Posts Tagged With: NFL

Miami Dolphins: Free Agency Targets

Officially the NFL free agency period begins Tuesday at 4pm. That does not mean we cannot look ahead.

I already wrote about Ndamukong Suh here. Suh clearly was the biggest target of this offseason not just for the Dolphins but for free agency overall. It has been widely reported that he will sign with Miami.

So what is next?

These are my targets, not necessarily the Miami Dolphins targets. No inside information. Simply thoughts on what would work for me.

Dan Williams, DT: Yes apparently Ndamukong Suh is coming. Why would you need another defensive lineman? Because you still need a nose. At 6’2 and 327lbs Williams can eat up space, allowing the linebackers to make plays in the running game. A.J. Francis may be able to man this spot but an extra body is always welcome.

Mason Foster, ILB: Speaking of linebackers. Foster could help shore up the middle linebacker position freeing Koa Misi to move back outside where he belongs. Anyone who follows me knows I am very high on Erik Kendricks from UCLA in the draft so this would be a luxury signing.

Patrick Robinson, CB: I have heard that Robinson will sign with the Dolphins, http://www.phinmaniacs.com/news/cornerback-patrick-robinson-expected-to-sign-with-the-miami-dolphins. It makes sense. Someone needs to lineup across from Brent Grimes. Robinson would most likely compete with Jamar Taylor for the starting position.

Clint Boling, G: The 25-yr old former Cincinnati Bengals would go a long way to shore up the guard position which has been an albatross for years. Signing Boling would set four of the five starting positions across the offensive line, no reason not to take a shot.

Andre Johnson, WR: The 33-yr old receiver is going to be a popular target. Would he come home to Miami(he played for the U in college) or is he looking for a more sure shot at the playoffs? His presence would be invaluable for the young receivers in Miami and he should easily fill the number one position for at least a couple of years.

Andre Holmes, WR: At 6’4 and 210lbs Holmes would give the Dolphins some much-needed size at the wide receiver position. He is a restricted free agent so the Oakland Raiders can match any offer but there is no draft pick compensation to worry about. This would be one of the smaller signings that end up looking big when the games actually matter.

There are many other moves that could be made in the coming weeks. There is no crystal ball. Should be a fun time.

Four o’clock Tuesday cannot get here soon enough.

 

 

Categories: Football, Free Agency, Free Agency, Miami Dolphins, Ndamukong Suh, NFL, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Miami Dolphins and a man named Suh.

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Hunting season is almost here. The NFL Free Agency season opens Tuesday at 4pm.

Like most years there is one marquee player grabbing most of the attention. This year that player is Ndamukong Suh. He is the white whale this offseason. Franchises will put it all on the line to sign him.

Suh is the $100-million dollar man this week. The San Diego Chargers just threw their name in the ring, joining the Oakland Raiders, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chicago Bears, his former team the Detroit Lions and the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins seem to be the frontrunners. They are going big-game hunting again. This is not the first time they have gone after the biggest name during the offseason. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Mike Wallace all come to mind.  While they have had some success the Dolphins have also been used to drive up the price on free agents who never intended to sign with the storied franchise.

Suh is absolutely worth the money. He is clearly the second best defensive lineman in the league-sorry but J.J. Watt is still number one. Talent has never been a question. Watching him at Nebraska in college it was clear he was a man among boys. Even his occasional on-field penalties should not give any team pause. Still the price tag is daunting.

$17 million a year. That is what we are talking about on the low-end. That is elite-quarterback money. That is Aaron Rodgers-Tom Brady money. It is scary. For that money you can sign two or three very good players, maybe even pro bowl players. For that kind of money you have to be sure or it can cripple a franchise.

Miami has the money. Question is do they pull the trigger?

This week I considered what to do with the defensive tackle position with or without Suh. I came up with three ideas I like.

Scenario #1:

Sign Ndamukong Suh and Jared Odrick. Bring Odrick home. He has been the best interior defensive lineman for the Dolphins for the last few season. Pairing him with Suh would solidify the middle for years to come.

