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Clearing out the notebook: Friday edition

The Dolphins have two home games remaining and that should be a big deal because Baltimore, for example, plays only one more home game. And playing at home is supposed to be better than playing on the road.

Except this year the Dolphins haven't exactly done a great job of protecting their house. They're 3-3 in six games at home and would have to win their final two games at home to merely tie the 5-3 home mark they posted last year.

So how would coach Joe Philbin grade Miami's play at home this year?

"About 3-3.  Seriously, we have to play better," Philbin said. "I think the fans have gotten their money’s worth in terms of excitement in relation to the games have gone down to, literally all six games have been almost to the last play of the game if I’m not mistaken.  We have to do better, we have to do better."


Do you recall the 2011 season-opener? The Patriots threw for 500 yards. They had a 99-yard pass play from Tom Brady to Wes Welker. They won the game 38-24.

Nolan Carroll remembers that game.

I talked to Carroll about that game this week. If you recall, both Vontae Davis and Sean Smith suffered cramps that night. Carroll had to substitute in for both players.

And as if on cue, the moment he came in the game, Tom Brady went to work on him. Three consecutive passes to Carroll's side went for completions including a TD pass. I asked Carroll if he agreed that he got picked on that night?

"Yes," he said.

Well, earlier this year, the Dolphins managed Dimitri Patterson's groin injury in such a way that he was able to start the October game at New England. And Patterson played well. But he had to come out in the second half for a series and when that happened, Carroll came in the game.

Carroll had started five previous games in Patterson's place but, again, as soon as he entered the game, Tom Brady went after him. And the Patriots connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass in which Brady went to Aaron Dobson who was matched out left against ... Nolan Carroll.

Carroll is a starting cornerback the rest of the season apparently with Patterson now on injured reserve. Is he worried Brady is going to be picking on him Sunday as has happened in the past?

"That doesn't worry me," Carroll said. "What happened years ago has no affect on me. I'm a different player than I was then. This is a new game."

Carroll better be ready because the Patriots seemingly always know where he is.


The Dolphins had no answer for covering Darren Sproles out of the backfield the fourth week of the season when they played New Orleans.

Well, on Sunday they face Shane Vereen (who missed the first meeting between Miami and New England due to his wrist injury) and he is a defacto wide receiver coming out of the backfield -- a matchup nightmare for linebackers.

Vereen has been active only five games but already he leads all NFL running backs with 74.6 yard per game receiving average. He has 40 catches for 373 yards. Last week he caught 12 passes for 153 yards against Cleveland.

Phillip Wheeler or Jimmy Wilson better bring their A-game on Sunday.


I hate doing playoff projections, but I feel the need to clear up some confusion that Thursday night's San Diego victory over the Denver Broncos may have caused.

Multiple people on my twitter timeline (Follow me @ArmandoSalguero) were saying that if the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers all end up with the same record, the fact the Chargers enter the scenario and turn it into a three-team race erases Baltimore's current edge over Miami built by a head-to-head victory.

Not necessarily true.

If for example, the three teams finish 9-7 and are tied for the sixth and final playoff seed, the Ravens would still be the qualifying team if the one loss they suffer is this weekend to NFC opponent Detroit. In other words, the Ravens could lose to Detroit but if they beat two AFC opponents -- New England and Cincinnati -- they would still be the 9-7 team getting in the playoffs.

If, however, the Ravens beat Detroit but lose to either New England or the Bengals, they would be 9-7 but the 9-7 Dolphins would be getting in the playoffs ahead of them, assuming the Chargers are also 9-7. (If the Chargers drop off, the Ravens again win out over Miami based on head-to-head meetings).

Bottom line: The Ravens can obviously build a seemingly hefty lead in the playoff chase against the Dolphins and Chargers if they win this weekend while the Dolphins lose to the Patriots. But if the Dolphins recover the final two weeks of the season, and the Chargers keep winning, and the Ravens stumble in one of their two remaining games against AFC opponents, the Dolphins would jump ahead of Baltimore.

If we're talking teams going 8-8 that's a whole different formula that might involve other teams and it's too early for that now. 

Glad I made that totally clear for you.


The Dolphins have lost seven in a row to the Patriots. I picked Miami to win on Sunday. I think the loss of Rob Gronkowski is devestating to New England's offense. But looking at the last meeting, Gronkowski caught only two passes for 27 yards. I worry that Aqib Talib did not play and Brady threw for only 116 yards, had a 69.5 QB rating and the Patriots still won by 10 points.


