better you feel and the better you play. He has a great understanding of what they’re trying to do on offense. He knows where to go with the ball. He’s good at reading defenses, so he’s doing a great job."

On losing Darrelle Revis: To lose a guy like Darrelle, oneof the best defensive players in the league, is big. You can’t replace Darrelle with just one guy, so it’s a total team effort, but at the same time, we have to continue to play the style of defense that we’ve been playing. Have we went to more zone? Maybe we have, maybe we haven’t. We just can’t do some of the things that we could do when Revis was in the lineup. Now, we have to play the whole field instead of just letting Revis lock down that one side."

On getting Dustin Keller back: "Dustin’s a guy (who) works the middle of the field. Not having him the first game was big for us. Now that we have him back, (he’s) a guy that works the middle of the field. You have to respect him. He’s a guy that can get open. He knows how to sit down in zones. He knows how to beat man-coverage. He does a good job at that. The challenge for them is going to be covering the guy. He’s a big target. He knows how to use his body and he’s very smart when it comes to manning his own situation, so it’s going to be a challenge for them."

On his return to Miami in Week Three: "When I came back, it was a little different, just from the aspect that I had been there so long. Playing on a new team and playing in a stadium where I played my whole career, that was a little bit different. But it was great to come back, see some of the guys (and) just play in the stadium again. When those guys come up here, I think it will be a lot of the same thing. I’m better prepared for it now, so we’re just going go out there, try to play a good game and try to come away with a win."

On still being with Sparano: "It’s a little different, but it’s still the same old Tony. I hear his voice every day. He’s doing a lot of the same things he did when he was in Miami, (like) screaming at guys in practice. The only thing that’s really changed is his title, but for the most part, he’s the same guy."

On being in New York: "It’s been good. One thing that I really was surprised about is how much the media coverage is different out here. There’s probably two times as much media here as there was when I was there. For the most part, it’s all the same. Football is football. It’s a great experience either way. I’ve enjoyed my time here. I’m having a good time and just looking to win some football games."

On how different it was playing in Miami for another team: "It was different from the aspect of me being on a new team, but at the same time, I play on the Jets now, so I am on the other side of that rivalry. What we want to do is beat the Dolphins. When I was on (Miami) it was vice versa. I’m not really worried about which side I’m on. I’m just glad I’m on a side and I’m just going out there trying to win games. That’s what it’s about."

On if this Sunday’s matchup is a crossroads game: "Yes, we need this game. There’s nothing else to say about it. This game is huge for us. It’s a division game. We don’t want to (be) 3-5. We want to stay up in the division. There’s still a lot of season to play, but we know the important games. This is
one of them and one that we need to win. I’m sure they feel the same way."

LaRon Landry comments may awaken Dolphins

LaRon Landry is apparently not thinking this one through. Either that or he has to lay off the Red Bull. 

The clinical evidence of what I'm saying was apparent Thursday when Landry got to chirpin' to the New York media about what he's done and what he's going to do to Reggie Bush and the Dolphins.

Landry, you may recall, is the Jets safety that basically was credited with the tackle on the play in which Bush, Miami's running back, injured a knee back in the Week Three meeting between the teams.

And now Landry believes that otherwise routine tackle is going to play mind games with Bush and make the former Heisman Trophy winner nervous or scared everytime Landry gives him the evil eye or stank breath or whatever.

"He will remember that hit,” Landry told The New York Daily News on Wednesday. “Every time he sees me, he will remember that hit... if I'm in the box or coming downhill."

And this:

"Just watch the way (Bush) runs on Sunday,” Landry added. “I'm not going to overtalk it or make it a story."

Landry suggested he's something of a head-hunter and he's going to be trying to bag an new skull on Sunday.

"If I get penalized, I'm not going to stop hitting or head hunting,” Landry said. “I'm not going to stop the way I play.”

Ohhhhhhh. I perceive Bush is afraid now.

No.

Not really.

