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77 posts from September 2012

September 30, 2012

Cardinals beat Dolphins 24-21 in OT

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yes, it was disappointing because games are not played to come close or be entertaining.

And the Dolphins did lose this one, 24-21, on a 46-yard field goal by former Dolphin Jay Feely.

But ...





Promising if you think that better things can happen down the road?

No doubt.

Yes, the Dolphins lose today. But the fans that saw this fine game won. And the future won because this team showed something today -- at times, anyway.

Dolphins and Cardinals tied at 21-21 going to OT

GLENDALE, Ariz -- Crazy entertaining this one. So unlike last week's game against the New York Jets.

And yet?

This one also is going to overtime. It is the second OT game in a row for Miami.

The live blog continues in the comments section. By the way, Dan Carpenter time.


Dolphins lead Cards 13-7 to start fourth quarter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dolphins are holding on to a 13-7 lead but the third quarter was a heart-wrencher not for the faint of heart.

Ryan Tannehill threw one interception and only a instant replay challenge saved him from a second.

Dan Carpenter missed another field goal attempt -- this one from 51 yards.

And the defense yielded its first TD of the day on Larry Fitzgerald TD catch.

The live blog takes you to the game's deciding moment in the comments section. Join me there.

Dolphins lead Cardinals 13-0 going to third quarter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dolphins are getting great performances from a handful of individuals and the result is they are outplaying the favored Cardinals.

It starts with the quarterback and Ryan Tannehill is throwing the football more accurately than I've seen all season. He has completed 15 of 21 passes for 219 yards and led a shiny 95-yard TD drive just before halftime that put the Dolphins first TD on the board.

Brian Hartline has already had a great game and it's only halftime. He has six catches for 110 yards, including a 57-yard catch on that TD drive.

Davone Bess is also having a fine day with five catches for 86 yards.

Defensively, Cameron Wake has also awoken. He had no sacks the first three games of the season. He has three in the first half today.

Sean Smith also picked off his first pass of the year and has done a good job marking Larry Fitzgerald.

So far so good for the Dolphins. Join me in the comments section for the continuation of the live blog.

Dolphins and Cardinals are scoreless going to second quarter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Tannehill is on target today. Davone Bess is on fire with multiple outstanding catches, including a 22 yard gain on a slant.

And the Dolphins are moving the football.

But the score is still 0-0 after one quarter here in the desert.

The Cardinals offense moved the ball their initial drive but was shut down on consecutive three-and-outs the next two possessions.

The live blog continues in the comments section below. Join me.

Bush works pregame, looks ready to go

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Reggie Bush will be active for today's game with the Cardinals.

That's the decision based on work during a 45-minute pregame workout, done under the vigilant eye of coach Joe Philbin, general manager Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.

Bush looked a bit tentative early in the workout session but he got much better as the work continued and certainly good enough to earn a spot on the active roster today.

More to come including the live blog which will start in the comments section.

The Dolphins inactive is out and it confirms what I've reported. Bush is active. He will start.

The inactives are Pat Devlin, Marlon Moore, Austin Spitler, Will Yeatman, Tony McDaniel, and Rishard Matthews. Darnell Dockett is not active for Arizona, suggesting the Dolphins should be able to run the ball today.

Bush decision could put spotlight on Thomas

Pregame before today's Dolphins game at Arizona will be interesting because the decision whether to play running back Reggie Bush will truly be made then, I'm told by a source.

I expect Bush, the Dolphins leading rusher, will try to be active for the game and in his usual starting role. But one never knows after a cross-country flight and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed how the knee he injured last week against the New York Jets will react. I told you last week Bush would miss one game at worst.

The Dolphins are hoping it doesn't come to that worst-case scenario. So come back here for the update.

If Bush is unable to play it will put much pressure on reserve Daniel Thomas, who is among the players I write in my column today that need to start performing better than they did the first three games of the season.

Today marks the NFL season's Week 4  and that means one quarter of the season will be done after today.

But with that marker looming, the Dolphins are needing and hoping for more production out of Thomas, out of Ryan Tannehill, out of Cameron Wake, and out of Richard Marshall. All of them are starting players. All of them have done some good things.

The Dolphins simply need them to deliver better than they have so far if the team is to stay anywhere near .500. The Dolphins need improvement from all of them and that's fair because all are capable of playing better.

Why is improvement so important from those guys?

Well, as I report in the column, we should not expect a cavalry charge of talent to be added via trade the rest of this season. So forget that idea of adding a last-minute receiver gifted to Miami by some other team before the trade deadline.

September 29, 2012

Cardinals hurting in more ways than one

The Arizona Cardinals will be playing with a weakened roster Sunday and with one player carrying a heavy heart.