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Agreed and Sam, I believe they have a great shot. I see outlets all over the place picking the Dolphins this weekend.

Dolphins win, Ravens lose and this thing is ours ... and then, who knows?

All your points are solid and drafting Keuchley vs. Tannehill would have made perfect sense.

Peyton needed a stable organization and Miami was far from that with a rookie head coach and GM on the ropes.

We can 'what if' all day long and I was on of the few people on this blog who was for Manning coming to Miami.

Maybe there will be some poetic justice with Miami visiting Peyton in Denver in the second round of the playoffs and the Fins win.

It's quite simple. If they want to win, they must:

Go Man to man, press coverage...NO ZONES! And hope the rush gets home!

Carrol on Amendola or Thompkins with safety help(Dobson is probably out)
Grimes on Edelman
Their TE is non factor so use Wheeler or Ellerbe
Use Jordan to shadow Vreen. Think he can handle it.

Use Jimmy Wilson to cover in 3 wide situations or blitz the pis* outta him! Blitz Wheeler or Ellerbe when not in coverage at least 50% of snaps.

UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES BLITZING BRADY IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. But, with his supporting cast, he is vulnerable. And everyone knows Brady is not mobile & he hates middle pressure. Ironically, our LB's usually come up the middle.

I do not fear the pats run game. I do fear the quick screen / passing game. Get up to the line, press & make those throws more difficult!

This game is far more winnable than it can be lost.

Based on how we played them in NE, we match up well. We lost that game because we didn't adjust not because we weren't good enough!

Flying under the radar in this playoff stretch run, this coaching staff will also be on TRIAL too.

This coaching staff had better bring their A-games, if expecting to have a continuing presence in Miami. There can not be any obvious or egregious coaching errors that leads to a loss in this crucial 3-game playoff run either.

Not only does this young team has to grow and learn to close before our very eyes, but, so does this coaching staff too. No coaching gaffs, no being "out-adjusted" during these games.

This coaching staff needs to give this team the absolute best chance to win. Overcoming "BAD" coaching decisions can not be on that list.

I know alot of people here hate Omar. I usually find him pretty informative. But his timeline of tweets are infuriating. I shall paste them

"@muttman13: Do you have more confidence in coaching with dev of Clay, Carroll, wilson, and Vernon?"» NOPE. I knew all 4 could play football

Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson were top performers in training camp their rookie year. Vernon is man crush alum, & Clay's been a mismatch

When these coaches develop someone like Jordan, Davis, Taylor, Miller, Sims, Egnew, Dallas Thomas, Matthews, Brenner they'll get credi

Arent these tweets just asinine? Why do coaches only get credit if certain players start playing well. This is absolute garbage and makes me mad.. Come on Bro'mar!

I know alot of people here hate Omar. I usually find him pretty informative. But his timeline of tweets are infuriating. I shall paste them

"@muttman13: Do you have more confidence in coaching with dev of Clay, Carroll, wilson, and Vernon?"» NOPE. I knew all 4 could play football

Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson were top performers in training camp their rookie year. Vernon is man crush alum, & Clay's been a mismatch

When these coaches develop someone like Jordan, Davis, Taylor, Miller, Sims, Egnew, Dallas Thomas, Matthews, Brenner they'll get credi

Arent these tweets just asinine? Why do coaches only get credit if certain players start playing well. This is absolute garbage and makes me mad.. Come on Bro'mar!

Don't know about you guys, but I was MIGHTY nervous last night when Chargers won. 4th offense in the league, defense starting to pick it up. They are stepping up at the right time. Rivers is an experienced, top-tier QB. Their remaining games are Oakland and KC. So not easy, but then again the other two teams don't really have anything to play for (maybe KC depending on if they can still win the division). I was hoping 9-7 might do it for us, but I'm starting to think we need to win out (10-6) to ensure a Playoff spot. And that makes me VERY, VERY nervous. Not sure this team has what it takes to make that kind of run end of season. We can all wish apon a star, but history tells us that's not the case.

Winning this weekend will go a LONG WAY to alleviating my worries.

NH, I am more than content with Tannehill and he is a better bet going forward than peyton who I feel is near the end.

I also did want peyton that summer to come here as seeing a 2 year window to win it all would've been possible.

Anyways, it is what it is and I'm looking forward to 10 years of relevancy under Tannehill as I think he will continue to improve.

