February 27, 2015

Miami Dolphins cut WR Brian Hartline

The Dolphins have begun the much-expected purge of their salary cap (and roster) this offseason by cutting wide receiver Brian Hartline.

The move -- confirmed by a league source and the Dolphins -- can go one of two ways: The release is either happening right away and goes on the books that way or is happening right away but is designated as a post June 1 cut.

Without the designation the move saves the Dolphins $3.1 million in cap space but leaves $4.2 million in dead money that Miami will deal with despite not having the two-time 1,000-yard receiver. If the move is designated post June 1 (and teams can use two such designations) then the move will save $5.1 million in space and leave $1.4 million in dead money -- but that space comes after June 1.

The Dolphins are not believed to have offered Hartline a pay cut. The receiver was open to a negotiable pay cut to stay in Miami, according to a source.

Hartline signed a five-year, $30.77 million deal in 2013 amid two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He caught 74 passes for 1,083 yards and one touchdown in 2012 and came back with 1,016 yards for on 76 catches with four TDs in 2013.

But Hartline became expendable for the Dolphins when he dipped to 39 catches for 474 yards last season. It seemed his previous role went to Mike Wallace and even rookie Jarvis Landry had more catches than he did.

That did not merit the 19th highest wide receiver contract for the Dolphins.

A source close to Hartline tells me he is disappointed but not shocked by this move. He hopes to catch on with a team closer to his native Ohio -- a team that has an accomplished quarterback.

Among the teams Hartline would like to play for is the Indianapolis Colts.

This is the proverbial first shoe to drop. There will be as many as half a dozen others. Among other Miami players who are at risk of being released this offseason:

LB Dannell Ellerbe.

LB Phillip Wheeler.

WR Mike Wallace -- although team is considering a pay cut or a trade.

WR Brandon Gibson.

G Nate Garner.

CB Cortland Finnegan -- either that or he'll retire.

DT Randy Starks.

OL Shelley Smith.

June 11, 2012

Practice notes and Philbin confirms Chad workout

Not much news out of today's Oranized Team Activity except that Joe Philbin a) isn't happy with the number of drops from the Dolphins receivers and b) confirmed they've already worked out Chad Ochocinco.

"It was recent," Philbin chuckled when asked about timing.

I'd take that to mean early this morning. If Brian Hartline's injury that's caused him to miss OTA time turns out to be more than a minor calf problem, then the Dolphins might have a hard look at signing Miami Beach High graduate Chad.

Cornerback Richard Marshall stayed on the sidelines with the groin injury suffered May 29, but Vontae Davis was back taking regular reps.

Running back Reggie Bush said his absence from the May 29 OTA was excused and caused by a family matter.

For more news and notes on today's practice - including quarterback stuff - click on Barry Jackson's sports buzz blog to the right of this one.  He has a new post up.

Don't count your Chads yet; Ross to chat with season ticket holders

David Neal standing in for Armando Salguero, who will return from vacation, I promise.

As the rumors fly about that Liberty City native Chad Ochocinco will sign with the Dolphins -- helped by a pseudo-Adam Schefter Twitter account tweeting that and Ochocinco's fiancee allegedly on TV saying he'll sign here -- an assessment from an NFL scout questions whether he'll be signing with anybody.

The scout said Ochocinco seems to have lost his explosiveness and, without that, doesn't bring enough to the table to justify the veteran minimum he'll make.

Obviously, that assessment gets changed if there's something seriously wrong with wide receiver Brian Hartline, who isn't at today's OTA, and Ochocinco shows decently at his workout for the Dolphins. But I'm hearing Hartline has just a minor injury.

Second round draft pick Jonathan Martin is at his first OTA today.


Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will have a conference call with season ticket holders tonight at 7 p.m. And that's all I'm going to say about that for now.


December 10, 2010

Marshall, Henne to reunite after nearly a month

Brandon Marshall will be back on the field for the Dolphins this Sunday when they play the New York Jets, according to a source. That barring a setback to Marshall's hamstring, which must be guarded against as he sits with little legroom in a Broadway theater watching the play Lombardi with his teammates this evening.


But I digress.

Marshall must show up big Sunday. He faces New York's Darrelle Revis, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. He must account for and overcome the likely absence of teammate Brian Hartline, who is recovering from surgery on a hand. And there is always that stuff about being on the same page with quarterback Chad Henne.

Marshall hasn't played with Henne in three games, as Henne missed the Chicago game and then Marshall missed the next two. So the two haven't played together since Nov. 18.

