Saturday, December 14, 2013

Have You Had Enough Of Brady Already?

I sure have.

I am sick and tired of this guy having his way with us and the rest of the AFC East.

As my Mom used to say "Enough is enough!"

I have had my full.

It's absolutely time for our Miami Dolphins to put a fork in Tom Brady.

There are only two things I want to see starting Sunday at 1 PM:

1) Our offense in control of the ball and keeping Brady off the field


2) Our defense continuously putting Brady down on the field.

Just as in the movie "Animal House", but instead of Niedermeir, it'll be "Brady, dead!"

Those would make me a very happy camper!

I don't believe I am asking for the impossible here.

Just the natural progression of a young talented team finally catching up with another team whose days are coming to an end.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Prediction: Miami beats New England

      Have you ever felt that a particular trend has run its course, or that some equilibrium will soon be brought back into the mix?  That is how Miami Fans feel about this game, this series and the future strengths of these programs.  The Miami Dolphins are a deeper and a more talented team from top to bottom - except in two very critical areas: 1. Quarterback.  2. Game time coaching and play calling.

     Let's think about this.     Except for the QB position, name one player on the Patriot's squad you would rather have more than is already on the Dolphins team.   Looking up and down the New England roster it is hard to find better talent than the Dolphins have:  With Gronkowski, Mayo, Wilfork, Kelly, and Vollmer all on season ending injured reserve, how can anyone believe that the Patriot's roster is better than Miami's.   IT IS NOT!

     At the beginning of the season, it was widely reasoned that coaching would be the only reason the Miami Dolphins would not make the playoffs.   There is nothing that has happened thus far this season  that should change that thinking.  For Miami to win this game Sunday, December 15th, 2013 against New England, the Dolphins must out-coach the Patriots.  Miami's staff has had the better part of two years to work out the wrinkles.   They must step-up.  The players can execute.  Mike Sherman must call an excellent game and make the adjustments as New England makes theirs.  Kevin Coyle must send plays in faster and get his team in the right sets to successfully defend against Brady and company.  The thinking here is that the Dolphins brain trust have been building to this moment in time and this moment in the season in which they can catapult themselves into the national discussion of legitimate playoff teams.

     Miami will win this game.  The final score will be close to Miami 35 - New England 24.  The final Patriot's score will simply be a junk time score with no impact on the game.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Game With Patriots Just Got Bigger

And a hell of a lot tougher!

With Denver's loss to San Diego last night, the Patriots are now in the driver's seat for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Prior to last night's game in Denver, the Patriots were sitting in the 2 hole with an opportunity to clinch their 11th AFC East Championship in the last 13 years by beating our Dolphins in Miami on Sunday.

Now both New England and Denver each have 3 losses, but the Patriots beat the Broncos 34-31 three weeks ago, so Brady and company hold the head to head tie breaker.

Sunday's game in Miami, is an opportunity for our Dolphins to not only stay in the hunt for the 6 seed in the playoffs but, more importantly, prove that they are more than just a pesky chihuahua nipping at the ankles of formidable intruder.

The Patriots are a proven commodity.  One that knows how to win games in many different fashions with many different faces.

Our Dolphins have plenty of talent but haven't proven much beyond they can win 4 out of 8 games which have been decided by 4 points or less. Those 8 games are the most by any team in the NFL so far this season.

That stat alone tells me 2 things:
1) The Dolphins are just 4 plays away from being 11-2
2) The Dolphins are just 4 plays away from being 3-10

That pretty much tells us how this roller coaster of a season has gone. With last week's game at Pittsburgh completely encapsulating all that has occurred. Quick starts followed by bumpy roads, ups and downs on the scoreboard in a difficult climate with very strange moments culminating with a bazaar finish.

That is pretty much how 2013 has played out so far.

What Sunday's game will tell us is just how tough that pesky pup is.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog!

If our Dolphins are to take a dramatic leap forward then they are going to have to beat New England when the Patriot's stakes just got a lot higher for themselves.

And doing that would prove that Miami truly does have a dog in the hunt.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Miami is Destined to Play in this Super Bowl

Did you know that the Miami Dolphins have played in 3 of the 4 coldest Super Bowls?

