Friday, October 10, 2008

Recommended reading

Dolphins erase memories of '07, but they've got bigger fish to fry

No Fun League

The NFL fined Ronnie Brown for his "planned endzone celebration" on Sunday. Because that's against the rules.

Now, I agree that you should act like you've been there before. But to fine guys when they get excited after a TD - even if it is planned - is just silly.

Ginn and punt returns

What was the deal with Ginn (jr) misplaying anohter punt this past weekend? Does that make 3 in 4 games? I can't figure this guy out, as he seems to be a bit of an enigma.

Recall that Devin Hester was a pickup primarily for his punt and kick return skills, and he has done that extremely well; and of late he has become an offensive threat as a wide receiver.

And Ginn was picked up as a....well, we don't know, but we think it was as a receiver but his prowess as a return man was notable. And he performed okay in both roles as a rookie, but didn't excel at either. Now, he's stuggling at both.

And Hester has more offensive TDs than Ginn. Scary as that is.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The "wild tuna"

I've heard some new names being bandied about for the wildcat package. What do you think it should be called?

After running it 8 times against New England, they ran it 12 times again San Diego. And the results were, on the whole, the same. They had positive rushing with it, and scored one TD out of it (yes, I know, scoring 4 TDs out of the package means it was more productive overall against NE).

They ran only a couple of small wrinkles this week, so you have to believe there is still more to come against the next few opponents!

BTW, I did see a little of it from Oakland (naturally, since McFadden ran it in college), as well as Chicago and Baltimore. I expect to see more of it in the coming weeks.

From the mailbox

A reader named Grant sent me this:
Hi Dave,

Thought this might be of interest:

A week after Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was tempted to use, is offering 7-to-2 odds on Williams being suspended for drug-use during the 2008-09 season.


See, now that's where sports gambling goes too far.  I think the whole Ricky-considered-using was overblown, and the fact that you can bet on a person and whether he might use again is, well, dumb.

But, I thank Grant for passing it along.

Want to Help Some Displaced Dolphins Fans?

A reader named Nick sent this to me.  Thanks, Nick!

Displaced, die-hard NFL fans who maintain a nearly obsessive allegiance to their favorite team despite being far removed from its local market, will always have a home at DIRECTV.  To honor those stalwart fans, DIRECTV has unveiled the first official list of the top displaced-fan cities in America and is also launching a national search for the Ultimate Displaced Fan.


DIRECTV analyzed data from more than one million NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ subscribers to identify the cities that hold the highest percentage of fans for each NFL team.  In addition, the nation's digital satellite television leader is setting out to crown one lucky NFL fan as America's "Ultimate Displaced Fan," and send him or her to Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Notable among the list of top displaced-fan cities were Las Vegas and Orlando, the only cities to house the highest percentage of displaced fans for more than two different teams. Las Vegas led in displaced fans for the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, while Orlando played home to the highest percentage of New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions fans. The list revealed several notable city/team relationships such as Washington D.C. housing the highest percentage of displaced fans for its most storied rival, the Dallas Cowboys, or Minneapolis housing the highest percentage of fans for its biggest rival, the Green Bay Packers.


The DIRECTV Ultimate Displaced Fan Search will allow NFL fans throughout the country to enter submissions on the DIRECTV Ultimate Displaced Fan Search page at between Sept. 11 and Nov. 30, 2008.  There, fans can stake their claim to this unique title through written essays/blogs, photos or video submissions that illustrate exactly why they should be crowned the Ultimate Displaced Fan.  One winner will be selected by a panel of judges, based on the example of dedication they display to their favorite team and the creativity of their submissions. 


The winner will receive a dream prize package, including a trip for two and two tickets to Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Fla. In addition, the winner will get to meet Super Bowl XLII MVP and New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning, as well as a player from their favorite NFL team (if it's not the Giants), and play side-by-side with celebrities and star athletes in DIRECTV's Celebrity Beach Bowl flag football game, also held in Tampa during Super Bowl week. Finally, the winner will participate in their own media tour where they'll rub elbows with NFL stars while doing interviews on "radio row" at the official Super Bowl media center.



Below are the U.S. cities featuring the largest out-of-market fan base for each NFL team (based on percentage of NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ subscribers in the DMA that have listed the specific team as their favorite).  The results exclude all cities that are within the home territory of the local team.



1. Arizona Cardinals – St. Louis, MO

2. Atlanta Falcons – Greenville-Spartanburg, SC / Asheville, NC

3. Baltimore Ravens – Harrisburg-Lancaster, PA

4. Buffalo Bills – Orlando-Daytona, FL

5. Carolina Panthers – Norfolk, VA

6. Chicago Bears – Las Vegas, NV

7. Cincinnati Bengals – Charleston-Huntington, WV

8. Cleveland Browns – Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL

9. Dallas Cowboys – Washington, DC

10. Denver Broncos – Las Vegas, NV

11. Detroit Lions – Orlando-Daytona, FL

12. Green Bay Packers – Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

13. Houston Texans – Fresno-Visalia, CA

14. Indianapolis Colts – Knoxville, TN

15. Jacksonville Jaguars – Norfolk, VA

16. Kansas City Chiefs – Des Moines, IA

17. Miami Dolphins – Atlanta, GA

18. Minnesota Vikings – Des Moines-Ames, IA

19. New England Patriots – Orlando-Daytona, FL

20. New Orleans Saints – Jackson, MS

21. New York Giants – West Palm Beach, FL

22. New York Jets – West Palm Beach, FL

23. Oakland Raiders – Las Vegas, NV

24. Philadelphia Eagles – Baltimore, MD

25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cleveland, OH

26. San Diego Chargers – Las Vegas, NV

27. San Francisco 49ers – Portland, OR

28. Seattle Seahawks – Portland, OR

29. St. Louis Rams – Fresno-Visalia, CA

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Greenville-Spartanburg, SC / Asheville, NC

31. Tennessee Titans – San Antonio, TX

32. Washington Redskins – Raleigh-Durham, NC

 You can read more about it

Are we outsourcing our fans, too?

I got an email from a Sujeet asking me to exchange links with Dolphins Gab, which I will do when I do maintenance on the site next week.

But it got me to thinking: are we outsourcing our fans, now? I knew the NFL wanted to have a broader fan base, and the Dolphins have trouble selling out the stadium. Is the next step to have fans in other countries watch the games for us?

[we jest, of course, and are glad to have fans from all around the world watch the Dolphins]

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A look back...

That goal line stand was amazing.  Let's look back at how it played out. 
With about 3 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, San Diego scored to close to 17-10.  They kicked off to Miami, and Davone Bess fields the ball at about the 6.  He gets out to the 21 where he gets hit and fumbles the ball back to the Chargers...
We're thinking uh-oh, this is not going to be good...its a short field, and momentum appears to have shifted.
On first and 10 from the 25, Rivers drops back to pass, and Holliday and Porter swallow him up for an 8 yard loss.  It was beautiful execution by the defense that allowed two players to converge on RIvers.
On second and 18 from the 33, Rivers gets a screen out to Sproles, and he takes it to the 10.
Now starts the goal line stand...
Its first and goal at the 10.  Sproles takes the quick handoff and rumbles 3 yards, but the defense collapses on him quickly.
Now its second and goal at the 7, and the give is again to Sproles.  He goes just off tackle, and gets dropped after a gain of 1.
3rd and goal at the 6. Rivers drops back quickly, and throws to Chambers near the goal line.  He drives forward, but Reynaldo Hill is there, and Channing Crowder comes over to make the stop.
The third quarter ends...
Its 4th and goal from the 1.  A TD here would certainly tip the balance and shift momentum.  On the other hand, a field goal would make the game close, and might still shift momentum.   Norv Turner decides that fortune favors the bold!  And of course he's right in principle...
Tomlinson checks into the game.   The play starts, and Miami gets a good surge.  The play is to the left, and Vonnie Holliday is occupying that space and the guard, and gets a hand on Tomlinson.  Channing Crowder is coming from right behind him and hits Tomlinson high.  Tomlinson does inch forward, but its not enough, and Bell, Soliai, and others come over to make an emphatic stop at the goal line.
[the picture is from the Sun-Sentinel]

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Creating a home field advantage

I received the attached in my email.

