Saturday, November 16, 2013

Special guest at the game

We hear that Manti Teo's girlfriend is coming to town for this game.  Here's a picture, to make it easier to spot her in the stands.

Come on.  Give it up to a little humor about a whole other dysfunctional situation!

Friday, November 15, 2013

You Wanted A Playoff Game, Well You Got One

Sunday's game is going to help in determining the final wild card spot in the AFC.  This is based upon two assumptions:

1) Assuming the KC/Denver loser of the AFC West division title doesn't completely callapse.

2) Assuming that our O-line gets it's act together and can at least keep Tannehill upright (allow only 2 sacks a game) and be able to allow us to rush for 80 yards a game.

If assumption number 2 doesn't come to pass then we will be battling for a top 5 pick in next years draft, because I doubt we can win another game without assumption number 2 coming to pass.

If these two assumptions do hold up then, Sunday's game is gonna be our first playoff game this season.  The loser will fall to 6 losses and lose the tie breaker with the other. 

That's the key down the stretch, to beat other teams in the hunt. Get the tie breaker advantage on them with head to head and then with division and conference records coming into play next.

As of today, here are the teams in the hunt for the 6th seed and in their proper order either due to head to head or conference/division record tiebreakers:
Jets 5-4 with 2-1 Div and 2-4 Con
Miami 4-5 with 0-2 Div and 3-3 Con
Cleveland 4-5 with 2-1 Div and 3-3 Con (Loses head to head tie breaker with Miami)
Baltimore 4-5 with 2-2 Div and 4-4 Con  (Loses Div tie breaker with Cleveland first then that loses Con record against Miami)
San Diego 4-5 with 0-2 Div and 2-4 Con (Loses Con tie breaker to all 5 loss teams)
Tennessee 4-6 with 0-3 Div and 3-4 Con
Oakland 3-6 with 1-2 Div and 3-3 Con
Pittsburgh 3-6 with 1-1 Div and 3-4 Con (Loses head to head to Oakland)

Looking at our schedule we gotta beat the following: San Diego, Jets twice, Pittsburgh, New England and Buffalo. We can afford to lose to Carolina.

If we finish at 10-6 with the above wins we should get in as we would hold all the tie breakers needed for the 6 seed provided Baltimore loses.

Oakland and Tennessee play each other in 2 weeks so one goes down to 7 losses there.

Now Oakland (why am I even discussing them) still has road games at Houston, Dallas, Jets and San Diego with home games against Tennessee, KC and Denver.  Put a fork in them.

Tennessee doesn't worry me at all. They have road games at Oakland, Indy, Denver and Jacksonville with only 2 home games with Arizona and Houston.

We control our own destiny, if we win our 6 remaining AFC games we are in. If we lose to New England or Buffalo and beat Carolina then we need a little help.

That brings us back to assumption number 2.  Lets face it, our whole season is on the line with the O-line.  We are good enough in all other areas to win out.

We don't need to be the greatest O-line in history. Just below average will actually do.  If Tannehill can throw for 220 and 2-3 TDs with 80 yards rushing and a couple FGs we should be OK. Tight games but very win-able.

So Sunday is actually our first playoff game.  Will our O-line hold up? Will they show us some sort of resemblance of a balanced attack?

If not, we are truly one and done. 

But isn't that how the playoffs work? Its been awhile but I think so.

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The bullying scandal

A quick comment for those of you still thinking too much is being made of essentially nothing.  Its entirely possible you are right in a general sense.  And its also possible (and seems to be likely) that it goes on in every locker room.  But it doesn't make it right in 2013.

And the driving issue for the NFL is....fear of government interference.  Back when the tapes were destroyed in the Patriots scandal, several people on capitol hill, and more importantly the justice department, warned the NFL that it had tampered with evidence in what could be a criminal case.  And that their defacto anti-trust status could be in jeopardy if they ever did it again.

We hear there was some bluster behind the scenes that they may charge Roger Goodell with a crime for his role in the tape destruction if he didn't heed their warnings....

Anyway, a year later the Saints bounty scandal became the big news and NFL investigated somewhat publicly and came down hard.  There was a lot of stuff with that story that was lost in the news - like the guy who was a convicted felon (he had stolen and resold merchandise from the NFL) who was involved in some there's no way to know for sure they were thorough, but they certainly gave an impression of doing the right things.

