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75 posts from October 2009

October 23, 2009

Reggie Bush a matchup problem for Miami

This blog has broken down all sorts of statistics and matchups this week as the Dolphins have been preparing for the Saints. Some of the statistics favor Miami as do some of the matchups.

But one matchup has me sort of worried -- well, not really worried because it's not actually my butt on the line, but it has me interested. Yeah, interested is more correct.

Reggie Bush vs. whomever is going to cover him.

We all know that Bush has been the scout team Wildcat triggerman for the Saints this week. We know he's no longer the team's top running back and so he's not the Saints big run threat.

But he still gets his touches and I don't see anyone on the Dolphins defense that matches up too well against him. On passing downs, you're not going to put a cornerback or nickel back on the dude because, well, he's a running back coming out of the backfield.

Most teams deal with RBs coming out of the backfield with an OLB or a safety or with an ILB or some sort of zone coverage featuring all of the above. The Dolphins defer a lot to the zone coverage option because their linebackers typically are very big and not built for running step-for-step with running backs, much less those that run 4.3s as Bush supposedly does.

The problem is teams that think they can play zone successfully against the Saints passing game must also think they can jump in a pool and not get wet. It's not a good idea. Drew Brees carves up zones like they were cake.

So what to do with Bush? Do you let Jason Taylor or Akin Ayodele or Joey Porter or Channing Crowder try to stay with him? Do you enlist free safety Gibril Wilson as his shadow?

I don't know. But the point is which of the above stated possibilities sounds good? I don't think any of them sound too good.

Bush has caught 14 passes so far this year for 121 yards. That's only an 8.6 yard per catch average, with his longest reception stretching 29 yards. So he's done only minimal damage so far.

The interest here is whether the Dolphins can keep that damage from Bush to a minimum. Tell me your thoughts after you watch the video.

The money down belongs to Miami's offense

Readers of this blog -- and there have been over 180,000 unique visitors so far this month -- know the NFL game consists of first down, second down, the money down, and fourth down.

Third down is where players make their big money because it is the most important down.

If the offense is converting on third down, it is staying on the field and depressing the heck out of the defense. If the defense is winning on third down after third down, it is shutting down the opposition's opportunities to score because the opposition is busy headed to their seats on the bench.

So I think we can all agree, third down is the money down.

Now, let's agree on this. The Dolphins are doing excellent work on third down so far this season.

I wrote earlier this week how the Dolphins are very good at converting third-and-2 or fewer yards. Very good is translated as they are converting 85 percent of the time in those situations and no one in the NFL is doing any better.

Well, today we expand on that a little bit.

Simply said, the Miami offense -- for all its flaws and shortcomings -- leads the NFL in third down conversion. The Dolphins have converted 42 of 75 third down plays into first downs this year. That's a 56 percent conversion rate and, it bears repeating, that is the NFL's best rate.

[Quick aside here: The Dolphins are tied for the NFL lead in fourth down conversion. They've converted 5 of 5 situations this season for a perfect 100 percent rate. Atlanta and the New York Jets also have a 100 percent success rate on fourth down.]

So despite a QB change, despite a receiver corps that begs upgrading, Miami's offense is doing work on third down. The defense?

Good. But not great.

Miami's defense is rated No. 12 in the NFL in stopping third down conversions. Miami's defenders have allowed 21 of 58 third down plays to convert into first downs or touchdowns. That's 36.2 percent.

And that's better than Pittsburgh (42.4) or Minnesota (41.4) or Indianapolis (45.6). But it pales compared to Denver (28.4) or, sure enough, New Orleans (26.8).

By the way, Miami's offense matching up against the Saints defense on third down should be interesting. Both are outstanding on the money down as you see above.

The Saints offense is rated No. 8 in third down efficiency so they seem to have a slight advantage satistically against Miami's defense. But the difference is not as vast as the teams' records suggest.

Anyway, the chart below breaks down Miami in every third down situation it has faced this year on offense and defense. You will note the Dolphins offense is not very good in third-and-nine or more (3 of 16). That speaks to Miami's need to improve its passing game.

The defense is giving up too much success on third-and-10 or more (7 of 16). That is not acceptable because the defense has a built-in advantage in long passing situations and Miami's defense isn't cashing in on that advantage so far this season.


  .........1.......2......3.....4.....5......6.....7.....8.....9....10+  TOT.    %

Miami 11-12..6-8..7-7..2-6..7-11..3-6..2-6..1-3..0-6..3-10..42-75  56.0%

Opps. 3-5.....2-4...3-6..0-4..1-4...1-4...2-4..2-7..0-4..7-16..21-58  36.2%

October 22, 2009

Dolphins will run and run well vs. New Orleans

We've talked ad nauseum the past week about ways the Dolphins can defeat the Saints, and one idea is to keep the ball away from quarterback Drew Brees and a New Orleans offense that is, statistically the best in the NFL.

So, of course, everyone is suggesting the Dolphins should just run the ball. It is, after all, what the Dolphins do best, as their No. 1 ranking confirms, and it's a great way to keep the ball for extended periods.

The critical thinker, however, might look at the Saints defense and counter they are No. 5 in the NFL against the run. So, on the surface, running the ball against the Saints seems as good a strategy as running into a concrete wall.

But since we're "In Depth," as the blog's title suggests we go deeper to find truth. And this is truth: The statistics that paint the Saints as a great run-stopping team exaggerate. Those statistics are based on total yards per game.

And it stands to reason if the Saints are taking huge leads on teams, those teams abandon the run and pass to make up the deficit.

"What we're looking at here is a skewed amount of statistics, though," Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning said Thursday. "We're not going to have very much running against New Orleans when they're ahead by 20 points in the middle of the second quarter. You're not seeing many teams running. They're not going to be running it, they're going to be throwing it, just like the Giants did. You're trying to get back so you don't have as much run."

So what do you do, Dan?

"You go back and look at what have people have done in the first quarter when it was tied," Henning said. "[What happened] when it was 7-7 or 0-0? Did they run the ball decently? You have to look at those stats and see if they stopped the run under those conditions?"

Ah, I love homework.

In looking at the stats under those conditions, you should be encouraged if you are a Dolphins fan, because the Saints have proven to be less than stellar. The statistics in those situation not only suggest the Dolphins will run the be well against New Orleans but, indeed, kick the ever lovin' snot out of the New Orleans defense while running the football.

First, throw out the Saints victory over Detroit. The Lions are not good and New Orleans took a 14-0 lead en route to a 45-27 victory. That game was practically over in the first quarter.

The next week the Saints yielded only 3.6 yards per carry against Philadelphia. But before the game got out of hand, up until the point the Eagles were trailing 17-10, Philadelphia rushed nine times for 59 yards. That's a a 6.5 yard per carry average while the game was still close and before Philly abandoned the run.

The next week the Saints faced a Buffalo team that stayed close for quite a while. And the Bills, a good but not great running team, ran the ball well during that time. Buffalo rushed 19 times for 79 yards, which works out to a 4.1 yard per rush average.

The following week the Jets averaged a very good 4.9 yards per carry.

Last week against, the Giants averaged 4.4 yards per rush during the game. But while the game was still in doubt, up to the point it was 27-10, the Giants had gained 62 rushing yards on 11 carries. That's a 5.6-yard per rush average.

But here is the reeealllly interesting thing that jumped out at me. The Saints have faced a Wildcat type of run play six times this year. They have yielded 49 yards on those plays. That's an 8.2-yard per play average yield against Wildcat plays

Of course, none of this will make Gibril Wilson tackle better nor will it sack Drew Brees.

But it suggests the Dolphins will absolutely, positively move the ball on the ground against the New Orleans defense. And they will be able to keep Brees on the sideline where he can do no damage.

Third-and-short belongs to the Miami Dolphins

This entire season you've heard coach Tony Sparano took about the need to get "chunk yardage," because the Dolphins want, indeed, need more big plays.

But you've not heard him complain too much about short yardage.


Because the Dolphins so far this year are the NFL's best short-yardage team and because Ronnie Brown is one of the NFL's most accomplished short-yardage backs.

According to stats compiled by the NFL, the Dolphins have the league's highest third-down conversion percentage when there are 2 or fewer yards to go for a first down. The Dolphins have faced 20 such situations this year and converted 17 times. (Getting out the trusty Salguero protractor and figuring out the sine and cosine here and, voila, that's an 85 percent conversion rate.)

The next best team in similar situations is Indianapolis, which has converted 80 percent of those third-and-short situations.





Miami Dolphins




Indianapolis Colts




Tampa Bay Buccaneers




Minnesota Vikings




Green Bay Packers




It stands to reason that the Dolphins would be good at picking up the tough yards on the money down if they have tough people up front. And they do. Miami's $156 million offensive line is returning good dividends on the team's investment in this category.

But Brown also has a lot to do with the success.

Going back to the 2000 season, Brown is the third-best third-and-two or fewer RB in the NFL. And he's in pretty impressive company, as the chart confirms.





Joseph Addai, Colts




Adrian Peterson, Vikings




Ronnie Brown, Dolphins




Larry Johnson, Chiefs




Brad Hoover, Panthers




So what does this all mean?

Basically these facts are important for an offense hoping to stay on the field and control the ball and the clock. You don't win the third-and-short situations, you don't win too many games unless you have a dynamic and explosive offense.

And these statistics are of particular importance this week because, with the Saints game Sunday, one way Miami can win the game is to shorten the game by keeping the football. If the Dolphins have the ball, the Saints don't.

If the Dolphins extend drives by successfully converting third-and-short, they keep the ball.

Great how that works, isn't it?

[THURSDAY PRACTICE UPDATE: As you might have noticed over there <--- on the twitter feed, I've tweeted that Matt Roth, fresh off his first day of practice Wednesday, is sitting out practice today. He was at practice but his left ankle was taped and he was limping. Guess there is now zero doubt about whether he plays Sunday or not.]

October 21, 2009

Wednesday afternoon news nuggets

Well, that didn't take long.

Waived on Tuesday by the Dolphins, offensive guard Shawn Murphy seems to be heading to Tampa Bay. The Bucs claimed Murphy off waivers and the only way they won't get him is if Washington, ahead of Tampa in line for waiver claims, also claimed Murphy.

It is not yet known if Washington also put in a waiver claim."Looks like he's going up the road and still not paying state taxes," quipped Derrick Fox, Murphy's agent. "Tampa should be a good fit for Shawn."

Fox said Murphy expects to be used as a guard and center in Tampa.

 [Update: Washington did not claim Murphy so he's a Buc and he'll be facing his old team Nov. 15].

Coach Tony Sparano said he "wasn't proud," that Miami had to let Murphy go.

“Let me start by saying this: anytime you bring a young player in like that, like Murph, an offensive lineman, and you draft him in the fourth round, you, the head coach, has a responsibility to try to develop this guy the best you can," Sparano said. "I’m not proud of the fact that we had to let Murph go.

"At the same time, we have to look at our football team and we kind of have to see what the best situation for the Miami Dolphins is right now, and I think that one of the best things that we could do was, seeing the progress that Murph had made, and knowing where he was right now, and seeing some of the other people that I had running around out there right now, and seeing where they were, led me to think that a tackle in the building would be a pretty good thing for us right now. And Lydon [Murtha] is a guy that we did in the draft, we spent good time with, and had really good background on.”


The first injury report of the week as Miami prepares for New Orleans offers good news for Miami.

The Dolphins have no one on their report. The entire team practiced Wednesday and did so full, meaning no one was limited to certain drills. Joey Porter (hamstring) and Channing Crowder (ankle), who missed time last week, are apparently 100 percent.

The Saints are another story.

Linebacker Scott Fujita (calf) did not practice. LB Jonathan Casillas (hip), CB Malcolm Jenkins (ankle), TE Jeremy Shockey (shoulder), CB Leigh Torrence (hamstring), and P Thomas Morstead (right ankle) were all limited in practice Wednesday.

Welcome to the 2009 season, Matt Roth

Barring an unexpected, unforeseen, and brand new suprise of some sort, Matt Roth will finally walk onto a Dolphins practice field Wednesday and do something he has not done since the team reported to training camp in August: Practice.

He said last week he feels 100 percent healthy.

He said Monday that Wednesday would be the day to welcome him back.

And so I wait with grand anticipation for this moment, because frankly, I have no clue how this creepy episode is going to reach a normal ending.

Yeah, I said creepy. That's how I describe it when a player tells you to expect a lot of sacks in 2009 in March, but by August is not able to pass the team's conditioning test and is placed on the non-football injury list.

That's what happened to Roth. On the first day of camp, he flunked his conditioning test. This came as a surprise to everyone, including coach Tony Sparano, because Roth had signed a statement that all players sign, basically confirming that he is not injured in any way.

Then Roth failed the test, raising eyebrows and prompting Sparano to have a career chat with the player to find out what was wrong. During that talk Roth basically made up a story of some sort that didn't have anything to do with the real reason he failed the test.

And he did that twice.

These facts are not up for debate. Roth fibbed to his coach. Not once. Not twice. But a total of three times.

"To be honest with you, the way this thing has gone, we have a signed statement from Matt, just like all of our players, on their medical status and his was that he has no illness and no injury," Sparano said in speaking of Roth's first misdirection the day training camp opened.

"We took the conditioning test and Matt did not do as well in the conditioning test. He did not pass the conditioning test so he and I visited. We visited on two occasions, and we talked about what was going on. [Matt indicated] he was sick. He did not feel good, he did not feel right, and so we sent him for blood tests. That work came back negative and that is where we are right now."

The blood work came back negative because Roth wasn't sick. He had a bad groin, which we know because his agent Drew Rosenhaus announced WSVN-Ch. 7 here in Miami. Rosenhaus said this before the Dolphins called him and told him to shut up with the truthful info.

