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23 posts from October 2012

October 31, 2012

Guillen reacts to Redmond hiring; Dolphins tidbits

Come back later for some postgame UM-Virginia Tech chatter.

A few quick things:

1) Ozzie Guillen has handled his firing with class. Of Mike Redmond's hiring, he tweeted: "Congrats, Mike Redmond for your new job. Good luck. You have great guys going to play for you. Hope the best for you. You are a good baseball man and you will have fun with the players."

Redmond, who was the first candidate to interview, replaces Ozzie Guillen, who was fired after a 69-93 season and a last-place finish in the National League East.

Remond retired after the 2010 and spent the past two years managing in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor league system. He hit .287 in 13 seasons as a major-league player.

Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, former big league manager Larry Bowa and Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon also interviewed. He will be the 13th manager in franchise history and sixth in four years.

# # #

2) Ryan Tannehill did more in practice Thursday than he did Wednesday but he was still limited, according to the injury report. The Dolphins and Tannehill remain hopeful he can play Sunday at Indy, but need to see how he does in Friday's practice before the Dolphins make a decision. Yahoo.com reported he had his knee drained twice this week.

Here are some other quick Dolphins notes from Wednesday night, if you haven't seen them:

### Reggie Bush said he has been “called a lot of things” in his life.

But he said he had never been called a “punk” until Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie leveled that insult at him after Sunday’s game.

Bush, meeting with reporters for the first time since Sunday, seemed amused.

To refresh: Bush’s 19-yard-run on the fourth play of the game included a stiff-arm that leveled Cromartie, who previously called Bush “unprofessional.”

Cromartie then pushed and head-butted Bush, drawing a 15-yard penalty.

“I don’t feel like I did anything illegal,” Bush said. “I didn’t try to hurt him. I didn’t talk about hurting him or ending his career. What I did was perfectly well within the rules. If he didn’t like it, it’s tough. That’s football. I’ve been on the other side of some ugly stuff. The last thing I’m going to do is cry about it and call anybody a punk.”

Bush said he would have delivered that stiff-arm regardless of the defender. “It didn’t matter who it was,” he said. “It’s part of football. We want to establish an aggressive approach early on. If they don’t like me, tough.”

### It won’t be surprising if the Dolphins are without cornerback Richard Marshall for a fourth consecutive game. Marshall did not practice Wednesday, though an associate said he remains hopeful of returning “soon.”

### Besides Marshall, defensive lineman Tony McDaniel (knee) also did not practice but hopes to play Sunday. McDaniel had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee earlier this season.

Besides Ryan Tannehill (knee), linebacker Karlos Dansby (bicep) and center Mike Pouncey (Achilles) also were limited in practice.

### The Colts confirmed that former Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis will miss Sunday’s game with a sprained knee. Rookie tight end Coby Fleener also was ruled out. Linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle) didn’t practice, either.

### Colts rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton, drafted 92nd overall out of FIU, has 18 catches for 253 yards.

“It’s amazing – we thought we had an electric return man and T.Y. is playing receiver a whole lot better,” said Colts interim coach Bruce Arians, who is filling in while Chuck Pagano receives treatment for leukemia.

“He’s had very little chance of getting returns off. We’re hoping we can start using him as the electric return man we thought we drafted. He’s playing wide receiver at a very high level.”

Hilton has returned two kickoffs for 45 yards and nine punts for 74 yards.

### The Dolphins auditioned defensive tackle Jonathan Fanene, who played the past seven years with the Bengals. Fanene, who has 13.5 career sacks, is a cousin of Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai.

### Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said he speaks or texts once a week with his former Stanford teammate, Dolphins right tackle Jonathan Martin.

“Probably avoid talking this week,” Luck said. “I’m excited to see him playing and doing well. He’s an incredibly athletic guy.”

### Bush, on receiver Davone Bess: “We’ve got to give him the ball more…. I don’t know if there’s ever a play where he’s not open.”

### Arians said the Dolphins “have a great offensive line. Mike Pouncey is better than [his brother] Maurkice, and make sure you tell Maurkice I said that.” Arians previously coached Maurkice as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.

### Coach Joe Philbin told his team “we have to eliminate negative yardage plays in the running game. We’ve had too many of them. The running game has to get better.”

### Dolphins CEO Mike Dee told the team-owned WINZ radio show that “there’s likely going to be some changes” to the Dolphins’ logo for 2013. “How significant those are, we’ll have to wait and see. I think fans will be very excited with what they see down the road here shortly.”

### The Dolphins announced the blackout requirements have been met to ensure local television for the Dec. 2 home game against New England. Any fans interested in buying tickets to that game must also buy a ticket to the Nov. 11 Titans game or the Nov. 25 Seahawks game…. To encourage ticket sales, the Dolphins are allowing fans to buy tickets to any remaining game without the usual service fees. The offer expires at noon Friday.

### Rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after blocking a field goal against the Jets and recovering Jimmy Wilson’s blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. “Not impressed with his dancing,” Philbin cracked.


October 30, 2012

Mostly (but not all) good news on Vontae trade; Stephen Morris' troubles; Fins, Heat, Canes notes


Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (sprained knee) likely won’t face his former team Sunday – “I’m going to be out for a while” – but a few things are clear two months after the trade: The Dolphins’ suspicion that Davis wasn’t on the verge of blossoming into an elite cornerback so far has proved true. So was their conviction that Nolan Carroll had genuinely improved.

With the Colts awaiting Sunday, here are a few developing points to consider on that big August trade:

### Even though Richard Marshall struggled before being sidelined with a back injury, the production of Marshall (four games) and Carroll (overall, and in his three games as a starter) is far superior to Davis’ play with the Colts and not much different than Davis’ performance last year.

This season, Davis has allowed a dismal 15 of 19 passes thrown against him to be completed for 191 yards (12.7 average), with two touchdowns allowed, no picks, and a 143.6 quarterback rating against (second-worst in the league - ahead of only Kyle Arrington), according to ProFootballFocus.com. Factoring in three penalties, an unfathomably awful 18 of 22 passes thrown against Davis have had bad results, among the league’s worst. Davis missed two games earlier with an ankle injury.

