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32 posts from January 2013

January 09, 2013

Thursday update: The skinny on Greg Oden rumors

### Greg Oden's agent was puzzled by an ESPN.com report this afternoon that the Heat "is at the top of the line pursuing Oden," the former No. 1 overall draft pick who has had five knee operations.

Oden's agent, Mike Conley Jr., told us today, this past Monday and several times in the past year that the Heat has never expressed any interest in Oden.

"They have never made a single call about him," Conley said. "It's strange this story [comes out] because I spoke to them this week about DeQuan Cook before he signed with Chicago. They never asked about Greg."

Conley reiterated that Oden would have interest in the Heat, but he isn't comfortable pushing Oden on Miami or any other team if that team doesn't express interest.

"There are several teams he likes, Miami included," Conley said. "We would like to see the enthusiasm reciprocated."

Conley said several teams have expressed interest in Oden, who is preparing to return to the league to start the 2013-14 season.

The 7-foot Oden, only 24, has played in only 82 NBA games, none since the 2009-10 season.  He has career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. 

At the very least, the Heat would be smart to work out Oden in the coming weeks, to determine whether it wants to make an offer. But the Heat hasn't even taken that step.

 ### We reported a couple days ago about Mario Cristobal considering a return to UM's coaching staff. Cristobal was on UM's campus Thursday is is re-joining the staff, as associate head coach and tight ends coach.

Brennan Carroll is expected to move to wide receivers coach. Cristobal, fired by FIU last month, previously was an assistant coach and player at UM. He has a background coaching the offensive line, but Al Golden was committed to keeping Art Kehoe.

### The Heat agreed to terms with two centers Wednesday, and neither was Chris Birdman Andersen.

Not only did the Heat sign Jarvis Varnado to a 10-day contract, but Miami also agreed to terms with Josh Harrellson on a 10-day contact, according to his agent, Merle Scott.

The Heat announced the Varnado signing on Wednesday and plans to announce the Harrellson signing on Thursday. 

Harrellson will join the team in Portland for Thursday's game, Scott said. 

Harrellson made the Heat's roster in training camp but appeared in only four games and played just 27 minutes. The Heat released him on Monday to avoid having to guarantee his contract for the remainder of the season.

Varnado and Harrellson can sign two 10-day contracts before the Heat must decide whether to re-sign either for the remainder of the season.

The two signings will bring the Heat’s roster to the maximum 15. That would not leave space for Andersen unless the Heat creates another roster spot. Andersen worked out for the Heat on Tuesday and remained in Miami on Wednesday.

Andersen is still working to get into optimal shape after not playing in the NBA this season. It remains to be seen whether the Heat re-visits the idea of signing Andersen after he improves his conditioning.

The Heat will have 14 players on this road trip - not the 15 under contract - because center Dexter Pittman continues to hone his skills with the NBA Development League's Sioux Falls team in South Dakota. He had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in a game on Wednesday.

### Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison, coming off September knee surgery, told MLB.com that he won't be ready for the start of spring training and might not be ready for the start of the regular season.

Morrison underwent surgery to repair the patellar tendon in his right knee, his second operation on the knee in a span of eight months.

"I'm going to wait until it's 100 percent and ready to go," he told MLB.com. He expects to begin running a week into spring training.

Morrison, who is moving to first base, hit .230 with 11 homers and 36 RBI in 93 games last season.

If Morrison isn't ready to start the season on time, Greg Dobbs and former Orioles prospect Joe Mahoney likely would handle first base duties.

### If you haven't seen the buzz column posted late Tuesday night with UM and Dolphins news, please click on the last post.

 

January 08, 2013

Bosh fed up; Golden, Cristobal talking; Heat, Dolphins, Marlins news

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The locker-room, for the most part, had cleared out after the Heat was again pummeled on the boards Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

Chris Bosh, one of the few who remained, turned introspective, as he often does, when I approached.

He was calm but clearly peeved.

“If we think we’re going to win a playoff series in the first round, second round, third round, we’re kidding ourselves,” Bosh said. “We are not good enough to be where we want to be. We’re lucky to be first in the East. We’re kidding ourselves if we think this is good enough.”

After Tuesday night’s 55-36 dismantling on the boards, the Heat has achieved this embarrassing distinction: Six times this season, Miami has been outrebounded by at least 15.

And Bosh, who had only five boards in 36 minutes, said it’s time for the Heat to re-think its approach and perhaps go back to the way it played when Miami went 28-13 on the road in the first year of the Big Three era. The Heat is 7-7 on the road this season.

“We don’t play the same way,” he said. In 2010-11, “we were a halfcourt team that pounded you on the glass and executed the offense, and if LeBron and Dwyane had opportunities in the open court after we get a stop, they will push it down your throat.

“We’re not the same team. We don’t play the same style. That style was working for us pretty good. If you look at our weaknesses right now, it’s defense and rebounding.”

Of the change in style affecting the Heat’s rebounding, Bosh said, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

Of course, this team is different, built more around a perimeter approach and spreading the floor. That team played Bosh at power forward; this team plays Bosh at center. That team usually played a natural center alongside Bosh.

Even though Udonis Haslem starts alongside Bosh, Haslem typically has playing half the game or less, and the Heat often goes with only one natural power rotation player.

Does it mean the Heat needs to play two natural bigs together more? “Maybe,” he said. “We played more conventional basketball the first year and last year. This is different.

“We get placed in a system and we try to play to the system to the best of our abilities. Some days, it’s good. Some days, it’s bad. Most days it has been bad for us on the boards. I don’t think it’s about effort. We’re trying our best.

“Even in Toronto, I don’t remember being outrebounded on the boards constantly. Being outrebounded by 20! Soon, I’m going to need two hands to count the times. It’s a constant problem. It’s happening over and over and over. This is unacceptable.”

Miami is last in the league in rebounds, and even if Miami signs Chris Andersen, that isn’t going to solve everything. And it's difficult to get the fastbreak going when you can't rebound. (Miami had one fastbreak point Tuesday). See our last post for news on Anderson and Miami adding Jarvis Varnado.

MORE HEAT CHATTER

### Looking for good news? Well, there’s this: The Heat – maligned for its clutch play during the first season of the Big Three era and somewhat in its second – is shooting 51 percent in the last five minutes of games with a margin of five or fewer, compared to 43 last year.

Miami is outscoring teams by 59 points during those 74 “clutch” minutes.

There are times Mario Chalmers, accustomed to playing in those critical moments, turns to Spoelstra and pleads: “Put me in there” or simply visits his office later to discuss it.

The Big Three and Ray Allen are automatic to be on the floor, but choosing a fifth can be tricky among Shane Battier and Chalmers (the most likely options), Norris Cole (who played late in a few December games), Mike Miller or less likely, Udonis Haslem or Joel Anthony.

Chalmers said not playing as much late “definitely has been tough on me. I’m used to finishing games. I will come to [Spoelstra’s] office and say something or say during a game: ‘I want to be in there.’ [But] I’m not going to say it in a disrespectful way.”

Said Spoelstra: “I don’t mind if they’re angry, and guys will get angry. Rio is kicking and screaming if he’s not in there. But nobody crosses the line to be disruptive to the team. You are still dealing with egos, and it’s my job to manage these personalities.”

James has played all 74 clutch minutes. Beyond James, Allen (72), Bosh (71) and Wade (61), Spoelstra has used Battier and Chalmers for 30 minutes apiece, Miller for 15, Cole for 8, Rashard Lewis for 5, and Haslem and Anthony none.

So how have they fared in clutch time? Bosh has shot the best (11 for 13), with Wade second at 56 percent. James averages a triple-double in clutch time (using his regular season averages) and shoots 48 percent, but just 3 for 12 on threes.

Allen is 9 for 21 in the clutch (but 6 for 18 on threes), Battier 3 for 6, all threes (but no rebounds or assists), Chalmers 2 for 8, Miller 1 for 4, Cole 1 for 2.

CHATTER

### UM still hasn’t filled its open receiver coach’s job, and we’re told coach Al Golden has spoken to former FIU coach Mario Cristobal about an offensive job on the staff. That’s one of several job possibilities that Cristobal is considering, according to a source.

Cristobal and Golden always have had a good relationship.

### Though we hear the Dolphins would like to keep Reggie Bush and Sean Smith at the right price, as of Tuesday they had not reached out to their representatives, let alone made an offer – different from their approach with Brian Hartline and Jake Long, who rejected in-season offers and are awaiting new ones.

