Saturday, May 11, 2013

Utter nonsense

I finally had a chance to see the "plans" such as they were released to the public for the stadium improvement.  Included items were:
  • Removing the lower bowl on the visitor side, and re-pouring concrete to make it permanent and closer to the field
  • Re-doing part of the lower bowl on the home side and both endzones, including some new concrete
  • Replacing seats in the lower bowl
  • Replacing most of the seats in the upper bowl; removing some number of them
  • Adding new video display boards
  • Adding a partial roof
  • (and as Stu Gotts reminds me) HD lighting
What did you notice about that list?   There's NO INFRASTRUCTURE.  The stadium itself is sound, this is about changing the seating and nothing more.

Yeah, maybe the seats are old and need to be replaced.  And perhaps there is a need to re-pour the concrete on the visitor side, based on the retractable seating for the Marlins.  But does it *have to be* done?

And the new video boards?  Didn't Wayne replace those just 6 years ago?

The roof - whatever.  Sure it might be nice.  But its not a must-have, certainly.

So its a ruse to get public funds to create new seats, and thus make more money for him.

Now we can look forward to more "woe is me" from him, and a lot of arm twisting saying he needs this, or boo hoo, he might have to move.

And once again....they ain't moving anywhere - that's just more bluster.

sigh....its just utter nonsense.


Friday, May 10, 2013

A little fact checking

I've read some of the recent reports by our intrepid local reporters and some national ones.  And I felt the need to comment on some of the "facts" they present to you.

Comment: The Dolphins will lose $41 million this year.
Reality: The Dolphins lowest attendance was in 2009.  Even in that year, according to Forbes, the Dolphins (on the whole) made $232 million because of profit sharing and revenue - and that was after their expenditures.  With all the corporations that have been established, its possible the team itself will show an operating loss.  But that does not mean that "the Dolphins" are losing money, or that Mr. Ross is taking a personal loss on the ownership of the franchise.

Comment: The Dolphins don't intend to purge their payroll, like the Marlins did.
Reality: they can't.  There is a salary cap AND a salary floor.  Right now they reside in the upper part of the range.  But they can't drop too many pieces and go below the floor.

Comment: They might move.  Maybe to LA or even to Palm Beach.
Reality: the Dolphins (see my comment above about the multiple entities) own the stadium.  And there are hundreds of millions of dollars in loan payments that are still outstanding.  The Dolphins are listed as the ones with the debt.  Unless the new city is willing to eat that for them, and essentially they find a way to sell the stadium, this will never happen.

Comment: Now that the stadium deal is done, the new stadium in Santa Clara will get the stadium
Reality: Sorry to break it to you, but that was pretty much a done deal LAST YEAR, before the stadium talk got going.  It was going to take a lot of "lobbying" to get the vote to go another way.

Comment: The NFL brings in new dollars with a SuperBowl
Reality: rough estimates are that 120,000 people may show up in a town that has the big game.  Many of them are the owners, the people they bring, the NFL's contingent, and large corporate sponsors.  What we don't see in the fine print is that they get special rates at the hotels, discounted meals, and the kicker is that they are exempt from paying taxes on most of it.  And add to that the fact that host committee gives them a lot of perks - like great tee times at prime resorts, VIP events at local venues, etc, etc.  All at no cost to these VIPs.  So who pays for that? 
Any guesses?  I'll let you think about that one.

Comment: he said, she said in Tallahassee
Reality: Will Weatherford is a politician.  Steve Ross is a businessman.  They both had their say and now the Dolphins are acting silly in accumulating witnesses to try and muckrake against Weatherford.  This IS politics.  I don't like it, either.  But, move along.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Stadium Fallout

Mr. Ross asked for money his stadium.  The legislature declined to vote on the measure, which naturally was their decision.  Its legislation, after all, and that business "is what it is" and they can play games, not vote, decide to vote, or amend it however they see fit.

And Mr. Ross is within his rights, of course, to decry the fact that there was no vote. It affects his business in some way.

