Friday, January 14, 2011

Player evalutation

I heard Terrell Suggs being interviewed the other day.  He was talking about a range of subjects, but was asked what he'd say to his detractors - who said he was too slow or too small to make it.  He gave a thoughtful answer that he never had to run a 40 yard dash in a game, nor a shuttle run. And he just believes he can catch anyone.  And as for size, he never let that bother him, he just plays the game as hard as he can.

And that got me to thinking about all this nonsense that goes on, especially the combine.  All of these players are measured and evaluated, and everyone falls in love with the numbers.  

I think that carries over to personnel departments as well.  And what many of them forget is whether they can play the game of football.  

I once heard Bobby Beatherd speak.  He was explaining that he rarely looked at the numbers.  He watched game film.  He would go and see the prospects he liked in person -  because he would start evaluating underclassmen to be prepared for the next year.  (or to the best of my recollection, that was the story)

It was smart, practical, and the results he got were outstanding.

Now its about 40 times, number of reps in the weight room, height, and these personal evaluations (like the wunderlic test).  As I look at the Dolphins drafts, yes they looked for captains and guys who graduated.  But I have to believe they fell in love with numbers.

That has to stop to have success.


As we look forward, I wanted to try and lay out what we know, what we think we know, and what happens as the curtain drops on the season.

What we know
  • The owners and players union can't agree on a new contract.  And to a lesser (and less-publicized) degree, the owners can't agree among themselves about revenue sharing.  The central issue is money, with everyone basically showing a healthy greed, but there are plenty of issues to go around
  • The situation is that the owners are 31 individual entities, and one publicly owned team.  The ruling of the case of American Needle underscores that they are independent, but make decisions in the best interest of the organization that they are members of: the NFL.  The players are all represented by a union (the NFLPA), which negotiates on their behalf.
  • The CBA itself dictates everything about how the NFL works, how the owners are to interact, and how the players interact with them, and how the players are "treated." 
  •  Without a CBA, there is no definitions around free agency.  Who is a free agent?  How can players be retained or signed?
  • There can be no free agency as a result, and signing or trading players will absolutely result in a legal action under the belief of collusion.  Plus, every contract is reviewed by the NFLPA as each player is protected in a sense by the union.
What we think we know
  • The owners are likely to "lock out" the players, beginning as soon as the contract expires, on March 4th. That would (a) head off any problems with free-agency, and (b) to start to put pressure on the players to act.
  • A lockout means that the team facilities are closed to all players.  No rehab.  No working out.  No meeting as a group with coaches (who are part of the ownership for CBA purposes)
  • The NFL thinks it will have a draft.  Who can say?  The CBA dictates the draft itself, the order of selection, how the players are bound to a team.  
    • Certainly no player trades can happen during the draft (but draft picks can be traded, presumably, because they have no value)
    • No agent will allow their client to attend the draft.  The draft - if its held - will be management making decisions.  The players will have to stand firm and not show up at the charade.
    • The teams are selecting the rights to players, no one can be signed to a contract
    • There is no guarantee that each owner will behave or agree to the rules. 
    • Without a CBA, it is at least possible that a prospect sues to not have his rights held by a particular team
    • There will be no working out with the team, no rookie camp, no getting into the playbook
What might happen
  • The NFLPA may be disbanded, thus giving the players the ability to sue the NFL, this would allow the power in negotiations to tip toward the players
  • They might come up with an agreement to play one more year under the current CBA, while they continue to negotiate.  
    • This would require that all players stay with their current team, and free agents would be re-signed at some $ amount
    • The union would have to agree with it (unlikley)
  • They might finally come to an agreement in late summer / early fall (ie, when players actually feel the financial pinch)
  • They might continue to have issues and it might carry well into the season
What this means to us as fans 
  • Enjoy these next few weeks.  You may have NOTHING to work with for several months.  If there is a draft, its somewhat of a sham.
  • Find a hobby that you wouldn't mind taking into the fall.  
  • Look forward to college football
My biggest issue is that there is a goose that lays golden eggs.  And its going to be cooked.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


According to a local report, Jim Mandich's health has taken an unexpected turn... So we are taking it upon ourselves to collect your thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes for the mad dog. 

