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47 posts from October 2014

October 31, 2014

A familiar formula for Miami Dolphins to ride to victory

Any Miami Dolphins fan can recite the reasons the Buffalo Bills, for example, have dominated their team in recent games: It's the line of scrimmage.

Simply, against teams with great defensive fronts, the Miami offensive line struggles because the interior of the Dolphins offense has at times been terrible inconsistent. On the other side of the ball, a team with a solid offensive line (such as Buffalo) has been able to overcome if not containt Miami's very good defensive front.

With me so far?

Well, Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, the Dolphins might have the ability to turn that exact script against the San Diego Chargers. It is likely the only hope the Dolphins have of winning that game because, frankly, the Chargers have better skill players on offense than Miami -- starting with quarterback Phillip Rivers.

The way I see it, Rivers is great and tight end Antonio Gates is great but their mark on a game fades if the Dolphins can win at the line of scrimmage. And from the looks of history and circumstances that seems quite possible.

Consider that the Miami defense is ninth in the NFL in sacks with 21. That's good. But it is tied for sixth in the NFL in sacks per game -- averaging three per game. The Dolphins rush the passer very well and that no doubt is one reason the secondary lately has feasted on interceptions (six in the past four games).

Combine that with the fact the Chargers are on their third starting center, having lost their starter and backup for the year, and that third guy -- Rich Orhnberger -- is struggling with back issues.

Combine that with the fact the Chargers lead the NFL with 103 pressures allowed despite sitting 16th in the league in the number of passing plays, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Combine that with the fact the Chargers struggle to run the football -- they only average 3.1 yards per rush and are 30th in rush yards per game at 85.8

And what you see is a developing picture of the Dolphins holding a distinct advantage along the line of scrimmage when their defense is on the field.

Well, what about when the Miami offense is on the field?

To start, the Chargers are not exceptional at rushing the passer. Their 15 sacks is tied for 19th in the NFL. Defensive end Corey Liuget is their sack leader with 2.5 out of the 3-4 set. He's good. But where's production from Dwight Freeney?

The San Diego defense also allows 110.9 rush yards per game. That's 14th which is middle of the pack. Safety Eric Weddle often has to creep into the tackle box to augment the run defense. And that is not a sign of a dominant run defense.

If the Dolphins, which for some curious reason don't run often enough despite having success at it, would decide to stick with the run, the statistics suggest they could have success against San Diego.

So what does this all mean?

This game offers a viable opportunity for the Dolphins to win the game at the line of scrimmage. It has been done to them with success all too painfully in recent history.

Perhaps they can flip the script.



October 30, 2014

Joe Philbin, others miss Miami Dolphins practice Thursday

Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was not at practice Thursday because of what the team termed a "personall family matter."

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, who met with the media in Philbin's place, said the entire staff ran practice.

"The way coach Philbin has this machine running, the machine kind of runs itself," Coyle said. "As soon as the horn sounds, practice is moving and its not a hard deal to follow. Coach has done a phenomenal job organizing every practice and every second of every practice. So we just follow his lead and go from there."

Coyle said Philbin would "be back shortly."

Right guard Daryn Colledge, who missed practice on Wednesday with a migraine and sinus infection, missed practice again Thursday. Tight end Dion Sims (toe) was in a walking boot again on Thursday and missed practice. He seems unlikely to play.

The Dolphins have been spending extra time after practice with Evan Wilson and Gerell Robinson, who were added to the practice squad earlier this week. It is possible Wilson or Robinson will be promoted to the regular roster to fill the void if Sims cannot play, as expected.

October 29, 2014

Colledge battling migraine and sinus infection

Miami Dolphins guard Daryn Colledge is listed as missing practice Wednesday due to an illness.

According to a Dolphins source he still has the migraine that bothered him during Sunday's game at Jacksonville. And he also has a sinus infection.

If Colledge cannot start at left guard against San Diego on Sunday, Dallas Thomas is the most likely candidate to replace him.

TE Dion Sims has a toe injury and also didn't practice. He was wearing a walking boot.

Charles Clay (knee), Nate Garner (neck), Chris McCain (foot), Koa Misi (ankle), Mike Pouncey (hip), Jimmy Wilson (hamstring) all were limited in practice on Wednesday.

John Denney (knee) and Cortland Finnegan (neck) practiced full despite their ailments.

Miami Dolphins secondary has been excellent but is about to be seriously tested

The Miami Dolphins secondary is on fire.

Last Sunday it had two interceptions of Blake Bortles, by Brent Grimes and Louis Delmas, and both returned their picks for touchdowns. (That's very good for the Dolphins). Delmas also had a recovery of a Bortles fumble.

Two weeks ago, the secondary had an interception against Jay Cutler, this one by Reshad Jones, and that pick gave the offense the ball at the Chicago 23 yard line and also eventually led to a touchdown. Cortland Finnegan also caused a fumble in that game.

On Sept. 28 against Oakland, the Dolphins secondary collected an interception by Grimes, which led to a Dolphins field goal, and Finnegan recovered a fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. Oh, yes, Jimmy Wilson and Walt Aikens also had an interception each in that game.

So to recap the past four games, the Miami secondary has six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns and two others that resulted in 10 points, collected two fumble recoveries, including one returned for a touchdown, and forced another fumble.

Three of the four members in the starting secondary -- Grimes, Finnegan and Delmas -- have scored and Jones had a turnover that led to a score.

Great work by them. Fine job by DB coach Lou Anarumo and his assistant Blue Adams.

So this unit is doing work, no?

“Most definitely," Jones said Tuesday. "We’ve got some veteran guys on the outside. I think we have some of the best corners in the league. Me and Lou [Delmas], I think we’re doing a good job. We’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep it going."

Ah, there's the issue.

It's an issue because while the Miami secondary has been a turnover-producing machine and has rivaled the offense in points production, it has done much of its work against some lesser quarterbacks.

The two interceptions in Jacksonville came against a rookie quarterback. The interception against Oakland was against a rookie quarterback. The fumble return against Oakland happened on a bad exchange between the center and the rookie quarterback's backup, Matt McGloin.

Jay Cutler? He's been a good quarterback. He's a veteran. His numbers are solid. But everyone understands there are questions about him of late.

The one game the Miami secondary hasn't really produced big plays in the past month was against Green Bay. And one supposes that's because QB Aaron Rodgers is elite. So it's understandable.

But the problem is the Dolphins and that ball-hawking, turnover-producing, points-scoring secondary are about to embark on a series of games against top-tier, indeed, elite quarterbacks.