And here we are today.  Goodell will handle this in a similar way: public and probably will come down hard on those he thinks deserve it, and make some changes to the way teams are governed.  Its not because he wants to - its because he feels he has to.

Can't cook the goose that lays the golden egg, after all.  Things can't simply be handled in house, and tapes destroyed....

It's Ross' team

And it's ultimately up to him what he does with it.  He doesn't care what Amy of us think. Only that collectively we support the team-especially financially.

So in a way, kudos to him for establishing a committee to act as somewhat impartial but football-smart group to look at his team.

Think of it as an independent evaluation. Whatever the NFL investigator comes back with, this group might have an alternate view - supposing either or both gm and coach are exonerated in the inquiry. Perhaps the committee will see things differently.

Certainly the personnel moves are puzzling and Ireland is the usual scape goat (or as he once said the most reviled man in town) when things go bad.

But Philbin shouldn't be off the hook. Dion Jordan only played a handful of plays and will be limited the rest of the year?  Thats okay with them for the #3 overall pick?  2 yards rushing in a game? Really?

And then there was this "glorious" sequence on the bucs first drive. They gashed the fins and got down to 1st and goal at the 4. 1st down is an incompletion.

Then the extra tackle -Penn- came on the field after 1st down, and reported as eligible.  There happened to be a shot of the referee on TV at that moment, and you could see him say he was eligible.

Then, the Bucs call timeout.  They take the break, and come back, and he's on the field as an eligible receiver, and the Bucs run.  

Then, its 3rd down and they remain in the same formation with him in the same position.  So he's still eligible. And he scores.

IMHO, the Dolphins simply forgot about him.  It was a classic moment of one coach outfoxing another.  By sending him out earlier and calling timeout, they put him in a position for the 3rd down play. And lulled the fins into thinking it was a power rush and forgetting that he was eligible.

And Philbin is ultimately responsible for catching that, and reminding the defense. Bad coaching?  Or simply bad luck?  I argue it's the former.

So perhaps Ross will find that either or both will need to go, based on their actual performance in their jobs.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dolphins Locker Room Is No Different Than The Rest, They Just Got Caught

Before we start planning on firings and house cleanings, the Ted Wells inquisition has yet to be conducted.

Whoopty Do!

What they will find is what is already known through out the league.

Guys Bust Balls!

That's what we do. Every team I have been on and even with my current officiating crew, we bust balls.

Some days its me as the target and some days its someone else.  But at some point someone's balls are getting busted.

Do I think it's any different in the Miami Dolphins locker room? Hell no.

These are guys who work out together, shower together, eat together.

They spend more time with eachother than anyone else in their lives. They may be even more intimate with eachother than with anyone else in their lives.

They talk trash and bust balls. They are guys that go to battle together and sometimes to break the tension and relieve the pressure, they bust balls.

When the dust settles, all NFL teams will have to make some changes.

New rules about rookie hazings or rituals will come down from above.

But our locker room is no different from any other one in the NFL, other than that one of its members snapped.

Is Richie Incognito guilty of a criminal act for how he treated Martin? I don't believe so. He just got caught busting balls and crossing the line of normal acceptance outside of the locker room. His team mates would agree.

Does he have some issues? Absolutely. What he did at that golf outing is unacceptable.

But to blame his conduct outside of the locker room on the coaching staff is unfair.

No coach is responsible for their players conduct outside of team facilities.  They cannot possibly police 65 men 24 hours a day.

Is Bullygate embarrassing to the team?  Ofcourse it is. But when this dust settles, I believe Philbin will be safe.  Ireland will be in his office. And the league will institute new quidelines for Human Resources.

We won't lose any draft picks and no one will get fired.  The league will carry on.

Unfortunately, we will have been distracted by the media and under the scrutiny of public opinion.

And at the end of the day, guys will be guys and balls will still get busted.

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

That hurt!

I am suffering.   And the only cure is winning.   However, I refuse to point fingers.   That is left for the weak-minded. 

We need to play better on Defense in the crunch.  We need the Offensive Line to play better on every play.  We need better play calling - MOVE TANNEHILL AROUND.  If he sits there in the pocket, defenses tee-off on the young QB. 

I beseech you Miami Dolphins Players - get tough and do your job - for you, your fans, and your teammates. 