Scenario #2:

Sign Suh and Dan Williams, the free agent nose tackle from the Arizona Cardinals. At 6’2 and 327 lbs, Williams can eat up space in the middle while Suh, Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon terrorize opposing offenses.

Scenario #3:

Sign Odrick and Williams. Yes they miss out on the shiny signing of Suh. That is ok. The defensive line is still strengthened and you have a chunk of cap space available to address other needs.

Categories: AFC East, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Free Agency, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Ndamukong Suh, NFL, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Championship Sunday

ccham

After this Sunday there is one more game. The one that everyone is striving for. The Super Bowl. Players dream their entire lives of paying in the big one. But today. Today is when the legends are made. Today is the money round.

The Drive. The Catch. Those did not happen on Super Bowl Sunday. They happened in the Conference Championships.

The Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers are up first in Seattle. The Seahawks are fierce at home, the ’12th man’ not a small reason why. Few believe the Packers with a limping Aaron Rodgers have much of a chance. Then again, Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL today.

That is not the reason I believe the Packers will pull it out, no the Pack will win because of Eddie Lacy. I watch Lacy run and I do not see Eddie Lacy, I see ‘Sweetness’. Something about the way he moves and spins and throws himself into the end zone simply makes me think of the great Walter Payton. It is the presence of Eddie Lacy that will let Rodgers be Rodgers and lead his team to victory.
Green Bay 27-20

In the evening we have Andrew Luck versus Tom Brady. Some seem to want to connect this game to the Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots rivalry of the past. It simply does not fit. That was Peyton Manning against Brady, two titans facing off. The teams are different, the showdown is different. Now it is the a question of the changing of the guard. Andrew Luck is the future, clearly. The question is if the future is now?

Luck has been special during this years playoffs and he will need to be special again to upset the Patriots. The more important factor is the Colts defense. Last week they played phenomenal against the Denver Broncos and Mister Manning. Can they do it again? If they can prevent yards after catch today they can limit the Patriots offense. Outside of Rob Gronkowski there is not one receiver on the Patriots that should concern the Colts deep, but stopping Gronk is a tall order.
Indianapolis 37-31

No one can predict what will happen today. If they say they can they are liars.

Time to sit back and enjoy.

Categories: Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Denver Broncos, Eddie Lacy, Football, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, NFL, Peyton Manning, playoffs, Quarterbacks, Seattle Seahawks, Tom Brady | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Miami Dolphins: Top Three Needs for 2015

This is a special time of year in the NFL. Some are fortunate enough to compete in the playoffs hoping all the hard work might pay off in a Super Bowl berth. Others find themselves at the other end of the spectrum searching for a new head coach to hopefully steer the ship away from the rocks. Every one else? Well now is a time for them to take stock. Take a look at what worked and what did not. It is time to make difficult decisions as they begin the journey through the 2015 offseason.

I started taking a look at what need the Miami Dolphins might need way back in November. While some things have changed since then the basic premise is the same.

I do not feel that the Dolphins are that far off the pace. Injuries and quality depth hurt Miami as much as anything on the field, just like any other team. To an extent the Dolphins could go BPA(Best Player Available) when the draft rolls around. I have however targeted three spots.

1. Linebacker:

The Dolphins have two good promising starting linebackers in Koa Misi and Jelanie Jenkins. The problem is they are also saddled with Philip Wheeler and Dannelle Ellerbee who have drastically underperformed. The good news is that Wheeler and Ellerbee will most likely not be here next season. The bad news…who takes their spot?

Second year players Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain could possibly fill that third linebacker spot still leaving us with the question of depth.

Two players I do like are Erik Kendricks (UCLA) in the early round and Mike Hull(Penn St) in the later rounds.

Kendricks is an active versatile player who could easily be penciled in at middle linebacker from day one. Hull is a gritty, lunch-pail kind of player. While his measurables may not be as shiny he will outwork everyone.

2. Offensive Line:

Last season the Dolphins addressed their offensive line problems signing free agent Branden Albert and drafting rookie Ja’Wuan James. That seemed to help dramatically. When Albert went down with an injury it was clear more work is needed.

With James and Albert manning the tackle positions and Mike Pouncey expected to resume his career at center now it is time to find depth and possibly a guard or two.

Brandon Scherff(Iowa) would be a tempting first round pick. He could possibly man one of the tackle spots but he may be even better inside at guard. Another option Erik Fisher(Oregon).

3. Secondary:

Notice I said secondary. Not safety, not cornerback. My feeling is either or both may be a need. Louis Delmas and Cortland Finnegan could both be back or neither leaving more questions than answers. The simple fact is we need someone solid across from Brent Grimes and we do not know if Jamar Taylor can do the job. On the other hand while Delmas was good before his injury he does have an injury history.

There are a number of talented young players on the roster to look at for help: Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens, Jamar Taylor, Will Davis. Even if everyone contributes we will still need some secondary help.

Two safeties I like are Cody Prewitt(Ole Miss) and Gerod Holliman(Louisville). Both have good size and ball skills. They could allow Reshad Jones greater freedom to freelance and be the playmaker we have seen in the past.

As far as corner Trae Waynes(Michigan St) is a no brainer. I also like Kevin Johnson(Wake Forest). Both have the size we are frankly missing at corner to go along with excellent coverage skills.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Draft season is not quite upon us. As it gets closer players do begin to separate themselves. Just a little taste of what we could be in store for.

 

Categories: AFC East, Football, Miami Dolphins, NFL, NFL draft | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

The Grass Is Not Always Greener

image

Time flies.

A month ago the Miami Dolphins were looking towards the playoffs, now fans are calling for head coach Joe Philbin’s head. Forget about waiting for a body to be cold, the body is not even dead yet. Things move fast in the NFL(Not For Long).

The reasons to move on from Philbin are there. Not enough progress year to year. Team going into games seemingly unprepared. The team coming out of the half of pseudo-playoff games totally flat. That is at least in part on the coaching staff. Then you have playcalling decisions that are questionable to say the least. Yes the offensive coordinator calls the plays but these are the same issues we had with Mike Sherman so it is fair to ask if it is a Philbin issue.

Joe Philbin often comes off as a mail man. The lack of passion can be frustrating. Being even keeled worked for Tony Dungy but Philbin is no Tony Dungy.

Naturally the talk comes to making a move. Changing coaches(again) is not without risk. This Dolphins team has talent, they are headed in the right direction. Many believe they are close, a few tweaks and they could be very good. At times this season they have shown how good they could be.

The question is what changes with a new head coach. Most likely a new coach will not simply make a few tweaks but sweeping changes.

There are two ways coaches handle new teams: Some adjust their schemes to fit the players they have to get the most out of them. Most new coaches would rather simply replace the players with ones to fit their schemes. The first way could lead to a quick turnaround. The second, well, that can but a franchise back years.

Many fans are hoping for Jim Harbaugh. He is a great coach but he may not be what the Dolphins need. The best case scenario may be a John Gruden following Tony Dungy scenario. That may be a pipe dream.

If, and it is still an if, Philbin is fired things will change. Do not fool yourself into believing that they will automatically change for the better.

The grass is not always greener.

 

Categories: AFC East, Head Coaches, Miami Dolphins, NFL | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Showdown at Mile High-Miami Dolphins v. Denver Broncos

Snow game

Sunday afternoon the Miami Dolphins take the field against the Denver Broncos in the most important game of the 2014 season. At this point in the NFL season every game is the most important game. Each game sets up the next as teams jockey for playoff position.

This particular game sets up a faceoff with the New England Patriots on December 14th. Win this game and the Patriots game could be for the AFC East title, it could also be for the best record in the AFC. Lose, lose and it may be time to fight and claw for a wildcard berth.

The advantage heading into the game with the Broncos is simple: Everyone expects the Dolphins to lose. All over social media, across the television dial, pretty much all the national media has already given the win to Denver. This does not come from some matchup advantage or even some deficiency on the Dolphins part. No apparently Denver will win because they are Denver and oh yeah because “Peyton Manning”.

Fortunately for the Dolphins the games are played on the field. On the field Miami has a chance, actually they have a really good chance.

Denver is beat up. Tight end Julius Thomas and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders are recovering from injuries, while their offensive line is just bad.

“It’s worse than bad — it’s horrendous,” ESPN analyst and ex-Broncos Pro Bowl offensive lineman, Mark Schlereth said to the Denver Post. “If I was grading, giving an F would be kind.”

Coming to town are the Dolphins with the 2nd ranked defense in the NFL. The pass rush led by Cameron Wake and his 8.5 sacks will try to harass Peyton Manning throughout the game. Getting pressure on Manning is the only sure way to disrupt the hall-of-fame quarterback and Denver’s potent offense.

On the other side Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is on a hot streak. Since the game against the Oakland Raiders in London, Tannehill has posted four games with over a 100-quarterback rating. This brings his rating up to 92.2 for the season, a nice improvement over last season 81.7.  It seems as if offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s offense is finally clicking, with the rest of the offense pulling their weight as well.

For the first time in far too long it seems as if the Dolphins are playing as a complete team. The timing could not be better.

No game against Peyton Manning is every easy. This week however the Dolphins can walk onto his field with no fear.

 

 

Categories: AFC East, Denver Broncos, Football, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, NFL, Peyton Manning, playoffs, Quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hit the Road Jack.

Early Tuesday afternoon the Cleveland Brown announce that they were releasing running back Ben Tate, a few hours later the Pittsburgh Steelers released veteran running back LeGarrette Blount. Players get released during the season, it happens. What is surprising is veteran, proven players being released by two teams who are competing against each other for the AFC North division title.

While some will surely point to their releases as further evidence of the devaluing of the running back position, I do not feel that is the case. Both players have played well in the past, both are being outplayed by younger players. Second year player Le’veon Bell’s play has limited touches for Blount in the Steelers offense, while rookie Terrance West has replaced Tate as the starter in Cleveland. That does not mean these teams do not value their running backs, they just do not value Blount or Tate.

So why the release now.

Attitude.

Teams often put up with an attitude from their stars. You only have to look at the odd behavior sometimes seen from Marshawn Lynch for the Seattle Seahawks. The problem is if you are not that star you have a much shorter leash.

Both players had complained to some extent about their roles in their teams offenses of late, Blount even going as far as leaving the field before the end of the Steelers comeback win against the Tennessee Titans Monday night. At some point complaints become a distraction. Teams want passionate players, they do not want distractions. Distractions get let go.

This should be a warning sign for other players in the NFL and even more so for college players hoping for a career in the league. It has always been not-for-long that has never been more true than now. With the added focus on players behavior off the field of late, being part of the team is more important than ever.

While the league will always reward stars, divas who rock the boat may find the ride shorter than ever.

Categories: Aaron Rodgers, Cleveland Browns, Football, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Dolphins-Bills Round 2

Dolphins Logo

Sundays game at the Detroit Lions was a fistfight. It was a back alley brawl. Miami struggles against physical teams, but on Sunday they took every punch and threw a few of their own.

I found myself in an odd position. On the one hand I was disappointed that Miami could not pull out the win at the end of the game. On the other…I simply could not be mad.

Sometimes you lose. Sometimes there is no one to blame. The other team gets paid too.

Yes you can easily nitpick and find a play here or a play there that would make a difference. None of that matters. The Dolphins have nothing to be ashamed about. The important part is what happens next.

What happens next is the game against the Buffalo Bills. Four days after a physical matchup against the Lions the Dolphins welcome the Bills for yet another tough matchup. Some may look at facing another physical team so soon as trouble. I look at it differently.

Sometimes a man has to get his hands dirty. The Detroit game actually sets the team up well to face the Bills. Yes the Detroit game was tough but the Dolphins proved they could take the shots and keep coming. Yes the Bills have had their number recently but at some point you have to make the change yourself.

Time to dig in, bring your lunch and just get your hands dirty.

Categories: Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Football, Miami Dolphins, NFL | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Four Quarters: Miami Dolphins v. Green Bay Packers

Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald

Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald

Sunday morning I decided I would do things a little different this week. Instead of the usual review/preview I thought I would try to write about my thoughts as the game was going on. Quarter by quarter. So here goes…

Four Quarters: Green Bay Packers v. Miami Dolphins

First Quarter.

Green Bay started out with the ball. They moved down the field with ease. The Dolphins secondary were playing off the receivers and Aaron Rodgers made them pay with a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.

After a great return by rookie Jarvis Landry the Dolphins started in Green Bay territory. The Packers defense came to play forcing Miami to settle for a Caleb Sturgis. The score now sat at 7-3 Packers.

After blocking a punt the Dolphins once again had good, no make that great field position. Unfortunately even after getting the ball down to the Green Bay one yard line they could not find the end zone. Missing out on a scoring opportunity against a team like Green Bay is dangerous.

The good news as the quarter ended was that the defense had finally come to play, bad news was the running game was stuck in neutral.

Second Quarter.

Both teams defenses stood tall. The Packers struggled to move the ball and Aaron Rodgers began to feel the effect of the Dolphins pass rush. On the other side Green Bay forced Miami quarterback into two interceptions costing the Dolphins the opportunity to put points on the board.

I feel there are three types of interceptions: 1. The receiver simply fell down on his route, offense has no chance. 2. The defense just makes an incredible, highlight-reel kind of play. and 3. The quarterback had no business throwing that ball whatsoever. The first two are forgivable offenses, the third-well the third you want to kill the qb. In this case the defense simply made a great play on a contested ball. It could easily have gone the other way.

Needless to say the half ended with the Packers up 10-3

Third Quarter.

The Dolphins started the second half with the ball. Ryan Tannehill hoped to erase the memory of the first half quickly. On the second play of the drive he took it himself and ran 40 yards, surpassing the Dolphins rushing total of the first half. Watching this first drive you would never think that this was the same team from the first half. Jarvis Landry caught his first NFL touchdown pass to tie the game. Both teams would trade drives during this quarter leading to a tie game at 17-17 early in the fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter.

Rodgers is not simply one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, he is THE best. On this afternoon Ryan Tannehill showed he could stand toe to toe with the best the NFL has to offer. This is something Tannehill’s critics should remember.

Sadly we tend to remember what we saw last.

What we saw last was Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers and the Dolphins defense falling apart when they were needed most. With a 24-20 lead the Dolphins failed to get a first down and gave the ball back to Rodgers with 2:04 left in the game. It would be just enough.

There was blame to go around on the last drive. Brent Grimes falling down while covering Jordy Nelson. Cortland Finnegan trying a very lackadaisical tackle of Davante Adams inside the ten yard line. Worst of all was the coverage by Philip Wheeler on the touchdown play. It is not that he got beat by the tight end for a touchdown that will happen. It was that he did not even try to engage Anthony Quarless until he was already in the end zone. By that point he had already lost. If he made contact before Quarless entered the end zone he may have had a chance. It was not to be.

A great comeback fell just six seconds short. All of the good things we saw in the second half came of naught. Time to move onto the Bears.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill, sports | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Patriots not quite done.

The Cincinnati Bengals had one job Sunday night. And they failed to do it.

The Bengals came into Sunday nights game at the New England Patriots on a three game winning streak. They had been impressive. After the way the Patriots looked the previous Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs many expected the Bengals kick them while they were down. That simply did not happen.

The Patriots beat the Bengals 43-17.

They did not just beat them they dominated.  The Patriots did not do anything special. There were no trick plays, no new offense. It was simple. They ran the ball down the Bengals throat for 22o yards. If you run for 200 yards and have an hall-of-fame quarterback you are going to win.

This is what happens with the Patriots. They get brutally embarrassed one week. Next week they are bullies. They dominate and go out of their way to pound the point home.

The most disappointing part of the Patriots winning for me: I was hoping for a just amazing press conference from Bill Belichick after another loss. I was hoping to see him just sit there and refuse to answer legitimate questions once again. I was hoping to see in any of the beat writers would have the stones to actually question Belichick on you know anything. A man can dream can’t he?

Are the Patriots back?

No.

Have the issues they had the first few games magically disappeared?

No.

They simply won this one game.

This is why they stick around. When the Patriots are down opposing teams just do not do what is necessary. They need to kick the Patriots while they are down. The Bengals should have stood on their throat.

They did not do their one job.

 

Categories: Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, NFL | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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