We will do our best to share it with him!!

To field a good team!?

Found this thus morning. Sorry if it's sideways.

It's a business card from someone in the phins front office. On the back are their three commitments to fans.

After last week - and really last season - you have to wonder about #1 don't you?

Dave's dolphin app

At long last, the app for this site is available in a large format - suitable for the iPad.  You can download it here:

And of course the iPhone/iPod Touch version is still available, with a few minor enhancements:

And yes, I wrote them myself!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Interesting thought

I'm not a huge fan of Florio's work but he does a nice job of explaining the prospects for the off-season:


The Dolphins efforts to try and use cross-county funds to pay for stadium improvements hit a major snag this week. Broward county (wherein Ft Lauderdale resides) was targeted for the money since they get an economic benefit from the SuperBowl.

But Broward's commissioners saw right through the plan and are seeking their own legislation to specifically prohibit sports teams from doing this.  And the commissioners were vocal, one saying "No.  Hell, no" and another saying "they should focus on winning more than one game at home, rather than how to ask taxpayers to pay for improvements."

Also opposed are the owners of the Bank Atlantic Center (where the Panthers hockey team plays).  They saw it not as an issue of bringing future SuperBowls, but rather of Ross trying to compete with them as a venue for entertainment such as concerts, by putting a roof on the stadium.

In any case, it would seem unlikely the state legislature would approve such a measure - but who knows?  Stranger things have happened.

The Dolphins issued a statement that they were disappointed because the commissioners poo-poo'd the idea before hearing all of its merits.

How about this Dolphins-ownership?  The commission put its thumb on its nose and said "Fins Up!"

I agree!

Several former Dolphins sounded off on the current state of the franchise.

And as odd as it sounds for me to say this, here goes: I agree with Nick Buoniconti.  (for those of you not in the know, I'm not particularly a fan of his).  One of his comments was that Steve "Cap'n Izzy" Ross should surround himself with smart people, and he's not.

Look around the league.  The owners that have the most success are the ones that surround themselves with bright, capable people - or who really have a passion for the game themselves.  The ones that wallow are the ones who meddle or don't "get" the game of football.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's personal

Last week Rex Ryan said it was personal with Peyton Manning. This week he's saying it's personal with Bill Bellicheat.

We hear that next week he'll say it's personal when it comes to the stack of cheeseburgers he'll have for lunch.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A cause for celebration

Dolphins quarterbacks coach David Lee leaving for Ole Miss

Sunday, January 09, 2011

One little thing that still bugs me

Stephen Ross has $4mil invested in Parcells (well $8mil if you count this year as well). He was willing to throw in the neighborhood of $8mil next year to Harbaugh, and eat the $2mil that Sparano is owed if he released him.

And yet he's asking taxpayers to cover his proposed stadium improvements because he doesn't get direct benefit from it - the community does.

How laughable is that? He thinks nothing of spending essentially $18mil on coaches/executives but won't foot the bill on stadium improvements that will ALWAYS directly benefit him.

That irks me. And while its "bed tax dollars" it nevertheless is money that could be spent of much better things - schools, infrastructure, to name two - rather than a handout to a billionaire.

Playoff games

Dang Jets.  They were able to run a lot on the Colts, and the Colts couldn't quite overcome their offensive deficiencies - with all the injuries.  So, Rex gets his "personal goal" of beating Manning.  Isn't it interesting how Rex can motivate his team to play above themselves?  Are you taking notes Bootin' Bull (Sparano)?  (Probably not, because you were busy making apologies yesterday).

And the *only* reason the Colts were in that game was....QB play.  Manning was pretty much carrying the team himself.  See?  Its important to have a good QB!

