Saturday, September 06, 2014

Why Is Miami 'The Worst Sports Town in America?' Hint: It Probably Isn't

More than a few hundred Patriots fans will fly out of Logan Airport either Saturday or early Sunday morning, bound for Miami, in what is, for some, an annual ritual of the NFL season. When the Patriots play in Miami, flight attendants have come to understand what to expect on the flight down and, particularly following a full day of tailgating and in-stadium libation, on what can be a boisterous return trip home.

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Something to think about

Way back in 1983, the Mighty Dolphins, just off a SuperBowl appearance, had a new rookie QB and sights were set high.

They made it to the playoffs that season, and went up against a young, upstart team that had only been in the league for 7 years at that point.  I remember hearing then-Dolphin commentator Hank Goldberg talking about how there was *no way* that a team with Dan Doornink as its running back could beat the Fins, only a decade removed from greatness.

And the Seahawks won 27-20, in a game that defied logic.  I was making jokes at the time about how I was going to be a Seahawks fan....I didn't, but I have kept one eye on the team that is as far away in the continental US from Miami as you can get.

And then they won the Superbowl after last season, and as luck would have it, I visited Seattle over the summer....and it got me to thinking about how fortunes have turned.

If we look at both teams success since that game, we can see this:

Miami's record 1984-2013: 258-221, with 12 playoff appearances, and one Superbowl appearance (a loss, waaay back in 1984)

Seattle's record: 245-234, with 12 playoff appearances, and two superbowls (one win)

Statistically, Miami was slightly better (by about a half win a season), but really, they are the same team!

Something about that struck me as really strange, and perhaps surreal.  Now as you might expect, between 1984-1999, Miami had more success and more playoff appearances; while Seattle has done better since 1999.

How is it that a team that couldn't possibly beat the mighty Fins not only beat them, but has had more long-term success?  The NFL is a strange place....



Are You Ready For Some Football!!?

As confident as I may seem or at least want to be about this new and hopefully improved Dolphins team, the fact of the matter is that we are Playing the Patriots on Sunday. They are the most successful team of the last decade in the NFL. As Carl has pointed out, they will be ready. I am by no means an expert on game planning, I simply like to come to this blog to put my two cents in from time to time and I also like reading what others have to write and comment about so don’t take this as me trying to be some kind of analyst or something weird like that. Here are my thoughts on the season opener.

I whole heartedly believe that we will win this game. A few things have to happen for that to occur in my opinion but nothing that is unachievable.

First, as crazy as this sounds, if Revis does not follow Wallace all over the field, the Dolphins must create that matchup at least 30% of the time!! Why you ask?! I think Revis is the best corner in the NFL, hands down but if you watch his play, one reason he is so “good” is because he wins the battle at the line. He is a big man and he likes to play the hand check game at the line, maybe even jam you to throw your timing off and throw you off your route. He is not the same corner against fast receivers and Wallace is arguably the fastest one in the NFL! I remember that Ted Ginn JR gave Revis fits because of his speed, think about that, Ted Ginn JR!!! Now I know what you are thinking, and believe me, I am thinking it also, Tannehill and Wallace can’t connect on the deep ball so what does it matter, right? Well, what if we get a few of those illegal contact calls that the referees have been having a field day with? Or what if maybe, just maybe, Tannehill and Wallace hit one? It’s possible, I hear they have been connecting on a more consistent basis this week. Revis will for the most part get the best of Wallace but if we can get 1 or 2 big plays with this matchup then it’s a win in my book. Hey it’s better that Revis shutting down Hartline all day right?

Second, we have to run our offense at warp speed to have an effective running game. My thinking is that the Patriots have the best run stuffer in the NFL in Vince Wilfork but he is coming off of an entire season missed, he is a huge man, and he getting up there in age. We must tire him out if we want to run effectively and the best way to do that is to run a very fast paced attack like Lazor promised!!

Third, everyone is making a huge deal about Gronk and I simply don’t think he will be that effective on Sunday, the odds are definitely stacked against him. He missed nearly an entire year due to his knee injury and has not even taken any contact in practice or preseason. Sunday will be his first hitting in the last nine months. The Patriots will use him, probably mostly in the red zone or as a decoy but I don’t see him taking on a huge snap count. What I am more concerned about is getting some pressure on Brady. You have to make him uncomfortable in that pocket or he will pick your defense apart. He could have Pee-Wee Herman and Mr. Rogers as his receivers and if you give him enough time, he will find a way to beat you. I honestly don’t have a thought or a way of how they can get pressure on Brady, I just hope Coyle figures it out!!

Fourth, Philbin has to counter Belichick’s counter!! Make sense?! Philbin is really good at making a plan going into a game. What he is not good at is making halftime adjustments. How many times have we been leading at the half only to come out in the 3rd quarter and lose the game? To make matters worse, we are playing the king of halftime adjustments! Philbin must do a better job at this to have a chance on Sunday.