Marshall addressed all those issues at his weekly press availability. Here's what he said:

Ooops, wait a second. Before you go to the words from Marshall's mouth, I encourage you to read the words from Ronnie Brown's mouth that he used this week to inspire folks. Frankly, much of the news about the Dolphins has not been positive lately. But Brown shared much of his personal life and that might lift your spirits today.

(On if he’s ever been to a Broadway show) – “Yes.” 

(On if he’s looking forward to going see the play about Lombardi) – “Oh yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a good thing for our team, our organization, and to get a chance to hang out with the guys and spend some time. That’s always good.” 

(On how much does he know about Coach Lombardi) – “You know what, I think we all know something and something about him, but I don’t think we know enough. (You know) I think he’s definitely a pioneer to this game and this is an opportunity for us to learn more.” 

(On how hard did he lobby Coach Sparano for him to be able to play last Sunday) – “You know what, I lobbied pretty hard. But I think it was in the best interest of our team for me not to play. There definitely was some soreness in there and the four days…the three or four days that I had extra to rest was huge, a big difference. I felt pretty—felt okay out there running around on Sunday, but, coming into practice Wednesday was totally different and gave me an opportunity a piece of my mind that thing is healed in there and I should be able to make the plays that I’m normally capable of making.” 

(On how tough was it to watch from the sideline again, especially when Brian Hartline went out) – “Well it was really tough, but we got to have faith in the guys that we have on our roster and they have to step up and for the most part they did a great job. Of course we made some mistakes out there…and I wish we could have some of those plays back—But, at the end of the day it didn’t make any sense to go out there and play fifteen great plays and on the sixteenth play re-injure my leg but now I’m done for the season, so. I feel good where I’m at now and this week of practice has been great. The excitement is high and we’re ready to play.” 

(On if he watched the Jets vs. Patriots game on Monday night) – “Oh yes, I’m the type of guy, anytime there’s a team in our division on I’m going to watch them with my pen and my pad and take notes. (You know) so that was an opportunity for us to get ahead a little bit and get in front of those guys.” 

(On how he can get more involved in the offense) – “Absolutely I think the great players around the league want to be put in position to help the team but sometimes like Coach Sparano taught me and is trying to teach me still, some days it’s a shot glass and some days it’s a wheel barrel. You got to understand that and you just got to try to be mentally tough and it’s a struggle when you’re used to catching a bunch of balls or being so involved but we got to do what’s best for the team and hopefully get a couple wins here and have some things fall into place for us and get in that postseason.” 

(On what the possible absence of Brian Hartline means) – “I mean that’s all perception. The reality of it is I’ve stretched the field plenty of times. Marlon Moore is probably the fastest guy in our receiver room and he’s more than capable. It’s all about opportunities; it’s all about situation. You understand the way our offense is built teams were kind of afraid to let us go down the field so when you have a shell, you’re going against a shell defense it’s tough to just run down the sideline when you have a guy, his job is just to play you three yards and beat you up at the line and then there’s a guy over top. That’s what we’ve been seeing a lot of and that’s why you see us in the range of five to ten yards working those routes and we did a great job at times but we definitely need to take advantage of more opportunities.” 

(On whether he’s excited to face Darrelle Revis Sunday) – “Well I didn’t say I was excited to play against that particular guy. I mean it’s an opportunity you guys built players around the league up to be great. He is a great cornerback, one of the best in the league now. I’m the type of guy that I love the challenge and look forward to playing against that Jets defense, great defense, tough defense and just want to win.” 

(On whether there is a big difference in the Jets secondary without Jim Leonhard) – “Well you know that guy, you got to give him credit. He’s the quarterback on that defense; he gets guys lined up so definitely when you lose a guy like that it definitely affects your team but this is the National Football League. Those guys are more than capable of making plays and getting the job done. They’re coming off a tough week and we’re going to get their best.” 

(On how much he can take from the Monday Night Football game this past Monday) – “I think you definitely got to study, you got to study that game and see what we can do that the Patriots may have done but at the end of the day it’s about us. We’re coming off of a, off of a bad game and have a nasty taste in our mouth too so we’re excited about this opportunity to play on the big stage and compete out there.” 

(On the Jets trying to position themselves for the playoffs) – “We’re trying to position ourselves for the playoffs too.” 

(On the Jets coming off of being routed) – “Well what about us getting routed? Hey they’re all the same; whether it’s three or 40. Whatever it is that’s a route. We got routed (laughing). I’m just messing around.” 

(On how much the chemistry has developed between him and Chad Henne) – “I think Sunday people will see the connection.”