Earlier this week the Cardinals notably had 16 players on their injury report as they began preparations for Sunday's game against the Dolphins. Then things got worse:

Running back Beanie Wells, a vital part of what Arizona's running game, was placed on injured reserve. The Cardinals had been 7-3 in games Wells carried the football at least 17 times.

Friday's injury report showed fewer injuries but some of the players listed are significant. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Tight end Todd Heap is doubtful with a knee injury.

Strong safety Adrian Wilson (ankle/groin) leads a list of six players who are questionable. This team is hurting.

In more ways than one.

Last night running back Alfonso Smith left the team so that he could attend his mother's funeral in California today. Smith rejoined the team this week after Wells was placed on IR. He tweeted that he will fly to the funeral and return in time for Sunday's game.

Regardless is expected to appear in a backup role and on special teams. 

September 28, 2012

Every Tannehill throw vs. New York without much pressure

Perhaps some of you have been scratching your heads this week as you think about the upcoming game between the Dolphins and the Cardinals because the team out west simply doesn't get a lot of play around the country.

Simply, how is it that Arizona is undefeated this year and 10-2 in its last dozen games?

Defense, folks. Mostly defense.

And that is angry, snarling defense is what awaits Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. I know you're not all that concerned but consider that last week that unit made Michael Vick look overmatched.

The primary reason?

They get to the passer.

Last week the Cardinals had 20 pressures or hits on Vick. Twenty! Compare that to the treatment Tannehill got from the Jets supposed pressure defense -- one sack, hit twice as he was throwing -- and it looks like a day at a flag football game.

This week Tannehill's toughness may be tested. This week the Miami offensive line may be tested. This week the Dolphins quick passing game may be tested.

Methinks the MIami offensive line is superior to Philly's. I hope the commitment to the run is better than it was in the fourth quarter last week. Both are tools to protect Tannehill.

The Jets obviously opted to cover in the back end and didn't go crazy on blitzes last week. As you will see below in the video of every Tannehill throw, the Jets came in with a reputation for exotic blitzes but didn't really live up to that reputation.

That mostly worked.

"There’s a few throws on the last drive, they’re corner routes that I overthrew deep," Tannehill said. "The second deep ball (Brian) Hartline had a yard on the guy and I left it on the white. Obviously, you want to get your deep balls in bounds so your guys have a chance. You can’t throw it off the field. So (I’ve) really focused in on that this week to keep balls in bounds and give guys a chance. We’re getting good routes by the guys. They’re stacking guys or at least even and have a chance to make plays. I just have to give them a chance and leave the ball in bounds.”

Tannehill's accuracy is something I'm watching closely going forward. There are times he simply is off. I don't know if that's a function of the one afternoon or if it will become a trend. I asked him the reason he was a wee bit off last week:

“I think not throwing a whole lot of them in practice is part of it," he said. "We throw them a lot in individual routes. We’re not seeing them a whole against a defense and it changes things a little bit when you’re going against a defense. I think this weekend moving forward that’s one of the things we want to work on is hitting those in practice that way, when they come up in games, we’re able to take advantage of it and make big plays."

The difference this week is the Cardinals get much of their pressure through their front rather than with the blitz.

It'll be interesting to see how Tannehill handles that if his offensive line doesn't hold up.

Enjoy the video, as provided this blog exclusively by Joe Alvarez, of every Tannehill throw against the Jets:

September 27, 2012

Several Dolphins among HOF nominees

The Pro Football Hall of Fame today announced a list of 127 nominees from which the class of 2013 will be selected and several of those nominees have Dolphins ties.

Former Dolphins wide receiver Mark Clayton is among the list, joining 11 other wide receivers on the list.

Former Dolphins cornerback Troy Vincent, who started his career in Miami before playing most of his years for the Philadelphia Eagles and other teams, is on the list.

Former Dolphins and Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson is on the coaches list, joining former Dolphins defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger, the architect of the no-name defense, and kicking coach Doug Blevins.

Bill Parcells, who was the Dolphins football czar from 2008-2010 and helped build the team that won the AFC East title in 2008, is on the coaches list as well -- obviously for the work he did with the New York Giants, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys.

The complete list of candidates for the Class of 2013 consists of 127 nominees. From that list the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semifinalist nominees. The list of 25 semifinalist nominees will be announced in late November. That semifinalist list will be further reduced by a mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists and announced in early January.

The Class of 2013 will be selected from the list of the 15 modern-era finalists plus the two senior nominees (former Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers nose tackle Curley Culp and former Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins linebacker Dave Robinson) who were selected last month by the Hall of Fame’s Senior Selection Committee.

