Saturday, October 06, 2007

We're not in Kansas

At the behest of the Phinatic, I present the following:
We’re Not In Kansas Anymore
By Pat Catello

I've heard it said that if one looks hard enough, it is possible to relate the Wizard of Oz to every aspect of life. In fact, it has been rumored that one of the most popular musical Albums of all time, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” can be synchronized to an exact soundtrack of the famous film. I have investigated this, and although there are some similar attributes, I am not sure I am in this camp. I think that there may be some outside influences that are needed in order to acquire this point of view. That being said, the Miami Dolphins are on their way to an abysmal start, and find themselves in a situation that I have not experienced in my lifetime.

I’m sure the inaugural years in the 1960’s were somewhat of a strain on their fans, however with any new team entering a formidable league, expectations are much lower and there is a certain amount of leeway given in regard to a learning curve. I’ve decided that with nowhere else to turn, and my options limited, I would apply the “Wizard of Oz Theory” on South Florida’s finest football team. For those unfamiliar with the storyline of the Wizard of Oz, I lend this brief recap for both of you. The movies main character Dorothy lives in Kansas with her dog Toto, and is lifted to a magical journey when a fierce tornado strikes her ranch. She meets 3 main characters with whom she joins on her magical journey down the yellow brick road, in search of a solution to her problems, a dilemma to be solved by the all knowing answerer to life’s problems, the empowering and mighty Wizard who resides in the land of Oz.

Her companions come in 3 forms; first the Scarecrow, who is fixated on his lack of one quality, a brain. He is envious of others with this quality and in desperate need to fulfill his need. Then there is the Tin Man, a man in full armored tin, who has a brain, yet lacks what he regards as a more important feature, a heart. Finally there is the Lion, a fully coated specimen, complete with every quality the “King of the Jungle” requires, that is everything except the quality needed to bring his rewards to fruition, the courage to do so. Now I am beginning to find a connection. Let’s start with placing the Miami Dolphins football team in the main role of Dorothy. A team with an enormous amount of success in the past, a prolific history that includes 5 Super Bowl appearances, 2 Championships, a Perfect Undefeated Season, and a 17 year quarterback who set nearly every major passing record while wearing the aqua and orange uniform. However, despite the luxury of Dan Marino for all these years, they still search for something to complete them, a modern day Championship. It is here that the tornado makes its way in. No, I am not referring to Jimmy Johnson, although I certainly entertained it, but I will be nice and go with the simple retirement of Dan Marino. I pick this event, because it has become evidently clear that with Marino at quarterback, the Dolphins have always had the luxury of avoiding a prolonged losing streak. There were certainly times when the team was devoid of enough talent to warrant such, but it seemed the lofty abilities of Marino alone was enough to overcome this. In fact the longest losing streak under Marino’s leadership was only 5 games, this happened towards the end of the 1988 season, and other than that you have to strain your eyes to find even a 3 game skid. Since his retirement, the Dolphins have had 4 different head coaches in just 8 years, and have struggled to find both stability and consistency. Along this path, the Dolphins have had some very capable components. They were lucky enough to have had arguably the best running back in football for a short period of time in Ricky Williams. It seemed as though they would be able to build around another future Hall of Fame player in Williams, who when he performed, was as good as anyone at the position. Williams however, lacked that all important quality our scarecrow character desired so much, at least when it came to abstaining from a substance that has since suspended him several times from the league, and ultimately cost him his shot at Canton. The Dolphin defense has its share of talent as well, both in the form of a league defensive MVP in Jason Taylor, and the absolute personification of consistency and determination in Zack Thomas. You will not get me to say a bad word about these two players because they are certainly the light that broke through the clouds when the skies got dreary. However, the defensive squad that they play for has always had a “Tin Man” complex in that it lacks heart, the quality needed in tough situations that never seems to show its face when it is needed most. The infamous Monday night debacle at the Meadowlands when the team could not sustain an enormous lead is just the exclamation point of a history of heartless defensive stands. Finally there is the lion, which lacked the courage needed to perform as expected, and for this role I turn to former head coach Nick Saban. Saban took over an ailing franchise with all the roar and intimidation of a ferocious lion, but when the program was placed completely in his hands, he did not have enough courage to tell the truth when it came to his future plans with the team, and left virtually overnight, leaving the franchise to once again pick up the pieces and start over.
However, there is a positive in this story of dismay. When Dorothy and her friends finally arrive at the home of the Wizard of Oz, they find that the Wizard’s powers are not the answer. In fact, the mighty Wizard is a fraud and can offer them no help to their dilemmas. Instead, they find the qualities they desired are those which they held inside all along, and simply had to find and develop within themselves. I have said all along I feel this team has key elements and championship caliber players in place; they simply have to look within themselves and bring them out. As the Dolphins continue to follow their yellow brick road this week in hopes of finding their much-needed remedy, keep in mind that there is certainly room for hope. At anytime Jason Taylor and Joey Porter can break out. Ted Ginn Jr. and Trent Green can show why they were brought in with such anticipation and high hopes and Ronnie Brown can continue to prove he can be one of the top backs in this league. But just remember, when the inevitable 3rd and 15 arrives, close your eyes and clap those red high heel shoes together, because, “We’re Not In Kansas Anymore!”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ricky...

From ESPN's page 2:

Dear commish …   

Updated: October 2, 2007, 4:49 PM ET

Ricky Williams is back in the news.
The 1998 Heisman Trophy winner has applied to the NFL for reinstatement, after being suspended in April 2006 following a fourth violation of the league's drug policy.
By tapping into a dubious network of sources, Page 2 has obtained a copy of the letter Williams sent to commissioner Roger Goodell.
 

 

Wanker or not? You decide

I did poorly again in the HTC again.  I got beat by both the mascot and the cheerleader!
 
So, I need to makeup points.  How do I do that?  Well, that's where I have to pick against my Dolphins....I took Ahman Green  as one of my running backs. 

Either he does "huggy bear" well, or he gets stuffed by the Dolphins.  And I either look like a genius and the Dolphins look bad, or I look silly for the pick, and the Dolphins look good.

Web weekend video blog #1

Here's my first video blog...
Dave's video log.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

cheerleader of the year

voting continues!
 

The lighter side of sports

With all the bad that's surroundign the Dolphins, you have to love these stories.  And there's always a local connection:
 
In Cincinnatti, there's a pidgeon problem.  They've nested in the rafters and poop on fans.  And so the city gave permission to shoot the pidgeons.  Seriously.
 
Meanwhile, in Miami, there's poop on the field that the fans are watching.  And the city is considering means to exterminate the bad play...
 
===========================================================================
OJ Simpson has been ordered to give up his Rolex to the Goldman family.  It is estimated the watch's value is between $5,000 and more than $20,000.
 
But, hang on, Simpson's attorney had this to say: "Know any Rolex watches that sell for 125 bucks?" he asked, adding that's what Simpson told him he paid for it. The lawyer acknowledged, however, that if it is fake, "it's a pretty good copy."
 
===========================================================================
Marijuana advocates want Ricky in Denver

Associated Press <


DENVER (AP) - A group that led a campaign to legalize marijuana possession in Denver is posting a billboard advertisement encouraging suspended running back Ricky Williams and the Broncos to get together.

Williams applied for NFL reinstatement this week, his agent said. Williams has played in only 12 NFL games since the start of the 2004 season, but rushed for 3,225 yards in 2002-03. His current suspension began in April 2006 after he violated the league's drug policy for the fourth time. He tested positive for marijuana this April, again delaying his return.
 
Williams remains under contract with Miami, where he won the NFL rushing title in 2002. But new coach Cam Cameron has not indicated whether he wants Williams to stay with the Dolphins, who fell to 0-4 Sunday.

The billboard, across the street from Invesco Field, where the Broncos play, will be unveiled Wednesday and will stay up for a month. At a cost of $3,000, it features a player with dreadlocks in a blue and orange jersey and reads, "Ricky, come to Denver... Where the people support your SAFER choice."

 

In 2005, Denver residents passed an initiative removing all penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults. The campaign was run on the message that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Police have continued prosecuting people under state law, however. Federal law also prohibits possession.

