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2 posts from May 9, 2013

May 09, 2013

He said, she said turns against Florida speaker

Mike Dee and Stephen Ross say Florida Speaker of the House Will Weatherford promised them their bill, which in part would have allowed an election on Sun Life Stadium upgrades to go forward, would be heard and voted on during the last legislative session.

It wasn't. Weatherford closed the session without picking up the bill.

But Weatherford denies he ever promised to let the bill be heard as the Dolphins CEO and the Dolphins owner are contending.

“At no point during the process were any promises made to hear the Dolphins Stadium bill on the House floor. It's no coincidence that we haven't heard about this so-called commitment until after the bill died," Weatherford said in a statement to The Miami Herald.

So stalemate, right? He said. She said. Right?

Not quite.

Dee said other people heard Weatherford make the statements the Dolphins contend he said. And I found one of those people on Thursday.

"I was in the room with Mike Dee and Steve Ross and did hear what they heard," South Florida Super Bowl bid committee chairman Rodney Barreto said. "And yes, I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed that the people of Dade County were not given the opportunity to vote and that's a huge disappointment.

"This is a democratic process and [the legislators] were approving nothing more than allowing the people to vote. And I think that's lost in all this finger pointing, that we had an election going on and 40,000 people voted already and they should have had the opportunity to finish that vote."

Sources close to the discussions between the Dolphins and Weatherford say other people also heard Weatherford tell the Dolphins the bill would be heard. One of those persons, according to a source, is Turnberry Associates Principal Jeffrey Soffer.

Soffer, whose company owns portions of the Fountainbleau Hotel and Aventura Mall, was present when Weatherford and the Dolphins spoke on at least one occasion.

Messages left for Soffer at Turnberry Associates have not been returned. 



Being most improved isn't enough for Tannehill

In the aftermath of the draft and amid the preparation for the Dolphins rookie camp, I overlooked the words of Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman about second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

"This young man will be the most improved quarterback in the National Football League from year one to year two this year – I promise you that,” Sherman told the team's website. "He’s working extremely hard."

At first blush, this seems like a bold statement. After all, it seems to suggest Tannehill will be better this year than Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and others. Right? It sounds optimistic and promising and confident.

But think about it.

Sherman didn't, in fact, say Tannehill will be the best among the 2012 QB class this season. He said he'd be most improved.

That's a completely different statement and, frankly, kind of an empty statement when you consider the facts.

What are those facts?

Of all the quarterbacks drafted in 2012 who became starters for their teams, Tannehill brought up the back of the pack along with Cleveland's Brandon Weeden.

Griffin III, Wilson, and Luck were not just better but way better. Even Nick Foles, who started games after Mike Vick went down in Philadelphia, had a better TD-INT ratio, better completion percentage and better quarterback rating than Tannehill.

So, if he was at the back of the pack among the 2012 class, it stands to reason that if he's going to be any good in 2013 he would improve the most. It's logical. Indeed, Tannehill could be the most improved and still be quite mediocre.

Seeing the jump from 12 TDs and 13 INTs to 18 TDs and 10 INTs is a huge improvement. But is it a great season? That's Christian Ponder territory.

Meanwhile, if any of the other QBs get much better that would put them in superhuman territory.

Yes, RG3 might get better. But is he going to throw 30 TDs and 5 interceptions instead of the 20 and 5 he threw last year? How much higher can he take his 102 QB rating? Is he going to complete more than the 65.6 percent of the passes he did last year?

Yes, Wilson might get better. But his 26 TDs and 10 INTs, his 100 QB rating and 64.1 percent completion rate were jaw dropping for a rookie. Is he going to be light years better coming off a season when he was already among the league's best?

Luck's numbers weren't nearly as impressive as Wilson's or RG3's. He threw 23 TDs and 18 INTS and completed only 54.1 percent of his passes. But he threw for a whopping 4,374 yards and led seven fourth-quarter comeback victories.

Is he going to lead 10 fourth-quarter comeback victories this season?

Sorry, Sherman's statement is kind of empty.

What I truly hope Tannehill does, other than improve, is climb past a couple of his contemporaries. Sherman should be looking for the kind of improvement that leaves us all saying, Tannehill was better than RG3 or Luck or Wilson.

Or better still ...

Luck took the Colts from the worst record in the NFL to an 11-5 record and the playoffs.

RG3 took the Redskins from a 5-11 record and last place in the NFC East to a division title and the playoffs.

Wilson took the Seattle Seahawks from a 7-9 record in the NFC West to an 11-5 record and the playoffs.

The Dolphins have spent over $178 million in new contracts this year to improve the team. Half of that is guaranteed money. The idea was to put enough talent around Tannehill to make him a better QB.

It would be great if he could match the seasons his three contemporaries had last year -- taking a losing team to the playoffs.

Now, that would be a feat.