Friday, October 26, 2007

Zach

He will not be making the trip to London. He's in Pittsburgh seeing a specialist because he's suffering from "whiplash" after his accident.

But, the guy he's seeing is a neruologist, and Zach's accident was reportedly not that bad, and any injury he suffered likely would have been to the neck and shoulders.

The rumor is circulating that he may have suffered another concussion in the game last weekend.

Jerry and Wayne

ESPN did a piece on the NFL playing overseas, and Jerry Jones was asked about playing a home game away from Dallas. He responded predictably - with the smile - and "I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it. I have too many commitments."

H Wayne was asked what he thought and he responded "If the NFL tells him he has to, then he won't have a choice."

Sometime in the coming months, the league will vote to add a 17th game to the schedule beginning in 2010 or 11. That game would be played overseas somewhere.

One final thought on the Dolphins playing in London. Wouldn't it have made more sense to have "New England" playing in England?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Channing Crowder

Saw this in the Palm Beach Post...I'm pretty sure Channing was yanking the reports chain...
 

Crowder learns he won’t need translator in London


Maybe he was joking, but gregarious Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder confessed today he didn’t know until Tuesday that people spoke English in London.
Crowder, a former Florida Gator and Atlanta native, apparently isn’t sure where the plane is headed when it takes off this afternoon for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants in Wembley Stadium.
 
“I couldn’t find London on a map if they didn’t have the names of the countries,” Crowder said. “I swear to God. I don’t know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I learned that.
 
“I know (Washington Redskins linebacker) London Fletcher. We did a football camp together. So I know him. That’s the closest thing I know to London. He’s black, so I’m sure he’s not from London. I’m sure that’s a coincidental name.”
 
When reminded Dolphins practice squad receiver and NFL Europe veteran Marvin Allen is from London, Crowder’s standup routine didn’t miss a beat.
 
“He’s from London?” Crowder said. “I knew he was from over there because he talks funny. I was surprised (when they met) because — I don’t want to say he didn’t look the part because that’s a stereotype — but he didn’t look the part. I heard him talk, and I thought he had a recorder and was just mouthing.”

Worrell

On NFL primetime on ESPN this week, Mike Ditka said of Cameron Worrell "who's better than Cam? Everyone in the NFL. This guy shouldn't even be playing. If I were the coach, I'd cut him."

Then, the other guys picked up on it, and started bashing him, too. I have to admit, it was funny.

A word or two about the patsies

As you well know, I am no fan of Bellicheat. I still think there's more to this story. But, this entry is not about that. Rather, its about some of the play on the field that makes them successful.

On offense, everyone says you can stick any player out there and they can have success. That's probably true, with the exception of Brady. But *why* is that? I have a theory, and I can substantiate it based on the plays I've seen them run. The first thing is that they keep it extremely simple. The second thing is that they run the shotgun spread formation, so Brady lines up 5 or so yards behind the line, and then on passing plays, Brady takes about a 5 step drop. So, when he get ready to throw he's about 8 yards behind the line. He can scan the field and look for receivers. The line merely has to keep defenders at bay for 3-4 seconds, and then the distance they have to travel takes an additional 4-5 seconds. Which means Brady has 8-9 seconds to look for a receiver. And the line all look like heros. Its a no brainer, but no one else is even attempting it.

(typically, when a team employs the shotgun, the QB stays where he is, and does NOT sprint backward. What Brady does runs counter to convential wisdom)

Meanwhile on defense, their whole goal is to not tip their hand as to scheme. Simple. Create movement, and momentary confusion. Again, why doesn't anyone else do this?

But I have to add: I've seen the hilights now, and I definitely think it was bad form to stick Brady back out there. "boo hoo, we're only up by 21, and maybe Miami can come back..." Fine. But why have Brady throwing the ball?

A blast from the past

Miami had been 5-0 in AFC championship games. Then, in 1985, they met the Patriots. And, well, here's the story:

The 1985 Patriots were shaping upto be a good team with a young quarterback, running back and receiver to complement an attacking defense. However, the Patriots' appeared to be the 'same old Patiots' when the struggled early. Tony Eason, who would have garned more attention for his sophmore season if not for Dan Marino's record breaking season, looked more like the rookie Tony Eason as the team stumbled out of the gate. After a 2-1 start back-to-back losses to the Raiders (35-20) and Cleveland (24-20) dropped the team to 2-3.