Quick question: Matt Roth has just told his head coach he's sick. He knows he isn't. He knows something's wrong with his groin. So he goes for a battery of blood work anyway without ending the charade first?

Anyway, I asked Sparano about that troublesome fly in this strange soup, the groin injury.

"This groin thing… it is the first time I have heard of it," Sparano said in starting to detail Roth's other fibs. "We are going to investigate it, but I have been told on two different occasions that it is an illness. [The groin injury] is not what I was told was the reason for the performance [in the conditioning test] that I saw yesterday.”

Understand the dynamic here. Sparano usually moves Heaven and Earth so as to not uncover his players.

He tells you Ernest Wilford is improving week after week after week even though Wilford is causing every personnel man in the organization to pull their hairs out from disappointment. He tells you Shawn Murphy is playing pretty good even as Shawn Murphy is getting replaced by Donald Thomas. He tells you he can win titles with his receivers when your eyes tell you that's very unlikely.

Sparano might criticize players to their faces, but never to the media. And yet he basically uncovered Roth's deception because he was royally torqued off at Roth. I do mean he was red-faced mad.

Sparano was mad at Roth's prevarication and others in the organization were angry at Roth because he apparently got hurt while doing something -- no one knows exactly what -- that has nothing to do with playing football. The injury apparently did not occur at the Dolphins facility or as Roth was doing Dolphins work.

How do we know this? Well, I know because I've been told that's the case, but regardless of that can you not see Roth has been on the NON-football injury list? Players don't go on those when they suffer football injuries.

So there's another mystery that remains unsolved.

And now, today, we began to unravel perhaps the most of important wrapping around this mystery: Can Roth contribute to the team in 2009 and to what extent?

Roth will not play against the Saints Sunday. That would be begging to get him hurt. But if he is indeed healthy and is relatively quick in regaining his sharpness, he could begin to carve a niche for himself within the three-week window he has to make it back.

[For the record, Roth does not count against the 53-man roster now as he gets the 21-day roster exemption during which time he can practice. At the end of that time and anytime during that time, the Dolphins must activate, waive or place Roth on a reserve list. If he's activated, he would count on the roster and Miami must make room for him. If he's waived (not likely) or placed on a reserve list he obviously does not count on the roster.]

If Roth shows his 2008 form, he can be a pretty solid edge run-stopper. He has also shown pass-rush skills. So he's valuable and an asset.

The problem is Jason Taylor has taken Roth's strong side linebacker job and isn't likely to offer returning it.

So what do the Dolphins do? Do they keep Taylor as the starter? Do they put Roth in there if he wins the job back and risk alienating Taylor? Or do they platoon the two?

That decision cannot be made until the Dolphins see exactly where Roth is, until they see exactly how far he's come or how much ground he's lost. And once they see that, assuming this saga has no more twists, then the Dolphins can put this mystery to bed.

I think.

October 20, 2009

Dolphins waive Shawn Murphy; sign Murtha

The Dolphins have announced today they waived guard Shawn Murphy, a 2008 fourth-round pick.

The team is not giving a reason for making the move and that's understandable because it didn't really give Murphy a reason either, according to sources.

Last week, at least one assistant told Murphy he was practicing well. This week Murphy is tapped on the shoulder and told he needs to turn in his playbook.

The sudden turn of events is stranger than that. Murphy was told in the preseason the right guard position was his to lose. He lost it to Donald Thomas but was still working as the backup at both guard spots.

I'm told Murphy was both angered and relieved to be cut. He didn't get along at all with former offensive line coach Mike Maser (of course, Maser didn't get along with anybody because he spent much of his time cursing at all his players). This year Murphy was feeling better about status, but felt betrayed by the out-of-left-field nature of today's move.

Murphy's departure was ostensibly caused by the signing of Detroit Lions' practice squad player Lydon Murtha. Murtha, a 6-7, 315-pounder, was a seventh-round pick out of Nebraska.

Murphy, who had the starting right guard job when training camp opened, becomes the highest draft pick to fail to make it with the Dolphins in the two years since the new regime of Tony Sparano, Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland took over.

Murphy will go through the waiver process. He will know by 4 p.m. Wednesday if he's been picked up by another team.

If no team claims Murphy, it is possible he could be signed to any practice squad, including Miami's practice squad, but that is very unlikely because this break feels weird for both parties.

It is possible Murphy winds up on the Philadelphia practice squad if he's not claimed.

The full story on why Brees isn't a Dolphin

As the Dolphins prepare to play the New Orleans Saints this week, you will likely hear repeatedly how the Dolphins might have had quarterback Drew Brees not once, but twice.

As I am older than the wheel and have covered the Dolphins since 24 B.C., I thought I would give you the benefit of my experience and share with you the circumstances of how and why the Dolphins passed on a player that in turn has passed for 27,658 yards since 2001.

The story starts in the spring of 2001 when Brees was coming out of Purdue University. The Dolphins were coming off a fine season in 2000 when they won the AFC East with an 11-5 record. New quarterback Jay Fiedler had played well, but not great, in throwing 14 TDs and 14 INTs.

The Dolphins needed a quarterback because Damon Huard had left in free agency so then VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman was looking for someone to fill the void. And yes, the Dolphins were studying Brees.

"At least three people on our staff have seen every snap in his career," Spielman told Sports Illustrated. "We will have a substantial field on Brees before we interview him at the combine in Indianapolis."

But something happened between the time Spielman was studying Brees and the April draft rolled around because with Brees on the board, the Dolphins used their 26th overall selection on cornerback Jamar Fletcher from Wisconsin.

Brees went to the Chargers with the 32nd overall selection -- the first selection of the second round that year. And it did not go unnoticed that the Dolphins passed on Brees. Spielman was asked that day why pass on an accomplished QB at that point?

"It really wasn't a consideration," he replied.

The Dolphins did eventually pick a QB. They selected Oklahoma's Josh Heupel in the sixth round. But the fact Brees got away stung, even then. So I remember asking Spielman about Brees again at an informal press gathering at the then Royal Oaks Country Club.

"We thought Drew would be an upgrade over Jay," Spielman said. "But we don't think he is that much better. We feel good about Jay. Plus we think we really upgraded our secondary with Jamar. He can play press. He can help on special teams. He's going to play sooner. He's going to help us more."

To be fair, Brees did not become an instant success in San Diego. In fact he struggled for three seasons. But by 2004, something started making sense for him and he was suddenly a very, very good NFL quarterback around the same time the Dolphins were giving up a second-round draft pick for A.J. Feeley and trying to replace Fiedler.

Fletcher, meanwhile, started a total of six games in three seasons for Miami and was traded to San Diego in 2004. Heupel? He never made it out of training camp back in 2001.

Interestingly, Spielman kept a photo of himself and Fletcher on his office wall at Dolphins camp. At first he said it was because Fletcher was his first-ever pick with the Dolphins and wanted to remember that. Years later, the story changed. Spielman claimed the pick was hoisted upon him by Wannstedt and he wanted to remember how not to make a selection.

