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6 p.m. update: Martin speaks; Investigation heads south; Ex-Canes assess D'Onofrio

The Friday buzz column is below. A few quick Friday notes, updated at 6 p.m.:

### Jonathan Martin gave a brief statement after meeting for 7 1/2 hours in New York today with Ted Wells, who was appointed to investigate the Martin/Richie Incognito soap opera.

Martin said he will meet with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and CEO Tom Garfinkel. He said he wants to resume his career but did not say if he wants to play for the Dolphins. He said little else newsworthy.

Here was Martin's full statement, delivered on a Manhattan street: "Today's meeting is consistent with my commitment to cooperate with the NFL's investigation into my experiences as a player on the Miami Dolphins. Although I went into great detail with Mr. Ted Wells and his team, I will not intend to discuss this matter publicly at this time. I do, however, look forward to speaking directly with Stephen Ross, Tom Garfinkel and the Dolphins' organization at the appropriate time. This is the right way to handle this matter. Beyond that, I look forward to working through the process and resuming my career in the National Football League."

### Meanwhile, the Dolphins' Tyson Clabo said he was told that Dolphins players likely will be questioned about the case next week in Miami. That means Wells will be visiting team headquarters. Dolphins players haven't been told when their exact meetings with Wells will be, or what time will be blocked off to deal with this mess, but it will be a week-long distraction, assuredly.

### Radaronline.com reported Thursday that what Jonathan Martin is receiving treatment for is post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. The web site quoted a source as saying Martin's condition "is directly related to the bullying he endured by Richie [Incognito] and other teammates."

### A teammate said Mike Pouncey missed practice because he is under the weather, but teammates expect him to play Sunday. The Dolphins listed Pouncey as questionable. Mike Wallace (hamstring) also was listed as questionable; he was limited in practice but caught passes on the sideline. Dimitri Patterson (groin) was the third Dolphin listed as questionable.

### With Will Yeatman out for the season, Dallas Thomas and guard Danny Watkins are potentially now the team's sixth and seventh offensive linemen, unless recent newcomer David Arkin, who's a guard, surpasses either.

Thomas said he has been playing both guard and tackle on the scout team, and Joe Philbin said he believes he can be a capable NFL tackle, despite his struggles at that spot in training camp. Philbin said seven offensive linemen will be active for the game.

### In 2011, the Dolphins' last year in a 3-4 defense, they ranked seventh against the run. This year, their second in a 4-3, they are 25th. So should thought be given to moving back to a 3-4? Philbin said no: "I like the scheme." (See below, under chatter, for more Fins notes in the Friday buzz column, if you haven't read the column earlier.)

### South Dade three-star receiver Tyre Brady today became UM's 29th oral commitment for 2014. He de-committed from Kentucky in September. He said he also had offers from UF and FSU, among others. UM is still firmly in the mix for four-star receiver Johnnie Dixon of Dwyer High in Palm Beach.

### Ray Allen (sick) and Udonis Haslem (back spasms) were ruled out for tonight's game against Dallas.

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FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Mark D’Onofrio has become the most scrutinized figure in the UM football program, not unlike other past coordinators here whose units frustrated fans with inconsistent play: from Patrick Nix, to Mark Whipple to Tim Walton, who now runs the St. Louis Rams’ 17th-ranked defense.

So the criticism is predictable. What’s noteworthy is the divergent opinions of D’Onofrio’s work offered by people who have played the game.

Not surprisingly, several UM players have been effusive in their praise of D’Onofrio this week, after his Hurricanes defense was pulverized for 1066 yards the past two games. “He calls great games,” cornerback Tracy Howard said. “Outside people don’t know football.”

Even after leaving the program, former UM cornerback Brandon McGee, now with the Rams, has strongly defended D’Onofrio, saying his system was sound and blaming defensive shortcomings on the players.

Meanwhile, three prominent former Canes defensive players weighed in on D’Onofrio this week, with opinions varying.

Defensively, UM is being “outcoached every week,” former Canes and NFL cornerback Duane Starks ranted on WQAM’s postgame show. “Out-coached! Out-coached! They’re predictable. There’s no disguising…. It’s embarrassing! I would get rid of some people.”

