Saturday, April 26, 2014

We pay our respects

To former Dolphins QB Earl Morrall who passed away Friday at his home in Naples.

Earl is famously known as the guy who led the undefeated Dolphins in 1972 for most of the season.  But he has a rich - and somewhat complex - history that these guys did a great job exploring:

http://miamimigraine.blogspot.com/2007/09/curious-career-of-earl-morrall-part-one.html

(there are several parts, but they're all linked)

I had an opportunity to meet Morrall a couple of years ago, and wound up talking with him for quite a while.  He was engaging, and I was flattered with the time he spent with me.

But, for me, the story got even better.  I met him while I was still doing my podcast, and I asked if he would be willing to be a guest.  He was flattered I asked, and gave me his home number and asked me to call him. 

I called a few days later, and he answered.  He was gracious, humble, and basically a regular guy.   He said he couldn't do the interview at that time, and needed to check with his wife since she managed his engagements - and so we talked about how funny it is that the wives run the calendars, and how we would be lost without them.  ;)

I wound up calling a few more times, and we never were able to connect for the interview.  But, I did wind up talking to him for the better part of 30 minutes, over the course of all of our conversations. And to me, that was just as good - though I obviously can't share it with you.  It was mundane stuff for the most part.  But it was wonderful in its own right.
 
I am saddened by his passing.  After all, he was only 79.  But football - especially to those who played it in the 40s and 50s (he started in the 50s, and that meant he played in 3 decades!) - was a brutal sport.  And it undoubtedly took its toll on him and his overall health.

And for those of you not in the know, he helped develop the quarterbacks at the U in the Hurricanes heyday. 

And he was on the town council for the town of Davie - and there's a road named after him which I happen to, ahem, pass a few times a week.

Mr. Morrall, it was my pleasure talking with you.  And as a fan of the team, thanks for what you did here. 

Mock Draft 1.0

 1. Jadeveon Clowney DE- I am not exactly sure how Clowney fits into the 3-4 probably as an outside linebacker, but with a player like Clowney you make it work.



2. Greg Robinson OT- Pair Robinson with Jake Long and you will have two good book end offensive tackles for the next few years. They may also look to trade down.



3. Johnny Manziel QB- The Jaguars need some excitement in their organization and Johnny football brings that. 



4. Sammy Watkins WR- The Browns also have the 26th pick in which I can see them going QB, but for now go for the best wide receiver in the class. 

5. Khalil Mack OLB-  The Raiders are getting older on offense and with a win now mentality that they now have they need an immediate starter who can contribute right away. He fits in well with their defense.




6. Jake Matthews OT- With all the weapons around Matt Ryan time to get him some more protection to throw it to them. 




7. Mike Evans WR- Well McCown is the starter so time to give him a nice target to pair with Vincent Jackson 

8. Blake Bortles QB- Probably the quickest player to shoot up the draft from the end of the season, Bortles should provide a nice addition to a run first offense in need of QB help. 

9. Eric Ebron TE- They need more targets on offense and Ebron would be a big body.




10. Ha Ha Clinton Dix FS- With the loss of Delmas to the Dolphins the Lions need some secondary help 






11. Anthony Barr OLB







12. Taylor Lewan OT





13. Calvin Pryor FS

14. Timmy Jerigan NT




15. Darqueze Dennard CB


16. Aaron Donald DT 





17. Zack Martin OT


18. Marquise Lee WR



19. CJ Mosley MLB-  Martin and all the rest of the top 3 offensive lineman are gone so I believe Mosley, a top 10 talent who will slide because of his position, is the pick. I believe we would move Ellerbe to his natural OLB position and rotate Wheeler and Misi for the other OLB spot. 



20. Ryan Shazier OLB







21. Austin Jenkins TE





22. Kelvin Benjamin WR





23. Brandin Cooks WR








24. Bradley Roby CB




25. Kyle Fuller CB





26. Teddy Bridgewater QB 







27. Louis Nix DT





28. Davante Adams WR








29. Ra'shede Hageman DT






30. Jason Verrett CB







31. Kony Early DE







32. Xavier Su'a-Filo OG






All pictures come from: http://www.nfl.com/draft/2014/mock-drafts?icampaign=nfl_drafttracker_nav-mockdrafts

Miami Dolphins Confidential Issue One


The offseason goal of every team in the NFL is to improve their team.  The primary wave of free agency has passed. Next up will be the NFL draft followed by the bargain shopping in the free agency after the draft. GM’s and fans alike tend to focus on the new additions to the team when trying to get a feel for how much improvement the team will show.  However, a very important aspect of the success of all teams will hinge on how the players remaining on their rosters from the prior season improve or decline.  We at Bitchin Dave’s thought it would add some intrigue to the offseason lull to have a discussion on where we feel the team is at and where they are headed.

The prognosticators will be Carl “The Ref” Leone and Chad “ The Baumhower” Ronnebaum. We will be having a position by position debate on where the Dolphins ranked in 2013 as well as where we see them ranking at the end of 2014.  We are going to start with our pre-draft rankings and then will update this post draft and probably once or twice prior to the start of season as the final free agent signings and injuries shape the team during training camp and the preseason.

Scale: We are using a 10 point scale to rank where we felt the positions ranked against the rest of league in 2013 as well as where we predict they will rank in 2014.  5 out of 10 for example would mean we rank the unit as about the 15-16th best unit in the league.  10 out of 10 would basically feature pro bowl players at the top of the league and 0 out of 10 would be dead last or the worst unit in the league. Issue One will review the Quarterback position.

-Quarterback-

                                                                                           Chad's Take                            Carl's Take

2013 Position Rank
5 out of 10                             6.67 out of 10   
2014 Prediction
7 out of 10                             8 out of 10

 

Predicted Depth Chart
2014 Improvement/Decline Prediction
1 Ryan Tannehill
+2                                                +1.33
2 Matt Moore
+0                                                +0
3 Pat Devlin, Jordon Rogers
+0                                                +0

 

Comments:

Chad: Ryan Tannehill enters his 3rd season. He is still very young, has a strong arm and by all indications he is set to improve coming into this season. The real x-factor for Ryan Tannehill is going to be learning Bill Lazor’s system. It will be the first time in his college and pro career he will be learning a system not designed by Mike “Go Go” Sherman.   RT has a full year of working with Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and A Binns under his belt. He also has had multiple seasons working with R. Mathews and Brian Hartline. I think QB and WR are two of the most difficult positions to learn and it takes time to really get in sync. I expect the whole passing game to take a solid step forward this season. 

Carl: I agree with you there Chad.  Our passing game will improve.

Chad: Matt Moore will be the veteran back-up this season and will give the Dolphins a starting caliber quarterback if Tannehill goes down. I like Matt Moore as a backup.  I know he has a sizeable contract for a backup but I think the Dolphins can still win with him at the helm.  I don’t expect any big changes in Matt Moore from 2013. Pat Devlin is basically unproven in any real action. He showed some flashes in the preseason last year. However, now that there is a new system being put in, I think he is going to get serious competition from Jordon Rodgers and possibly a rookie. The real question is can he take over as the back-up for Matt Moore in 2015? With his advantage of knowing the system gone now I think it is about 50/50 he makes the team. I think overall Ryan Tannehill adds +2, Matt Moore 0 and Devlin 0.

Carl: I love Matt Moore as our backup too Chad.  We may actually have the best backup in the league. Regarding our boy Tannehill, last season he threw for 3913 yards which ranked him # 10 in the league and he was a sophomore as you mentioned.  He threw 24 TDs which placed him tied for 12th.  But his 17 Interceptions put in the bottom of the starters who played the entire or most of the season.  I expect a dramatic improvement in his TD to Interception ratio this year.  Our new OC, Bill Lazor, has a history of improving those numbers for his QBs.  I put Tannehill in the top 1/3 of the league Chad, that’s why I graded the QB group a little higher than you did.

The key, to me, will be Tannehill’s ability to get the ball out quickly. He is going to have to trust his instincts more than I have seen from him.  It was almost like the receiver had to be wide open before he would throw it.  He seemed very cerebral, thinking too much.  If he can get out of his head, read the coverage and then just let it fly and trust his receivers to come down with the ball, we should see a marked improvement from Tannehill.  He is so athletic that expect Lazor to take more advantage of this quality with more roll outs then we have seen from “Go-Go” last year. 

The biggest area of concern with Tannehill will be his ability to consistently hook up with Wallace on the deep ball.  His timing with Hartline was great but we left way too many points rolling on the ground incomplete when he looked deep to Wallace.

If the O-Line can give him some time and not have him getting sacked 58 times, Tannehill has the necessary tools to be a great QB in this league and he can reach Elite status if he would just trust himself.  He isn’t that far away.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How's This For Our Schedule?

Tonight at 8 PM, the NFL Network will announce to the world this season's NFL schedule in an epic 3 hour special highlighting some big games and all the night games with special emphasis on their own Thursday Night schedule.

First of all, I would love to see the NFL give us back our September home games that kickoff at 1 PM so we can take advantage of our heat.  The previous two years we didn't have a home game that kicked off at 1 PM until mid-October.  If the Bears, Packers, Bills and any other team can be home in 10 degrees late in the season we should be able to be home with 95% humidity early in the season.