1.  The Coldest was in January of 1972 where Dallas Beat Miami in Super Bowl VI 24-3; the game time temperature was 39 degrees.

2.  Three years later was the second coldest at 46 degrees.  Pittsburgh beat Minnesota in Super Bowl IX, 16-6.  

3.  The Perfect Season culminated in the playing of the third coldest Super Bowl at 50 degrees.  The Dolphins went 17-0 that season and beat the Washington Redskins 14-7 (Rice Stadium, Houston Texas) in January of 1973, Super Bowl VII. (The 1972-73 Perfect Season). 

4.  The 4th Coldest Super Bowl (XIX) at 53 degrees was in Stanford Stadium in which Miami lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 38-16.   This was the one and only Dan Marino Super Bowl in 1985.

This years' Super Bowl is more than likely going to be the coldest yet.  It is destiny that Miami be there.

Let's not forget that officiating cost us that NE game.

If that BS officiating occurs again this game... As fans we must put together a CD of bad calls going against the Dolphins in favor of the Patriots (over the last 5 to 10 years) and send it into the league office.   Then, we must continue to send it in every day for the next 8 months.  I will burn thousands of copies for other fans to send 5 x 4 x 8 = 160 straight Post Office days to the League office complaining about the poor officiating against the Dolphins.   Then, they might get the idea that we believe that there is a North East bias toward Miami and we are sick of it.

If that game had not been stolen from us, I believe we would control our own destiny to win the division.

WE MUST WIN OUT.   I don't want to hear anything about us backing into the playoffs.  If we win 10 games and miss the playoffs, I will be happy nonetheless.   Winning 10 games is a very good season in the NFL.  However, I sincerely believe that 10 wins will give us the 6th and final wild card spot.  And, if we win 6 of the last 7 games going into the playoffs, we can beat anyone once there.

Let's go get the Patriots.  

Cody Wallace should be suspended or fined

Cody Wallace the offensive lineman who got way to personal with Randy Starks should be suspended or at least fined for what he did. I thought the NFL would be reviewing the play and issuing the fine already but it has been a few days since it has happened and I am wondering whether the NFL will do anything. Starks said this is the first time this has ever happened to him and it was probably a good thing he did not know who did it because he would have been thrown out of the game for what he would have done. Below is the GIF if you have not seen it already.
With the whole talk about "bullying in the workplace" isn't sexual assault worse than bullying? Where is this investigation? 

What Is NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino Smoking?

Last night on NFL Network, VP of NFL Officials Dean Blandino stated he didn't believe that Ben Roethlisberger's lateral during the last play of the game would have been ruled a forward lateral because there wouldn't have been enough indisputable visual evidence to support that ruling.

Is he kidding me? I saw it as a forward lateral the first time I saw it on replay.

Now he cannot argue that there were not enough visual yardlines in the area to support "indisputable" as the hash marks were clearly visible and can be used as a guide.

Common sense and trust in your own eyesight should prevail here.

I am sure, if it came down to it, Referee John Parry would have utilized his common sense and trusted his eyesight.

As for Mr. Blandino, he has got to be dropping some Visine or Clear Eyes, because there is no way to tell that he is stoned.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stat Line Tannehill vs Brady

With 13 games under their belts, let's take a look at how Ryan Tannehill stacks up against Tom Brady this year and in the last 4 weeks.

             Comp    ATT    PCT     YDS    YDS/A   Long   TD   INT   Sack   QBRating   YDS/G

Brady    318       523     60.8    3685   7.05        81       21    9       36        88.3           283

Tanne   300       484      62      3315    6.85       67       20    14     48         84              255

Last 4 Games

Brady    136       183     74.3    1427    7.79      50        8      3        10        98.77         356

Tanne   100       155     64.5    1109    7.15      57        7      4        11        90.02         277

On the season, Tannehill has a higher completion percentage but that's about it.  Brady has only thrown for 1 more TD than Tannehill and has thrown for 370 more yards or a little more than 28 yards per game.

Tannehill has thrown 50% more interceptions on the season but in the last 4 weeks they have been neck and neck with 3 for Brady and 4 for Tannehill.

