SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Chatter on the Dolphins’ and Hurricanes’ offenses:
### Whether the Dolphins’ no-huddle attack will boost their 22nd-ranked offense will be an interesting 2012 storyline. Dolphins players and coaches seem increasingly confident it will.
“This will definitely wear defenses down,” linebacker Karlos Dansby insists. “The tempo, the scheme, how they attack the defense, I’m impressed. We’ve got the most complex offense I’ve ever seen.”
Tight end Charles Clay expects Miami to use no-huddle all the time, as offensive coordinator Mike Sherman did last year when he coached Texas A&M. But coach Joe Philbin said, “I’m not saying we’re going to be no-huddle every single play.”
### The Dolphins want their no-huddle to be a hurry-up at times but not always, tight end Anthony Fasano tells us. Playing for Sherman at Texas A&M, Ryan Tannehill often stood at the line and took his time before taking the snap.
“Last year, we were having trouble getting the ball snapped before the end of the [45-second] play clock," center Mike Pouncey said. "This year, we're trying to snap it at 24 seconds."
Reggie Bush noted, “The offense is perfect for guys like me because we can use our speed and have them chase us around all day. And guard Richie Incognito vows "defenses will be back on their heels and will be winded."
### Besides tiring out defenders and helping the Dolphins from a conditioning standpoint, there are other advantages to the Dolphins' up-tempo pace, provided they execute their offense efficiently (and that's a big if).
"We feel like the more plays run, the more opportunities you have to score points," Philbin said. Plus, "you've got to believe with all of that time you invest doing the no-huddle that your two-minute offense should hopefully not create such anxiety in the players because they're kind of used to it."
And don't overlook the fact that opponents won't be able to substitute as much against a no-huddle.
### To prepare for the fast tempo, the Dolphins are practicing at the fastest pace we've seen from a Dolphins team, with David Garrard mentioning, only partly in jest, that Miami leads the league in practice snaps. (The Dolphins are running two 11-on-11 drills at once, with one group waiting until the other group has run a play.)
The Dolphins are so serious about maintaining a fast tempo that Sherman wants players to be in “Miami Heat condition."
### For perspective, the Dolphins averaged 61.9 offensive plays last season (comparable to the Packers’ 61.7) but well below the Patriots’ 67.6. Sherman’s Texas A&M offense averaged 80.3 in 2011, but there are more clock stoppages in college.
### The Dolphins had the same number of rushing and passing attempts last season, while the Packers – where Philbin was offensive coordinator but didn’t call the plays – had far more passes (553 to 395). That degree of imbalance is unlikely here because there’s no Aaron Rodgers.
But Bush expects “a lot more passing. I’m going to be split out wide a little more, playing more receiver.”
### Sherman said the Dolphins will probably run more often and throw more play-action passes than most West Coast offense. During minicamps, we saw some stacking of receivers, with one sometimes lining up a foot behind another. We also saw a lot of quick, short passes to receivers.
Philbin wants the quarterback “to get the ball out [quickly], not sit back there and take a lot of hits.”... For three more of my Dolphins stories from Saturday, see our three previous posts.
### UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said “what we’re going to do on offense is going to be special.” Problem is, the Canes lost an elite tailback, their top receiver and two key offensive linemen from a unit that finished 70th of 120 teams in total yards and 63rd in scoring (26.5). Plus, they’re breaking in a new quarterback.
### UM had 398 rushes and 339 passes last season, but one official who spoke to Hurricanes coaches expects the Canes to throw and spread the field a bit more. That would take advantage of their personnel, provided Stephen Morris plays at peak efficiency and the offensive line finally plays to its potential.
### One AFC scout who has watched both players said Morris is a much better quarterback than Ryan Williams and added: "If you have to play Williams, you’re not going to win many games.” It would be shocking if Morris is not the starter.
### Even though he missed nearly all of spring ball because of back surgery, Morris actually helped himself this offseason because, as Fisch told us: “Mentally, he has grown tremendously, how quickly he process information. It’s like having a coach back there.”
### Mike James, the favorite to start over Eduardo Clements at running back, said his 3.8 yards per carry average last season was “unacceptable,” but coach Al Golden said a toe injury was partly to blame. UM doesn’t want to overload Duke Johnson early, but “we’re going to find ways to get him the ball – in the slot, in the backfield, motion him out,” Fisch said. “He’s going to run routes and get handoffs because he’s elite.”
