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Dolphins hoping for better home-field advantage after losing too many home games as favorites under Philbin; Heat, Hurricanes, Marlins chatter


Since Seattle’s CenturyLink Field --- which NFL.com rates as the NFL’s best home-field advantage --- opened in 2002, the Seahawks have gone 8-0 at home three times and 7-1 three times.

You know how many times the Dolphins have won more than five home games in those 13 seasons? Just once (2002).

What's more, Miami had a winning record at home just three of the past 12 seasons, which is dismal. The Dolphins’ 37-43 record at home over the past decade is seventh-worst, ranking ahead of only Tampa and Washington (35 wins each), Cleveland and Detroit (34) and Oakland and St. Louis (27).

Perhaps Sunday’s home opener against Buffalo in a reconfigured Sun Life Stadium --- with 2300 seats now much closer to the field --- will mark the return of a home-field edge, something that hasn’t been the same since the Dolphins bolted the Orange Bowl in 1987.

Miami was a remarkable 110-38-3 (73 winning percentage) in 21 years in the OB. They’re 130-93-0 in 28 years at Sun Life (58 winning percentage).

Though Miami’s home record largely stems from their inability to construct good enough teams, there’s more to it. Consider:

### The Dolphins have been just as good or better (record-wise) on the road as at home four of the past eight seasons, suggesting --- among other things --- the lack of an appreciable home-field advantage.

### In three seasons under Joe Philbin, the Dolphins are just 12-7 as a home favorite, according to Paramount Sports oddsmaker Lee Sterling. And Philbin is just 8-11 against the spread as a home favorite.

“Even coaches who finish near .500, like he has in his head-coaching career, usually fare much better at home. I would say his performance so far [in that regard] has been subpar,” Sterling said.

The Dolphins are a three-point favorite against Buffalo.

### For the past three seasons, the Dolphins were good enough to beat the Jets on the road but couldn’t at home. And there’s no excuse for Arizona, Tennessee and Jacksonville having better home records than Miami over the past decade.

The Dolphins’ season tickets have plunged from 61,121 in 2006 to 40,192 in 2012. They rose to 47,500 this season before sales were cut off, which allowed more individual game tickets to be sold, with capacity dropping from 76,018 to 65,326.

Dolphins players are hoping the reconfigurations will help. “I hope so,” Mike Pouncey said. “I hope our fans bother [the opposing team] just like [opposing fans] bother us on the road. At times, the stadium is loud when we're playing well.”

### Lamar Miller has taken some accountability for his 2.9 per carry average (23 for 67). But a review of the tape confirms that the offensive line simply isn't creating enough holes. Miller is running hard; he has broken five tackles. Among players who have broken more tackles, only the Patriots' Dion Lewis has fewer carries than Miller.

Miller was among those limited in practice today, along with Dion Sims, Jordan Cameron, Reshad Jones and Mike Pouncey. Earl Mitchell (back) and Branden Albert (hamstring) couldn't practice.

### One encouraging sign of increased Dolphins interest: Sunday’s Dolphins-Jaguars game was viewed in 25.9 percent of Miami-Dade/Broward homes with TV sets --- highest for a Dolphins game in at least several years. Last season's high: 22.0 against Denver.


### Though Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he doesn’t want to pigeonhole Justise Winslow “in a box” with a particular position, another Heat official said he probably projects best long-term as a small forward, but the Heat also believes he can play guard and perhaps power forward at times.

Everyone knows his mid-range and three-point accuracy must improve, and “that's our job to… develop his shooting,” Spoelstra said. “He's been very consistent with that, often times working twice a day with our coaches. He has a lot of effectiveness in the paint and near the basket.” 

Spoelstra told both Winslow and second-round pick Josh Richardson to “just get in the gym and work. Make sure you don't miss a turn, don't miss a drill, don't miss a day. Both have been terrific with that. They're in great shape, they're eager, they're hungry to learn our culture and system. The rest will take care of itself.”

### One of the oddities about Josh McRoberts is “he’s right-handed in virtually everything he does except he shoots the basketball left-handed,” Spoelstra said. “He will bat and throw the football right-handed and play golf right-handed. It's one of those interesting contradictions. It's something unique and something we definitely want to leverage.”

### Please see the last post for a report on what Chris Bosh had to say this afternoon.

### Most pleasant surprises on this UM football team?

Tackle Sunny Odogwu (has gone from unpolished project to competent starter); the fact Joseph Yearby is running better through contact (his 7.6 per carry average ranks 19th in the country); cornerback Corn Elder’s emergence into a dynamic playmaker (20.3 punt return average ranks 12th nationally and his seven pass breakups are second-most in country); and receiver Tyre Brady’s and tight end Chris Herndon’s evolution.

Disappointments? Start with defensive tackle Michael Wyche, who coaches once thought would be an impact starter but is now on the scout team and can barely get on the field in games.

### Poor crowds have hurt UM with some recruits in recent years, including Georgia’s Sony Michel. And some schools use it against Miami, too. “Wow, is anybody at [the] Miami game?” FSU tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Tim Brewster tweeted during UM-Nebraska.

### Several Marlins players would love if the managerial job went to roving minor league hitting coach Andy Barkett, the team’s former Double A manager, but the players are having no input in this decision and Jeffrey Loria traditionally prefers bigger names.

### Ichiro Suzuki (just 66 hits away from 3000) insists he wants to play next season, and the Marlins are saying publicly they want him back, but at 41, it’s a bit worrisome that his .238 average is 24 points below his career low and well below his .314 career average.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz