Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crowder officially placed on IR; Polite a Pro Bowl alternate

According to Tony Sparano via Omar Kelly, linebacker Channing Crowder has officially been placed on injured reserve, as expected.

Crowder injured his foot in last Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans, although speculation has outweighed specific details regarding the injury to-date.

In other Dolphins news via twitter, Armando Salguero reports Dolphins fullback Lousaka Polite has been named an alternate for AFC squad in the 2010 Pro Bowl.

It is unclear Polite is a first-alternate or perhaps a second- or third-alternate, which would impact his chances of getting into the team's roster.

If Polite is a first-alternate, he could take AFC starter Le'Ron McClain's place on the roster if McClain dropped out or if the Baltimore Ravens advance to the Super Bowl.

As I said yesterday, statistics show that Polite was the most productive fullback in the NFL season, and thus certainly deserving of a Pro Bowl selection.

While This isn't quite as much as he deserved, it's certainly nice to see him get at least some recognition, and maybe he'll end up being added to the Pro Bowl roster between now and then.

Broncos sign Dolphins' practice squad punter Britton Colquitt

Unhappy with current punter Mitch Berger, the Denver Broncos have re-signed rookie Britton Colquitt off the Miami Dolphins' practice squad to their active roster.

Colquitt re-joins the Broncos having spent the offseason and preseason with the team after signing as an undrafted free agent following the 2009 NFL Draft.

Colquitt, who originally lost the punting competition in Denver to Brett Kern and was waived on Sept. 1, was a free agent during the regular season until joining the Dolphins' practice squad on Dec. 22.

Because Colquitt was signed directly off the practice squad of another team, the Broncos must keep him on the roster for three weeks (if their season lasts that long).

Interestingly, Colquitt's first NFL appearance could come this upcoming weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs, where his brother Dustin punts.

With seven players on the practice squad plus cornerback Will Billingsley on the practice squad injured list, the Dolphins now have one open spot to fill if they so choose.

Guard Mark Lewis, whom Colquitt replaced last week, could be re-signed, or the Dolphins could bring in an entirely new face.

Any player signed to the practice squad will likely be with the team less than a week, as all practice squad contracts expire once a team's season ends and the Dolphins are a long shot for the postseason.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jake Long selected to second straight Pro Bowl

The AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters were announced tonight, and the Miami Dolphins were barely represented.

In fact, just one player from the Dolphins made it on the team, as second-year offensive tackle Jake Long was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.

Although Long has allowed 4.5 sacks through 16 games this season compared to just 2.5 as a rookie in 2008, he is certainly deserving based on his 2009 performance.

According to the NFL film analysis experts at ProFootballFocus.com, Long ranks as the 13th run-blocking offensive tackle in the NFL, second-best pass-blocking tackle and second overall tackle behind only Cleveland's Joe Thomas.

Two glaring snubs

The 2009 Miami Dolphins have a player on each side of the ball that was clearly deserving of a Pro Bowl selection this season, and both were blatantly snubbed.

On offense, fullback Lousaka Polite has been a monster run-blocker since joining the team in 2008. He's the main reason Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have combined for over 1,700 yards on the ground this season, despite Brown only playing in nine games due to injury.

According to PFF, Polite ranks as the second-best run-blocking fullback of 2009 behind only Atlanta's Ovie Mughelli, and actually ranks first overall due to his positive plays in the running game.

Meanwhile, Dolphins defensive end Randy Starks was also a glaring omission from the AFC Pro Bowl roster.

A 4-3 defensive tackle from the Titans who joined the Dolphins on a five-year, $21-million contract prior to the 2008 season, Starks initially struggled with the scheme transition last season but really came on later in the year.

Starks' transition seems to be complete based on his 2009 performance, as he has been a disruptive force against both the pass and the run.

PFF has Starks as the No. 1 run-stopping 3-4 end in the NFL this season, and second overall at the position behind the 49ers' Justin Smith.

It's worth noting that former Dolphins defensive end Vonnie Holliday, who struggled to find a job during the preseason before signing a one-year, $845,000 contract with the Denver Broncos on Sept. 4, ranks third among 3-4 ends this season.

Linebacker Jason Taylor, while probably not worthy of a Pro Bowl selection, was the Dolphins' next closest thing to a snub, ranking as the fifth 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL and third against the run.

In addition to Miami's snubs, there were a plethora of players snubbed across the league in the popularity contest known as Pro Bowl fan voting. (On the bright side, it's given me a reason to use the word 'plethora.')

That's why I'll have my top 10 snubs from the 2010 Pro Bowl up tomorrow, so check back for that!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dolphins lose Channing Crowder for season

In a game where the Dolphins were banged up on both sides of the ball, one of the most significant injuries suffered against the Texans was to starting inside linebacker Channing Crowder.

Crowder left with a foot injury early in the game, opening the door for Houston to put up 27 points in the first half and rush for 126 yards.

Crowder is believed to have suffered a Lisfranc fracture of the foot—the same injury that forced running back Ronnie Brown out for the 2009 season last month.

A five-year veteran, Crowder started 13 games for the Dolphins at inside linebacker in the team's 3-4 scheme and was the defensive signal-caller this season. He finishes the year with 51 tackles, a sack and his first career interception.

Crowder will head to injured reserve sometime this week, with rookie linebacker J. D. Folsom likely earning the promotion from the practice squad. Reggie Torbor will start in Crowder's place against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17.

If it is indeed a Lisfrance fracture for Crowder, the injury could take some months to heal and put his availability for offseason workouts and training camp in doubt.

The injury also makes inside linebacker even more of a need than it was before, as Akin Ayodele is on the back-end of his career, Crowder is fairly average anyway and Torbor is more of a backup.

The Dolphins are currently slated to pick in the top half of the first round in 2010 and could target an inside linebacker such as Alabama's Rolando McClain or Florida's Brandon Spikes.

The Dolphins' Simply Playoff Scenario

With just one week remaining in the regular season, a lot teams' fans are working out all kinds of playoff scenarios in hopes of having, well, some hope.

Things are much simpler for the Dolphins, who, despite losing two in a row and barely hanging by a thread, are still mathematically alive in the AFC Wild Card race.

Pro Football Talk outlines the Dolphins' lone playoff scenario, and it goes like this:

Dolphins beat Steelers
Bengals beat Jets
Raiders beat Ravens
Patriots beat Texans
Browns beat Jaguars

If all those things happen, and only then, the Miami Dolphins will make the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

I'm not really holding my breath, as I'm not sure a playoff berth is even worth it at this point. Yes, once you get in, it's anyone's game, but it's been blatantly obvious to me this year that the Dolphins simply do not have a roster that could go far (or anywhere) in the playoffs.

Miami just isn't there yet, and while I can't really ever root for Miami to lose on game days, I also wouldn't mind if the Dolphins lost to Pittsburgh and slightly improved their draft slot. I've got a man-crush on Rolando McClain.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Miami Dolphins-Houston Texans Random Observations

The Miami Dolphins aren't officially eliminated from playoff contention with one week remaining, but at 7-8 need a lot of help to get there, and don't look like a team that would go very far if they did get in.

The Dolphins nearly erased an early Houston lead from the first half, but came up just short with a 27-20 loss.

The Dolphins will close out the regular season (and likely their 2009 season) at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are still fighting to a playoff spot of their own.

Until then, here are my observations from the Dolphins-Texans game:

Offense
  • Chad Henne had his ups and downs again, though I liked his play overall. He had a lot on his shoulders with such a huge deficit in the first half and really led the offense well. He didn't get a lot of help from his defense or offensive line, so despite some poor throws, I give him a solid grade. The guy is a good passer and if he ever gets some legit weapons at receiver, he could be elite.
  • After a handful of fumbles in recent weeks, Ricky Williams made yet another poor play by letting a short Chad Henne pass over the middle bounce off his hands/facemask and get intercepted by Brian Cushing. Williams is certainly a capable No. 1 back, but his pass-catching is really leaving something to be desired and he seriously needs to cut down on the big negative plays.
  • Lex Hilliard didn't get to run much after Williams' injury due to the score, but he did a good job as a safety outlet for Henne with nine receptions for 74 yards. I don't really like his potential as a long-term starter, but he could develop into a solid backup.
  • Davone Bess had another drop, but for the most part played well and made a great adjustment on a big reception late in the game. The thing I like about guys like Bess and Greg Camarillo is that, unlike someone like Wes Welker, these guys do a lot of their work out wide.
  • Ted Ginn, Jr. had a big day and made some good grabs, including one that should have gone for a long touchdown. Lousaka Polite was called for tripping and nullified the touchdown, but it was clearly a legitimate block. Polite did not use his legs to trip the rusher, but simply went low (legal) on a player that was not engaged with another blocker. The referees simply blew it, and it significantly cost the Dolphins.
  • Anthony Fasano took a bit of a backseat to Joey Haynos today in terms of production and also had a pretty bad drop late. His sup-par sophomore season with the Dolphins continues, and I don't know how much I'd pay him to return in 2010.
  • The Dolphins' offensive line had what I'd consider one of its worst games of the season, allowing three sacks and failing to be the dominant power run-blocking team we've seen most of the year. Vernon Carey is over-matched too often at tackle, and Nate Garner leaves something to be desired as a run blocker.
Defense & Special Teams
  • Kendall Langford had a good game, tipping a couple passes and forcing a Matt Schaub turnover. He was just about the only defensive end that stood out in a rare day where the defensive line go dominated.
  • Channing Crowder isn't a stud by any means, but it was clear the Dolphins missed his presence after an early injury. Reggie Torbor looked lost in replacement and was always a step or two behind the ball-carrier or his assigned receiver. Crowder's absence couldn't be the only reason for the Dolphins' lacking run defense, but it was more of a factor than I would have expected.
  • Akin Ayodele also contributed to the Dolphins' poor-tackling exhibition in the first half, though almost all of the Dolphins' defenders were guilty at one point or another.
  • Joey Porter, Jason Taylor and Cameron Wake did almost nothing rushing the passer, and it was actually Quentin Moses who got the team's only sack of the day. It was a rare sighting for "Q-Mo" and it probably won't be enough to keep him on the roster in 2010.
  • Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, like the rest of the team, had a pretty poor first half, but a so-so day. Davis made a great play nearly intercepting a deep pass for Jacoby Jones, and was robbed on a fumble he forced on Chris Brown. Ruled an incompletion from the start an thus unreviewable, Brown took at least three full steps after the catch and clearly fumbled the ball that was recovered by defensive end Tony McDaniel. Along with the Ginn touchdown called back, it was another big whiff by the officials that severely cost Miami.
  • Smith took a poor angle and made a weak attempt on the Jacoby Jones touchdown play, but I loved his effort against Andre Johnson on a deep pass that should have been intercepted. Smith is young and he's going to make his share of mistakes at one of the game's toughest positions, but his talent is undeniable.
  • Nathan Jones was matched up on Johnson early on in the game, and it was clearly a mistake. Jones was simply out-matched against arguably the NFL's best receiver, and it was obvious from the start. Sean Smith covered Johnson a lot more in the second half and held him without a catch.
  • After all the horrendous plays Gibril Wilson has made (or not made, rather) this season, it'd be nice to get a positive play once in a while. Wilson's drop on a potential interception off a Sean Smith deflection was inexcusable, though it's comforting to know his days as a Dolphin will likely come to an end sometime in the next three months.
  • Dan Carpenter barely missed a 54-yard field goal attempt wide right, but he made two others cleanly and is still having a great year. Sparano's decision to attempt the field goal down 27-0 at the time was the right one, as there was still over a half to play and a three-touchdown/one field goal game is better than a four-touchdown game.
  • Brandon Fields had an excellent game punting the ball, downing two of his five punts inside the 20 and booting one punt 60 yards. Fields has established himself in the top third of punters in the NFL.

Dolphins-Texans game highlights

Lex Hilliard TD run


Lex Hilliard TD catch


Davone Bess reception


Game highlights

Dolphins-Texans Live Chat

Week 16 game predictions

I'm already 1-0 and looking to go a perfect 16-0 this week. It's actually a life goal of mine, right up there with finding a career, getting married and having kids. Might even trade one kid for such a week of NFL prognostication perfection.


Last week's record: 8-8
Season record: 149-75 (66.5%)

Falcons over Bills — Matt Ryan is finally healthy again, and you think I'm gonna go with Brian Brohm in his first career start on the road? Not a chance.

Bengals over Chiefs
— Cincy lost a tough one last week out in San Diego, but they'll win their first home game since Chris Henry's death against a lowly Chiefs team.