Angry maybe. Motivated. Not afraid.

What's worse, Landry apparently wants all the Dolphins to feel that way, too.

As if announcing oneself as a head-hunter is not enough to get one's knees taken out, Landy also predicted the Jets were going to beat the Dolphins. This nugget he gave to ESPN New York.

"This game is a must-win," Landry said. "We can sweep these guys and also get to the bye at 4-4. That's what we're striving to do and that's what we will do."

Is this dude for real?

Look, professional football is a grown man game. It is not for the weak or feeble. But Landry may just find out it is also not for the feeble of intelligence.

By calling out Bush, he has thus angered Miami's best offensive player at minimum and likely all of his offensive teammates as well. I will be counting the number of times a Miami offensive lineman will be lining up Landry for a tooth extraction shot on Sunday.

Furthermore, in predicting a victory, now Landry is certain to awaken the ire of the Miami defense, too. I have zero doubt that Landry's comments will make their way to Miami players Thursday -- either through the coaching staff or the media or both.

And for what?

What did Landry accomplish with his bravado? He certainly is not intimidating anyone as he seems to believe. Indeed, he might have made himself a target. And he might have awakened the otherwise unassuming Dolphins.

The irony of this is that Bush and Landry are tied in a manner of speaking. They are both represented by super agent Joel Segal. And Segal is betting both stay healthy and continue to play at a high level to get each a new deal in 2013.

Bush is a free agent as his deal with Miami runs out and Landry's one-year deal with the Jets similarly is set to expire after this season.

All Landry has done is suggest Bush will be hurt again -- thus possibly limiting Bush's earning ability going forward. And he's made himself a target for reprisal -- thus possibly limiting his own earning ability going forward. Segal would be wise to explain this to the safety.

Crazy stuff, right?

There's a reason Bill Belichick doesn't allow talk like this. Landry may soon understand that reason.

October 24, 2012

Starks out for personal reason, Gaffney believes he's ready

Randy Starks missed practice today due to a non-football personal reason, coach Joe Philbin said this afternoon.

As to the status of Jabar Gaffney for Sunday's game, the Dolphins wide receiver seems very optimistic about his chances of playing against the New York Jets. Philbin, meanwhile, is a little more cautious.

I asked Gaffney about his work at practice today and he said today was his best practice since he's been with the team. "I'm definitely ready to play," Gaffney added.

Frankly, I'm eager to see what Gaffney is able to do once he gets acclimated with the Miami calls and checks. He is a bona fide and experienced No. 2 wide receiver and his addition would give the Dolphins flexibility to expand what they do in the passing game. And that, in turn, could help open lanes for a running game that lately has been bogged down by teams loading up.

So Gaffney learning the system is important.

"I'm a lot better than I was when I first got here," Gaffney said. "I've gotten better with each and every practice and it's helped me play rather than just thinking. I would have to say today was my best practice, definitely better than Monday."

Philbin wasn't quite ready to say Gaffney will be active against the Jets -- which would be the first game being active for the player.

"He looked good in practice," Philbin said. "I thought he's doing some things well."

But, again, no word on whether Gaffney is going to be active. The coach suggested he wants to see more Thursday and Friday.

 

Wednesday afternoon update from Dolphins camp

The Dolphins are in full pads today as they begin honing in on the Jets game.

Cornerback Richard Marshall, who has missed the last two starts with a back injury, is not practicing today. He didn't practice Monday. He didn't practice last week, or the week before, or the week before. It is going on a month since the back injury has kept him out of practice.

I haven't even seen him in the locker room.

Nolan Carroll continues to be the likely starter for Marshall versus New York. Carroll, by the way, jumped a route against Brian Hartline during the open portion of practice and had a chance for an interception. He didn't catch the ball, but it would go down as a pass defensed.

I was told last week that Marshall expected to return "sooner rather than later," suggesting his issue is not season-ending. But his time away gives me pause.