As for the Seahawks - Saints, here you had the matchup of the guy who *should have* been Miami's QB (Brees) against the guy who could have been Miami's QB (in Hasslebeck, had it not been for a bungled phone call from Rick Spielman).  It was quite the show that the Seahawks - a 7-9 team that I am rooting for to win it all just because - put on in taking it to the defending champs. 

And again QB play was a big reason the Seahawks won, and the Saints were in it at the end.

Taking notes, Dolphins?  The Seahawks were a mess last year, and didn't play well all year.  But they put it together WHEN IT COUNTED, like say, the end of the season - rather than dumping 3 straight, they were winning at the end.

So both of last year's super-y bowl teams were eliminated on the first day...

You've thrown down the gauntlet

Okay Cap'n, you've said you need to get better, and you're doubly up against it because of the lockout that looms.  So, my expectations went up, and not down.

In order to win back my respect, you have to come out of the box hot.  At least win the first 4 in a row, and look good in doing so.  You have to win *at least* 11 games.  You have to win the division.  You can't lose any more than 1 in a row - all season.  You have to at least split with the Jets and Pats - convincingly, and you have to beat the Bills twice.  And you must have a first-round bye.  I'm not going to put it on you to host the AFC championship.  I'll cut you a small break, there. (giggle)

And at any turn, if it looks like you're not meeting any of those things, I will call y'all out as being the frauds you are!

So, cut the crap and get to it.

An open letter?

To Our Loyal Season Ticket Members,

The first of the three commitments that I made to all of our fans when I purchased the Miami Dolphins was that I would do everything possible to bring a Super Bowl championship back to South Florida. That, above all else, is what I want for this franchise, for this community and what you, as a season ticket member, deserve.

So there is no confusion about our recent actions, and because you are entitled to our trust and confidence, I want you to hear directly from me about the evaluation process of the past week.

Going into the 2010 season, my expectation was that we had a team and an organization that was capable of reaching the Super Bowl. We fell short of that goal and, furthermore, the season was disappointing for a few reasons. We were very aggressive during the offseason and added players and coaches that we believed were the missing pieces to put us over the top. While many of those new faces were outstanding contributors this season, we still fell short in other areas. Additionally, our performance at home was bitterly disappointing. The reasons as to why we played so much better on the road than at home are hard to figure. As a fan myself, I know how frustrating this season was on all of you.

The results were unacceptable. We hold ourselves to higher standards and have loftier goals for this franchise. We fell short of our mission of returning to the postseason and did not measure up to the high standards we set for ourselves. As a result, I felt it was incumbent upon me to explore options to improve this team.

I met with Tony Sparano on Monday to discuss the season and understand his plan of what needed to change as we headed into the offseason. I told him that I needed time to digest what I had heard and that I would get back to him with my thoughts later in the week. Meanwhile, I received word that Jim Harbaugh made it clear that his intention was to pursue a career in the NFL. As news reports began to surface on Tuesday that Jim was interviewing with other teams, I made the decision to reach out to Jim to see whether or not he would be a beneficial fit for the organization.

General Manager Jeff Ireland and I met with Jim on Thursday. At the end of the meeting, I thanked Jim for his time, wished him well and soon let him know that we would not pursue the discussion any further. To be clear, I made no offer to Jim Harbaugh. Reports to the contrary and the associated outrageous financial terms that were rumored with those reports were completely inaccurate. We never spoke to any other coaching candidates, including Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden or any other names that have been rumored to be a candidate.

Tony Sparano is the best person to lead this team. Tony's contract has been extended through the 2013 season, and I wholeheartedly believe that the combination of Jeff and Tony represents one of the strongest organizations in all of football. I remain committed to supporting them in any way possible and will always provide the financial resources to make us a winner.

I am obsessed with winning and will do whatever it takes to make us a perennial Super Bowl contender. Many of the model franchises over the course of NFL history have been built on a commitment from ownership to chart a course for the organization, select the right people to execute that strategy and allow them the time to finish what they started. Stability and consistency are two of the most important virtues of ownership.