If I were Coyle, I'd really pick and choose carfully when to blitz Brady. They run all kinds of WR and other screens which will burn a blitzing defence pretty quickly. I think pressure up the gut is the key to stopping Brady. He is too immobile to escape it, and it flusters him more than pressure from the outside.
There is no way the Phins should lose this game. At home vs. an injury depleted division rival? If the Phins lose this one, they are just another mediocre NFL team.

rdubs, if he thought Carroll was a day one starter his rookie year than that basically nullifies anything else the man says.

I like Carroll he has improved over the years but wasn't great to start. Clay always showed promise but wasn't consistent until this year.

Vernon was good off the jump, just didn't get on the field as much last year.

Yeah rdubs, Omar is not great. Sometimes I get some decent content out of him, but other times he is terrible. I read him a bit and if he starts posting his infuriating garbage I just give him a rest for a few days.

The truth is the staff deserves credit for all 4 of those guys.

DC, on the Chargers we have the tie breaker over them at least, so if we are both at 9-7 we would get in over them. They seem to be hot at the right time though.

Dolphins are more desperate, have much more motivaton, and are playing at home against an injury riddled Pats team. Fins 23-17.

...I am interested to see if this team can step it up this weekend. I disagree that the Pats are running on fumes. According to the standings..They hold the keys to home field advantage. They aren't on a losing streak. They still have Brady, Bellicheck..The Giants, The Bills...Those guys are running on fumes. The Pats...We will see.

IMO..This has to be played with the energy of a playoff game. I don't know how the team prepares for this. Most of our guys playing tomorrow have never even smelled the playoffs. But if we can play fast, pay aggressive. I think the Phins can win Sunday. If the situational play is timid. If the team plays in a conservative manner..I think we will end up beating ourselves.

LOL, watch for the NASCAR package where tehy have Wake and Jordan on the ends and Vernon on his feet up the middle. This package is not good news for the Patriots.

Rdubs, that is pretty stupid. Clay and Carroll have both been inconsistent in the past, so at the very least coaches should get credit for playing to their strengths (unlike maybe someone like Reshad Jones). But then he says Matthews, Jordan, Brenner. Haven't all those guys BEEN getting it done last few weeks? In the flashes we've seen them? I would say those guys have all shown glimpses of what they can be if they had the chance, just right now there are starters in front of them keeping them off the field (well, in Jordan's case at least). And the other 2 JUST got their chance, and are proving to be capable. So that's a little bit of "wait and see" there Omar. Stop being such a hater!

LOL, the problem I see with our zone coverage is allowing receivers to run freely through their zone or quadrant. Our defenders are staying to far off to close throwing windows to force the qb to make a "perfect throw" to complete the pass.

Anyway, against elite qb's, I do not believe you should man up or zone to heavily on either. Once they figure you out defensively, they'll carve you up doing either.

Mix up your blitzes, have d-linemen drop into the throwing lanes(middle of the field), got to keep mixing it up. Have to make these type qb's hesitate a little more, giving your pass rush another split second to get there.



Thats what I say to my weiner, right before I grab him and tug away LMAO


Posted by: Mark in Toronto | December 13, 2013 at 10:47 AM

I'm content with Tannehill too. At least this season, Tannehill's been the best of the top 3 2012 qb picks.

Even though Nick Fowles has come from the back of the pack this season. Russell Wilson has been pretty steady since last season. Not really going up or down from last year's play.

Tannehill and Fowles have made the GREATEST STRIDES of any of the 2012 qb class.

haha, weiner!

I just hope they are prepared. But don't over think themselves into mistakes like they can do sometimes. And they definitely need to change things up when they see NE figure out their game plan, which we know they will.

NE typically tries to lull their opponents into overconfidence and then shock them with Brady's fireworks. I wonder if they will change that plan and try to strike quickly and often in this one. We need to be ready for either approach.

Omar Kelly is a self righteous, ego maniacal loser. That's why he's stuck in some go nowhere middle tier regional paper that nobody that isn't a Dolphins fan knows about.

He doesn't matter.

Carrol killing it from his first camp - what a joke statement that is.

The Dolphins need a 5 TD edge in 4th qtr if they want a chance to win. Otherwise be prepared for a ridiculous come back by Brady with all the chicanery, help by the referees, cheat and everything we know the Patriots are capable of.
So this is the toughest and more lever-destroying-fans game the Dolphins will face.
Hope our D make Brady pay the price for all the referees help he has got during his career.

DC, when people started looking for "alternative" MVP candidates and starting mentioning Russell Wilson, I started wondering where was the love for Phillip Rivers. He has easily been the best Qb in the NFL behind Peyton and Brees.

If the Chargers had even a respectable defense the team would be firmly entrenched in a playoff spot. 70% completion rate going into last night and a whopping 304 YPG and still managing 8.4 yards per attempt. his high level of play all year has been outstanding.

