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Dolphins' o-line playing better without Martin, Incognito; Fins, Canes, Heat, Marlins chatter

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

After all the tumult and turmoil caused by the departures of Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, the question must be asked: Is the Dolphins’ offensive line actually better without them?

It wouldn’t seem that way logically, especially with Incognito. But in two measurable areas –-- sacks and rushing average –-- this unit has played better since those two departed. Some of this is coincidence, but the tackle play has improved without Martin. And though Incognito graded out well in run-blocking, his replacements have allowed fewer sacks.

Adding left tackle Bryant McKinnie a week before Martin left was a huge variable that paid dividends, but keep in mind Miami allowed six sacks (against New England) in the one game that McKinnie, Martin and Incognito played together. But the Dolphins have been better off playing Tyson Clabo than Martin at right tackle, which likely wouldn’t have happened if Martin hadn’t fled the building.

Just look at the numbers since the two BullyGate protagonists left:

###  In the first seven games, with Martin and Incognito starting, the Dolphins allowed 32 sacks (4.6 per game) and ran for 4.1 yards per carry.

Conversely, in the past six games (Martin missed all six and Incognito missed all but the first quarter and a half of the Bengals game), the Dolphins allowed 16 sacks, including one against Incognito (that’s 2.7 per game) and ran for 4.4 yards per carry.

### Then there’s this: Martin allowed seven sacks in 458 snaps, with only one of his starts at right tackle. By contrast, Pro Football Focus says McKinnie has allowed four sacks in 479 snaps since coming to the Dolphins from Baltimore, though he said he was responsible for only two or three.

What’s more, Clabo – who gave up eight sacks in his first six games – has allowed three in his last six.

### And consider this: At the time of his injury and suspension three days later, Incognito had permitted six sacks (most among NFL guards) in 472 snaps. In most of six games since, the Dolphins left guards have allowed only two: one by Nate Garner and one by Sam Brenner in his 187 snaps.

So why is this group better? “Bryant has helped a lot –-- his experience, leadership,” right guard John Jerry said. “Mike Pouncey [who missed two of the past six games] sets the table for all of us. We’re jelling.”

Said McKinnie: “I’ve played OK. I could be better. I like playing next to Brenner. He has done a great job.”

Brenner, who chose the Dolphins among a dozen or so suitors after going undrafted out of Utah, was promoted to the 53-man roster last month only after Will Yeatman’s knee injury in practice.

“He plays his heart out,” Jerry said. “One thing about the guy is his work ethic. He gets here at 6 in the morning, one of the first here.”

The hope is Brenner can become another Evan Mathis, who was cut by then Dolphins executive Bill Parcells in 2008 and now is PFF.com’s No. 1 ranked guard in the NFL, as a member of the Eagles. Even owner Stephen Ross complimented Brenner after a recent game: “Pretty cool to be noticed by that guy,” he said.

No lineman would ever suggest publicly that the Dolphins are better without Incognito (especially) or Martin, but guard Danny Watkins said emotionally, their loss “made us stronger. We rallied around it.”

Incognito, whose status must be resolved by Monday, is not expected back.

For Martin to even consider returning next season would take an "incredible olive branch,” an associate said. But even with that, he still prefers to be traded next year and it's very likely he will be playing elsewhere in 2014.

ESPN reported tonight that Ted Wells canceled follow-up interviews with Incognito and several Dolphins offensive linemen and likely won't release his report before the end of the year. Also, ESPN said Martin is refusing to turn over some of his text messages. 

CHATTER

### McKinnie said he would love to finish his career year, but the sides tore up the last year of his contract (2014) when the trade with Baltimore was made, and the Dolphins haven’t told him if they want him back.

ESPN’s Todd McShay ranks four offensive tackles among the top 32 prospects, with two in the mid-to-late first-round range: Alabama junior Cyrus Kouandjio and Virginia’s Morgan Moses.

### The NFL's vice president of officiating told CBS that Antonio Brown's game-ending play Sunday would have been a touchdown if he hadn't stepped out of bounds because the NFL was not able to say definitively whether Ben Roethlisberger threw an illegal forward lateral on the play. Because no penalty was called on Roethlisberger's lateral after he threw it, the play would not have been overturned. (The Dolphins claim he threw an illegal forward pass.)

### Though nobody on this team apparently challenged Incognito about using the N-word, a player said a former Dolphins defensive player reacted very angrily when Incognito called him the N-word during a practice a couple years ago and confronted him in the locker-room. Several Dolphins players said they told investigator Ted Wells they don't like the N-word being used; others weren't bothered by it.