I realize your faith in us has been put to the test this week, but I assure you we are well positioned to return to the winning ways that have defined this franchise.

Let me end by thanking you for hanging in there and supporting us throughout the year despite our struggles at home. For that, we are sincerely grateful. You have my personal and unwavering commitment that we will do our part to create a true home field advantage with your help in the future. Rest assured, there are better days ahead for the Miami Dolphins.

With sincere thanks and appreciation,

Steve Ross

What I find interesting is how this was an open letter to fans, and yet it never made its way to me.  I - like all the Dolphins sites - have a connection to the team.  But he (or they) chose not to use that connection.  How's that for thumbing his nose at us?  Whatever, it really makes no difference to me, and I'm not trying to say I'm deserving or anything.  Just interesting in the way it was handled.

This is clearly an attempt to ensure that he doesn't lose season ticket holders, and/or that he does lose his (tenuous) grip on fans.  He could have done this in two sentences: "I messed up big-time.  Please continue to support the dolphins on the field, and with your wallets."


Forgot something

Cap'n Izzy (Ross) said he was going out to California anyway for real estate business, and just "stopped by" San Fran to meet with this kid who he's known for a number of years.  Okay, its only 350 or so miles, so its not that big a deal, but it still seems rather silly considering that the Furious Enigma (Ireland) was along for the ride, or met him there or whatever.

Why bring your GM to talk with a guy you don't plan to hire???

And was the Enigma along for the ride to talk about real estate in LA?  Hey, wait a minute.  There could be a rumor I could start here: he was there to talk about the new stadium in LA, because he wants to move the Dolphins there.  How bout that, Cap'n?  No fact checking done at all.

And we hear Disney was involved in the discussion *really*....what's that all about?  The water park?  Something unrelated to the Fins?

A couple of followup observations

I watched the video of the roundtable (which was actually rectangular).  I guess they did allow recording devices, after all.

  • It was heavily scripted, with each stooge reading from their notes.  
  • Cap'n Izzy (Ross) made a couple of statements that seemed odd, and were semantics:
    • At no point did anyone on the team contact Cowher or Gruden.  Sources say otherwise, so maybe he had a minion such as Peterson do it, since he's not "on the team."
    • Peterson was not on the flight with him to Cali.  Well, technically, neither was The Furious Engima (Ireland).  Ross left from Teterboro in NJ, and clearly these guys were here.
    • I didn't realize how fast word would travel, and how the media was into it.  You're a business man, and you got a lot of insights from H Wayne and others.  Really?
    • We didn't make an offer to Harbaugh, and I told him to stay at Stanford.  Sources at Stanford tell us that he was telling people he was going, so that's not right.  And maybe he told him to stay there when he realized Harbaugh was waffling
    • We already had a great team here.  Bawahahahaha
  • At least he seemed contrite.  "We goofed" and "I should have handled it differently" were at least the right words
  • The body language said a lot. No one really looked at each other.  There is strife.
  • The Bootin Bull (Sparano) said he was disappointed, but ready to move on.  Sure.  Just like a jilted spouse is ready to move on - as she's destroying his collection of vintage vinyl records
  • Communication, they said, was key for internal affairs.  But they didn't mention external communications, which are still a black hole
  • It seemed like every other thing that's happened.  They quasi own up to something, and are immediately ready to move on.  We need to be more explosive, and get better at QB.  Duh.
  • The questions were controlled by Harvey Greene - only a few and then he cut everyone off.  Yeah, that settles it.  And media, please get off our backs - its my team and you're not helping!!!!
This was just nonsense and kind of like, ummm, putting lipstick on a pig.  Its still a pig, and there is still much myrth to be had.

I don't believe this ends anything, rather there are still issues that need to be worked out.  And I'm going to be laughing at them all the way!

They totally lost my respect with this sham of a coaching search and sham of a news conference.  And respect is something that is EARNED.

My advice to all dolphins fans is to not take them too seriously.  They are still a joke!