Everyone knows what Brady does, and everyone knows that Gronk is out, and everyone knows they have suspect receivers, and everyone knows New England would love to screen pass Miami to death. So with all that known, the Dolphins have to focus on stopping the run. I would assume that Belichick will try to run, run, and run some more, and unleash Brady only at the critical moments. Thus neutralizing Miami's defensive strength (rushing the passer, covering down field), and exploting their weakness, which is their run defense.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | December 13, 2013 at 11:08 AM

MIT, I believe more readers in Ft Lauderdale subscribe to the Herald than Sun Sentinel. Omar is a hag with an underlining gay affection for men(man crush king).

I hope Coyle has figured out how to get the defensive backs contesting those short midfield passes ... last week would not have been close had we not allowed so many of those.

Agreed, man is rubbish and his tweets above prove it.

It will be interesting if Wallace not just catch the deep and short ball making adjustments,but also disrupting int against cb. Talib is very good. Taking about developing/couching.

All I want is a win. I hope the team can make sure they cover the slow and inexperienced te position that NE has. Refs are going to be a pain. Play through it. Philbin has to challenge the refs every time they pull something. And let them know that he is going to the league with any stupid bs calls. After watching the fiasco in many games too many of the "other" teams don't get the call.
Philbin should also call a timeout on Brad when he sees out D not set. We don't need timeouts when we are down by 2 scores with 30 seconds left. A good time to call a timeout is when the D is out of wind or late getting to the line and we are winning. Don't let Brad dictate the game. Slow it down.

Last few days I've been posting AFC playoff picture wide open. Denver's loss lastnight to Chargers absolute PROOF OF IT!

Exactly why I've been posting Dolphins get in on a 5 game winstreak ANYTHING can happen. EVERY TOP AFC playoff has WARTS. DENVER because of defense, PATS have no GRONK.

If the DOLPHINS MAN UP and play their ABSOLUTE BETS football of the season. It would not completely surprise me if the DOLPHINS made it to this year's SUPER BOWL.

BUT, we will absolutely have to be playing CLEARLY our BEST FOOTBALL of the ENTIRE season. This is clearly a FLAWED AFC playoff field.

If the Dolphins get in they have a shot. They have a good defense and an offense that is capable of scoring quickly.

Denver is the best of the bunch, but they obviously aren't unbeatable. Dolphins already beat 2 of the other division leaders. Isn't unrealistic to give them a shot.

Honestly I like there chances, if they pull off the win this weekend things are looking very good.

Our defence is the least of our problems. They are a good unit.

I see a great chance for the Dolphins to become the Afc's version of the 2008/2012 SB Champs NY Giants.

Both times they went on a LATE SEASON roll to claim the title with everyone stepping up their game. Dolphins need this 5 game winstreak going into the playoffs to have a outstanding chance to go on the same kind of roll.

Russel Wilson is the MVP by far. He's clearly better than Andrew Luck IMO.

see a great chance for the Dolphins to become the Afc's version of the 2008/2012 SB Champs NY Giants.

Both times they went on a LATE SEASON roll to claim the title with everyone stepping up their game. Dolphins need this 5 game winstreak going into the playoffs to have a outstanding chance to go on the same kind of roll.

dragonfly, dolphins are the 13th ranked pas defense. that's not top of the line but hardly awful. the steeler game is what killed the stats. that game knocked us from 8th to 13th.

Seems like everyone is picking the Dolphins. You guys havent learned yet were playing the Pats and Tom Brady is still playing. I hope we win but I have the Pats winning by 3.

Man between Beliicheck adjustments made after halftime and Tom Brady i see a L hope im wrong tho. Jeez if Brown didnt step out you know that was a TD everyone quit on that play. The NfL came out and said Roth lateral was legal man this blog would of wanted Pholbin and Coyle fire on the spot

Would love to see a Tannehill Russell Super Bowl. Actually I would see it as our greatest chance to win. Seattle? I know some would think I'm nuts but:

Tannehill has already beaten Russell and Seattle(2012). Then the game is not in Seattle, where the Seahawks have been nearly invincible. It would be like a road game, where the Seahawks are usually mere mortal.

While we win the Pitt game just a bad omen that the D still folds in crtical situations. No matter where the opponent is or how much time they fold guys.

masdolphan?? so losing to a tom brady led 9-3 team would mean the dolphins are mediocre?? i would think losing to the bils, buds and ravens make us mediocre. losing to the pats? not so much.