Defensive lineman Randy Starks is also not at practice today. I do not know if his absence is a result of an injury or whether he's excused for some reason.

Tony McDaniel is the next guy up and so he took more repetitions today.

 

October 23, 2012

Wednesday to be a big day for Jabar Gaffney

It has been slow going for Jabar Gaffney since he arrived on the Dolphins roster three weeks ago.

He was rusty because he really didn't go through training camp with New England due to an injury. He was clueless because the Dolphins offense was new and foreign to him. And so, he was not a factor as he was inactive for the two games the Dolphins played after he arrived.

But he is progressing. He is getting a feel for Miami's system and culture.

And he might be on the verge of finally being active and on the field Sunday when the Dolphins play the New York Jets. The final decision on that -- believe it or not -- might come Wednesday when the Dolphins go through their game plan for New York.

On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman wants to see Gaffney fully integrated into Miami's plan. And the coach wants to see the player react seamlessly. As they say in the NFL, the coach wants to see Gaffney play fast.

If Gaffney can practice fast on Wednesday, without mistakes, he's probably playing Sunday.

"Well, I think any time you sign somebody and Gaffney’s been in this league for a while and has some success obviously, that’s why he’s here," Sherman said of Gaffney. "I think there’s always an urgency to get him to move forward. MarlonMoore  plays a fair amount of special teams snaps as well. He can get gassed up pretty good, so we definitely have to push forward and move Gaffney ahead of the learning curve at this point. I think he’s getting there. I thought his last practice before we broke was probably the best practice. He looked like he was more comfortable with what we’re doing and then again today he looked a lot more comfortable. I guess he’s got to go 100 miles-an-hour, but they have to process and, as they’re processing, they don’t go quite as fast. Now, he’s stopped the processing and he’s going faster and making plays.

"I’m anxious to see what does when we get back on Wednesday."

The Dolphins want Gaffney to practice well and show he can be counted on because that would give Miami a third wide receiver option. That would open up the three-wide formations for Miami and, with Moore, allow the flexibility of using a four-wide if Sherman wants.

Why, you may ask, don't the Dolphins just go with Moore as their third wide receiver? They did that to some degree against the Rams and he caught a TD pass.

But Moore is still inexperienced and, as Sherman says, the special teams work he does is so important that the team doesn't want to take him away from that. So the team is hoping Gaffney can plug in on offense and let Moore continue doing his work on special teams.

Is that fair to Moore?

Maybe not. But Gaffney isn't a special teams player so that's how it is.

And Wednesday we'll find out if that's how it's going to be.

October 22, 2012

Coordinators talk issues of the day

I learned some things today from Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.

I learned that I'm not the only one wondering why the Dolphins couldn't use their defensive linemen every bit as wisely as the Houston Texans in getting them to tip passes at the line of scrimmage and perhaps cause turnovers as a result.

Turns out the Dolphins did an in-depth look at the Texans and how they cause so many tipped and deflected passes and are now making that a "point of emphasis," according to Coyle.

"We studied all six of the Texans games prior to this weekend's game and made edits on every tipped pass they had and where their alingment was on every pass where they got their hands on the ball," Coyle said. "You can see it's definitely a point of emphasis they do with all their players ... We all emphasize and they seem to reap the rewards more than anyone in the league.

"It's one of those things certainly you want to teach as you approach the QB and get your hands up to be more disruptive. And we've talked about it and its a point of emphasis for us here as we go on through the rest of the season."

I learned that Coyle regards cornerback Sean Smith as his most improved player so far this year.

"Someone asked me the other day who has improved the most overall and one of my first inclination is to say 'Sean Smith,'" Coyle said. "Sean's a talented guy. We knew that coming in. But Sean's play has gotten better throughout the season. He still has things we're constantly talking about that he needs to get better and improve on. As you guys know, the most difficult position to play on the field next to quarterback is cornerback. He's continuing to show growth each and every week. That's been a positive. He started with a lot of ability but wasn't a consistent player. That was the negative as we studied him in the offseason. There was too much up and down and variation in his performance. Now we're getting a more consistent player each and every week that has playmaking ability and at that position that's the key."

