September 11, 2013

What Dion Jordan learned during Week One

In setting up their locker room this year, the Dolphins put first-round pick Dion Jordan next to Cameron Wake. It is not a coincidence.

Wake is a 100-mph dude. He loves to work. He loves to play. And he plays every down like it is his last. That is one reason he is the second-rated defensive end behind St. Louis end Robert Quinn after one game, according to Quinn had three sacks and two forced fumbles against Arizona.

Wake got 62 snaps. And went hard 62 snaps. He had 2.5 sacks and four hurries.

That example has quickly traveled the one foot distance separating Wake and Jordan. Jordan gets it.

And after watching Wake against the Browns and have one of his more impressive games in memory, Jordan feels like he learned something in his NFL debut.

How the game should really be played ...

"Consistency," Jordan said. "That's one thing I learned, especially watching this guy Cam Wake rush. Consistency is probably the thing I learned."

What does that mean?

It means no Jadeveon Clowney act.

It means taking no plays off.

"There's no plays off because any play can change this game and Cam made some big plays last week and changed that game last weekend," Jordan said.

This is not to suggest Jordan didn't know about going full speed every play before Sunday. It's just that the game was an illustration of what can happen when you don't. And so he won't.

"I feel if I was ever to take a play off, guys would notice it, especially the guys in my room," Jordan said. "They would notice it. But that's not my menality. I have a motor so I'm going to use it."

Jordan played 17 snaps according to PFF. He had a sack and a tackle. He also had a penalty. The metrics site gave him a negative grade for the game. (Don't ask me, that's what they did).

But Jordan seemed pleased with himself.

"I feel like I played fast ... I  played a lot of special teams, I played a lot of defense. I had a pretty decent role for the team," he said.

It was a solid start.



March 29, 2011

Cobbs on NFL "slavery," free agency, lockout

Like most NFL players, Patrick Cobbs is spending some time on the golf course, some time in workout sessions, and most of his time waiting for the NFL lockout and current labor strife to be resolved.

Cobbs is expected to be a free agent when the labor agreement is settled, as the Dolphins did not sign him to a contract extension. "I'm nobody's running back," he said during an appearance Tuesday on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo.

And while free agency, by definition, will grant Cobbs the freedom to go to any NFL team that wants him, the running back can understand how fellow running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings could paint his situation as a player as "like modern-day slavery."

"I wouldn't say slave. But we are at the mercy of [owners]," Cobbs said. "This league is a great league or we wouldn't be playing in it. Obviously, we all love to play the game. But I think at times we are slaves. They tell us to jump and we jump. Most of the time we ask them how high. We bend over backwards, we give up our bodies every day to do what we love and also what they pay us to do. So we should do it whenever they tell us to do it. I mean, yeah, I can see where [Peterson] is coming from. So that's like slaves. But we're not slaves because we get paid pretty well to do it."

Cobbs made a distinction between himself, because he is seldom used to carry the ball, and Peterson, who is Minnesota's primary ballcarrier: "The way he runs the ball. he's getting paid to run into a wall every play. I can see where he's coming from."

That doesn't mean Cobbs wouldn't welcome more work with whichever team he plays for next. 

"I had a role this year," Cobbs said. "It wasn't as big a role as I had in 2008. Did I show it? Anything they asked me to do, I was always trying to do best I could. I feel like I could do more. I wanted to do more and hopefully I'll get to showcase that next year."

Having said that, Cobbs said he understood he was behind both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and they needed to get the ball.

 Cobbs was a team leader for the Dolphins in 2010. He was voted special teams captain. So was he surprised the team didn't re-sign him?

"Yeah, a little surprised," he said, "but it's a business and they have the right to do that ... If they don't sign me back, I'll have to find somewhere else to call home.

"I'm working out. I'm doing the things I would be doing normally. I don't have a team right now so if a team were to call me in [after the lockout] I'm doing the things necessary to be in the best shape I can be in. Hopefully that's tomorrow. Right now, I'm doing the things I need to be in the best shape in my life and go from there."

As an NFL player, Cobbs understands why he's not working right now. But he isn't a drone follower of the union line that says all NFL players are underpaid and underappreciated by ownership. In fact, Cobb thinks some players are underpaid, while others, not so much.

"I think the majority of this league is underpaid," Cobbs said. "I don't think everybody is underpaid. I think there are guys that get paid more than they should and there are a bunch of guys that get paid much less than they should."

September 29, 2010

Karlos Dansby dishes on Pats, prep, past

I am convinced Karlos Dansby was an amazing offseason pickup for the Miami Dolphins. He means nearly as much to the Dolphins defense as fellow offseason acquisition Brandon Marshall means to the offense. And I am convinced because of his even-keel nature and consistency, he might become a better investment for the Dolphins long-term than Marshall.

I am not, however, convinced I've done a good enough job of letting you hear from Dansby so far this season. So let me attempt to correct that a little bit.

What follows is the transcript of the conference call Dansby did today with the New England media. Enjoy:

(On what he’s seen from the Patriots on film this week) – “They’re pretty efficient. They do a lot of things to get defenses off balance and then like say they…they attack - they’re an attacking style offense and like I say they don’t hold anything back. Tom Brady is an efficient quarterback and he’s going to get it to the right guy at the right time.”

(On if this week’s preparation is more complicated due to how much is being thrown at him) – “No, not at all. You just have to be sound at what you do and go out and try to execute better than the opponents. That’s what you have to try to do every week and there’s nothing different this week that I wouldn’t do in the past weeks.”

(On what it’s like preparing for the tight ends and the receivers) – “They got two guys that could block very well and then you got a receiver. They say, they’ve been making a lot of plays on their offensive side of the ball. Like I say, they’ve been getting down the field and scoring touchdowns left and right and making big plays left and right. So, like I say, we just got to be sound in our technique and finish plays. I think that’s what we didn’t do against Dustin Keller and it allowed them to have a lot of success out on the field. Like I say, we were playing with bad technique and the communication was off - it was a lot of things that allowed him to have success out on the field.”

(On if he’ll carry the adjustments that he has made after the last game against the Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski) – “Definitely, those (are) two great guys right there. Like you said, they are efficient in they offense and like I said, Tom Brady gets those guys the ball a lot. And like I said, those guys tend to get open a lot and he tends to find them. We got to be…we got to be in position and be in place to…in order to disrupt some of the balls being thrown to them or knock the timing off a little bit.”

(On if he’s ever played with Jonathan Wilhite in the past) – “Nah, I don’t think I played with Jonathan Wilhite. I haven’t had the opportunity to play with him.”

(On if the last time he played with the Patriots sticks with him going into this week (due to it not being a successful game for him)) – “Nah, I kind of left that where it was. (You know) that’s the year we went to the Super Bowl I think and like I say, we left that game there in New England. Like you said, it was a bad outing by our team. We didn’t get an opportunity to finish the way we…well it didn’t seem like we got a chance to start that game (you know what I’m saying) (laughing). They put a beating on us pretty bad. And like I say, they taught us a lesson though and it showed and it carried over through the playoffs when we had that opportunity, so. This year it’s a totally different team, totally different personnel right now and like I say I’m just looking forward to this opportunity to get our opportunity to play against these guys, so. After, like I say, after seeing them play for so long and seeing some of these guys - like I say I never had the opportunity to play against Tom Brady, I played against Matt Cassel, so, I think it’ll be fun for me.”

(On the defensive unit and if he sees some of his personality in this defense) – “Right now our unit is…I think we’re tough, we’re smart and we’re disciplined. Last Sunday we didn’t have a great outing and we knew that. Like I said, we’ve been here working for the last couple days; we’ve been getting it in, and guys have been putting in extra time. Like I said I think they’re following suit right now. I’m always in, always trying to get the information, always trying to figure out what it is that I can do to make this team better and make the guys around me better. Like I said I think the guys are starting to catch on and pick up, the intensity is starting to pick up in practice and in the weight room and in the film room asking questions just all around. We’re simply just trying to get better as a team and as a unit and hopefully we can show Monday that we, that we have done that.”