Raiders over Browns
— In the epic, "Ali-Frazier"-style battle that will be Derek Anderson vs. ex-Browns starter Charlie Frye, I like the guy coming back to his old team. One of the few strong points between either team is Oakland's secondary, which isn't going to let Anderson complete a pass.

Packers over Seahawks
— I like the Packers in just about every way here, including the final score.

Texans over Dolphins
— I'll probably be wrong on the Dolphins as usual, but I can't go with them against a great-passing offense with their secondary struggling the way it is right now.

Patriots over Jaguars
— New England isn't destroying anyone, but I like them in the cold at home against the Jags.

Giants over Panthers
— DeAngelo Williams isn't playing, and I'm not sure even he could help Carolina match the Giants' much more potent offense.

Saints over Buccaneers
New Orleans hit its first stumbling block last week against Dallas, but they should have no problem getting back on track with the Buccaneers in town.

Steelers over Ravens It's a bit of an upset with Baltimore playing so much better lately, but I'm waiting for Pittsburgh to turn it around and I think they'll step to the challenge in a big divisional game at home this week.

Cardinals over Rams St. Louis has a mess on their hands at quarterback and on the offensive line, which will easily prevent Kyle Boller from keeping up with the Cardinals' offense against a horrendous secondary.

49ers over Lions It's hard to gauge just how good the Niners are right now with so many new faces emerging as contributors, but they're clearly playing better football than the Lions.

Colts over Jets Darrelle Revis and the Jets' defense present a great challenge for Indy, and you just can't pick against Peyton Manning if he's going to play even half of the game.

Eagles over Broncos A great matchup between two talented teams, I'm going with the home team by default.

Cowboys over Redskins Washington is a mess right now with the coaching-change rumors and a pissed off Albert Haynesworth, so I'm going with a more talented Cowboys squad on the road.

Vikings over Bears Minnesota is leaving the comfort of their dome to play in the cold against a division rival, but they are still too good to not pick against a pretty bad Bears team.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hope everyone has a good day and stays safe!

Also—Chargers over Titans. Screw Vince Young.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My 2010 Pro Bowl ballot

Fan voting for the 2010 Pro Bowl has closed, and the NFL will announced the selections for the AFC and NFC squads on Dec. 29 on the NFL Network.

I actually forgot to actually cast a ballot (doh!) but I've decided to still write what my ballot would have looked like.

Here are my choices for the 2010 Pro Bowl:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A look at the Dolphins' 2010 opponents

David J. Neal of the Miami Herald wrote an interesting article today about the Dolphins' 2010 opponents. Most of the slate is known, with only two opponents out of the 16 games for next season undetermined.

For those of you that don't know, the NFL has a formula for determining each team's opponents every season. Essentially, it is as follows:
  • Six games against the team's three division opponents
  • Four games against a single AFC conference
  • Four games against a single NFC conference
  • Two games against teams from the conference's other two divisions that finished in the same position in the standings in their conference
Based on that formula, here are the Dolphins' opponents as is known today:




































As you can see, the Dolphins play their three divisional opponents (Bills, Jets, Patriots) home and away, as is the case every year.

Beyond that, the Dolphins have games against the AFC North (two home and two away) and the NFC North (two home and two away).

The unknown opponents come from the Dolphins' scheduled games against two teams from the AFC South and AFC West that finish in the same division spot as the Dolphins do in 2009. Because the Dolphins' final spot in the AFC East is undetermined, so are these opponents.

Quite simply, if Miami wins the AFC East, they'll face the division winners from those two conferences—the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers.

If the Dolphins finish in second place, they will play whoever finishes in second in the AFC South between the Jaguars, Texans and Titans, as well as the second-place AFC West team in the Denver Broncos.

Should Miami lose their next game or two and fall to third place in the AFC East behind he Patriots and Jets, the Dolphins will face the third-place AFC South team and the third-place AFC West team, already established as the Oakland Raiders.

Dolphins release guard Mark Lewis

The Miami Dolphins officially cleared a spot for punter Britton Colquitt today, releasing rookie guard Mark Lewis from the practice squad.

An undrafted free agent out of Oregon in 2009, Lewis spent the entire offseason and preseason with the Dolphins, but was waived prior to the regular season.

Lewis also spent a week on the practice squad of the Seattle Seahawks in October, but was otherwise a free agent during the first two and a half months of the 2009 regular season.

Lewis chopping down Christmas trees for work in late November when the Dolphins came calling with an open practice squad spot.

It's no surprise to see Lewis get the axe (pun intended), as there were two guards on the practice squad, Justin Smiley is healthier now, and Lewis is barely a pro prospect to begin with.

With the recent moves, here is how the Dolphins' current practice squad looks (rookies in italics):
  • CB Will Billingsley (injured)
  • P Britton Colquitt
  • RB Tristan Davis
  • G Ray Feinga
  • LB J. D. Folsom
  • WR Taurus Johnson
  • TE John Nalbone
  • FS Nate Ness
  • WR Julius Pruitt
Most players that finish the year on the practice squad, if not all of them, should be re-signed to the offseason roster in 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dolphins sign punter Britton Colquitt to practice squad

The Miami Dolphins added their second punter to the organization today, signing rookie Britton Colquitt to the practice squad.

No corresponding move has been announced to make room for Colquitt.

Background

It certainly isn't a stretch to say punting is in Colquitt's blood. His father, Craig Colquitt, punted for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts in the 1970s and 1980s, winning two Super Bowls.

Meanwhile, older brother, Jimmy, punted for the Seattle Seahawks in 1985, while other brother, Dustin, currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs and is one of the league's top punters.

As with all of his pro football-playing relatives, Britton Colquitt was born in Knoxville Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee.

After red-shirting his first season, Colquitt appeared in 11 games for the Volunteers in 2005 and recorded a 41.2-yard average with 19 of his 59 punts downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Colquitt was a consensus first-team All-SEC selection after posting a 44.9 average and downing nearly 40 percent of his punts inside the 20 as a red-shirt sophomore in 2006.

As a junior in 2007, Colquitt averaged 41.6 yards per punt and set a new career high with 23 punts downed inside the 20 on his way to second-team All-SEC honors.

Colquitt averaged 43.6 yards per punt as a senior in 2008, forcing 15 fair catches and downing 13 punts inside the 20-yard line out of 42 punts. He also went 0-for-1 on a field goal attempt over 50 yards.