Lastly, as Philbin loves to say, we must win the turnover battle, or at least keep it even. No short fields for this Patriot offense or we are in trouble.

I hope you all enjoy the game this weekend and hopefully we will all be talking about a victory on here next week!

Jones and Jordon Coming off Suspension?


Ok I just read this but it seems the NFL is going to be making big changes to their substance abuse.

Per CBS Sportsline….
The NFL is working on a new drug agreement that could benefit currently suspended players, according to Pro Football Talk. 
The owners and players are still sorting out the details of the new proposal. If passed, the proposal would cause some significant changes to the league's drug policy. Offseason use of amphetamines would become substance-abuse violations as opposed to performance-enhancing violations. First time substance-abuse violations are not subject to suspensions. On top of that, the threshold to trigger a positive test for marijuana would be raised.
If the new policy is agreed to soon, that could lead to reduced suspensions for players like Wes Welker and Josh Gordon . The new marijuana testing would apply to Gordon, while Welker would now be a first time offender of a substance-abuse policy, not a performance-enhancing violation.
It's unclear how close the two sides are on getting a deal done.

This of course would possibly impact Rashad Jones and Dion Jordon .  If the reports they used stimulants are true they could literally come off suspension at any time.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

What It All Boils Down To

Bill Belichick should be worried. We have a good team.

Bill Belichick should poach our roster. We have a talented team that has gotten deeper.

Bill Belichick should look for an edge. He may very well need it.

No matter what Bill Belichick does or attempts to do, Sunday's game at Miami boils down to one thing and one thing only.

Execution!

He who blocks better, runs better, tackles better, passes better, catches better and kicks better will win.

And most importantly, will have a 2 game edge in the standings.

Bill Belichick is like the older brother who sees his younger sibling growing up and doesn't like the competitive edge he once had.

No. The gap, which was once wide, is now closing.

Bill Belichick knows it!

With 3 games left last season, Belichick came to Miami with a chance to put a dagger in his younger brother's heart and clinch the division.

Instead, he walked away with a tough loss that left his younger brother with plenty of hope.

With 2 games left last season, his upstart younger brother had a shot at winning the division.

Bill Belichick's antics matter. They show how far his kid brother has come.

And the last thing this older brother wants is to lose sight of his younger brother in his rear view mirror and have to see him out front and running away.

That's what Sunday's game is all about!

Phins Up!

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

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

This Is just Getting Ridiculous

So I decided to take a break and catch up on my Dolphins news for the day and what do I see?? The Patriots have now signed Marcus Thigpen to their practice squad!! That makes 2 ex Dolphins that Bill Belichick has signed.

As discussed in the last blog, why is it that you think Belichick is doing this? I personally believe he is very worried about the game this weekend. He has very little game tape of our offense so he is trying to gain whatever advantage he can to try and game plan for us. As GoFins4SB pointed out, we have nothing to lose in this game, we are already expected to lose and have a mediocre season again. All the pressure is on the Patriots to win this game and all these shenanigans that Belichick is pulling makes me both upset and excited at the same time!!!

I am upset because it is obvious that he is only trying to gain an edge against us but on the other hand I am excited because it tells me that he is extremely worried about playing us on Sunday.

He also pulled some crap saying that "There has been no decision on Gronkowski's status this Sunday", that statement came just hours after Gronk declared that he was going to play!!! What a crock of crap he is trying to pull!!

In my opinion, regardless of what other crap Belichick tries to pull, whatever games he thinks he is playing, whatever advantage he thinks he may have, we have won this head game and it’s not even close. Think about it, all our coaches & players have already publicly stated that they planned on having to defend Gronk Sunday, so who exactly does Belichick think he is fooling? Possibly Gronk? LOL

As for the whole signing of players we have cut, well, if he has to try and gain information from our ex players then we are already in his head. Maybe he is believing in the hype the Dolphins have gotten this offseason or maybe his team has not looked as good as in years past? Why the paranoia?? There has to be a reason for it. Many NFL coaches and GM's say that Belichick is a master at manipulating his depth charts and constantly keeps opponents guessing as to what to expect from his team but from where I am sitting, so far in the 2014 season the score for the head games is Miami-1 and New England-0!!!!


Phins Up!!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

So you want to beat the Patriots?


Let’s not sugar coat this....The Patriots are the kings of the AFC East and they have been that for going on two decades.  Come Sunday we start the season off in our house against them. Normally I would consider this bad luck since we are a young team and having to take on one of the most difficult teams right out of the gate is a tough task. However, over the years I have noticed something about the Patriots, they don’t’ win because they have superior talent. They win because they are very well prepared to execute a game plan.  In fact they are infamous for the lengths they go to prepare for what a team is going to be trying to do.  So I felt the need to put down what I think the Dolphins will need to do to beat the Patriots. Forget the old clich├ęs teams state they need to do to beat a team. You all know the old blueprint: we need to run the ball, we need to win the turnover margin, and we need to pressure Brady. Of course we need to do those things to win. Except, I am sure you have all seen us do those things and still lose to the Patriots.  So consider this article "my what needs to be done on top of win the fundamental aspects of the game".

