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Dolphins league's worst in gut-wrenching category; Canes, Marlins, Heat chatter

FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN

If it seems like the Dolphins subject their fans to more late-game heartache than most teams do, you’re right.

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that since the start of 2010, no team has been worse in very close games than Miami. Over the past two-plus seasons, the Dolphins are 2-10 in games decided by three points or fewer.

It hasn’t helped that Dan Carpenter is 10 for 25 on field goals of 46 yards or longer since 2010, with nine misses overall in those 10 narrow defeats.

The only team with a record as poor, percentage-wise, in tight games is Carolina, which is 1-5 in games decided by three points or fewer since 2010. 

Reggie Bush spoke this week of the Dolphins getting "brain freeze" late in close games.

And by the way, Miami is just 3-8 in overtime since 2000.

Ryan Tannehill has been similarly snake-bitten. Over the past 13 months, he is 1-6 as a starting quarterback in games decided by a touchdown or less: 1-4 at Texas A&M, 0-2 with Miami.

Though others are as accountable or more accountable for that 1-6 record, ESPN’s Jon Gruden said last month that his late-game play “is the big concern I had with Tannehill.

“You would like to see a quarterback that finishes games better,” Gruden said. “I would like to see more dominant, consistent play down the stretch. At Texas A&M, they had an opportunity to finish some teams off in the second half and didn’t quite do that.”

The Dolphins do not blame either of their overtime losses on Tannehill, because they say his interception in Arizona was caused by a failed blitz pickup (he was hit as he threw), and because he led Miami into Jets territory before Carpenter missed a 48-yarder.

Down the stretch of his four close losses at Texas A&M last year, Tannehill played well in one (a four-overtime loss to Kansas State) but threw a late-game pick against Oklahoma State and couldn’t sustain drives against Missouri and Arkansas. In his one close win last year (45-40), Texas Tech scored the game’s final 10 points.

The sense here is Tannehill is too poised and talented to keep losing so many close games. And his 94.8 fourth-quarter rating this season is encouraging: 11th-best in the NFL and best among rookies.

CHATTER

The Dolphins are feuding with prominent NFL agents John Rickert and Peter Schaffer, who filed a grievance against the Dolphins with the players association this week because Miami is refusing to pay guard Artis Hicks’ $1.2 million salary. The Dolphins claim Hicks, their first offseason signing, did not disclose a pre-existing neck condition. Hogwash, his agents says. Hicks was released last week.

Rickert said in 2006 that Hicks had a neck sprain – “totally different” from the current bone spurs on his vertebrae - and that his 2006 MRI was negative and he did not miss a game. “Peter has been in the business 25 years, and he and I have never seen a situation like this where a team is so blatantly unfair against a player,” said Rickert, who represents Dolphins linebacker Kevin Burnett and many others.

Will the agents steer players away from Miami now? Rickert said “if this is the type of treatment” players get, “it would definitely enter our thinking.”

### FOR a look at Dolphins rookies (beyond Tannehill) and other Dolphins notes from this week, please see our last three posts.

### We hear UM wants Duke Johnson more involved against Notre Dame after he got 16 touches against North Carolina State…  Prices for Saturday's game in Chicago are averaging $450 on the secondary market.

### With UM athletic director Shawn Eichorst leaving for Nebraska, UM might re-consider one other finalist for the job in 2011: ACC senior associate commissioner Michael Kelly. The other external finalist, Norwood Teague, left VCU for the Minnesota A.D. job earlier this year. UM acting athletic director Blake James, Maine’s A.D. from 2005-2010, also will be considered, among others.

"I think the last couple of ADs at Miami were thrown into a world they weren't prepared for and left at first opportunity," Jimmy Johnson tweeted, added he's not interested in the job.

### Marlins pitching postscripts: They couldn’t have been happier with Jacob Turner, who allowed opponents to hit .208 in seven starts. Nathan Eovaldi, conversely, was hit at a .284 clip as a Dodger and Marlin (.318 vs. lefties, .236 righties)… Ugh: Ricky Nolasco allowed the third highest-average among all National League pitchers with a minimum of 180 innings (.285)… Not only did Josh Johnson allow batters to hit 10 points above his career average (.252 to .242), but his fastball velocity dropped to 92.8 mph, from 95.0 a couple years ago… With Randy Choate traded, the Marlins need to find a lefty who gets lefties out. Lefties hit .293 off Mike Dunn....

We hear Jeffrey Loria remains conflicted about whether to dump manager Ozzie Guillen. Throughout the organization, there's unhappiness with the not-serious-enough culture Guillen has fostered in the clubhouse. But associates say Loria has gone back and forth about whether to pull the plug, with three years and $7.5 million left on Guillen's contract. He continues to mull potential replacements in the event he fires him.

### Heat forward Udonis Haslem said he took “thousands” of shots this summer, and Erik Spoelstra said he is now shooting mid-range jumpers “like he built his reputation on” - far better in practice than a year ago. “You are seeing him physically and rhythm wise where he used to be,” Spo said. Haslem shot just 26 percent on 10 to 15 footers last season, after topping 42 percent the previous five. Spoelstra is even OK with him taking occasional threes now. He's 0 for 14 on threes in his career but has been practicing them all summer.

### Couple quick broadcast notes: WQAM has picked up gravel-voiced Scott Ferrall's syndicated radio show from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. weeknights... Every first round baseball playoff game will be on TBS except two on MLB Network (on Sunday and Wednesday).... Announcers this weekend: Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock on UM-Notre Dame, Marv Albert-Rich Gannon on Dolphins-Bengals.

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