Already two games behind division leaders Miami and New York, the season appeared to be lost as Tony Eason was lost to injury. In stepped fan favorite and much maligned Steve Grogan to the rescue. Led by the veteran quarterback, the Patriots went on a six game winning streak, including wins over division leaders New York (20-13) and Miami (17-13), and propelled themselves into the playoff hunt with a 8-3 record. The Jets would end the winning streak at six with a 16-13 victroy. The teams would continue to fight out and all three teams headed into week 15 with 10-4 records. The Jets would lose at home to the Bears setting up the Dolphins/Patriots Monday night game for the division title. The Dolphins raced out to an early lead and led 17-7 at halftime. They led 27-13 in the fourth when a little Patriots magic struck. After a Mosi Tatupu touchdown cut the defeicit down to 7 at 27-20, Cedric James picked up a Dolphins fumble on the ensuing kickoff and returned is 15 yards to tie the score. The Dolphins would win the game 30-27 on a late field goal, but the Patriots showed they might be a team to reckon with in the playoffs. The Patriots would wrap up their first playoff berth in a non-strike season with a 34-23 win over the Bengals. The Patriots traveled to New York for a wildcard game against division foe Jets. After falling behind 7-3, the Patriots defense stymied the Jets' offense and forced four turnovers enroute to a 26-14 victory. Their first playoff victory since 1963. The Patriots next traveled to Los Angeles to face the Raiders. After taking an early 7-0 lead, the Raiders took control and scored the games next 17 points. The Patriots rallied to close the gap to 20-17 at halftime behind a Craig James TD and Tony Franklin field goal. After a second Tony Franklin field goal tied the score at 20, Jim Bowman recovered a fumble in the endzone, one of six Raider turnovers on the day for a 27-20 lead. The Patriots would hold onto the 7 point lead through a scorless 4th quarter and set-up a rematch with the Dolphins in Miami for the AFC Championship.

The Orange Bowl had long been a place Patriots' teams went to lose, 18 straight games dating back to 1966. Like the previous two playoff wins, the Patriots' capitalized on the other teams mistakes and a vaunted running game. The Patriots' struck first after a Dolphins turnover and led 3-0 behind a Tony Franklin field goal. After the Dolphins went ahead 7-3 the Patriots' regained the lead on a Eason to Tony Collins touchdown pass and then stretched the lead to 17-7 after another Dolphins' turnover led to a Derrick Ramsey touchdown. The Dolphins had a chance to cut into the Patriots' 17-7 haltime lead, but turned the ball over early on their opening drive of the second half. Robert Weathers capped the short drive with a 2 yard touchdown run pushing the Patriots' lead to 17 at 24-7. The Dolphins would close the gap to 10 at 24-14, but the Patriots' rushing attack, which grinded out 255 yards on 59 carries, would clinch their first Superbowl trip when Mosi Tatupu scored a one yard plunge to seal the 31-14 victory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dolphins Keep Losing, but Keep Persevering

From the New York Times:
 
Published: October 24, 2007
DAVIE, Fla., Oct. 22 — Cam Cameron felt horrible Monday morning when he hung up the phone after learning the news: Ronnie Brown, his Pro Bowl-caliber running back on the winless Miami Dolphins, was lost for the season with a torn knee ligament. But as the day wore on, Cameron was reminded that there are worse disasters than the one he parachuted into when he accepted the job as Dolphins coach in January.
Skip to next paragraph
Hans Deryk/Associated Press

A fan in a Dolphins jersey (and a Red Sox cap) apparently did not want to show his face at Sunday’s blowout loss to the Patriots.

Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Defensive end Jason Taylor, a Dolphin since 1997, endured another tough season in 2004.