(On Brandon Marshall and what he brings to the Dolphins offense) – “He’s very dangerous, he’s very dangerous. Like I said we’re doing a good job of getting him the ball right now. Chad Henne and him are trying to build their relationship as the season grows and goes on. Like I said, we’re just trying to get better as a team all the way around. The offensive line is doing a great job of protecting and giving him an opportunity to get the ball down the field, and Brandon is making plays left and right. He’s an awesome addition to this team. Like I said him, just bringing him in the locker room has made us ten times better.”

(On if signing with the Dolphins has been everything he’d hoped for) – “And more, and more, and more. Everything I hoped for and more. Like I said, I checked the personnel out. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. Having the opportunity to play for Bill Parcells and under Coach Sparano, it couldn’t be a better two, two guys to play for and represent. Like I said the history of the Miami Dolphins period; you have to be perfect man. You got to live up to this perfect atmosphere day in and day out, you know what I’m saying? You guys went what, 16-0 the 1972 Dolphins; you got to live up to that day in and day out. That’s what we’re working to; we’re just trying to be great in every aspect of the game on and off the field. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into and it’s been everything I expected and more.”

(On how he and Mike Nolan getting along and whether he likes his aggressive style) – “Oh definitely man, definitely Coach Nolan has a lot of trust in me right now. I’m always in his ear always picking his brain trying to figure out what he’s thinking. Not only what he’s thinking, I’m trying to add a little bit of myself to him also just to let him know, hey coach we, we got your back. Whatever you want to call, we can get it done and just letting him, having the confidence in us to go out and execute his plan. Like I said last night we kind of let him down a little bit and I know that so we’ve been here working and grinding just trying to build his confidence up so he can call anything he wants to call and let us go play.”

(On whether he has kept track of his old team, the Arizona Cardinals) – “Well you know, I talk to Adrian (Wilson) on a regular basis. Like I said he’s, he’s kind of frustrated over there a little bit I think, but he’s playing hard. He’s not going to lay down, and like I said he’s just trying to rally the guys just like I’m trying to do, rally the troops. We got to play at a whole other level in order to have success in this league because it’s getting better week in and week out. Like I said guys are around you, man your peers are definitely getting better day in and day out. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, so he’s trying to lead his team over there also.”

May 28, 2010

Smith guarantees he won't be shut out in 2010

As you may already know, my column in The Herald today shares the feelings the Dolphins have about all the moves and boasts the New York Jets have made this offseason. I talked with cornerback Sean Smith to gather information for the column and I wish to share here some of the material about Smith I didn't use in the column.

Smith, who started all 16 games at cornerback as a rookie, is locked in a competition with Will Allen and Vontae Davis -- three men wanting two starting jobs. My opinion is Davis is going to win one of those jobs and it will fall to Allen or Smith to decide the other.

So what does Smith think of how he did in his rookie season with hindsight giving him clearer vision of 2009?

"I think I did some real good things out there," he said. "I don't think there was a game where I was getting my butt whipped all game. I would say there wasn't any receiver that had my number for a whole game. I think my coverage was solid for the most part. Even though I didn't have any interceptions, I'd say my play was above average for a rookie."

The zero interception statistic is obviously one Smith isn't thrilled about. He says, indeed, guarantees that number will change in 2010.

"I guarantee that will change this year," he said. "Guaranteed. No way I will go another year without an interception. It's impossible."

Smith might have thought he was going to be an interception machine after collecting two in the 2009 preseason. But the real games are different and the higher stakes obviously affected Smith's coverage plans.

"The first year I moved to corner from wide receiver, I had four [interceptions]," Smith said. "So I was like, 'It's not really that hard, I don't see how guys struggle.' Next year I had five. Then I had two in the preseason and I thought, 'We'll keep rolling.' But then you get in the game when it really counts and you don't want to be that guy that messes up.

"At times I was being a little bit too hesitant. And we were in some close, close games and if I gamble one time and I get beat, I'm like, 'No way. I'm not bearing that on my shoulder.' You can't play like that."

So how far does Smith believe he's come one year into his career?

"I'm a lot more comfortable," he said. "I'm talking out there. I'm more vocal. I'm able to disguise things. I'm able to feel like a real vet, you know what I mean? I got the rookies asking me things. It's good to give advice instead of asking all the time."

Smith is also being smarter about his body and training regimen. Last year, he'd eat fast food and not concern himself with massages or icing down. Now he's eating more vegetables and fruits and staying away from fast food.

He hopes that will help him avoid the letdown he felt the final five or six games of last year when he felt somewhat worn down.

"I seen guys getting ice the first couple of weeks and I figured, 'I'm fresh I'm good,' " Smith said. "But after a while I had to take their advice. It was tough but I got through it.

"As the year went on I started to get the feel for body language of the receivers, learning how he lifts when he's going to break down. When you're watching things from the side you can tell when he's going to stop but when you're watching things from dead on its harder to tell when he's going to (drop) the hips."

It should be an interesting competition at cornerback.

[Check back throughout the day Saturday for updates from Day 2 of minicamp.]

May 21, 2010

Next chapter for Thomas: Fatherhood, coaching?

It is a logical next step for Zach Thomas and he has obviously considered it: Coaching.

But the perfect opportunities aren't necessarily there right now and he doesn't need the money and has a new four-month-old son, Christian Zachery Thomas, he'd like to spend some time with first.

So Thomas probably won't be jumping right into coaching immediately. But would Thomas eventually like to be reconnected with football, perhaps as a coach or scout or something?

“I do," he said. "Right now because of my time commitment I am doing a lot of other things, but I have to stay involved somehow. But I know if I was a coach somewhere, maybe I should start at a high school level or something because I think that I would be even more extreme. When it comes to watching tape, never thinking I got enough, getting everybody prepared. I think I might give too much information, you know, when you get out there with players and they have too much information they can’t even think.

"I love the game, I want to stay involved, but I want to be a better husband because I wouldn’t come home much and that’s just the truth, and [wife] Maritza knows that. I thought about radio, but sometimes I am an emotional guy and I don’t have [PR vice president] Harvey Greene right next to me to give me a cool down period right after a game, because you all came rushing to me after we lose and you all knew you were going to get a quote. So I feel like Harvey and them would box out and try to give me a cool down period, because that sometimes gets me in trouble, letting emotions get into it and then you look back and go, ‘Man I shouldn’t have said those type of things’.

"That is probably why I won’t do radio but I want to stay involved with something I am good at. You only have to be good at one thing and (football) is one thing I am good at, and now I am going to move on and see if there is anything else I am good at."

Thomas had an audition to work for the Dolphins new flagship radio station but the same team-employed genius who didn't want me on because I wasn't enough of a homer for his taste -- truth is apparently not a virtue for some folks -- also passed on Thomas because, well, some people simply don't get it.

The Dolphins do have a linebacker coach vacancy they could fill if they wished. But that's appartently not a possibility right now.

Would be sweet though, wouldn't it?

Just sayin'. 

[BLOG NOTE: Come back later today because I'll have an offensive line related post up.]

April 28, 2010

Former RB Rob Konrad defends Jeff Ireland

The following is an e-mail former Dolphins running back Rob Konrad sent The Miami Herald and other media outlets concerning Jeff Ireland following the incident in which the general manager admittedly asked Dez Bryant whether his mother is a prostitute and then apologized publicly to Bryant for the question:

"Use any adjective you’d like to describe Jeff Ireland, but those in the media claiming he’s “without class” are simply misinformed. Jeff’s a regular guy, whose attention to detail and no-nonsense approach has defined his success in the industry. More than any member of the Dolphins front office in recent history, Jeff and his family have been regularly engaged with the Miami Dolphins Foundation and community outreach programs.