1.)    Be Proactive- When was the last time we out right beat the Patriots into the ground? I would have to say it was the year we introduced the Wildcat on them. This was nothing but a power run offense that teams figured out after a few weeks. However, the Patriots were not able to prepare for it.  By the time we played them again they were ready and it was right back to the normal Patriot beat down for the Dolphins.  I actually think Belichick is a little off balance coming into this game because he knows we are going to be running a new Bill Lazor offense that nobody has really seen unleashed.   Belichick does not have his normal film study to prepare for the game (assuming he is not filming with a drone, only partially kidding!).  If you do have success, keep it proactive, don’t wait to react when what your doing stops working. The Patriots are not the team to use the “if it is working keep doing it approach against”. Because THEY WILL figure out how to stop you. Don’t give them that chance.  Run Tannehill, Pass to Moreno, Move Clay all over, Move Wallace all over, introduce them to trying to cover Landry and Gibson with a 3rd D-Back or safety,  Move Hartline to both sides… you get the picture. Prepare multiple game plans and throw the works at them. Yes this will be harder to execute but having the Patriots off balance and unprepared makes it a more even game.

2.)    Play 60 Minutes – If you have a 10 point lead going into the 4th. DO NOT go into a clock management conservative offense.  Throw down the field and go after them.  How many times have the Patriots beat teams that try to milk the clock to grind out a win.  That is the time to send Wallace deep as they try to cheat a bit on D to get ball back.  Give them the knock out punch if you get that chance.
 
3.)    When the game is in the balance have fun! – In the past so many teams play scared.  It is 3rd and 3 in a tie game with 4 minutes left and we are at mid field.  If you turn it over on downs there is a good chance you lose. So many times we have folded under the pressure.  FORGET ABOUT THAT CRAP.  Pretty much all the media has picked the Dolphins to be horrible this year. We are an easy opening day win for the Patriots right?  If we fail, we move on to the next game without missing much of a beat. I mean we were “supposed” to lose to them.  It is the Patriots that are the ones that will be scared. If WE beat THEM, then all the questions start. Why did they trade off one of their best lineman, Is Tom Brady passed his prime etc.  Just walk up to line and smile at them as you get ready to run the play it is a game, have fun as the underdog.
 

4.)    Fans Show Up – As the game wears on in the heat it gets harder and harder to concentrate as dehydration and fatigue set in.  That is time for us to do our part. Stand up and scream for all you have.  You want to beat them?  Add the fan noise to the heat to make playing in Miami literally like playing in hell.

There you have it my extras to think about if you want to beat the Patriots.  Send me yours.  I can’t say we WILL win this game. The Patriots are an excellent football team. But we sure as hell are not going to back down.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hearing This Is Getting Old

I have to admit, it's a little frustrating reading how the Dolphins lack depth at the linebacker, offensive line, and numerous other positions. I agree that they lack depth, I am not disputing that at all. What I don't understand is how do all these reporters expect Miami to fix theses issues? Honestly? Rome was not built in a day. This is my point of view on the situation:

How can every NFL team have depth at every position like the media wants? They have a salary cap. This is not the MLB where all you have to do to stack your team is pay a luxury tax to have al all star team. Look at New England, Green Bay, and Denver. How is their depth at QB? I'll tell you, IT SUCKS! That goes for New Orleans too! Will those teams be considered Super Bowl favorites without their starting QB? Probably not.

Look at the Saints again, would they be considered favorites to make a deep playoff run if Jimmy Graham went down? I doubt their 2nd and 3rd string would not even compare to the caliber if tight end he is. Just ask the Patriots how that has worked out for them since Gronk has had his string of injuries. Ask the Jets how they replaced Revis a few years ago when he went down. Call Matthew Stafford and see how he would fare this year if he lost Calvin Johnson.

Ask yourself this, would you rather have Brock Osweiler (Denver's back up), Jimmy Garrappolo (New England's rookie back up), or Matt Moore (Miami's back up) trying to lead a game winning drive if the starter went down?

These are all big names, I know but my point is that if you have a premiere player at a certain position, you have to sacrifice somewhere else. The whole team cannot make 10 Million a year and yes, Miami has their fair share of big contracts. Some good and some not so good but every team is in that boat as well!

The Miami Dolphins media mean well but sometimes it makes no sense. Do they think signing some other team's leftovers will suddenly make the Phins playoff contenders? I believe with the core of guys we already have that we already are. I doubt the next Cam Wake is sitting at home waiting for an NFL team to call. Maybe, but doubtful. I think Hickey and Philbin put together a great roster to compete for the playoffs this year and maybe even the AFC East late in the season regardless of our depth at certain positions.