The actual voting for the Class of 2013 will be conducted at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s annual meeting, which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 the day before Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. The election results will be announced at a live announcement show immediately following the meeting.

While there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the selection process by-laws provide that between four and seven new members will be selected.

Clayton, by the way, seems to be the most deserving of the Miami players. He made five Pro Bowls, he had an 18-TD season in 1984, he holds the team record with 82 career touchdowns, he holds the team record with 550 career receptions, he had 92 consecutive games with at least one catch, and he finished with 8,643 receiving yards with the Dolphins.

Despite those big numbers, the group of receivers is probably one that offers the stiffest competition. The list includes Tim Brown, Cris Carter, and Andre Reed.

Richard Marshall's back acting up again

Richard Marshall has been dealing with a back ailment for a couple of weeks now. His play, frankly, has shown signs of those problems because it has not been training camp good.

Marshall was limited in practice Wednesday and today he's not practicing at all. He wasn't even on the field. Nolan Carroll is taking his place as the next guy up.

The troubling thing about that? Carroll was also limited in practice Wednesday with an Achilles' issue. So he's not at 100 percent, either.

That's not good news.

Reggie Bush is making some progress in that he did a few individual drills early in the open part of today's media session but his participation today is limited. The Dolphins are reporting him as practicing on a limited basis. He's still not 100 percent nor is he participating like he is.

And here is a harsh truth:

Because the Dolphins have tons more depth running back than they do at cornerback, because the Cardinals can threaten Miami so much with Larry Fitzgerald, who is last week's NFC Offensive Player of the Week, the absence of Marshall would be much more painful for the Dolphins to overcome than Bush.


Another free agent cut adding to unimpressive record

The Dolphins quietly terminated the contract of guard Artis Hicks this week. Hicks had been on injured reserve with what was supposedly a neck injury but this is something of a mysterious episode because the club cited "a failure to disclose a physical condition" in jettisoning the veteran.

So Hicks and his one-year, $2 million contract are gone.

And that leads me to updating the work done in free agency by this team last spring and summer. It doesn't look good.

Artis Hicks -- contract terminated off injured reserve.

Tyrell Johnson -- cut.

Richard Marshall -- starting CB.

David Garrard -- cut.

Legedu Naanee -- Reserve WR.

Gary Guyton -- cut.

Jamaal Westerman -- cut.

Chad Johnson -- cut.

Eric Steinbach -- retired.

The score card reads that Miami signed nine players as veteran free agents. Seven were cut. Only two of those additions -- Marshall and Naanee -- remain on the team.

Marshall is a starter and the star of Miami's free agent class. But even he has been inconsistent at cornerback and had a tough day against the Jets last Sunday.

Naanee is a backup who has zero receptions for zero yards this season. His biggest contribution has come on special teams.

It should also be noted that Miami re-signed restricted free agents Phillip Merling and Lydon Murtha in the offseason and also eventually cut both.

So let me put this in perspective: By any measure, the Dolphins didn't maximize free agency. Obviously, they didn't spend a lot of money so their investment wasn't high. But it is fair to say the Dolphins are basically getting what they paid for.

If this is going to be the approach and typical of the results in free agency going forward, the next time the Dolphins will have a good opportunity to improve their team will come in the 2013 draft. 


End of the replacements: NFL, referees reach agreement

The NFL and the NFL Referees Union just announced a new eight-year deal has been agreed to by the two sides. The agreement is subject to ratification by the NFLRA, which will vote Friday or Saturday on the deal.

That is only a formality.

And as there will be a football game tonight between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens Thursday, the regular officials will work that national televised contest.

"Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night," Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement."

Said Scott Green, the president of the NFLRA: "Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote. We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games."

The terms of the agreement:

Eight-year term covering the 2012-2019 seasons.

The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season (or until the official earns 20 years of service). The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.

Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement, which will have two elements: an annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official that will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019, and a partial match on any additional contribution that an official makes to his 401(k) account.

Apart from their benefit package, the game officials’ compensation will increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round, including on the field.

The NFL will have the option to retain additional officials for training and development purposes, and may assign those additional officials to work NFL games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the NFL.

The end of this labor impasse will be welcomed in most every NFL outpost where talk of the replacements often leaked from the field to the sideline to the locker room.

Most people will be glad to see the replacements go. But don't count Dolphins coach Joe Philbin among their critics.