 

"The National Football League's marijuana policy is just as irrational as our federal government's marijuana policy," said Mason Tvert of the group Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation. "In both cases, authorities are steering adults toward using alcohol and punishing them for making the safer choice to use marijuana instead.

"If (commissioner) Roger Goodell and every NFL player over 21 can go home after a game and have a drink, there is no reason why Ricky Williams should not be allowed to go home and use a less harmful drug."

 

The initiative Denver voters approved two years ago allows adults to carry up to an ounce of marijuana. No other state allows pot possession for anything other than medical use.

 

"Ricky Williams would feel right at home here," Tvert said. 

Ricky

Just to throw salt in a wound, I thought I'd remind you that Ricky Williams has applied for reinstatement.

I'm sure that's going to turn out weird.

Why apathy?

I mentioned that some of my peers were referring to me as "apathetic Dave" because I did relatively little bitching. I guess the issue boils down to these points:
* Miami hasn't won a superbowl since the Ford administration; most of the players on this team weren't even born yet
* Miami's last appearance in the superbowl was 23 years ago; while most of these players were in diapers.
* Miami's last playoff win was in 2000.
* Their last playoff appearance was in 2001.
* There have been 13 players who have started at QB since Marino retired - 8 years ago.
* Other than two players on defense, there haven't been any memorable names on this team since Marino. None on offense. Unless you count Ricky. (haha)
* Nor have there been any truly memorable plays in that span. Okay, I'll grant you that seeing JT make a fumble return or interception return for a TD is exciting, but do you remember those as well as "the spike play?"
* We've had 5 head coaches since Shula - over 12 years. Each of them has "cleaned house" and more or less started over, so there's little continuity.
* Meanwhile, the costs of doing business (parking, tickets, and concession prices) keep going up.

Every team goes through cycles. This has been one long cycle for Dolphins fans.

Football 116

With respect to CBS, the NFL, and the Dolphins, I present a few plays.

All wasn't bad for Miami on offense. In fact, they were running well. And here's the reason: the offensive line was working in synch, and creating great holes for Mr. Brown to run through.

Take this play. The left tackle and tight end are pushing his man out left. The left guard and center are pushing hone guy right. And the right tackle is pushing right. The right guard - Hadnot (66) is pulling. He moves from his spot into the hole that's created on the left. His job is to get in front of Brown and take out the linebacker. Also, Peele has lined up in the backfield, and he will also go ahead of Brown to take out the safety farther dowfield.

The play works to perfection and Ronnie scores. Its no easy feat, since everyone has to work in synch, and Hadnot has to time his push into the hole to go after Peele.

Football 115

With respect, I'd like to show you what happened on Green's first pick. And by the way, I'll take some responsibility for distracting Trent because I said hello and wished him luck as he left the team hotel to head to the stadium. Had I said nothing or used the theatrical "break a leg," it might have been different.

Anyway, here's the way the play starts. I'm showing the basic routes the receivers are running, and how the pocket sets up for Green. Its a pretty well designed play in general, and it starts off well.



But, as Trent looks to make the throw to the receiver, he doesn't see the linebacker who is standing behind the umpire. I have to tell you that the linebacker stayed pretty much in the same place from the snap, and used the umpire as a shield. That is, it was somewhat intentional to "hide"....and it worked. Trent threw the pass, and never saw the guy. He picks it off and runs it back to the 10. The Raiders scored, and the rout was on.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Football 114

With respects, here is the kind of thing that happened to the Dolphins defense all afternoon.


Oakland went to the shotgun spread. The QB is lined up a few yards back with a back near him. There are 4 receivers spread out on the field. Miami, for some reasons, decides to counter by putting five defensive backs on the field. They're running a two-deep zone, to try and protect against the pass, but are conceding the run. Why? I have no idea. They're down by 11 with 3 minutes left. Play the run!

Anyway, they have 4 down linemen, and two linebackers who look like they're playing pass.


The play starts and Daunte drops back to pass, then he turns and gives it to Huggy Bear jr, and he simply follows his block. The linebacker on that side has responsibility to stop this play. But, in the circle, he's out of position, looking in the backfield, and presumably expecting the pass. There's no way to stop HBJ.