No more rookies (Bortles and Derek Carr). No more backups sent in the game to clean up (Matt McGloin). No more QBs that are being looked at sideways in their own locker room (Cutler).

The next three of four games the Dolphins meet quarterbacks that boast QB ratings over 100.

The next three of four games the Dolphins meet quarterbacks with TD to INT ratios of 3-to-1 or better.

The next two of four games the Dolphins meet quarterbacks who have already thrown 20 TD passes or more and still have at least half a season ahead of them to chase more scores.

In the next four games the Dolphins meet Phillip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, Kyle Orton and Peyton Manning. (Wait, Orton is that Sesame Street quarterback that does not belong with the others, right? Well, only if you dismiss his 104 QB rating and 9 TD and 3 INT work since taking over the starting job in Buffalo.)

In other words, things are about to get real for the Miami secondary starting with Rivers on Sunday. He of the bolo tie has 20 TDs and 5 INTs so far with a 109.9 rating, which is third-best in the NFL. That means he's having a very good season.

“Everybody knows Philip Rivers has been a great quarterback in this league for a long time," Grimes said. "He gets rid of the ball quick. He stands and looks pressure in the face and still makes accurate throws. He has a great arm. You can go on and on about him.

"You’ve just go to make it tough, just like anybody else in this league. There are a lot of great quarterbacks and, if you give them easy things, you’re going to make them look even better. We’ve just got to try and challenge him all game and make things not easy for him."

Finnegan echoed his fellow cornerback...

“He’s playing at a high level, at an MVP level," Finnegan said. "He’s got 20 touchdowns. He’s got receivers. He’s got a tight end. He’s got a running game. You’ve got to be on point. You can’t give him anything easy, make them earn everything. You’re hopeful at the end of the day that’s enough, but we’ll see.

"It’s a tough task."

That's the way it is going to be for the Miami secondary the next four games. They've faced some inexperienced quarterbacks the last few weeks. They face some elite guys, particularly Rivers and Manning, the next few weeks. 

Oh, I forgot to mention: Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson said Tuesday he'll be ready to play after nursing a bum ankle the past month when the Lions return from their bye ... against the Dolphins.

October 28, 2014

Tuesday tape review from PFF and Salguero

If it's Tuesday (and it is) then it is time to review the tape of the Dolphins most recent game -- a 27-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

My friends at ProFootballFocus.com and I give you some insight on what happened in the game every Tuesday.

Here's this week's edition:

Offensive Summary

With Brandon Gibson active, Jarvis Landry’s snap total took a slight dip. Landry played 32-of-61 plays, Gibson handled 28 plays, and Rishard Matthews took 18 snaps.

Nate Garner was injured on his first snap subbing for Daryn Colledge, but came back and handled 16 total snaps when Mike Pouncey missed the final 15 snaps, kicking Dallas Thomas from left guard to right guard. Pouncey was fine. He was being rested, according to the Dolphins after feeling a twinge in his surgically repaired hip.

Grades aren’t final yet, but Daryn Colledge earned a -4.2 in only 10 snaps. Not good. It will interesting to see if Colledge says he had the migraine before the game and tried to play through it? Or started having the migraine during the game and it affected his performance? Or maybe he just played poorly?


QB Ryan Tannehill took three sacks when under pressure, but also performed well when he was able to get off a pass in those circumstances, finishing 4-for-8 for 104 yards when pressured. The majority of that yardage came on the plays to Mike Wallace and Dion Sims.

The Dolphins actually looked deep more too, with Tannehill finishing 2-of-5 on passes traveling 20+ yards for 88 yards. It was the intermediate passing game which lacked consistency, with just one completion on four attempts between 10-to-19 yards.


Four more missed tackles and 46 more yards after contact for Lamar Miller, as he’s starting to show he’s more than just a one-cut, straight-ahead runner. Unfortunately, the Dolphins don't really use him enough, it seems.

Daniel Thomas continues to perform well on his limited opportunities as 16 of his 18 yards on the ground came after contact.


WR Brian Hartline recorded two more drops, bringing his 2014 total to 4 dropped passes. Despite Hartline's rough patch, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor says he is confident the receiver will get his problems solved.

“I think Brian is a guy that is used to having a lot of production and he wants to contribute," Lazor said. "He has confidence in himself and his ability to contribute and I have confidence in him. It’s a long season, so sometimes you go through little waves, up and down. If he’s frustrated with certain things right now, I have pretty good confidence that he’ll be able to channel that into being more productive. I think people around here have known Brian long enough. I don’t know if we have a harder worker on the field, at least in my history of football that’s the most important thing that will translate into production. I think it will show up.”

Lamar Miller caught all three of his targets, even picking up 15 of his 21 yards after the catch; another area of improvement for the third-year back.

Defensive Summary

OLB Jelani Jenkins played nearly a full complement of snaps (67-of-72), but the Dolphins shuttled in LBs with each of the following picking up snaps in the nickel or base at some point: Jason Trusnik (54 snaps), Philip Wheeler (14 snaps), Kelvin Sheppard (17 snaps), Jonathan Freeny (7 snaps). Freeny was productive with a sack. Sheppard has a penalty called on him.

Similar to last week, Michael Thomas and Jamar Taylor split nickel corner duties with Jimmy Wilson still out due to his hamstring injury. Thomas played inside (with Cortland Finnegan at CB) and Taylor played outside (with Finnegan moving to nickel) for those plays. Taylor had more snaps than Thomas, 34-23.

DE Dion Jordan was immediately thrown back into the fire, playing 28 snaps and picking up a hurry and a couple tackles. He was also used on special teams.


Jamar Taylor’s on the hook for the coverage bust on Allen Robinson’s TD, but had been attacked by Bortles prior to that. In all, he allowed 6 catches on 9 targets for 84 yards and that TD. Yikes!

Taylor has passed Will Davis, who played in nickel situations the first four games of the season. Coaches think Davis would be worse than Taylor?

Opponents’ passing

Bortles was a disaster when under pressure, going 1-for-9, taking four sacks, tossing two interceptions, and scrambling into a lost fumble.

Bortles also struggled on throws 10-plus yards down the field, completing just 5-of-14 passes for over 111 yards (48 coming on the garbage-time TD), and the two picks.

October 26, 2014

Dolphins (needing offensive boost) call about Martin

JACKSONVILLE -- Count the Miami Dolphins among the multiple number of teams that have called the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to gauge the possibility of trading for running back Doug Martin, according to an NFL source.

Making a phone call and expressing interest is a long, long way from actually completing a trade, particular when the player at the center of the interest is battling an injury -- Martin left Sunday's game with an ankle injury of unknown severity.