"Jeff is one of the true good guys in the industry. To see his name being tarnished in the media as the result of (a) single question during a team interview seems to me entirely unjust. It’s important to keep in mind the context of these interviews -- the prospect of guaranteeing a 22-year-old stranger millions of dollars to enter one of the most competitive, intolerant and insensitive professional work environments around.

"I’m not attempting to defend the question asked, but rather the person and the process. Having been through those interviews, in the locker room, and on the field, I can tell you that the work environment in the NFL is unique, one that would be unacceptable in virtually any other industry. The questions asked by teams in pre-draft interviews usually have the dual purpose of getting to know the player and testing their mindset.

"By way of example, one of the common questions asked by teams is as follows: "If you had the choice of being reborn as a cat or a dog, which would you choose and why?" There is no correct answer, there may be preferable responses depending on your position, but the question is meant to generate a response from the player which can be analyzed in any number of ways.

"When I was coming out of Syracuse University, I remember being asked 'if I thought I could succeed as a white running back in the NFL?' and 'why I thought a kid who attended a suburban Massachusetts private high school was tough enough to play in the NFL?'  If one (sic) we’re interviewing a prospective executive for private industry, this line of questioning likely wouldn’t be acceptable.

"The 'all-ball' and 'no-nonsense' approach incorporated by the current regime at the Dolphins has been consistent since they arrived. I believe this philosophy has resonated throughout the organization and is one of the main factors for the team's return to playing winning fundamental football. Jeff may be demanding and thorough, and maybe a question was asked in poor judgment, but he’s one of the good guys in the NFL, he’s been a great asset to the Dolphins and a good friend to South Florida."

--Robert Konrad 


April 16, 2010

Ginn: 'Still have hopes of being an elite receiver'

Ted Ginn may not have been a great receiver for the Dolphins. But he was a great person.

The kid was classy in victory and defeat, in good times and bad. And that continues. He just spoke on a conference call and rather than taking any shots at the Dolphins or the fans that gave him a tough time, he stayed classy.

"I wouldn't say it's a sense of relief but it's always good to have a new start," Ginn said of his departure from Miami. "Going out to the 49'ers is going to give me a brand new start. Leaving Miami, you know, I hold no grudges. I don't have no bad feelings about them or anything. It's just my time was up there and now it was time to move on."

Ginn goes to San Francisco for a fifth round pick -- No. 145 in the coming draft. He goes to San Francisco ostensibly to resolve the 49'ers return problems on special teams. But Ginn is not selling himself short.

"I still have hopes of being an elite receiver," he said. "I don't think that I sell off at all. I just believe that special teams is one of the assets I have in my game. I'm just going to come in and do both."

The Dolphins obviously didn't think Ginn will become elite. That and the acquisition of Brandon Marshall made Ginn expendable. But Ginn doesn't accept the Marshall trade ushered him out of town.

"I didn't really know that," Ginn said. "I can't say, "Yeah, when we picked up Brandon Marshall I knew I was gone.' When we got the trade, I was happy. It was another guy coming to the Miami Dolphins. But in the same sense, you know the game, you know the business.  You're up for anything."

Ginn said he spoke to San Francisco coach Mike Singletary for the first time today.

"He didn't really tell me how he envisions using me," Ginn said. "He said it was a great situation for me and him. Just get down there and let's get with it."

Ginn was asked if he was surprised the Dolphins gave up on him after three years in the league.

"It's a game, it's a business," Ginn said. "They just wanted a new start. But like I said, it's no bad blood. It's the best decision for both of us and we moved on."

March 19, 2010

Henne clarifies Tebow comment, talks WRs

It is a beautiful day in South Florida, a perfect golf day, and that's good because about a dozen Dolphins players are participating in the Athletes in Action charity tournament now.

Chad Henne is participating because he's a good community guy. He talked to reporters today -- The Herald's Jeff Darlington and David J. Neal were there because they love golf -- and they asked Henne about his controversial Tim Tebow comment Wednesday, in which the Dolphins quarterback said, "In my judgment he's not an NFL quarterback. So leave it at that."

Today Henne didn't want to leave it at that. Today Henne was surrounded by reporters that asked better questions. Today Henne backtracked a little bit.

"I didn't really say he wasn't wasn't able to be one," Henne said of Tebow. "We're all in this process, learning how to be an NFL quarterback. Obviously, he's taken the right steps to improve his game. His throwing motion actually looks a lot better with his release and everything. I think his Pro Day went really well and he was happy with it. I can't really say anything. My quarterback coach from college is coaching him in college. We're coming from the same people.

"He's obviously learned a from a lot of good people. And with Urban Meyere up there, he's learned from the best. Those [comments] were way out of proportion, he's not going to be an NFL quarterback. Wherever he goes, he's going to make that team better because he's such a competitor and a great person."

Henne was uncomfortable that the comments got national attention. He was more uncomfortable that his comment was perceived as coming from the Dolphins -- as an inside the Dolphins organization opinion.

"The thing about that is that dragging the Dolphins and our coaching staff into this when it's way out of proportion," Henne said. "I never talked to them about Tebow. They never mentioned anything. It was all what I was perceived to say. I have nothing against him. I really like him as a person. I met him last year up there at Florida working out their receivers and got an opportunity to play against him so he really is a wonderful person and I only wish him the best."

Henne claimed WQAM, where he made the original Tebow remark, cut him off before he could explain his comment. He said he would have liked the opportunity to add that Tebow is working on what he needs to and he liked what he saw.

On the football front, Henne has been consistent in saying he sees improvement from Miami's current WR corps. He believes in those guys. But ...

Henne admits he wouldn't mind the group being improved with a proven player.

"There's definitely guys out there, like you said," Henne said. "There's T.O. [Terrell Owens]. There's Brandon Marshall. There's guys in the draft. Where we're at, we have a bunch of young guys who are definitely learning and going to be explosive in the next coming year.

"But you need kind of a veteran guy that's really going to take hold of our young guys and teach them the right ways."

March 18, 2010

Chad Henne: Tebow isn't an NFL quarterback

Some things in life should not be and I'm about to share a couple with you.

On Wednesday, Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne did an interview on WQAM radio in South Florida and hosts Anita Marks and Curtis Stevenson asked Henne about Tim Tebow.

Thing that should not be No. 1:

"My judgment is that he's not an NFL quarterback," Henne said of Tebow. "So, I'll leave it at that."

Look, Henne has a right to his opinion. But let's be honest here. Chad Henne has started 14 NFL games and thrown 14 interceptions to 12 touchdowns. Henne himself has not yet proven he is an NFL quarterback, either.

Furthermore, if he thinks Tebow isn't an NFL quarterback, what would Henne say about teammate Pat White?

Tebow is a bigger, stronger, more accomplished Pat White. And if Tebow isn't an NFL quarterback doesn't that mean White isn't an NFL quarterback?

Just saying.

Thing that should not be No. 2:

The folks at QAM do a good job. As the former Dolphins flagship station they obviously have spent the past few years overlooking many of the team's flaws. Their ratings, meanwhile, have been on the decline. 

Somewhere along the line if you're going to run a professional sports radio station, you have show at least a tiny semblance of professional journalism, no?

Not at QAM, apparently. After Henne said he didn't think a former Heisman Trophy winner and a two-time National Championship winning QB wasn't NFL material, Marks and Stevenson simply ended the interview.

"OK, enough said," Marks said, abruptly ending the interview.

Actually, enough wasn't said. How about a follow-up question to allow Henne a chance to explain himself and perhaps even get himself off the hook? It doesn't have to be confrontational. How about:

"What are the reasons you have that opinion?"

And if the station needed to go to break, they could have easily held Henne over a segment and asked the follow-up after the break. The point is the show had interesting stuff on the hook but simply threw it back in the water for no good reason.

March 11, 2010

Contradictory stories surrounding Clark's visit

Over the weekend the Dolphins suffered a free agency setback when Pittsburgh free safety Ryan Clark was invited to town for a visit. Clark was offered a contract by the Dolphins and a chance to start in 2010 but he decided not to take the offer and headed back to Pittsburgh where he signed a four-year contract Tuesday with the Steelers.

