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Dolphins, Canes, Heat tidbits: Coaching, bowl projections, LeBron

A few Tuesday quick hits:

### Whereas Joe Philbin never admits mistakes publicly, his coordinators sometimes second-guess their decisions in their weekly news conferences, and it’s refreshing.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle not only blamed himself for the loose coverage that led to a 29-yard catch to set up Carolina’s field goal to end the first half, but he also admitted he guessed wrong on the Panthers’ go-ahead touchdown: a one-yard pass to Greg Olsen in the final minute.

“They’ve run a certain type of play on the goal-line consistently,” Coyle said. “They weren’t a passing team in the red zone at all, particularly not down on the goal-line. With the fact there was 40 some-odd seconds left and it was first-and-goal inside the one (yard line), I felt strongly they were going to run the ball. We took a shot trying to make a play down there on the goal-line, and we weren’t in a good position to cover the tight end.”

### With 12 drops, Mike Wallace now leads the league in that category… Though ProFootballFocus ranks Philip Wheeler 33rd of 34 outside linebackers in a 4-3, his play has improved recently. Sunday “was one of his better games,” Coyle said. “He was very, very active. I think he ended up with about 12 total tackles in the game by our count. He had his hands on three balls.”... Coyle said Nolan Carroll played his best game in Coyle's tenure here.

### Sigh: Among tackles in PFF’s rankings, St. Louis Ram and ex-Dolphin Jake Long has risen to fourth among 79, compared with 50th for Bryant McKinnie and 69th for Tyson Clabo…. Tannehill’s third down numbers have dipped in recent weeks. His 71.9 passer rating on third downs is better than only five other starters: EJ Manuel, Terrelle Pryor, Christian Ponder, Tony Romo and Joe Flacco…. The Dolphins have dropped to 26th in run defense and 19th in overall defense. Not good.

### If Daniel Thomas doesn't play again this season -- he's out indefinitely with a severe ankle sprain --- then this would mark the third time in his three-year career that he produced an underwhelming yards-per-carry average. He averaged 3.5 as a rookie, 3.6 last season and 3.6 again this season. This year, that average is tied for 35th among 51 running backs who have played at least a quarter of his team's snaps. But Miami hopes he can return late in the season.

### The Dolphins have two roster spots to fill after releasing defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui and safety DJ Campbell on Monday night.

### Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said Monday that he will have “plenty to say” about the BullyGate investigation when it’s over.

### Please see the last post for my analysis of the Dolphins fourth-quarter offensive inadequacies the past two months. 

### If UM beats Pittsburgh on Friday, here’s what Canes fans need to root for Saturday, and when: for North Carolina to upset Duke at noon on ESPN2, and for Virginia to upset Virginia Tech at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU. If all three happen, UM would go to the ACC championship. (Yes, it’s unlikely.)

Duke is a 5 ½ point favorite, Virginia Tech a 13-point favorite. Miami is a three-point favorite against Pitt.

### ESPN’s bowl projections have UM playing one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in a bowl game: either vs. Texas A&M in the Chick fil-A Bowl New Year’s Eve in Atlanta, or against Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28 in Orlando.

### ESPN projects Ohio State or Wisconsin to play Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

### UM defensive end David Gilbert, an honorable mention All-Big 10 selection as a starter on a very good Wisconsin team last season, admitted Monday that he was so upset about his limited playing time at Miami earlier this season that he asked himself, “Why did I even come here?”

But he said he then learned to “check my ego” and realized this “is Shayon Green’s team.” (First time I ever heard anyone refer to the Hurricanes as "Shayon Green's team.")

### Yet another area where LeBron James has improved: He’s shooting 18 for 37 on three-pointers (48.6 percent) and has increased his percentage every year as a member of the Heat, from 33.0 to 36.2 to 40.6 to 48.6.

### Even in agreeing to pay Kobe Bryant $24 million next season, the Lakers still will have room to add a max player in free agency next summer. But a close associate of LeBron James said he absolutely could not envision him signing there. 

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