That's how that sad, first shot at Brees came to a close.

In 2005, Nick Saban took over as coach. And after authoring a solid rebound season with a 9-7 record, Saban decided that to take the next step, his team needed to replace starter Gus Frerotte with an accomplished NFL quarterback.

Brees was available because he had injured his shoulder in the final game of the 2005 season. The injury required arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Later it was learned Brees had also a partially torn his rotator cuff.

Slated for free agency, Brees negotiated a new deal with the Chargers expecting to remain with his original team. But San Diego offered a cautious, five-year, $50 million deal that was heavily loaded with incentives. The contract made clear that San Diego had serious concerns about Brees and his shoulder. When the Chargers declined to improve their offer, Brees did two things:

He got a statement from renown surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, saying his shoulder was 100 percent and not any more likely to be reinjured than it ever was. The statement was released to the media.

And then Brees went hunting for a new team in free agency.

Two teams seemed most eager to get Brees: Miami and New Orleans.

Saban, ever the competitor, wanted to get out front of the Saints so he and his wife flew to Alabama to meet Brees and his wife for dinner. Saban fell in love with Brees. The coach was certain Brees was his guy.

The two agreed that Brees, who had already scheduled a visit in New Orleans first, would come to South Florida afterward.

Remember that in the spring of 2006, New Orleans was still recovering from the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina. There was talk of relocating the team. Parts of the city were still suffering from the storm's aftermath.

The Saints were desperate to make a statement that would be perceived as a vote of confidence in the city and would drive ticket sales. They made that statement by offering Brees a five-year contract that included $8 million guaranteed the first year and a $10 million option the second year.

Brees was blown away, but sources insisted he really preferred to play for the Dolphins instead.

So he left New Orleans without signing a contract and flew to South Florida. He had dinner with Saban at a place called Grille 66 in Fort Lauderdale which to this day remains where the Dolphins take their free agents and coach candidates and alike.

Everything seemed cool but the next day weirded Brees out. He was reportedly subjected to a six-hour physical that centered, of course, around his surgically repaired shoulder. To this day, I am not certain whether or not the Dolphins made Brees an offer. A good source close to Brees insisted Miami did, although it was a lowball offer.

Regardless, Brees saw his future in New Orleans. His agent Tom Condon went back to the Saints and beat them up some more and extracted a six-year, $60 million deal that included $10 million in guarantees the first year and another $12 million the second year in the form of an option. Brees signed the deal on March 14, 2006.

The Dolphins simultaneously went a different direction, sending a second-round pick to Minnesota for Daunte Culpepper. Now, the interesting thing here is that Culpepper was also a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback but one with an injury problem of his own.

Culpepper had shredded his right knee in October of 2005, tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL during a game versus Carolina. Culpepper, still recovering from the torn knee ligaments, had met with new Vikings coach Brad Childress and had suffered something of new break -- in his relationship with the new coach due to a contract squabble.

So Culpepper was available in trade.

The trade was made with Miami and the day Culpepper arrived, the Dolphins redid his contract and paid him something in the vicinity of $10 million on the spot.

So what happened?

Months later, when Brees was lighting up NFL secondaries and Culpepper was benched, I requested a private interview with Saban to ask, basically, what was going through his cotton-pickin' mind when he picked Culpepper over Brees.

This was the answer he gave me:

''Let me just say this,'' he said in addressing the subject directly for the first time, ``It was a medical decision. I don't think medicine, personnel or any of that is an exact science. I think we have good, professional people in that area. I think they made the best judgment they could make at the time relative to the circumstances. No one could predict the future. It is what it is right now.''

Saban explained that he preferred Brees primarily because getting him didn't include giving up a draft pick. But he said the medical staff's recommendation was not only that Culpepper would have a better chance of recovering in time for the 2006 season than Brees but also that Culpepper would have a smaller chance of sustaining a reinjury.

''Hindsight is always 20/20,'' Saban told me. ``Let's wait until we're 10 miles down the road on this instead of right now before we decide which guy was the right guy.

``We thought both were good players, and we still think Daunte will be a good player for us. That's all we're concerned about. We're not looking at what anyone else on another team is doing, because our concern is our players.

''We can't worry about what went right or what went wrong [in the offseason],'' Saban said. ``We're going to try to make what we have here work and that's what we're going to do.''

The irony is that although Saban's public stance was to blame the doctors but say he still believed the situation was salvagable, he privately was blaming the team medical staff and repeating, "We should have gotten that guy, we should have gotten that guy," referring to Brees.

Saban was not, in fact, convinced Culpepper would ever be a Pro Bowl player again. 

That was in October of 2006. By January 2007, Saban quit. By July 2007, Culpepper was cut.

The rest is history.

And now you know why Drew Brees is not a Miami Dolphin.

October 19, 2009

Is Ted Ginn Jr. on the trade block?

Despite the overwhelming opinion that the Dolphins need to upgrade their receivers, there are swirling rumors this evening that Ted Ginn Jr. is a player the Dolphins are taking calls about as the trade deadline looms at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Understand that midseason trades are rare.

Understand that coach Tony Sparano was asked about any potential moves Monday and responded with a cryptic, "I love my team. I like where we’re at.”

And understand that there is not a huge market for a player such as Ginn because, frankly, he hasn't proven himself to be invaluable to anyone. But ...

Ginn does still promise improvement. Ginn does still have elite speed. And Ginn is a rarity among receivers in that he has no ego and fits in just about anywhere because he is simply good people. And then you add one more fact and you have a full blown rumor.

That fact is the Baltimore Ravens are looking for receiver and cornerback help and former Dolphins coach Cam Cameron is the offensive coordinator in Baltimore. So there you have dots begging to be connected. and ProFootballWeekly made the connection as a possibility.

One thing to remember about Cameron being in Baltimore: Ginn would come into that system knowing the Baltimore offense so he would be able to play right away.

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome told The National Football Post he has spoken with several teams about possible trades but added, "I've got nothing pending right now."

I know for a fact the Dolphins like Ginn. I also know for a fact the Dolphins don't love Ginn. He's available for the right price. 

The problem is what's the right price? Forget that Miami invested a No. 1 pick on the guy. That was another regime, another time. That has no affect on this regime.

The fact is, however, this regime doesn't want to simply give any player away. So would the Dolphins trade Ginn for a fourth-round pick? Probably not. For a second-rounder? Yes.

For a third-rounder? Or a conditional third that could turn into a second? That's debatable.

Remember, none of this means Ginn will be traded. It's all a rumor at this point and there is probably no smoke to this fire.

But you never know.

In other trade news, the Panthers got defensive tackle Tank Tyler from Kansas City this evening for a fifth round pick. I would not be surprised if the Chiefs continue to be active Tuesday.  

A formula to slow that which seems unstoppable

After taking the bye weekend off by blogging four or five times and writing two columns, it's back to work today for me.

The Dolphins are scheduled back to work Monday also, which I suppose is much more important to you. (I get it).