Immediately, Dolphins fans cried foul, saying Clark had used their team to get a better offer from the Steelers.

Immediately, Clark's agent Joel Turner came to his client's defense claiming nothing of the sort had happened and telling The Miami Herald that, "honest to God, it wasn't about money."

Well, stuff happens, right?

Easy come, easy go, right? 

Case closed, right?


Seems Clark is talking about his visit to South Flordooda and his version of events throws his agent under the bus, because it apparently was about money. And his version of events also throws the Dolphins under the bus because it depicts them as team that didn't make him feel wanted.

In an interview with Denver TV station Fox 31, Clark said he came on the trip "with an open mind," but his mind closed somewhat when the Dolphins started talking numbers.

"What it came down to was the inability for us to agree on a deal. [The Dolphins] offered what they thought was fair, but in the end I didn’t agree," Clark said.

"They were definitely straight forward with me. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Bill Parcells team. I thought that I was going to be paid like a starter, but unfortunately for me, the negotiations didn’t reflect that."

So it was about money. The Dolphins' offer was not starter money in Clark's mind.

"There just comes a time in negotiations where you have to give a player reasons as to why you won’t stretch yourself financially," Clark said. "In the way that they responded to me, I could tell that they were being honest so that’s why I can’t be insulted, but I just didn’t agree."

And now the part where Clark throws the Dolphins beneath the Greyhound. He says that in his talks with the team that was supposedly recruiting him, he got the distinct feeling the Dolphins didn't really love him all that much.

"They certainly showed [Karlos] Dansby how they felt about him with what they offered him," Clark said, "but I just felt like I would have to prove myself to [Dolphins head coach] Tony Sparano all over again; and in Pittsburgh I wouldn’t have to do that.

"They told my agent, 'Look, we just don’t know this guy. After we evaluate him more out there with us, maybe we’ll feel different about it.' But I just figured, if this is how they  feel, these things aren’t going to change about me overnight."

One question: If the Dolphins were willing to tell Clark's agent that they didn't really know Clark that well, why were they willing to bring him to town and offer him a deal to begin with?

Obviously the team found itself in a situation that it had a player it liked ... but didn't love. And they actually told him as much which I supposed is honest but also kind of tactless.

Ultimately, Clark signed a four-year deal worth $14 million with the Steelers. That is a bargain rate for a good free safety.

Consider Clark will make an average of $3.5 million a year. Consider that Miami paid free agent bust Gibril Wilson more than half of what Clark will make in four years -- $8 million -- for one year's poor service.

Obviously, having heard the contradictory versions from the agent and player, I'd love to know the Dolphins' version of the story. I will call the team in the morning and request an interview with Jeff Ireland or Bill Parcells on the topic.

And then I'll sit by the phone today and wait for it to ring.

[Update 11 a.m.: The Dolphins say they saw today's blog and are passing on the opportunity to set the record straight. "There will be an opportunity to ask those questions, and others, at Coach Sparano's appearance at the AFC Coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meetings in Orlando later this month and at Jeff Ireland's pre-draft press availability which will be scheduled shortly after that," the team said.]


February 17, 2010

Kiper: Dolphins will debate McClain and Bryant

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has the Dolphins picking Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain with their No. 12 overall pick of the first round in the upcoming draft.

But Kiper believes the Dolphins will have a healthy and perhaps heated discussion whether to go with McClain or Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant if the wide receiver is on the board when Miami selects.

"Dez Bryant, I think he'll be in the discussion, but you look at him and he could go higher," Kiper said today on a nationwide conference call. "I have him going at No. 10 to Denver still ... [The Dolphins] certainly need wide receiver help and you got to get it at some point and I think they will try get in this draft.

"But at that point, I think McClain would be the best option if Bryant's gone. And even if Bryant's there it's going to be a heck of a discussion, I would think, even if Bryant is still on the board."

Yeah, I could see that discussion going something like this:

Jeff Ireland: Bill, we've got a wide receiver and a linebacker on the board and ...

Bill Parcells: I'm Bill freakin' Parcells and I love linebackers.

Ireland: Linebacker it is.

Seriously, the Parcells penchant for drafting linebackers is well-known. And picking McClain, whom Kiper says has "a Ray Lewis-type enthusiasm and Bill Parcells will see that in McClain," seems logical.

"You look at Parcells when he was with the Giants and at other places, he loves linebackers that have that type of ability, especially guys with his kind of size too, with LT and Carl Banks and those type of guys," Kiper said. "This is an inside linebacker that looks like an outside linebacker."

And that is where Kiper and I disagree. I believe the Dolphins have a greater need at OLB than ILB. But Kiper doesn't see any OLB as worthy of the No. 12 selection.

I believe Michigan's Brandon Graham is more than worthy of that pick, talk of his short arms be damned. I love Graham! I have put in adoption papers for Graham because I want that guy in my family if he's not going to be on the Dolphins!

And here's the kicker, despite saying Graham rates around No. 20-32, Kiper also seems to love Graham.

"I've liked him all along, that's the one guy I've been consistent with all the way through," Kiper said. "He's got that great work ethic, he comes hard every play. He took advantage of some offensive tackles that were very suspect, obviously, and in the NFL that's not the case."

Kiper believes Graham will somehow wind up chasing Dolphins quarterbacks someday, either for a Miami division foe, or a team the Dolphins must eventually beat to become great.

"I actually have him going to New England in the latest projection I did from the standpoint of being a 3-4 outside backer," Kiper said. "As a 4-3 defensive end situational guy if Indianapolis looks at him in that rotation with [Dwight] Freeney and Robert Mathis it makes sense. I think his character and every game bringing it, the way he did production-wise is the reason why he's a pick to go now between 20 and 32."

I think that's precisely the reason the Dolphins should take him at No. 12. The kid brings it every play. Every single play. And he brings it with speed and explosion and good instinct and discipline.

Why isn't he rated higher?

Anyway, if the Dolphins decide to address their 3-4 OLB need later in the draft, Kiper has a handful of guys rated after the first round. They are:

Jerry Hughes of TCU, Ricky Sapp from Clemson, Antonio Coleman at Auburn, Cameron Sheffield at Troy, Eric Norwood at South Carolina. Kiper had Wisconsin's O'Brian Schofield rated as a first-rounder until he blew out his knee at the Senior Bowl in January.

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February 03, 2010

The behind-the-scenes Dolphins soap opera

Like the sands through the hour glass these are the last days of Joey Porter's Dolphins career.

The countdown clock is winding to Porter's certain release from the Miami Dolphins. If that isn't clear to you by now after it's been written on this blog time and again, then you certainly must be getting the drift as Porter continues to slime the team in radio and television interviews the past three weeks.

I must say the best of those interviews came Tuesday and was done by the fine folks over at 560-AM (WQAM in Miami). It was the best because Channing Crowder, paid by the station, convinced Porter to come on for nearly 15 minutes and simply unload.

And by the time the segment was over, Porter had pulled back the curtain on exactly how dysfunctional the Dolphins really were in 2009. As he and Crowder talked you understood players don't really love coach Tony Sparano. You understood how Sparano's penchant for putting a happy face on everything is truly just propaganda. And you recognized how utterly, undeniably delusional Porter really is.

At one point in the interview, Porter actually let these divergent thoughts stream from his mouth as if they could ever belong together: "I got no problem being here," he said. "I think we're headed in the right direction. But I can honestly say I don't want to be back."

Anyway, forget the stuff about Porter being unhappy with being platooned. I've covered that in previous posts. Porter wasn't happy with that at all. But the guy has no grasp on the fact he was authoring a terrible season much of the year when Sparano instilled the platoon system. He doesn't recognize that Cameron Wake was increasingly looking like a sack waiting to happen every time he came in the game.

And Porter apparently doesn't recognize Jason Taylor was simply a more complete player -- defending the run and the pass as well as rushing the passer.