But it is clear the 1-6 Bucs are in sell mode and the Dolphins, at 4-3 and having won consecutive games for the first time this season on Sunday, are willing to be buyers to improve their roster.

Adding a running back makes sense for the Dolphins. The team lost Knowshon Moreno for the season two weeks ago. Lamar Miller has been carrying the brunt of the running game since that injury with help from an unlikely source ... quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill has actually been Miami's most explosive rushing weapon in recent weeks. On Sunday he rushed five times for 48 yards and it was the third consecutive game the quarterback has had a run of 30 yards or more.

But that is not a sustainable plan for Miami. The team needs another weapon in the backfield and Martin is known quantity and quality to Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey. Hickey worked for the Bucs' front office when they drafted Martin out of Boise State three years ago.

Martin, 25, was outstanding as a rookie in 2012, gaining 1,454 yards on 319 carries. But injuries have nagged Martin the past two years. He suffered a torn labrum last season and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 8.

He struggled with a knee injury earlier this season. He also struggled catching the football this season. And, of course, Martin has struggled to succeed on the field like many of his Tampa Bay teammates. Martin has 139 yards on 48 carries so far this year for a 2.9 yard per carry average.

Will the player's increasing lack of effectiveness, injuries and Tampa Bay's sagging season convince the Bucs to trade Martin? That probably depends on what they are offered.

This much is clear, the Miami offense looks like it can use a boost of some sort.

As I wrote in my column in today's Miami Herald, the Dolphins are a football team, but only half the team showed up to their 27-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

The offense, for the most part, took the day off. That's not going to fly if the Dolphins are going to make a playoff push down the stretch this season.

Maybe if they can get help from a player who has been dynamic in the past, that might help.

The trade deadline is Tuesday.

Miami Dolphins defeat Jaguars, but I don't feel good about it

JACKSONVILLE -- The Miami Dolphins won on Sunday. They beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-13.

That's a good thing.

But this game does not leave a good taste in my mouth.

This game does not make me feel, well, good about the Miami Dolphins and their chances the remainder of this season.

(Peanut gallery: But Mando, the Dolphins rolled the Jaguars. What else do you want from them? A win is a win is a win.)

Yes, gallery, a win is a win. And that beats losing.

But if you've been paying attention, the Dolphins offense didn't show up. The Miami offense scored one touchdown this day. One.

And, yes, I recognize the Jaguars have a tough, plucky defense. But that defense is 27th in the NFL in points allowed. It was without its leading tackler Paul Posluzny. It started a backup at cornerback.

And that all said, the Dolphins did nothing to suggest they are going to be trouble for teams such as San Diego or Kansas City or Denver or, you know, New England.

Indeed, the early part of this game looked a lot like a Dolphins game against Buffalo the last three times the teams have played -- with the Jacksonville defense dominating.

Of course, the Jaguars are not quite as good as the 5-3 Bills. They have a rookie quarterback and a rookie receiver in Allen Hurns and another rookie receiver in Allen Robinson. Oh, and the Jaguars also start a rookie at center and right guard.

So the Miami defense did exactly what it should against that young group: The Miami offense dominated. The Jaguars had three turnovers, including two pick sixs given up to Louis Delmas and Brent Grimes.

Oh yes, the Jaguars also had a field goal blocked and another field goal come off the board because of a 10-yard holding penalty.

But I credit the Miami defense for plowing an under-talented, mistake-prone and clearly inferior opponent. That unit did what it was supposed to do.

The Miami offense, meanwhile, looked like it was sleepwalking the first half - getting off a grand total of three first downs on 19 plays -- no, they could not string good plays together.

What's my point?

Today was not just about today. Today was about the next nine games, too. And when a team plays down to the opposition (at least one offense) for most of the game, it does not leave a good taste.

It feels ... Well, there is much improvement to do if the Dolphins are going to be in the playoff conversation in December.

Great day for Delmas, terrible one for Colledge so far

JACKSONVILLE -- Louis Delmas is having a great day. Daryn Colledge is having his worst game of the season.

The Dolphins safety is the reason the Dolphins are leading this game. He intercepted a pass and returned it 81 yards for a touchdown. Later in the second quarter, Delmas recovered a fumble caused by Jelani Jenkins to end a Jacksonville scoring opportunity at the 15 yard line.

So Delmas is showing up bigtime in this game which Miami leads, 10-3 at halftime.

Colledge, meanwhile, has been benched.

He allowed two sacks and whiffed on another block that led to a pressure on Ryan Tannehill.

Colledge was left on the sideline wearing a baseball cap, watching the action as the offense was on the field.

The Dolphins' coaching staff is so displeased with Colledge, he remained on the sideline when his replacement Nate Garner was injured on the first play after replacing him. The coaches then called on Dallas Thomas to enter the game and play left guard.

The Dolphins reported Garner has a stinger. He is questionable to return.

The only way Colledge seems likely to return is if the Dolphins suffer another injury at guard as he is the only backup healthy right now.

Live blog: Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE -- The Miami Dolphins linebacker corps continues to be a unit that is having trouble staying healthy.

Koa Misi, who missed three games already this season with an ankle injury, is missing today's game against the Jaguars. Misi is out with the same ankle he had trouble with earlier this season. He suffered a setback in practice this week and missed practice Friday.

Defensive back Jimmy Wilson is also out today. He is nursing a hamstring injury.

The rest of Miami's inactives are Shelley Smith, Jason Fox, Anthony Johnson, Billy Turner and Harold Hoskins.

Brandon Gibson, inactive the past two weeks including as a healthy scratch last week, is active today.

There's a live blog today.

Join the community:


Live Blog Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars: Oct. 26, 2014

Dolphins roster more sound than Jets, Pats or Bills

JACKSONVILLE -- The AFC East standings today say the Miami Dolphins are a third-place team with a middling 3-3 record and there is nothing exciting to see here.

But if you read my column in today's Herald, you should get a different view of this team in comparison to the rest of the division. Simply, I believe the Dolphins have as complete a roster as there is in the division.

No, they don't have a future Hall of Fame quarterback like the Patriots do.

They don't have the best head coach in the division, either. (Patriots, again).

But the other teams in the division have significant holes in their rosters that the Dolphins don't have. It speaks volumes that all the other teams in the division are making significant roster and lineup changes recently to try to patch or hide their flaws.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are banking on stability to get better. They seem satisfied that the roster that is a sound mix of young and experienced players can continue to improve with more games this season.

Please read the column. And come back later today for a live game blog.

October 25, 2014

Keys to the game: Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE -- The Miami Dolphins have not won two consecutive games this season.