Our Oline has improved in comparison to Brady's with regards to protecting the QBs. In the last 4 games, Miami has given up only 1 more sack than NE.  Prior to the last 4 games Miami had given up close to 50% more sacks than NE. That's a tremendous improvement.

 Where Tannehill has shown steady improvement is in his QB rating. As the Dolphins have progressively made more of a commitment to run the ball in the last 4 games, Tannehill's QB Rating has improved from 84 to 86.4 to 94.2 to last week' s 95.5, which happens to be his second highest rating of the season since his 107.4 vs the Colts in week 2. By comparison, Brady's last 4 QB Ratings come in at 91.2, 107.4, 104.8 and last week's 91.7.

Can Tannehill go out and out duel Brady in a gun fight?  He might be able to do just that. But at this point in the season, as we are running the ball more effectively, I expect Miami's offense to be balanced this Sunday and if so, I expect Tannehill to play well enough for us to win this game.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone

Monday, December 09, 2013

2 Thoughts from Pittsburgh Game

1.   I think everyone needs to realize that the last play of the game would have been called back anyway as all scoring plays within the last 2 minutes are reviewed.  I have reviewed the tape 50 times, and I am certain Rothlisberger threw a forward pass when he tossed it to Brown.    Rothlisberger threw it from the 32 and 1/2 yard line and it was received at the 33 1/2 yard line.   So, the score was never going to stand anyway.

2.  After the Pittsburgh game (week 14), Tannehill is ranked in the top 10 at QB.    Okay, let me say that again.  Right now, Ryan Tannehill is ranked 10th out of all of the Quarterbacks in the NFL.   Wow! 

Of course, after the Monday night's game against Chicago, I fully expect that Tony Romo to overtake Tanny in passing yards.   But hey, if Ryan Tannehill finishes in the top 12 this year in yards with all that has happened this year...  it will be so sweet. something to build on...

BTW - Ryan has 20 TDs with three games to play.  25 TD passes is not out of the question.

I sincerely believe that Ryan's effectiveness has improved these last 4 games because the threat of running the ball has creeped into the minds of the defenders.  Tannehill is a threat as a runner and the league knows it now.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Dolphins Prove To Be MetLife Ready

This past week, I had plenty on my mind. The Dolphins had to be pushed from the top of my list of priorities.

They had become an afterthought even to me.

 I knew we had a big game to play at Pittsburgh. I knew it was basically a playoff game.

How can any die hard Dolfan not be fired up about that? How could the level of anticipation be so low?

There must have had to have been distractions. There absolutely had to be something, though who could imagine what, that would be more important than focusing on your favorite team about to play a huge game on Survivor Sunday.

Team? That really doesn't define my relationship with the Dolphins.

Try Lover. Now that's closer to the truth!

Admittedly, there was a very pleasant distraction occupying my mind and plans for the week.

For the second year in a row, my crew of high school football officials, for which I am the crew chief, had been assigned to officiate a New Jersey State Championship football game on December 7th at MetLife Stadium.

So if I had a few more items on my check list this week and didn't have the necessary time to write about our big game at Pittsburgh, I am sure you can understand.

Every day this past week I was monitoring the weather. How cold was it gonna be at MetLife on Saturday?

This concern was real for me. One who has the burden of living in New Jersey with Florida blood running through his veins.

Here and there, I would peak at Pittsburgh's weather forecast as well.

When the temperatures for both locations were being projected to be in the 25-30° range, I began to suffer from premeditated chills.

How was I and my lover going to possibly survive these frigid conditions?

Luckily for me, I could and did layer up with all the high tech warming attire available in my closet.

But since this game was a State Championship, I knew well in advance that no matter how cold it got, my beloved headgater, the one I adorn whenever we drop below 45°, wasn't gonna make the trip to MetLife Stadium.

I don't have to worry as much about flexibility and physical performance as do my beloved Dolphins.

As professional football players, they hardly change their wardrobe needs no matter what the weather.

Helmut? Check. Pants and jersey? Check. Gloves and spikes? Check.

Whether it be 90° or 25°. Same old song and dance.

So as a team stationed in the palmy south for the winter, most of the TV analysts and sports writers predicted that the Dolphins were gonna have their season's playoff dreams end in a snowstorm in 25° Pittsburgh.

How wrong they were. How surprised they became.