I learned from offensive coordinator Sherman that rookie tight end Michael Egnew has problems beyond simply being good enough on offense to be active in a game. The truth is he has to be good enough to contribute on special team and, Sherman said, "he's not there right now."

I asked Sherman if the fact the bye week allowed for extra work, whether players that need that extra work were asked to stay and, well, work. I asked specifically if Egnew and Jabar Gaffney, who is not reall up to snuff on the calls and checks, were told to stick around and get those down so they could get closer to contributing.

The answer was enlightening:

Sherman later said that Gaffney's best practice so far was the last one the team conducted before getting four days off during the bye. So at least progress is being made.

On another matter: The Dolphins brought in a handful of young players, including former University of Miami tight end Chase Ford. Ford spent some time with the Eagles after going undrafted.

Everyone ready to go with one exception

The Dolphins are back to work as their bye week had ended. I'm also back to work.

This morning the team is on the field and everyone is present and accounted for as healthy ... except for cornerback Richard Marshall.

The player who missed the past three weeks of practice and was out against St. Louis and Cincinnati is not practicing this morning. He is the only one still not practicing.

Some interesting things are on the horizon this week:

Following his performance against St. Louis that included a touchdown grab, receiver Marlon Moore is probably expecting that he's established himself as a target in sub packages when Miami goes three-wide. Well, that isn't quite true.

It seems Moore and Jabar Gaffney will continue to compete for playing time. Gaffney, signed three weeks ago, has not been active for either of the two games he's been on the roster. That is primarily a result of Gaffney being rusty and not fully functional with the playbook.

One assumes the extra week has helped Gaffney get more acclimated thus the on-going competition with Moore.

[BLOG NOTE: The two coordinators will meet with the media today so come back later for the update of that and other things.]

October 16, 2012

Bye week means off week

The Dolphins are working until Wednesday and then they are off Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the bye week. They'll be back Monday

As some of you are already demanding requesting a new post be published, I should inform you I am not working this week while I take my furlough at the Miami Herald. I'll be back Monday.

I'm still around, however. You can follow me on twitter and speak to me directly over there.

 

October 14, 2012

Miami Dolphins tied for AFC East lead

Are you ready for this? The Dolphins are tied for first place in the AFC East.

And it's mid-October!

With the Patriots losing to Seattle on Sunday, the Jets beating Indianapolis, and the Bills beating Arizona in overtime, those teams join Miami with a 3-3 record. All are tied atop the AFC East. So the first six weeks of the season has resolved nothing in the division.

It's irrelevant. What matters is that Miami finds itself mattering at this time of year. Still.

My opinion?

As I wrote in my column in The Miami Herald for Monday, the Dolphins have greatly improved since the season began. There are tangible signs that players and units are getting better. I also write the new coaching staff is also improving and there were signs of that Sunday.

Bottom line is the team is headed in the right direction so far.

I believe only one team is going to come out of the AFC East and make the playoffs this year. But at this stage, the Dolphins have as good a chance as any of the others.

Dolphins beat Rams go to bye week happy

The Dolphins are 3-3 and going into their bye week with a two-game win streak.

Well done by Miami winning a 17-14 decision.

This team got a great effort from quarterback Ryan Tannehill today. The rookie quarterback completed 21 of 29 passes for 185 yards and two touchdown passes. His quarterback rating was a season high 112.

It wasn't easy.

The Rams tried a 66 yard field goal to tie the game as time ran out. Rookie Greg Zuerlein, who had not missed in 15 tries this season, missed the long attempt. He also missed two other FG tries for a total of three on the day.

"It was kind of a grind it out game," coach Joe Philbin said. "You have to hand it to our guys that they made a play when they had to. They took care of the football. We had some big plays. It was a good, hard football game."