### We hear the Dolphins’ new logo will be different and more creative than the one circulating on line. 

### Even though Jonathan Martin showed promise, no NFL tackle allowed more quarterback hurries than Martin’s 47. And please don’t suggest that the Dolphins’ play at left tackle didn’t suffer without Long.

Long allowed four sacks and 10 hurries in 11-plus games. Martin allowed three sacks and 17 hurries in just under five games at left tackle, and Pro Football Focus graded Martin’s work clearly lower than Long’s. So Miami will make another attempt to keep Long, though not at the dollar figure he ideally wants.

### Some have asked if the Dolphins will get compensation if they lose Long or other unrestricted free agents. Potentially -- depending on who the Dolphins sign from other teams -- but the compensation wouldn’t come until the 2014 draft.

The NFL says a team losing “more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory picks,” but no more than four. The NFL uses a complex formula to determine compensatory-worthy free agents, based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.

For perspective, Oakland got three extra picks last year (third, fourth and fifth) after losing Nnamdi Asomugha and others in 2010. Most picks are in the fourth through seventh rounds, so that’s what Miami could expect if it loses more impact free agents than it adds from other teams.

And keep in mind that three teams got extra picks last year simply by losing better free agents than they signed, even though there was no net loss.

### The Marlins, looking for bullpen help, have had discussions with free agent Chad Durbin (4-1, 3.10 for Braves), among others.

   

Tuesday night update on Birdman workout and Heat roster machinations

INDIANAPOLIS – Continuing to tinker with its roster, the Heat is expected to add at least one center while considering whether to add another.

Veteran center Chris “Birdman” Andersen worked out for Heat president Pat Riley on Tuesday and will stick around in South Florida for at least another day while the Heat mulls whether to sign him.

Meanwhile,  Heat draft pick Jarvis Varnado is expected to sign a 10-day contract with Miami at some point this week, according to a source.

Andersen, 34, averaged 5.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 15.2 minutes per game for Denver last season.  The Heat didn’t make an offer after his workout but saw enough to keep Andersen in town while deciding what to do with him. He's still working himself into optimal condition after not playing in the league this year.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said he was not briefed on Andersen’s workout but  “we’ll never stand pat and be complacent with our organization. If we have opportunities to improve, we’ll look for those… [But] as players and as a staff, we have no complaints with our roster.”

Heat center Chris Bosh endorsed Andersen: “He’s a shot blocker, dunker, assaults the rim all the time. Energy, hustle, runs the floor well. You can definitely see how he can help us. He’s always rolling hard to the basket. Just his defensive presence, knack for rebounding.”

The Heat is expected to add the defensively-skilled center Varnado, a Heat second-round pick in 2010. Varnado, cut by Miami in training camp before this season, averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3.9 blocks in 10 games for Sioux Falls. He was released by the Celtics on Sunday after playing 18 minutes over five games.

“It was very tough to evaluate him when we had him in camp,” Spoelstra said. “Outside of our arena, we’ve always loved him.”

### With center Dexter Pittman playing in the Development League, the Heat has only 12 players traveling with the team – three under the league maximum and one less than the 13 permitted to dress for games.

The Heat released Terrel Harris on Saturday and Josh Harrellson on Monday to avoid having to guarantee their contracts for the entire season.

Though he didn’t comment on the likelihood of adding Varnado,  Spoelstra said there’s no urgency to bring Pittman back from Sioux Falls and is “fine” traveling with 12 “because I hardly ever play 12 guys.”

### Agent Merle Scott said Harrellson was surprised to be released and was told the Heat hasn’t ruled out bringing him back on a 10-day contract if he clears waivers.

“It’s more about the business of the NBA and less about Josh,” Spoelstra said. “We like him. Right now, the most important thing for us is flexibility.”

### No team has gotten under the Heat’s skin in the past year more than Indiana, whether it was Pacers coach Frank Vogel last year accusing the Heat of a penchant for flopping, or Lance Stephenson giving LeBron James the choke sign before their second-round series last May.

“They’ve been talking a lot,” James said Tuesday before the teams met at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “I read a lot of clips before the season saying they were better than us and they should have beat us. We’ll be ready. I’m not one to talk much. I do it on the court. I let my game do the talking. But it is amusing sometimes, seeing teams talk. And they didn’t beat us.”

In last year’s series, “They were talking a lot,” James said. “They felt they were the better team and we took control of the series” by rallying from a 2-1 deficit to win in six games.

LeBron’s approach on trash talking? “After the fact, if I hear someone talking, I will have a conversation with them or say my peace on the floor. But I’ve never started it up. My little league coaches wouldn’t allow us to do that. They always said, ‘Let your game do the talking.’” 

        

January 07, 2013

Heat working out Birdman; Everything Stephen Ross said Monday

After waiving center Josh Harrellson Monday, the Heat will work out former Nuggets center Chris "Birdman" Anderson Tuesday in Miami, as first reported by Yahoo.

Anderson, 34, averaged 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks (to go with 5.3 points) in 15.2 minutes per appearance for Denver last season. In his career, he has averaged 5.2 rebounds in 17.8 minutes, on average.

His-rebound-per-minute average is well ahead of Joel Anthony's and Rashard Lewis', and better than Udonis Haslem's this season (5.1 in 19.2. minutes).

The Heat entered Monday night 29th in rebounding (ahead of only Boston) and 20th in rebound differential. Miami begins a six-game road trip Tuesday against the Pacers in Indianapolis.

By cutting Harrellson and Terrel Harris (who was waived Saturday), the Heat does not need to guarantee either of their contracts for the rest of the season. The moves left Miami with 13 players, two under the league maximum.

Harrellson played in only four games for the Heat, for a total of 27 minutes.

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You've perhaps read highlights throughout the deal, but here's everything Dolphins owner Steve Ross said at his news conference Monday:

(Opening remarks) – “Thank you guys for coming. I apologize for it being before the BCS Bowl, but everybody’s been asking what my thoughts were about the season and I said, ‘Hey, we’ll do after the season.’ I was down here and I thought it would be a good time to do it, not waiting too long. So if it interfered with what you’re doing for the BCS, I apologize. I’m open to anything.”

(On how impressed he was with Head Coach Joe Philbin in his first year) – “Well, I was really impressed with Coach Philbin. I think we can safely say, I think I’ve heard it from so many people, I feel it more importantly – yes, that we have a really solid head coach here and a guy that I think will be here a long time and hopefully bring all those victories that everybody wants.”

(On how much of a success the season was in light of having a first-year head coach and rookie quarterback) – “You start the season, like in every season, you want to be in the playoffs. You want to be in the game. That wasn’t fulfilled, but then you look back this season after and you say, ‘Well, what was the good and what was the bad?’ I think certainly there was a lot… The good certainly outweighed a lot of the bad here and the fact is that we do have a head coach that I think will be here and we have the makings of a quarterback that will be here a long time that has a lot of great potential. I think, when you look at it from that standpoint, you can be very positive. I look at it from that standpoint certainly today.”

(On having a lot of cap room and draft picks and if he can tell the fans that all resources will be used to make the playoffs in 2013) – “First of all, when I bought the team and I told everybody that whatever resources we have, what I have, I want to build a winning team. That goes first and I think Jeff (Ireland) and the whole organization knows that. This isn’t one of these organizations that tries to slap together, keep it together just for the sake of doing that. I’m willing to spend whatever it takes to build it. I think sometimes people look at spending as a way of winning and in business it isn’t money that solves problems. It’s brains that solve problems and using your abilities. But certainly all my resources are there and if the right players are there, I don’t care what it costs. We’ll go after them.”

(On if having stability with the coaching staff and front office was important to him this offseason) – “It’s important every season. It’s the nucleus of a franchise and I think having the right mix between the coach and the personnel department is essential. It takes those two ingredients to have a winning organization. I think if you have a plan and you stick to that plan, you’re going to win. It’s when you’re changing all the time that you don’t really know where you stand.”

(On how excited he is this offseason given all the possibilities as a result of the cap room and draft picks) – “Right now, as you well know, we’re well-positioned in the Draft. I think Jeff’s done a great job from that standpoint. We had probably, I think it’s the second-youngest team in the NFL and the question is what’s going to be available in free agency and getting the right mix. I think that’s not a decision that I make. It’s the decision of what I think the Coach and Jeff will do together.”