Conversely, in the games they have started, Marshall and Carroll have combined to allow 27 of 46 passes to be completed against them for 340 yards, a 12.5 average, with two TDs allowed (against Marshall) and one pick (by Marshall).

### Carroll has been better than Marshall, with a 71.8 quarterback rating in his coverage area, compared with 101.2 for Marshall. Carroll deserves to start when Marshall returns.

### Davis played decently in 2011, including three touchdowns allowed, four picks and 68.8 QB rating against. But he regressed in training camp, and Marshall and Carroll are allowing more than a yard less per catch this season than Davis did last year.

### And this, too, is significant: The players who have filled Miami’s third corner role (Carroll the first four games, Jimmy Wilson the last three) have combined in those games to allow just 21 of the 43 passes thrown against them to be completed, for a 12.9 average and no touchdowns --- not only better than Davis in 2011 or 2012, but a much better percentage that last year’s No. 3 corner, Will Allen, who’s on injured reserve for the Patriots.

So one of Miami’s biggest concerns after the Davis trade (third corner) hasn’t been a problem after all.

“They have both really stepped up,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said of Carroll (a fifth-round pick) and Wilson (a seventh-rounder). “We have developed some depth in the secondary as a result of this injury to Richard. We’ll be strong down the stretch because of it.”

And they are helping in other ways: Wilson’s sack and punt block Sunday, Carroll’s sack that forced a fumble. Plus, Sean Smith’s improvement has helped soften Davis’ loss.

### One negative: The Colts’ surprising success means Miami’s second and sixth-round picks might not come until the middle of those rounds, perhaps later. And the trade can’t be fully judged until we see what Miami gets with those picks.


### On his weekly Big 105.9 radio show Tuesday, Reggie Bush said he spoke to Jets coach Rex Ryan during Sunday’s game and “made sure he knew it’s going to be a long day for him. I can’t repeat it on radio.” What did Ryan say? “I don’t really know and I don’t really care.”… Bush played only 20 snaps Sunday, compared to 43 for Daniel Thomas. Lamar Miller, who played none, said he must “be more physical in pass protection” so “coach can trust me.”

### Couple of Heat opening night postscripts: Mario Chalmers, who had a poor 1.56-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, played a marvelous floor game (11 assists, one turnover) and made some pointpoint passes, including one to Chris Bosh that helped thwart a late Celtics rally. The Heat had generally good results when it played a three-guard lineup at times (Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen), including when LeBron James was out late with leg cramps. 

Talk about the newcomers paying dividends early: Allen (5 of 7, 19 points) and Rashard Lewis (4 of 5, 10 points) combined for 29 points on 9 of 12 shooting... Wade was the only Heat starter with a negative plus/minus -- the Heat was outscored by six points with him on the floor -- but moved well without the ball and was sharp offensively (10 for 22, 29 points). Elias says he's the sixth-fastest guard to reach 15,000 points (597 games). Michael Jordan did it in 460.. Erik Spoelstra went 10 deep, but Norris Cole played only in the first half and Mike Miller only in the second half.

### Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday morning that the championship could hurt the Heat in this way: After a winning a title, “everybody comes back different. The role players want to be more than that. You let your guard down.”… Rivers told a Boston audience last month that “I bring up Miami every single day” to his players. “I want them to hate them.” He downplayed those comments on Tuesday, saying: “I don’t dislike them…. Certain guys don’t like certain guys. We just want to beat them bad.”

### Most improved Heat player? Erik Spoelstra mentioned Norris Cole: “He has put himself in position to be needed.”… Rivers said Ray Allen will accept a sixth man role here more than he did in Boston because “it’s easier to go somewhere else and be a backup than on the team where you were a star. I knew that when Ray was thinking about leaving. It’s personal here because Ray was no longer a starter.... Ray wanted the ball more, things likethat. It's like I tell my guys every year, 'If you're here for me to run stuff for you to look good, then you are in the wrong place."

### Some Heat floor seats were selling for $7500 for Tuesday’s opener, with one sold to a rapper for $12,000 – by far the highest ever for a Heat opener.

### UM’s Stephen Morris has gone from averaging 327 yards and 59.9 percent accuracy in his first five games to 193 and 52.3 in his last three, partly because of drops (UM’s 28 are among the most in the nation), his ankle injury (his feet “got a little bit crazy” against FSU, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said) and stout defenses.

UM has completed only one pass over 30 yards in the past three games, but what most concerns the staff is Morris’ intermediate passes. Morris is great inside his 40-yard-line (69 percent accuracy rate) but completes just 45 percent inside the opponent’s 40 (including a dismal 3 for 17 inside the 10).

### Among the mysteries/disappointments on this UM team: Jalen Grimble (offered by Southern Cal and many others) couldn’t crack the top four at tackle (UM’s weakest position) and some on the staff believe he might be better as an offensive lineman. He's now competing to be a backup end. “The biggest thing has been his consistency,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said…. Asante Cleveland, first-team tight end all spring and summer, has been third team since Sept. 1 (behind Dyron Dye and Clive Walford) and has just two catches (12 yards). What’s the deal? “He hasn’t played to the same level as the other guys,” Fisch said.


Tuesday afternoon Heat-Celtics update; Arison, LeBron, Rivers speak out; Dolphins make roster move

Some notes to get you ready for the Heat' s opener tonight:

Heat owner Micky Arison said in a radio interview Tuesday that as good as the team’s first two championships felt (in 2006 and 2012), “the third and fourth are going to feel even better.”

In his only local interview since June, Arison told WQAM-560’s Joe Rose that “only 10 teams have won multiple championships, and only five have won three or more. That’s a small club we want to be part of…. It will be interesting to see how hungry all these guys are now that they’ve got one ring.”

Arison is heartened by the fact that his team has “veteran guys who have seen what happens to teams when they come back off a championship. They understand the issues and are very motivated to get it done again.”

But Arison added: “This year will be as challenging as ever. It’s the deepest team I can remember. How to dole out minutes will be a challenge.”

Of his team, Arison said: “I can’t recall ever seeing a team with this much three-point shooting. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.”