All that said - Please keep in mind.   We still have a great chance to make the play-offs.

We of faith still believe.  Please prove me right!

What a freakin' disaster

I'm not talking about last night's game, or the current scandal about the team.

Nope, I'm talking bigger picture here.  In what will be an 11-year span, Miami will have gone through an astonishing 7 head coaches, once Mr. Philbin cleans out his desk.  And in that same span, since 2003 (Wannstedt's last season), Miami has had two winning seasons (9-7 in 2005, and 11-5 in the weird 2008 season).

In that same span, they have averaged 6 wins a seasons.  And more telling, 5 times (!) they had a top 10 draft pick.  That means that, well, they can now be considered historically bad.  An 11-year span is a lifetime, and you can't deny there is no upside right now.

A new coach and a new GM means that there will be roster churn again.  Tannehill is probably done (new coaches like to have *their* qbs play).  And the team is 3 years away yet again.  That effectively means it would be 15 years would have elapsed since they were actually thought of as

On the topic of this whole scandal, it seems a certainty that Ross will clean house. When he uses words like he did in the interview.  When he stands on the sidelines with a forced smile.  When Ireland gives a fake smile.  When Philbin looks bewildered.  You know its time.  I think he just wants to see what the report says, so he can take steps to correct it.  Its window dressing to hire Shula, Marino, Dungy, and Curtis Martin to look at locker room culture.  If you plan to fire these guys anyway, what real purpose does that serve?

I have wondered for some time now how an owner can be involved with his team when he's not usually around the team (his residence is in NY, and he's down here only sometimes), and I guess his faith in Ireland may have been misplaced, since he more or less let him run the team.

It would be easy to think Ross might simply move the team and start fresh, rather than try and rebuild their image here.   As I mentioned before, the debt load Ross carries on the stadium will make that impossible - he owes $100s of millions in low and no-interest loans.

But GoFins4SB makes an interesting point.  Ross owns the stadium, and the debt load is low interest loans.  Supposing that he simply leased the stadium to the Hurricanes, local sports teams, and the new soccer club that wants to call Miami home (that Beckham will be a partner in).  Maybe a few other events....Could he make enough on that to cover his expenses there, and slowly pay off the loans so he could ultimately sell the stadium?  Or maybe sell the stadium to someone else with the same idea in mind?

Then he's free to cut his ties and move the team and start fresh.

He's not getting the stadium improvement money.  He's not putting fans in seats.  And now he has to overcome this nonsense and there are going to be fewer season tickets based on a promise that one day, maybe, this team will be good....

I once enjoyed watching this team.  And last night, I watched the game, but not because I was a fan.  Rather, it was the Monday Night game, and that's always been on in my house - its just tradition.  I think this might be the 4th game I've seen part of, and with the exception of the Bills game that I attended (but mainly watched on TV from the club level), all of them were the national games.  Its not must-see, and now it's pretty much assured it NEVER will be again.

The thing that I realized was that I wanted to be a fan. I really did.  But the team, the ownership, the way they have hired, and they silly way they've handled themselves has done them in.  Plus, they're competing with the Sunday ticket and NFL Red Zone.  I don't have to watch a team play anymore.  I can watch interesting games and matchups. And the cost of going to a game and tailgating - while fun - got to be too great to make that worthwhile.

So good luck Dolphins.  I can't be alone in thinking they are now irrelevant.

As for the actual scandal and controversy?  Well, I have to believe the NFL will take it seriously.  I suspect that each team will have an internal "compliance officer" and the NFL will dispatch people to randomly audit what's going on.  The culture will continue to change.  The days of the machismo NFL locker room are gone.

Our Strength Has Become A Weakness

We get a pick by Jimmy Wilson, fail to punch it in and kick a field goal to extend our short lived lead to 4 points with 10 ticks left on the clock in the 3rd period.

We are facing a reeling quarterback starting from his 20 yard line with only the 4th quarter and a good 80 yards from changing the storyline in our locker room.

A 3 and out will surely sink the Bucs down to 0-9.

With all the momentum on our side and a great opportunity to put ourselves in the forefront for the 6 seed, our defense acts like it's Throwback 80's Night

Bucs rush for 8 yards, then 11, 3, 6 and 2 before hitting a 17 yard pass down to our 33 yard line.

