In case you missed the TNT broadcast of the Heat's far-closer-than-it-should-have-been win over the heavily depleted Spurs Thursday night, here were a few notable comments from Charles Barkley, who left the studio to work the game courtside:
### Barkley was pretty critical of Dwyane Wade: "He's starting to lose his talent," Barkley said. "He's got to learn to play below the basket. The days he can beat you one-on-one, those days are over.... He looks like he lost his explosion. He's going to have to learn to post up." When Wade missed a jumper, Barkley said: "He's got no lift."
### Barkley, on the Heat overall: "They're bored by the regular season. They need a challenge.... The only way to beat the Heat is to punish them down low.... They're not a dominant team because of their [lack of] size.... The Heat has got some issues. When they become a jump shooting team, they're streaky."
### Barkley said he had no problem with Gregg Popovich sending Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio to rest them. (Commissioner David Stern was outraged and plans to punish the Spurs.) But when Reggie Miller said if he were Parker, he would want to play, Barkley cracked: "Yeah, cause he would be going against Chalmers!"
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While doing a story on Jared Odrick and Koa Misi, I started thinking about the last big decision Bill Parcells made for the Dolphins. Curious what you think of that decision 2 1/2 years later. Read on, and then weigh in:
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The decision facing Bill Parcells in his final NFL Draft with the Dolphins was a difficult one.
Should he and Jeff Ireland keep the 12th overall choice and take a potential blue-chip prospect such as Earl Thomas or Jason Pierre-Paul? Or should they trade down to the 28th and 40th picks to select two players, filling multiple needs?
Parcells opted for the latter in 2010, seizing on San Diego’s desire to move up to draft running back Ryan Mathews. Two and half years later, the merits of that decision can still be debated.
Jared Odrick and Koa Misi, Miami’s selections with those picks, have become competent starters. So it cannot be said that trading down was an unspeakably bad mistake.
But it also cannot be called a brilliant stroke, either, because the Dolphins passed on at least one All-Pro player at a high-demand position: Pierre-Paul, who was plucked by the Giants with the 15th pick and has 27.5 sacks in 2 ½ seasons, including 16 ½ last year and 6.5 this season.
The good news: Misi has improved in his third season, while Odrick has been stout against the run and produced a key sack to force a Seattle punt that set the stage for the Dolphins’ game-winning drive on Sunday.
Among players selected between 12 and 27 in 2010, a bunch have been productive: Seahawks safety Earl Thomas at 14 (nine interceptions in three years), Pierre-Paul, 49ers guard Mike Iupati at 17 (not that Miami could have justified taking a guard at 12); Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey at 18 (the Dolphins drafted a comparable player, his brother Mike, a year later).
Also: Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon at 19 (162 tackles in 2 ½ seasons), Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham at 21 (47 catches for 558 yards this season), Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas at 22 (61 for 1015 this season), Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga at 23 (made All-rookie team), Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant at 24 and Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty at 27 (12 picks in 2 ½ seasons).
Was passing on Bryant to trade down a mistake? Depends on how much stock a team places in off-field issues. The Cowboys require Bryant to follow a strict set of guidelines, including a midnight curfew, in the wake of his arrest this summer on a domestic violence charge involving his mother.
Bryant has 15 touchdown catches since the start of 2011 – including six this season, with 65 receptions for 880 yards – but also has been prone to fumbles and drops.
But at least Miami didn’t stay at 12 to pick Brandon Graham (15 tackles, one start for the Eagles this season) or Derrick Morgan (6.5 career sacks for the Titans).
As for Odrick, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle called his game against Seattle his best of the season. The key sack was encouraging because he entered the game with only two.
Among defensive ends who play in a 4-3, Pro Football Focus ranks Odrick 61st and last in pass rush but 20th against the run.
“There have been too many times I’ve been too close and just missed a big play,” said Odrick, who had five sacks as a part-time starter in 2011. “I’m putting myself in the right position. [But] I’ve made leaps and bounds in the run game.”
Whereas Odrick is 310 pounds, Miami’s other starting end – Cameron Wake – is 258.
“You do realize you’re one of the biggest, if not the biggest, right ends in the league,” Odrick said. “It’s a challenge my coaches gave me and a challenge I’m giving myself to hold myself to a higher standard even though I’m a heavier end.”
Odrick estimates he has moved inside, to tackle, on about a quarter of his snaps.
“We like that he’s done a lot of jobs,” coach Joe Philbin said. “He can fit into a lot of places in the defense.”
Like Odrick, Misi also has been capable against the run, ranking 10th among 43 linebackers in a 4-3 defense, according to Pro Football Focus. He struggled against the pass early, but not in the past month in limited opportunities in coverage.
He also has 2.5 sacks and has adjusted well to playing outside linebacker in a 4-3. He has become a reliable starter, though the Dolphins in retrospect can be questioned for not instead drafting tight end Rob Gronkowski, who went to the Patriots two picks after Misi.
“You look at the work Koa’s put in to be a role player in this defense – he’s been very productive, done all the things right,” Wake said.
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Other than Pierre-Paul, is there anyone else you would have assuredly taken at 12 instead of trading down for 28 and 40? A case could be made for several of the players above. But who knows how Joe Philbin would have dealt with Dez Bryant when he had no use for Brandon Marshall or Vontae Davis?