Its a 20+ yard gain that leads to the final TD.

Miami seemed awfully confused on defense for the second straight week...

Football 113

With respects, here is Oakland's final TD on the day. Yeah, it showed poor taste to run a play with this little time left, but it illustrates how poorly the defense was playing at the time.


The Raiders lined up in the same spread formation they'd been in. On a recent down (see football 114), they ran a draw to Huggy Bear Jr. On this play, they faked the draw, and everyone on the Dolphins defense bit on the play and raced in to stop Fargas.


Meanwhile, Culpepper kept the ball, and ran into the endzone unscathed.

Duh...

I heard something that mystified me. The radio host was saying "...if this team is 0-10, then Cam should be shown the door, and we should go after Bill Cowher."

That's about the stupidest thing I've heard today. Its totally absurd and would show the fans there is *NO* commitment to anything...

The new bathrooms


Oddly, on a tour of the club level, we were taken in and shown the new bathroom. How quirky. This is the ladies room in the club level. We're seeing how many people we can squeeze into it.


I checked out another bathroom as well. This one is in TDs tailgate zone.

And speaking of TDs tailgate zone, there were fans running. And this is what they said. Really.


[insert joke about fat Dolphins fan here]

Raiders fans?


Man. Do Raiders fans dress funny or what?

Coaches at the 1/4 way spot

Cam Cameron 0-4
Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh), interviewed by Miami 3-1
Bobby Petrino (Atlanta) 1-3
Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona), interviewed by Miami 2-2
Lane Kiffin (Oakland) 2-2
Wade Phillips (Dallas) 4-0
Norv Turner (San Diego) 1-3

Clearly, the cream of this crop is the guy who was the defensive coordinator at San Diego while Cameron was the offensive guy....then again the last coach in Dallas was Bill Parcells, and he left the team in pretty good shape, as did Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh.

Looking Back...

Raiders Come Back to 'Squish the Fish'
December 2, 1984

WR Dokie Williams gets open deep for a 75-yard touchdown play.


The Miami Dolphins under head coach Don Shula were tough to beat. The Miami Dolphins at home in the Orange Bowl were very tough to beat. And the Miami Dolphins with Dan Marino firing are especially tough to beat.

On Sunday afternoon December 2, 1984, in the muggy confines of the aging Orange Bowl, Dan Marino fired more productively than any quarterback the Raiders had faced in their 25-year history.

Marino, then only in his second NFL season, completed 35 of 57 pass attempts that afternoon for 470 yards, the most ever allowed thru passing by the Raiders since the franchise first fielded a team in 1960. No quarterback in the 374 league games that the Raiders had played from September 11, 1960 through November 25, 1984, had ever moved his club 470 yards by passing against the Silver and Black. Not Pro Football Hall of Fame members like Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Lenny Dawson, Fran Tarkenton, Jonny Unitas, Dan Fouts, Terry Bradshaw or other great pro passers.


Raiders QB Marc Wilson barks out the signals at the line of scrimmage.


Marino, then only in his second NFL season, completed 35 of 57 pass attempts that afternoon for 470 yards, the most ever allowed thru passing by the Raiders since the franchise first fielded a team in 1960. No quarterback in the 374 league games that the Raiders had played from September 11, 1960 through November 25, 1984, had ever moved his club 470 yards by passing against the Silver and Black. Not Pro Football Hall of Fame members like Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Lenny Dawson, Fran Tarkenton, Jonny Unitas, Dan Fouts, Terry Bradshaw or other great pro passers.

But, you know what? These 1984 Raiders- defending World Champions of Professional Football- gave up 470 yards passing to Marino and the Dolphins and beat them by 11 points, 45 to 34. This classic shootout saw a total of 48 first downs, 919 yards of offense, 711 yards on pass receptions, 81 passes thrown, 137 yards in penalties, 79 points scored and four scoring plays of over 50 yards each. Plus a heroic goal–line stand, a pair of 100-yard individual pass reception games, a 100 yard rushing game, a 100-yard interception game, quarterback sacks, big hits and all the trimmings of the year’s best television game.

