The NFL owners teed up a discussion about shortening the pre-season, expanding the regular season, and changing the playoff format...
No one expected them to decide anything at this meeting, but there is some anticipation that they can reach an agreement before next season, and possibly start the new format in 2010....
And naturally, the discussion was focused on money and "the integrity of the game." But, I wonder how this all figures into the concept of the labor negotiations and the opting out of the CBA that happened earlier this year. I guess we'll see.
What did surprise me was that they were thinking about adding some additional PRE season games in the spring. That just seems weird to me. Then again, it just strikes me that they want to corner the market and play some games that would require people to pay money to see them...
A few years ago, Miami had arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL (and possibly of all time) in Patrick Sertain and Sam Madison. Figuring he had a couple of years at most left in him, Dave sent Sertain to KC (4 years ago). And then Nick thought Madison didn't fit with the type of defense he wanted, so he let him go off to New York (3 years ago).
Sertain still harrasses receivers as an every down player, and is nearlyt always at the top of the heap in interceptions. Madison is more of a role player, but is still playing at a high level. And he has a SuperBowl ring.
Meanwhile, in Miami, we're looking for corners.
I guess the coaches of years gone by really didn't know talent AT ALL, did they?
The Patriots, Cowboys, and Packers were far and away the three best teams last season, and all were beaten by the Giants in successive weeks. The Patriots issues are well documented, and now comes the Cowboys turn.
In the last week, they lost their starting QB, kick returner, coverage corner, punter, and its only a matter of time before TO gets warmed up. It could be a long season for Cowboys fans, too.
So far the Packers have managed to be average, but don't forget they had their annual Brett Favre soap opera before he was finally traded away...
I love the scene from the movie Slapshot where the think-French-accented goalie asks the General Manager "Hey, who own ze team?" And the GM says back to him "OWNS! Its owns!" So goalie asks "Who *ooooonnnnsssssssssss* ze team?"
I think given the opportunity, I might ask the Tuna that. Stephen Ross was brought on as a 50% partner. The NFL's ownership bylaws specifically state that to avoid conflict, one owner must own a clear majority. How did the Dolphins circumvent that rule? Presumably its because H Wayne took on the title "Managing General Partner," but it still seems suspicious to me.
At the owner's meeting yesterday, Mr. Ross was allowed to take over up to 45% more of the team, leaving a 5% stake for Mr. H. How soon that will happen is anyone's guess, but I just have a hunch that it will be done before the season ends.
Tennessee remains the only unbeaten team in the NFL, and that means we should start queueing up James Brown's "I Feel Good."
As Mercury Morris told us an a recent interview (check it out on FinsRadio.net), there's going to be a massive celebration when the last team falls. Screw grumpy old men, this is for the Dolphin nation!!!
Joey Porter sure thought he forced a fumble on the play (and probably will get fined by the NFL for saying so). Let me set it up for you. Its a first down play late in the game, and Porter comes over the end and manages to overpower his man and get to Schaub. He grabs the QB's arm, knocks the ball free and falls on it.
Ed Hochuli - he of the play in Denver when San Diego clearly won that game on a fumble recovery only to have it overturned by a whistle - stood by and did *NOT* blow the whistle. In fact he let the play develop and then called it incomplete afterward.
But, he also didn't review it. He just took the play as he called it. And it being inside of two minutes, Sparano couldn't challenge it.
If you look closely at these non-HD screen captures (sorry about the quality), you can see Porter has a hold on Schaub's arm before the arm moves forward (first pic), and I contend that in the ball is out before Schaub starts throwing (second pic)!
Dude. Ed. You missed it, and cost Miami this game, just as you did cost San Diego a few weeks ago. Please see my post about him in the wanker section.
But, I digress. It doesn't quite end there. When Schaub does release the ball, it hits an offensive lineman in the back of the head and bounces away. So, lets take at face value that it is incomplete. The result of hitting the lineman should be 10 yard penalty and loss of down. BUT THAT WASN'T CALLED EITHER!
So, he blew what he thought should have been the correct call!
And that leads me around to the non-interception by Goodman. He got his hands under the ball and it was called an interception on the field. The rule is "indisputable visual evidence" must be found to overturn a call. Would you say that it was indisputable? Would you say it was any more or less disputable that the non-fumble that wasn't reviewed?
See my point. He blew a couple of calls in a row...
An odd thing happened when Miami was leading 21-20 with about 10:15 left to go in the game. And it was followed by a series of unusual events that I wanted to recount for y'all.
Miami faces 3rd and 2 from their own 43. Pennington passes to the fullback who struggles forward for 1 yard. It was clear to me at the time that Cramer did not cross the marker, and the spot was correct. But Sparano was right there and was sure that he *did* cross the first down line. Let me first say that challenging the spot rarely works. I can't find the stat, but I'd estimate that it is overturned <10% of the time. So, it seemed an unlikely outcome.
Miami loses the challenge, and are charged a timeout. Its 4th and 1 at their own 44, you have the lead, and the momentum. So, naturally, Sparano decides to punt.
It takes the Texans 4 plays to reach the spot from which Miami punted, and 6 plays to reach Miami's 24. The drive bogs down, and they settle for a field goal to make it 23-21 Houston.