H Wayne is trying to create a buzz, and sell tickets...

(click image to play video)

  The 2008 NFL season marked A New Beginning for the Miami Dolphins.  As the team re-establishes winning, a big part of its success will be in creating the home field advantage at Dolphin Stadium, says head coach Tony Sparano.

  "Taking care of home field is something that needs to become important to us."

  "There's an attitude that you establish playing in your own building, or that you need to establish playing in your own building.  We need to make sure that we take care of home base and I think there has to be a sense of pride and an attitude that when you look at your schedule and you get these home games that come out, you feel real good about winning a handful of these games because you're playing in your park and that's the advantage.  I think you just try to create a little bit more of an attitude that way playing at home."

  "And we often talked about at some point you have to say, No. Not Today.  It's not going to happen today.  We've got to turn it around."

Goal Line Stand --- Not Today!

  "Yeah, confidence.  I just felt like at that point, and I said to my team, we didn't come here to come in second place.  We came here to try to get this thing done."

  "I think that at the end of it, when you see the clock ticking down and you're winning the game at home, in front of your people, it's a good feeling…"

  "We're looking forward to playing at home…getting in front of our own people here, our own fans…"




Rookie of the week

I went and voted for Jake Long, and this was the picture that advertised the voting.
I find it amusing that Jake is wearing #79 in the photo; meaning this was taken shortly after the draft...

Dolphins in the running for player of the week honors

Dol-Fans show your support and help four Dolphins win major NFL weekly awards. On the heels of Miami's 17-10 victory over the San Diego Chargers this past Sunday, Head Coach Tony Sparano, running back Ronnie Brown and tackle Jake Long have been nominated for weekly NFL honors.


Coach Sparano is a nominee for Motorola's Coach of the Week for Week 5. He led his team to a 17-10 win over the San Diego Chargers, the Dolphins' second win in as many games over a team that participated in last year's AFC Championship Game.  The Dolphins offense gained 390 total yards with RB Ronnie Brown running for 125 yards and one touchdown and QB Chad Pennington passing for 228 yards and one touchdown and completing 22 of 29 passes. The Dolphins defense held the Chargers to only 10 points, that team's lowest output in 37 regular season games. to vote for Coach Sparano. Voting is now open, and will remain open until this Friday at 12:00 p.m. (ET).


Brown is a nominee for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week for Week 5. He rushed for 125 yards and one touchdown on 24 attempts in the Dolphins' 17-10 win over the San Diego Chargers.  to vote for Brown.  Voting is now open, and will remain open until this Friday at 11:00 a.m. (ET).


Long is a nominee for the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week for Week 5. Long was a key part of an offensive line that helped the offense average 5.6 yards per play and 4.2 yards per rush attempt and only allowed one sack in the Dolphins' 17-10 win over the San Diego Chargers.  to vote for Long. Voting is now open, and will remain open until this Friday at 12:00 p.m. (ET).

Monday, October 06, 2008

Where are the fans?

Okay, I've got to figure that with all the rain at least some of the fans stayed home just to avoid the rain. But, there sure do appear to be a lot of empty seats, don't there?

I know H Wayne is trying to build a better product, and I respect that. And I know going 1-15 and starting a little slow didn't help get this year's ticket sales moving. So, he did something interesting last week - he got an extension on the NFL's (very dumb and antiquated) blackout rule, and then made sure the tickets were sold.

There's a breakeven point somewhere between the loss of seat sales, and the loss of TV revenue locally, and it is at x number of seats. And I suppose he wanted to be sure to let fans see the product so next time he can try and sell it out...