### Fisch plan to use Dallas Crawford selectively as a receiver, lined up wide and in the backfield…. Look for tight ends Asante Cleveland and Clive Walford “to be paired together every time we send in two tight ends,” Fisch said. “They’re going to be elite players and cause matchup problems.”
### The sense here is freshmen Malcolm Lewis and Robert Lockhart have the best chance to crack’s UM’s top-five receiver rotation, with returnees Allen Hurns, Phillip Dorsett (“our fastest player,” Fisch said) and Rashawn Scott.
“Malcolm is really, really good,” Fisch said. “Great speed, strong hands. He caught a ball in the state championship game with three defenders holding on. Robert Lockhart is a stud - very polished route runner, explosive.”
### Four spots on the offensive line are set: Malcolm Bunche and Seantrel Henderson at left and right tackle; Brandon Linder at right guard and Shane McDermott at center. At left guard, “it will be a nice battle between Jon Feliciano and Jermaine Johnson, with Jeremy Lewis involved, too,” Fisch said.
### In one of the most notable claims in last week's Yahoo story alleging more UM recruiting violations, Yahoo writer Charles Robinson quoted an unidentified former Canes staffer as saying Sean Allen arranged for Olivier Vernon and Anthony Chickillo to gain entrance to a strip club in Coral Gables Jan. 22, 2011 on Chickillo’s recruiting visit, and that Allen paid for drinks and entertainment that night.
Vernon on Friday vehemently denied that he went to a strip club with Chickillo and said he would be willing to say that under oath. He said Allen “wasn’t with us” and paid for nothing that night.
“It’s not true,” Vernon said, repeating it twice. "We took him out for bowling in Sunset Place. Al Golden and all the coaches stress not to take [recruits] to strip clubs.”
Yahoo cited phone records showing 12 calls between Vernon and Allen that night, but without proof of where they were or whether Allen paid for anything. The question is whether Robinson's anonymous "former UM staffer" has an ax to grind against the program.
### A Marlins official said there's a 50/50 chance the team will trade Josh Johnson before Tuesday's trade deadline. The Marlins want a lot, but they will carefully consider any offer. Texas, considered a likely suitor, reportedly has concerns about Johnson's health history and may be reluctant to deal top third base prospect Mike Olt.
### Impending free agents Carlos Lee and Carlos Zambrano are very much available in trades. The Marlins can't expect to get much for either - perhaps a mediocre prospect.
### An official with another team that made an offer for Hanley Ramirez told us: “We offered better prospects, but [the Dodgers] were going to pay his salary. New stadium and you trade so much money away in less than four months? Worst opening of a stadium we’ve ever seen.” Well, at least right-hander Nathan Eovaldi - acquired in the Ramirez trade - pitched well in his Marlins debut Saturday night.
### Dissatisfaction with Ramirez extended beyond teammates. One Marlins official said he’s simply not a winner; the coaching staff strongly pushed for this move.
### The Marlins badly need a third baseman (there’s nobody close to ready in the system), but the free agent class is dreadful. Assuming the Mets keep David Wright (player option), the Marlins’ best potential free agent options would be past-their-prime Kevin Youkilis ($13 million White Sox option), Placido Polanco or Eric Chavez.
There are six legitimate starting center fielders due to hit free agency: Michael Bourn, Melky Cabrera, BJ Upton, Angel Pagan, Cody Ross and Shane Victorino. Most will be costly, and the Marlins might be more cautious spenders this winter.
### One Marlins executive said he still believes Larry Beinfest still has good job security, though Jeffrey Loria could easily change his mind. Remember that it was Loria who wanted John Buck, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell. And the scouting department shoulders much of the blame for numerous first-round picks that flopped, though Beinfest has final say.
### The Marlins are optimistic they have filled their longterm catcher void in the Tigers trade with left-handed hitting Rob Brantly, who’s hitting .293 this year between Double A and Triple A. “Offensively, he projects as a frontline catcher,” Tigers scout Mike Russell said. “Left-handed hitting catching is very difficult to find. He has a plus arm but his offense is ahead of his defense.”
Regrettably, Buck has one year left on his deal at $6 million. And Kyle Skipworth, drafted sixth overall by the Marlins in 2008, is hitting .213 at Double A, though he has five home runs in his past eight games and .