"I’m sure your jobs are challenging and tough, but officials’ jobs are not easy," Philbin said Wednesday. "Let’s face it. I don’t care how much experience you have, how many years you’ve been in the league. It’s just like coaching. I’ve been doing this 29 years and I certainly don’t profess to have all the answers. I think the guys that have been officiating have been good. They’ve been communicating; I think they’ve been hustling out there, so whatever happens, happens.”

September 26, 2012

Reggie Bush: 'Up to me, I'd be playing'

First things first: REggie Bush is not commiting to playing against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday but he's giving hints that if he has a say in the issue, he's in the game.

"It's up to the coach because if it's up to me, I'd be playing no matter what," he said this afternoon. "But it's up to the coaches and the trainers if I'm able to tell them everything I need to do to be in there. We'll find out. We got a long week." 

Bush almost went back into the game Sunday after he left with a left knee strain. Eventually, the decision was made to keep him out the entire second half.

"I felt like I was pretty close," Bush said of coming back in the game. "I felt pretty good. Somethings I was going on the sideline I thought I could get back in and work through it. Last minute they decided to rest me and not risk anything. We were straddling the fence on what they thought it was and just didn't know."

I believe Bush will play barring a setback such as swelling or if he retweaks in practice late this week.

On another matter, Karlos Dansby, former Arizona Cardinals and current Dolphins linebacker, was the guest on the conference call with Arizona reporters today.

And on that conference call Dansby told reporters the current Dolphins have more talent than the 2008 Cardinals team. The 2008 Cardinals went to the Super Bowl and were one amazing Santonio Holmes catch in the final seconds from winning the championship.

Look, I love Dansby. Have the highest regard for him as a player and person. But he's flat wrong here.

Tell me, what receivers can the Dolphins compare with the group of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston? Is Ryan Tannehill playing like Kurt Warner the year he passed for 4,500 yards with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions?

Those Cardinals averaged 26.7 points per game -- tied for third best in the NFL that year.The defense was poor which suggests Miami's front seven might be better than what those Cardinals had. But overall?

Only way Dansby has a point is if the Dolphins somehow manage to get into the playoffs. Otherwise, either Dansby is wrong or somebody with a lot of talent is underperforming for the Dolphins this year.



Wednesday afternoon update: Bush sits out practice

Reggie Bush is fine. Really.

But the Dolphins are being cautious and so he is not practicing today in the wake of Sunday's injury scare. Bush suffered a minor knee injury against the Jets but the team believed, and MRI tests confirmed, the injury should not keep Bush out a significant amount of time.

Bush will practice as soon as the swelling and stiffness are gone from his left knee. That could be by the end of this week. And if that happens, Bush might be able to play against Arizona on Sunday. The Dolphins don't expect Bush to miss more than one game at most, as I've reported previously.

With Bush out today, the Dolphins did a lot of work with Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. In that order. Still.

Despite evidence that Miller is the more explosive back and the fact the rookie is averaging 5.9 yards per carry to 3.6 yards per carry for Thomas, the second-year player remains ahead on the depth chart. Thomas would probably be the starter and get more carries if Bush cannot play.

Obviously, the issue remains whether Miller is capable of adequately protecting the passer on passing downs. He also could stand to learn the playbook better.

Linebacker Austin Spitler and defensive lineman Tony McDaniel also did not practice today.

BOTH sides responsible for referee labor strife

I think everyone agrees the replacement officials the NFL is using while it negotiates (or sometimes doesn't negotiate) with the Nationall Football League Referees Union are not doing a very good job. Everyone talks about how the integrity of the game is being compromised.


And on that point 560-WQAM afternoon host and friend Jorge Sedano and I also agreed Tuesday during a segment of his show.

But that's where the agreement kind of ended.

You see, I'm of the opinion that in a negotiation it is up to both sides to concede points. It is up to both parties to give and move toward the other. That's why it's called a negotiation. And since I truly have no dog in this hunt, I think both the NFL and the NFLRA are responsible for hurting the integrity of the game by not reaching a deal.

Other media I hear discuss the topic always attack the issue from a standpoint of the NFL has a lot of money. Roger Goodell is Satan. And the league's owners should basically give the officials whatever they want or need to make them happy and end the labor strife.

ESPN's Rick Reilly makes exactly that case following Monday night's disaster in Seattle in which what was surely a Green Bay victory got turned upside down and ended with a victory for Seattle. Reilly opines that the result should move the NFL commissioner to do whatever he has to do to solve the impasse. It is the typical "the union is always right and the businessmen are actually the boogeymen" view from today's media.

Never do I hear that both sides -- I said BOTH sides -- are responsible for solving this and the officials are being as intransigent as the NFL.

