WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
The Dolphins’ signing of Chad OchoCinco elicited a wide range of reaction around the NFL Tuesday. We’ll start with the positive:
“Watching the Patriots practice three times for the Super Bowl, I was really impressed with Chad,” NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said. “He was much sharper physically than I anticipated. The key is to find things he does well and stick to basic routes.
“I was impressed how Chad handled himself in New England; he was very much a team player. I might have shied away from him after he left Cincinnati, but that experience did him a lot of good. I wouldn’t be worried about him having a negative influence over younger players the way I might have been [when he played with] Terrell Owens in Cincinnati. There’s no downside to this, and if I’m in Miami’s situation, I would have done it, too. If he can’t do it, you can get rid of him. Physically, he has something left. He has this non-stop brain that would call [Bengals coach] Marvin Lewis at 3 in the morning and suggest a play.”
Said CBS’ Phil Simms: “I have no doubt physically, he is still capable of being a solid NFL receiver and have an impact. It’s a really good signing, especially with the situation they are in with receivers. The energy I saw at Bengals practices [before 2011] was awesome, and it was driven by one guy: Chad. Full speed every play.”
After OchoCinco’s first Dolphins practice Tuesday, Sean Smith tweeted, “[No.] 85 still got it!”
OchoCinco encouraged people to "tweet Vontae Davis and ask him how I look. They wont [sugar] coat." Davis, asked how he looked on a scale of 1 to 10, tweeted: "10; for not knowing the playbook, he still got it."
As for concerns: “He was overwhelmed by the complexity of New England’s offense,” CBS’ Rich Gannon said. “Tom Brady didn’t have a lot of trust he would be in the right place and do the right thing. You would think a veteran guy could learn a game plan. They kept him around in the offseason program this year and he was still struggling. Now, going to a West Coast offense, he may struggle there.”
Patriots receiver Deion Branch had to tell OchoCinco where to line up during a May 24 practice witnessed by reporters. The Patriots cut him last week.
Gannon once asked former Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski why they didn’t move OchoCinco around more, and “Bob said, ‘We don’t want to overload him.’ That tells you right there. He’s not a bad guy. But his extra curricular activities take away from his focus on the game.” But Gannon said in spite of all that, there's no risk to signing him because it's a low-risk, low-money move.
Former Texans general manager Charley Casserly, of NFL Network, said: “He still has enough physical skills to be productive, but route discipline has always been a question. Does Chad get it, at the end of his career, that he has to be a good soldier and it has to be about the team, not him?”
NFL Network’s Joe Thiesmann, noting his problems against Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, said: “He’s got great feet, but when it comes to being physical, he can’t do it. He’s physically not strong enough to get off jams. With OchoCinco, [Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Legedu Naanee], you have four guys who can be functional.”
One longtime NFL executive told us Tuesday: “The guy ran the wrong route on the first play of a game last year, after you practice it all week. How can you screw that up? With Ryan Tannehill, you want a receiver to be in the right spot to help your young quarterback, and that would concern me with Chad. You’re a new coach trying to build a program there; I wouldn’t have touched him.”
### OchoCinco’s former teammate, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who reportedly needed to sometimes tell OchoCinco where to line up, told Bengals.com: “If I went with Tom Brady and didn’t produce, I’d hang it up. Are you kidding me?”
### OchoCinco, 34, is in great shape and showed quickness during his Dolphins workout Monday. Though he had just 15 catches for 276 yards last season, he is one year removed from a 67-catch, 831-yard season with Cincinnati in 2010, when he also dropped eight passes. If he makes the team, he will earn the veteran’s minimum $925,000, with potential to push that to more than $2 million if he meets incentives such as catching 80 passes, according to Peter King.
### Chad's best tweet from Day One as a Dolphin? He said anyone attending fiancee Evelyn Lozada's book-signing in the Bronx should "tell her to wire me my allowance."