Colquitt encountered a string of alcohol-related incidents during his time in college, including a five-game suspension and loss of scholarship in February 2008 prior to his senior season.

Rated one of the better punters in the 2009 NFL Draft, Colquitt went undrafted and signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent on April 28. He posted a 41-yard punting average in three preseason games with the Broncos, but lost the competition to Brett Kern and was waived on Sept. 1.

Colquitt initially worked out for the Dolphins in early October, according to his agent. He also tried out for the Cleveland Browns in November when Dave Zastudil was injured.

As a practice squad player, Colquitt will earn $5,200 per week and participate in all team practices, but will not be allowed to participate in games unless signed to the active roster. He is eligible to signed by any team at any point, and his contract will expire at season's end.

Analysis

It's a little unusual to see a punter signed to the practice squad, and there could be a couple reasons for the move.

Despite his troubled past, Colquitt is certainly a solid punting prospect with a great pedigree. He clearly had some maturity issues in college, but was one of the SEC's better punters and definitely has a pro leg.

The Dolphins' current punter—2007 seventh-round pick Brandon Fields—has a great leg and is having his best season to date, averaging 46.2 yards per punt with a 39.7 net average and 21 of 66 boots downed inside the 20.

That being the case, it's extremely unlikely Colquitt has been brought in to push Fields for his job in any way. Fields has certainly established himself as a pro whereas Colqutit has not, and Fields ranks seventh in the NFL in punting average this season.

More likely, Colquitt has been signed to give Fields a breather and keep him fresh for games at this late point in the season, or he'll fill in for Fields in practice if he has some minor injury.

Colquitt may be a solid prospect, but he won't be punting for the Dolphins any time soon. There's always a chance he could be brought back as a camp leg in 2010 if they like what they see, though he'd certainly be the underdog in any battle with Fields and that's still a long way away and a big uncertainty.

Dolphins work out CFL lineman; Clemons joins Rosenhaus Sports

According to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, the Miami Dolphins worked out CFL offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

An Alberta native, Tsoumpas was a second-team All-Big Sky selection at Weber State as a senior in 2007, where he was also a teammate of Dolphins 2009 seventh-round pick J. D. Folsom.

Tsoumpas was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders second overall in the 2008 CFL Draft and started all 20 games for the team as a rookie, including the Stamps' 96th Grey Cup victory over the Montreal Alouettes.

Tsoumpas remained the starter in 2009, earning a CFL West Division All-Star selection while helping running back Joffrey Reynolds lead the league in rushing for the second straight season.

Although the CFL has a significant drop-off in talent from the NFL, Tsoumpas is clearly a talented blocker and may be worth a look-see for the Dolphins in the 2010 offseason. If signed, he could compete with Nate Garner and Donald Thomas at the right guard position.



Miami Dolphins rookie safety Chris Clemons has signed on to be represented by agent Drew Rosenhaus, according to a tweet from the management agency.

A fifth-round pick out of Clemson in 2009, Clemons has spent his rookie season as a reserve safety and special teams player, recording nine tackles in nine games (one start).

Clemons has some upside and may get a chance to start at free safety if Gibril Wilson is cut loose. With this new representation, it is quite possible re-signing him will be much more difficult down the line if he develops into a starter.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Miami Dolphins-Tennessee Titans random observations

The Miami Dolphins saw their playoff hopes greatly diminish this week, losing to the Tennessee Titans 27-24 in overtime after a roaring comeback in regulation.

The Dolphins erased an 18-point deficit in the second half, capped off by an Anthony Fasano touchdown and Ricky Williams two-point conversion in the final minutes.

It was not to be, however, as Chad Henne sailed a pass in overtime that was intercepted, directly leading to the game-winning field goal by Rob Bironas.

The Dolphins will continue their battle against the AFC South in Week 16, heading home to face the 7-7 Houston Texans.

Until then, here are my observations from the Dolphins' loss to the Titans:

Offense
  • It sounds like I'm excusing him, but the reality is that Chad Henne played pretty well outside of his three interceptions. He has to make better decisions at times and can't force throws that cost the team the game, but he's still young and looks like he's going to be a quality NFL passer.
  • I was about to flip when Pat White came in for the two-point conversion to tie the game late. It ended up working out with Ricky Williams taking the hand-off and scoring from two yards out, but I still completely disagree with White's presence. There is simply no reason to take your true quarterback who got you in that position out with the game on the line.
  • Ricky Williams ran hard and ran well once again, but fumbled for the fourth time in two games and lost his second one in that span. Williams is known for having small hands and that kind of thing happens sometimes, but he has to do a better job at protecting the ball.
  • Lousaka Polite continued to shine, blocking well in the running game and once again coming through as a ball carrier in short-yardage situations. You'd be hard-pressed to find an AFC fullback more deserving of a Pro Bowl nod than Polite.
  • None of the Dolphins' receivers separated themselves from the rest, though all had their moments. Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess each had some big catches, while Brian Hartline made a tremendous play on a 57-yard pass during Miami's game-tying drive that should have been intercepted by Titans safety Michael Griffin. Hartline is limited physically and his ceiling is probably that of a No. 3 receiver, but he has good hands and is very certainly refined for a rookie.
  • Tight ends Anthony Fasano and Joey Haynos both showed up today, as Fasano made a few athletic grabs in the clutch and Haynos converted a big fourth down.
  • The Dolphins' pass protection was pretty sound for the most part, keeping Henne upright and free to read the field most of the game. I was also impressed with the blocking on the final drive, especially on Williams' two-point attempt run.