(On if he thinks the way to build a winning team is through the Draft and what role free agency plays into that) – “I think, as the Coach has stated, you want to build through the Draft and you certainly look and see what’s out there in free agency and seeing you get the right player that will fit in in that locker room and would bring the right kind of ingredients and is still hungry enough, that isn’t just signing for the big contract. Free agency certainly isn’t the answer. We’ve all seen that. You can talk about the failures in free agency more than you can about the successes… Everybody gets all excited (that) you sign a player and, ‘My God, we’re going to win.’ You haven’t seen that, I can’t think of a player you could say that really happened with because I think the philosophy is you know you’re players better than anybody else and you know who you want to sign, who you want to keep as part of that. Often times, there’s a reason why a guy is out there as a free agent.”

(On upcoming stadium plans) – “Right now, we’re putting together a plan for and we’ll kind of expose them very shortly. But today, I’d rather not talk about that. You guys want to talk about the season, about the football team the Dolphins, but I don’t think about the plans…”

(On how he is certain that he has the right people and pieces to make sure the franchise is headed in the right direction) – “How in life are you ever certain? You take it one day, you look at it and then you deal with the people and they’re the kind of people who are pretty consistent level people and I think that’s one thing you can say about the organization there. I believe they have the talent to deliver day-in and day-out. But this is a business that’s really measured. It’s probably like no other business in the world. You measure it with wins and losses, but you want to see the direction they’re going and just how it’s moving and I think it’s important to have not a volatile situation. I think the type of people we have aren’t volatile type people.”

(On what stood out about Coach Philbin and validated what he saw when he hired him) – “I think one of the characteristics that Joe had – he was probably one of the most organized presentations I’ve ever seen and you can look back at it and you can say he followed that. He did everything that he said he would do and he’s probably, you guys got to know him pretty well. I think he’s about as organized and consistent as anybody you’ll ever meet. I was talking to his secretary (Ann Rodriguez) the other day and she said she’s been here all this time and there’s nobody that’s more organized than Joe and really sets forth what his plans are. I think that’s important because, when you hear what his plans are, you really believe in him.”

(On how involved he’ll be with personnel matters this offseason) – “I think the day I bought the team, I don’t think that I belong in making, I shouldn’t be the one making the decisions of who we pick and who we play and what the plays are. You want to have the best people doing that. This is a much more sophisticated game than all of us fans think it is. The more you get inside it, you really find out how sophisticated it is in the football operations. It’s really like any organizations, I know the organization I built that I started, it’s about the people and you’re only as good as the people you have. It’s just not the guy at the top. The guy at the top facilitates it and makes sure it happens and gives them the resources and the ability to do everything to become a best in class organization.”

(On getting to know Ryan Tannehill this year and how he feels about him being the face of the franchise) – “Ryan Tannehill, what really impressed me is his intelligence and the type of person he is. I think that’s come out. He’s a hard worker. He’s a high character guy and that’s what you want. And a guy who wants to be here and hopefully that he’ll accomplish all of those things that everybody would like to see him do.”

(On his thoughts on games being blackout and it seeming like he bought tickets so that the games could be shown on television) – “I can understand when you’re not winning why some people might not show up. I think we put a winning team on the field, I think we’ll fill up those stadiums. That’s what I’m counting on. I really believe that how important the Miami Dolphins are to South Florida and really bringing the community together. I think once we’re winning that’ll be evident and people will want to be here every Sunday. Hopefully, some Monday nights too.”

(On if there was a play or a moment this season when he believed Tannehill has got it) – “I think the way he goes about it. I saw him before the game how he went about it. He won the starting nod in preseason and the guy was confident. When you meet him, you feel good. Certain people you meet, there’s not a lot of trepidation that he has. He goes about his business in a very serious manner and he wants to win. I think that it was a great start that he had.”

(On whether he was always set on maintaining stability in the front office or whether he wanted to see the season play out before he made a decision) – “Well as I said before I think it is important that you have a plan, you follow that plan, and you remain consistent towards that plan. When you no longer have confidence in that plan, then you make changes. I have belief in the plans that we set out, and we are going to follow that plan.”

(On the plan for 2013) – “Win.”

(On how that plan is different from the last couple of years) – “This is really the first time I’ve really gotten involved. I didn’t select the people that were here before. I was handed a situation that, for one, I was kind of painted to the wall. When (Bill) Parcells left it was my fault, when Miami lost it was my fault, and all that. I have a lot of respect for Bill, but I didn’t put together that organization. I also felt that I should learn a little bit before I started making moves. Making moves for the sake of making moves is sometimes probably the worst move you can make. You want to sit back and really assess the situation, which I was able to do, so that was probably good from that standpoint.”

(On what he feels like he has learned from the past few years) – “Well I think having just watched the way it was, I knew there was something that I had to change, if you know what I mean. I mean I learned how sophisticated it is. As I’ve said before, (I’m) always a fan, and wanting to build the best organization, but you want to look at other organizations and see what they had. You know, talk to a lot of people. So I can’t say there is one thing, but I think the more familiar you become with it and the more you talk to people and you’re watching and assessing, I think that’s how you really learn and put it together to come up with something. Look, what’s important to everyone in this room is that the Miami Dolphins become a winning organization over a long period of time. As opposed to just talking about it, you have to put it together, you have to believe in the plan, and you have to follow the plan.”

(On how hard it was not to panic and deviate from the plan) – “Well, I guess I learned from the real estate business that I started. That’s a business where it’s not like a day trade, you have to have patience. You have to realize that you have to look at things with a vision and a long term aspect. I look at things from a long-term perspective as opposed to a very short-term perspective. So, you might be suffering, and you know I hated those Monday mornings, and I still do when we have those losses, but it’s something where I feel we are on the right track. We’re moving in the right direction, and I feel good about it, more so today than I ever have.”

(On whether his confidence in the plan every wavered throughout the season) – “We were in every game. When we lost those games we should have been winning those games. The expectations, though I was looking to win because I believed we were putting together the right thing, you didn’t really know for sure and I think they certainly surprised everybody coming out of the box. We were what, 1-3? And then we won three games in a row, so you can see, other than the Houston game for the six minute period of time where we had the three turnovers, before that we were dominating the game and the second half, we were already so far behind, but theoretically we won the second half. It was really that six minute period of time where they scored, but in every other game we were in it. When we lost in Phoenix, God knows we should have won that game. When we lost to the Jets, we should have won. But you learn, football is a woulda, shoulda, coulda (game), but really at the end of the day, you look at your win loss record and not how you got there.”

(On why Jeff Ireland is the only person still with the organization from the afore mentioned group of inherited personnel, and why he has confidence in him going forward) – “I think his football intelligence, his knowledge, his hard work. I think he has the respect of his peers, he is one of the youngest General Managers around. I like dealing with youth and enthusiasm and I think he has the knowledge and desire, he is smart and he is committed to building a (winning team). He laid out a plan, and we do have a young team, and if we are right on plan, we are going to be there for a long time.”

(On the buzz surrounding a new logo, and whether the one that was leaked is the new logo) – “I mean there have been a lot leaked, so I don’t know what you saw from that standpoint. We will have a new logo, we will have it by the (NFL) Draft. We’re looking at it, finalizing it, but I am excited about that fact. It’s time for an update.”

(On his vision for the Dolphins for the next five to ten years, aside from wins) – “The end game is really, over five to ten years what is your win/loss record over that period of time? How many Super Bowls did you win? That’s how you are going to be judged. So I am prepared for that.”

(On whether he believes in a three or four year plan to get to the Super Bowl and his feelings on the progression to get there) – “Well I enter every year with the idea that I’m going to be in the playoffs. That starts every year, you know? If you don’t have that mentality, then you shouldn’t be in this sport, because you really want to be winning. You’re not going to be in a rebuilding process, and I don’t look at life as being a series of rebuilding. You want to put forward your best effort and believe in the team you’ve got that you can get to the playoffs. Now certain times you need a little bit more optimism to get there, like this year, we were going with a rookie quarterback, so what knowledge did you really have? You had to be somewhat optimistic, thought I thought Ryan (Tannehill) performed well. Certainly, once you get there, you don’t know what year that is; it’s not a magic formula and this is a very competitive game. So I would like to certainly think that next year we will be in the playoffs and we’re winning, but I can’t tell you for sure. I just know that we will be very competitive next year and that the idea is first you have to get in the playoffs, and then how that football bounces, you never know.”

(On how much of a gap he perceives between the Dolphins and the Patriots) – “Well certainly they have a great track record. They have a quarterback that’s been consistent, and they have built around that quarterback over that period of time. They are great, and that’s not going to last forever. I think that certainly they are our biggest competitor, they are in our division and we have to be able to beat them. I like where we are going. Look, they have been the class outfit in the (AFC) for a long period of time now. They have a great quarterback, and they have a good organization.”