Cameron spent the previous five seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Chargers, and as he pored over game film Monday, trying to salvage something from this lost season, he heard from friends and former colleagues in San Diego who were among the hundreds of thousands evacuated from their homes because of raging wildfires.
He was in contact with one friend who had lost his home and all his belongings in another wildfire four years ago, during which Cameron evacuated to Arizona with the rest of the Chargers. The friend rebuilt and is in danger of losing everything again.
“In no way would I ever minimize the difficulties we’re going through, because it’s hard on the fans and the organization,” said Cameron, who has a house in Coronado, Calif., that is unaffected by the fires. “At the same time, there are challenges in life, and you have to meet them head-on.”
A man-made disaster like the Dolphins’ season affects everybody differently. Cameron’s fingernails are bitten to the quick, and his cuticles are bleeding. Linebacker Zach Thomas says he has become a recluse.
“I don’t get out of the house,” Thomas said Sunday after the Dolphins lost to the New England Patriots, 49-28, to fall to 0-7. “It’s not that I’m embarrassed. It’s just that people try to tell you to keep your head up and things like that. I don’t need to hear that. I don’t need the self-pity.”
Thomas and defensive end Jason Taylor are survivors of the last really bad tropical depression to form in August, intensify in September and batter the Dolphins well into October. They were on the 2004 team that lost its first 6 games and 9 of its first 10 behind an offense that was flimsier than a corrugated metal roof.
The abrupt retirement before training camp that season of running back Ricky Williams, the league’s leading rusher in 2002, was the rogue wind that became a perfect storm and swept Dave Wannstedt from his head-coaching perch in midseason.
Quarterbacks Jay Fiedler and A .J. Feeley took turns commanding an offense that averaged 17 points a game and so alienated its defense that during one game, safety Sam Madison, who is now with the Giants, berated Feeley on the sideline and had to be restrained from going after him.
“We were 4-12 that year, but it was never like this, mainly because we had a good defense,” Thomas said. “I’ve never been on this side of the coin, because we’ve always had a proud defense even when we weren’t winning.”
Wannstedt’s departure created the opening that was filled two months later by Nick Saban, who left to coach at Alabama after compiling a 15-17 record in two seasons.
This season, defense has been the Dolphins’ undoing, its veneer of talent further exposed by injuries to four safeties. Before the Patriots’ Tom Brady posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on Sunday, there was the Cleveland Browns’ Derek Anderson, who posted a 142.5 rating against Miami. In Week 4, Oakland’s Daunte Culpepper, a former Dolphin, helped beat Miami with his best passer rating of the season, 102.4. It would appear that one hour on the field against the Dolphins is better for a quarterback’s self-esteem than an hour in therapy.
“I know we’ve lost some players,” Thomas said. “But we can’t use that as an excuse. We’re just not very good on defense, and I don’t know how we get this thing turned around.” He added: “The one thing is you can’t let all this snowball because it could get even worse. It could even get uglier.”
Thomas’s mind no doubt was fast-forwarding to the next game and images of Giants quarterback Eli Manning throwing to his favorite receiver, Plaxico Burress, who poses Randy Moss-like matchup problems.
Moss was the recipient of two of Brady’s five touchdown passes in the first half as the Patriots opened a 42-7 lead. Thomas and Taylor had found themselves in worse holes. They were on the 1999 Dolphins team that was defeated by Jacksonville, 62-7, in the first round of the playoffs.
“That’s probably the only game you can compare this one to,” Taylor said Sunday. “And it was different because that team in Jacksonville kind of hit a wall. We were out of gas.”
Those Dolphins were led by the 38-year-old Dan Marino, the Hall of Fame quarterback who grew creaky waiting for the franchise to find a premier running back to complement him. He played an abysmal game against the Jaguars to usher in his retirement and Coach Jimmy Johnson’s resignation. The post-Johnson, post-Marino era was predicated on defense, with Taylor and Thomas as its pillars.
Now it is their turn to grow old waiting for the franchise to build a championship-quality team around them. Thomas, 34, a fifth-round pick of the Dolphins in 1996, and Taylor, 33, a third-round selection in 1997, were the last rays of sunshine before a cold snap.
Between 1998 and 2003, the Dolphins drafted 47 players, only one of whom — safety Yeremiah Bell — was on the 53-man roster at this season’s start. (Bell is on injured reserve after getting hurt in the opener.) The Giants, by comparison, have four players from those draft classes on their roster: Jeremy Shockey, Osi Umenyiora, David Diehl and David Tyree. (A fifth, William Joseph, is on injured reserve.)
Taylor, the reigning defensive player of the year, was not credited with a tackle against the Patriots. He was asked after the game if he was envious of receiver Wes Welker, who was traded from the Dolphins to the Patriots during the off-season.
“I’m a Miami Dolphin,” Taylor said. “It’s my job to help this team get this thing turned around and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
Quickening his steps toward the locker room exit, Taylor added, “We have a lot of issues, none of which I want to sit here and talk about.”
 

so little understanding

I heard Mandich yesterday saying that he thinks there will be more Giants fans in attendance at Sunday's game because there's a natural tie from London to the financial center that is New York.