Defense & Special Teams
  • Randy Starks and Tony McDaniel led the charge at defensive end, forcing Titans running back Chris Johnson to run laterally until the rest of the Dolphins' defense could make the play. Kendall Langford also contributed a nice sack, though he hasn't been as visible as I'd have preferred this season.
  • Nose tackle Paul Soliai also played well in what I would consider a pretty solid performance against Johnson (3.6 yards per carry). However, he also made a few tough penalties and has to avoid those.
  • Jason Taylor and Joey Porter both played a solid all-around game. Taylor had a nice sack on a very elusive Vince Young and stuffed Chris Johnson a couple times in the running game, while Porter forced a fumble on the Titans' monster running back.
  • It's hard to say whether or not Jason Taylor's overtime strip and fumble recovery against Chris Johnson should have counted. His forward momentum had clearly been stopped, and at some point the refs should and will blow the whistle even if the guy isn't down. It was a close call, and while it would have been nice to have a scoop-and-score to win it, you can't really argue with how it was ruled on the field.
  • Akin Ayodele and Channing Crowder played the run well, though a lot of that credit goes to the defensive line for closing any potential holes for Johnson to run through. However, you have to give the inside linebackers credit as well for moving around and making the tackles.
  • It was a familiar story in the Dolphins' secondary, as the team's rookie corners had their ups and downs throughout the game. Sean Smith, who had a heads-up fumble recovery, is the better cover man, which results in Vontae Davis being targeted more often by opposing quarterbacks. Davis held his own at times, especially late, and had a good interception on Young's first attempt. Both players have to get more consistent.
  • Gibril Wilson's name was called by the commentators a few times for being out of position, but both times I saw the replays, it was actually Tyrone Culver. Neither player is an ideal starting safety, and it's certainly a position that needs to be addressed in the offseason.
  • After his second miss of the season last week, placekicker Dan Carpenter got back on track with a 3-for-3 day. He's easily been one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL this season.
  • The Dolphins' kickoff blocking has to get better, as Ted Ginn, Jr. is too often met by uncovered defenders before he even gets to the 20-yard line.

Miami Dolphins-Tennessee Titans game highlights

Vontae Davis interception



Brian Hartline 57-yard bobbled reception



Anthony Fasano and Ricky Williams tie it up



Chad Henne highlights



Game highlights

Dolphins-Titans live chat

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Week 15 game predictions

After going 10-6 last week, I've started off 1-1 in this week's pre-Sunday games. I got the Colts' win over Jacksonville right, but missed the Cowboys' upset over the previously undefeated Saints.

Here are the rest of my predictions this week.

Last week's record: 10-6
Season record: 141-67 (67.9%)

Patriots over Bills — New England is going through a messy time right now, but they're still a more talented team than the Bills. I think Tom Brady and Randy Moss will hook up for a huge game in the face of this past week's criticism of Moss' effort.

Cardinals over Lions — Arizona followed their upset over the Vikings in Week 13 with a loss to the 49ers last week, but they still should have no trouble handling the Lions this week.

Dolphins over Titans — The Dolphins usually win the games they should lose, and that's what I'm predicting the case will be here. The Dolphins' running game presents a good test for Chris Johnson, and I'm simply not sold on Vince Young as a quarterback.

Chiefs over Browns — Cleveland's upset win over Pittsburgh was a fluke, and I like Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs at home.

Texans over Rams — Poor Steven Jackson has lost both his starting guards and the Rams' quarterback situation right now is horrendous. I don't envision any way they can keep up with the Texans offense.

Jets over Falcons — It's very hard to pick a Chris Redman-led Falcons team, especially against a strong Jets defense, so I'm not going to do that.

Broncos over Raiders — The Broncos lost a tough one against the Colts last week, but I like their chances to rebound against a Raiders team making another change at quarterback.

Bengals over Chargers — Is emotion alone enough to win a football team? Probably not, but I think the Bengals will play inspired football following the death of Chris Henry and win one for No. 15.

Eagles over 49ers — The Niners have a few emerging play-makers on offense, but the Eagles are just much farther along in terms of building a complete team.

Steelers over Packers — Pittsburgh has been playing some pretty bad football lately, but I just feel the team is too talented to be down for long. I like them to rebound at home in a tough contest against the Packers.

Seahawks over Buccaneers — Seattle doesn't have much of a running game to speak of, but I think they'll beat a Bucs team struggling with a rookie quarterback flying cross-country.

Ravens over Bears — Chicago has had some travel concerns due to weather leading up to this game, and I expect them to be a little too rusty against a Baltimore team that was already better than them anyway.

Vikings over Panthers — Carolina's running game isn't what it was last year and they are now without both starting tackles, so I don't expect them to be able to handle the Vikings' offense and do enough against a tough Minnesota defense.

Giants over Redskins — Jim Zorn is probably fighting a hopeless battle to keep his job with a new front office being installed in Washington, and I don't like his team on the road against a very good Giants squad.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dolphins sign OG Ray Feinga to practice squad

The Miami Dolphins continued to shuffle their practice squad this week, signing rookie guard Ray Feinga while waiving guard Nevin McCaskill.

McCaskill departs the Dolphins less than a week after signing with the team. He originally joined the practice squad on Dec. 11, replacing cornerback Will Billingsley.

An undrafted rookie from BYU, Feinga spent time with the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers prior to the regular season.

Background

Utah's Mr. Football in 2003, Feinga attended Brigham Young University and red-shirted as a true freshman in 2004.

Feinga appeared in eight games for the Cougars in 2005, starting one game against the New Mexico Lobos. He played in 13 games as a sophomore in 2006, starting 10 at left guard.

Feinga started 10 of 13 games for the Cougars in 2007 and all 13 games as a senior in 2008, earning first-team All-Mountain West Conference honors both seasons.

After going undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft, Feinga signed with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent on April 27. His contract was disallowed by the league on May 7, though he was officially on May 19. He was waived by the team on July 1.

Feinga was then signed by the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 13. After appearing in the team's final two preseason games, Feinga was waived during final cuts on Sept. 5.

As a practice squad player, Feinga will earn $5,200 per week on a one-year contract. He is eligible to be signed to another team's active roster at any time and will become a free agent in the 2010 offseason if he finishes the year on the team's practice squad.

Analysis

Feinga has the size you look for in a mauling interior offensive lineman, but he doesn't really play like it all the time. He has solid quickness and technique, but struggled against top competition at the collegiate level and isn't a force in the running game.

Like McCaskill before him, Feinga will work at the guard spot during practice. Most of his experience comes on the left side, so he seems like a good candidate to help spell Justin Smiley, who has been banged up all season.

Feinga is a project who really only has a ceiling as a reserve NFL lineman, and he may never reach that point. He's on a day-to-day basis with the team and is trying to make enough of an impression to earn a spot on the 80-man offseason roster in 2010.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dolphins sign WR Taurus Johnson to practice squad

In a move that happened two weeks ago (but one I'm just getting to now because of a busy school week when when it originally occurred), the Miami Dolphins signed rookie wide receiver Taurus Johnson to their practice squad.

An undrafted rookie out of South Florida, Johnson took the spot vacated by defensive end Ryan Baker, who was promoted to the active roster before the Dolphins' Week 12 game against the Buffalo Bills.