There are 6 minutes left. Miami runs 5 plays, and faces a 3rd and 5 from their own 36. Pennington throws a pass to Fasano, but it gets picked by Eugene Wilson. He decides to be the hero and rather than just falling on the ball or running out of bounds, he tries to gain big yardage. And naturally, the ball is stripped out, and recovered by Miami.
Miami takes over from their own 27. Williams runs for 10, Fasano catches a pass for 12, and then Brown catches one and rumbles 39 yards to setup a first and 10 from the 12 at the two minute warning. On first down he runs for 6, and Houston calls timeout, leaving 1:57 showing on the clock. Brown again gets the call, and sess daylight, so he runs into the endzone.
But the smart money is on him kneeling at the 1.
And here's what I'm thinking - I know its the "heat of battle" and that's a tough thing to do. But HE'S A PROFESSIONAL! And you're in it to win it. A kneel down would give Miami the ball at the 1, first and goal, with about 1:40 left. Houston would have to use timeout #2. You run on first down to drive the line, but don't score on that play, either, and force Houston to take timeout #3. At this point, there would be about 1:30 left on the clock, at worst.
And now its second down, and you take a knee. Popular? No. Winning strategy? Yes. That would run 40 or so seconds off the clock. Then, on 3rd, you do it again. And you use *your* last timeout as the time winds down to about 10 seconds or so. And you kick the field goal for the lead. Houston is now in a spot where they have <10 seconds left (and if you managed it right, much less) , and no timeouts and need a field goal to win it.
As it is, Miami scores to take a 28-23 lead with 1:45 left. An eternity the way this team has been playing. Plus, they have 2 timeouts.
Houston starts at their own 24 with 1:40 left after the kickoff. Schaub gets sacked, then throws for 20 yards and a first down out to the 36. Now comes the next oddity; there's a fumble forced by Joey Porter that....wasn't. More on that in another post.
Second down is incomplete. 3rd down is a pass to Johnson that is intercepted by Goodman. Only, on review, its ruled incomplete. The announcers made a big deal about it "clearly" being incomplete. I was having a hard time with this one, and well, I'll post more about it later, too.
52 seconds left. 4th down. Schaub again goes to Johnson. Yeremiah Bell is in coverage, has position and is going for the pick. D'oh! The chant is "Its 4th down, knock it down!" Had Bell simply knocked the ball down - swat it, hit it, whatever - the game would have ended. Just don't give the receiver any chance to catch it. He goes for the pick, and Johnson reaches in and wrestles it away.
29 seconds left. After the spike, its second down Miami's 41. Coverage breaks down, and he finds the other receiver with a pass to the 11.
23 seconds. 1st and 10 at the 11. Schaub hits Johnson for 8, but he doesn't get in. A timeout is called.
16 seconds left. 2nd and 2 at the 3. Incomplete pass in the middle.
12 seconds left. 3rd and 2 at the 3. Another incompletion across the middle.
7 seconds left. This play is for the game. Miami still holds a timeout but, oddly doesn't use it. Maybe Sparano had a Cameron moment, and thought he could take it into next week? Houston lines up, and its clear there is a wide open middle of the field, and again no timeout...ummm...Schaub calls a draw and walks into the endzone for the easy score.
Houston lines up to go for 2, and NOW Miami uses its last timeout.
The play after the kickoff was just silly, and didn't really matter...
How many chances did Miami have to take control? A half dozen? And yet they manage to pull defeat from the jaws of victory...
Here's the setup - Miami trails by a couple and gets the squib kick. The receiver falls down and there a few ticks left on the clock. The announcers all say Pennington can't get it to the goal line with his arm. They call one of those whacky plays where players just keep tossing it around to see what happens. It doesn't work, and Satele gets tackled after the second pitch.
Atlanta trails by a couple and gets the squib kick. The receiver runs out of bounds. There are a few ticks left on the clock. Matt Ryan can get it down the field, and throws it about 30 yards ahead, its caught, and there's one second left...boom goes the field goal and Atlanta wins.
Man, there's a lot to say about yesterday's game. Right after the game, I wasn't quite sure what to say, but now that I've had some time to digest it, I'm having some trouble finding time to post. But, I'll be posting more over the next couple of days, so stay tuned.
My initial reaction was - haven't we been on this rollercoaster enough recently? The team was bad for a while, so bad that they stopped mattering. And then there's this two-game win streak, and we get all giddy. Now I was one of the people trying to tone down the rhetoric - I still expected 6 or 7 wins, but playoffs? Come on!
But, I was still into the hype. And it was a chance to wipe the slate clean and finally beat Houston for the first freakin time! And overall they played well enough to win, and I was getting so agitated as the game went on that I almost turned it off a couple of times...but I hung in there, and was feeling mighty frustrated by the loss.
And I thought about it for a while and realized that the fact we lost does hurt, but a few weeks ago I posted about how this team hasn't been involved in a high scoring shootout in forever. And I lamented that I missed that....and here it was. 29-28. Not exactly high, high scoring, but fun nontheless. It featured a ton of offense, some great plays, and was one of a couple of scintillating finishes on Sunday afternoon.
Yeah, the Dolphins lost. But they never gave up. They actually looked decent for most of the day (okay the long passes were a problem, but it did make it more exciting). They played with heart.
And I'm still happy with it, and probably will watch the Tivo version of the game again later in the week.
Don't be too down. We're still 2-3. And hey the Patriots suck this year. We can take solace in that.