I read something in the Herald that said Brisith fans are "sophisticated" because they know the difference between a pre-season and regular season game, and would not have come out to a game where the best players only play a fraction of the game.

[editor's note: I'm not sure that these Dolphins have any best players or that they actually play more than a fraction of the game, either]

Meanwhile, Greg Cote went to London to scope out the scene. He provides a much more balanced picture that shows some understanding.

See the difference? Mandich and the beat writer (or maybe editor) don't get it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Big ass Jason Taylor

Take a look at these pictures of JT...they're kind of scary.

The last one, especially, is amusing.

...and speaking of Jason, he cut me off in traffic earlier today. Really.

Defensive backs

Cam had a great comment this week: "how often does a team lose 4 defensive backs in a single season....right now we're looking for a new safety, we're scouring the practice rosters, waiver wires, and the streets for anyone with nfl experience. If they're under 50, we'll try them out."

Ya gotta have a sense of humor about this.

Now, I was over at the training camp this afternoon, and I saw a line of guys going around the corner. They had one of those 'take a number' things like at the grocery store...and they were trying out all of 'em.

Heck, they even tried me out. I guess its true: white men can't jump, so they didn't offer me a contract.

One more on this topic: the Herald pointed out that there's an additional wrinkle to signing someone *this* week...they have to have a passport to play in London this coming weekend.

Huh?

Ronnie's mother was quoted after Brown's injury was publicly announced.  Quoth she:
 
"I'm devastated.  He was doing great, having a wonderful year. I guess God does things for a reason. He might as well watch the rest of the season. He was getting frustrated with the losing."
 
Wait.  God should watch the rest of the season?  And I can only imaging how frustrated he is with this team.

Sayeth JT

"Well, we can't win in America, maybe we can win overseas."
Okay that's funny.
 
 
''There are worse situations you can be in.  Put on Nancy Grace any time of the night and you'll see there are people who have it worse than us. I could be in Iraq. I try to find a way to somehow make myself feel better.''
Okay, that's not.  I agree this is just sport, and its a bit of fun.  But have you given up?
 

Loved this headline

 
Finally, some entertainment!  Streakers!  Don't give them the full Monty, boys...

myrth of a sort

Zach Thomas' SUV was rear-ended on his way home from the game.  He and his wife were not hurt, so somehow this turns out kind of amusing.  I mean the Dolphins had just gotten rear-ended on the field, didn't they? 
 
Cam passed the accident and turned around to come back once he realized it was Zach's car involved.  He said something funny later like 'its amazing all that can go wrong.'

The nonsense just keeps coming

I did appreciate how Cam silenced Trent Green by simply placing him on IR. No discussion, just your out for the year. Then Trent says "I was hoping to come back, but oh well."

So, it turns out that Ronnie Brown tore his ACL. Apparently, he tripped over a blade of grass while chasing down a guy running back an interception. It figures, doesn't it? Especially since he's the best performer on my fanstasy team, and he's a "can't cut" player. I have to check the rules to see how I can cut an injured guy!!!

So, does this mean we'll be seeing some of Lorenzo Booker, or is he resigned to a lesser fate than Jason Allen? Or maybe we'll be seeing the return of Ricky Williams. Wouldn't that be special?

Monday, October 22, 2007

H Wayne asked

Okay, H Wayne is having an internal review to look at the team.  I have an external review for you.  Here goes:
 
The problem starts with you, Mr. Wayne.  You purchased the team, and all was fine.  You did some good things early on, and it looked like the ownership change might be good for the organization.  But, then you had these little details about naming rights to the stadium, and later you ownership of the Marlins that I think may have taken too much importance.  And you didn't surround yourself with good football people.  Yes, you had Shula who knew football.  But, he was busy trying to be a coach in an ever changing football landscape.  To quote him, he needed some help.
 
And although its not the wrong thing to do, your treatment (seemingly preferential treatment) of Dan Marino near the end of his career probably set a few things in montion that weren't right.  The coaches surely felt he was untouchable and the players undioubtedly thought he was above them.
 