Until Sunday when they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. Well, at least that's my prediction. That's my pick. I'm picking the 3-3 team over the 1-6 team.

What a gambler!

Anyway, consider the keys to the game:

When the Jaguars pass the football: In what initially was supposed to be a sit-and-learn season, Blake Bortles took over at quarterback from Chad Henne (remember him?) in Week Four. And since then he’s completed 100 passes, the third-most in the NFL over that four-game span. Bortles uses the check-down a lot, which is one reason he owns a 65.5 completion percentage. The Dolphins must try to get him to look further downfield because that’s where the turnovers come. Bortles has five TD passes and 10 interceptions. The Miami secondary is coming off a stellar outing against Chicago – having shut down Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. A unit that can contain that star-studded attack should be able to handle a rookie quarterback and a wide receivers corps that features three rookies. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

When the Jaguars run the football: The Jaguars gave up on Maurice Jones-Drew in the offseason and committed to free agent Toby Gerhart as their primary ball carrier. Except that Gerhart suffered a foot injury against Pittsburgh two weeks ago and missed two games. The team is being cautious with his return. Former Deerfield Beach High star Denard Robinson is handling most of the duties at running back even though the Jaguars have former University of Miami player and washout Storm Johnson on the roster. The Dolphins struggled in run defense the first three weeks but have delivered three consecutive solid performances, including limiting the Bears to 52 rushing yards and a 3.7 yard per carry average last week. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

When the Dolphins pass the football: This attack is morphing from one that tried to connect on the deep pass with regularity (but could not) to one that concentrates on the short to intermediate routes – slants, quick outs, screens. That asks receivers to get open quickly and make a defender miss, but more importantly, it does not require quarterback Ryan Tannehill to hold the ball a long time or connect on long throws he has been known to struggle with that approach. As a result, Tannehill has increased his completion rate and the Dolphins are moving the chains more consistently through the air. The Jaguars don’t do a lot of things well on offense or defense and one of the things this team struggles with most is pass defense. The Jaguars are No. 30 in the league in pass defense. The Jaguars allowed over 320 yards passing in three of their games – all losses. The Jags do get to the passer effectively, ranking fifth in the NFL in sacks per pass play. Chris Clemons has a sack in three consecutive games. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

When the Dolphins run the football: Ryan Tannehill has the team’s longest run each of the past two games. He is quickly becoming a dynamic threat that must be respected as a runner. What does that mean? Eventually teams will be looking for the quarterback keep on the read option and be caught flat-footed when Tannehill neither hands to the running back nor keeps, but instead throws. When the Dolphins are near the goal line, however, look for Lamar Miller to continue as a growing part of the plan as he has scored a touchdown in three consecutive games from inside the red zone after not scoring at all the first three games of the season. The Jags defense has been solid both on the ground and through the air while in the red zone, allowing only two touchdowns in opponents’ last 13 red zone trips. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Special teams: Brandon Fields is having a nightmare season so far. His gross punting average is 31st in the NFL among 32 punters and his net average is last among 32 punters. The net average is obviously affected by Miami’s struggles covering punts as well as Fields’ own inconsistency. The Dolphins are also hoping kicker Caleb Sturgis, who had a kick blocked and missed another kick wide right last week, can get his act straightened out. Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee is good enough that he takes up an entire page of notes on the team’s game release. He has the most career FGs in club history, he has seven career game-winning FGs, his 92 percent success rate is second in club history and he’s connected on 23 of 38 kicks from 50 yards or more. ADVANTAGE: Jacksonville.

Coaching: Gus Bradley has an infectious attitude. He is optimistic, energetic, and comes with a solid resume as a defensive coordinator and assistant coach. But in his second in Jacksonville, Bradley is 5-18 (.217 winning percentage). Not good enough. Joe Philbin and his staff are coming off one of their finest performances. They took a disappointed and likely dispirited team following a tough Green Bay loss and got them ready to play and play well within one week. The result was a fine win at Chicago. Miami coaches helped erase physical mismatches against their defensive backs and offensive linemen. And they got their team to play with consistency. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

October 24, 2014

NFL trade deadline: Miami Dolphins possiblities

The NFL trade deadline is next Tuesday and unless I miss my guess, the day will likely come and go without a blockbuster to shake things up. That's the NFL, where significant midseason trades simply don't happen very often.

But let us dig deeper on the Miami Dolphins. I have no information whether they are shopping anyone or shopping for anyone. But my guess (again) is it would be somewhat difficult for Miami to get rid of some weight based on who they might offer, salary cap ramifications and, of course, compensation.

Three players the Dolphins could logically decide they would trade for the right compensation?

Wide receiver Brandon Gibson.

Guard Shelley Smith.

Defensive end Dion Jordan.

Again, I'm not saying these guys are on the trade block. I'm saying that if someone comes along and makes an attractive offer for any of these, logic dictates the Dolphins would listen. And there are logical reasons to consider each as viable on the trade market.


Gibson was a healthy scratch in last week's game. He has lost his starting slot receiver job to rookie Jarvis Landry. Landry is the future. And Gibson is one year removed from patellar tendon surgery on one of his knees. So for a wide receiver needy team, he might be somewhat attractive in that he's experienced, he's not a diva, and he might come cheaply -- perhaps a sixth or seventh round pick.

For the Dolphins, trading Gibson might make sense because he is redundant on the roster as a receiver and he cannot get active because he does not play special teams. He has been passed on the depth chart. And the major purpose he serves is as insurance against an injury to one of the four guys ahead of him. If he goes, the Dolphins would still have five receivers in Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams.

So offer him to the New York Giants. Their slot receiver Victor Cruz just went down for the year.

The cost of trading Gibson? It would offer a cap savings this year that could be carried over to next year. There would be dead money left on the books, too. But the move would ultimately help the cap by up to $1.7 million this year. By the way, if the Dolphins cut Gibson next year with a post June 1 designation, they can pocket a $3.26 million cap savings.

Dion Jordan: This is not an outrageous idea, primarily because there is always interest in a pass-rushing lineman or linebacker and Jordan can be either in the right system. Also, the Philadelphia Eagles approached the Dolphins about making a Jordan trade last offseason. Also, Jordan is young (only in his second season).

Why would the Dolphins do this? I don't believe they would barring a stellar offer and, you must recognize no one makes a stellar offer at this time of year. There would be no way the Dolphins would get back comparable compensation for what they invested in Jordan, which was not just a first-round pick but a high No. 1.

No one is going to give a first-round pick for Jordan. I don't think his value now is even a second round pick.