BUT, if we beat the pats that would be the 3rd division winning team we would have beaten this season.

I believe that when someone believes they can do something they probably will do it. when they don't believe they probably won't. I believe that the Dolphins players believe they can whoop New England. the coaches need to believe wholeheartedly that as well. I don't want to see the coward like mentality of these coaches this Sunday. for example, our last of offensive possession during the Pittsburgh game, first down and goal to go and....what! 3 lame running plays with no imagination...no killer instinct, no trust in your players. That got me sick. another example, playing it "safe" so to speak on defense during the last play of the first half of the Carolina game, and the last play of the Pittsburgh game, no killer instinct no trust in your players. C'Mon coaches BELIEVE in your guys!

russell wilson is not the league MVP this season. i'd still put manning and possibly mccoy ahead of him. i also don't think he is CLEARLY better than luck. you need to look at the whole team. seattle's defense is the second best in the league. they have actually won some games with defensive TDs. lynch is better than any indy RB, and there is no comparing these team offensive lines. seattle is much better.

This is our superbowl, biggest foe (I hate brady cause he's great...) Dolphins should be thinking that patroits "own us" at this point and they have already won the division, you either win or you don't and still need work for next season...but this is it - i think they will win because they have had enough crap this year. dying dolfan surrounded by buffalo

Being better than Andrew Luck doesn't make you MVP material. Andrew Luck has been an average Qb this year and playing his worst football lately.

MVPs as far as Qbs go are Peyton, Drew brees, Phillip Rivers.

sam i am.

problem is seattle's defense would tear the fins to pieces. everyone is on wilson's jock but lets face it put that offense with a middle of the pack defense and everyone would be wondering what happened to wilson this season.

I too also think the playoffs are wide open. Whoever is playing their best going in (and there still is a lot of football left) will win it. YOu just never know...

C'mon, I liked the way they approached that last drive against Pitt in those conditions on the road. Put the judgement in the hands of your best unit. if you can't stop an offense from going 80 yards with a 1:10 on the board and no timeouts, you don't deserve anything.

Still hate how they were unprepared for the lateral show. Call the bloody timeout next time!

Brady OUT, Broncos' rooting for a barbie win Eh?

jaison, we beat HEALTHY Seahawks defense that was playing as well last year as they are now. Just that Seattle has PROVEN VULNERABLE playing outside of Seattle.

A Seattle/Dolphins SB is appealing simply because, go in, we know we've beaten this team before.

Not trying to get anyone's hopes up with this SB talk, not even my own. Just preluding the impact a win over the Pats, then taking care of Bills/Jets could have going into the playoffs. Then liking our chances against a FLAWED Afc playoff field.

Should those things come to pass and we make it to. the SB, may sound crazy, but Seattle could be our best chance to win it all. Based on Tannehill and this team knowing they have beaten Seattle before(2012).

what a big game, facing the the mountain we havent been able to get over yet. can we finally do it, would be huge

pats wont come out like last week vs browns. they have homefield now if they dont lose. huge game for pats

sam come on stop the sb talk. lets just win a game sunday

I hope Philbin/Coyle have plan for Edleman and Vareen and it includes Dion Jordon. This is why he was drafted. Philbin needs to adapt as the patirots due through course of the game

Also hope fans show up and make it a somewhat hostile environment.

like our chances in this one. Stoked.

Carroll has improved this year which has been good to see but he's still an average CB at best, and probably still a below average CB.....not a knock but just the reality, so Brady will go after him again for sure--but Carroll has held his own so hopefully can do the same on Sunday--Brady makes most DBs look bad so he's hardly alone

Believing is not the entire answer to the question. The Phins just have to play smart and play their hearts out from the opening bell til the final whistle. Anything could mean a loss.

Dusty this Pats game has, SO MANY HUGE IMPLICATIONS, I'm even at loss to prescribe them all.

But to roll them all into one, this could be the EARLY BUILDING OF A DYNASTY, for this young and talented Dolphins team.

With the AFC CHAMPIONSHIP, now so UP FOR GRABS, this is so THE RIGHT TIME, for A very young TANNEHILL and these Dolphins to make an early STATEMENT.

Man, I'm GIDDY, because this franchise is SO LONG OVERDUE!

clee is a rb out of the backfield catching passes wins this game for them then we have no buisness being in playoffs anyways

Posted by: clee | December 13, 2013 at 12:26 PM

I'm pretty sure Joe Robbie is sold out for Sunday's game. However, the stadium will empty pretty quickly if our team plays crappy. It's the Miami way. :)

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