Look, I think unions are good to a point. But I also believe in free enterprise. I believe free men have a right to conduct their business as they seem fit as long as they follow the law and appropriate regulations. And so I do not believe in telling the NFL owners they must cave because I don't believe in telling people what to do with their money.

I notice neither Reilly nor the players telling the NFL to settle are volunteering to chip in any of their personal funds to help settle the issue. 

Sedano didn't really disagree with me on this point, but he didn't exactly second my opinion. He and Reilly are probably hiding in the bushes outside my house to jump me when I come out this morning.

He made the point that officials should be full-time. Well, the union doesn't want to do this because that means most officials would have to give up their regular jobs and most don't want to do that.

I also made the point to him that full-time umpires in baseball get it wrong all the time -- ask Armando Galarraga who had a perfect game stolen from him or the St. Louis Cardinals who had the World Series stolen from them if full-time umpires are any better than the guys that called the touchdownception Monday night.

Sedano believes the NFL should pay the officials more. Well, the NFL has offered the officials a 2.5 percent pay increase. Not enough, the NFLRA says. Tell me, when was the last time any of you turned down a pay increase? Also, when was the last time any of you made an average of $150,000 --what the officials currently make on average -- in your part-time job?

There is also disagreement over pensions. The NFLRA wants its part-time employees to get full pensions. The NFL wants to offer a 401K type plan instead and says many of its full-time employees get this type of plan so why would part-timers get the full scholarship?

It is a very emotional topic. It is affecting the integrity of the game. But both sides -- repeating, both  sides -- have to work toward a solution.

Here's the weekly segment between Jorge Sedano and me. We also disagreed on Ryan Tannehill's game Sunday, by the way. I love that guy. Listen to his radio show every weekday 3-7 p.m.

Armando Salguero Interview - 9-25-12 (1)

September 25, 2012

'Favorable' schedule suddenly looking tougher

Remember last week when I told you this season's schedule reminded me of the 2008 schedule that allowed that Dolphins team to win the AFC East title? Remember that stuff about the Dolphins not facing a 2011 playoff qualifier until December, thus making this coming two months a time when the Dolphins could win some games?

Remember Davone Bess saying he'd looked at the schedule and thought the Dolphins could do damage with that schedule?

Yeah, that stuff's not holding up so well right now.

The Dolphins will leave for Arizona on Friday as part of their preparations for playing the Cardinals Sunday. That game was supposed to be against a struggling club that was still searching for a quarterback and an identity.

Nevermind. That's not looking to be the case at this point.

The Cardinals are 3-0. They have posted a 10-2 record in their last 12 regular-season games. They boast the NFL's No. 1 defense in points allowed -- which is the most important statistic when judging because, you know, the score is what determines the game's outcome.

The Cards still have premier receiver Larry Fitzgerald and now Kevin Kolb has started to stabilize their quarterback play.

Suddenly this game isn't looking like a victory for Miami, much less an easy victory.

And that seems to be the narrative in other parts of the schedule as well.

The Bengals were supposed to be beatable. I suppose they still are. But they're tied for the AFC North lead and are playing solid football. Andy Dalton is the NFL's fourth-rated quarterback.

The Seahawks were supposed to be beatable. I suppose they still are. But they have the look of a solid team as well. Their defense, particularly their secondary, is outstanding. The unit was second in the NFL in points allowed per game prior to last night's game against Green Bay. And offensively, Marshawn Lynch is indeed a beast.

Yes, the Colts, Titans and Rams have major problems. But all have quarterbacks playing better than Miami starter Ryan Tannehill.

Suddenly, a stretch of games that seemed promising a week ago, is casting a different shadow now.

September 24, 2012

Mike Sherman addresses various topics here

As Monday is the day the Dolphins make their coordinators available to the media, it stands to reason that you should know what Mike Sherman told the media today about his play-calling, his thoughts on getting two running backs hurt in the final seconds before halftime in the Houston and New York games, and about players such as Lamar Miller, Charles Clay, Anthony Armstrong, Legedu Naanee and others.

So here it is ... All that Mike Sherman said today:

(On where running back Lamar Miller is in his development) –“I’m fairly impressed with Lamar. He’s a very smart football player, takes the coaching real well. I think he’s right on target, where we expect him to be at this time."

(On if it’s normal rookie play to occasionally miss an assignment like the play Miller had yesterday where he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill were not on the same page) – “Well, we just had a meeting. We talked about that and no it’s not what we can expect out him. We expect him to know what to do all the time. There was a call there that made us repeat the play and we wanted to run it again and he just missed it. Although those things do happen, I remind him he’s now being paid to play football and it’s inexcusable to make those type of mistakes. I don’t think he’ll make it again.”