He called summer additions Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis “two terrific guys, two good locker-room guys, two guys that can really shoot. The best of all is Dwyane [Wade] doesn’t have to chase [Allen] around the floor….

“The one thing we saw in the Finals is when we were shooting the three well,… it really opened the floor for Dwyane and LeBron [James].”

Though Arison often attended practice during the playoffs, he said, “I’m not micro-managing the team. I’m not involved day to day like that. If there’s anything I can do to help, I will. More important than anything else is getting out of their way…. You can’t micromanage because all you’re going to do is frustrate people. If you do, you’re not going to get the best people.”

Arison said the Lakers “on paper [are] a great looking team. It does take a while to get the chemistry right, as we saw here a couple years ago. It will be interesting to see whether they’ve stepped ahead of Oklahoma City…. Nobody talks about San Antonio; that’s a hell of a good team.”

He expressed surprise that the Thunder traded James Harden instead of keeping the team together for another season.


Celtics coach Doc Rivers cracked Tuesday morning that while the Heat is receiving its rings before the game, “we are going to watch [Showtime’s] Homeland. We think that’s a very good series.”

But seriously… “We were hoping Oklahoma City would play them on ring night,” Rivers said. “I don’t know why they chose us.” He said for James, tonight "is his payback night, and he deserves it. He’s gone through more scrutiny than any athlete I can ever remember. I’m happy for him.”

### With the Heat having been dismantled by the Bulls on its ring night in 2006, coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday morning: “We don’t want to celebrate that and stink up the joint.”

Said James: “I won't take this moment for granted. It’s a special moment. I will live in the moment. But we also have some other business to take care of, as well.”

### James said Tuesday: "I've heard a lot about what my career should be, what it shouldn't be, but I control my own destiny."

### Rivers doesn’t like when people say the Heat "is defending the title." He points out: “It’s a new trophy that’s available. They don’t own it.”

### The Celtics played a tape of Game 7 of the Heat-Celtics Eastern Finals on a continuous loop at its practice facility throughout training camp. “I would have thought they would have watched Game 6,” Wade said. “That’s the game they had us [against the wall].”

### Wade and Udonis Haslem will be the Heat’s captains this season, the team said.

### Is this the best team, on paper, that James has been on? “It’s one of the best, if not the best. But we’re not where we want to be and we shouldn’t be where we want to be in October.”

### Spoelstra, on his rotation: “Sometimes, it will change game to game. I’m not going to play a 12-, 13-man rotation. We easily could. Guys are deserving of that.”



The Dolphins cut receiver Anthony Armstrong, who had fallen to fifth or sixth on the depth chart at the position. He was inactive Sunday and had just three catches all season.

October 29, 2012

Tannehill MRI report and status update; Sherman opines on several issues

According to a source, Ryan Tannehill's MRI did not reveal any structural damage but he has a bruised quadriceps and a bone bruise in his left knee and he has experienced considerable discomfort.

His status for Sunday's game at Indianapolis is uncertain. A lot will depend on how quickly he heals this week and how much mobility he shows in practice. Coaches do not know if he will be ready for Sunday's game.

Two players who saw him Monday said he was walking better than he did Sunday, when he was seen limping after the game.

Meanwhile, here's what offensive coordinator Mike Sherman had to say at his Monday press briefing:

(On whether he shares Ryan Tannehill’s optimism that he will play on Sunday) – “Well I didn’t see him do anything today. I saw him walking around a bit and I know he’s fairly optimistic, but we just have to wait and see.”

 (On what it was like with Tannehill on the sideline wanting to get back in the game) – “Yeah I wasn’t on the sideline so it was a tough feel for me, but from what I hear he tried to get back out there and wanted to get back out there. It was just so stiff on him that he really couldn’t move. He was prepared to go out if in fact we lost Matt (Moore). He was prepared to go out there and maybe hand the ball off and do limited service, but certainly not the full extent of what a quarterback needs to do. He wasn’t mobile enough to do that.”


(On Matt Moore’s performance) – “Well I think what says a lot about Matt is his preparation. He and coach (Zach) Taylor go out on Fridays and go through the scripts to prepare him for these opportunities if in fact it does come. You know when you’re not expecting something to happen it is hard to have great preparation, but obviously he has. I thought he went in and did extremely well and he was a big part of why we won that football game.”

(On whether he feels the need to get Pat Devlin a couple of snaps this week in practice just in case) – “That would in fact happen if Tannehill doesn’t take any snaps this week. Pat would take some, but not very many.”

(On how much the play calling changes when you put in a backup quarterback) – “Well they both had a ton of experience in OTAs and minicamp working the same offense. I feel very comfortable calling plays with Matt that I would call with Ryan. They both have their strengths and weaknesses but at the same time I thought Matt made some really good decisions. I thought he moved he moved the offense, I thought his deep ball is probably one of his greatest assets. He throws as good a deep ball as anybody, and that was displayed in the game as well. To answer your question, it doesn’t change.”

(On how he would evaluate Jabar Gaffney’s performance) – “He caught a third down conversion on a corner route, which was a great throw by Matt as well and a nice catch by him. He had an opportunity a little later to catch another one that potentially might have been a big play or a touchdown. And then he blocked real well. He put himself in position on the second pass even though he dropped it. I was encouraged that he was in position to make a play, because if he is in position, he has caught a bunch of balls. I’m not worried about him catching it. I was thankful that he was in position to make plays. Both he a Marlon (Moore) I thought played very well for what we asked them to do, and both made some big plays.”

(On having a luxury now with Marlon Moore and Jabar Gaffney making some plays) – “We’ll have to see how it goes, but they did what we asked them to do, and that’s exciting. Maybe we need to ask them to do more.”

(On his assessment of the right side of the offensive line) – “I think they’re coming along. I think Jonathan Martin missed some things in the game, a couple cutoff blocks and whatnot, but overall I’m pretty pleased with the rookie and the progress that he has made. I think he every bit of everything we though he would be, and maybe even more so. And I think John Jerry played a good ball game. I think he did some nice things for us. I think he probably played one of his more consistent games.”

(On whether Mike Pouncey has been his most consistent offensive lineman this year) – “He’s been pretty consistent. Yeah he's been very consistent week in and week out. Very seldom do you have to say much about him in regards to what he has to fix. He's been a pretty consistent lineman and a pretty consistent player offensively.”

(On Anthony Fasano’s footwork on the touchdown catch) – “Well I think that’s impressive because that’s what’s noticeable to people on the outside, but what I think is more impressive to me was his blocking. He was a dominant blocker in the game. (He was) very consistent coming off the ball and capturing the edge on people. So I was very, very impressed with his blocking in the game. He definitely showed some veteran savvy on both plays in that he did his best to get his feet down. And I don’t have to say this, on the one that was ruled in out of bounds, if it had been ruled in bounds I don’t think they would have overturned it. That could have gone either way.”

(On how high the ceiling is for Daniel Thomas) – “I’ve only been with him now for the amount of games that we’ve had. I’ve seen a lot of progress from him throughout the course of the season. I still think that there are a lot of areas that he is going to continue to get better in and improve. So I would say he has a very high ceiling. Although I was very pleased when he had a run, that was called back unfortunately by a penalty, but he looked like he was shot out of a cannon on that one, as was Jorvorskie Lane. They both came off the ball very well. We checked the play from one side to the other side and they both came out of their stances like this was it. They both did a great job, but unfortunately we had to take it back. I think he just needs to stay healthy and stay on the field and that will allow him to have some consistency.”



Monday afternoon update from Dolphins coach Joe Philbin

Some quick hits from coach Joe Philbin’s news conference Monday:

### On Ryan Tannehill’s status (sprained knee, bruised quad), Philbin was predictably non-committal. He said on the plane ride home from New York, Tannehill expressed optimism about being able to play next Sunday at the Colts.

Is Philbin optimistic? “I don’t know much, but it was a good conversation on the plane.” Asked if snaps might be altered in practice to give more work to third-stringer Pat Devlin, he said: "It's too early to predict what's going to happen."

Would Philbin be inclined to play him Sunday at Indianapolis if he isn’t 100 percent? “You have to make a decision: Can the guy function and do the job asked of him? Either he can do the job or he can’t. You would love the guy to be 100 percent.”

He said he did not consider putting Tannehill back in the game Sunday against the Jets.

The Dolphins on Monday were awaiting MRI results for Tannehill, but were optimistic about it not being serious.

### On Matt Moore’s play: “I’m happy for him. The guy’s a professional. He’s extremely well respected by the staff and the players in the locker room. I’m not surprised he played well.”

### Philbin said Moore, during a normal week, takes 10 percent of practice snaps “at the max.”

### On Jabar Gaffney’s play: “I thought he did a good job. Marlon Moore made a great individual effort” on his sprawling catch.

### He loves how his players relish playing special teams. “The guys like being a part of it – they look forward to it – they have some enthusiasm.”

### Philbin, on the way his roster “is built”:  “We’re not a super high scoring offense as we speak. We’re going to get better as the year goes on. The defense is playing well in the red zone. We’ve got a pretty darn good punter.”

### Philbin said he wasn’t “overly concerned” when Richard Marshall went out with a back injury three weeks ago and “I’m pleased with the development of the secondary.” 

### Daniel Thomas "ran the ball hard. He played pretty decisively. He’s quick. There isn’t a lot of dancing."

### On developing a reputation for being daring (fake punt in the Rams game, onside kick early in the Jets game), Philbin said: "Daring is not usually associated with me. We felt like it’s the right thing [to try the onside kick]. We have meetings and discuss them, and sometimes it’s an opportune time to utilize them – sometimes we’ll think that and the other team does a better job and it’s not going to work. As long as there’s a good thought process to what we do, as long as you have a why. We were fortunate they worked.

### On Miami’s next opponent: “I don’t know a ton about Indy. They must be pretty good. They are winning some tough games.”

### On the state of his team: "I’m proud of them. Try to stay as even as you can. Try to enjoy it while you can." But he's far from satisfied: "We've made a ton of mistakes - players and coaches."

Check back later for updates, including the Monday press conference with the Dolphins' coordinators.

October 27, 2012

NFL evaluators assess state of UM program; Dolphins, UM, Heat, Marlins notes


With Thursday's critical game against Virginia Tech looming, we solicited input from three NFL evaluators and others on the state of the Hurricanes program:

### Among the points raised by NFL scouts, who asked that their names not be used: This is the worst defensive line they’ve seen from the Hurricanes in many years; the defensive play-calling should be more aggressive; but Al Golden is doing about as well as can be expected with this roster.

“Look - you lost your senior class, then you lose five of your better juniors, then you lose Ray-Ray Armstrong,” one longtime scout said, also acknowledging tackle Curtis Porter’s absence due to an appendectomy. “Has any school ever lost five juniors the same year? Who the hell is left? They have young athletes, but you need some experience to win.”

### The consensus is UM must find better defensive linemen to become a big winner again. “Worst I’ve seen from a Miami team,” one longtime NFL scout said. “What they miss most is those strong, athletic, really good 6-4, 290 pounds defensive tackles. LSU and Alabama have three or four of those guys. The irony is the last couple years, Temple had a better defensive line than Miami does now. That’s how far Miami has fallen.”

Said another scout: “They just don’t have the size and strength up front. When was the last No. 1 pick they had on the defensive line?” That would be Vince Wilfork in 2004.

The scout, who observed a closed Hurricanes practice this season, said if you take the UM jersey off the back, you could not distinguish most of Miami’s front-seven defensive players from, say, Central Florida or any other FBS program not in one of the major conferences.

"I’ve never seen the upper class talent so thin there,” the scout said. “UCF might be able to beat them if they played. The overall talent is mediocre. I said at the start of the year, if Al Golden won six games, it would be a great coaching job.”

### One scout said sophomore Anthony Chickillo is getting more attention from opponents because there’s no pass-rush threat opposite him. “And Chickillo is not dynamic,” he said. “If you’re going to be his size, you need to be an explosive pass rusher.”

### One scout, asked to assess some of the others as college players (not as pro prospects): “Eddie Johnson is going to be a stud. Deon Bush is going to be a very good player but since the safeties don’t get much support up front, they are always running downhill to make tackles. That’s a lot of banging for a freshman like Bush. He’s going to be beat up.”

### An AFC scout, on defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio’s approach: “They could play a little more aggressive. If you can’t rush the passer, why sit back? Why are you seven yards off a receiver? I would be sending people left and right, playing pressure coverage. They’re giving up yards anyway.”

### Another scout questioned offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch for throwing to Robert Lockhart instead of running the ball on a third and two deep in FSU territory last week, and said Mike James – not Duke Johnson – should be used on short yardage. “Duke is not going to be a Clinton Portis or Edgerrin James, where you hand him the ball 25 times a game.”

By the way, Fisch said Saturday that UM burned Lockhart's redshirt because he "has made some amazing one-on-one playts in practice" which reminded the staff of Tommy Streeter last year.

### The scouts were optimistic about Stephen Morris improving, but one expressed concern with his accuracy issues and “lack of touch at times. He’ll be better next year. One problem is his receivers don’t catch the ball.”

### One scout said of the receivers, “I like Rashawn Scott the best, with his size. He has the most upside.” He likes Phillip Dorsett’s talent, but “it looks like the bigger the game, he’s not ready for that.” And the offensive line “is disappointing. Physically, they look as a good as any in the nation.”

### Recruiting analyst Larry Blustein said “if UM expects to keep the train rolling with the 2012 class, they need to get [Oakland Park Northeast] receiver Stacey Coley and [Booker T. Washington offensive tackle] Denver Kirkland.” (They are rated by rivals.com as ninth-best in the nation at their positions.)

He said they also must keep oral commitments Alex Collins (running back) and Kevin Olsen (quarterback).

But Collins is also considering FSU and Wisconsin and sent a tweet last week saying he has “been doing a lot of thinking” and is “close to decision time.”

Delray Beach Atlantic's Keith Bryant, rated 17th among all defensive tackles and Miami’s only oral commitment among defensive linemen, visited Purdue and has told rivals.com he’s also still considering FSU, South Carolina and won’t announce until signing day – putting UM in a bind.

Miami is in the mix for other defensive tackles, including Toby Johnson, a four-star prospect at Hutchinson (Ks.) Community College. Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas, rated the nation’s 15th best player by rivals.com, says he has Miami even with six other schools.

### Among draft-eligible players, the scouts see Brandon McGee and James as potential mid-or-later round prospects. “James has power, can catch the ball, runs hard, some shiftiness,” one scout said. “McGee has size (6-0), speed and long arms.” One scout said he wouldn’t draft junior Seantrel Henderson until late because he “can’t be counted on.”

ESPN’s Todd McShay said he entered the year with draftable grades only on Vaughn Telemaque (who lost his starting job) and McGee; he had Ramon Buchanan as a seventh-rounder before his knee injury. He said Miami’s talent “has been dwindling for the last several years and 2013 stacks up as one of the worst classes from an NFL draft standpoint since I’ve been involved.”

Remember, from 2001 to 2004, the Canes had 19 first-rounders and 35 drafted overall. From 2008 to 2012, UM had one first rounder and 22 overall.


### With the trade deadline looming Tuesday, a Dolphins official said the team hasn’t pursued a deal for Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe as of last week, but wouldn’t rule out eventual interest, potentially as a free agent in March. Bowe, a Miami native, reportedly has interest in playing here.

Owner Stephen Ross has told people the Dolphins want to add a quality receiver this offseason. But the front office is pleased with how the current group is playing and would be fine riding out the year with these receivers, barring injuries.

### CBS reported Arizona has interest in Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore, but it would be risky for Miami to move him in case of an injury to Ryan Tannehill. What about trading Moore, an impending free agent, for a draft pick and re-signing David Garrard?

Garrard’s agent said the Dolphins haven’t called and Garrard still isn’t ready to play after preseason knee surgery that was supposed to sideline him only until mid-September. The Dolphins like how Moore has supported and mentored Tannehill and weren’t sure how Garrard would embrace that role.

"I've heard rumors," Moore said of a potential trade. "But everything I know is that I'll be here."

### Mike Redmond impressed the Marlins in his interview and is still considered the favorite for the managerial job, though not a sure thing, with Reds pitching coach Bryan Price also having some support. The odds are against Larry Bowa, who interviewed Friday. Ex-Marlin Luis Gonzalez, mentioned elsewhere as a possibility, had not been contacted as of Saturday. More interviews remain.... Candidates have been meeting with multiple Marlins officials and also spending some alone time with Jeffrey Loria... “We need more pieces that fit – not just fit on paper,” Giancarlo Stanton said of the roster. “We need help everywhere: lineup, bullpen, rotation.”

### TNT’s Chris Webber, on LeBron James: “With all that he has been through, he can [now] play with the freedom he hasn’t had in a while. Last year, they didn’t play with the mentality of, ‘It’s OK, we’re been through it.’ That’s why the rest of the league should fear them.’”

NBA TV analyst (and ex-Heat guard) Steve Smith concurs: “He’s at peace. It’s scary what the Heat can do in the next two or three years.”… ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy, who picked the Heat the past two years, said: “It’s going to be a Miami-Oklahoma City final and I just think this year OKC is going to figure out a way how to win it.” Van Gundy made the comment last week, before the James Harden trade late Saturday night.

### Kudos to former UM forward DeQuan Jones, who beat out veteran Quentin Richardson for a spot on Orlando's 15-man roster. 

October 25, 2012

Friday afternoon update: Another local radio change; Heat cuts; Dan Sileo needs to reign it in

Friday's media column is below. First, a quick Friday afternoon update:

1) As expected, Richard Marshall was ruled out for Sunday's Dolphins game. Bart Scott is doubtful for the Jets.

2) Jason Jackson quit his job as a talk-show host on 790 The Ticket on Friday, station general manager Jeff Dinetz tells us. "We're disappointed," Dinetz said. "He decided it was time for him to do something else."

