Friday, March 09, 2007

Slightly off

A few years ago, I suggested the Phins trade AJ Feeley even up for Michael Vick, so the Falcons would have AJ Feeley and Jay Feely on their team; and oh, by the way, we would get Ron Mexico in the process.
 
Flash forward to this year.  Michael's brother Marcus is on the team.  Jay Feely is on the team.  But where's AJ Feeley?  He's back in Philly.
 
So, we got some portion of what I hoped for, but not quite.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A new Joey

There's another reason Miami released Joey Harrington from the roster: NFL Rule 192.4.51, subsection a clearly states that "...no NFL franchise may have more than one Joey on its roster..." (the rule dates back to the late 40s when there was an influx of Australian players after WWII)
 
The Dolphins managed to sign Joey Porter to a conract earlier today.
 
And yes, his head is that big, especially after getting a $12 million signing bonus!

Monday, March 05, 2007

No surprise there

Joey Harrington was also released today, after attempts to trade him failed.  Who wants a guy who went 5-6 as a starter, and played miserably....and who had a day that was as bad as any QB has ever had except maybe Ray Lucas (who you may remember was also a Dolphin)

and the beat goes on...

Peter King reported that all the rumors about Wes Welker were untrue, and basically Miami and New England had worked together to simply trade Welker to the Patriots. That deal was consumated today, with the Phins receiving a 2nd and 7th round selection in return.

Also, Randy McMichael was released, since Miami couldn't trade him and he was due a large roster bonus.

why are the Patriots so good?

I've been pondering this question for a while now, and I have at least a partial answer thanks in part to Nick Saban.  Nick clued me in with his snake oil salesman style, and his buddy Bill Belicik is of the same ilk.
 
See, here's the thing.  There is just so much talent to go around.  Yes, some players are smarter, and some are faster.  Bill focuses on the ones who are smarter.  Maybe they have other attributes, but they also understand the game. And he happens to have a QB who makes very few mistakes.
 
And coaching for the most part is coaching.  Is Bill a better coach?  No, but I believe he gives his teams his players two edges: (1) he gets them all to play as a team, and no one gets paid more than anyone else (with a few possible exceptions like Tom Brady).  So, there's a certain amount of amicable camraderie that happens because they are a team.  He lets them leave if they want to make more money, but with his coaching style they succeed, and often want to hang around.  They money is good, but not as good as elsewhere, but they're always competitive.
 
And (2) Bill understands the rules of the game and uses them and/or exploits them.  And because he has smart players, he gets them to to understand the rules and take advantage of them, too.  Let's go back to a game a few years ago where the Colts travelled to Boston for a playoff game.  In that game, every Colts receiever was mugged, held, or otherwise interfered with.  The Colts argued, but the refs "let them play."  Bill knew that the officials didn't usually flag interference in the playoffs, so he gameplanned for it.  Was he right or wrong?  Who knows, but he exploited the rules.
 
Look at the playoff game they played against the Colts this year.  If you watch carefully, on the TD the Pats lineman scored before the half, you'll see Maroney fumble, and a wideout comes in and rather than dive onto the ball, he swats it toward the endzone.  Do you think that was coached?  I do.  If they get away with it, its a TD.  If they don't - and the odds say they will get away with it because he was diving on the pile - its a penalty and they get another try.  Where's the harm?
 
And so, I believe he coaches his players to play just to the edge of the rules.  Play to the whistle.  Everyone be active on every play or you hit the bench.  And here are some specific rules you want to try and work on (so if it says the o-lineman can grab a jersey and user leverage in this way, they do just that, and maybe a little bit more).  It gives him the advantage. 
 
And it gives his team an advantage when they play everyone else who is *following* the rules.  31 teams the same.  One slightly different.  Its easy to see why he can literally pluck players off the street and have them succeed. 
 
Its not coaching.  Its not really cheating.  Its maximizing the potential under a set of rules the way no one else does.  The only way to overcome it is for another coach to employ the same tactics, or for the NFL to watch for it and start calling them closer or fining him for certain tactics. 

Tickets and such

I loved Greg Cote's comment this weekend to the effect of - rejoice Dolphins fans in the ticket price increase.  Just image how much more it would have been if the Phins had made the playoffs over the last 5 years!
 
And speaking of tickets, the Dolphins have still made no announcements about whether/how/if they'll offer the opportunity for Dolphins fans to travel to the game in London.  Bryan Weidemer was asked about that on Fins TV this weekend, and he gave very vague answers that were all very politcally correct (we want to help fans get to see their team, and we're working with the nfl to decide how to handle this...).  I respect Bryan, and believe that the Dolphins organization would love to have a true "home game" in London.  But the fact is that this is an NFL event.  And the Dolphins have very little say.
 
My opinion is that the NFL wants to grow its fan base in Europe.  And the fact that 500,000 ticket requests came in already, makes it clear that they can sell out a game.  Over the next however many years, each team will play in an overseas game, and half of them will lose a home game.  Its all about expanding the business....
 
So, what will Dolphins offer?  My guess is that they will offer a very limited number of tickets via a package deal (probably < 10,000), only to season ticket holders.  You get the ticket, a charter, a hotel, and a few perks all for a price.  They'll probably also do some promotional things like auctions and charity deals to a few lucky fans to make it extra-terrific-special.
 
Anyone else can just stand in line, just like the Brits (and other Europeans) will have to.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

change is....good?

Wow, there's been a flurry of activity in the last 24 hours.  Typically, this would mean that the Phins signed some overpriced free agent.  But, not this year.
 
Nope.  Instead, they traded Big Daddy Wilkinson for a 6th round pick to the Broncos.  And Sammy Morris and Damion McIntosh both signed elsewhere.
 
The Patriots are also expected to offer Wes Welker a contract, which some argue the Phins won't match, and will get a 2nd round pick in return.
 
More intriguing is news that Randy McMichael is being shopped for a 3rd round pick.
 
Stay tuned.