But he's done a lot of posturing on the topic, because he's not happy.   He said that this just won't do, and while he won't move the team, the next owner might not have a choice, and an archaic stadium such as this could force the issue.

And the media has speculated on this further, and drawn parallels to other franchises that have asked for improvements to their stadia, didn't get it, and ultimately moved.  I'd like to add a team to that list: The Miami Dolphins.  Think about: Joe Robbie asked for the Orange Bowl to be improved, the city balked, and he moved the team to a stadium that he built with essentially his own money.

And that's where the stories diverge.  You see, in every case - other than Miami - when a team moved, they were renting a publicly owned facility.  They didn't get the improvements they wanted, and either broke their lease or waited for it to end and then moved into another publicly owned facility in another city.  And since then, they've managed to get money to improve said stadia in those cities - or have threatened to move if they don't get it.

There's also another factor.  After several moves, the NFL enacted a new rule that the owners have to vote on any move, to ensure that the Colts situation doesn't happen (think moving trucks in the middle of the night), and to ensure that NFL cities generally make sense - and that you don't leave one profitable city without a team.

Yes, the LA Dolphins certainly sounds like a possibility....but it seems unrealistic, and here's why: Miami is still a profitable franchise, and there is a following.  It seems unlikely the owners would agree to move the franchise and leave Miami open.  But there's a larger problem in that the stadium is not publicly owned...it is quite private.

Steve Ross (and his partner in this H Wayne, who still has a stake in it) owns the stadium in its entirety.  And he has an "outstanding debt" of the low- and no-interest loans that financed construction and improvements....that's money that has to be paid back by the owner "someday."  If he sold the team and stadium, and the new owner wanted to move it, well, that person would still would own a stadium that essentially would sit vacant, and owe money on it.  He would still have to pay some amount of taxes on it, and would be on the hook for the loan regardless.

Who in their right mind would do that?

So Ross' insistence that the new owner might move the team are hyperbole.  No way would an owner take a huge loss on a "white elephant" of a stadium.  And I think that's what's pissing him off.  Ross has no leverage left.  He got himself into what amounts to a bad deal on emotion - he wanted to own an NFL team and he paid too much for it, and is "stuck" with an aging stadium.

Now back to another question: why not finance improvements himself?  As I've mentioned before, he never planned to pay for it himself: he was going to use the NFL stadium funds as "his" dollars, but those dollars are only available if  there's a public-private partnership, and since there wasn't, "his" portion is off the table.

Realistically, there is only a small number of choices left for him.  He could accelerate the sale of the team, he could get some investors together to get money, or he could pay for it himself.  Or perhaps there's a combination of things that could happen.

I believe that he will wind up making a scaled back version of the improvements himself.  It would include some infrastructure pieces, and changes to provide seating closer to the field - anything else could wait.

And that's my take.


Monday, May 06, 2013

Where There Is Smoke, There Is Fire!

Someone fired the first shot.  Someone got this whole thing started and I am not sure who is to blame or congratulate.

The internet is abuzz with talk of the Dolphins leaving Miami!

From ESPN to NFL.COM, from every blogger south of the Mason-Dixon Line to soon to be every blogger west of the Mississippi, that is as soon as they wake up, will be writing about the Dolphins leaving Miami for their new digs in LA.

You know, this is how it always starts and can finish with a Mayflower Truck sleaking away in the middle of the night.

First, there is conjecture.  Followed by denial.  Next possibilities.  And finally come the overtures.

We have heard the speculations.  Florida didn't pass the bill to help pay for the Stadium improvements. Florida said yes way to no pay. So Ross has to foot the bill.

We have the denial.  CEO Dee says no way to Ross move away.  But he did leave the door open for a new owner to possibly move the team.

Aha!  So here comes the overtures.  Count on it.

Someone in LA has already picked up the phone to talk with someone else in LA about the Dolphins possibly being in play.

Their next step is to reach out to Dee.  Why Dee?  Because he responded with the first possibility by saying a new owner may move the team.  So he sounds receptive to the idea by leaving that door open just a little enough for someone in LA to peek into.