Porter? Regardless of what Sparano wanted you to believe, the next time Porter set the edge of the defense would have been the first time he did that.

And yet Porter apparently sees himself as vastly superior to his teammates.

"If you let us fight for the job, it's not even an argument," he said. "No shots at nobody (really?), but it's not even an argument. All them guys in my room, love them to death, but the outside linebackers, I'm the best one we got. Period. There's nothing to talk about. That's period. Who am I switching with? Why should I be switching with any of them guys."

Later in the interview Porter showed the disdain for which he held the guy about to replace him.

"If you want to play Cameron Wake and them in the game, go ahead," Porter said. "Good luck to you."

I told you yesterday Porter really only had one advocate at Dolphins camp and that was Tony Sparano. And then I told you he had lost Sparano. Apparently the relations went sour well before the end of the season.

"Last seven weeks of the season after missing the Tampa Bay game was no fun for me ...," Porter said. "Going in and being a captain, I went from talking to the coach every day to not talking to the coach no more. Only time I talked to him was on game day. Not talking to nobody. Seeing Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells and them and nobody saying nothing to you no more. It made me feel like an outcast. The writing's on the wall for me."

Porter was apparently hurt that Sparano lost trust in him and cast him aside like a three-button jacket. And he apparently was somewhat envious that Sparano continued to see Taylor as the team's leader.

"I'm your captain but I'm not in no meetings no more," Porter complained. "Nobody's talking to the captain no more.We lost [Jason] Ferguson. We lost Chad Pennington. We had four. We lost two to injury. So now it's just me and Jason, but Jason't the only one that's meeting with the head coach.

"And he's relaying a message to me: 'Yeah, coach said this because he said you don't want to talk.' Why I don't want to talk? Usually when we call a meeting, you say, 'Joey, Jason come up.' Not just, 'Jason come up.' So everybody don't know everything I went through. That last seven weeks was no fun for me."

BLOG PAUSE HERE. ALTOGETHER FOR JOEY: Aaaahhhh. Joey wasn't having the proper amount of fun as he was making about $5 million last year. Three million people lost their jobs in 2009 but Joey wasn't loving life every second he lived it. Makes me really sad.

Anyway, as I reported to you on January 26th, one of the things that got Porter truly torqued off at Sparano was his suspension for the Tampa Bay game.

And in talking about that episode Porter and Crowder painted the picture of a team on which players don't agree with the head coach and assistants aren't agreeing with the head coach about a player's suspension -- one Sparano was absolutely correct about, by the way.

Team unity was apparently not so united.

"It was an uncomfortable situation amongst the team," Crowder said. "And I know I'm not the only player that thinks that. I know a lot of the guys were too."

Said Porter: "I put it this way, it wasn't a situation to where when [Sparano] sent me home, everybody was on board with that decision. Coaches and players. I got phone calls from coaches telling me, 'Just keep your head up. Fight through it, man. You'll be alright.' Now why you telling me this? 'Cause you know in your heart the deal was just wrong. It was just wrong."

Porter claims he was suspended because after missing two days of practice Wednesday and Thursday, he left his crib Friday night to get dinner. "I went out to get something to eat from 9 to 10:30," he said.

The Dolphins have a different version although they continue to hide behind their veil of silence that frankly has become sort of transparent now. The team believes Porter abused the privilege of being off Wednesday and Thursday by going out Friday night.

"[Sparano] wasn't happy about that, and I've never heard of that before," Porter said. "You know what I mean? Telling a grown man what to do on a Friday. It wasn't Saturday night curfew. I'm talking to him, looking at him and I'm like, "I'm not in here leaking alcohol, getting in the steam room trying to get it out of me. I'm here bright eyed and bushy tailed.' I went to sleep at 10:30. That's good for me. That's great for me."

"Amazing," Crowder chimed in agreement.

Amazing indeed. But not for the reasons these two think.

December 15, 2009

The great transition that is, was, & must come

I wrote a column in today's Miami Herald that focused on how the Dolphins have continued winning despite undergoing a difficult transition at quarterback, cornerback and nose tackle. Those transitions are the toughest there are in the NFL --  obviously at quarterback but particularly at nose tackle if the team runs a 3-4 scheme.

Check out the column and you'll see some fascinating statistics that prove Chad Henne, Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, and Paul Soliai have been exceedingly effective in replacing valuable veterans.

The column also gives you a hint where future transitions will be needed.

The column does not address where the Dolphins have already made changes previous to this season. The offensive line and defensive line is where those changes came first. That's where Bill Parcells built his foundation.

And the offensive line has delivered, as well it should since it came at a price of $156 million.

"Here's what has been the most impressive - and when you watch an offensive line play, it's never pretty, it really isn't," coach Tony Sparano said. "Their tenacity, I think is a good word, they really are, they're a pretty tenacious, resilient group. They're doing some ugly things hard, and as long as you're doing them hard, you've got a chance. They're giving us a chance that way. Those guys would probably tell you that's a compliment. First of all, I don't dish many out their way, but secondly, that fact in the offensive line, it's not always pretty. It's a different position than most, yet, they're pretty tenacious, and they're pretty resilient. I think that that's the thing to me that stands out the most about it, it's that even when the game gets a little bit ugly, they keep grinding pretty good."

The defensive line has been effective of late also. Sparano said he challenged his defensive ends to play well last week against Jacksonville. They did. And Randy Starks was excellent.

"I think he’s having a great season, I really do," Sparano said. "I’ve said it before, but Randy was physical again yesterday, he had four or five tackles, tackle for loss in there, made a big play in one of those situations. There's still things Randy can get better at, there really are.

"Fundamentally, go back to that again, there's some things in the game yesterday that Randy will watch the film, and he'll know he left out there on the field. He played pretty good in there yesterday, physical, did a great job I thought. We asked our defensive ends yesterday, Randy, [Phillip] Merling, [Kendall] Langford, to do a hard job in that run game yesterday. Their job was very, very difficult from what we asked them to do from a defensive standpoint yesterday, but I thought the three of them, they really did a pretty good job in that game."

Starks is interesting because he came from the Tennessee Titans as a free agent in 2008. He had never played in a 3-4 defense. He'd always been a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. Well, he kind of struggled in his first year. He really wasn't much of a factor. But he seemed to get it in training camp. The light bulb seemed to flicker on and now it is burning brightly.

"I think I've had a breakout season," Starks said. "This is probably the best football I've been playing throughout my career. It could be the coaching, the coaching staff. The coaches help me a lot, coach Kace, Kacy Rodgers, he's helped me. Maybe this defense fits me better, maybe I'm just a 3-4 type of player, not a 4-3.

"The first time I ever played 3-4 was last year. It was a hard adjustment for me, but now, I'm getting the hang of it."

Discuss ...

And remember to check out the column for those stats and what I've been told is the next coming change of youngsters replacing vets.

Also, follow me on twitter.  You'll be able to see a picture of my Christmas tree the wife and I just finished trimming.

December 02, 2009

The doings for the Dolphins as NE prep begins

The Dolphins are preparing for the Patriots today and that preparation included some interesting nuggets.

Coach Tony Sparano told his team that following a fourth-quarter meltdown at Buffalo, they were going to work on a fourth-quarter period in practice today. And during that period the coach wanted to see every play run right.

And so if a play wasn't run right, practice reverted back to the play and it was run until it was done right. That, by the way, usually does not happen.

"The message was that we have lights out there," Sparano said. "Whatever it took for us to get it right, we were going to get it right. And every player in that locker room was on board for that. Those guys are anxious to get it right. They really are. But to be honest with you, practice ran over about six minutes."

The Dolphins practiced for two hours and 35 minutes, according to Sparano.

As I reported to my twitter followers, center Jake Grove didn't practice today. Sparano said he's "getting a little bit better," as he nurses his ankle injury, but still didn't work. Joe Berger worked with the first-team offensive line at center.