As the Dolphins return to the practice field, the topic on everyone's mind has to be the New Orleans Saints. And more precisely, the Saints offense. And most precisely, slowing Drew Brees and that scary passing attack.

In this column I wrote while, you know, taking the weekend off, I make the point that Miami's secondary will have a tough assignment this week stopping or even slowing the New Orleans passing game. I mean, did you see what they did to the Giants Sunday?

Read the column for some interesting stats and details about Miami's coming opponent.

More importantly, read the column to find out the reaction of the Miami secondary on matching up with Brees and Co. Hint: They're stoked!

One thing the column does not include is a strategy for slowing the Saints. What? I ain't no coach.

But frankly, I was surprised how little pressure New York was willing to apply on Brees. When their front four didn't get there, the Giants didn't do anything more. They didn't really blitz. I was also surprised the Giants basically sat in zone coverages much of the game.

So Brees was not hurried and his receivers were not challenged and it was not pretty.

Note to Dolphins: Don't do that.

The Dolphins must find a way to put Brees and his back. They must man-up and win some of those mano-a-mano moments against the New Orleans receivers. And, of course, Miami must also hold the ball offensively for 35-38 minutes to limit the Saints' opportunities on offense.

Any other suggestions? 

October 18, 2009

Can Sanchise survive at the Meadowlands?

Please note the time of this post. The Jets and Bills are still in the first quarter of their 4 p.m. game.

And I predict Mark Sanchez will struggle today.


Well, my prediction is based on what I've heard from more than one NFL personnel guy. Mark Sanchez is solid, he is likely going to be just fine as a quarterback as long as the weather is good or he's playing inside a dome.

But in the Meadowlands? With the winds blowing? In the dead of winter's snow or rain?

The NFL folks tell me he's not equipped for that kind of weather.

Now, the winds are apparently blowing at Giants Stadium today. We'll see if the NFL folks are right or not.

Check back after the game for the results.

[Update: The game is over and in his first bad-weather game at the Meadowlands, Sanchez completed 10 of 29 passes for 119 yards with 5 interceptions. The Jets lost a game in which they rushed for 318 yards. Buffalo wins, 16-13 in overtime.]

That's all I got to say about that.

Unorthodox? Let me count the ways

What defines the Miami Dolphins?

Seriously. Is it Wildcat? Is it the celebrity limited partners? Is it Bill Parcells giving the team instant credibility? What is it?

Whatever it is, the mix of all the things I just mentioned, along with other things, make the Dolphins one unorthodox band as I write in my Sunday column in The Herald.

Please read the column because it includes some interesting thoughts from Justin Smiley and Ronnie Brown about the team. The column also tells you what the big misnomer about Wildcat is about. (And by the way, I should tell you in advance, I made a mistake in calling the Wildcat the updated Wing T offense. It is an updated Single Wing. My bad. Anyway, watch the video and see Miami QB coach David Lee explain the single wing, er, Wildcat.)

In the column I talk to new Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, who is new owner Stephen Ross's right-hand man. If you have not been to a Dolphins game this year and you get a chance, I encourage you to do so. The feel, the vibe is truly different than even a year ago.

I told Dee I was something of a skeptic about how all their fanciful changes to the game day experience would translate. Guess what? They work, although Dee is careful to point out the experience is still evolving and improving.

"We're not sure everything we've tried has worked," Dee says cautiously. "We don't think we have the perfect formula nor by any means do we think we've arrived at our destination. But we continue to work toward making the game a great experience for our fans and trying to attract the fans that stopped coming to the stadium after Dan Marino retired. Those fans continued to follow the team and watch what direction the team was going in before they decided to return. We call those passive fans and for the last decade they've been waiting to see what happens. We need to cultivate those fans."

Dee tells me the Dolphins have sold 49,250 season tickets and sales will continue through the New Orleans game. The eventual goal is to climb back to the 60,000 mark the team enjoyed years ago.

Dee also says the Dolphins are going to be very sensitive to feedback from fans as they work to make the game day experience better. Dee admits that feedback pretty much killed the T-Pain version of the fight song.

Fans said they love the old fight song and that will play every game starting in the third quarter.

Anyway, please check out the column and if you have any suggestions on how the Dolphins can make your experience at the stadium better, leave them here.

October 17, 2009

Dolphins in a home Super Bowl a nightmare?

There is truly a leadership void afoot in this country. I believe that, for whatever reason, many people we have stupidly installed into leadership roles have lost their way.

I'm talking about leaders in business, politics (from all the parties), the car industry, Wall Street and the financial industry and, sadly, everywhere in government.

We don't have people that get it anymore.

And that's where Broward County tourism director Nicki Grossman comes to mind today. This story in The Miami Herald tells how Grossman, a long-time South Florida public servant and Dolphins season-ticket holder (she claims), is rooting against the Dolphins making it to the Super Bowl this year.

Now, suspend the argument about whether the Dolphins are good enough to get to the Super Bowl or not. That's not the point. The point is how anyone can bring themselves to root against their own team for selfish reasons.

And Grossman, by the way, has selfish reason. As head of the tourism folks, Grossman wants to see the Super Bowl fill every hotel room in her county come next January and early February. And, she figures, if the Dolphins are in the game, the hotel rooms won't be filled because local fans can sleep in their own beds at night.

So there would be no great influx of Super Bowl fans.

But this is where Grossman misses the mark. She obviously does not understand that Dolphins fans are everywhere. I have become intimately of this fact because in every stadium the Dolphins play, there are typically  at least 2,000 Dolphins fans rooting for Miami. I am also aware that all my readers are not from South Florida. In fact, a majority are from outside South Florida.

You guys are Dolphins fans in Texas, the Carolinas, New York, Hawaii, everywhere. And I get the feeling many of you would come to South Florida to watch your team be in its first Super Bowl since 1984. Am I right?

Grossman also doesn't get the drift that a Super Bowl game is played by two teams. And the other team not being from South Florida will surely also bring fans.

So her vision, in rooting openly against the Dolphins, is myopic.

Leadership? Not so much.

So this is what I want you to do. Go to the comments section and tell me exactly where you are from in the country. Tell me if you would be inclined to come to a Dolphins Super Bowl celebration or not.

Now, I didn't ask if you'd be coming to the game. I know the tickets are expensive and hard to get. Grossman doesn't care about that anyway, she just needs folks that yearly come for the week of Super Bowl atmosphere and fun, filling the beds in local hotels. Whether those folks are in the stands on Super Bowl Sunday is moot.

Remember: Are you an out-of-town Dolphins fan? And would you trek to South Florida to join in the Dolphins Super Bowl celebration? 

Is Grossman right to believe the Dolphins playing a home Super Bowl would be a nightmare? Or is she lacking vision?

October 16, 2009

Friday night lights and newsy item

Final post of the day and this is whatup:

Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini told gathered media he has, "no interest in moving Josh Cribbs," according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Dolphins have shown interest in Cribbs but have been rebuffed.

Cribbs has not requested a trade, but has requested his contract be renegotiated. Yeah, that will happen during the season. Anyway, it seems less likely than ever that Cribbs will be available to Miami by the Oct. 20 trade deadline.