And then came "the decision"....you helped Shula to decide to retire, paving the way for JJ to become the head coach.  I'm guessing you assumed that he could rekindle that fire and get you a championship quickly.  But, JJ was bunt out, and you had to talk him into coming in.  And in doing so, you sold out the organization.  JJ took full control, and there still were no football people in place.  Sure, JJ didn't single-handedly ruin the team, but he didn't do much to help it, either.  His ego got in the way of him being successful.
 
JJ finally decided to leave and you talked him out of it.  And he hired Dave to be his assistant, and then talked you into taking on Dave as the head coach.  Dave is a nice guy, as you noted.  I've met him, and I agree.  But, he had his problems in Chicago, and we've seen time and again that very few coaches have success after having failure somewhere else.  You made a choice here, too, to bring in a football guy in Rick Spielman.  That relationship didn't work well, in spite of them being friends.
 
And what did we see of the players that JJ and Dave brought in?  Well, they thought about defense and the running game.  JJ made a quote once that I've laughed at numerous times: "We're gonna run right at 'em.  And they know its coming, and its their job to stop us."  He drafted linemen, defenders, and lots of running backs.  But, were there any other skill positions addressed....most notably QB?  Nope.  Not once.
 
JJ ignored the position entirely, and just dealt with Marino, hoping to send him into early retirement, I believe.  Dave was able to "convince" Marino to retire.  And then he brought in "the caretaker."  A journeyman QB who had some talent, but really wasn't going to lead this team anywhere long term.  Meanwhile, he had a young Damon Huard on the team who is currently (maybe not for long) starting in Kansas City, some 10 years later.  Why not try and explore the possibilties there. 

Rick's personnel decisions were equally as bad.  Maybe he hit more than Dave, but in the end, everyone Dave drafted is gone, and most of the guys Rick picked or picked up are gone, too.  And that leads me to the world of free agency.  Rick couldn't seem to get his act together there.  He brought in guys, but he was played by them and their agents, so they'd get better deals elsewhere.  He was snookered in trades.  And he had communication problems with players who just wanted a fair shot.  He wound up losing a lot of talent from the Dolphins because he couldn't negotiate with them.  I think in the end, he was just a good guy in a really bad fit for a job.
 
So, the slide was in full swing.  And you, Mr Wayne, made another decision to extend Dave another year, and have him split roles with Rick.  It was a year that saw Dave destroy the team's morale.  And even though I suggetsed that Dave quit, it turned out to be a bad idea.  Sure, the team rallied behind coach Bates.  But, it was already bad and getting worse.
 
Once the season was over, you had a conviction to hire the best available coach.  I laud you for that.  And the choice you made certainly seemed like the right one at the time.  But, you again decided to put all your faith in the coach, rather than having football people - or for that matter someone you could trust - running the real show.  Nick had an ego the size of California.  And he only wanted people to worship him.  He was JJ times 100.  He talked a smooth game, and people at ease with his good ole boy style.  But, it was an act.  A charade.  He was really tearing the team apart from the inside.  While JJ had his guys and "the others,"  Nick was less direct, and only had those that would help him and anyone else.

We learned that he had no skill in drafting, evaluating talent, or finding free agents.  And that left Randy Mueller to do the dirty work, but only in the ways that Nick wanted.  I can understand now why Randy hesitated when you offered him a contract to be the true GM this offseason.  He has a reputation to protect.  Nick sullied it for him.  Most of Nick's picks aren't around, either.  Or are around, but only playing because someone else got hurt. 
 
He increased the size of the assistant coaching staff, but it seems more like he was trying to surround himself with so many people so he could make scapegoats when necessary.  When he left, I felt like you finally did *the* right thing, and put together a football organization.  You have a coach and a general manager, and a president who is capable of running a football operation.
 
And that should start the resurgence.  But, it can't undo 8 years of bad management.  There are so many holes on the roster.  There may a QB of the future, but it will be 2-3 years before he really "comes of age" and can play well. 
 
But, there are still other problems.  You put a lot of focus on the upgrades to the stadium.  It is beautiful, I'll grant you.  And it may help bring in more business.  The issue is that these upgrades don't address the needs on the field, and they are somewhat of a slap to the average fan for now.  I realize its a delicate balance, but when the team is bad, and you alienate the fan base, it is a cause for concern.
 