(On how Miller has been taking the coaching and negative criticism) – “Excellent. It’s not negative, it’s just constructive criticism. He takes coaching very well. He wants to be great and he wants you tell him how he can get there, but he’s been very receptive."

(On when running back Reggie Bush went out with an injury that affected his play calling) – “Not a whole lot. It didn’t affect the play calling necessarily. We expect those other guys to step in and to do certain things. Obviously, Reggie, the young guys aren’t quite at Reggie’s level yet. So certain things happen when Reggie’s in there that may not happen otherwise, but, as far as play calling, it didn’t affect it whatsoever."

(On if he wishes he had some play calls back from the game yesterday) – “I don’t think there’s a game that I’ve ever called ever that I don’t wish…You’re not going to, if you get 75 plays, you’re not going to have 75 great calls in a ball game. That’s status quo from week-to-week.”

(On if he feels like the offense was too aggressive on the final two possessions of the game yesterday) –“Not necessarily. You look at the last possession, we ran the ball twice and threw it once. The pass that I called was a stick route in the flat, which we had completed earlier. We ended up, Ryan ended up giving a signal to the outside receiver to go vertical because of man coverage. He though he had a clearer shot there, which is understandable. But no, I don’t think it was, I thought it was what was called for."

(On how Tannehill is doing with his deep passes)– “It’s obvious, we weren’t real good then. When the ball ends up out of bounds, it’s certainly not what we want to be. We want it to be somewhere between the sideline, halfway between the sideline and the numbers, in that general vicinity – an area that we work on, the red line. We missed on a couple of those. There’s no question about that. It’s something he’ll work on this week."

(On this being the second time this season a running back has been injured in the second quarter of a game this season) – “Yeah, I’m sure Joe (Philbin) and I will talk about that like we do every week. How do we want to finish the half if we’re in those positions? Certainly have never had that happen before. It’s kind of an anomaly, but definitely worthy of discussion, no question."

(On if he expected to get more out of Charles Clay and what needs to change with him to be more of a factor in the passing game)– “Yeah, I have high expectations of Charles. I think part of that is him, part of that is us putting him in the position to make certain plays. I can’t remember just a whole lot of times where he has a… he hasn’t dropped a bunch of balls. We’ve targeted him and he didn’t perform necessarily, but yeah, I would like to get him more involved. He’s a talented young man. This week, he was on the field more than he was last week, the first game more than the week before. I kind of go by how they practice on which direction you’re going to go, fullback or two tight ends."

(On his impressions of the Arizona Cardinals defense)– “They’re very aggressive, their defense. They’re playing extremely well. They play very hard, very physical. Some games they come at you with everything they’ve got, other games they mix it up on you. It will be quite a challenge for us. We’re looking forward to it."

(On wide receiver Legedu Naanee not having any catches this week and if he feels like the team has enough playmakers from a receiving and tight end stand point)– “I thought we spread the ball around pretty good the other day. We were playing against a pretty good defense that also has very good players. I would like (Legedu) Naanee to be an, us to get him in position to catch some balls. I don’t think he was targeted necessarily the other day. But by no fault of him or us, it just sometimes that’s the way it ended up. But yeah, I’d like to see him get some more balls. (He) works extremely hard. He’s done a great job on special teams. I think that puts pressure on me to make sure that happens."

(On if the offensive line is playing as well as it seems, particularly right guard John Jerry and right tackle Jonathan Martin)– “Yeah, usually with offensive linemen if you don’t notice things, they’re doing okay, but yeah they’re doing a nice a job, in particular against that defense, which has a tendency, because of its structure, to create some sacks and hits on the quarterback. I think we only had two hits on the quarterback the entire game and were able to rush for a good amount of yards. We still left some… We’ve got a lot of work to do. We left some yards on the field that we could have gotten that we didn’t get. As I told the guys today in our meeting, we shouldn’t have left it to a field goal kicker to win the game for us. Shouldn’t have left it to Dan (Carpenter’s) responsibility. We have our own responsibilities and it was on us to make sure that we didn’t put him in that position."

(On trying to take too much advantage of the Jets secondary when cornerback Darrelle Revis went out)– “I think we ran the ball. How many runs did we have in the game? … There wasn’t an intentional shift if there was. I can’t honestly tell you that I purposely had an intentional shift at that point. There was an awareness that he was out of the ball game, which may have affected some calls, but not the frequency of calls necessarily in my mind."

(On if there is a big gap between receivers Naanee and Anthony Armstrong and the younger receivers)– “I think the gap right now is… I think (Davone) Bess and (Brian) Hartline have separated themselves obviously and I thought Bess had a great game, really performed well this week and last week. I think we’re still looking for that guy to step, the next two guys to step forward. I would agree with what you’re leading onto."