Jackson, who worked the 1 to 3 p.m. shift, declined to comment. According to multiple industry sources, management at The Ticket wanted Jackson to change his approach somewhat, including taking on a co-host who would challenge him on Heat issues.

Dinetz said the station will begin searching for a replacement. Eric Reid and Ethan Skolnick filled in Friday, shortly after Jackson resigned.

3) The Heat cut Rodney Carney and Jarvis Varnado, leaving 16 players. Terrel Harris and Garrett Temple are likely competing for the final roster spot. Erik Spoelstra said the roster will be finalized after Friday night's home exhibition against New Orleans (8 p.m. ESPN2).

4) Jorge Sedano tells us his WQAM talk show, which runs 3 to 7 p.m., will devote the 6 to 7 p.m. hour to Heat talk all NBA season, beginning next week.



It’s rare to see fans knock a local announcer for being too critical when their team loses. But Dan Sileo is the exception, a former UM player who has become a target on Canes message boards this season for over-the-top lambasting of the Hurricanes football program.

Sileo’s passion for his alma mater can be appreciated, but his postgame rants on WQAM often have been too reactionary, too harsh, too extreme.

There was the absurd meltdown following the Kansas State game – if you haven’t heard it, check it out on YouTube --  in which he regrettably called on Canes defensive players to “pull a knife on” offensive players that are running free.

In a serious overstatement, he said: “There’s no respect for our program. We’re like Eastern Michigan” and incorrectly said Kansas State didn’t rise in the polls after beating UM. (The Wildcats went from 21 to 15 in the AP poll.)

After Phillip Dorsett dropped two potential touchdowns in the Notre Dame game, Sileo asserted the Hurricanes “should never throw another pass to Dorsett.” (Are you kidding?)

He belittled the goal of winning the Coastal Division -- “this is what we’re reduced to?” -- overlooking the fact that in this stage of UM’s rebuilding process, advancing to the ACC title game for the first time would be an accomplishment.

He said after the Notre Dame game that Al Golden “has no big game experience. He has never coached in a big game before…. We’ve got a coaching staff with on-the-job training.”

Come on, Dan – Even if you want to discount his five years at Temple, were none of Golden’s first 17 games at Miami “big”?

He also said Urban Meyer “is not a good coach,” which no reasonable person would agree with.

Fortunately, Sileo showed some needed perspective after Saturday’s FSU game, rationally remarking that “we’re just not good enough. We have to get older and better.”

But he still made some odd comments, asserting that UM “should stop throwing to these wide-outs. They’ve got no hands” and that Mike James “should get the ball 28 times a game” (seems a little much).

He called a UM defensive lineman “Pierce” (maybe he meant Olsen Pierre); didn’t correct a caller who referred to strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey as actor Patrick Swayze (neither did co-host Kevin Rogers); and incorrectly suggested Butch Davis could have returned to UM but that North Carolina could give him more money. UM never asked Davis to return.

For some fans, hearing an analyst blast a team after a loss can be cathartic. Say this for Sileo: The guy can stir it up and he isn’t afraid to face people that he criticizes.

But Dan, you need to dial back the bluster and hyperbole and deal with reality. This team lost five players early to the pros and is playing 21 freshmen. Sileo’s somewhat more measured approach after Saturday’s loss suggests he may finally begin to grasp the big picture. Better late than never.


Aside from cogent commentary from Danny Kanell in the Boston College game and Kirk Herbstreit in the FSU game, the TV announcing of UM games has been deficient all season – another reason to listen to Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. on WQAM. (Zagacki gives all the pertinent information quickly, and unlike the national guys, they have thorough command of the roster.)

Two network announcers (including Sun Sports’ Paul Kennedy) referred to UM punter Dalton Botts as “Bolts”; NBC’s Tom Hammond and Mike Mayock called Gabe TerryTerry Gabriel”, and ABC’s Brent Musburger last week butchered several names (Rashawn Scott, Anthony Chickillo), incorrectly suggested Golden calls the plays (Jedd Fisch does) and several times called UM’s quarterback “Phillip Morris.” 

### Why did WQAM part ways with early-afternoon co-host Steve Goldstein and replace him with Channing Crowder (alongside Adam Kuperstein)?

Goldstein said the station fired him after he accepted a job co-hosting an 11 a.m. Saturday WFOR-CBS show with Jon Weiner, Dan Le Batard’s sidekick on rival 790 The Ticket. WQAM program director Jorge Sedano said Goldstein was not fired but was given a choice of doing the radio or TV show.

“Management decided it didn’t want Goldie doing a show where a direct competitor would be his employer,” Sedano said.

Said Goldstein: “It’s very disappointing. The TV opportunity would raise my profile and it would have helped the radio station by making me more visible.”

### Former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy, who has been critical of NBA Commissioner David Stern, recently said that ABC/ESPN withdrew an offer for him to be a studio analyst and wonders if the NBA told ESPN not to hire him.

I asked Stern on Thursday if he discussed Van Gundy with ESPN or if he or any NBA executive discouraged ESPN from hiring him.

"No," Stern said, adding he is supportive of coaches who want to go into broadcasting. But Stern refrained from saying anything about Stan.

Jalen Rose got the ABC studio job instead, replacing Jon Barry, who was moved to games. Bill Simmons is replacing Chris Broussard, who will go back to reporting. We like Rose, but we’re not sure Rose/Simmons is an upgrade over Barry/Broussard, even though Barry was too critical of the Heat. Simmons is an unabashed Celtics fan, which sometimes seems to undermine his objectivity.

October 24, 2012

Wednesday night update: UM player's father rips Golden; Samson responds to angry callers

The father of UM junior defensive linemen Luther Robinson sounded delusional and did his son no favors earlier this week when he called WQAM’s Joe Rose to complain about coach Al Golden.

“Golden comes on the air with a bunch of crap every Monday,” the father said.

The father accused Golden of saying the team’s defensive tackles can’t rush the quarterback, which Golden never specifically said.

“I’m going to tell him he’s a liar,” Robinson said. “This guy is a liar and I don’t like it. I don’t like him insulting my son.”