With that in mind, here is how I would set up our schedule since we cannot get St Thomas Aquinas on it.

Week 1 Sept 7:  Lets double whammy the Chargers in a home opener at 1 PM.  Not only will they wear about as dark a jersey as any team can wear but they will also have to deal with the West Coast Team in an early East Coast kickoff time slot. Our Record 1-0.

Week 2 Sept 14: Why wait around, I want them early as long as our O-Line is together and can protect Tannehill because he will have to play well at the Patriots at 1 PM.  Since we gotta go up there anyway, I want to go up to Boston before the leaves change colors and too much is on the line.
Our Record 1-1.

Week 3 Sept 21: J-E-T-S Suck, Suck, Suck at our place and take the negatives of losing the previous week out on these dirt bags. Oh, at 1 PM of course. Our Record 2-1.

Week 4 Sept 28: 'Ello Mates. Spot of tea? We are already set to play Oakland in London and its their home game. We should play well and come out with Our Record at 3-1.

Week 5 Oct 5: Bye week as the NFL has granted byes to teams the following week after a London game. Our Record 3-1.

Week 6 Oct 9: Lets come out of the bye with a Thursday Night game at Soldier Field. Why the Bears? First of all, I don't want to go to Soldier Field any later than mid-October and secondly the Thursday night game will shorten our bye week wait and lead into a great atmosphere against a tough but beatable team. Our Record 4-1.

Week 7 Oct 19: Since we played the following week on a Thursday, we actually pick up a few extra days for preparation. So who is left on our schedule that I think we could use some extra time to prepare for?  Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are still sitting there. We would be better off using this extra time to actually beat Rodgers than to keep it close against Manning. So welcome to Miami, Green Bay. Glad to have you here again at 1 PM. Our Record 5-1.

Week 8 Oct 26: Speaking of Manning. Lets at least have it somewhat warm in Denver at 4 PM. Our Record 5-2.

Week 9 Nov 2: After a loss its time for some payback. We should have beat these guys last year and blew it. We bounce back by beating the Ravens at 1 PM. Our Record 6-2.

Week 10 Nov 9: We don't want to wait until December to go to Buffalo so lets plug them in here. Early enough to avoid some nasty weather and still get out with a hard fought "W". Our Record 7-2.

Week 11 Nov 17: Monday Night!!! This would actually be a great Monday Night Game in Miami by having the Chiefs roll in and then roll out with a loss. Our Record 8-2.

Week 12 Nov 23: Since they play in a Dome, this game could be moved to Week 15 as well but I like going to Detroit right here. Its the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day.  The Lions always host T-Day and it is a big deal for them so maybe we can catch them looking ahead. Our Record 9-2.

Week 13 Nov 30: All good things come to an end.  Time for our inevitable split and spoiler game with the Jets as they host us and pull out a late victory with a 4 PM kickoff. Our Record 9-3. (Jets 1-11)

Week 14 Dec 7: Back on track as we spank the Vikings at home at 1 PM. Our Record 10-3.

Week 15 Dec 14: Our last road trip is not too far at all. We roll up to Jacksonville at 1 PM. This is a good spot for this game as the weather shouldn't be a factor. Hopefully we don't get "trapped" because of next week. Our Record 11-3.

Week 16 Dec 21: We knew they were coming down here sooner or later. They always do. And this game winds up being for all the marbles at 8:20 on Sunday Night. At stake, the Division Championship and a Bye in the playoffs! Hello Brady. Fuck you Brady and the refs! Screwed again. Ha Ha! Only kidding. The fired up sellout crowd helps bring us our first bye week in the playoffs in who knows how long. Our Record 12-3.

Week 17 Dec 28: Nothing to gain as Denver has locked up the 1 Seed. We are locked into the 2 Seed so we rest our starters in the second half at home and Matt Moore almost pulls it out with a late drive down to the Buffalo 6 yard line. But with timing running out, he cannot spike the ball in time and we walk off to the cheers of a standing ovation anyway. Our Record 12-4.

See how easy this is. If the NFL would just listen to me. No late cold weather games and only 1 PM kickoffs at home in September.

Phins Up!!!

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

Non football hires

The dolphins announced a couple pf hires yesterday. They announced a new director of security who used to be an FBI agent. While it's not all that odd, it just seems weird, like they need to investigate more or something.

Then they hired a new person in charge of human resources who used to hold a similar position at toys r us. I guess that makes sense since they're a bunch of highly paid children.

And finally, they hired a human resources liaison to work in the locker room. He'll be the hall monitor, and really this position was completely expected in light of the bullying deal.

And while none of these positions are unusual or surprising, together they feel more corporate; this is not a "football team" but rather a company that provides entertainment. And has a corporate structure.

Welcome to the 21st century.