And then there's some of the coaching staff.  When Nick left, you told the assistants it was up to Cam what he wanted to do with them.  He agreed to keep most, and let them do what they do best.  Only, some of them are not getting it done.  The special teams coach was given a fast returner, but had his best contributors taken away.  Who is ultimately responsible?  Him.  His unit is not producing, and is allowing a lot of big returns.  On defense, you had the defensive MVP, signed a very expensive free agent, and only changed a couple of players.  Yet, the team went from #4 overall last year to in the bottom 5 this year, with the best talent not contributing.  Who is ultimately responsible?  The defensive coordinaor.
 
Maybe its time for some changes there, as well.
 
 

Guess I was wrong about that?

I had said this season would prove successful even if the team went 0-16 if they were competitive in every game they played.

They've played in 7.  They were competitive in 3 to my recollection.
 
7 games is the longest in-season losing streak they've ever had.  And now its at 10 games spanning back to last season.
 
That's just not good enough.  They stink, and from now on I'm going to use this space to once again find the humor in everything about this team, and critique them as I see fit.
 
They deserve nothing more, and I officially have given up on them for this year, and probably for years to come.  What chance do they have to improve?  More on that in another entry...
 
I actually find myself wanting them to finish 0-16, and the Patriots to finish 19-0, so Miami will be the laughing stock of the league AND their history can be obliterated as well...
 
I've had it with them.

Now that's funny

Miami allowed yet another kick return for a TD to be made against them this week.  That's, what, 3 this year?
 
And this one - according to first hand accounts - was downright funny.  Miami kicked off short, and one of the up guys weaved his way round everyone en route to the big score.  And what happened next was astounding.  On the "big screens" was special teams coach Keith Armstrong giving some tips on how to get big returns.
 
You can't ask for more than that, can you?
 
As a buddy of mine put it "couldn't you have put the 30 minutes you spent in preparing that video into something more useful like actually coaching?"  To which I responded "he probably assumes he didn't need to since we have Ted Ginns whole family back there!"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

WDDD?

So just What Did Dave Do?

Well, he went to the annual ."Herald Hunt," held this year on Miami Beach.

I've done it in the past, and have decided that I will do it every year for the forseeable future, whether the Dolphins are playing or not. Its that much fun.

Basically, its a series of puzzles that you have to solve. They're all brain teasers to be sure, and they're spread out over a dozen or so city blocks.

You start by picking up a copy of the hunt guide, and then you answer 5 *very easy* questions. Dave Barry starts things off by giving you 5 additional clues. You use the combination of both to find the five puzzle locations.

You head off and try to tease out what in the heck the possible answer could be to these puzzles. The *only* thing you know for sure is that the answer to each is a number.

You have three hours to complete these, and then you return to the starting point. There, Dave Barry gives you a sixth puzzle to solve. While the first five are difficult, the sixth is downright impossible. And yet, the winners were able to solve the last puzzle in around 5 minutes. Yikes!

Anyway, my team was able to complete 3 of the initial 5 puzzles. We had all the facts for the last 2....but one we came up blank on one answer (later when Dave Barry explained it, we realized that we were not alone; a lot of people didn't get this one and booed at him), while the other we had the answer written down, but didn't realize it....

You need all 5 to solve the last one, so we had to stop there.

Ah well, it was a good time. And much, much, much better than watching the stinky Dolphins play!

Game? What game?

As promised, I didn't watch a single play from today's game. And though I Tivo'd it, I will *not* be watching it.

I did call the Shed and talked to Mike shortly after the game started, and heard it was 7-0, en route to 14-0, but that was it. Otherwise, I stayed away.

I did come home and check the Dolphins site to get the final score...49-28 sounds like a blowout, and quite possibly like Bellicheat ran up the score. Certainly, Brady passing for 6 TDs would make me assume that. The football gods don't like bad sportsmanship, and I was wrong this week when I stated that Bellicheat is at least a good sport. He's just not. The football gods will exact their vengeance at some point and make the Patriots pay for running up the score against a lesser opponent.

Okay, so here's my take, based on what I know:
(1) if the Patriots somehow manage to win out - at least until Miami travels to New England - the Phins have no one to blame but themselves for not maintaining their own sense of history
(2) Bellicheat - and the Patriots - will always be cheaters in my book. Any wins they get are tainted, IMHO.
(3) This is the first time - ever - that a visiting team who was more than a 15 point favorite managed to "cover" the point spread.

