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1 posts from November 1, 2013

November 01, 2013

Dolphins-Bengals reaction, postscripts; Scouts, evaluators examine UM-FSU matchup

A dozen Dolphins postscripts from their dramatic Thursday night win:

### It's highly troubling that Miami has been outscored 67-29 after halftime of the past four games. But give them credit for climbing back to .500 and avoiding becoming the first Dolphins team to lose two straight after leading by at least 14 points.

"I think tonight was our first true team win," Mike Wallace said. "Everyone played great in all three phases."

### Time to tilt the carries even more heavily in Lamar Miller's favor, at least until he proves he can't handle it. Yes, Miller had the fumble, but he also ran for 105 yards on 16 attempts (a 6.6 average). Thomas ran 12 times for 38 yards (3.2).

Joe Philbin, on Miller: "I thought he ran the ball hard. I thought he had good vision and balance and obviously we’d like for him to hold onto the ball better.”

### Tannehill closed with a 92.6 rating, completing 20 of 28 passes for 208 yards, with no turnovers. He entered having completed only 7 of 26 passes thrown at least 20 yards, but he was 1 for 1 on such attempts Thursday, with another drawing the key OT pass interference call.

“I expected to win the whole game," he said. "I told that to the team when we called it up, right before the stretch.  This is a huge win for us.  Losing four straight, coming back and getting a team win.  The defense played great, made some huge plays, getting turnovers.  The offense didn’t score a lot of points, but we moved the ball when we had to there at the end of regulation, to get a field goal.  We kind of righted the ship, we’re back on track a little bit, it gives us a fresh start midway through the season."

### Tannehill, on the deep ball to Wallace that drew a pass interference: "We had several of them called and they kept giving us coverage’s that weren’t friendly for it, so we were getting into runs.  They had good run looks, not good for the deep ball.  We called them pretty much the whole game and they just kept taking it away.  We were running the ball effectively, if we have a good look to run the ball, lets run it.”

Wallace's take? “I’m a little bit upset, because I really wanted to score a touchdown. I’ve never scored in overtime before. It was a big play for our team. We flipped the field with that play, so without that play, we might not have been able to score that safety." Wallace closed with six catches for 82 yards.

### Though Marvin Lewis disputed it, the safety call in overtime was a good one. The entire ball would have had to be outside the end zone for it not be a safety. It was not.

### Great to see Cameron Wake finally back to himself after battling a knee injury. "I'm a pretty stubborn type of guy where I don't care who it is on the field - you can't beat me every play," Wake said after finishing with three sacks, including the game-winning safety.

Olivier Vernon said Wake told teammates last week that "he couldn't stand being on the sideline" and that "it was tearing him apart."

### This was only the third NFL game that ended with an overtime safety, and the second that ended with a safety resulting from a sack (Adewale Ogunleye had the other for the Bears in 2004).

### The Dolphins' defense was on the field for 93 snaps, and Dannell Ellerbe and Reshad Jones were the only two that played every one of them. Ellerbe had the third pick of his career -- his first since last year's AFC Championship.... Wake played 69 snaps, Jared Odrick 65, Vernon 71, Randy Starks 50 and Paul Soliai 46. But Dion Jordan again logged only 24 on defense; he rushed on 17 of them but didn't have a quarterback hurry, hit or sack. Derrick Shelby (25 snaps) again played more than Jordan.

### When Dimitri Patterson was out, the Dolphins opted for RJ Stanford (who played 21 snaps) instead of Jamar Taylor (who played one).... Grimes had several critical plays, none more his 94-yard interception return for a touchdown. But besides the missed tackles, he also allowed 8 of 14 passes thrown against him to be caught, for 111 yards.

### The Dolphins missed an absurd 23 tackles, including six by Grimes (as many as he missed all of 2010, according to PFF.com), four by Wheeler and three by Jones... Vernon didn't have a sack but had five hurries and graded out very well.... Besides Wake's three sacks, Soliai had one and Odrick and Shelby shared another.

### Offensively, Richie Incognito played only 14 of Miami's 63 snaps before leaving with a neck stinger. Nate Garner played 69. PFF charged sacks against Incognito (his fifth permitted) and Garner. Mike Pouncey graded out very well, and Philbin praised Garner's work. Will Yeatman was used for 12 plays when Miami went to an unbalanced line.

### With Dion Sims out, Michael Egnew got more snaps than usual (30) in a tight end/psuedo fullback role.... Rishard Matthews, the new No. 3 receiver after Brandon Gibson's injury, played 35 snaps, and Marcus Thigpen three.



We all know there’s a talent cap between Miami and Florida State. But how big is it? We polled NFL scouts and other evaluators. Some feedback:   

### ESPN NFL Draft and college football analyst Todd McShay: “Florida State has consistently recruited more players of quality talent level. They’re noticeably deeper and little faster along the defensive front seven than Miami.

“This is the best receiver corps Florida State has had going back to the Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles days, and they have a 6-5 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, who can go up and adjust to the ball. You’re starting to see some of the depth issues at receiver for Miami. The offensive struggles from Miami, they’re just so inconsistent.