(On if he expected his running game to be ranked fourth in the NFL based on being last in preseason)– “I think part of  these things happen, but the other part of it is, in the preseason, I knew we could run the ball pretty effectively in practice cause we’re going to against one of the better rush defenses in football every single day and I think that helped make us a little bit better. In the preseason, we threw the ball an awful lot, an inordinate amount of times compared to where we are right now and what we’re doing offensively in trying to have an assessment on the receivers and the quarterbacks and what not. I don’t think the preseason can be an indication of our run game at all in relation to (now). Plus the fact, in the preseason, you’re mixing and matching guys. There’s different groups going in there. Until that offensive line is one cohesive unit, you really don’t start having the protection you need to have from that position."

Get your Miami Dolphins Monday update here

This is what's happening at this hour:

As I first reported Sunday afternoon, the injury to Reggie Bush is not serious. Bush had an MRI exam this morning and the result showed swelling but no structural damage. He might miss some practice time this week if the swelling does not go down sufficiently.

The worst-case scenario is Bush misses Sunday's game at Arizona. Best case? He's back in the lineup this weekend and forward we go.

The play-calling is a big topic of media conversation today. I wrote my entire column about that topic in today's Miami Herald. Coach Joe Philbin admitted today that, on second look, he would have made some play-call changes during Sunday's game.

“Sure," he said. "You always examine everything. Look I mean we had a first and ten on the 35, I think or something like that. We ran the ball on first and ten, got a couple of yards, not as many as we would have liked. We threw it on second down because they played a specific coverage so we took a shot. Geez would it have been better if we could have completed a seven or eight yard crossing route? Yeah, absolutely. And got a first down? Sure. But credit them; we thought we had a good call and they played that situation better and we weren’t able to get a first down and make it an easier kick for Dan (Carpenter).

"Those are the facts. There are always calls that, again, I’ve never seen a NFL player play a perfect game or a coach coach a perfect game. There are always calls you want to have back, all three phases. But that’s football, that’s the way it is. You have a plan, sometimes you have to adjust it, but I’d be lying if I told you (otherwise). I’ve been in a few games (like that). I don’t think the calls were bad. The result wasn’t what we wanted. Sure we wanted a first down. I thought we had some good calls.”

Frankly, the Dolphins face an interesting philosophical question soon. You see, they're pretty good at running the football. They do it as well as anyone in the NFL so far this season.

But they are not very good passing the football.

Their problem? They want to be balanced. They want to be "aggressive," as one coach told me privately. They want to throw the ball because this is a passing league.

I would say this to the Miami Dolphins: There are only three undefeated teams at this hour in the NFL. Not one of them has had a 300-yard passing performance so far. Not one. (Matt Ryan has come close but still hasn't done it.)

I'm not saying it's not important to pass. It is very important. But if you aren't equipped to be a pass-first team, if you aren't good enough at it, find what you do well and do that instead.

Philbin addressed some of these issues at today's press conference.

He was asked what is the identity of the offense. My guess is the identity is Wait 'til next year. Philbin cannot say that. So he said this:

“The way I’d like to be is protection the football number one, which we’re not there right now, okay. We have what six giveaways in the three games. Is that accurate? So two-a-game is way too many. 32 that’s not going to cut it. That’s the first thing we’re off the boat on. The second thing is we’d love to be an explosive offense that can make big plays. I think we’ve been excellent in the running game with explosive plays, not as good in the passing game, but we’re getting better as an explosive offense. I think we had eight (explosive plays) yesterday. I think we had nine last week. We didn’t have as many in Houston. Then, the other stuff is okay, let’s have balance, let’s have flexibility, let’s be multiple formation wise, let’s kind of take what they give us type of things. But that’s all kind of fluff. What the real stuff is, is let’s hold onto the football, let’s make some big plays and make first downs, get into scoring position and all of the other stuff that sounds good we can do later."

Protection of the football is a big deal. Well, then why are you passing from your own 6 yard line with a rookie QB against that secondary when you're leading?

If protection of the football is a big deal, why was Daniel Thomas your back of choice in the fourth quarter and overtime after he fumbled for the second time in two games? Philbin, by the way, said Thomas has two fumbles in three games. Actually, he's only played two games because he missed the Oakland game with a concussion. So Thomas is averaging one fumble per game.

“Some of it was protection related," Philbin said of the work Thomas got later in the game at the expense of Lamar Miller. "We try to get moving a little bit offensively in terms of the tempo. We like to keep a, there’s a couple different schools of thought – sometimes, you can change personnel every play and sometimes you can keep the same group in for a while and try to play faster. We’re more of the less substitution more faster. We thought Daniel, pass protection wise, gives us a little bit more, bigger guy. Some of the matchups that we thought, that was really primarily the reason.”"

