Saturday, February 12, 2011

It figures

I was watching a re-run of Top Chef tonight.  There was a competition wherein the chefs had to represent the spirit of an NFL city through the dish they prepared.  The Miami Dolphins were one of the cities, and it was pitted against other teams.  

Now, if you're familiar with the show, you know there are some number of chefs all competing for the title.  And each week, there's a chef who gets sent home, usually because they have the worst dish.

Any guesses which chef lost and got sent home?  Of course, it was the one representing Miami!

Art imitates life, and the Dolphins lose off the field as well.  

Signing players

You may have read that this team or that team has yet to sign their own guy to a contract.  So, in the case of Miami, its Paul Soliai.  Oh they really love him, but they haven't yet made him an offer.  And lots of people are worried about it.

But not me. 

I believe the next 18 days, the time the league claims it will have "limited free agency" leading up to the probable lockout, are days with more questions than answers.  And I believe that most teams are taking a wait and see approach rather than offering a contract to a player.

So, lets suppose Miami makes an offer that seems fair to get Soliai, and he agrees to it.  Is it binding since we're not covered by the CBA?  What if they change some of the rules in negotiations and his contract is effectively nullified?  The NFL reviews all contracts, as does the NFLPA - what if they don't?  Or what if the NFLPA says its not a valid contract?  What if it turns out that Soliai should have automatically been some kind of a restricted free agent based on the years of service he put in, against where he was drafted? 

Typically a team will make an offer to its own players.  But this year, even re-signing your own players is questionable, and I think most teams are reluctant to do it - because they'd rather not get dragged down by the legal process. (to be fair "renegotiating" a contract is a different animal, since the player is already under contract)

Funny how the official time period to make someone a franchise player started yesterday.  And so far, no team has tagged a player.  Oh, they've talked about it, but no one has done it yet.

They're all running scared, and figure they can wait the 18 days to get to a lockout - and then they don't have to worry about it at all, until after a new agreement is reached.

And as I've said before:  all teams will field almost exactly the same rosters next year as they did this year - with maybe a small handful (6-7?) of changes.  There won't be time for free agency or to get new players in and acclimated, much less to have minicamps.  So re-signing a player now really isn't that important.  It may be at some point.  But, not today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Funny

Got an email from the NFL today saying that I could win a trip to the scouting combine.

Nevermind that I think the event itself is a bore (yippee!  the guy benched 420 25 times!), but without a CBA, agents are being asked not to send their clients to the combine.  Instead, the NFLPA suggests prospects hold pro workout days at their college or another venue - in groups where possible.

And the agents are on the fence about it, so I suspect that there will be some who don't come, and others who don't participate in much.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wankerific

No telling whether Mark Sanchez is guilty of actually doing anything or not.  But, to be a 24-year-old professional athlete and be implicated as being involved with a 17-year-old is pretty wankerific!

Why are you even associating with high school girls, dude?  Is that the best you can do?


And speaking of the CBA

The owners and the NFLPA were going to "aggressively negotiate" beginning with 2 days this week.  After the first few hours, it seemed that this was going nowhere.

The battle is the owners want to take the first $1-$2 billion off the top, and then share the remainder around 50-50....and that would mean the players would be holding about 40% of the TOTAL revenue.

So the players walked.  And the word protracted now applies.  There are no scheduled meetings, and they are not happy with one another.

Meanwhile, the owners are moving ahead with their "limited free agency" plan and have told teams to go ahead and apply franchise tags.  Court system, here they come!

Will Allen

According to his agent (Rosenhouse) Will Allen re-structured his contract "paving his way for a return to the Dolphins."

Now the way he was handled last season left me dubious.  He was nearing a return, and they stuck him on IR, ending his season.  Then, they refused his request to be released.  So it was clear they didn't want him - and didn't want anyone else to have him, either.

And now they restructure?

This doesn't smell right to me.  I hear people talking about how he'll fit in - and it dawned on me: he doesn't.  Restructuring simply means his rights are retained, and he fits within the cap....so in my opinion, this is a prelude to trading him.  He likely still has value, he doesn't (for whatever reason) fit with Sparano, and this team DOES NOT KEEP veterans.  So, it would seem that they plan to part ways...well, that is, as soon as the CBA gets finished.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Now that's funny

I was watching Jimmy Kimmel last night, and he delivered what I thought was one of the funniest football-related jokes.  Ever.

The Green Bay Packers won the championship and had a big celebration.  And everyone was very excited.  Unfortunately Brett Favre couldn't make it to the celebration.  But he texted a picture of how excited he was to the team.


[Puh-lease Favre gets off with a slap on the....wrist...indeed!]

Monday, February 07, 2011

And just where do the Dolphins stand?

I've heard the argument: the Dolphins beat the Packers, and they nearly beat the Steelers.  And I've made some fun of it, and sarcastcially said the Fins were good enough as a result - but just couldn't string together any consistently good play.

Let's look back at that Packers game.  True, it was on the road against a quality opponent.  And true, Miami had a game plan that was solid.  And in the end, they beat the Pack.  But Aaron Rodgers "wasn't right" and he had been concussed the week before. No one was sure if he would play that week.  And frankly, they were just starting to come together as a team.  It took OT, and there was a complete lapse on Rodgers' TD "run" to tie it...While it was a great win for the Fins, I suspect that it was a matter of luck and timing as much as anything.  We didn't see the same team on the field two weeks before against New England (there was a bye in between), and the next week was the Pittsburgh game, followed by a win in Cincinnatti, and a drubbing in Baltimore.

So the two week span was the best Miami could offer.  Against the Steelers, at the end of the day, Miami lost.  Maybe they coulda/shouda/woulda won.  But the scoreboard still showed a loss.  And it was Rothlisberger's first game back after suspension.  He wasn't nearly the player he would become a few weeks later.  And again we saw some of Miami's shortcomings out there.

There's an old saying that goes in the regular season "any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday" and surely that was the case in that span.  But I don't - honestly - believe Miami was as good as either of those teams.

Why?  Leadership.  On the field.  And off the field.  Tony Sparano is a heck of a guy.  I have met him several times, and like him.  He's a good motivator, and certainly has his "house in order" and the team basically rallies around him.  I respect that about him.  But, he went 11-5 (with a couple of wins thanks to Pennington) and then 7-9 and 7-9.  Einstein once said "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result."  If we apply that to the Fins, you could argue that the coach isn't going to get more than 8 wins out of this team, unless he gets another lucky break like Pennington.

Meanwhile, Sean Payton had some great success with an over-achieving team last year, as did Mike Tomlin this year.  And Mike McCarthy was able to overcome some bad luck, injuries, and more as he led his team to victory.  15 players on IR says a lot about the coach's ability, doesn't it?  Sure they were a 6th seed, but they were inspired and played hard, didn't they?  No one quit.  Each week, they excelled, and unlike Sparano, he kept them focused.  

And on the field, you had a few veteran leaders at key spots on offense and defense.  Those guys helped the younger players to stick with it.  And of course you had a QB who arguably was one of the 1-2 best in the league this season. A guy who remained unflappable, and was able to deliver week in and week out.

A guy like we haven't seen here since the end of the '99 season - except for a few games in 2007 when Pennington showed some flashes.  

And that's why I say the Fins are headed for another sub-500 season next year.  The coaching didn't change, and the QB may or may not - but the leadership is lacking.  At least for now.

That's my two cents for today.