Starks said Virginia Tech “knew we were blitzing the weak-side linebacker. That’s why you saw wide open receivers. FSU did the same thing, put a guy on the right side and dragged him across the field where the blitzing linebacker can’t pick him up. When you have a receiver or running back making the catch with no one around him, that’s when you know you are being outcoached.

“They ran the same predictable things. If I’m the head coach, I’m saying, ‘Let’s switch this up. Let’s surprise somebody. We’re not defending the screen.’ We see it. You see it. Do something about it! I’m pissed! We have the talent. If you can’t coach good talent, there’s a problem.”

But that last point is where others would disagree. One standout former UM defensive player said the talent is simply not good enough, especially at linebacker. Remember, five of UM’s front-seven starters were three or two-star recruits. Safety Deon Bush clearly is diminished after offseason groin surgery.

UM hasn’t had a defensive All-American since Brandon Meriweather and Kelly Jennings in 2005.

“I like his scheme, but he doesn’t have the personnel to run it as well as he would like,” said the former Canes standout defensive player who asked that his name not be used because he’s close to the program.

“Linebacker is the biggest problem. Aside from Denzel Perryman, these guys are not [major BCS program] level. The linebackers have to cover the backs, and the middle is always open. It’s poor coverage. The safeties can’t tackle and they’re out of position. They can’t get away with playing a three-man line against good teams because the line isn’t that good.”

The player said he believes D’Onofrio is generally a good coach but has a few quibbles. He said UM should play more bump-and-run coverage because “that’s the way to re-route the receivers.” He said the defensive line is stunting too much. That’s a maneuver designed to confuse offenses but leaves the defense vulnerable.

He questioned why the defensive ends often switch sides between plays. “Why aren't we set [often enough] before plays? Virginia Tech ran a play on us and we were barely out of the huddle. That's embarrassing. 

"They should have put a spy on [Virginia Tech quarterback] Logan Thomas. And we don’t blitz enough. I don’t see delayed blitzes.”

He also said the defense “seems burned out and out of gas…. But you can’t blame the poor tackling on D’Onofrio or [Al] Golden.”

Meanwhile, former UM All-American safety Bennie Blades defended D’Onofrio and blames the players primarily.

“I think D’Onofrio does a decent job,” said Blades, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame who was previously defensively coordinator at Piper High in Broward. “Coach can’t fix the bad tackling. I know we like to blame everything on coaches, but it boils down to the players. What we’re missing is unblockable defensive linemen. We haven't had a Russell Maryland or Cortez Kennedy or Jerome Brown in a few years. I’m not overly impressed with the safety play.

“I want to see a lot more blitzing, but if you don’t have that corner who can play man to man on a consistent basis, you can’t do much blitzing. The players are not maximizing their ability, but you have to put that more on the players. The onus is on them.”

CHATTER

### According to a Dolphins player, the suspended Incognito has been reaching out to the offensive linemen this week –-- offering advice and encouragement before the Buccaneers game and a “keep your head up” message after the game --- but Martin has not. “Martin’s not in the group text,” one player said.

### When the NFLPA announced tonight that Incognito had filed a grievance against the Dolphins, the players union said he is pushing for an expedited hearing because "he wants to immediately resume playing for the team." That's not what the Dolphins have in mind, of course.

### NFL investigators met Thursday night with former Dolphins offensive lineman Lydon Murtha, according to WMEN-640's Orlando Alzugaray. Murtha, dropped by the team before the start of the 2012 regular season, wrote a piece for SI's Monday Morning Quarterback that was sympathetic toward Incognito.

### So much for this new and improved offense. Not only have the Dolphins plunged to 30th in total offense – ahead of only Jacksonville and Tampa Bay – but they’re averaging eight yards fewer per game than last season. Unacceptable.

### More signs of plunging interest in the Dolphins: The 16.4 local rating for Miami-Tampa Bay was very weak for a Monday night game (the game did a 22 rating in Tampa, which had a winless team entering the game). And the 13.3 for Bengals-Dolphins was the second-lowest Dolphins rating here in many years, behind only a 2011 Christmas Eve Day game.

What's more, Ticket of America’s Michael Lipman said he’s selling $400 club seats for $150 for the Carolina and San Diego games.