(On how he would sum up his optimism for this team heading into the offseason) – “The two biggest ingredients in a winning team are your coach, I think that’s important and I think we have our head coach, and second is a quarterback you can build around. This is a quarterback centric league and you see every great team that is there consistently has a quarterback. I think we have our quarterback. Once you are there, it is a lot easier I think to put the building blocks around. We have needs; you all know we have needs. Coach has indicated what needs we have; we have to be more explosive and we have to create more takeaways on defense. Those are the things that we have to improve upon. But I think when you start with a coach that you have confidence in, and I think everybody has seen that the character and the way this team has come together as a team, it is a high character team. They want to win, and you have a coach and you have quarterback, I think you have a lot of the first ingredients you need in order to create that winning environment. It’s (up to) us and to Jeff to deliver the personnel to complete that so that we are playing for those championships.”

(On not having a winning season as owner and if he’s getting impatient) – “I mean, impatient to do something stupid, no. Am I disappointed? Yes, but I also look at it, you rationalize a little bit. Hey, this was the first year that I’ve really been there in terms of, ‘Hey, what I can say is my responsibility,’ and I’m prepared to be responsible going forward and with what it is.”  

                                                                                                            

Heat working out Birdman; Everything Stephen Ross said Monday

After waiving center Josh Harrellson Monday, the Heat will work out former Nuggets center Chris "Birdman" Anderson Tuesday in Miami, as first reported by Yahoo.

Anderson, 34, averaged 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks (to go with 5.3 points) in 15.2 minutes for Denver last season. In his career, he has averaged 5.2 rebounds in1 7.8 minutes.

His-rebound-per-minute average is well ahead of Joel Anthony's, and better than Udonis Haslem's this season (5.1 in 19.2. minutes).

By cutting Harrellson and Terrel Harris, the Heat does not need to guarantee either of their contracts for the rest of the season. The moves left Miami with 13 players, two under the league maximum.

Harrellson played in only four games for the Heat, for a total of 27 minutes.

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Here's everything Dolphins owner Steve Ross said at his news conference Monday:

(Opening remarks) – “Thank you guys for coming. I apologize for it being before the BCS Bowl, but everybody’s been asking what my thoughts were about the season and I said, ‘Hey, we’ll do after the season.’ I was down here and I thought it would be a good time to do it, not waiting too long. So if it interfered with what you’re doing for the BCS, I apologize. I’m open to anything.” (On how impressed he was with Head Coach Joe Philbin in his first year) – “Well, I was really impressed with Coach Philbin. I think we can safely say, I think I’ve heard it from so many people, I feel it more importantly – yes, that we have a really solid head coach here and a guy that I think will be here a long time and hopefully bring all those victories that everybody wants.” (On how much of a success the season was in light of having a first-year head coach and rookie quarterback) – “You start the season, like in every season, you want to be in the playoffs. You want to be in the game. That wasn’t fulfilled, but then you look back this season after and you say, ‘Well, what was the good and what was the bad?’ I think certainly there was a lot… The good certainly outweighed a lot of the bad here and the fact is that we do have a head coach that I think will be here and we have the makings of a quarterback that will be here a long time that has a lot of great potential. I think, when you look at it from that standpoint, you can be very positive. I look at it from that standpoint certainly today.” (On having a lot of cap room and draft picks and if he can tell the fans that all resources will be used to make the playoffs in 2013) – “First of all, when I bought the team and I told everybody that whatever resources we have, what I have, I want to build a winning team. That goes first and I think Jeff (Ireland) and the whole organization knows that. This isn’t one of these organizations that tries to slap together, keep it together just for the sake of doing that. I’m willing to spend whatever it takes to build it. I think sometimes people look at spending as a way of winning and in business it isn’t money that solves problems. It’s brains that solve problems and using your abilities. But certainly all my resources are there and if the right players are there, I don’t care what it costs. We’ll go after them.” (On if having stability with the coaching staff and front office was important to him this offseason) – “It’s important every season. It’s the nucleus of a franchise and I think having the right mix between the coach and the personnel department is essential. It takes those two ingredients to have a winning organization. I think if you have a plan and you stick to that plan, you’re going to win. It’s when you’re changing all the time that you don’t really know where you stand.” (On how excited he is this offseason given all the possibilities as a result of the cap room and draft picks) – “Right now, as you well know, we’re well-positioned in the Draft. I think Jeff’s done a great job from that standpoint. We had probably, I think it’s the second-youngest team in the NFL and the question is what’s going to be available in free agency and getting the right mix. I think that’s not a decision that I make. It’s the decision of what I think the Coach and Jeff will do together.” (On if he thinks the way to build a winning team is through the Draft and what role free agency plays into that) – “I think, as the Coach has stated, you want to build through the Draft and you certainly look and see what’s out there in free agency and seeing you get the right player that will fit in in that locker room and would bring the right kind of ingredients and is still hungry enough, that isn’t just signing for the big contract. Free agency certainly isn’t the answer. We’ve all seen that. You can talk about the failures in free agency more than you can about the successes… Everybody gets all excited (that) you sign a player and, ‘My God, we’re going to win.’ You haven’t seen that, I can’t think of a player you could say that really happened with because I think the philosophy is you know you’re players better than anybody else and you know who you want to sign, who you want to keep as part of that. Often times, there’s a reason why a guy is out there as a free agent.” (On upcoming stadium plans) – “Right now, we’re putting together a plan for and we’ll kind of expose them very shortly. But today, I’d rather not talk about that. You guys want to talk about the season, about the football team the Dolphins, but I don’t think about the plans…” (On how he is certain that he has the right people and pieces to make sure the franchise is headed in the right direction) – “How in life are you ever certain? You take it one day, you look at it and then you deal with the people and they’re the kind of people who are pretty consistent level people and I think that’s one thing you can say about the organization there. I believe they have the talent to deliver day-in and day-out. But this is a business that’s really measured. It’s probably like no other business in the world. You measure it with wins and losses, but you want to see the direction they’re going and just how it’s moving and I think it’s important to have not a volatile situation. I think the type of people we have aren’t volatile type people.” (On what stood out about Coach Philbin and validated what he saw when he hired him) – “I think one of the characteristics that Joe had – he was probably one of the most organized presentations I’ve ever seen and you can look back at it and you can say he followed that. He did everything that he said he would do and he’s probably, you guys got to know him pretty well. I think he’s about as organized and consistent as anybody you’ll ever meet. I was talking to his secretary (Ann Rodriguez) the other day and she said she’s been here all this time and there’s nobody that’s more organized than Joe and really sets forth what his plans are. I think that’s important because, when you hear what his plans are, you really believe in him.” (On how involved he’ll be with personnel matters this offseason) – “I think the day I bought the team, I don’t think that I belong in making, I shouldn’t be the one making the decisions of who we pick and who we play and what the plays are. You want to have the best people doing that. This is a much more sophisticated game than all of us fans think it is. The more you get inside it, you really find out how sophisticated it is in the football operations. It’s really like any organizations, I know the organization I built that I started, it’s about the people and you’re only as good as the people you have. It’s just not the guy at the top. The guy at the top facilitates it and makes sure it happens and gives them the resources and the ability to do everything to become a best in class organization.” (On getting to know Ryan Tannehill this year and how he feels about him being the face of the franchise) – “Ryan Tannehill, what really impressed me is his intelligence and the type of person he is. I think that’s come out. He’s a hard worker. He’s a high character guy and that’s what you want. And a guy who wants to be here and hopefully that he’ll accomplish all of those things that everybody would like to see him do.”(On his thoughts on games being blackout and it seeming like he bought tickets so that the games could be shown on television) – “I can understand when you’re not winning why some people might not show up. I think we put a winning team on the field, I think we’ll fill up those stadiums. That’s what I’m counting on. I really believe that how important the Miami Dolphins are to South Florida and really bringing the community together. I think once we’re winning that’ll be evident and people will want to be here every Sunday. Hopefully, some Monday nights too.”(On if there was a play or a moment this season when he believed Tannehill has got it) – “I think the way he goes about it. I saw him before the game how he went about it. He won the starting nod in preseason and the guy was confident. When you meet him, you feel good. Certain people you meet, there’s not a lot of trepidation that he has. He goes about his business in a very serious manner and he wants to win. I think that it was a great start that he had.”(On whether he was always set on maintaining stability in the front office or whether he wanted to see the season play out before he made a decision) – “Well as I said before I think it is important that you have a plan, you follow that plan, and you remain consistent towards that plan. When you no longer have confidence in that plan, then you make changes. I have belief in the plans that we set out, and we are going to follow that plan.”(On the plan for 2013) – “Win.”(On how that plan is different from the last couple of years) – “This is really the first time I’ve really gotten involved. I didn’t select the people that were here before. I was handed a situation that, for one, I was kind of painted to the wall. When (Bill) Parcells left it was my fault, when Miami lost it was my fault, and all that. I have a lot of respect for Bill, but I didn’t put together that organization. I also felt that I should learn a little bit before I started making moves. Making moves for the sake of making moves is sometimes probably the worst move you can make. You want to sit back and really assess the situation, which I was able to do, so that was probably good from that standpoint.”(On what he feels like he has learned from the past few years) – “Well I think having just watched the way it was, I knew there was something that I had to change, if you know what I mean. I mean I learned how sophisticated it is. As I’ve said before, (I’m) always a fan, and wanting to build the best organization, but you want to look at other organizations and see what they had. You know, talk to a lot of people. So I can’t say there is one thing, but I think the more familiar you become with it and the more you talk to people and you’re watching and assessing, I think that’s how you really learn and put it together to come up with something. Look, what’s important to everyone in this room is that the Miami Dolphins become a winning organization over a long period of time. As opposed to just talking about it, you have to put it together, you have to believe in the plan, and you have to follow the plan.”(On how hard it was not to panic and deviate from the plan) – “Well, I guess I learned from the real estate business that I started. That’s a business where it’s not like a day trade, you have to have patience. You have to realize that you have to look at things with a vision and a long term aspect. I look at things from a long-term perspective as opposed to a very short-term perspective. So, you might be suffering, and you know I hated those Monday mornings, and I still do when we have those losses, but it’s something where I feel we are on the right track. We’re moving in the right direction, and I feel good about it, more so today than I ever have.”(On whether his confidence in the plan every wavered throughout the season) – “We were in every game. When we lost those games we should have been winning those games. The expectations, though I was looking to win because I believed we were putting together the right thing, you didn’t really know for sure and I think they certainly surprised everybody coming out of the box. We were what, 1-3? And then we won three games in a row, so you can see, other than the Houston game for the six minute period of time where we had the three turnovers, before that we were dominating the game and the second half, we were already so far behind, but theoretically we won the second half. It was really that six minute period of time where they scored, but in every other game we were in it. When we lost in Phoenix, God knows we should have won that game. When we lost to the Jets, we should have won. But you learn, football is a woulda, shoulda, coulda (game), but really at the end of the day, you look at your win loss record and not how you got there.”(On why Jeff Ireland is the only person still with the organization from the afore mentioned group of inherited personnel, and why he has confidence in him going forward) – “I think his football intelligence, his knowledge, his hard work. I think he has the respect of his peers, he is one of the youngest General Managers around. I like dealing with youth and enthusiasm and I think he has the knowledge and desire, he is smart and he is committed to building a (winning team). He laid out a plan, and we do have a young team, and if we are right on plan, we are going to be there for a long time.”(On the buzz surrounding a new logo, and whether the one that was leaked is the new logo) – “I mean there have been a lot leaked, so I don’t know what you saw from that standpoint. We will have a new logo, we will have it by the (NFL) Draft. We’re looking at it, finalizing it, but I am excited about that fact. It’s time for an update.”(On his vision for the Dolphins for the next five to ten years, aside from wins) – “The end game is really, over five to ten years what is your win/loss record over that period of time? How many Super Bowls did you win? That’s how you are going to be judged. So I am prepared for that.”(On whether he believes in a three or four year plan to get to the Super Bowl and his feelings on the progression to get there) – “Well I enter every year with the idea that I’m going to be in the playoffs. That starts every year, you know? If you don’t have that mentality, then you shouldn’t be in this sport, because you really want to be winning. You’re not going to be in a rebuilding process, and I don’t look at life as being a series of rebuilding. You want to put forward your best effort and believe in the team you’ve got that you can get to the playoffs. Now certain times you need a little bit more optimism to get there, like this year, we were going with a rookie quarterback, so what knowledge did you really have? You had to be somewhat optimistic, thought I thought Ryan (Tannehill) performed well. Certainly, once you get there, you don’t know what year that is; it’s not a magic formula and this is a very competitive game. So I would like to certainly think that next year we will be in the playoffs and we’re winning, but I can’t tell you for sure. I just know that we will be very competitive next year and that the idea is first you have to get in the playoffs, and then how that football bounces, you never know.”(On how much of a gap he perceives between the Dolphins and the Patriots) – “Well certainly they have a great track record. They have a quarterback that’s been consistent, and they have built around that quarterback over that period of time. They are great, and that’s not going to last forever. I think that certainly they are our biggest competitor, they are in our division and we have to be able to beat them. I like where we are going. Look, they have been the class outfit in the (AFC) for a long period of time now. They have a great quarterback, and they have a good organization.”(On how he would sum up his optimism for this team heading into the offseason) – “The two biggest ingredients in a winning team are your coach, I think that’s important and I think we have our head coach, and second is a quarterback you can build around. This is a quarterback centric league and you see every great team that is there consistently has a quarterback. I think we have our quarterback. Once you are there, it is a lot easier I think to put the building blocks around. We have needs; you all know we have needs. Coach has indicated what needs we have; we have to be more explosive and we have to create more takeaways on defense. Those are the things that we have to improve upon. But I think when you start with a coach that you have confidence in, and I think everybody has seen that the character and the way this team has come together as a team, it is a high character team. They want to win, and you have a coach and you have quarterback, I think you have a lot of the first ingredients you need in order to create that winning environment. It’s (up to) us and to Jeff to deliver the personnel to complete that so that we are playing for those championships.”(On not having a winning season as owner and if he’s getting impatient) – “I mean, impatient to do something stupid, no. Am I disappointed? Yes, but I also look at it, you rationalize a little bit. Hey, this was the first year that I’ve really been there in terms of, ‘Hey, what I can say is my responsibility,’ and I’m prepared to be responsible going forward and with what it is.”  