And peek they shall.  "We are gonna be in Miami next week Mike.  How about lunch?"

Dee tells Ross who says "Make it somewhere public so people see you."

Dee meets and eats.  The LA guys flatter Dee about the Dolphin Organization and then brag about the size of their market compared to the size of the Miami market.

Now what's a CEO to do.  Bigger market, higher percentage of profits, more bonus $$$$!

Dee says "Put it in writing and I will run it up the flag pole."

Ross looks at their proposal and decides to fly out and meet and eat with the men from LA.  Somewhere public ofcourse.

"Oh no!" exclaims Edwin Pope, "Say it ain't so, say it ain't so."  But it is so.

Now we go from no vote, no money to ante up or we move away.  Yep, this is where we are headed.

Ross may love the Miami Dolphins.  He may want them to stay in Miami.  But eventually he will realize that he is a businessman too. So when that kicks in, Florida, look out because at that moment you will be dealing with a guy with options.  Options in writing!

Options he is already considering because someone fired the first shot!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971
Carldleone@aol. com

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Analyzing Dolphins Draft Pick by Pick: Part 1

With the Dolphins Draft finally done and with some time to gain some perspective on the Dolphins picks, it is a good time to analyze each pick individually AND as whole. With that being said, lets begin!

Dion Jordan DE/LB Oregon 6'6" 246lbs. 

Before the draft started, Dion Jordan was number one on the Dolphins draft board. There was no denying that fact when on day one of the NFL Draft, the Dolphins traded to the 3rd overall selection to select this freakish athlete. Jordan was one of the most coveted defenders in the draft this year, none the less pass rushers. Dion is a freak of an athlete, running a 4.60 40 yard dash at 6'6" 246lbs and jumping 32.5 inches in the vertical! With that being said, many people are comparing him to the Miami Dolphin's greatest pass rusher ever, Jason Taylor. Both are 6'6" and 245 to 255 lbs. Both have long arms and are explosive off the edge. Dion Jordan can provide that much needed pressure from the other side of Pro Bowler Cameron Wake. Now you might be asking yourself, isn't number three overall in the NFL Draft a little high for a guy who just rushes the passer and has a shoulder injury that might not let him be available until training camp? Well, first, saying Dion Jordan is just a guy who rushes the passer is very inaccurate and wrong. Dion is one of, if not the most, versatile Defenders in the NFL Draft this year. At Oregon, Jordan was asked to not only rush the passer, but also cover TE's and slot WR's, and he did a pretty dang good job of it too. Another question that arises is if he is selected 3rd overall to be an elite pass rusher, why did he only produce 5.5 sacks last year? As said before, Dion Jordan was asked to do to multiple things at Oregon, many of which did not involve rushing the passer. He dropped back in coverage a lot, which led to lesser opportunities Dto produce sacks. Overall, Dion Jordan has tremendous talent and could become elite in this league. Mike Mayock said this about Dion, ""This young man, I think he's got the potential to be the player that I compare him to, which is Jason Taylor, who ironically played for the Miami Dolphins. I also think he looks like an Aldon Smith, and if he puts on 20 pounds on that 6-foot-7 frame, one day he might be as good as a DeMarcus Ware." That is quite a comparison. IF Dion turned out to be any of those guys, the Dolphins will have a formidable pass rush for years to come! With the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league, rushing the passer and guarding WR's are becoming ever more important. TE's are also becoming more and more involved in the passing game with guys like Rob Gronkowski, and Jimmy Graham being elite at their positions. Dion Jordan has the potential to be an elite pass rusher and capability to guard big TE's like Gronkowski and Graham, who the Dolphins both play this year. 