Of course, Mangini is something of a poker player. He is perhaps trying to drive up the price on his star kickoff and punt return man.

For those of you asking the question in my previous posts about Cribbs, he was a college QB and has dabbled as a WR and a Wildcat type triggerman in the NFL. But lest you be fooled, his present value is in returning punts and kicks.


One final question for you: Why are you here?

It's Friday night ...

Go out. Have some fun. See a movie. Take the girlfriend to the submarine races.

Or ....

Put on the record below (yeah, they used to have things called records before CDs) and have a party at home. Right now.

Jaws takes a bite out of Dolphins' Wildcat

There's been an on-going debate in the Monday Night Football booth this year about the Dolphins' Wildcat package. Former coach Jon Gruden loves it. Former quarterback Ron Jaworski hates it.

How much does Jaws hate the thing?

According to what he said today on ESPN radio, apparently a lot.

Asked if Wildcat can be relied upon heavily by a team that rides it to the Super Bowl, Jaworski said, "No, I don't believe so. I still believe it's a gimmick and a gadget."

"Clearly, no one does it better than the Miami Dolphins, but I really believe that at the end of the season they're going to have to find a way to get some explosive plays out of the passing game," Jaworski said. "It was crystal clear in the Colts' game, they controlled the ball 45 minutes but when you run the football that well you're not going to score a lot of points."

Wait a second, there Jaws. You rock buddy (and thanks for that free buffet breakfast you treated me to at your hotel in Philadelphia in 2001) but you got this all wrong.

The Dolphins just scored 21 points in the fourth quarter against the Jets using Wildcat. Those three touchdowns in one quarter are more points than the 14 points the Jets were allowing per game before Monday night.

And about that Colts game: The Dolphins didn't lose that game because of Wildcat. The Dolphins lost that game because Peyton Manning lit up the Miami defense that could not hold lead after lead after lead. Were it not for Wildcat that game would have been a blowout in favor of the Colts.

And as far as Wildcat being a gimmick and gadget, please consider the words of guard Justin Smiley, who told me this week, "In Wildcat, you have one or two plays that are kind of trick plays. But without going into specifics, we still have straight-ahead run plays out of that that those guys have to defend and until somebody stop us, that's going to be the deal."

Finally, to judge the Dolphins as a complete work is not fair. The team has a quarterback coming off only his second start. Maybe the Dolphins keep the collar on Chad Henne. But maybe not.

And if not, and Henne is what everyone expects, then what will the Dolphins offense have? A quarterback that can make all the throws and Wildcat.

Hard to stop.

[BLOG NOTE: I want to thank all of you for continuing to support this blog by, well, coming to this blog. This has been a record-breaking month with over 170,000 unique visitors and this has been a record-breaking week with over 100,000 page views. And we're not done yet! As the Dolphins continue to rise from the ashes of 0-3, I'm expecting interest will continue to increase and I'll be working to give you something informative, entertaining and thought-provoking every day. Thanks again.]

Meanwhile ...

What happens if the best get better?

There is much credit and flattery and regard for the Dolphins running game now because having the NFL's No. 1 rated running game is a mountainous fact over which no criticism can climb.

The Dolphins average 177 rushing yards per game. Last year the Giants finished as the NFL's best rushing team while averaging 157.4 rushing yards per game.

So this rushing attack is transcendentally good.

But allow me add a couple of more bouquets: Through five games Ronnie Brown must be considered the NFL's best downhill running back, bar none. Yes Adrian Peterson is better all around, but facemask-to-facemask against a defender and running him over, Brown is superior right now.

And the Miami offensive line is a hard-charging, hard-fighting bunch that are, well, hard to stop.

So where do we go from here?

Well, how about if the best get better?

Coach Tony Sparano believes they can do it.

“I think it can be better, I really do," Sparano said Thursday when I asked him his opinion on the matter. "And this is the knit-picky offensive line dope in me. Where you’re out there and you’re just beating – you watch the film and you see us not finish some things, whether that be a receiver on the perimeter making a block, whether that’s in second level when we hit the linebacker but we don’t finish, so the linebacker comes off of us and makes the play for five yards. Now you go to four yards, instead of you finish, and maybe it’s an 8-yard play.

"We left some things out there and I’ve told how impressed I’ve been with the two running backs right now, but just run reads, simple run reads, not bouncing a play that needs to stay inside, those type of things [can get better]. So can it get better? Yeah, it sure can. And those are the details that we’re trying to bang home. I keep telling them: We need to be as greedy as we can in that phase of the game. I don’t care how we get the yards, if there’s three more out there we need to get them, and I think they’re starting to figure that out.”

And as the running game improves, as I believe it will, the passing game will improve. The Dolphins employ the play-action pass about as often as any NFL team. That works best when the linebacker respects the run. When the linebacker fears the run, play-action can be devastating.

"You’re going to have to prove to people that you can run the football and I think that’s happened," Sparano said. "Now all of a sudden, these play action things are starting to take place where we are getting bites out of linebackers and the safety is freezing a little bit, and we’re able to get down the field.

"Those things are happening and people have to pay attention to it one way or the other. In other words, you can’t ignore the run with the way we’ve run the ball right now. One time it might be an accident, two times it might be an accident. I don’t think after five games right now, anybody can look and say it’s an accident what’s going on up there right now with the way we’re running the ball.”

Of course, quarterback Chad Henne has to do good work to make the play-action work, but I think we saw he's capable of doing that Monday night against the Jets. His performance was good enough to inspire songs.

As you will now witness.

October 15, 2009

Thursday buffet of Dolphins news and notes

Back to football.

A couple of days ago I told you the Dolphins are buyers as the NFL's Oct 20th trade deadline nears. The fact is very few trades are actually made at the deadline in this league, but that doesn't mean there isn't lots of talk between the teams.

And the Dolphins are talking. I told you it would make sense if the Dolphins inquire about Cleveland Browns return man Joshua Cribbs.

Well, this report in the Dayton Daily News says the Browns have heard from Miami.

Look, Cribbs is the AFC's leading punt returner, averaging 16.3 yards per return. That makes him No. 3 in the NFL. He is the NFL's No. 8 kickoff returner with a 26.1 average.

The Dolphins are averaging 8 yard less per punt return and four yards less on kick returns.

So this situation requires continued monitoring. The odds are against it happening as Cribbs will cost the Dolphins a draft pick or a player, plus a new contract. The Dolphins don't like giving up draft picks in trade and giving big contracts to new players.

But ... He is really good. He is 26 years old. And the Dolphins can use the upgrade and the big-play potential. Miami still has not decided on a kick returner following the loss of Patrick Cobbs to season-ending knee surgery.


Matt Roth is eligible to begin practice either Monday or Tuesday and he will do exactly that. The Dolphins are seeking a clarification from the NFL on whether the player who is on the non-football injury list can begin working either Monday, if that marks the first day following the NFL season's first six weeks or Tuesday, which would assume the Monday night game is the final game of the sixth week.