Background

A Ft. Myers, Fla. native, Johnson played in all 12 games for the USF Bulls as a true freshman in 2005, catching three passes for 35 yards.

As a sophomore in 2006, Johnson caught 37 passes for 494 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulls. He followed that season up with 34 catches for 407 yards and four touchdowns as a junior in 2007.

Johnson set career highs in all major receiving categories as a senior in 2008, catching 38 passes for 498 yards and six touchdowns. He finished his collegiate career with 112 receptions, 1,434 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Johnson (6-0, 206 pounds) ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He went unselected in the 2009 NFL Draft and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent on April 26.

After appearing in all four preseason games for the Chiefs in 2009 and catching two passes for 18 yards, Johnson was waived by the team during final cuts on Sept. 5.

Johnson remained a free agent until Sept. 30, when he was added to the practice squad of the Detroit Lions. He was released on Nov. 5.

Johnson was signed to the Dolphins' practice squad on Dec. 1. He will wear No. 89 for the team and will earn roughly $5,200 per week. As a member of the Dolphins' practice squad, he his eligible to be signed to another team's active roster at any time.

Analysis

Johnson joins the Dolphins' five active receivers and fellow practice squad player Julius Pruitt as the seventh wide receiver in the organization (excluding Brennan Marion on injured reserve).

A physical receiver with a solid build, Johnson possesses adequate but not elite speed for an NFL receiver. He has good hands and did a solid job of gaining separation in college, but will likely struggle to do so at the NFL level.

Johnson has essentially no chance of seeing a promotion to the active roster in 2009, regardless of any injuries that may occur to the team's receiving corps. If he makes it through the end of the season, he'll be auditioning for a spot in training camp in 2010.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Miami Dolphins-Jacksonville Jagurs random observations

The Miami Dolphins kept their playoff hopes alive for at least one more week, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road 14-10.

It wasn't always pretty and the Dolphins failed to capitalize on all opportunities which kept things close, but sound play from quarterback Chad Henne and clutch plays on defense sealed the victory.

At 7-6, the Dolphins are still alive in the AFC Wild Card race, trailing the Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens with identical records.

The Dolphins head to Nashville to face the soaring Tennessee Titans in Week 15, where they'll face quite possibly their toughest individual opponent yet in running back Chris Johnson.

Until then, here are my observations from the Dolphins' victory over the Jaguars:

Offense
  • The numbers don't tell the whole story, as Chad Henne was very accurate and efficient throughout the game. He had a bad interception late, but played well almost all day. Henne is looking more and more like a leader on offense and clearly has all the tools to be a very good NFL quarterback.
  • Thank you to Dan Henning and the rest of the staff for once again keeping Pat White on the bench. Until the Dolphins are officially eliminated from playing contention, I don't want to see White with a helmet on.
  • Ricky Williams ran hard and followed his blocking well, but really struggled holding onto the ball today. He's always had small hands and needs to do a better job securing the ball, especially since Miami has no other legitimate options at tailback.
  • Lousaka Polite continues to be a force in the running game as a blocker, as well as money in short-yardage ball-carrying situations. Every week I'm becoming more and more convinced he should be in the Pro Bowl this year.
  • Greg Camarillo led the Dolphins' receivers against Jacksonville, catching everything thrown his way and consistently moving the chains.
  • Vernon Carey got embarrassed on one play, but the offensive line did a good job protecting Henne for the most part. Helping matters is that Henne's pocket awareness and decision-making is becoming much more refined with every passing week.
  • Nate Garner and Donald Thomas (now relegated to a platoon/reserve role) both did well in the running game. I like Thomas' upside more though, and would prefer him to start while Garner serves as a versatile sixth lineman off the bench.
Defense & Special Teams
  • The Dolphins' defensive line had as good a game as I've seen in a few years, getting good pressure on Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and keeping running back Maurice Jones-Drew in check. Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling both made some plays in the pressure/deflection departments, while Paul Soliai and Randy Starks dominated most of the game and came up big on some fourth-down plays.
  • Joey Porter had a strong game with his seventh sack of the year, while Cameron Wake continued his push for more playing time. Wake had a huge sack late in a game for the second consecutive week, and on another play pushed starting right tackle Eben Britton completely into Garrard.
  • Akin Ayodele played well inside, while it looked like Reggie Torbor saw some playing time on defense at Channing Crowder's expense. I'm pretty okay with this turn of events, as Torbor registered a nice sack against the Jaguars and Crowder is pretty pedestrian anyway.
  • Sean Smith has the physical tools, but his instincts have got to get better. Even for a rookie, it seems he's caught out of position just a little too often.
  • Gibril Wilson had a few nice plays, but he also was part of Jacksonville's biggest passing play of the year on a deep pass to Torry Holt. Sean Smith bit on the short route against Holt, which wouldn't have been so bad if Wilson hadn't as well.
  • Yeremiah Bell had a strong came and made a few big plays in the passing game, which is nice to see from a hard-hitting, in-the-box safety.
  • Dan Carpenter missed his first field goal since Week 2 and just his second attempt of the season, but he's still having a great year and isn't any cause for concern.

Dolphins-Jaguars Live Chat

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Week 14 game predictions

I went a pretty pedestrian 10-6 in my picks last week, and I'm off to an 0-1 start this week. Then again, who knew Cleveland could beat anyone, let alone the defending Super Bowl champs?

Last week's record: 10-6
Season record: 131-61 (68.2%)

Saints over Falcons — I'd probably go with a full Atlanta team at home, especially with the Saints coming off a big scare against the Redskins last week, but the Falcons are just too banged up to compete with the Saints right now.

Packers over Bears — There's really no telling in a rivalry such as this, but you have to go with the Packers at home given how poorly Chicago has played lately.

Colts over Broncos — Denver exploded against the lowly Chiefs in Week 13, but I still have to go with Peyton Manning in the Colts.

Chiefs over Bills — This pretty bad game is tough to predict, but I'm going to pick the Chiefs at home with a big day from Jamaal Charles.

Vikings over Bengals — Minnesota is coming off a surprising and big loss to the Cardinals, but I think they'll rebound against a Cincinnati team with a banged up secondary and backfield.

Patriots over Panthers — New England seems to be imploding after a tough loss to Miami and some off-the-field problems involving key players, but I think Tom Brady will rally his team to a victory against the Matt Moore-led Panthers.

Jets over Buccaneers — Kellen Clemens will be filling in for an injured Mark Sanchez, but no matter who starts at quarterback for the Jets, they are still playing much better as a team than the Bucs right now.

Dolphins over Jaguars — I feel like the Dolphins always lose the games they should win and I consider this one of them, but I'm still taking Miami against a Jaguars squad missing some key personnel on both sides of the ball.

Ravens over Lions — Baltimore got handled on the road in Green Bay last week, but I don't see any way they lose at home to the lowly Lions.

Texans over Seahawks — Seattle is no real threat on offense, which is why I think they'll have a hard time keeping up with a Houston offense that can put up points in a hurry.

Titans over Rams — St. Louis is a mess right now and may end up playing a rookie sixth-rounder at quarterback in Keith Null if things are looking bad. The Titans should run all over them on the way to victory.

Raiders over Redskins — Bruce Gradkowski is keeping Oakland in games by playing sound football, and I think the Redskins fall flat after a deflating collapse against the undefeated Saints last week.

Cowboys over Chargers — A very hard game to pick, so I'm simply going to go with the home team. It's a complete toss-up though.

Giants over Eagles — Another impossible rivalry game to predict, I'm going with the Giants at home coming off a good win over Dallas in Week 13.

Cardinals over 49ers — Arizona surprised everyone by torching the Vikings in Week 13, so I like them to continue that against a decent but less-talented Niners squad.

Miami Dolphins Alumni Update (November 2009)

I hope you enjoyed last month's initial edition of the Dolphins alumni update feature, and I'm back again with all of pro football's November transactions involving former Miami Dolphins.
  • 11/1 - The Calgary Stampeders (CFL) transferred defensive end Mike Labinjo to the reserve list. Labinjo was a linebacker for the Dolphins in 2005 and 2006, but did not appear in a game.
  • 11/2 — Wide receiver Chris Chambers was waived by the San Diego Chargers, and claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Chiefs the following day. The Dolphins' second-round pick in 2001, Chambers spent just over six seasons with the Dolphins and was selected to one Pro Bowl before being traded to the Chargers in October 2007 for a second-round pick (eventually used on quarterback Chad Henne). Chambers left the Dolphins ranking fifth in franchise history in receptions (405), fourth in yards (5,688), and fourth in touchdowns (43).
  • 11/2 — The New York Sentinels (UFL) signed defensive tackle Louis Ellis. Ellis attended 2009 training camp with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent, but did not make the team.
  • 11/3 — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed placekicker Connor Barth. The Dolphins signed Barth during the 2009 preseason to compete with incumbent Dan Carpenter, but he failed to make the team.
  • 11/3 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) transferred wide receiver Kelly Campbell to the suspended list. Campbell was an offseason member of the Dolphins in 2006 and 2007, but did not appear in a game.
  • 11/4 — The Kansas City Chiefs signed cornerback Travis Daniels. The Dolphins' fourth-round pick in 2005, Daniels recorded 125 tackles and three interceptions in three seasons in Miami before being traded to the Cleveland Browns for a 2009 seventh-round pick in August 2008 (eventually used to select linebacker J. D. Folsom).
  • 11/4 — The San Francisco 49ers signed offensive tackle Kirk Barton to the practice squad. Barton had two stints with the Dolphins as a rookie in 2008—one on the active roster and one on the practice squad—but did not play in a game.
  • 11/6 — The New York Sentinels (UFL) placed defensive tackle Louis Ellis on injured reserve.
  • 11/7 — The Detroit Lions promoted defensive tackle Joe Cohen from their practice squad to their active roster. Cohen spent part of the 2008 season on the Dolphins' practice squad and attended training camp with the team in 2009.
  • 11/9 — The Cleveland Browns signed wide receiver Chris Williams to their practice squad. Williams signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2009, but was waived with an injury settlement on Aug. 25 after breaking his wrist during the preseason.
  • 11/10 — The Carolina Panthers promoted linebacker Kelvin Smith from their practice squad to their active roster. The Dolphins' seventh-round pick in 2007, Smith played in four games with the Dolphins as a rookie before spending all of the 2008 season on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
  • 11/10 — The Detroit Lions signed linebacker Danny Lansanah to their practice squad. Lansanah spent most of September on the Dolphins' practice squad.
  • 11/16 — The Florida Tuskers (UFL) signed wide receiver Bobby Sippio to their active roster. Sippio spent part of the 2004 season with the Dolphins on injured reserve, but never played in a game with the team.
  • 11/17 — The Cincinnati Bengals signed safety Brannon Condren to their practice squad. Condren spent nearly a month with the Dolphins between October and November 2008, appearing in four games and recording three special teams tackles before his release.
  • 11/17 — The Cleveland Browns released wide receiver Chris Williams from their practice squad.
  • 11/18 — The Cleveland Browns signed wide receiver James Robinson to their practice squad. Robinson spent part of the 2009 preseason with the Dolphins and was on the team's practice squad until his release on Nov. 4.
  • 11/19 — The Buffalo Bills placed quarterback Gibran Hamdan on waivers. Hamdan spent the 2007 offseason with the Dolphins before being waived during final cuts.
  • 11/19 — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed offensive lineman Matt Spanos to their offseason roster. Spanos spent 2008 training camp with the Dolphins after signing as an undrafted free agent from USC.
  • 11/24 — The Philadelphia Eagles signed cornerback Geoffrey Pope to their active roster off the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad. Pope was signed by the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2007, but was waived during final cuts.
  • 11/25 — The Buffalo Bills placed offensive lineman Seth McKinney on injured reserve with a knee injury. A third-round pick by the Dolphins in 2002, McKinney started 34 of 61 games played with the team through the 2006 season.
  • 11/25 — The Cleveland Browns claimed linebacker Matt Roth off waivers from the Dolphins. The Dolphins' second-round pick in 2005, Roth recorded 157 tackles and 12.5 sacks in 61 games with the team.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dolphins bring back CB Evan Oglesby; make other roster moves

The Miami Dolphins made a handful of roster moves Thursday, re-signing cornerback Evan Oglesby to the active roster while adding guard Nevin McCaskill to the practice squad.

To make room for those players, offensive tackle Lydon Murtha was placed on season-ending injured reserve with an ankle injury, and cornerback Will Billingsley was released from the practice squad.

Evan Oglesby

Oglesby returns for his second stint with the Dolphins in less than a month and hopes to remain on the active roster for a game this time around.