It's a big week for Berger. He faces New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork, one of the most dominant NTs in the NFL. If you remember, the Patriots moved Wilfork to DE throughout the game against Miami Nov. 8.

That hasn't been the case since. 

"It really hasn't shown up since our game," Sparano said. "It's hasn't shown up. Two plays since our game, that move has shown up. I don't know why they did it since our game. I don't know if it was matchup or tendency of runs, those kind of things. I have my hunches, but I'll keep my hunches to myself."

Good natured, fun-loving dude Joey Porter talked to the media gaggle for a few minutes today. He didn't really say anything interesting about the Patriots, which is probably wise considering he fired that team up before the last meeting by saying they "cheated" him out of a Super Bowl trophy and that Tom Brady could force officials to call penalties at will.

He wasn't asked about that today, but The Herald's David J. Neal asked Porter if it's tough being athlete today in the fishbowl of twitter and facebook and cell phone cameras with the Tiger Woods scandal as the obvious backdrop.

And so Porter bit at that like a Great White on a defenseless tuna.

"It is what it is. It depends how far ya'll want to dig for a story," he told the gathered reporters. "Ya'll can dig as deep as you want to. It depends on what ya'll want to put out there. The athletes haven't changed. The access to athletes has changed. So I think we made ourselves too accessible to you.

"And at the end of the day it backfires on the athletes. We don't get to write a story about ya'll. The secrets, the stuff ya'll trying to keep away from other people and stuff like that, they don't write that story about sports writers. But athletes make that mistake, everybody wants to write about it. That's how it happens. Ya'll get to put all the stuff you do bad out there. Nobody put out the stuff everybody else do bad out there. So it's a one-way street. That's how it always been. If we don't give you nothing to write about, you can't write about it. That's how it go."

I'm going to miss Porter next year.

The injury report just came out. The Patriots have 22, count 'em, 22 guys on the report. Only one of those players -- running back Fred Taylor -- did not practice. He has an ankle injury. The Dolphins listed four players on their injury report. Aside from Grove missing, DE Lionel Dotson was limited with an ankle injury, while SS Yeremiah Bell (thumb) and RB Ricky Williams (chest) were able to practice full.

Final word that might be interesting only to me: After ripping his team for looking like a "3-7" unit during the fourth quarter of Sunday's Buffalo loss, Sparano was doing a little rehabilitation of his troops today. He made the point his team is 4-1 in games decided by seven points or less. He also noted the Patriots are 2-3 in those games. 

November 12, 2009

Vontae Davis has the attitude to be excellent

An NFL employee whose opinion I respect was talking to me about Vontae Davis recently when he put the Dolphins' rookie in perspective by saying the kid is bright, but he's not a deep thinker.

And that is absolutely true.

The Miami cornerback figures things out. But he's not Aristotle, sitting around trying to figure out the existential meaning of junk.

That is the perfect approach for an NFL cornerback.

And that was evident in Davis on Wednesday, the first day he needed to start thinking ahead to this weekend's assignment against the Tampa Bay Bucs, and the last day he should have been thinking about Randy Moss and the New England Patriots.

Don't misunderstand, Davis looked at his game against the Patriots.

He had his ups -- with a jaw-dropping interception in the first quarter and a great second-quarter tackle of Wes Welker for a one-yard loss on a receiver screen. He had his downs -- giving up a 71-yard TD on a crossing route and being flagged for pass interference.

And he did it all while he was healthy and after he was injured. Davis injured his quad early in the game but took a shot to deaden the pain and get back in the game and continue competing against Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

"I look at it like it's the little stuff that needs correction," Davis said. "That's what makes the good players great, when you go back and criticize yourself real hard."

But this is what also can help make a cornerback great: That he doesn't freak about what went wrong. That he doesn't lose confidence or go into a funk after a tough game. That he believes he can man-up with any and all comers, whether it be true or not, play after play after play.

And, yes, Davis has that. 

"I know people are going to catch ball [on me] but my mentality is, 'Can you do it again?' Davis said while I privately jumped with glee at hearing the words. "I don't think they can do it again. And when they do do it, it was because of something I did wrong. That's the mentality you have at this cornerback position."

But it doesn't end there. The mentality, as Davis puts it, also has to include a fierce competitive spirit. Not everyone has it, and you can look at the Dolphins roster to a former first-round pick that has failed to become a fine cornerback because, in part, he isn't driven by that competitive fire.

So you tell me if Davis has the fire after reading this exchange:

Salguero: Are you looking forward to the next time you face Moss?

Davis: "Yes, yes, yes, oh yes."

[BLOG NOTE: Be certain to check back here later today. I'll be updating with the latest from the coordinators, the locker room and coach Tony Sparano. Enjoy the video.]

September 25, 2009

Win at all cost or just another game on Sunday?

You know the facts. Since 1990, only three teams have started their seasons 0-3 and still made the playoffs.

The 1992 Chargers started 0-4 and made it to the playoffs. The 1995 Lions started out 0-3 and made the playoffs. The 1998 Buffalo Bills started out 0-3 and made the playoffs. Everybody else that started out 0-3 since 1990 was playing golf by late January.

The Dolphins are 0-2, so history tells you they must beat San Diego Sunday to salvage a good opportunity to make the playoffs. The issue is so important, compelling even, that the great minds on the ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown set this weekend will look at several 0-2 teams -- the Panthers, Titans, and yes, Dolphins -- and tell their respective fans whether they should be patient or start to panic.

The issue will divide the cast among those that believe Sunday's game for Miami is a must-win and those who might think it's not any more important than other games. And in that respect, the divide cuts across the very Miami locker room.

I asked nose tackle Jason Ferguson this week if this game against San Diego is a must-win.

"Yes," he said quickly. "For me it's a must-win. We got to win this game. 0-3 is really hard. I've been there before. You give yourself a reason to go 0-4 and it's all over. And now it's 0-3 and it could be over because when you're 11-5 you may not make the playoffs around [this division.] It's definitely difficult but we put ourselves in this hole. And the good thing is you can look at last year and say we did it before. So let's get W, that's the main thing. 

"Every guy in this room got to be thinking we got to get that W."

Perhaps so, but every guy in the locker room is not thinking this game is make-or-break, must-win, pull-out-all-the-stops time.

"It doesn't make the game any more important," linebacker Jason Taylor said. "Every game is so important. You try your darndest to win them all so we're not going to put extra pressure or focus on this game. It's going to get the same amount it deserves and it always would."

Suggest to Taylor that this game truly is make-or-break and thus requires added effort and he does not buy it.

"I totally disagree," he said. "There's no more sense of urgency than there ever was. It's not like we were chilling the first game and then we lost and now we need to pick it up a little more after the Indy game. It's always been pedal to the metal. So the sense of urgency has not picked up at all. It's the same team. Our defense is going to stay the same. Our offense is going to stay the same. We just need to execute better and not make mistakes and finish games."

So why is Taylor refusing to put an added sense of urgency on this game that Ferguson clearly sees? 

"I don't want to start 'now-we're-pressing' and 'we're up against the wall' because we're 0-2. We're going to do what we do only do it better."

So where do you fall? And why?

August 28, 2009

Game review: Miami Dolphins 10, Bucs 6

The good: Brian Hartline earned a starting WR job. Well, he wasn't actually annointed by the coaching staff, but trust me, he's going to be a starter in the regular-season opener at Atlanta in two weeks.

The kick return team also did a fairly good job, averaging 30.3 yards on three returns.

The bad: A much, much longer list for the Dolphins during Thursday night's 10-6 victory over Tampa Bay. 

"I would assess it this way," coach Tony Sparano said. "Our defense was on the field too long and our offense wasn't on the field long enough."

You think, coach? The Dolphins, ineffective on offense much of the first half, ran a total of 54 plays. The Bucs, relying on an offense that looked good-not-great while Byron Leftwich was in the game, ran 74 plays and was electrifying by comparison.