NBA FINALS GAME 1 POSTSCRIPTS
### Comparison of fourth-quarter numbers: LeBron James - seven points, 2 for 6 shooting; Kevin Durant - 17 points (tied for most in a fourth quarter of a Finals game in 15 years), on 6 for 10 shooting. According to ESPN's Stats and Information, James scored 17 of his 30 and shot 58 percent on Durant, but scored just six on 29 percent shooting (2 for 7) against Thabo Sefolosha.
### Durant (36) closed with more points in his first NBA Finals game than any player except Allen Iverson (48). James guarded Durant "quite a bit," Erik Spoelstra noted, but notably, Shane Battier started the game on Durant. James said that was Spoelstra's suggestion and James added that he thought it was a good idea. "Obviously, we have to do a much better job [on Durant] collectively," Spoelstra said.
### This was critical: The Heat managed only four points in transition - 20 fewer than OKC. "They beat us at their game - and a game that's very similar to us when we're playing well," Spoelstra said. "Loose balls - they were quicker to every single one of those.'' Said Battier: "We had way too many careless turnovers. They were in the paint all night long."
And as Chris Bosh noted, the Heat didn't do nearly a good enough job getting back on defense in transition. The good news, Bosh added, "is we're the best team at making adjustments in the league."
### Dwyane Wade (19 points, just 7 for 19 shooting) disputed a reporter's assertion that he wasn't attacking enough: "I was attacking. Some nights I have big nights scoring, some nights I don't. That's the way it's designed for me. I thought we had good shots. We just have to make more of them.... I'm a winner. I'm not going to sit up here worrying about scoring 30 points. I don't know if that will make you guys feel better."
### To expand on Wade's point about missing shots: Wade, James and Bosh were a combined 9 for 35 on shots beyond 10 feet, according to ESPN. Miami opened 9 for 15 on such shots, then went 7 for 31 the rest of the game.
### Though Russell Westbrook wasn't consistent with his jumper, he created all sorts of problems with his penetrations. "We can live with him shooting 10 for 24 from the field," James said. "K.D. got a couple looks we don't like - he had two transition threes and a couple jumpers we didn't like with nobody on him." Durant and Westbrook outscored the Heat on their own in the second half, 41-40. OKC had 58 in the second half.
### Spoelstra played only eight players, and just six who got significant minutes. (Mike Miller played 10, Joel Anthony two.) James Jones was unavailable because of a migrane. "I'll probably try to go a little deeper in Game 2," Spoelstra said.
James said, "We have to have more guys in there to give me and D-Wade a rest, and Shane. Spo will figure that out."
### Though Battier and Udonis Haslem played well, a strong case can be made for starting Bosh, to maximize his minutes. He played 34 Tuesday but needs to be in the 40 range. "You have to open up lanes for Wade and LeBron," Magic Johnson said.
### Teams that win the first game of the NBA Finals have gone on to win the series 72.3 percent of the time.
### NBA's TV Chris Webber asked, "Why is Mike Miller in the game? He doesn't play defense, can't rebound." Well, he can rebound, but less so now because of back problems.
### With this week’s addition of three-star St. Petersburg-based 6-6 tight end Jeremy Kerr, UM has seven oral commitments for 2013, including four in ESPN’s top 200: New Jersey quarterback Kevin Olsen (67), Delray Beach Atlantic defensive tackle Keith Bryant (134), New Orleans-based tight end Standish Dobard (135) and South Plantation running back Alex Collins (200/Wisconsin is making a strong push for him). UM says it expects to have in the range of 20 scholarships.
### Though the Marlins are 11th in the National League in runs and 12th in batting average, hitting coach Eduardo Perez said, “I don’t see it as frustrating. You can’t evaluate after two months. I have to listen to the players and make suggestions. If I don’t, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to.” It’s notable three of the Marlins who have struggled most (Gaby Sanchez, Chris Coghlan, Logan Morrison) are protégés and huge supporters of John Malee, who was fired as hitting coach last June.
### At what point do you say it’s not a slump and that the Marlins simply overestimated their offensive talent? “You can’t say that because two weeks ago, we were good,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “But they’re not hitting the way they’re supposed to.”…. Sanchez made slight adjustments during his Triple A stint that he believes will help. The message delivered to him by owner Jeffrey Loria? “Just relax, which is what he always says.”