### Though UM would never admit it, there was disappointment internally –-- including on the Hurricanes’ football staff -- about being passed over by the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, which is more prestigious than the Russell Athletic Bowl. Chick-Fil-A Bowl officials told UM that their bowl committee believes they should take the best team and that Duke beat UM.

The Raleigh News & Observer said ACC commissioner John Swofford pressured Chick-Fil-A to take Duke, but UM has no evidence of that and consequently isn’t upset with Swofford.

### The ACC has discussed having UM play in Louisville in their Labor Day weekend opener next year, but that’s undecided. In Weeks 2 through 4, UM plays FAU, Florida A&M and at Nebraska.

### Palm Beach Dwyer four-star receiver Johnnie Dixon –-- considering UM, Alabama and Ohio State –-- delayed his decision for at least a few days… Palm Beach Cardinal Newman four-star receiver Travis Rudolph, a former UM commitment, said he’s considering UM again....

Miami Central High four-star running back Dalvin Cook reportedly liked his UM visit, but some consider FSU still the favorite. This is too close to call, with UF also still in the picture... Per Canesport.com, Fork Union Military tight end Ryheem Lockley --- who was supposed to be part of UM's 2013 class --- still needs to boost his SAT score by 20 points to qualify for UM.

### According to a close associate, the Marlins expressed interest in free agent Delmon Young, a former No. 1 overall pick who hit .260 with 11 homers and 38 RBI for Philadelphia and Tampa last season. An outfielder, Young has been taking grounders at first. A Garrett Jones/Young platoon at first would be very solid.... More than a half dozen teams have inquired about Logan Morrison, who will be traded.... CBS said the Marlins are one of eight teams that have inquired about free agent third baseman Eric Chavez.

### A few Heat-Pacers postscripts: Difficult to remember many games in the past two-plus years where LeBron James struggled so mightily down the stretch. He shot 2 for 8 in the second half, including an airball, plus missed two free throws and had a costly late turnover, one of his five on the night. "I had some really good looks that didn't go down," he said....

Ray Allen's struggles in Indiana are troubling. His meaningless three before the buzzer were his only points on a 1-for-5 shooting night; last year, he went scoreless in two regular-season games at Indiana on 0-for-9 shooting. Including playoffs, Allen is 9 for 41 in Indiana as a member of the Heat. And he shot just 31 percent in the Eastern Conference Finals...

Chris Bosh (12 points, 3 boards) was outplayed by Roy Hibbert (24, 5), and Erik Spoelstra might have been wise to use more of the Bosh/Birdman tandem on a night Miami was outrebounded by 10. (LeBron had 14 boards). "He takes a lot of teams out of their games," James said of Hibbert. The Heat shot 3 for 12  on shots contested by Hibbert... Perhaps Greg Oden makes a difference here eventually. "We hope so," James said. Hibbert said after the game he's looking forward to playing against Oden.

The Heat was outscored by 18 with Wade on the floor, by far the worst of any Miami player. Wade and James each closed with 17 points. "Overall, I loved our effort," Wade said....Miami shot 4 for 21 on threes, which was a major factor.... Indiana (19-3) took a three-game lead in the battle for the No. 1 seed in the East, which the Pacers have made a priority.

### Heat owner Micky Arison spares no expense with his team. Members of the team’s traveling party who aren’t players or coaches received championship rings valued at approximately $16,000 per ring. The player and coach rings were much pricier –-- believed to be around $30,000.  

### A quick heads up on a worthy event: It's from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday at Bokampers in Miramar and will raise money to help good guy/recruiting guru Larry Blustein in his battle with kidney disease. 

The cost is $20 for adults and includes dinner, soft drinks and dessert, with a portion donated to Larry's foundation.

Comments

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Randy Shannons Agent

Arison can do things like that since he doesn't pay rent

Eddie

Even if they draft left tackle in first round, they should resign mckinnie. ireland's track record drafting linemen isnt very good.

Dashi

Jake Long and Mike Pouncey.

Not bad first round picks if you ask me, for picking linemen.

Just say what you really want to say FIRE IRELAND!! At least that makes more sense then trying to explain why he sucks and why he should get fired.

But I know you expect the 6th rounder Ireland drafted to be a pro bowler.