                                                                                                               

Monday update: Steve Ross speaks, Fins, Canes items; Alabama-N.D. media column

Couple quick things:

### Dolphins owner Steve Ross met the media Monday, and with $47 million in cap space, Ross vowed: "If the right player is there, I don't care what it costs." In general, "I'm willing to spend whatever it takes." But he also added that while the Dolphins will consider free agents, "free agency isn't the answer." He suggested the priority remains building through the draft.

His overall thoughts on the 7-9 season: "A lot of good outweighed a lot of bad. We have the makings of a quarterback who will be here a longtime. We have a solid head coach who I think will be here a long time.... If you look at it from that standpoint, you can be very positive."

I have a plane to catch (literally), so please see Armando's Dolphins blog for more from Ross' press briefing.

### With the Indianapolis Colts' loss on Sunday, the Dolphins now know they will have the 54th pick in the second round, to go along with their second round pick at 42. Miami's other picks in the first three rounds are 12th, 77th and 82nd.

### Most amusing tweet of the week: The sister of Packers receiver Greg Jennings, an impending free agent, saying Aaron Rodgers "is the most overrated quarterback in the league" and that Jennings "is the best freakin receiver these clowns got. Now take your talents to South Beach and get paid." The Dolphins will consider making a serious run at Jennings in March. Jennings' sister made the comments days before Green Bay's playoff win against Minnesota on Saturday.

### The father for UM quarterback commitment Kevin Olsen told us a couple weeks ago that Kevin wanted to enroll at UM in January, but rules concerning on-line credits in his New Jersey district will not make it possible.

At least four UM recruits are enrolling in January: Alex Figueroa (a defensive end who will play outside linebacker initially), junior college tight end Beau Sandland, and offensive linemen Hunter Knighton and Sonny Odogwu.

### Miramar's Jermaine Grace, rated the nation's 19th best outside linebacker, said he might not announce until signing day, but continues to indicate that he's strongly leaning toward UM.

### With Thomas Finnie no longer on the UM team in the wake of his offseason arrest, summer arrival Artie Burns will have a chance of cracking a four-man rotatation at cornerback. Ladarius Gunter, Tracy Howard and Antonio Crawford figure to be UM's top three corners.

 

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Our BCS media column:

For ESPN, Notre Dame-Alabama stands as a dream matchup, partly because many viewers don’t like either school.

 ESPN is convinced that dislike won’t translate to disinterest, because, well, that typically doesn’t happen with polarizing brands such as Notre Dame, the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys.

"There are a lot of people who will have to make a tough decision on who to pull for,” ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said, acknowledging many fans ardently root against both when they’re not playing each other.