Jamar Taylor CB Boise State 5'11" 192 lbs

With the 54th overall selection, the Dolphins selected Jamar Taylor. This is a great pick because the talented Taylor, infuses youth and athleticism into a older secondary (Richard Marshall 28 Dimitri Patterson 29 Brent Grimes 30) with some injury problems (Marshall with a back and Grimes with a Achilles). Taylor is a very physical CB that plays really well in press and bail coverage. He also has the ability make plays on the football in a congested area and is not afraid to stick his nose in the run game and set the edge. With a physical CB like Taylor, he provides a CB who can press a WR on the goal and prevent jump ball passes with his 35 in. vertical. Look for him to be the nickle CB this season but contend for a starting position this year in training camp. Also look for him to have an immediate impact guarding boundary WR's with his good straight-line speed (4.39 40 yd. dash) and physical demeanor at the line of scrimmage. Jamar Taylor shohiuld add youth and depth to a secondary that was in need of some athleticism. 

Dallas Thomas LT/LG Tennessee 6'5" 300lbs. 

Dallas Thomas was the Dolphins first of two 3rd round picks and first offensive player the Dolphins chose in the 2013 NFL Draft. At Tennessee, Dallas Thomas played LT his sophomore and junior and then moved inside to LG his senior year. So he has the versatility to play multiple positions on the OL, but early reports are the Dolphins want him on the left side, presumably as the back up LT this year and eventually taking over for Richie Incognito at LG in later years. Dallas Thomas  can sit down and anchor his blocks and plays with great bend in his knees and is really agile, which means he is more than capable of getting to second level blocks and being a good pulling guard which the Dolphins were in desperate need of last year with their zone blocking scheme. With his versatility, he will be a much needed upgrade in depth for the OL this year and a probable starter in years to come. This is a very good value pick for the Dolphins and could pay dividends this year, but most likely in future years being a starter on the OL.

Will Davis CB Utah St. 5'11" 186lbs

With the Dolphins trading their second 3rd rounder for two 4th rounders, it looked like the Dolphins were done in the 3rd round after Dallas Thomas, but the Dolphins traded back up into the 3rd to select Will Davis. Davis is a physical CB with great ball skills to make a play on the ball. Although he is not a blazing fast CB (4.51 40 yd dash), he has very quick feet and great change of direction, which means he is good at covering WR's in and out of their routes. He is a gambler who will make plays on the ball, but can also be burned because of his over aggressiveness sometimes. With his decent speed and great change of direction, he sounds like a great candidate to be the slot WR cover corner, which is needed position in the NFL now. He is also likely to be a key special teams contributor if he looks to get on the the field immediately

After the first  two days of the NFL draft, the Dolphins added to three positions of need on the team, but most notably decided to ignore OT, TE. What this said  was that 1) the Dolphins have faith in Jonathan Martin to be the LT and blindside protector of Franchise QB Ryan Tannehill, and 2) They either have confidence in Dustin Keller to do the job, or they liked a TE in later rounds they thought can provide help (which we know they did in Dion Sims). Overall, the Dolphins addressed needs, mainly on the defense, and added athleticism and youth to a already young team. The future looks bright in sunny South Beach, and if the Dolphins keep it up, could be very explosive for years to come!

G.G.G.

Look for my next article as I finish part 2 of this article!

Have questions or suggestions? Email me at sethAfisher07@gmail.com or tweet at me @PhinsBlogger13 

Offensive line finally solidified

 Geoff Burke- USA TODAY Sports 
What are the Dolphins going to do at left tackle? That was the question on most peoples minds when they evaluated the Dolphins draft. Yea they brought in a couple of corners, and an end/linebacker but what about the offensive side? Who will protect the franchise QB? It was only a matter of time before those questions got answered and the answer is....Jonathan Martin.

This is because the Dolphins have signed Tyson Clabo, a starting right tackle released by the Falcons to free up $4.5 million dollars, to a one year deal. Clabo is a solid starter in this league, he has started every game for the since 2008 (91 consecutive games), and actually made the pro bowl in 2010. The Dolphins also drafted guard Dallas Thomas in the 3rd round so this could mean two new starters on the offensive line which could look like this:

LT Martin LG Incognito C Pouncey RG Thomas RT Clabo    

Add in the additions of Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller and we have a very solid offense. Little by little Ireland is redeeming himself, now lets see who this all fits in together.