“[But] if Stephen Morris plays as well as he can consistently over four quarters, it’s not as big an edge at quarterback as everyone seems to think. Problem is, with [Phillip Dorsett] out and lack of protection at times and Morris’ own inconsistency, you’re not sure what you’re getting from him. He’s going to have to play the game of his life for Miami to have a chance to pull off the upset.”

McShay said Morris still “has a chance to be a Day two pick [second or third round] but he needs to perform better down the stretch.”

### One NFL scout who has studied both teams said the talent difference between the two is “wide. The size up front weighs in FSU’s favor. Al Golden can balance the scale a bit because of Miami’s toughness and discipline."

(FSU has slightly bigger offensive and defensive lines than Miami's, and FSU's o-line outweighs Miami's d-line by 27 pounds, on average.)

“Here’s how I would put it: Miami has good talent, but it’s not special. Alabama, LSU, Florida State have really good talent and depth. Those schools can tilt the field with size and speed. FSU doesn’t have quite the talent of Alabama, but their quarterback is incredibly special. Jameis Winston will be the No. 1 overall pick when he comes out [2015 draft is the earliest permitted].

“I am disappointed in Stephen Morris. His accuracy was awful against North Carolina. He had streaks like this last year, and I was hoping he would correct it. It looks like he’s launching it rather than throwing it. He’s releasing the ball way too high. That’s why it’s sailing on him.... He is a good deep ball thrower.” (An ankle injury affected his mechanics.)

### A second NFL scout: “Winston has a better feel for the game, better presence in the pocket and better overall precision than Morris. Miami can play with them, but Florida State has better talent at safety and the defensive line,” among other spots.

Even so, “Shayon Green has impressed me; he has really improved. Anthony Chickillo has played well but he needs to stay in school; you can’t come to the NFL at 270 as a try-hard guy. He’s a tweener, an overachiever. He needs to be at 285, 290 and be a base power end.

“When Miami was dominant, it was on the defensive line and receiver. They’re good there, but not great. It’s a solid team but no great players aside from Duke Johnson.” 

### College football recruiting expert Larry Blustein: “The gap is mostly in FSU’s senior class, and mostly on defense. Speed in the secondary and overall linebacker depth is where FSU can get you.

Offensively, the teams are comparable at receiver and running back. FSU has Nick O’Leary at tight end, but UM has enough kids there that can play. Miami is a year away from standing toe to toe with them.”


### With FSU’s exceptional deep passing game, UM’s safety play will be critical Saturday. At times last week, UM used cornerback Ladarius Gunter in a pseudo-safety role alongside Rayshawn Jenkins, allowing UM to play three other natural corners (Tracy Howard, Antonio Crawford, Artie Burns). UM loves Burns’ talent and believes he's worthy of playing time as a freshman, despite his uneven play last week. Because it needs to help its cornerbacks in coverage, UM wants to generate a rush Saturday without blitzing a ton. That's why it's so important Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad generate a rush on the third down package.

### UM couldn't be happier with new offensive coordinator James Coley and a UM official really likes the offensive game plan he has put together Saturday. Don’t be surprised to see some subtle new wrinkles offensively (in pass protection and run blocking) and a good number of two tight end sets.

### Though some NFL people are still intoxicated by the skill set, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson remains lazy in his technique at times, according to a scout. He hasn’t been able to unseat starters Ereck Flowers or Brandon Linder, who have graded out very well.

### FSU and former Miami Central High running back Devonta Freeman told The Palm Beach Post he loves beating UM because it was a “slap in the face” that

Randy Shannon didn’t recruit him at UM. Al Golden recruited Freeman, but it was too late.

We hear Shannon didn’t believe the 5-9 Freeman, who is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, was big enough. There’s some disappointment inside UM that it hasn’t beaten out FSU for several top targets the past three years. But with the NCAA case resolved, “you’re not a sitting duck anymore,” Golden said.

UM has seven oral commitments in ESPN’s top 200 (led by No. 19 Central running back Joseph Yearby). FSU has eight –-- including two from South Florida: Northwestern receiver JoJo Robinson (No. 140) and Booker T. Washington’s Treon Harris (No. 180), who wants to play quarterback but was offered only as a slot receiver by UM.

ESPN's 2014 recruiting rankings have UM second and FSU third, behind No. 1 Alabama. 

### Linebacker Denzel Perryman exasperated UM coaches last year, with Golden going as far as to call him “lazy” at times. No longer; he’s a Butkus Award semifinalist and leads UM with 52 tackles.

“I agree I was lazy in my drops in practice,” Perryman said. “In games, here and there. Coach said last year, “This is a problem’ and there will be [consequences] if it continues.”

It hasn’t. Conversations with his father, with Golden and with former Canes linebackers Sean Spence and Jonathan Vilma – along with some serious self-evaluation – have made Perryman a more driven player who no longer coasts for a play or two after making a big stop. The junior insists he can become as good as Spence or Vilma “or better than both.”

### UM must hope for FSU overconfidence. A Florida State official (not a coach or player) predicted: “You look at Miami’s schedule. They’re not a top 10 team. We’ll put up 40 points.”   

Check back Friday for tidbits from the aftermath of the Dolphins' win.