More than half the players that Ireland has drafted are still playing in the NFL. That is more than you can say about most GMs.

johnny

the hurricanes are complaining because they didn't get the chik fil a bowl, THEY TOOK DUKE BECAUSE DUKE BEAT YOU!!!!!!!!

cool and the gang

Not too concerned with the Heat s loss last night.I kind of thought they d lose but hoped they d be competitive and see where they need to improve.They did both last night.Heat ran out of gas and lost the second half basically.4 of 21 in 3 point range is awful.Normally they hit much more and could have been a different game if some shots fell.Heat a long way from Playoff caliber but they are remaining generally healthy and rested.Canes staff have no reason to be unhappy with their Bowl game.THEY didn t beat Duke and Duke deserved it.Results count THIS year not on past accomplishments.Hopefully Golden NOW understands that little scenario better today.

Roger

Jake Long was a #1 overall pick and 5 years later he's not with the team.

Mike Pouncey was the highest drafted center ever and he was taken instead of a quarterback, Ireland wasted literally the entire 2011 season with that move, they need not have played and we season ticket holders need not have watched.

Rest of that list is Shawn Murphy, Donald Thomas, Andrew Gardner, John Jerry, Jonathan Martin, and Dallas Thomas.

Gary

Unfortunately Bosh is what he is. A good mid range jump shooter splashed some 3's, but a poor rebounder and almost non existent post game! Greg Oden, may never take the court. As great as LeBron is he can not make up for an aging Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, an aching Dwayne Wade and no big man post game. And why did we keep Joel Anthony and jettison Mike Miller? Taking lessons from the Marlins, Pat?

AnonymouCane

Blustein as good as it gets! will be there tonight!

Dom

Gary, its 1 game in December........Relax. Bosh is not a center, but hes playing C..........its 21 games or 22 games. they play 82. Even ESPN announcer last night on their .com recap was INDY NOW HAS 3 GAME LEAD OVER HEAT.

come on people.........we just had the end of a long road trip, and indy was home and coming off an embarrasing loss.............move on man, its December

Captcrunch

I don't think the Phins should cut Richie, if nothing else keep him in roster in case somebody goes down and if ,no when the Phins get into the playoffs Richie may come in handy on specific plays. There is always the possibility of a trade for a future third or fourth rounder.

MiaDolFan

"More than half the players that Ireland has drafted are still playing in the NFL."...but just not for the Dolphins. Duuuuuuuh

Marios

Don't agree with keeping Incognito. Seems like the team is much more focused and acting more maturely without his pranks, specially Pouncey, who apparently was his sidekick.

lloydfarmer

Hey,
Duke deserves the Chickifila. They beat us, pretty soundly. They beat VT. They had a better season and they were the better team.

If the coaches or anybody else wanted the Chickfila, they could have taken care of that on the field.

I love this team and coach Al; but I don't want to hear any whining sh-t we they beat us fair and square.

RichmondHeightsCane

Cook fits better in FSU offense, and Dixon would be a great addition to the U. Ohio State, Alabama, and FSU are going to be their choices, because of opportunity to play right away. By getting one of the three, the U wins big time.

Mr. Positive

FIRELAND

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Why would McKinnie agree to void the last year of his contract?

Barry Jackson

Lois: Because his contract wasn't guaranteed next year anyway, and he welcomed coming to Miami in a trade. It really makes no big difference, since Miami could have cut him after this year. (But now there's no cap hit for doing that.)

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Makes sense but I thought the point of the cap hit is to encourage teams to honor non-guranteed contracts.

If Miami wasn't going to make the trade without McKinnie voiding the second year I guess it works out best for everyone.

202canefan

To the folks saying Duke was the right choice, the bowls do not select based on record or head to head. If that's the case. We would have been playing WV instead of FSU(Bobby's last game)

Ulysses

Everyone knows that...

202canefan

Maybe not if folks keep harping on Duke beating us.. I do not have any issues w/Duke going ahead of us though.

Ulysses

If you'll read above, that was the reason Chik-fil-A bowl officials gave for taking Duke over Miami.

The comments are just agreeing with the official reasoning.

rboud

The Tobacco Road ACC really likes to take care of UM. They send UM to Pittsburgh in late November to play Pitt in their first ACC season. Now UM will play Louisville in its first year in the League. I notice that Va. Tech won't be playing Louisville anytime soon. I'm sure all of this is just a coincidence.

Rat Bastidd

I agree with you 100% rboud. Plus the ACC officials have pretty much been giving us the shaft since we got into this conference. Teams frequently hold our defensive players at will knowing they'll get away with it. Virginia Tech is probably the biggest benefactor of this usually. This year after the ncaa announced the penalties/sanctions against us. Swofford, thinking they(ncaa) were too lenient on us doled out his own penalties/sanctions by telling his officials to "job" us. What a ba&%$@#*(rhymes with mastered)

Cual?

That's loser talk, Miami got it's ass kicked by DUKE and you're crying over officials?

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