Why? Again, people are looking for bargains. Jordan is unproven. He is coming off two suspensions for violating the NFL drug policy on performance enhancing drugs and the NFL substance of abuse policy. That's the double play of drug policies Jordan ran afoul of. Not good, despite the fact he now says he's "drug free." The truth is Jordan faces an extended suspension of up to one year for his next strike in the substance abuse regimen. So that taints him in a trade scenario.

Then there is this: The Dolphins would have to be blown away (pardon the pun) by a trade offer to consider moving Jordan because the move is a salary cap nightmare. Trading Jordan at this point would leave nearly $10 million in dead money on Miami's books. Even trading him next offseason would be a $1,060,209 cap hinderance when you do the math on the $6,607,836 in dead money minus the scheduled $5,610,627 cap cost that would come off the books. It would be a negative cap move for the Dolphins to trade Jordan even in 2015.

It's four times worse now. Literally.

Trading Jordan doesn't become a cap savings move until 2016. And, remember, such a move is not done in a vacuum. The Dolphins would want appropriate top compensation for Jordan now to take the cap hit. I seriously doubt anyone would be so desperate as to make such an offer for a player who is unproven and whose reputation off the field is now questionable.

Then there is Shelley Smith. Believe me, this would not be a blockbuster. Smith is a reserve lineman who has been a reserve lineman throughout his career. The Dolphins believing he could morph into a starter apparently included a little wishful thinking.

Yet Smith is making better-than-backup money. His cap number this year is $2.5 million and next year it goes to $3 million. I'd be shocked the Dolphins would carry Smith on the roster next year for $3 million unless he wins a starting job coming out of training camp.

I would not be shocked if they simply cut him after June 1 and took the $2.75 million cap savings that would bring. But for now, it might also make sense to deal Smith for a seventh-rounder and take the cap savings of over $1 million this year that could be carried over into next year.

You get a late round pick and a million bucks in cap savings for trading a second- or third-stringer.

Yeah, I doubt anyone out there bites.

Same applies to outside linebacker Phillip Wheeler. Trading him would saddle the Dolphins with approximately $10 million in dead money. His cap number (with him here) would go up (with him traded away). And no one is going to pay for Phillip Wheeler's services to any significant degree because no one will want to take on the horrible contract the Dolphins gave Wheeler in 2013.

So this is not happening, folks. More likely the Dolphins simply cut Wheeler after June 1 next offseason and save $3 million against the cap.

So what if the Dolphins go shopping for help?

Firstly, I think the Dolphins have a pretty solid roster as it stands. Jeff Ireland laid parts of a good foundation and Dennis Hickey has in one year done an outstanding job of adding to it. I'm writing a Sunday column on the topic that will post Saturday so please watch for that.

But if this team fancies itself a playoff contender and a trade deadline buyer, perhaps upgrading at running back or linebacker or maybe even cornerback might help. I'm not talking giving a first-, second-, third-, or fourth-round pick for anyone because I doubt anyone worthy of that compensation is available.

But a reserve corner who is an upgrade over Jamar Taylor or Will Davis? That would be good.

A big RB who could offer a change of pace to Lamar Miller? That would be good.

Tuesday is the trade deadline.    

October 23, 2014

New opponent, new challenge for Miami Dolphins coaches

Every week is a test for any NFL coaching staff and just as the Green Bay game was a test for Miami Dolphins coaches (which they failed) and the Chicago game was a test for Dolphins coaches (which they aced with flying colors), Sunday's game will be a test for Dolphins coaches.

But unlike the Green Bay debacle and the wonderful work done in the Chicago victory, this game offers different challenges for the coaching staff.

This game tests coaches' ability to set a goal and have the team attain it.

That goal this week?

Coach Joe Philbin laid it out in the minutes following the Chicago victory in the locker room: Win two in a row. Get on a roll. The Dolphins have not yet done that this season.

"Obviously, we had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago and lost the game on the second to last play of the game," Philbin said, referencing the Green Bay loss. "We’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to finish games better. Certainly, we haven’t done it yet and until we do it’s one of the challenges we’ve got to meet as a football team."

The challenge this week comes with a benefit and burden.

The benefit is the Dolphins face one of the worst teams in the NFL. Jacksonville is 1-6. Jacksonville has a rookie starting quarterback. Jacksonville has two rookie starting receivers. Jacksonville doesn't score many points. Jacksonville's defense, meanwhile, is 27th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed.

So the Jaguars seem to be easy pickins' on paper.

The burden?

Getting a football team coming off two emotional games in a row -- one in a loss and one in a great victory -- to take their preparation and the Jaguars seriously.

It is the coaching staff's job, in other words, to make sure the team suffers no letdown against an inferior opponent.

That's what Philbin has been trying to do. And the way he's doing it is by trying to convince his players to understand that Jaguars can hurt them if the door is opened.

"Really what I said to the team is just watch the film," the coach said. "Two weeks ago, I studied, usually all of the close games in the NFL from the prior week and I watched their team line up to potentially kick the game-winning field goal against Tennessee to put their team in position to win.

"Last week, they won by 18 points. Their defense the last few weeks I think is averaging giving up 13 points a game or something like that. They’ve got a young quarterback. I didn’t even really talk about the record so much as just watch the tape. These guys are improving. They’re a good football team."

The Dolphins need to win this game because they see themselves as much more than a .500 team. Unfortunately their vision of themselves is worthless unless the record actually states they're better than .500 and right now it doesn't do that.

So winning at Jacksonville would help confirm what the Dolphins thinks of themselves. For the coaches, meanwhile, getting the team above .500 and staying there is important to their job security. Not that Philbin is too worried about that.

"Not at all," he said. "Again, when you coach, I’ve coached at all different levels, college football and in the National Football League, and I’ve always approached it as a one game at a time mentality. It’s certainly a privilege to be the coach of the Miami Dolphins. Really we’re just focused on playing a team, I think Gus (Bradley) is doing a great job up there, and his team is improving.

" I think they have the fewest penalties in the National Football League. They’re playing great red zone defense. They’re doing a lot of good things up there. I’m concerned about getting our guys ready to play as well as they can Sunday at one o’clock."


October 22, 2014

Joe Philbin answers media questions

Joe Philbin believes the deep ball is coming for his Miami Dolphins. He thinks Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is very talented. He believes practice squad running back (and possible future third-down back) LaMichael James is coming along nicely although the player may not necessarily know the entire offense yet.

How do I know he thinks all these things? Because he said so today.