### In the six games started by Udonis Haslem, the Heat was outscored by a combined 65-9 at the start. But the Heat has opened decently in the past two games, when Shane Battier replaced the injured Haslem. So it’s no surprise that Erik Spoelstra wouldn’t commit to necessarily going back to Haslem when he’s healthy. Spoelstra indicated he hadn't decided. Haslem is day-to-day with back spasms.

### Heat players will wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys four times this season: the three remaining games against Brooklyn and Jan. 21 against Boston. Michael Beasley said he will use "Super Cool." Shane Battier will use "Battle" -- which he said is his real last name. The Heat says other nicknames will be announced in a week or so, after they're approved by the league.

### Encouraging to see two newcomers play well in UM's 84-69 win against Texas Southern tonight: former junior college forward James Kelly (17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals) and swingman Davon Reed (11 points in 27 minutes). Down to nine healthy and eligible scholarship players, UM needs all the bench scoring it can muster.

Comments

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Lt. Lois Einhorn

Shane Battier should have picked "Shane Battier"

greco9828

@ the in of the day bennie blades is spot on. Miami just has to tackle better and I do believe if the db's would play bump and run it would make the covering much better on the back end but the players have to have the mindset to do it...

Marco

Barry -

The UM defense has allowed ~450 yards per game vs BCS conference teams. Obviously this is very poor. I don't see much talent on the defense. I don't understand why D'Onofrio gets all the hate while Golden gets a free pass.

The buck stops with Golden. Golden has recruited most of these players. He gets the credit for the good ones. He should get the blame for the bad ones.

I don't understand fans.

Marco

Randy Shannons' Agent

Ohnofrio isnt good enough its obvious

"None so blind as those who refuse to see"

witz


If a coach's players aren't able to do what he asks of them, why does he keep asking them to do that? Isn't one of the criteria of successful coaching to know your players' limits and make the most of what they can do well?

ronnie nuggets

LB is a position of need. Alex Figueroa should win a job and I think a year of adding muscle to Jermaine Grace's frame will help us at OLB. Perryman is going to the NFL. Need a guy step in for him next year too. Can't pay for diapers and pediatrician's Co pays as a full time college student with no job so I wish Perryman the best and hope the Dolphins draft him.

jerry

DOnofrio is HORRIBLE the WORST we have had!!! It is absolutly humiliating to see our D play!! and I dont buy that BullS. that we dont have talent.. other teams that never never get a top 25 recruiting class play wayyy better D!!! against THE SAME teams we play!!! Bottom line FIRE HIS SORRY ASSS

'Cane Backer

Perryman also disappears on numerous plays, either taken out by lineman or out of position/taking bad angles. We're mediocre at best at linebacker. But then again, that's a result of average front-4 play. Need talent improvement.

Bob Griese 12

Didn't Tracy Howard get in the doghouse for playing too much "freelancing" last year? These guys are three years into their program now, the excuses need to start going away. It is not as if the offense is lighting up the scoreboard. The special teams are also not special at all.

Georgia Cane

Starks comment is correct. VT saw that weakness in the FSU along with a lot of UM fans. On the other hand, we should have played VT to their weakness and we didn't. When they rate players are brains factored in? Or it's just physical ability?

lloydfarmer

This program would be in shambles without Al Golden. He didn't take over Butch Davis' Hurricanes. He took over a program that had been diminished by two ineffective head coaches (where are they now?) for a decade, that was full of selfish, soft players who found a way to lose instead of a way to win, that was being threatened with the "Death Penalty" just after taking over.

I'm disappointed as hell that we lost to VT. Because we're the best team in the Coastal. But, without Golden this program would be devastated right now. We've lost one game we shouldn't have. It happens to a lot of teams.

Don't rail this dude because he lost a game. He is saving this program, and he will return it to Greatness.

RichmondHeightsCane

I concur with you Georgia Cane, Starks comment or analysis of Miami's defensive schemes are the main issue here. Based on some of these comments above, a coach is only as good as the talent. I totally disagree with this excuse, because some players develop late, and may have come from a high school system that did not reveal his potential.

Starks reported that the coaches need to make adjustments and stop being in the same base defensive. What I learned from Starks' statements: Miami coaching staff is not prepared for the opponent...offensively and defensively.