September 14, 2010

One final look at Bills victory and Jets news

First the news that indirectly affects the Miami Dolphins: Rex Ryan announced moments ago that NT Kris Jenkins is out for the season (again) after re-injuring the same knee that forced him to miss much of last season. Jenkins suffered the injury Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, have signed defensive end Lionel Dotson off the Denver practice squad, according to the Herald's Barry Jackson. Kenny Zuckerman confirmed the signing to Jackson.

[Update: The Dotson signing makes sense because defensive end Jared Odrick is very likely out this week against Minnesota, according to test results the team got back today. Odrick's injury is not serious enough that he's done for the year. He is week to week. He will remain on the roster, obviously.]

I just went through the Miami Dolphins victory over Buffalo one last time. Here are my observations:

The pass rush: It was obviously very good and definitely not vanilla as it had been in preseason. You know already that the first sack of the year, which came when Karlos Dansby came on a blitz after he lined up outside of Cameron Wake, was a thing of beauty. Dansby came unblocked. But what you probably didn't notice is that it was a zone blitz. Even as the Dolphins brought four men and one was unblocked, nose tackle Randy Starks backed out into zone coverage in the middle of the field. Beautiful.

On the next series, the Dolphins answered the call on a third-and-two situation by sending six men after QB Trent Edwards. Six guys, including safety Yeremiah Bell. Koa Misi was unblocked this time and hurried Edwards although the QB completed the pass. On the next pass down, the Dolphins brought three-men and by this time Edwards' head was spinning. He wasn't really pressured by the thee-man rush, but hurried his throw anyway underneath.

When it was done, Dansby, Misi and Cameron Wake had sacks. Wake, by the way, showed exceptional quickness on his rushes. He had a hurry that caused an incompletion aside from his sack and was often around the QB. Starks, who had seven sacks a season ago, didn't pick up any Sunday but did have a batted pass.

Clock management: Normally this topic involves coaching. Not this time. This time it involves quarterback Chad Henne. One of the trademarks of a good offense is shutting the door on a comeback. The Dolphins had a chance to do that when they got the ball with 5:03 to play Sunday and did a good, not great job on closing that door. It would have been a much better job had Henne handled the play clock better. With the game and play clocks winding, Henne snapped the football with 11 seconds remaining on the play clock on first down. He snapped it with 10 seconds remaining on the play clock on second down. He snapped it with nine seconds remaining on the play clock the next down. He snapped it with 11 seconds remaining on the play clock on second-and-two.

What is the point? Henne is obviously trying to manage everything right now but he has to manage the play clock as well. If he snaps the ball with, say, two seconds remaining each of those times I just mentioned, that takes an extra 35 seconds off the game clock.

That means when the Bills get the ball back, they would have had 1:13 to work with instead of 1:48. That is a big difference, folks. Henne must learn and coaches must remind him that the clock can be his friend. As Sam Wyche would say, "Milk it, milk it, milk it!"

Double tight? Not so much: The Dolphins have made a virtual living off the double tight end formation in the last two seasons. It has been a staple with Anthony Fasano and Joey Haynos or Anthony Fasano and David Martin. This year the Dolphins have keep Fasano and John Nalbone. They used the double tight end formation only four times the entire game. The Dolphins decided, at least in this game, that putting three-wides out there is more likely to open things up across the defense. Thank you, God! I hope it is a tendency that lasts.

The offensive line: The Dolphins yielded three sacks on Sunday. One of those was given up by an offensive lineman. Ricky Williams gave up a sack on a blitz in the first half and in the fourth quarter, Ronnie Brown and Fasano blocked the same edge rusher while Bryan Scott ran past Fasano on a delayed blitz. The other sack was given up by Vernon Carey. Don't get too down on Carey or left tackle Jake Long, however. They were very good. They were primarily in man-to-man situations on passing downs and they moved the pile extremely well in run blocking situations. The Dolphins also tried the unbalanced line on a handful of occasions -- placing Long on the right side outside of Carey. It had only mixed results.

John Jerry was fine most of the time. He had a couple of ugly moments where his technique put him in awkward situations. His footwork was off a little bit a couple times -- so much so that Henne tripped over him twice. But in the straight-ahead blocking department, he was good. The Dolphins used Incognito to pull on several occasions. It didn't really work. Incognito isn't smooth pulling out and running across the formation to lead the blocking going against the flow. He is, however, quite powerful in the straight ahead stuff. The Miami line is what it is in that they get a good push off the ball straight ahead. But fleet of foot? Not so much. I will say that if Miami runners start bouncing runs outside more, there is yardage to be made there. Ronnie Brown showed this a couple of times, including his 17-yard run in the fourth quarter. Williams didn't have his best game and seemed to be content keeping his running between the tackles.