During the time Leftwich was in there, the Miami defense looked terrible. Miami defenders mounted precious little pressure on the quarterback. And the secondary blew a couple of coverages some times, while failing to make plays at other times even as defenders were draped around receivers. Luckily Leftwich is a mediocre QB so he didn't make the Dolphins pay for their problems.

"They converted too many third downs," Sparano said. "I have to watch the film and reserve judgment on that. But I thought they missed a few receivers at times during the course of that thing. I thought our guys battled hard and kind of bent but didn't break. We came up with a few good rushes and hit the quarterback a couple of times in certain situations in the course of the game."

This is where I remind you the Bucs did not play their two starting receivers. Antonio Bryant is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Michael Clayton is recovering from a hamstring injury. Some dude named Stovall torched the Miami secondary for 73 yards on six catches in the first half. 

"We have to get off the field on third down," strong safety Yeremiah Bell said. "A completion is a completion no matter who you're against, no matter who's in the game. Like I said, the concepts stay the same, it's just that the first guys are normally better receivers. At the same time we have to make the plays and get off the field."

The ugly: Chad Henne may indeed become the starter at some point this year and more likely in 2010. But he's not ready for that baton to be passed quite yet -- not if this game was an indicator. Henne completed 2 of 8 passes for 55 yards with one interception.

Let me give you some perspective on Henne's night. His passer rating was 16.1. He completed only one more pass to his teammates than to players on the other team. It was a struggle.

"I wasn't excited about how we threw the ball as a whole tonight," Sparano said when asked specifically about Henne.

The Miami defense was disappointing in that it seems a step slow a lot. The rush gets there just after the passer releases the ball. The cornerbacks stick a hand in just after the receiver pulls in the pass. And there was too much shoddy tackling.

One more thing on the ugly. Lex Hilliard did a lot of things well the last seven months to earn a spot on the Dolphins' 53 man roster. And he might still earn that spot. But Thursday night did not help. He was ineffective running the ball, gaining only 32 yards on 11 carries for a 2.9 yard per carry average. He also fumbled, which is a transgression Sparano detests.

Did I mention Brian Hartline played well? I'm telling you he's the starter after he caught three passes for 79 yards. I asked Sparano if Hartline is the starter, because it sounds better coming from the head coach than a goofy columnist. But the coach wouldn't give up the money quote. 

"I got to watch the film," Sparano cliched. "I like what he did, OK? He did make some big plays, which is critical. One of the things we have to do a better job of on offense is we can't take 15 plays to score every touchdown. We have to get some chunk yards and Hartline was able to make some chunk yards tonight. [Greg] Camarillo was able to make a catch out there one time, too, but Hartline was able to get down the field that way, so that was positive."

Well, the head coach didn't give me what I wanted to hear. So I asked Hartline if he has adjusted his goals from simply making the club to winning himself the starting job. And ... bingo!

"Absolutely," he told me. "There's no reason why I can't ... I'm going to try to set goals to maybe so high I can't reach them. I have high goals and I'm always readjusting my goals. But as you saw tonight, we have a lot of good receivers on this team and any rotation or how we're going to use them, that's going to be the coach's thoughts. But I'm changing goals. Probably daily.

"There's a lot of things I know I'm going to learn from this film going against guys like ronde and other guys. There's stuff that I see that maybe you guys might not that when I get a chance to watch the film, I can correct and do better on."

Can I throw this out at you guys without starting an insurrection? Miami's two most productive receivers now, today, as you read this, are Brian Hartline and Greg Camarillo. Camarillo is still not at the level he reached just prior to his ACL injury last season. But he's progressing and he finds a way to make a play almost every game.

Ted Ginn Jr.? Almost invisible for the second consecutive game. He had one catch for 19 yards.

"The coverage was dictating where the ball was going and [Hartline] was able to make some plays for us and the ball was going his way quite a bit," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "We're just working on trying to get better. We got some things we have to clean up, polish up and get a little bit better which is disappointing. We've been doing pretty well on third down, made that an emphasis and tonight we didn't do a good job. And that's how you keep your defense off the field and how you keep drives going and create some momentum so we have to do a better job there."

Pennington started painfully slow, missing on five of his first nine passes, which is like a personal disaster for a guy who completed 67.4 percent of his passes last season. But Pennington recovered nicely and finished the night 9 of 16 for 128 yards and one TD. His passer rating was 103.1.

Finally, I've been hearing a lot this morning about how the Dolphins are excused for looking bad in the areas where they struggled because, well, they didn't prepare for the game. They didn't game plan. They didn't have much time between games.

Fair. But ...

They played an opponent that didn't prepare for the game, that didn't game plan, and didn't have much time between games.

September 26, 2008

NFL Networks snubs Dolphins' fine upset victory

Did you guys catch the replay of the Dolphins stirring upset of the New England Patriots on the NFL Network this week?

You remember the game, right? It was one in which a team that had won only once in 20 games completely dominated a team that had won 21 consecutive regular season games. It was a game for which a Miami defender (Joey Porter) was voted NFL defensive player of the week, a Miami offensive player (Ronnie Brown) was voted NFL offensive player of the week and Miami's head coach (Tony Sparano) was today selected the NFL's coach of the week.

It was improbable and exciting and, and ...

... apparently not worthy of NFL replay coverage.

An NFL Network spokesman confirmed to me Thursday evening the channel was not replaying Miami's game this week. I asked why.

"We're replaying other games," he said.

And that is true. The NFL Network had a blast with the Giants and Cincinnati and others. But it couldn't find a time for Dolphins vs. Patriots.

This is frankly a major oversight by the network. What, it couldn't play Football Follies 11 times instead of 12 times this week? It couldn't nix that eighth showing of the 1969 Minnesota Vikings diary?

The NFL Network severly dropped the ball not replaying the historic upset. It disrespected the sizeable Dolphins fan base. It did us all a disservice.

August 24, 2008

The words right from the players' mouths

The Dolphins had plenty to say about their 24-0 victory over the KC Chiefs Saturday night. It was the team's first preseason shutout since 1980. It was their second consecutive victory.

Lots to be optimistic about. Here's what the players think:

QB Chad Pennington

(Have you now settled the starting QB question) “I don’t know, my focus is just on trying to get us better and trying to better myself. I think as a team it’s always good to come away with a preseason win. Anytime they keep score, regardless of the situation, you want to come away with a win. To have that winning feeling and to capture what that’s all about. With that being said we have to make sure that we’re not satisfied with this. We need to look at the film critically. We understand that there’s a lot of things that we need to get better on to prepare for opening day and for the rest of the regular season.”

(About the play of Ted Ginn) “I’m excited about our whole receiving core. I think each one of these guys brings something to the table that’s unique. With a guy like Ted, he’s got something that you just can’t coach, and that’s speed and it’s so important to have speed on the field. There are times in this league every game where they’re going to challenge us and they’re going to see if we can prove that we can push the ball downfield. It’s so hard to score on 12 and 15 play drives on a consistent basis and you have to have that fire power to score quickly and kind of take the pressure off the offense. With all of our guys we’re really working hard trying to gain that chemistry, not only with our short intermediate routes but also to start to get the feel for each other down the field.”

(About the first drive of the game) “As an offense we were disappointed. We strongly believe that when you get it down that close, you’ve got to punch it in for a touchdown. Luckily we were able to make up for it with a punt return for a touchdown and Ted did a great job with that. At the same time, we need to put that in the end zone and come away with the touchdown. There were some really good things that happened there, we had some really nice runs and the offensive line kept the pocket really clean and created some holes for Ricky.”

(How have you changed the work ethic?) “I’m a strong believer in communication and you have to give those guys feedback. If you don’t talk about it and you just go out there and work, you may get a little bit better but you’re not going to make the strides that you need to take to establish that chemistry.”

RB Jalen Parmele

(On the 80-yard run) – “It was a big play.  I saw that the left side of the field was wide open.  The offensive line did their job perfect on the left side that opened up the hole wide open. I saw that and you got to explode through that as a running back when the hole is that big.”