“Because the SEC has won six straight national championships, as much as that region claims all 14 teams when they get to this point, every other conference and every other fan base outside of those 14 teams is passionately rooting against Alabama,” Herbstreit said.

“What’s interesting in this case is everyone, no matter where you grew up, either loved Notre Dame or you just couldn’t stand Notre Dame. I believe outside of the SEC, most of the people will be pulling for Notre Dame to try to end that streak” of six straight SEC national titles.

Herbstreit doesn’t believe that some fans won’t watch because they don’t like either team.

“Anybody who makes a comment like that will clearly be watching the game, and watching the pregame and blogging,” he said.

“For me, it’s like Tiger Woods and golf. I couldn’t care less about golf, but if Tiger Woods accidentally stumbles into a Sunday [in contention], I’m that guy who’s watching. If you’re a fringe college football fan, and you have Notre Dame and Alabama playing on a Monday night, no matter if you despise both these teams, you’ll be watching these teams.”  

How giddy is ESPN about getting Notre Dame in this game?

Consider this: Every network’s college football ratings declined this season, except NBC’s Notre Dame package, which rose 67.4 percent. What’s more, four of the eight highest-rated prime time games in 2012 involved Notre Dame, topped by the 9.4 for Notre Dame-USC on ABC. And USC-Oklahoma on ABC was third at 5.2.

Notre Dame-Alabama on Monday has a good chance to top the 14.0 for last year’s Alabama-LSU title game, but it will be difficult for ESPN to surpass ABC’s record for the highest-rated BCS title game: a 21.7 for USC-Texas in 2005.

“The story here is definitely Notre Dame,” ESPN’s Brent Musburger said. “In pre-season, no one was mentioning Notre Dame would be in [the mix] for a national championship.”

But if Alabama wins, “we may be talking about one of the great dynasties in the history of college football.”

THIS AND THAT

Ratings for the BCS bowls are up this year, even though the Orange and Sugar lacked attractive matchups, on paper. The 6.5 major-market rating for the FSU-Northern Illinois Orange Bowl topped the 4.5 for West Virginia’s blowout of Clemson last season.

The 6.4 for the Florida-Louisville Sugar edged last year’s Michigan-Virginia Tech rating.

### Musburger and Herbstreit will be calling their sixth BCS title game together, and Musburger, at 73, has no intention of putting down his microphone any time soon.

Asked how long he wants to continue broadcasting, Musburger said: “As long as they’ll have me. I don’t do retirement very well.”

He said he still gets the same emotional charge working big events as he did earlier in his career. “The best event that I am ever going to cover is the next one.”

### Musburger, on Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly: “He’s the son of an Irish politician, and no one works a room any better than Brian Kelly. He loves to have your company, and then pretends he’s telling you everything that’s going to happen. And he always keeps something in the saddle bags. A very, very savvy coach.”

### Musburger appreciates that Kelly and Alabama coach Nick Saban “like to have us come to practice, unlike [LSU coach] Les Miles, who locked us out for 30 minutes” before last year’s BCS championship. During that game, when LSU was being dominated by Alabama, Musburger cracked, “Miles locked us out for this?”

### ESPN producer Bill Bonnell said a network executive “challenged us” to improve audio for this year’s BCS bowls, and promises it “will be a big upgrade.” He also said ESPN will “hold back a little on replays” to make sure no live action is missed.

 

 

   

 

January 05, 2013

Defensive draft options emerge for Fins; Dolphins, Heat, Canes, Marlins news

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Upgrading the offense must and will be the Dolphins’ priority this offseason, but they also realize they could use more playmakers on a defense that ranked 21st in yards allowed (down from 15th in 2011), 27th against the pass and generated the league’s fourth-fewest takeaways (16).

And keep this in mind: There are far more defensive players (especially in the front seven) than offensive players considered worthy of selection in the top half of the first round of April’s draft.

So a strong case could be made for picking a defensive player 12 and addressing receiver through free agency or with one of Miami's two second-round picks. But if you trust the evaluation of ESPN's Mel Kiper, the Dolphins shouldn’t expect to find a No. 1-caliber cornerback at No. 12.

Alabama junior Dee Milliner, the only consensus first-round corner if he turns pro as many expect, “is not a shutdown corner,” Kiper said. “He is a solid, reliable player, but he’s not a Patrick Peterson coming out with elite skills. He’s a No. 2 corner, not a No. 1 corner. He’s a mid-to-late first, not an early first.”

So what does Milliner do well? “He’s excellent in zone, strong in run support and has good top-end speed and short-area quickness,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said.

The draft’s No. 2 corner, Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks -- considered a late-first or early-second rounder -- not only needs to buy a vowel for his first name, but also was beaten for two long passes in his regular season finale (against Mississippi) and “is not elite in man to man coverage,” McShay said. He “has some trouble versus smaller, quicker receivers.”

Cornerbacks who could be options in the second round include FSU’s Xavier Rhodes, Rutgers’ Logan Ryan and Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer. North Carolina State’s David Amerson had 13 interceptions in 2011 and five in 2012 but was burned numerous times, by UM and others, so some scouts are leary.

 ### The best talent on the board at No. 12 might be a front-seven defender. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones (12.5 sacks), Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o (103 tackles, seven interceptions), Utah tackle Star Lotulelei (five sacks, stout run stufer), and Texas A&M defensive Damontre Moore (12.5 sacks) are projected to be gone by No. 12. Kiper ranks them as his top four, in that order.

 FSU’s Bjoern Werner (12 sacks) would be very tempting if he's available at No. 12, but nobody would be surprised if he's taken earlier. LSU defensive ends – Barkevious Mingo also would in the discussion if he's there at No. 12.

So would Oregon end Dion Jordan and BYU end Ezekiel Ansah, if Ansah rises in pre-draft workouts as expected. Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (98 tackles but just 1.5 sacks) is projected in that range, but that’s not a Miami need.

“Werner has a lot of Chris Long in him,” Kiper said. “Mingo has tremendous potential as a pass rusher. He wasn’t dominant [four sacks in 2012] but has the talent to be that in the NFL. [But] there’s a little boom or bust feel with his right now."

Another LSU defensive end, Sam Montgomery, is projected to go in the late teens or early 20s and "is a great college player [seven sacks in 2012]," Kiper said. "He might not be that in the NFL because he doesn’t have an exceptional skill set." Like Mingo, Montgomery hasn't announced if he's turning pro.

Ansah, an accomplished sprinter before trying football, "has Jason Pierre-Paul potential," Kiper said, calling him "a potentially dynamic 4-3 defensive end pass-rusher.”

### Among several first-round caliber defensive tackles, Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson would make more sense for Miami than Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins and North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams, whose skills are similar to Paul Soliai’s.

Richardson (75 tackles, 4.5 sacks) would be worth considering if Randy Starks leaves in free agent. He's “a quick penetrator who plays physical and piles up tackles,” Kiper said.

UCLA junior Anthony Barr (13 sacks), who would have projected for Miami’s range, decided last week not to turn pro. And another highly skilled Los Angeles-based pass rusher, USC’s Morgan Breslin (13 sacks) also might return to school, though he hasn't made a formal announcement.

Asked if he believes the team’s pass rushing is good enough, coach Joe Philbin said: “With the sack numbers (44; 10th in the league), you’d say it’s satisfactory, but we need to examine it a little more in detail.” The Dolphins privately were disappointed with the pass rush at times.

And McShay said it’s clear “Miami needs another pass rusher opposite Cam Wake [15 sacks], who turns 31 in January.”

McShay advocates Miami taking Jordan – who has 12.5 sacks in his past 20 games - because “he’s long (6-7, but lean at 243), athletic, has explosive initial power and the versatility to play multiple roles along the front seven.”

Texas end Alex Okafor (12.5 sacks) is another pass-rusher gaining steam as a late first-rounder – but likely not as high Miami’s pick.

The Dolphins could move Jared Odrick to tackle to replace Starks and draft a pass-rushing end such as Werner or Jordan, though defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said he’s not sure playing Odrick full-time at tackle is the best way to use him. Odrick had five sacks.

CHATTER

### ESPN’s Scouts Inc. ranks only five offensive players among the draft’s top 20 prospects, and all five are offensive linemen: Alabama guard Chance Warmack (3), Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel (4), Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan (13), North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper (14) and Western Michigan tackle Eric Fisher (20).

Lewan and perhaps fast-rising Fisher (rated Kiper’s 12th-best player overall) could be options for Miami at 12 if Jake Long leaves. Though the Dolphins could usually a more athletic right guard than John Jerry (preferably in the mid-rounds), fans would storm the Dolphins facility with pitchforks if they picked at guard at No. 12. It's very difficult to envision that happening. 