The Dolphins went into horrible conditions on the COLD road, (might I say VERY COLD road?) ( Damn right I can! ) VERY COLD road as 3 point underdogs and gutted out a huge win by, can you believe this, SCORING 34 POINTS!!!

Who saw that coming? 34 legit points on a horrible field in frigid temperatures from a team who hasn't even scored more than 24 points in a game this year.

Saturday, I was on the field at MetLife Stadium. Still frigid conditions but their turf field is absolutely gorgeous. The same MetLife Stadium that will be hosting this years Super Bowl.

So what's the point Carl?

Our beloved Dolphins have just proven to themselves, their fans and the rest of the universe that they can go into frigid, horrible conditions on the road and not have to hope that their defense carries them to victory.

Their offense can go into Buffalo in late December and win. And if God willing, go into Denver, New England, Cincinnati or Kansas City in January and win.

And if all the stars align, the improbable could become reality.

A very very cold reality.

One I personally didn't think possible until after I officiated on MetLife's perfect turf field on Saturday and then watched our Dolphins win in frigid conditions in Pittsburgh today.

Come February 2nd, New Jersey will offer the same 25°.

And if the Dolphins can find their way to the big show, today they have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will be MetLife Ready!

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Miami will make the playoffs.

     With Rob Gronkowski out for the season - Advantage Miami;  I believe Miami will beat New England next week.   Also, I believe Baltimore will lose 2 games with Detroit, New England and Cincinnati still on their schedule.  Also, it is not unreasonable that Cincinnati will lose 2 of its last 3...  with Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Baltimore still left.   Miami has one tough game left -  New England.   Win that one and we are going to the second season, where anything is possible (of course we will still need to beat Buffalo and NYJ).

     No one picked Miami to beat Pittsburgh (except me and few others).  It was overwhelmingly believed that we did not have what it took to beat the Steelers in those conditions... and Miami was a forward lateral from Rothlisberger and 1/2 inch step out of bounds from Brown away from proving those guys right.   However, we did prevail.  

     Now that Cleveland blew that sure victory...  We should root for New England to just beat Baltimore in two weeks...

     The next game we play will not be decided by 6 points or less.   I expect Miami to win by at least 15 points.  You heard me (read me), at least a 15 point victory this week over the New England Patriots.   We are pissed and we know we have a team that can beat anyone, if we are playing well.    I sincerely expect to win out.    I know we have to do that one game at a time.   And, we will.

     Even though I believe that 9-7 will be good enough for Miami to get in, the Phins will finish 10-6: with a 6 game win streak heading into the playoffs.

We May Be Better Than Pitt

On paper, across the board, we do have a better team than Pittsburgh.

Too bad we are not playing them on paper.

Nope! Gonna be on a cold damp Heinz Field instead.

With that in mind, here is how I see this playing out:

Look for both teams to try to run North-South in between the tackles. Trying to get outside and then cut it up will be very difficult. Miami doesn't have to rush for 130 yards to win this game. 85 yards on 22 carries will suffice. Being balanced and staying in front of the chains will be enough.

Short passing game will prevail. With windy cold conditions and some snow look for Tannehill to stay hot with the quick slants and crossing routes.

The sloppy footing will make it difficult on both defenses to pressure the QBs. Pitt will look to zone blitz with defensive linemen falling back into the passing lanes. If Tannehill stays out of trouble without any picks he can pass for 250 yards and 2 TDs which will be enough to win this game.

Defensively, stopping Pitt running game from getting to the second level is the key. If we tackle well, Big Ben will need 7-8 yards for first downs. Our secondary is playing well and has been very opportunistic. Pitt has cut back on their turnover issues. If we contain Big Ben, keep him in the pocket and drop 7 into coverage, we can slow them down.

This game will be determined by field position. Both teams know this is virtually a playoff game and will look to throw it away and punt rather than attempt to force an issue.

Whoever wins this battle and tackles best wins the game.

I like Pittsburgh's kick return units much better than our kick coverage units and they can swing momentum and field position.

My heart says Miami big but my gut says the better team finds a way to pull this out by a hair by playing better in the red zone on both sides of the ball, which is all that is needed: Miami 20-Pitt 19

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971