(On the touchdown run) – “The touchdown run was designed to follow the guard and that’s what I did.  I was kind of stuffed at first, but just told myself to stay low and I got a good push from Reagan Mauia in the back.  He helped me get through the endzone.

(On the long run for 80 yards) – “The offensive line hit their blocks perfect.  We saw that the play was going to be wide open and as a running back you just got to see the hole and make it.”

(On a pretty good night at the office) – “We did some things well and some things we need to improve on.  We’ll just watch film and learn from it, that’s the biggest thing.”

TE Anthony Fasano

(On if he thinks he was able to claim the number one tight end spot) – “I go out there every day and try to perform and play hungry.  I think our position is kind of shaping up so we’ll see how it goes in the next couple weeks leading up to the first game, but I’m looking forward to helping out this offense.”

(On if he’s feeling good about where he’s going to be on the depth chart) - “Yeah, again I’m going to go back and look at this tape.  I know I would love to have a couple plays back and really work on this, and work on some of the things I didn’t do well, but I think I will be able to help this offense. 

(On having two guys to carry on his touchdown reception) – “Right, I actually haven’t seen the replay really, it happened pretty quick.  It was all about timing and I think we kind of caught them off-guard and I think the timing really helped.  The ball was right on me right out of my break so that gave me some room to run.  It was just a ‘12-yard In,’ just basic.”

(On if he was supposed to go to the endzone on the other play) – “Yeah I would love to get a little more depth in there and make it a touchdown catch.  I was trying to secure the catch and come back to the ball. I think it kind of hurt me, but it’s one of those things you want to work on and one of those plays you want to have back.”

(On if it’s the type of play that wouldn’t happen two or three weeks from now) – “Right, exactly.  That’s why it’s a preseason game and that’s why you’re out here.  I think it’s a great game for us to learn from.”


WR Ted Ginn, Jr.

(On the punt return for a touchdown) – “I just got to give credit to my return team.  We worked at it all week, we went out, we just executed and we just had fun.”

(On how is the receiving core coming together) - “It’s coming great.  We just work hard every day and we keep going at it as a group, we keep learning as a group and we believe in the quarterback and O-Line.  We should be fine.”

(On how his relationship with Chad Pennington is developing) – “It’s great.  Chad coming in as a new quarterback and we’re just trying to get to know everybody.  We’ve been together probably for a good, strong two weeks now.  As we keep going along great things should happen.

(On what he saw with the touchdown return and the blocking) – “I saw the ball short number one.  I didn’t really think I was going to be able to get to the other side, but just a great help from my kickoff return team.  I’m not a one-man team, I was great to have them out there blocking for me.  That’s what we kept constantly just trying to keep working on.”

(On thriving on getting passes down the middle of the field) – “Yeah, you run your routes, you get your depth.  Whatever coverage it may be, it might be an opportunity it may not.  The thing is you just got to continue to get better and do what he asks of you and just keep having fun out there.”   

(On how it feels for the team with two preseason wins in a row) - “I mean it’s great.  You go 1-15; you really get away from all of the enjoyment of winning and things like that.  Just to go out and take two preseason games on our belt.  Just continue to push on with this until the regular season.”

(On things are starting to come together pretty quick) - “Yeah, we’re in the National Football League.  In the National Football League a lot of things are going to come together quick.  You can go from the sorriest team to the greatest team; you can go from the greatest team to the sorriest team.  It really doesn’t matter where you stand, you just got to go out every day, just keep continue to get better and better and you should be fine.”

(On if he’s playing at the highest confidence level right now) - “I always had high confidence.  Last year was a learning experience, this year is more go out, play football and have fun.  That’s all I try to do.”

(On if things are starting to come easier to him) - “Yeah, just the game is slowing down and different things are happening to us, different coverages are opening up.  You just got to take advantage and keep having fun.”

LB Channing Crowder

(On holding the Chiefs scoreless during the game) – “That’s what I was telling the young kids, it’s hard no matter what it is. It’s hard to get a goose egg in this league. When they were down there on our side of the field, I was telling everybody to get that goose egg and they did. It was real good to get that goose egg. We’re really not together yet right now. We made nine penalties, had some turnovers, so we’re not there yet. But you can tell we’re progressing each week and that’s what the preseason is all about.”

(On winning two games in a row) – “We lost our respect last year. Let’s be honest with ourselves. 1-15, nobody respects you. Even talking to guys like L.J. (Larry Johnson) and Tony (Gonzalez), they see that we’re turning it around. Our defense kind of clicked today with all the turnovers. The offense was doing good with all the big runs and the big plays, so we still have two more weeks to work for the Jets and we have to keep working and keep rolling.”

(On what they need to do to keep being consistent) – “Just keep working. Like I said, there are a lot of good things and there are a lot of bad things as well. … If we can get as close to perfection as we can, we can be a good team.”

(On the goal line stand with Philip Merling) – “Oh, that’s big. That’s two weeks straight we had a goal line stance. That’s just big and not giving up. That’s consistency. It’s fun to watch and especially fun to watch the young guys do it. We have two weeks until they start counting and when they stat counting, hopefully we can keep it rolling.”


DE Vonnie Holliday

(On the pass rush against the Chiefs) – “Yeah, that’s what we’ve been looking for. The coverage was great. The guys really got after the passer tonight. We really just got after this group overall. The run game, the pass game, it felt good. Coach (Sparano) said to come out tonight with a lot of energy and guys did that. It felt good for me to just get back out there. I like the energy, I like this group and I really like the direction that we’re headed.”

(On what a game like this does for the team’s confidence going into the regular season) – “Coming off of one win last year, any win is a good win, even if this is preseason for us. It helps a lot. You talk about Larry Johnson and that offense in Kansas City, being able to contain him is huge. He’s ones of the premier backs in this league. We still have a problem; we still have to eliminate the penalties. There are still too many penalties. Too many negative plays on special teams, things we have to work on. While this is sweet, it’s reward for all the hard work we put in. We know that this is just the beginning.”

(On being able to shutout the Chiefs) – “That’s huge. Anytime you’re able to shutout your opponent in the National Football League and put that big goose egg up on the board is big. To be successful in this league, you need confidence and to walk with a swagger. We haven’t had much to be talking about or have a swagger about until now.”

(On the announced crowd of over 60,000 fans) – “I have to say I was very happy to see our fans out there tonight. Hopefully, the wins will encourage our fans to come out and support us, the Dol-fan faithful. It means so much to us and I definitely want to send that out and let our fans know that we’re working and come be apart of this.”

RB Ricky Williams

(On what the win does for the team’s confidence) – “I think it’s a positive to put two good games back-to-back like this and we didn’t have the best week of practice.  But we fought through it and didn’t give up.  To come out here and play well like this, I think we’re starting to believe in what we’re doing, and that’s what we need.”

(On not being able to score a touchdown on the first drive of the game) – “We always want to score six points when we get down there but I thought we did a good job of running the ball down there.  We took 10 minutes off the clock, but ideally you want to score when you get down there.”

August 20, 2008

Chris Crocker has a chance to pass Jason Allen

If Jason Allen thought he had the starting free safety spot sewn up because he's been running with the first-teamers throughout camp, he must have been surprised this week when Chris Crocker was moved ahead of him in practice.

Crocker, an unrestricted free agent addition from Atlanta, has been working with the first-teamers this week and could start Saturday's preseason game against Kansas City.

Allen will likely see less playing time as the coaching staff measures whether Crocker is a better fit alongside Yeremiah Bell.

"It's not about performance, it's about finding spots for people," coach Tony Sparano said. "Jason in the first two games went out and played with the first team defense. But we feel we have several safeties back there and that is an area where tough decisions have to be made."

Sparano isn't one to rip anyone but it is clear if the Dolphins were completely comfortable with Allen as the starter, they would not be using Crocker with the starters this week. Stay tuned to this as I think if Crocker responds with a good performance, he could win the starting job for the regular-season opener.