So let me get this correct: The running game is working exceedingly well. You are leading going into the fourth quarter. So then you sub in a back that is an inferior runner because you want to pass more and he's a better pass protector?

Idea: Run the football! It's been working!

I hate second-guessing. But when you have the same thing happening in multiple games, I have to bring it up. Yesterday the Dolphins had the ball in their own territory with 36 seconds to play. They weren't going to attack. So they handed the ball to Bush rather than take a knee.

He got hurt. Not injured seriously, as you just read, but he missed the remainder of the game. The second-guess is to simply take a knee.

Two weeks ago, the Dolphins were in a similar spot just before halftime. They weren't attacking but rather simply running out the clock to  get to halftime. They ran a play for Daniel Thomas. He fumbled. He suffered a concussion.

Time to rethink?

"It all depends," Philbin said. "You have to… Every situation’s unique. The fun thing about game management, whether right, wrong or indifferent, you certainly could argue we’ve made some mistakes or I’ve made mistakes. I should clarify that. Every situation’s unique. Yeah, you have to argue as a coach do you have faith in your players to execute a base play in your offense and run the ball or do you want to take a knee.

"Sometimes, I struggle with that a couple times, obviously already this year. We’ll have to examine it. We’ll take a look at it. We’ll discuss it. But I don’t know that there’s any hard fast, how are you playing at that particular time? Do you have any momentum? Do you want to get in the locker room and make some adjustments? You think you might be able to have a shot play that you’ve had that you might be able to take a shot and get into field goal range? How many timeouts do you have? How many do they have? There’s a bunch that goes into it. I don’t think there’s any hard and fast."

One more thing ... The Dolphins are still struggling to find wide receiver help -- no, not via trade but rather from their own roster. Anthony Armstrong, claimed on waivers from Washington, hasn't performed as hoped. He dropped a pass Sunday. He hasn't factored for Miami.

So while Davone Bess and Brian Hartline are mostly contributing, the Dolphins are apparently using practice every week to determine which other wide receiver gets work on Sunday.

“I think some of it is based on weekly performance, weekly preparation in practice," Philbin said. "I don’t think we’re locked and loaded by any stretch of the imagination."

The troubles with Miami's running game decisions

I didn't like the Dolphins offensive play-calling in the fourth quarter on Sunday. As I wrote in my column today offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, with approval from coach Joe Philbin, abandoned the running game that had been working quite nicely for three quarters.

Sherman abandoned it when Miami was leading in the game. He did so to the tune of some eye-popping statistics for run-pass ratio. And then there was something that was not in the column that the Dolphins did that made it all the more puzzling:

Not only did Sherman go away from the running game which was working well and is the team's strength but when he did run the football I believe the Dolphins were giving it to the wrong guy.

I told you nearly a month ago how disappointed I've been with Daniel Thomas. Well, so far this season Thomas is the third-best of Miami's primary ballcarriers. The trouble with that is Miami has three primary ballcarriers -- Reggie Bush, Thomas and Lamar Miller.

And yesterday, after Reggie Bush went down with a minor knee injury, Thomas was summoned to take his place. And Thomas promptly fumbled. The fumble, by the way, is troubling because it's the second for Thomas in the regular season.

Two fumbles isn't a lot but when you've only played two games as Thomas has, the one-fumble-per-game average is not good.

Anyway, the fumble caused coaches to turn to Miller. And Miller was good. He was averaging 5.3 yards a carry during the game, including a 22-yard gain.

But then in the fourth quarter, for reasons coach Joe Philbin explained as normal substitution patterns to share the work as well as groupings substitutions, Thomas was back in the game. And Miller wasn't heard from again.

"That," Miller said with a shrug afterward, "is the coach's decision. I can't do anything about that."

True. But it's puzzling why it happened in light of the fact Thomas finished the game averaging 3.6 yards per carry, the lowest average of any of Miami's three ballcarriers.

Look, I get that Miller is a rookie and when you want to throw the ball, you go with the slighly more experienced Thomas as the pass protector. But otherwise, it seems pretty self evident that Miller is the better back.

He gets more production out of every carry on average and he does't fumble while Thomas obviously has.

What am I missing? Oh yeah, nothing. Miller is going to be better than Thomas in the future and, truth is, every statistic shows he's there now.

Obviously, the Miami coaching staff has a different opinion. They leaned more on Thomas on Sunday. Doesn't mean they are correct.