A player on NFI is eligible to begin practice after six weeks -- not games, weeks.

Anyway, Roth, who has missed the season to this point, will return to practice.

"I would say we want him get him out there and get him going and take a look at him," coach Tony Sparano said today. "We just don't know when he would play."

Roth has said he feels healthy and ready to go. He also said Wednesday he was told he would likely play in the Nov. 1 game against the Jets. He was placed on the NFI when he complained he was sick the first day of training camp and failed his conditioning test. Later it was learned Roth had a groin injury.

Roth could play as early as the New Orleans game, but more likely will not barring a serious change in circumstances.


The Dolphins will not practice on Friday. "You only have a few opportunities to really gas up and this will give them a 64- or 65-hour block to make sure we get some of these bumps and things taken care of," Sparano said.

The Dolphins coaching staff will work Friday, take Saturday off and get back to work Sunday.

Sparano plans to fly to Albany N.Y to watch his two sons -- Tony and Andrew -- play for the University of Albany's football team.


Channing Crowder (ankle) and Joey Porter (hamstring) missed the second consecutive day of practice Thursday. They were simply being rested.


The Dolphins announced a scoring change off of the Oct. 3 victory over Buffalo. A third-quarter sack that originally went to Cameron Wake now is scored as half a sack for Wake and half a sack for Jason Taylor. Both players now had 2.5 sacks in the game.

Limbaugh issue: Hypocrisy abounds in the NFL

[This post includes political, social and Dolphins commentary. If you have a problem with any of those don't bother reading it.]

Pulling his shorts up to his waist and then motioning over to a couple of waiting reporters who wanted to interview him in the Dolphins locker room Wednesday, nose tackle Jason Ferguson used the N-word.

He was talking either to a teammate or one of the reporters who is black, but that didn't matter because the word seemingly floated away -- clearly heard but ignored because, in an NFL locker room, that word is uttered by players practically every day.

Sometimes the N-word is said in jest. Sometimes it is said in anger or rage. Sometimes it is blasted through boom boxes playing rap music. Sometimes it is clustered with taunts about another player's mother or wife or, in extreme vengeance-filled moments, another player's boyfriend.

And this is the NFL Roger Goodell wants to protect from Rush Limbaugh comments?

Limbaugh will not be part of the group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams, it was announced Wednesday. Pressure from inside and outside the NFL doomed Limbaugh's attempt to own the team, meaning a group of people decided a game played on a lined field has to draw one more line to keep Limbaugh out.

Funny how folks that once marched against exclusion, such as Jesse Jackson, will call for exclusion when it suits them. Interesting how Al Sharpton is appalled at Limbaugh's divisiveness but gives himself a free pass when he says things like, "white folks was living in caves while we was building empires." 

The hypocrisy on this issue is everywhere. It is rampant. It is sickening.

The same commissioner that is allowing dog-killer Michael Vick to play in the NFL doesn't want Limbaugh to vie for an ownership stake because, "We're all held to a high standard here and divisive comments are not what the NFL's all about," Goodell said earlier this week. "I would not want to see those kind of comments from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL, no. Absolutely not."

So the league allows dog-killers, wife-beaters, strip club addicts, girlfriend-batterers, drug addicts, drunk drivers, and coaches who allegedly bust up other coaches, but the commish is worried about divisive quotes?

About those quotes: The same news media that is "reporting" what Limbaugh has said in the past is filled with people who loathe Limbaugh because they don't agree with his view of the world. Those "journalists" have been trotting out two quotes from Jack Huberman's 2006 book, "101 People Who Are Really Screwing America."

The first and most damning of those, quotes Limbaugh as saying, "Let's face it, we didn't have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: Slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back. I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark."

That quote appeared on CNN's Rick Sanchez show. It appeared in a column written on Foxsports.com. It appeared all over the Internet.

And not one "journalist" who used it can verify its validity. Not one 'journalist" who broadcast the quote actually heard Limbaugh say it. Not one actually heard a tape recording of Limbaugh saying it. Meanwhile, on one of his shows this week, Limbaugh said he's never uttered those words.

Somebody produce the tape or retract the quote!

And, yes, the second quote does not make this space because it is equally unsubstantiated and unverifiable.

Another thing the "journalists" reporting this story haven't told you: Huberman, the man they are using as their source, has penned other books, including The Bush-Haters Handbook and The GOP-Haters Handbook. So, of course, it's not like Huberman has an agenda or anything dark like that.

I am part of the media. I have friends in the media. Most of those friends lean left. They know, and now you know, I lean right. That's not the point. The point is the media has an agenda. And my agenda is to expose the hypocrisy on this issue.

I saw that hypocrisy at work in the Miami locker room Wednesday.

Several reporters were going around the locker room asking players their opinions of Limbaugh and the possibility he might own an NFL team

This is how one interview went:

Reporter: "What's your take on Rush Limbaugh and the Rams?"

Running back Ronnnie Brown scissors closed his index finger and thumb and zips them across his mouth to signify his lips are sealed. And after a pause Brown then says... 

"I don't know, I mean, I guess it's good in a way that he's interested in wanting to be the owner of an NFL team. At the same time, who's to say. I don't know."

That, of course, is not the answer the reporter wants. It sounds almost pro-Limbaugh. So ...

Reporter: "Well some guys would say they would never play for a team that he has ownership stake in. You think that's a legitimate statement?"

Of course anyone would answer that is a legitimate statement. It's an opinion from another player so how is Brown supposed to say it is not legitimate? The question is leading and practically begs agreement with the dump-Limbaugh agenda.

And despite this, Brown refuses to go in that direction.

"Obviously, they're entitled to their own opinion," he responds. "For me, I'm not going to say that. I don't know. You never know. You could be sitting here jobless and depending on what kind of situation you're in and you don't have any money coming in, it's hard to turn down a job like this."

Greg Camarillo is Hispanic. So not only is he a minority in American society, he's among the smallest of minorities in a league that is approximately 65 percent black, 30 percent white and approximately 5 percent everybody else.

So what does Camarillo think of Limbaugh's attempt to enter the league before news of his exclusion is announced?

"Ya'll trying to make me political real quick," he says to reporters with a grin. "I don't have too much to say about that. We'll let the business handlers handle their business. But, I mean, the man has said controversial things in the past. Things that bring up the issue of race. The NFL is obviously a diverse work place. You have to be pretty sensitive to everybody's beats. You can't alienate any group. That being said, we leave the business to the business people and trust the NFL and NFLPA handle it properly."

Camarillo is much too trusting.

The NFL Players Association, the union representing the players, encouraged its players to speak out on the Limbaugh matter. According to this ESPN report, NFL Players executive director DeMaurice Smith wrote an e-mail to the union's executive committee on the subject.

"I've spoken to the Commissioner and I understand that this ownership consideration is in the early stages," Smith wrote. "But sport in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends. Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."