A receiver rewind: Brandon Marshall had that one notable drop on the long pass. He took responsibility for it on the field, basically telling Henne it was his fault. But Marshall was very good both with what he contributed that appears on the stat sheet and the stuff that doesn't. He had one viscious block that leveled a Buffalo defender. And his mere presence helped Fasano be so readily available down the seam. Rookie Marlon Moore dropped the only pass thrown his way. Brian Hartline had a tough day also, dropping two passes and having a first-down catch erased by a penalty. Davone Bess was excellent, particularly in the second half. He practically took over at one point. I must tell you, Hartline needs to produce soon in games or Bess might take that second receiver job away from him.

The no-huddle defense: The Miami D yielded 39 yards during Buffalo's first nine drives of the game. Then the desperate Bills went to the no-huddle and went 80 yards in 10 plays for their only TD of the day. I think the Minnesota Vikings will see that. I believe Brett Favre is pretty good in the no-huddle offense. The Dolphins need to tighten this stuff up.

September 07, 2010

Dolphins undergo a power shift in one day

The Miami Dolphins on Tuesday underwent a significant and fundamental shift in approach that should interest every fan because while team sources were saying that nothing has changed, indeed, everything has changed.

The club announced in a three-sentence e-mailed statement that Bill Parcells was no longer the football czar, but now a consultant, and that Jeff Ireland was now assuming "full control over all aspects and decisions in regard to the Miami Dolphins football team and support staff."

Before that announcement the Dolphins were, in fact, a two-headed monster.

The Dolphins were a football team located in their Davie, Florida training facility and headed by Parcells as the executive vice president for football operations. And the Dolphins also were a business and marketing operation located at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens and headed by CEO Mike Dee.

Parcells answered only to owner Stephen Ross. Dee answered only to Ross, as well.

But even as these two men rarely crossed paths, even as they served entirely different purposes for the same organization, the power, the prestige and the pull undoubtedly belonged to Parcells and the football side of the operation.

Parcells, with a resume that includes two Super Bowl rings and a history for making winners out of losers, had done precisely that in 2008 when he authored an 11-5 rebirth for Miami out of the ashes of a 1-15 season in 2007. That meant that pretty much anything Parcells wanted, Parcells got.

So even as the Dolphins football side and marketing/business side could not be more opposite in their approach, most every decision that had to be made was almost always made in favor of the football side of the operation.

And the football and business side did clash at times because they are so dissimilar.

The football side loves anonymity and a lunch-pail approach. They hire men that work behind facemasks and they enjoy the reputation of being somewhat aloof and mysterious.

The marketing side is out there and Hollywood, if you will. The marketing side ipainted the stadium in some hideous color scheme, installed an orange carpet entrance and invited celebrities to come see the product and be seen enjoying the product. The marketing side is building a nightclub at the stadium.

The marketing side also spent approximately $3 million to build a radio network and new website to promote the team and, ultimately, sell tickets and make money.

But when the marketing side wanted the football side to help promote the product, the team, the whole organization, the football side could successfully balk by using the Parcells approach as cover. Parcells didn't want his name on billboards, didn't want players shooting Christmas videos for the stadium's big screen replay board during football season, didn't want any distractions that could in any fashion detract the focus from, well, football.

And again, whatever Parcells said was law.

But Parcells has stepped aside now. He's done so willingly, by all accounts, although he has given no explanation for doing so. Parcells did not take four phone calls from The Herald on Tuesday.

But willingly or not, planned or not, Parcells has put Ireland front and center of the football operation.

And while Mike Dee was not Bill Parcells' boss he will hold sway over Jeff Ireland that he never did over Parcells. So Jeff Ireland may not be able to shield the football operation from the business and marketing arm like Parcells did -- just because-I-say-so-style.

The power has shifted from the football side of the operation to the business and marketing side of the operation now. It may not be immediately obvious to outsiders. But eventually the signs of the shift that took place Tuesday will be obvious.

To everyone.

[Broadcast note: The Parcells move and its ramifications will be the primary topic on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, on Wednesday. We'll have receiver Brian Hartline, Bills strong safety George Wilson, and others on air to discuss what this means for Sunday's season-opener. Former QB Art Schlichter will also be on the show to discuss the Ohio State versus University of Miami tilt.]