### Not only is the Colts’ second-round pick lower than Miami expected when it traded Vontae Davis, but Miami won’t get Indy’s conditional sixth-rounder because Davis didn’t meet playing time requirements due to injury. The Dolphins believe they can find another Davis in the draft. The Colts believe otherwise.

“Can I get Vontae in the draft? Hell no,” Colts GM Ryan Grigson told The Indianapolis Star. “He nearly went to the Pro Bowl in 2010.”

Did Miami keep the right corner? Consider: Sean Smith allowed fewer of the passes thrown against him to be completed than Davis (54.9 to 70.7) and fewer yards per catch (11.8 to 12.5).  And Smith played in every game, while Davis missed six.

But Davis had more interceptions (three to two) in 462 fewer snaps. And Smith allowed eight touchdowns, Davis two. Whereas Smith is a free agent, Davis is cheap in 2013, at $1.36 million.

### Asked last week if he misses taking so many shots per game, Dwyane Wade surprisingly admitted: “Yes, every day. Every day, I wish I could go back to that… [But in] 2010, I decided to give it up. I gave it up for… the good of winning. I find other ways to dominate.”

Though Wade’s 20.7 scoring average and 15.3 shot attempts per game are significantly down from his first season playing with LeBron James (25.5, 18.2), his 51.0 shooting percentage is a career high and “he’s more efficient now than he was as a primary threat,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.

### Ray Allen tells us he won’t decide whether to exercise his opt out clause until the summer, but he  has really liked it here. He admits coming off the bench, as a shooter, has been “an adjustment because your body is tighter. I run off the bench to trick my body into thinking I haven’t been sitting there.”

### What puzzles the Heat about its rebounding woes (23rd in rebound differential) is that mostly this same team (without Allen) finished sixth in rebounding differential last season. But Miami played two "bigs" together more in 2011-12 than this season.

### A UM official said interim athletic director Blake James has a decent chance to get the permanent job, but UM people want to see how effectively he raises money. Baseball coach Jim Morris, a skilled fund-raiser, tells us he would consider the A.D. job if president Donna Shalala asked him.

Michael Kelly, who was a finalist before Shawn Eichorst was hired, is no longer interested after being hired as COO of the new college football playoff system. Eichorst left for Nebraska in October.

### The Marlins have unsuccessfully tried to trade for several third-base prospects in recent months because they’re not convinced Zack Cox is the longterm answer. Cox, who will start 2013 in the minors, hit .253 with one homer and seven errors in 23 games at Double A after the Marlins acquired him from St. Louis.

### Agent Alex Esteban told the Marlins that multi-position Yuniesky Betancourt, who averaged 15 homers and 73 RBI as the Royals shortstop in 2010 and 2011, wants to play for the Marlins and is fine being their top reserve infielder, backing up at second, third and shortstop. But Miami – which showed interest before signing Placido Polanco – has been non-committal.

### Good luck to ex-Marlin Dontrelle Willis, only 30, on his comeback attempt; the Cubs on Saturday signed him to attend minor-league camp in spring training. He retired last summer after allowing six runs in eight innings with the Orioles' Triple A affiliate.

Saturday update: UM gets elite recruit; Heat makes roster move

Al Quadin Muhammad, rated the nation's fourth-best weakside defensive end by rivals.com, orally committed to Miami on Saturday during the U.S. Army All-American Game.

It's a huge get for UM, which needs to bolster its defensive line.

Muhammad, from Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey, is considered a potentially dynamic pass rusher who is also effective against the run. But the 6-4 prospect needs to bulk up from 230 pounds. He also could play outside linebacker.

Muhammad chose UM over Alabama and Notre Dame.

UM "showed a lot of support," Muhammad said on NBC. "They showed a lot of commitment."

Muhammad was impressed that UM coach Al Golden traveled back to New Jersey to visit him after Muhammad took a recruiting trip to UM. He had a sack in Saturday's game and also forced and recovered a fumble.

Rated 95th among all prospects by ESPN, Muhammad is UM's third top 100 commitment. The others: New Jersey-based quarterback Kevin Olsen (ranked 67th by ESPN) and Miami Northwestern cornerback Artie Burns (69th).

Virginia-based Alex Figueroa, an under the radar prospect unranked by rivals.com, is UM's only other oral commitment on the defensive line.

UM now has 12 oral commitments, in addition to junior college tight end Beau Sandland, who signed a letter of intent.

For more news on UM recruiting, please send our last post from late Friday night.

### The Heat waived seldom-used guard Terrel Harris two days before the NBA deadline to guarantee contracts for the entire season. The Heat now has the option of re-signing Harris to a maximum of two 10-day contracts.

The Heat did not immediately fill the vacant roster spot. Kenyon Martin and Chris Anderson are among remaining veteran free agents. Point guard Garrett Temple, who lost a training camp battle to Harris for the final roster spot, is now playing for the Washington Wizards.

Josh Harrellson's Heat contract also would become guaranteed if he's on the roster past Monday.

January 03, 2013

UM critic loses job; UM recruiting news; Heat; Media column: year in review

A quick Friday night update:

### UM has been pursuing several players who are announcing their college choice at one of three all-star games this weekend (two played on Friday, one on Saturday).

Fort Lauderdale University School defensive tackle Maquedius Bain, who would have helped the Canes at a position of need, orally committed to LSU on Friday, choosing the Tigers over UM, Oklahoma and Louisville. He said the legacy of LSU defensive linemen helped steer him toward the Tigers. Regrettably, he's too young to remember the legacy of great UM defensive linemen.

But UM remains alive for New Jersey-based Al Quadin Muhammad, ranked as the nation's fourth-best defensive end. Rivals.com recruiting guru Mike Farrell predicts Muhammed will pick Miami on Saturday ahead of Alabama, Notre Dame and Rutgers. [UPDATE: Muhammed committed to UM on Saturday. See our most recent post for details.]

Running back David Williams, who recently eliminated UM from consideration, picked South Carolina.

Also, South Plantation running back Alex Collins announced he will take his final two visits to Miami and Arkansas and select a school among six finalists later this month.

### Oakland Park Northeast's Stacy Coley, UM's top receiver target, is considering UM, UF, FSU, North Carolina and Mississippi but is waiting to see who the Hurricanes hire as receivers coach.

### Gionni Paul's departure from UM -- which was a mutual decision in the wake of Paul's two suspensions this past season --- leaves the Hurricanes with more questions at linebacker. Denzel Perryman and Eddie Johnson should start at two spots, presuming Johnson doesn't have any more off-field issues. If Perryman stays outside, Jimmy Gaines has a decent shot to win the middle linebacker job.

But Raphael Kirby will press for a starting job, with Tyrone Cornelius, Gabe Terry and Thurston Armbrister also competing for time. Paul started seven games this past season.

### Five rebounds for Chris Bosh in 38 minutes on Friday, and three for Udonis Haslem in 20? Not nearly good enough --- on a night when their counterparts, Yoakim Noah and Carlos Boozer had 12 boards apiece - and a big reason why the Bulls pummeled the Heat, 48-28, on the boards in Chicago's win.

"We're not going to get bigger overnight," Dwyane Wade said of the rebounding deficiency. "We've got to find a way to fix it or we're going to keep losing those games."

### Oddly, the Heat was outscored by 18 points with LeBron James on the court, even though James scored 30. That was the worst plus/minus on the Heat. Yet Miami outscored the Bulls by 10 with Bosh in the game. Go figure.

### The other big issue, besides rebounding: Miami shot 5 for 20 on threes. And the Big Three's supporting cast shot 10 for 28.

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FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

Dan Sileo, whose tirades against the University of Miami football program angered school officials as well as some fans, will need to wait a couple days after games next season before unleashing any on-air rants.

Sileo, a former UM defensive lineman, will keep his weekday WQAM talk show but is being removed from his role as the station’s postgame analyst on Canes games. So if the Canes anger him on Saturdays, he will need to wait until Mondays to voice his displeasure, unless he decides to call listeners by telephone after games, or stand on a street corner, ranting.

“It’s in our best interests he doesn’t do the postgame because he’s so passionate and emotional about the team,” WQAM program director Jorge Sedano said, acknowledging UM complained about him. “We’re better to find someone who can compartmentalize that emotion.”

Sedano hasn't chosen a replacement.