This is everything he told the media today:

Opening statement) “A couple of things that we talked to the team about really improving, today was our third down day. That’s one area of our football team that we’ve really got to coach better, play better, execute better all the way around. That was kind of the focus today and certainly something as we move forward during the season we are going to have to do a much better job at both sides of the ball.”

(On how troubled he is about the punt and kickoff return coverage) “I think there are a lot of factors that go into it. Just like we talk about the passing game, we talk about protection and spacing and timing and accuracy and decision making. The kicking game, there’s a lot of it. There’s the kick, there’s coverage, there’s defeating blocks, there’s tackling, there’s spacing, there’s reading the blocking schemes. There’s a lot of things that go into it and there are things of where we are at statistically that we have some things we need to keep working on, get better at and correct. I wish I could say it was one thing.”

(On what he has seen from Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles and if there is any comparison to QB Ryan Tannehill’s rookie year) “I haven’t sat around and thought about that, but I guess the one thing I would say is I remember he didn’t start the game, I don’t believe, but I know he played in the preseason against Tampa Bay in the first preseason game, and we played Tampa Bay in the second. I remember watching and I remember saying, ‘Wow, this guy looks pretty good.’ I think he’s very talented and I think he can make all the different types of throws. He’s elusive. He’s got good pocket presence, so he’s doing a good job. We are going to have to play well to defend him. I really was very impressed with him the first time and I’ve seen some additional film since then. He’s come along nicely.”


(On if he is happy with the offensive line) “You always want to see more. You ways want to see improvement. You want to see development. This group that we have out there that we’ve had out there the last two weeks has been together two weeks. There’s certainly some positive things. It’s funny, I think I said this to you guys and I believe it, if you look at the stat sheet we did have four sacks. That’s not acceptable. That’s too many. Yet at the same point in time a lot of the pass attempts are as clean of a pocket as we’ve had all year. There’s certainly a lot of room for development and that’s why we practice. That’s why we want it to translate to the game.”

(On what he likes about what the offensive line is doing now) “I think they are smart guys. I think they are tough. I think they are passionate about football. That’s what I really like the most about them.”

(On how important footwork is for a quarterback) “I think it helps. I think it contributes to them. Like anything else, you’ve seen quarterbacks that have had great success in this league that maybe don’t adhere to the same precise fundamental footwork. But I think as a starting point, I think it’s very important. I think for young quarterbacks it’s very important and it’s something we certainly spend a lot of time, Zac (Taylor), Ben (Johnson) and Bill (Lazor) spend a lot of time emphasizing with all the quarterbacks. I think it can only help you.”

(On if there are some quarterbacks that throw better on the move) “Oh, I’m sure. I think that’s fair to say, yeah. I think if you study different guys, I think just in my experience some do throw better on the ball on the move than others, sure.”

(On how encouraging it was to see QB Ryan Tannehill take adversity from a few weeks ago and channel it into playing at a higher level) “You want the players, as the season progresses, you want to see improvement and development out of everybody at all position. You want the units to improve. Again, I think that’s the encouraging thing about our football team the last few weeks is I think we improved in a lot of different areas. Certainly, his performance has helped that. Some of the guys around him, their performance has helped that. I think it’s good. I think he is playing well and we are looking forward to him playing well again.”

(On what it says about a quarterback that can get through a difficult time) “Inevitably if you are in the game long enough or you walk on the planet long enough, you are going to have things happen to you that maybe you didn’t plan on happening, didn’t want to have happen, and you have to deal with them. I think that happens, and that is part of the maturation of all us I think at various points in time. I’m sure you’ve had some in your career.”

(On the place the read option has in the offense at this point) “It’s a part of the offense. It’s something that can be a positive thing. It’s not rocket science. It’s not the magic pill, but it’s something that we’ve utilized game-by-game based on how our opponents line up and how we anticipate them playing that particular scheme. One week could be emphasized more than another. Some weeks may not be, but I think it is something defenses have to spend some time on tape to demonstrate the ability to at times run it effectively. I think that’s going to devote some practice time to it.”

(On his reaction to seeing QB Ryan Tannehill carry defenders attempting to tackle him on his long run against Chicago) “I loved that. I thought it was great. I think he, after contact, got contact at after 12 yards. I think he was smart. He had good ball security at that point in time and was able to drag guys. Those types of runs, we showed the whole team just the running backs, the tight ends and the wide receivers, when you break tackles or carry guys five, six, seven, eight extra yards, I think it’s a momentum building for the whole team.”

(On if QB Ryan Tannehill is under rules to slide whenever possible) “Not in that situation. He was fine. If somebody is coming straight on or what we would call a vice tackle where guys are coming at him from two different angles, then certainly we would want him to go down.”

(On if he hesitates using the word trap game when playing a team with only one win) “Yeah, I do. As I’ve said and I definitely said to the football team, it’s really you have to watch the film. The film says that this team is improving dramatically over the last three weeks that we’re playing. Again, I think their defense is averaging giving up 13 points a game the last three weeks. You give up 13 points a game in the National Football League, you are giving your team usually a pretty good chance to win every single time you go out. I think they have a tremendous red zone defense. They’ve got a bunch of sacks on defense. They have a young quarterback. They are the least penalized team in the NFL, if I’m not mistaken, or close to it. There’s a lot of indications that Coach (Gus) Bradley and his staff are doing a great job up there. Their team is getting better, there’s no doubt about it. I haven’t really brought up the record. What I talked about was watch the tape. There’s enough there on tape that we have to get ready and we have to play well.”

(On if he feels like he has to limit the times he calls the read option in fears of QB Ryan Tannehill taking a big hit) “Not necessarily. We have to do whatever we have to do to move the ball in the game. If we feel like that’s the best way to do it, then we will call it a bunch of times. If a team defends it awful well and we don’t seem to have the answers to get it going, we probably aren’t going to call it a whole lot. We haven’t put any restrictions, limits. It’s hard to predict. I said last week, if you would have asked me last week, I would have said we probably are going to be handing the ball off all day. Things change when you get to the game.”

(On if RB LaMichael James knows the offense yet) “He’s coming along. I think he’s coming along pretty well. I can’t speak to say that he knows 100 percent of it, all of it, but he’s a bright guy, he’s been diligent. He’s done a good job so far.”

(On how DE Dion Jordan looked today) “I was encouraged by the way he moved around again. I thought he’s had two good days of work so far. That was positive.”

(On if C Samson Satele has exceeded expectations since the team picked him up especially with moving Mike Pouncey to guard) “I don’t know if it was part of the plan, but I don’t know that it wasn’t part of the plan. I think you just deal with things day-to-day and you learn more about a player. We certainly didn’t know a lot about him. He’s come here. We like the way he goes about his business in the building. We like the way he’s performed on the field. He’s a good guy in the locker room. We’ve just kind of taken it one day at a time and he’s done a nice job so far.”