If you don't have a solid defensive front, than help them with another LB or Safety in the box, and allow Tracy Howard and Artie Burns to play more man. If the LBs are weak in pass coverage, use a dime package (more DBs) on 3rd and long. Basically, I am asking the DC to force the offense to attack your better players...who can make plays.

As a former QB, the most difficult part is making a quick decision under pressure all night. Only an elite QB will burn the defense...not average QBs. As for Morris, he has an elite arm, but relies on it too much. He is holding on too long to his primary receiver, and not checking down to the RBs. He's a senior, and a coach do not need to remind him.

OC, let's change the routes...crossing patterns, come backs, quick posts...use the receivers to screen for each other. Crawford is dangerous in space! If you are going to play with a FB...then use him!

If I was a player on this team and listened to the comments made by my coaches about depth and MEs, I would be sick to my stomach. Because, I am a South Florida product who have been taught the basics of football. My coaches never talk about what we did not have...but what we can do with what we have...compete!!!

playthefreshmen

D corch sucks..Starks is telling the truth, Blades and the "unnamed" players are just trying to give recruits encouraging words so they come to Miami. I am hopeful that D corch leaves after this season, if not 2014 will be another wasted season..

Gary

There are probably a variety of opinions regarding the reason UM has been so poor on defense. In all honesty it is probably split between depth, not enough talent & coaching that doesn't seem to be adaptable. The next 2 years will be key, recruiting wise, with the pending sanctions listed. The coaches will their bones there. Moten coming here is a huge get. He is local , a prime recruit, and UM has beaten out other top flight programs for him. one thing that worries me is that the staff has not replaced obviously low producing players on D. Highsmith , Chickillo, are really good kids but very slow and Highsmith lacks at least ball hawking instincts that safeties need. Still a Cane and hope things get better.

Sunny Dee

Miami's defense gave up more yards and more points against Va. Tech than the defenses of:

East Carolina

Marshall (which included 3 OTs)

WESTERN CAROLINA (one of Va. Tech's TDs was a pick six)

Duke

Boston College

Plus: GT, UNC, and Alabama.

Basically, Miami gave up more points and yards against VT than ANY team VT has played all year. Are you telling me Miami has less talent on defense than Western Carolina, East Carolina, Marshall, and Duke? I'm not saying Miami has great talent on defense but I know for a fact they have more talent on defense than Duke, Western Carolina, East Carolina, and Marshall.

The scheme D'Onofrio is running allows the opposing QB to complete nearly of of his passes because the WRs are wide open. There is way too much gap between the CBs and WRs. He's also asking his linebackers to cover the slot receiver and account for a run if they don't pass. The only times the Canes ever get a stop is if the opposing team turns the ball over, makes a bad throw on third down, or incurs drive killing penalties. If the opposing team does not make a mistake, they will have a 10 play 80 yard drive for a touchdown every time. Opposing teams have been moving the ball at will on Miami for three years and NOTHING has changed with D'O's defense. How many times have you seen an opposing QB have a career day v. Miami? The lack of talent is a big fat excuse. A good coach gets the most out of his players and puts them in a position to win. He may be a smart guy and he may understand defense, but if he is too stubborn to change his bend don't break philosophy the Canes will never win anything of significance.

The only time I have seen the Canes play aggressive on defense was against Florida, and we saw how that turned out. They attacked Florida and hit Driskell numerous times. Why can't they play this style every game? Without question they also need to play more bump and run.

No More Excuses

“Coach can’t fix the bad tackling"

Then what is practice for?

Aren't you supposed to practice tackling, blocking, kicking throwing receiving, punting?

Is practice like the "happy hour" where players gather around to sip cocktails and shoot the breeze?

If you are a bad tackler, you need more practice.

Marios

Tackles are missed, yes, but the first missed tackle is usually when the runner is already 10 yards downfield.

Any amateur viewer can see the TE looks at the weak side LB and if he blitzes he runs across for an easy 15 yard catch and run.
Starks is right on the money.

It's true we don't have good LBs, but if you play to their weaknesses(coverage), then it's on coaches for not using more dime and nickle packages on 3rd and long instead of staying in same defense.

