Some Dolphins, Heat and Canes items:
Patriots coach Bill Belichick weighed in on the Dolphins today, in advance of Sunday’s game in New England. And as always, he made them sound like a perennial powerhouse.
But in between all the plaudits, he gave a few insightful answers, including this about where specifically Ryan Tannehill has improved:
“I’d say overall he looks like he’s much better at seeing the field and using all of his players in the passing game whereas maybe last year I think there were times where it seemed like he was more locked in to either one side or one guy. Now, I think his vision has definitely improved, his accuracy, particularly on the outside throws. They throw a lot of outs and comebacks and plays like that right on the sideline where the receiver is kind of just kind of getting his feet down as he’s going out of bounds. So, good timing, accuracy throws and I’ve seen a lot of that from Tannehill this season as well. I think he’s doing a lot of things better. Plus, we know he can run. He’s active and mobile in the pocket. He presents a lot of challenges for us.”
Belichick had a lot of nice things to say about everyone, including the backup tight ends!:
### On the coaches: “Coach Philbin has done a good job with the team. Kevin Coyle has done an excellent job with the defense.”
### On the offense: “They’re certainly an explosive group; they’ve added a lot of firepower. It’s really a good group."
### On the running backs: “Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have done a really good job running the ball, inside and outside. They have good vision, good quickness and good strength. They don’t go down easy with arm tackles and sometimes guys that don’t wrap up, they just bounce off them and keep going for extra yards. II’ve been impressed with the running of both of them.”
### On the tight ends: “Charles Clay has definitely been a big play player for them, as he has in the past. He’s had long plays, he’s very capable with the ball in his hands. I think he’s very competitive as a blocker too. He’s more than just a receiver back there; he does a good job of being aggressive and sticking it in there, competing in the blocking game. [Michael] Egnew and [Dion] Sims, they compete well as well, too.”
### On the struggling o-line: “Look, everybody has plays that they’d like to have back that aren’t perfect, but I think overall those guys have given them, that offensive line has given them a solid level of performance.” OK then.
### Defensively: “They have one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. The way they rush the quarterback, the way they play the run, and how stout and how physical they are is pretty impressive. I feel like we’ve played some really good defenses this year, and I would say Miami’s defense doesn’t take a backseat to anybody. They’re really good up front, they’re really athletic at linebacker, and they cover in the secondary.
“I haven’t played against Brent Grimes much, but from what I see on film he’s really a true cover corner, and Reshad Jones and [Chris] Clemons, I’ve played against them a bunch, and Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson are really talented and experienced players.... They don’t sit in the same thing all the time. You have to deal with a lot of different problems and a lot of good players.”
One thing about Belichick: He's one of the few coaches in the league who will volunteer an assessment about most players on the team's upcoming opponent.
Encouraging first game for Greg Oden on Wednesday in New Orleans: a dunk after he got good position in the post (his only shot), two rebounds, a blocked shot and another altered shot, in 3:59, all in the second quarter. He also had two fouls.
Oden was paired with Chris Bosh and the two of them forced a turnover on one sequence. He set good screens. He ran the court generally well for someone who hasn’t played in, well, four years. He clearly was a presence in the paint defensively, though he was stuck with the disadvantage of defending guards a couple of times. (Eric Gordon easily drove past him, though Gordon would do that with a lot of centers).
“I’m happy I’m able to walk off the court and play another day,” Oden told Sun Sports’ Jason Jackson afterward. “I’m happy my first shot was a dunk and I made it. I’ve got a long way to go… It’s been three long years.”
Before Oden entered late in the second quarter, Erik Spoelstra had stuck largely to his NBA Finals rotation: the starters, plus Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Chris Andersen. Also, new addition Michael Beasley played the final 13 seconds of the first quarter, and then entered late after the outcome had been decided.
Spoelstra was non-committal when asked if Beasley will be in the rotation, saying only: “He's been diligent with his work and his focus."
Beasley said his concern isn’t making the rotation but “to make it to tomorrow. I feel as nervous and anxious” as when camp started.
Beasley is the only Heat backup who can regularly create his own shot, which has been evident during preseason. He would be of value when James and Wade are both on the bench, but there aren’t a lot of times that happens.
But the Heat must be able to trust other elements of his game, especially his defense.
“I’m a whole lot better defensively – a lot more active,” he said.
For perspective on Spoelstra’s approach with his bench, consider these numbers from the Heat’s 27-game winning streak and the streak-busting loss to Chicago: Of the 16 games during that streak without extended garbage time, Spoelstra played only nine players in six of them.
He played 10 players in 8 of the other 10, but the 10th player (now-departed Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis or Joel Anthony) logged just 42 minutes, or 4.2 per game. He played 11 players in two of the 16 games, with the 11th player (Anthony) logging just over five minutes and playing only because of foul trouble to others.
Playing Oden and Beasley regularly would mean going 11 deep. If Wednesday night was a dress rehearsal for the regular season, which it seemed for the most part, then Beasley wouldn't be in the rotation. We'll see how it plays out.
Who will replace Phillip Dorsett as UM’s primary deep threat while he recovers from a knee injury the next four to six weeks? UM people expect Stacy Coley and Herb Waters to be targeted with deep balls. Rashawn Scott, who can beat people deep, will assume some of Dorsett’s snaps now that he’s back from his injury. Malcolm Lewis’ snaps also will increase.
### Even with 26 players already orally committed, UM expects to have the space to add a few more – despite the NCAA’s modest scholarship reductions. St. Thomas defensive tackle Anthony Moten and Palm Beach Dwyer receiver Johnnie Dixon are high on the priority list.
### Duke Johnson practiced this week and continues to respond well after being sidelined for much of the North Carolina game with a migraine.
####We hear Garrius Adams has been very impressive in UM basketball practice. The most competitive positions are point guard (freshman Emanuel LeComte might end up starting) and power forward (Donnavan Kirk trying to hold off Erik Swoope and James Kelly).