(On if there is anything that has changed about WR Mike Wallace’s game that has made him more of a possession receiver) “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is just his work ethic around here, his comfort around here, I just think he feels better about being a Miami Dolphin. I know that sounds crazy, but I think it’s translated and helped him on the field. I really do. He’s got five touchdowns in six games. What did he have five all of last year maybe? Who knows what the future holds, but I like the way he’s contributing. I like the energy that he is bringing. He’s practiced hard. He’s been running hard in practice and working on the timing with everybody, with the whole passing game. I can’t really pinpoint one thing necessarily other than I just like the way he’s going about his business more and I think all of that stuff, at the end of the day, counts for something.”

(On if he thinks the deep ball is coming) “It’s coming, it’s coming.”

(On the moment in the Chicago Bears game where WR Mike Wallace made him smile on the sideline) “It was good, it was a good conversation. Again, his enthusiasm has been great, his energy has been great. I think I told him, I’ve got to cut this conversation off because I’ve got some other things to do. It was a positive conversation, it was good.”

(On RB Lamar Miller and his strong start and him not having as high a rushing average as he did in the first four weeks) “Let’s face it, our tailbacks, our running back I guess since we’re not in the I-Formation anymore, so I can’t call him a tailback, but our running back position, especially last week, I think averaging three and half between Daniel (Thomas) and he. Again, you’ve got to credit Chicago. We’ve got to do a little bit better. I don’t think it’s anything specific that Lamar hasn’t done, we’ve just got to pop him free a little bit more, give him some more opportunities. One of the things we’ve talked about is and one of the reasons I mentioned earlier that we showed the clip of Ryan (Tannehill) running is we want him to get to the secondary level, whether it be against a nickel back, a safety, a corner. I said it to him again on the field today, we’re going to get you to pop loose there and really break one and show your speed. It would be great for him, great for the offense obviously and the team. Hopefully that will happen.”

Miami Dolphins kicker and punter in the crosshairs

Tuesday was not a wonderful day at work for Miami Dolphins kicking specialists Caleb Sturgis and Brandon Fields. That's because their boss called them out for jobs not too well done so far this NFL season.

Coach Joe Philbin singled out Sturgis during a team meeting, in front of all the other players, for missing a field goal in Chicago last weekend.

The coach was also asked during his press conference about his punter Fields having a suprisingly poor season kicking the ball so far and Philbin didn't mask the fact something is wrong there.

It was eye-opening because the coach often covers for some players.

Not this time.

Sturgis is connecting on only 78.6 percent of his kicks so far this season. That's 28th in the NFL out of 32 kickers. From 30 yards on out, Sturgis is 6 of 9 (66.6) and that is also not a good mark.

Sturgis had a 32-yard attempt blocked in Chicago. But it was the missed 50-yarder that drew unwanted attention for Sturgis.

"We told him today, we were in the team meeting today and we said we’ve got to make those field goals," Philbin said. "We kind of went through that sequence where we took a sack and knocked ourselves back, and made the field goal more difficult.

"That being said, I said to him right there in the whole team meeting, we’ve got to make those field goals. He knows that and I suspect that he will work at it and he’ll get better at it."

Sturgis is in his second year and hasn't yet lived up to the No. 5 draft pick the Dolphins invested on him last season. So the fact the coach called him out in a team meeting and then shared that fact publicly is not terribly shocking.

This is:

Fields, arguably the best punter the Dolphins have ever had, is having a terrible season so far. And Philbin didn't argue the point Tuesday.

"Early on we got the punt blocked in Buffalo," Philbin said. "He just hasn’t looked as comfortable quite yet back there, as he has in the two years that I’ve been here, the previous two years. I’m confident he’ll work his way through it and he’ll get back to being the outstanding punter that we all know.

"For his standards, it’s not quite what we’re used to. I think he would acknowledge that, but I’m very, very confident that he’ll get back to that soon."

Fields has a long way to go to get back because his 43.3 gross average this year is 31st in the NFL out of 32 punters. His average is the worst he's had since his rookie year in 2007 and, amazingly, it is only one yard better than his 2013 net average of 42.4.

As for the net average this year?

It's 31.8. That is dead last in the NFL. That is so bad it is nearly four yards worse than the next worst net average. Oh, and it is the worst of Fields' career by four yards.

Yes, long way back.

October 21, 2014

Miami Dolphins DE Dion Jordan: 'I'm drug free'

Dion Jordan talked to the press for the first time since he began serving his initial suspension (for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances) and the first time since being popped and saddled with a second suspension (for violating the NFL substance abuse policy). The interview session was a mixed bag.

He declined to admit he underwent treatment at a rehab facility, although that's exactly what happened. But he was unequivocal in telling you -- Dolphins fans everywhere -- you should feel confident about one thing:

"I think they should be confident I'm drug free," Jordan said. "Yes, I'm very confident."

Jordan also admited "I made a mistake."

Well, that's good.

Jordan was not quite so direct when asked if he underwent treatment at a rehabilitation facility.

"Man, honestly, I had to take time for myself," Jordan said when asked to confirm his stint in rehab. "That's what I did. I wasn't able to be around the guys so my whole thing was go back and be around people familiar to me who keep me grounded. That's what I did and I stayed in shape and I'm thankful that once I got back the Miami Dolphins everyone within the organization took me in and allowed me to get back into my normal routine so when it was time to step on the field I was back to where I was."


Anyway, Jordan doesn't think now that he's back he's getting something of a second chance.

"I can't call it that," Jordan said. "I'm not looking back at what happened. It's no point in me doing that. I'm moving on and that's all I can do. I  have the ability to contribute to this organization and that's what I'm going to do."

Jordan does believe he "bettered myself" and "came back with a clear mind" and "took care of my business." Bottom line, Jordan feels he's in good surroundings now.

 "It feels really good to be back and get back into the swing of things and being around my teammates; getting back to my normal routine and what I'm used to," he said.

Dion Jordan working as are Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are back working and so is Dion Jordan today.

Jordan, on the exemption list now, does not count on the 53-man roster but he is able to practice with the team. And that's what he's doing but the much anticipated ways defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said the team could easily find uses for Jordan somewhat disappoints me so far.

Today, Jordan was incorporated into the kickoff coverage team, picking up where he left off as he was on the kickoff coverage team all last year and the preseason.

Today, Jordan worked with the defensive linemen because, well, he's a defensive lineman.