During the season, Sileo said, among other things, that Philip Dorsett should never be thrown another pass after he dropped two potential touchdowns against Notre Dame and that UM’s defense – pushed around against Kansas State – should “gouge [opponents] in the eyes, kick them in the balls.”

He implored UM players: “You play for UM! Not for fricking FIU.”

Though some fans appreciated Sileo’s candor and passion, several of his rants were clearly over the top, including one after the K-State game that made the rounds on YouTube. Sileo, so infuriated with UM’s play in that game, seemingly came close to cursing on air and expressed concern he might have an aneurysm.

### Ray Lewis – who’s retiring after the playoffs - will join ESPN as a studio analyst, with a role likely on Monday Night Countdown. Lewis wants to spend his Saturdays at UM games; his son, running back/defensive back, Ray Lewis III, will be a UM freshman next season.

2012 LOCAL MEDIA AWARDS

We offered up our national media awards last week. Here's the South Florida version, as we wrap up our look back at 2012:

### Most regrettable Tweet: Sileo, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, tweeting a picture of himself making a tackle against the Nittany Lions, with the words: “This is how you molest a Penn State player.”

### Biggest media stories: 1) The Dolphins and Marlins agreeing to be featured on national network reality shows. 2) Lincoln Financial acquiring 104.3-FM to simulcast most of 790 The Ticket’s programming. 3) WQAM-560 dumping Sid Rosenberg after a DUI arrest.  4) WQAM parting ways with Michael Irvin after he refused to move here from Dallas.

### Best play-by-play: Three-way tie on TV (Heat’s Eric Reid, Marlins’ Rich Waltz and Panthers’ Steve Goldstein). On radio, Joe Zagacki, who excels at quick and detailed dissemination of information on UM football.

### Best analysis: Tommy Hutton on Marlins TV, Joe Rose on Dolphins radio.

### Most tiresome: Mike Inglis’ incessant whining about the officiating and the Heat (when Miami is playing poorly) on 790 broadcasts.

### Best hires: 1) The Ticket adding outspoken, quick-witted Stan Van Gundy to join Dan Le Batard on Wednesdays; 2) WQAM hiring Jorge Sedano. Upgraded the station’s afternoon drive-time slot and made generally sensible decisions as program director. 3) WMEN-640 hiring Rosenberg. Yes, he talks entirely too much about himself, but his name value, quality guest list, and distinct style have made the station more competitive in mornings in Broward and Palm Beach.

4) The Ticket promoting Marc Hochman and Jonathan Zaslow to do mornings. A more sensible move than hiring out-of-market hosts who don’t know the teams or their audience as well as Hochman and Zaslow. 5) WQAM giving Channing Crowder a full-time gig, alongside Adam Kuperstein. Goldstein (now working mornings at WINZ-940) shouldn’t have been forced to choose between WQAM and doing a TV show with 790’s Jon Weiner. But Crowder – affable, engaging and whimsical – was ready for a larger role. 6) Dolphins adding candid former receiver O.J. McDuffie to their weekday show on WINZ.

### Most revealing use of social media: Giancarlo Stanton, after the Marlins' salary dumping deal with Toronto, tweeting: "Alright, I'm pissed off! Plain and simple." Who can blame him?

### Most regrettable comments by interview subjects: 1) UM defensive lineman Luther Robinson’s father calling Rose’s show to blast Al Golden. Hardly a way to help your son! 2) Then-Marlins pitcher Heath Bell telling Sileo, of Ozzie Guillen: “It’s hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face to face.”

### Most unusual moment: While sitting in the clubhouse in Atlanta, Marlins players – trying to embarrass Bell -- turned up the volume of Le Batard’s live interview of Guillen, who said: “I don’t respect [Bell] as a person.”

### Stand in the corner award: Joe Philbin privately chastising Dolphins beat writers for reporting how many first-team snaps Ryan Tannehill took the week after his October injury.

### Best media rants: Guillen, Guillen and more Guillen, including this on the day he quit Twitter: "Everybody following me can [expletive] his pants. Don't follow me any more. Get a real job, get a life. I don't make money out of that. So many nasty people that don't have nothing better to do. I'm not Kim Kardashian!"

### Most absurd press conference: Chad Johnson's profanity-laced August media briefing - a couple weeks before he was released - in which he spoke of smoking weed and pursuing a porn career.

### Worst mistakes in judgment: 1) Rosenberg’s April drunk-driving incident that left him curled up in the middle of the road and cost him his WQAM job. 2) Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria refusing to explain the team’s payroll slashing to reporters. Great way to further alienate your fan base, Jeffrey!

3) Troy Stradford giving WMEN reason to fire him by complaining, on air, about Rosenberg often continuing his show past 10 a.m., cutting into Stradford’s hours. Even though his anger was justified, Stradford should have shown more self-control because he had been warned not to whine about Sid.

### Most thorough TV sportscasts: Tie between NBC 6 (Joe Rose gives the most coverage to UM and high schools) and WSVN-7 (Steve Shapiro gets the most time for weeknight sports in the market and strikes a good balance between local and national news).

### Most viewer-friendly moves: 1) The Dolphins buying tickets to seven home games to ensure no local TV blackouts. 2) Sun Sports carrying Heat postgame shows after playoff games that aired on other networks. 3) Sun/FSN bolstering Heat and Marlins postgame studio shows.

### Worst programming moves: 1) CBS-4 dropping its Sunday night sports program during the middle of football season. 2) WPLG-10 inexplicably giving very little time to Dolphins highlights or reaction in the first segment of its Sunday night show.

 

Thursday quick hits: Heat, Dolphins, Canes, Gators

A half-dozen notes:

### As Shane Battier said after the latest harder-than-it-should-have-been Heat win: “We’re making it tough on ourselves.” Dwyane Wade suggested it’s unrealistic to expect the Heat to blow out all these (sub-.500) teams, but the Heat again had too many defensive lapses -- and another early rebounding deficit -- before getting it together late against Dallas.

“You figure out a way to win games. I don’t look at it as playing with fire,” LeBron James said.

As was the case Monday in Orlando, Erik Spoelstra again opted against using a natural point guard in overtime against Dallas. Monday, it was Mike Miller with Ray Allen and the Big Three in OT. Wednesday, it was Shane Battier (who hit two key late threes) with Allen and the Big Three. Both lineups delivered, and give Spoelstra credit for flexibility.

### Chris Bosh had only four boards against both Orlando and Dallas this week, and that’s not nearly good enough for a team that remains last in the league in rebounding. Spoelstra reminded Wade that he, too, needs to rebound, and he corralled 10 on Wednesday, along with another scintillating overtime steal and dunk.

### Before Wednesday’s upset Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, the Gators hadn’t allowed a TD pass of 15 plus yards all season. They allowed two on Wednesday.

Before Louisville scored 33 Wednesday (including on an interception return), the Gators had been one of only four teams not to allow 30 points in a game all season. (Notre Dame, Alabama, Boise State were the others.)

Afterward, Gators safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd announced they're turning pro, according to reports in New Orleans.

By the way, UF will play host to Toledo -- while UM plays host to FAU - as warm-up season-openers on Aug. 31, before the Canes and Gators meet Sept. 7 at Sun Life Stadium.

### Yesterday, we listed several high-school players ranked in the top five at their position who are considering UM. Add another to the list: Baton Rouge-based Tim Williams, rated by rivals.com as the nation’s third-best weakside defensive end. He’s visiting UM Jan. 18, and the Canes have as good – or better – of a chance as anyone.

### Kenny Kadji’s complete performance in a win against LaSalle on Wednesday (14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks) is exactly what UM needs with Reggie Johnson out six to eight weeks.

Don't underestimate this 76-59 UM win over a good LaSalle team. Since March 2011, every Division I team except LaSalle and Syracuse had lost at least one game by double figures, according to ESPN. That streak ended for LaSalle on Wednesday, when UM stormed back from 11 down.

UM closed non-conference play at 9-3 and starts ACC play Saturday at Georgia Tech. UM’s ACC schedule, incidentally, includes home-and-homes against Duke, North Carolina and FSU.

### Here’s how several Dolphins offensive players finished in the final Pro Football Focus ratings of every player:

Jake Long was 46th and Jonathan Martin 76th among 80 tackles who played at least 25 percent of their teams’ snaps…. Richie Incognito was 24th and John Jerry 49th among 81 guards…. Mike Pouncey was eighth among 36 centers…. Reggie Bush was 47th among 59 running backs, Anthony Fasano 24th among 62 tight ends…. Brian Hartline was 37th and Davone Bess 38th among 105 receivers…. Ryan Tannehill was rated higher than expected –13th among 36 quarterbacks.