Next down 1 yard gain on the ground.  "Ok, let's stuff 'em here and force a long field goal:"

Wishful thinking.

Bobby Rainey goes left for 31 yards down to our 1 yard line.

1 play later, we are down by 3.

The Bucs went 80 yards in 9 plays taking 5 minutes off the clock with 8 rushing plays for 63 yards.

They blew us off the ball early and blew us off late.

They jumped out to a 15 point lead by dominating the line of scrimmage.  And finished us off the same way.

Our defensive line was supposed to be our biggest strength.  We should've been able to make the Bucs one dimensional.  Put the ball in the hands of their quarterback. The one with no NFL wins on his resume.

Instead, we watched a slow death begin at the start of the 4th quarter.  Pound, pound, pound, pound, pound, pound.  And with backup RB Brian Leonard, no less, carrying the heavy bags.

It looked like a flashback to the 80's. A wide awake nightmare.

Our O-line couldn't get our running game kick started but at least for 58 minutes they kept Tannehill upright.

Then they collapsed as well.  We sort of expect 2 sacks in a game with that unit. Actually, more.

But they held up and Tannehill played well enough to win this game.

He had a hot hand tonite. I guess when we went all-in with 3 minutes left, our house of cards tumbled over.

However, this loss belongs on our defensive line.  They better own up to this one.

It was their fault. No one else's. 140 yards rushing. Ouch.

And who saw that coming?

Carl Leone's
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Monday, November 11, 2013

This MESS will actually PULL this Locker Room TOGETHER

At first, I was thinking here we go again - Another self-made reason for this team to give itself as an excuse to fail. 

However, after further reflection, this whole mess with Martin/Incognito is just the kind of thing that brings players together.   I felt at the beginning of the season, we were a "TEAM."   I sense now that we are getting back to that.   I believe the coaching staff will get the team ready for tonight, but most importantly, the veterans will step it up and provide the leadership that had been lacking during our 4 game slide.   We will play well tonight.  

And, make no mistake about it.   This will be a slug-fest.   Tampa Bay wants to get out of the out-house and into the win column in a bad way.   This is like a playoff game to them.   We will have to be ready for their best. 

Luckily, I think this little melodrama was just the kick in the pants this team needed.   I sincerely believe that we will play very well for the rest of the season.  I believe we will make the playoffs.  And, that starts tonight in prime time after a most interesting 11 days.   We are rested.   We are galvanized in the locker room.  We are ready to take this to the next level.  I predict a convincing win as the game unfolds.  We may get our nose bloodied some tonight, but we will come out victorious.

Miami 31- Tampa Bay 19

Coaching matters

I watched the saints take down the cowboys and I was thinking how much stability at the coaching position has meant to them - and how much they missed him last year; he has a great influence on their success.

Of course having Brees doesn't hurt. And as I watched him, I thought about how Miami missed on him. But that was 4 head coaches ago. Hard to say if there would have been any stability among coaches or if Brees had managed to stick around had he opted to cone here.

And as the game finished, I wondered what Steve Ross is thinking. He hasn't said much and he hasn't had a knee jerk reaction to the goings on thus far.

Still one has to wonder how this might play out. It could be bad enough - or simply embarrassing enough - that he chooses to get rid of coach and gm. Or maybe one or the other.

But then what?  Another new coach?  New system? New personell?  Another 5 year plan?  More roster churn?

Parcells et al got really lucky a few years ago. The karma tank is probably empty and I can't see that happening again. And situations like Reid going to KC don't cone around often - he's had a fair amount of success with relatively little roster churn.

There will come a time when Ross has to decide what to do. Start fresh and drive away fans, or continue on and let the franchise be tarnished in some way?

I don't pretend to know what will be uncovered. But Ross will have to consider it as whats best for his business. He undoubtedly will want to do what's most profitable for him in the short term (call it the butts in seats component) and what drives the value of the franchise.

We will see.

Oh and as for Incognito, his interview today wasn't surprising. He said very little.  But it was "exclusive" so it was worth following.  Two things I heard:  He made a comment about something Martin said to him; which Martins attorney immediately countered. And then he said, basically, there was no supervision in the locker room so they behaved however they wanted.

Strange story. And the public nature of it is oddly fun and compelling.