I love Golden but D'Onofrio has to go.

rboud

Teams don't tackle nearly as much in practice these days because of the fear of injuries. The whole practice concept has changed. All things being equal as far as limited tackling practice, the teams with the best athletes tackle the best. Offenses have opened up to the point where players with the ball are in more open spaces more often. The really good athletes make the tackles in open space.

General Zod

It comes down to this: we are giving up first downs by the bushel (26 first downs, 39:39 TOP to VT; 25 first downs, 38:33 TOP to FSU). I agree we don't have Cortez Kennedy or Greg Mark running havoc in the offensive backfield or Jessie Amstead or Daryl Williams in the mid-field or secondary, but c'mon, our guys are so terrible that they are yield this many first downs. Our schemes should take into account our average defensive talent. The last 2 games on defense have been a total disaster.

Leo

So we have some former players defending Golden's best friend, huh? I think the average paying fan is far too smart to be thought for. This is D's THIRD year and one COULD argue that because Miami ranks 69th so far this year in total defense, they have improved over last years final ranking of 121st but this year isn't done yet. But what REAL UM fan would? My question to those that argue Miami does not have enough talent... what do you say about the talent on the 68 teams currently doing better then them... teams such as N Illinois, Army, Syracuse, Texas-S.A. (isn't that where Coker is?), LA Laffayette, Ohio (NOT Oh St), Minnesota, Akron, Texas, San Diego St, LA Tech, Penn St, BYU, Rice, Buffalo, USF, FAU, W Kentucky, Ga Tech, Central Florida, Texas Christian, Memphis, Iowa, Bowling Green, East Carolina and Cincinnati... show my any one of those rosters whose defense has more talent than UM's. Alas, the proof is in the pudding. The fact that we are even having the discussion means that something has to change. My argument is that we've been having the same discussion for 3 years now and there has been one common denominator in that time span!

landrum finsfan

Rumor has it that during Jonathan Martin's meeting with Mr.Wells, when he sat down at the table, all the attorneys got up and left at the same time!

LakeWorthCane

It's true that D'Onofrio hasn't had the best talent to work with over the past few years. But it's also true that none of the offenses the 'Canes have faced, save FSU's, have exactly been powerhouses.

I respect the facts: D'Onofrio knows a lot more about coaching and about the 'Canes' defense than I do, and former 'Canes who've complimented D'Onofrio know a lot more about football than I do.

I think the former 'Canes who noted how easily other teams have gouged the 'Canes' D with the short crossing route are spot on.

Here's the thing; if the 'Canes sacrifice pass coverage to blitz, then the blitz has to work. Blitzing 'Canes have to sack the opposing quarterbacks or prevent them from throwing completions. But to surrender pass coverage in favor of blitzing and come up with no sacks, while repeatedly getting burned for 10 and 20 yards, over and over again: anybody has to question that. Either blitz and sack the quarterback, or don't blitz and stop the pass, but don't do neither. Either stop the pass with four men in the box or stop the run with eight men in the box, but don't stop neither the pass nor the run. I mean, you have to stop something.

Well, it is what it is. If people who know a heck of a lot more about football than I do say D'Onofrio is doing a good job, I have to respect that and hope for the day when the 'Canes recruit enough talent and depth for D'Onofrio to work with.

But I think the U isn't really a strongly football-oriented school, or even a strongly sports-oriented school, anymore, and it's likely that a lot of the most talented players will head elsewhere . . . and we fans who've got used to seeing the 'Canes dominate will just have to live with that.

Steve

Sunny dee hit it right on. You saved me a lot of typing. Thanks!

gman

Jonathan Martin Speaks

off a cue card....Joe Philbin school of leadership

Lt. Lois Einhorn

LakeWorthCane, that's ridiculous, UM has never, ever, ever, been a strongly football-oriented school.

Right now, relative to the rest of college football, UM is spending more than they ever have and there is more support than there has ever been from the administration during UM's championship seasons. Tad Foote hated the football program, thought "we shouldn't focus on being #1".

Anyone looking for reasons that Miami isn't winning championships anymore should look first to the fact we don't have a monopoly on south Florida talent, second to the fact we have tougher week-in, week-out talent from the ACC, with games we could potentially lose rather than true cupcakes, and to the decade of terrible coaching.

The school's "orientation" should be fifty spots down from those top three reasons.

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