As the featured NBC Sports game of the day, kickoff time had been set back to 4 p.m. on a humid, windy 80-degree afternoon in Miami to be the second game of the TV doubleheader on both coasts. The Raiders won the coin toss and chose to receive.

On the very first play, Raider quarterback Marc Wilson opened the game with an eight-yard pass to halfback Kenny King. Three hours and 43 minutes later Wilson would bring the AFC showcase to a close by kneeling on one knee to run out the clock.


Future Hall of Famer Mike Haynes (22) returned an interception 97 yards for a TD.


After the first punt, the Dolphins took over on their own 35. Dan Marino started a march by completing passes to his talented wide receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. Then, with a third-and-goal from the Raider three, he threw for Duper in the left flat and found Raider corner Mike Haynes there instead.

Haynes picked off the pass at three, juked once, headed down the right sideline, picked up an escort from safety Mike Davis and sped a Raider-record 97 yards with the interception to put the Raiders on the scoreboard first, 7-0.

Marino came out firing on Miami’s next possession. Six completions later he hit Jimmy Cefalo on the left edge of the end zone from four yards out to tie the score. With this touchdown pass, the brilliant former University of Pittsburgh star had set a new NFL record. In only his second pro season, and his first full season as a starter, Marino had now thrown his 37th touchdown pass in one season- and still had over 47 minutes to play in this game plus two more games left on his 1984 league schedule.

A 47-yard strike from Marc Wilson to wide receiver Dokie Williams quickly propelled the Raiders goalward. But then a fumble brought an even quicker end to the drive as the first quarter ended.

In the second quarter, an interception return gave Miami the ball on the Raiders six, and a six-yard burst by Tony Nathan put Miami ahead by six as big defensive end Sean Jones blocked the extra-point kick. The scoreboard now read: Dolphins 13- Raiders 7.

A 42-yard kickoff return by Cle Montgomery put the Raiders back in business. Marc Wilson rolled right and hit wide receiver Malcolm Barnwell along that sideline for 19 yards. Marcus Allen swept left for 15. Then Wilson passed to Allen for 10 down to the Miami 11-yard line. Allen then popped thru between blocks by right guard Mickey Marvin and right tackle Henry Lawrence to put the Raiders back on top, 14- 13.

Later in the second quarter, the Raiders pulled ahead, 17-13 on a Chris Bahr 44-yard field goal. The Dolphins then began a march downfield with three minutes left in the half. A pass interference penalty kept the drive alive. A sudden rainstorm then, struck, and colorful umbrellas blossomed throughout the Orange Bowl like spring flowers.


As night fell at the Orange Bowl, DE Howie Long looked to put Dolphins’ QB Dan Marino’s lights out.

Another interference call put Miami on the Raider one-yard line with 45 seconds to play. Big Pete Johnson pounded over left guard on the first-and-goal, but Lyle Alzado stopped him dead in his tracks. Next, Johnson went right and a group of Raider defenders, led by corner back Lester Hayes, rose up and stopped him just inside the one. Finally, with nine seconds left, Miami coach Don Shula called his last time out to review his options. Disdaining the field goal, coach Shula chose to go for the TD and the halftime lead. Woody Bennett powered into the pole behind his left tackle- and went absolutely nowhere. Mike Davis, Howie Long and a wild bunch in Silver and Black said, “no way.” As the gun went off, Miami was still one foot from the goal line, and the Raiders were still ahead, 17-13.

But 30 minutes of football, 505 yards of offense and seven touchdowns were still to come!

On the Raiders first second-half possession, a pair of Marc Wilson passes to tight end Todd Christensen and runs by Kenny King and Frank Hawkins put the ball in close. A pass to tight end Dave Casper from seven yards out added seven points. Raiders 24-Dolphins 13.

Just five minutes later, the Dolphins closed the gap to four points again as Marino went deep to Clayton for 64 yards and the score. Amazingly, Clayton fumbled the ball while running all alone in the clear, but the ball bounced right back to him, and he continued in stride for the touchdown.