But during the open portion of practice at least there was no evidence Jordan was going to get snaps with the linebackers where he might start working as a strongside backer. Miami's linebacker corps continues to be Koa Misi in the middle and Jelani Jenkins and Phillip Wheeler outside.

Me: :-(

As you may know I have advocated using Jordan as a strongside linebacker.

Some other notes from practice:

Misi and CB Brent Grimes, who were not able to finish Sunday's game due to injuries, were back practicing today and showing no signs of injury. They practiced at least on a limited basis as the media is not able to view the entire practice.

Brandon Gibson, out the last two weeks, is back at practice today and working at least on a limited basis.

Jimmy Wilson, who missed last week due to a hamstring injury, is not practicing today.


The PFF and Salguero rewind of the Bears win

Glad tidings on the scoreboard typically translate to good grades for the Miami Dolphins from my friends at ProFootballFocus.com and this week is no different.

The Dolphins beat the Chicago Bears and the film rewind of the victoy was kind to Miami.

Here are some nuggets:

Offensive Summary

RB Damien Williams saw the first snaps in relief of Lamar Miller, but Daniel Thomas ultimately played more, holding a 24-5 snap count advantage over Williams. Miller handled 43 of 71 snaps.

The Dolphins played plenty of 12 personnel protecting the lead in the second half, but Jarvis Landry saw 42 snaps and looks entrenched as the starter in the slot for now. Brandon Gibson, meanwhile, was inactive for his second consecutive game.

In what’s already been a dominant year for LT Branden Albert, he recorded his highest grade (+6.9) of the season, excelling in the run game (+4.4) and silencing Jared Allen and Willie Young in the pass rush. Young led the NFL in sacks before this game.


QB Ryan Tannehill had a clean pocket, with no pressure on 27 of his 36 drop-backs. He was 23-for-27 with 239 yards and 2 TDs on those drop-backs.

With a clean pocket, Tannehill was able to look down the field a little more. On passes travelling 10-19 yards downfield he was 6-of-8 for 78 yards and the pair of scores.

The shot down the field and the bomb have apparently been benched by the Dolphins. The team simply doesn't try them recently. Tannehill was 1-of-3 for 25 yards on passes of 20-plus yards downfield.


The primary success in the running game came behind Albert. Miller attempted six runs behind his left tackle, producing 32 yards.

Miller is doing a better job not going down on first contact. He posted 38 yards after contact, his second highest number of the season, despite just 63 yards overall on the ground.


The Dolphins were able to take advantage of TE Charles Clay’s matchups with the Chicago LBs. Three of Clay's four catches and 46 of his 58 yards came against Shea McClellan and Khaseem Greene, including his TD catch.

Tannehill attacked Greene at will, targeting him the most of any Bears defender. Clay, Miller, Thomas and Williams caught seven of eight targets for 79 yards, with the lone miss being a drop by Miller on a check-down.

Defensive Summary

DE Cameron Wake continues to make right tackles look silly. In addition to his sack-fumble-recovery, Wake tallied three hurries and made two more stops in the run game.

Michael Thomas and Jamar Taylor split nickel corner duties in Jimmy Wilson’s absence. Thomas played 26 snaps as slot corner, while Taylor played 19 snaps at right corner, kicking Finnegan to the slot in those instances. Taylor struggled giving up two penalties.

Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi were the nickel LBs for most of the day, with Philip Wheeler joining them in the base. Misi couldn’t finish the game out and Jason Trusnik and Wheeler manned the nickel on the final drive.

Brent Grimes couldn’t finish out the game either, leaving on the final drive. The three DBs to close the game at corner were Finnegan at RCB, Thomas in the slot, and Taylor at LCB.

The Dolphins did not report any injuries for either Grimes or Misi so it will be interesting to see if both players practice on Tuesday.


Despite allowing six catches on nine targets for 67 yards and a score, Cortland Finnegan bounced back from his very poor Week Six. He broke up two passes: one in the end-zone near the end of the game to Brandon Marshall and another on a deep-ball to Alshon Jeffery.

Besides the interception, safety Reshad Jones broke up two passes and allowed two catches on 4 targets.

After shadowing Jordy Nelson last week, Brent Grimes was back at his left corner position. Bears QB Jay Cutler targeted him just three times, resulting in two catches for 8 yards. Excellent work by Grimes and the people up front who rushed Cutler.

October 20, 2014

Consistency by the Miami Dolphins a significant step

CHICAGO -- Inconsistency has been the bugaboo for the Dolphins this year. Everyone knows that. Everyone has come to expect it.

And one game of consistency does not change everything, as I write in my column today. By the way, I also take you into the Dolphins locker room and into the Bears' locker room immediately after the game. Let's just say there was a vastly different vibe from each place.

Anyway, the consistency (or lack thereof) by the Dolphins this season has been galling. Except on Sunday the Dolphins gave us their most consistent performance of the season.


Miami scored seven points in the first quarter.

And seven points in the second quarter.

And seven points in the third quarter.

And six points in the fourth quarter.

Ryan Tannehill was hot in the first half. And he was hot in the second half.

The defense caused turnovers in the first half. And caused turnovers in the second half.

The Jekyll and Hyde personality of the Dolphins was happily, thankfully missing this day.

So does that mean the Dolphins have found the answer to consistency going forward? I don't know. You don't know. I don't believe the Dolphins know. But at least the possibility is there because for the first time this season, we've seen a full offensive and defensive performance from this team throughout four quarters against a solid opponent.

Feel good about that. It is progress.

October 19, 2014

Miami Dolphins defeat Chicago Bears, 27-14

CHICAGO -- There were questions about this Miami Dolphins team before today.

Do they have an answer for last week's bitter defeat?

Can they save the season?

Can their defense stand up to a franchise quarterback?

The answer is this 27-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.

The team that left the field so dejected and disappointed last week, the team whose players made Dolphins coach Joe Philbin coach "antsy" and feel "queasy" last week, delivered its most convincing performance since the season-opener.

(Yes, there was the Oakland victory but that was a victory over ... winless Oakland).

This performance in Soldier Field, against a playoff contender,

Ryan Tannehill delivered. He was 25 of 32 for 277 yards and two touchdowns. His rating was 123.6. That's a career high rating for Tannehill.

The defense delivered. Jay Cutler was intercepted by Reshad Jones. That led to point. Cameron Wake had a strip sack and fumble recovery and that led to points. The defense focred another fumble by Dante Rosario and that would have led to points, too, except the attempt was blocked.

So yes, the defense did its part.

A loss would have been devestating today. This win?

It keeps open every possibility for the remainder of this season.