NFL in the UK


The Bridgestone International Series game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants at Wembley Stadium is just over a week away, and consequently this is a bumper edition of your nfluk.com weekly newsletter to let you know of everything that is going on next week in the build-up to this historic event.


You might have read earlier this week about the 26-foot high replica of Miami Dolphins star player Jason Taylor to mark the game. The formidable animatronic, the biggest animated human figure ever built, is a 'world first'. If you want to go and see 'Big JT' in action in London, you can find him all day long at the following venues:


Monday October 22 – Trafalgar Square
Tuesday October 23 – Canary Wharf
Wednesday October 24 – Victoria Station
Friday October 26 – Victoria Station
Saturday October 27 – Lakeside Shopping Centre, Thurrock, Essex
Sunday October 28 – NFL Tailgate party @ Wembley

Big JT will be followed around by a huge LED screen showing NFL action, and passers by can pick up badges showing which team they will support at Wembley, so make sure you take time to see him in action!


Appearing at times with Big JT - and at other spots around the capital next week - will be the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, who will be arriving in London ahead of the rest of the team. They will at Soccer Scene on Carnaby Street on Thursday and Saturday, performing at half-time of Crystal Palace's game on Tuesday and Chelsea's game on Saturday, and on TV and radio throughout the week, so make sure that you look out for them!

While you are at Soccer Scene you could pick up some gameday merchandise, available there or at Foot Locker stores. We understand that some people have had problems with their orders from Kitbag stores. If you are one of these people you can find out when your order is coming by calling 08081560156.


If you fancy training as a cheerleader, or even getting some tuition from a former Dolphins player on how to play football, there are a number of clinics taking place across London next week. Former players including legendary receiver Nat Moore will be running a Junior Player Development camp at Selhurst Boys School on Wednesday and Thursday next week. There are still a few spots to fill, so if you are between 14 and 18 years old and want to get started playing the sport, click here to download a form and you could get underway with coaching from the very best.


If you still haven't got your hands on tickets for the game there are a very limited number still available to buy from Club Wembley. These tickets have been returned to us from the Dolphins and the Giants allocation, so if you want to go, call on 0845 676 2007 and choose option two.


Throughout the next week the NFL will be in partnership with Capital Radio, who will be promoting the big game over the airwaves in London on 95.8 FM. They will have several on-air giveaways, including tickets for the game on Bam Bam's Evening Show every day, Johnny Vaughn's Breakfast show on Friday, and shows across the weekend. In addition to tickets Capital FM will be giving away NFL merchandise and two families can win trips to Miami and New York.


The NFL will not only be on the radio next week, though, as there will be plenty of coverage of the big game on television too. For the second year in a row the NFL has got together with MTV to take viewers behind the scenes in the NFL. NFL Touchdown in Miami features host Trevor Nelson going deep in Miami to find out how the Dolphins fit into South Florida's vibrant lifestyle, meeting the players and learning more about the sport from some of their star players. BBC's Inside Sport on Monday at 11:15 will have a feature on the Dolphins and their visit to London, with presenter Des Kelly going behind the scenes with the team. In addition to these pre-filmed pieces you should look out for NFL coverage on Blue Peter and other BBC shows, as well as ITV's London Tonight program.


The Madden Challenge continues this weekend with your final chance to qualify for the UK finals – which will be held at Wembley before the game on the 28th. If you think you have a chance of representing the UK, make sure you head down to Virgin Megastore in the Arndale Centre in Manchester or on Oxford Street in London on Saturday and Sunday and sign up for one of the regional qualifying rounds. All qualifiers for the final will win tickets to Wembley as part of their prize, so this is one of your last chances to make sure you are at the big game next Sunday.


Week Seven's games on Sky feature Tampa Bay at Detroit and Chicago @ Philadelphia, with Miami @ New England and Kansas City @ Oakland behind the red button. On Sunday Night Football you can see the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Denver Broncos – which will also be shown on Five dependent on the outcome of the American League Championship Series. While on Monday Night the Indianapolis Colts try to maintain their undefeated record against Jacksonville in a game that will be shown on both Sky and Five.


Throughout the next seven days nfluk.com should be your port of call for all the stories and news about the Wembley game and the events that lead up to it. There will be plenty to watch on nflukTV, as well as news stories and features by all our usual writers.


Enjoy the coming few days as we lead up to the biggest event in the history of the sport in the UK.

NFLUK.com