On their next possession, Miami took the lead-temporarily- when Marino finished an 83-yard march with a 10-yard scoring toss to Clayton along the right sideline. The final quarter would open with Miami ahead 27-24. But head coach Tom Flores and his tough band of Raiders were long on comeback courage though short on time.

With 9:07 left, the Raiders took over on their own 25. One play was all it took to cover the 75 yards ahead. Marc Wilson scrambled to his right to avoid a rush, fired on the move down the right sideline to a flying Dokie Williams, who went untouched for the score. The Raiders were back on top- for good, finally- 31 to 27.

Defensive tackle Bill Pickel got a quarterback sack on the next Miami possession. Cornerback Mike Haynes recorded his second pass interception, returning this one 54 yards down the right sideline to the Dolphins 10-yard line. Three plays later, Marcus Allen took a pitchout wide right for six yards and the touchdown. Raiders 38 – Dolphins 27.

Miami never quit. Despite defensive pressure from Howie Long, Lyle Alzado, Sean Jones, Reggie Kinlaw, Bill Pickel, Greg Townsend and others who battled heat, humidity and fatigue as well as disciplined pass protectors, Marino threw and threw and threw some more. A nine-yard pass to Duper again cut the Raider lead to just four points, 38-34.

Raider defensive back Odis McKiney recovered the Miami on-sides kickoff attempt on the Raiders 44 with 2:09 left on the game clock. After Frank Hawkins gained three inside, the two-minute warning stopped the clock. When time resumed, Marcus Allen was held to a one-yard gain sweeping right, and Miami took its first time out with 1:52 left. With two time outs remaining, the Dolphins could get the ball back if they stopped the Raiders on the third-and-six at the Raider 48. But these Raiders showed the Dolphins, the sold-out Orange Bowl crowd and the huge national television audience that this night they would not be stopped!

Marcus Allen took the handoff from Marc Wilson, started right, cut back behind tackle Henry Lawrence, leaped over a defender and headed for the goal line. Fifty-two yards later, Allen had his third TD of the game and the Raiders had their tenth win of the 1984 season, enroute to another playoff appearance. Tom Flores was now 5-0 in games against Don Shula.

A tired, weary, but proud band of Raiders had learned firsthand why Dan Marino would one day be a Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate. And a television audience of over 40 million had again learned to respect the Raiders. Home or away, these warriors in Silver and Black continually defied the odds to remain professional sports’ winningest team.

From Raiders.com

More milestones

Dan Marino's record was beaten this week. And now Miami - which was the winningest franchise since 1970 - might be overtaken for that distinction by Pittsburgh before the season is out. Miami is only a handful of games ahead right now...

Yes, I said 299 yards...

That is in the bottom 5 - all time in the NFL - of rushing totals allowed.
 
So, lets see...since Shula retired in 1995:
* We've had 14 different starting QBs
* We had the 2nd most lopsided loss in NFL history
* We've allowed one of the most yards rushing
* We've been to six playoff games (and none in the last 5 years)
* We've had 5 head coaches
* We've gotten almost no production from any draft picks
* We had several head case players who were distractions to the team
 
Its just a sad state of affairs when it comes to the Dolphins.
 

Holy moses!

So, the Dolphins allowed 299 yards rushing this past weekend.  Leading the charge was this guy Justin Fargas (FARGAS!), a who-dat to be sure.
 
But what is Fargas' claim to fame?  He was "Huggy Bear" 's son...yup, that Huggy Bear, from Starsky and Hutch for those of us who remember the show.
 
 
 
Incidentally, I was watching him warm up before the game, and I had no idea who he was or that he played running back. Go figure.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Update!

This weekend, the Miami Dolphins hosted the 4th annual "web weekend"...it was another fun event, but kept me so occupied from Friday night until after Sunday's game, that I didn't have a chance to sit by a computer and post anything.

Fear not, for I have a large amount of information to share. And a lot to say about yesterday's stinker of a game....as soon as I can get to it!!!

A couple of amusing moments:
(1) I was being called apathetic dave by my fellow webmasters.
(2) I got a chance to stand on the same spot as Nicky and tell everyone that I was not going to Alabama.

Send more soon.