Rose correctly pointed out that Golden never mentioned Luther Robinson.

The father continued his rant anyway: “I’m sick of this. It’s bull [bleep].”

The father then accused Golden of favoring the players that his staff recruited at the expense of players recruited before Golden was hired.

“Is it something against Randy Shannon players?” the father said. “Luther Robinson needs to be playing defensive tackle more than the other kids. He’s a much better defensive tackle [than the others]. He’s being held back because he’s an upperclassman.”

Earth to Robinson: Your son is playing, in a rotation with Darius Smith, Corey King, Olsen Pierre and Earl Moore at defensive tackle. We’ve seen Robinson take snaps at end, too. If he isn’t playing as much as you would like, deal with it.

The father then lost any remaining shred of credibility when he asserted that Golden doesn’t care about winning games and suggested he’s more concerned with favoring his own recruits.

# # #

In the wake of Ozzie Guillen’s firing, Marlins president David Samson addressed several issues on his 790 The Ticket radio show with Dan Le Batard and Jon Weiner. Among them:

### He said Larry Beinfest’s job is safe as president/baseball operations.

### On the frequent manager turnover: “Freddie Gonzalez was there for 3 ½ seasons. There have different circumstances that led to the instability, and all of them have been valid. There are not too many teams that get it right every time. We’re going to try to do it better.”

### At one point do you say if it’s not just the manager’s fault? “That happened long ago. I don’t think we’ve ever said it’s all the manager’s fault…. If you want to put Jeffrey [Loria] in there, put him in there. We all share in it.”

### On why Guillen was dumped: “It just wasn’t working. We all came to a unanimous conclusion that we had to try something downstairs for lots of reasons. Ozzie is a good guy, good manager. It just didn’t work out for the Marlins the way we thought it would.”

### Samson was asked by a caller why the managers keep getting fired but the president and general manager are not. “I guess it’s not our turn yet.”

### Another caller asked: “When do you look in the mirror and say we need to change?” instead of just firing managers.

Said Samson: “We obviously do look in the mirror. We’re trying. It’s not as easy as you may think to find the right combination of players and manager. We do need to change the roster, and we started that [with Heath Bell]. There are franchises that go decades and decades without winning anything.”

### On the poor performance of first-round draft picks: “We are well below average in the first round and well above average in the late rounds. The 2005 draft killed us – we had five first-round picks and didn’t get anything that was sustainable. That was completely all of our faults.”

### Good line by Samson:  “I wish all of our critics came to games. Then we’d be sold out every night.”

October 23, 2012

Dolphins' sale overtures passed over; Guillen reacts to firing; UM notes; Barkley, others assess Heat


(NOTE: For those who earlier read the Heat portion of this column when I posted it this afternoon, please scroll down to CHATTER for notes on the Dolphins, Marlins and Hurricanes that I'm posting late Tuesday night.)

# # #

Don't assume you're going back to the Finals, Heat fans. That was the message Charles Barkley relayed Tuesday. I solicited opinion from a half dozen network analysts on the Heat, with next Tuesday's season opener approaching.

Some of the feedback:

### TNT’s Charles Barkley, on Tuesday afternoon: “Everybody wants to anoint, everybody wants to say it’s going to be the Heat against the Lakers. To me, the Miami-Boston series is a toss-up. Nobody can guard LeBron James, but Boston has great depth. They got great size in Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger in the draft. The most underrated player in the NBA is [Boston’s] Jeff Green. Boston has got a legit chance of beating them.

“The only way you can beat Miami, if you go back to the Dallas series, is you’ve got to beat them up physically. They are a very small team. LeBron covers up a lot of weaknesses because he’s so physically amazing.

“Oklahoma City I don’t think can beat them. The Lakers can beat them because if you’ve got a big team that can dominate them down low like [Dallas] did, you can beat that team. You are not going to beat them on the perimeter. LeBron James is great but he can’t stop Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard down low. He’s got a much better chance of getting in foul trouble trying to guard those big guys. Little guys can’t guard big guys.

“Him trying to guard a 7-foot guy, in a halfcourt set, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are going to get any shot they want and those guys are going to be very tough to keep off the boards. Chris Bosh is a very good player, but he’s still an undersized power forward. They are going to try to put LeBron James and Chris Bosh against Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. They got problems on one end of the court but Miami has problems on the other end.”

### TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal: “The Heat is the team to beat because they are the champs. Pat Riley and Micky Arison did a great job of adding more shooters around the great LeBron James….

"But if Boston is healthy and fully healthy, they have a shot. The Lakers on paper are very talented, but the only thing that concerns me is Steve Nash’s age and Kobe Bryant’s age. Miami is still younger. They are still the team to beat. I wish both those teams make the finals.”

### TNT’s Reggie Miller: “Miami is the favorite to win it all. Until someone can follow LeBron James at power forward,… Miami has to be the favorite. When Miami goes to that smaller lineup, you can put out there Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. LeBron can guard five positions. I love what Boston has done. They are the Red Sox, Yankees of professional basketball.”

### TNT’s Steve Kerr: “Miami has to be the favorite because of the continuity and the confidence they’ve gained winning a championship. That puts them ahead of everyone. But the Lakers would be a very, very difficult matchup for them.

“I would be surprised if Erik Spoelstra altered his starting lineup when they play the Lakers, but they absolutely will have to play their bigs more often against them. It’s too much to ask Chris Bosh to guard Dwight Howard and LeBron James to guard Pau Gasol beyond small stretches. It’s one thing for LeBron to guard Indiana’s David West; it’s another to guard Gasol.

“Phil Jackson played guys in the regular season, whether it was Bill Wennington or Bobby Hansen, and wasn’t afraid to play them in the playoffs. This season will be about preparing Dexter Pittman and Joel Anthony for what’s to come. The only concern I have about them is the depth up front and size when they play the Lakers. The Lakers are their only potential problem.”

Kerr worries that Shane Battier, over a full season, “will be overwhelmed by a lot of power forwards. Udonis Haslem gives them interior defense and playing a little more of a traditional way.” He said the Heat could use Dwyane Wade at small forward and James at power forward to close some games, with Mario Chalmers at Ray Allen at guard.

### ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy said there’s no favorite among the Heat, Lakers and Thunder: “The talent for all three is unique and superior to anybody else in the league. All three have every quality necessary to win it. Talent won’t the separator. It will come down to health and chemistry and who is playing their best at that point.”

Van Gundy, who has touted the Heat since LeBron James came aboard, isn’t sure this will be the best incarnation in the Big Three era despite adding Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.

“They are a little better talent wise. But are Allen and Lewis healthy? For Allen, playing off the bench is a huge adjustment, and adjusting to lesser minutes for a shooter is a huge adjustment. It will be interesting to see how he responds. And how many guys can they play on the perimeter and keep everyone in rhythm and playing efficiently?

Van Gundy doesn’t worry about Bosh defending big centers, because “his skill level and talent make that every bit as hard a matchup as anyone he’s supposed to guard.”

### Former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, now with NBA TV, said Miami’s edges against the Lakers would be experience playing together and the fact they’re younger. But “on paper you may say the Lakers have more talent.” He said he might favor the Lakers slightly in a Finals matchup because he believes they would get higher percentage shots than the Heat would because of Dwight Howard, their overall size advantage and Steve Nash’s pinpoint passing.

“If you’re the Lakers, you make them shoot over you. Is Miami going to make 15, 18 three-pointers a night against them? Chances are, no,” he said. 


### Among reasons for the Ozzie Guillen firing, which was advocated to Jeffrey Loria by Marlins executives: They want a manager who would foster a more serious clubhouse culture, instill more discipline and professionalism in his players, and be a better motivator than Guillen.

“He yelled at the other team more than us,” one player said.

Guillen’s act – including allowing his sons to hang out in the clubhouse – wore thin with management. 

### Here's what Guillen said on Twitter on Tuesday night, his first public comments since the firing: "Thanks to my family and great friends for their support - my kids, my wife, and all my boys. To the fans that support me and to those that are happy as well: my love and respect to you, as well. In life, there are [worse] things and I have experienced them.

"I have lived through bad moments and I will get through this with support. Better things will come or worse things, but they will come. Thanks a lot for the support in this difficult time, but not the worst. I'm fine with the people that I love --- with my head held up high, real high."

### Ricky Nolasco, who spent time with Guillen in Spain this month, tweeted of the firing: “U gotta b [bleeping bleeping] me,” then erased it.

### Though Marlins special assistant Jeff Conine would be a worthy candidate, he said this season that this isn’t the right time in his life to manage because of family reasons... Marlins executive Larry Beinfest: “Maybe we have gotten away from the Marlins way. Maybe we need to re-think how we make roster decisions. We need to spend some time redefining ourselves.”

### We hear Jordan Zimmerman, CEO of Zimmerman Advertising (one of the nation’s largest ad agencies), has expressed interest in buying the Dolphins, but Stephen Ross has declined overtures. Zimmerman, who owns a piece of the Florida Panthers, and Ross have had serious discussions the past two years but none recently. Zimmerman declined to comment.

### The Dolphins feel validated in sticking with young safeties instead of signing bigger name free agents. Consider: Opposing quarterbacks have a 39.7 rating when throwing in Reshad Jones’ coverage area (third-best among all starting safeties) and 67.6 against Chris Clemons.

That compares with Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson (120.7), the Jets’ LaRon Landry (91.0) and Washington’s Madieu Williams (91.1) --- free agents Miami passed on. It’s 87.5 for Jets/ex-Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell, whose overall play is rated 49th by Pro Football Focus.

Conversely, PFF ranks Jones third and Clemons 22nd. “I see [Jones] evolving into the kind of player we had hoped he would be,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said.

### UM canceled a home-and-home football series with Memphis in 2014 and 2015, feeling it was pointless to play.

### Though he presumably would have left for Nebraska regardless, a UM source said it didn’t help that former athletic director Shawn Eichorst’s Pinecrest home was robbed – with lots taken, including his wife’s jewelry – while he was traveling to Boston for the football opener this season.

### Please see our last post for Marlins comments about Ozzie Guillen's firing.


Marlins discuss Ozzie firing

Some snippets from Marlins executive Larry Beinfest's late Tuesday afternoon conference call to discuss Ozzie Guillen's firing:

### Beinfest, not surprisingly, wouldn't give a specific reason for his dismissal: "I don't think it's any one thing. It's all cumulative. We all share in this. This is not a fun day for me. We felt we needed to make a change to move forward. We all felt we had a pretty good ballclub coming out of spring training and we just didn't play well. When you look at the overall record of this team, we need to do some roster stuff, and a lot of that falls on me and our front office. But without our situation downstairs, we feel we can move things forward. We knew we were handicapping Ozzie a little bit in the second half" after trading Hanley Ramirez and other veterans.

### On why the decision wasn't made for three weeks: "Everyone wanted to take a step back and let's make a clear decision. We let him know unfortunately by telephone because he was traveling, about an hour and a half ago. I spoke to Ozzie. The conversation was brief. He was professional, which we expected. He thanked the organization and Jeffrey for the opportunity."

### Beinfest was asked if he didn't know what he was getting with Ozzie: "You never really know somebody until you live with them everyday. Ozzie is Ozzie. That's the way he is."

### Beinfest said the Marlins will immediately start a search for a replacement and haven't yet put together a list and that Jeffrey Loria will be involved in the search.  "We're looking for a winner," Beinfest said. He said previous managerial decision is not a requirement. "We need to be open to it."

### Beinfest said a winning culture needs to be restored: "We need to win period, and that's been missing. Maybe we have gotten away from the Marlins way.... I can't tell you exactly what the Marlins way is today. We still have some guiding philosophies. Maybe we need to rethink things, how we make roster decisions. We need to spend some time redefining ourselves with a new manager."

### Beinfest, on whether the Marlins job is attractive considering the team has had eight managers since 2002: "As bad as things were, we have a lot of things going for us. I would think this would be attractive to a lot of people."

As far as the club's penchant for changing managers, he admitted "some of the instability may have been a little bit of a detriment."