Agreed. The NFL is best when it transcends things such as polictics. So why is Smith getting all political? The NFL is best when it overcomes division. So why doesn't Smith admit he, himself, is divisive when he mentions discrimination without citing a tangible, verifiable example?

It is called double-speak.

This, meanwhile, is not double-speak, but fact: Smith served in President Clinton's Administration as Counsel to then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder in the US Department of Justice. Holder is now in President Barak Obama's Attorney General. Both Clinton and Obama are Democrats.

Smith has contributed $6,850 to political campaigns since 2004 -- all to Democrat Party candidates. Smith made his largest contribution in 2008 when he contributed $2,300 to President Obama's campaign. Limbaugh, in case you are not aware, is one of President Obama's most ardent and high-profile critics.

So is Smith transcending his differences with Limbaugh? Or is Smith using his position as a union boss to further his personal political beliefs and bring down an opposing point of view?

Smith's e-mail rejects discrimination. Well, is it not discriminatory in America to want to exclude someone from a business venture simply because one does not agree with that person's politics?

Yes. Or no. Please answer.

And back to the "journalists" for a second: Did you read anywhere what Smith's political leanings actually are in all those stories you read where he rips Limbaugh's attempt at ownership? Or were those facts left out?


Now Limbaugh is not a pristine individual. He's been divorced three times -- some NFL people have been divorced just as often. In 2003 he admitted being addicted to prescription pain killers -- Brett Favre once admitted to the same. He often appears on Fox News Channel championing conservative views -- as does Goodell's wife, Jane Skinner, who is an anchor and commentator on the channel and the daughter of a former White House Chief of staff under the elder President Bush.

So what makes Limbaugh so villainously different?

Limbaugh is polarizing in a country that, guess what, is polarized. But he is no more, and probably less, of a racist than the two men leading the charge against his ownership bid -- Sharpton, who infamously offended Mormons last year and Jackson, who once referred to Jews as "Hymies."

Limbaugh has addressed race issues in forums that "journalists" can actually confirm.

Limbaugh resigned from ESPN in 2003 for stirring a racial controversy when he basically said Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was getting preferential treatment from the media because he is black.

"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL," Limbaugh said on air. "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well, There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Stupid, yes. Unsophisticated in its general assumptions, yes.

But racist?

The NFL better clean up all the N-words floating around its locker rooms before anyone makes that leap.

October 14, 2009

Pace backpedals before tonight's live blog

Calvin Pace hated on the Dolphins. Then the Dolphins, led by Channing Crowder, hated on Calvin Pace. And now Calvin Pace is backpedaling as if he's a Pro Bowl cornerback.

If you need to get caught up on what I'm talking about, simply scroll down to the post below this one. If you're up to date, you should know that today Pace kinda, sorta regretted he called out the Dolphins after they whupped Pace and his New York Jets teammates, 31-27 on Monday night.

Pace today was asked if he regretted calling Chad Henne a "second-year clown quarterback," and saying the Dolphins Wildcat package is "nonsense."

"That's how I feel," Pace said. "When you play defense, you would love to have someone just come out and run conventional stuff. It is a conventional offense just lined up a different way.

"I said some thing and I definitely should have thought about it and re-phrased it a little bit. I respect the Dolphins. They beat us. It's not like they went out there and stole the game from us. They were efficient. They ran the ball and they made plays when they had to.

"I tip my hat to them. But we've got another chance to play them and hopefully the outcome is going to be different."

I know this outcome won't change. And that's the beauty of tonight's live blog of the NFL Network's re-air of the Dolphins vs. Jets. I predict the Dolphins will win. I predict we'll have fun discussing the plays as they happen -- again.

I predict I'll have a couple of cold beverages as I watch and type, which could get kind of interesting if you know what I mean.

Again, the game is on NFL Network. And it, plus the live blog here, start at 8 p.m.

Miami Dolphins respond to Calvin Pace

A couple of days ago I shared with you what Calvin Pace said about the Dolphins and their Wildcat package. If you don't recollect, the New York Jets linebacker said, "I can't respect that stuff," and he called Wildcat so much "nonsense."

"They nonsensed their ass all the way up and down the field," linebacker Channing Crowder responded today. "Nonsense, I love nonsense. They say gimmick, gimmick this, gimmick that. We've won games with the Wildcat. They ran two fake punts. So if you're going to say gimmicks, those are real gimmicks. Wildcat is an offensive formation, they run it for two years. They have thousands of plays on film about it, go stop it.

"Shut up about all the junk talking and whatever they're talking about they ain't going to give us no credit. We'll see them in three more weeks, we got to play them again, so the hell with them."   

Today you get the response from the Dolphins because it is the first day players are available to the media following a night game Monday and an off day Tuesday.

"What did Calvin Pace say?" nose tackle Jason Ferguson asked when I asked him if he heard what Pace had said. Then I told him.

"Wow, really?" Ferguson responded. "Who is this guy? What's his name again? Ain't he a rookie or something? Isn't that the rookie from Ohio State? Or you talking about the guy from Arizona? Yeah, ok, it's cool, if that's what he sees. It ain't nothing. That's how ya'll want to treat it, it's cool. You'll see it again in two weeks. No comments here. I'm good. I'll stay away from that one. He's fooling himself.

"I got nothing for Calvin. I don't even know that dude. I'll let him have his battle with the Wildcat. It looks like he lost already."

Ronnie Brown ran six times for 32 yards out of Wildcat against the Jets. he also completed a 21-yard pass to Anthony Fasano out of Wildcat. So what does Brown think of Pace's opinion?

"He has his own opinion and the biggest comment on that is we're all afraid of what we do not understand," Brown said with his patented smile. "I guess that's the situation there. It works for us. We enjoy it. We do it. It's part of our package. And if it's not broken don't fix it so we're not going out to try to change it because a guy isn't happy about what we're doing.

"Coming into the game we're watching how they blitz and we were like, 'OK we'll just sit back and play football then and let's see who has the tougher 11 people on the field.' "

That's a great point. Seems some people around the NFL think Wildcat is a gimmick, finesse thing used by a team that can't win blocking battles hand-to-hand. It is quite the opposite. It is a physical, in-your-face attack.  

"What I really think I'm not going to say, honestly, because we play in a couple of weeks," guard Justin Smiley said. "I have a lot of respect for Calvin Pace because I think he's a heck of a football player. But the one thing I am going to say is we have game upon games of game film to watch. People know what we run.

"We're not running Statue of Liberties out of Wildcat. We're running base and power. You have to stop it. You have to stop it, and until you stop it, nothing's going to change. That's the way we approach it. One-on-one, man-on-man, and whatever anybody wants to say about it, that's their opinion. But until you stop it, nothing's going to change." 

By the way, Channing Crowder (ankle) and Joey Porter (hamstring) did not practice today. Coach Tony Sparano said Porter played 52 plays and his hammy is sore. The coach plans to give various players practice time off this week.

Also, as I reported first on twitter (over there on the left hand side of this page) the Dolphins worked out former University of Miami and New Orleans Saints TE Buck Ortega today.