Will it work? In this sagging economy? Who knows. But, he'll have to be cautious, because unlike other cities where all seats are already sold, here higher ticket prices will scare some people away. And as the commish said (to paraphrase) 'this league is not recession proof'

[by the way, we here at Dave's would like you to note the website that is shown on the screen capture. its a good cause, and you should consider helping]


Yeremiah Bell is the guy I'd give this to. He had like 100 tackles (okay, maybe a small exaggeration), covered Gates very well, and had a key 3rd down pass deflection that pretty much sealed the win for Miami...

Defensive playcalling

I liked what I saw from Porter Roth on the ends. They dominated. But, give credit to the whole d-line because they made that possible.

I said on my show last week that I thought you can't stop Tomlinson, Gates, and the rest. But, if you can control the line, you can slow the running game, and put pressure on the passing game.

Sure enough, that's true. On this play, Ferguson hesitates for a moment then goes low under his man and finds himself in the backfield. Meanwhile, Roth is coming at the tight end with abandon and runs him over. Porter plays contain to the other side, and its a 2 yard loss that typified the afternoon for the Chargers.

Offensive playcalling - part 2

In addition to the mostly effective wildcat, the Dolphins also had success running from a single back formation, using a tight end as a blocker who was charged with clearing the right side of the defense.

Justin Smiley pulls from his left guard spot, and winds up essentially doing some "trap blocking" in the hole between Ndukwe and Satele (that is, they block in different directions, and Smiley hits the hole, and takes on Sateles man and Satele moves to help with the other guy who is already being blocked by Ndukwe).

Meanwhile, Martin drives into the linebacker. And Brown should be able to get in the hole that Smiley created and turn it outside for a big gain.

It mostly works, except that he gets tripped in the backfield and *only* gains 9 yards.

Offensive playcalling - part 1

With my respects to CBS, The NFL, and the Dolphins...

The Dolphins must have noticed on game films that the Chargers have trouble covering the tight ends. Heck, I noticed it in a couple of the games I saw. What was remarkable was that the playcall required a tight end (Martin) to clear underneath while Fasano went deeper, effectively finding a spot in the zone coverage where no one was standing.

This is one example, but it happened at least a half dozen times in the game.

Also, right after this play, they went to the wildcat; but it didn't work too well, partly because the fake was to Bess and it was poorly executed, and partly because there was a linebacker who was unblocked.

But they ran it again on the *next* play and it gained 10 yards.

That's effective playcalling, because they had the Chargers "on their heels" and trying to react.

Pinch me

I didn't post anything for 24 hours, because if this was a dream about the Phins, I didn't want to awaken from it.  About the only thing missing were a couple of cheerleaders.   But, I digress.
Two in a row.
First points on an opneing drive since....Nick.
Holding both opponents to low yardage totals.
Its freakin' unbelieveable.
Wow.  More later after I do wake up.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Love the quote

"How about this? They beat both teams that were in the AFC Championship a year ago."

This has turned out to be one helluva a team.

Sorry I ever doubted you, coach Sparano.

why coaching matters

I watched the UM-FSU game yesterday, and was thoroughly entertained by it.  What a great display of offensive prowess from both teams.  Too bad neither of them could play defense.
But what struck me was how the game was *coached* particular, I'm thinking about the point in the game where Miami scored to make it 31-21.  Here it was as the sun was setting in the game, and I actually yelled to the TV "You need to go for 2 here! Points matter late in the game!"
And in comes the field goal unit to make it 31-22.  I am sure to the coaches, it didn't seem to matter much.  What's the difference, really, if you're down by 8 or 9?  You still need two scores.  Except for the fact that 8 points is possible in a single play.
And so we went back and forth for a while, with Miami scoring another TD and eschewing the two-point play then as well.  But, when Miami kicked a FG, it looked like it might not be an issue.  Then, FSU went ahead 41-32 with about minutes left.  Its back to 9 again, and that means two possessions are required.
Miami manages to score with 14 ticks left, but *needs* an onside kick. 
Imagine if the coach had considered going for 2 either time Miami scored.  A two point play would have tied the game; and if they had missed, it would have required two possessions anyway.
The coaches blew the decision twice, and it cost them the game.