Originally signed on Nov. 24, Oglesby was waived four days later to make room for practice squad defensive end Ryan Baker after an injured to defensive end Lionel Dotson.

An undrafted free agent out of North Alabama in 2005, Oglesby originally signed with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent but did not make the team out of training camp.

After two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Oglesby spent the 2007 season with the Dallas Cowboys. He returned to Baltimore in 2008, but was waived prior to the 2009 season.

Oglesby will wear No. 41 in Miami and will serve as the fifth cornerback. He will likely be inactive on game days until he gets a little more practice experience with the team, though he has a chance to surpass Jason Allen on the defensive depth chart before season's end.

Lydon Murtha

A rookie offensive tackle out of Nebraska, Murtha heads to I.R. with an ankle injury suffered in practice.

Originally a seventh-round pick by the Detroit Lions in 2009, Murtha was signed to the Dolphins' roster off the Lions' practice squad on Oct. 20 when the team waived guard Shawn Murphy.

Serving as the third-string left tackle behind Jake Long and Andrew Gardner, Murtha appeared in the Dolphins' Week 10 contest against Tampa Bay, but had otherwise been inactive on game days since joining the team.

Murtha is under contract through the 2010 season at the league minimum and is a solid tackle prospect who also projects at guard, so he should return to the team next year and compete for a backup job on the roster.

Nevin McCaskill

An offensive tackle and college teammate of Dolphins defensive end Kendall Langford at Hampton, McCaskill earned Second-Team All-MEAC honors as as junior in 2005.

McCaskill went undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft and signed with the Buffalo Bills on July 29. He was waived prior to the regular season and spent parts of the 2007 season on the team's practice squad.

After failing to make the Bills' roster out of training camp in 2008, McCaskill was a free agent until being signed to the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad on Oct. 21. He remained there until being signed to the Green Bay Packers' active roster on Dec. 11.

McCaskill did not appear in a game for the Packers in 2008, and was eventually waived on June 24, 2009. He signed with the New York Jets on July 6, but was waived during final cuts on Sept. 5.

McCaskill will wear No. 69 for the Dolphins and will serve as a reserve guard during practice. He is unlikely to be activated this season, but could be brought back to compete for a roster spot in 2010.

Will Billingsley

Billingsley departs the Dolphins after nearly two years of time on the practice squad.

Originally signed as a street free agent in early 2008 (he went undrafted and unsigned out of North Carolina A&T all of 2007), Billingsley spent most of his rookie season on the team's practice squad. He was swapped a handful of times with nose tackle Anthony Toribio, but was eventually retained for the remainder of the season once Toribio signed with Green Bay.

Billingsley again failed to make the team in 2009 and had spent the entire regular season on the team's practice squad.

An extremely borderline pro prospect, Billingsley is not lock to attract NFL attention elsewhere. He could be brought back to the practice squad if the Dolphins need another practice body at cornerback, but his long-term prospects are bleak at best.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots: Random Observations

The Miami Dolphins rebounded from their tough loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 12 with a one-point, come-from-behind victory against the AFC East-leading New England Patriots in Week 13.

The Dolphins didn't get much pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and shied away from the running game that has made them so productive, but were still able to come away with the win.

At 6-6, the Dolphins are one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East. They are finished with games inside the division and will finish out the season with three game against AFC South opponents before closing the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Until then, here are my observations from the Dolphins-Patriots game:

Offense
  • The Dolphins gave Chad Henne the keys to the offense more than I've ever seen before, letting him throw 52 passes on the way to the most productive game of his career.
  • Henne wasn't always on-point and missed a handful of easy throws, but he still made a lot of great throws and came through when it counted. The Dolphins have a real quarterback for the first time since Dan Marino. (Not that there is much competition among the players since then.)
  • How many times is Pat White going to have to come in and do nothing before the team abandons that aspect of the offense? It's like wasting a down every time he enters the game, and it makes zero sense when Henne is moving the ball down the field and getting a rhythm going.
  • Ricky Williams ran hard and looked good, but the Patriots did a good job for the most part of stopping the run.
  • Lousaka Polite once again came through in short yardage, and would have had some good receptions if Henne hadn't missed him badly multiple times.
  • Davone Bess doesn't have great speed or moves, but he displayed good hands catching the ball and helping move the chains.
  • Brian Hartline was also quite impressive with a few good grabs, including a great falling toe-tap in the endzone for a score.
  • Ted Ginn, Jr. also came through when he was called upon, making a beautiful sideline catch in the first half and on a slant during the final scoring drive.
  • Though Joey Haynos was a non-factor, starting tight end Anthony Fasano caught the ball well when targeted and did a good job not going down easily while still protecting the ball.
  • Henne didn't get the flawless pass protection that Tom Brady did most of the game, but the Dolphins' offense line did an admirable job, especially given how many passes Henne attempted.
  • Nate Garner slid over to right guard and replaced Donald Thomas, performing well. I'm not sure if Thomas was benched or injured, as he has been a pretty solid player for the Dolphins all season.

Defense & Special Teams
  • The Dolphins' defensive line struggled against the run early but got things together. Their pass rush was pretty weak, as the Patriots' offensive line did their usual good job in protecting Brady.
  • Nose tackle Paul Soliai played much better than he did in his first game against the Patriots. He blew up a Patriots running play on fourth and short that led to a Joey Porter tackle and a turnover.
  • The outside linebacker didn't do much, spending most of the day getting shut down by the Patriots' offensive line and chasing Wes Welker from behind.
  • Cameron Wake, however, stepped up big on the team's last defensive play and forced the Tom Brady interception that sealed a Miami win. The team needs to see more of him down the stretch, because based on his flashes of ability as a rookie, I'm inclined to say he should have a very significant role in 2010.
  • Channing Crowder, Akin Ayodele and Nathan Jones did a poor job of shadowing Welker all day. Crowder's game-sealing interception was big (and so was the wise decision to not try and return it) but most of the credit there goes to Wake's pressure.
  • Vontae Davis had his bad moments, but for the second straight game against New England came up with a beautiful interception one-on-one with Randy Moss.
  • Sean Smith had a very rough day, getting beat numerous times (though the Patriots didn't always capitalize) and being out-jumped and then run over on a long touchdown by Sam Aiken. Smith has more talent and better ball skills than he's displayed lately, so he might have hit the rookie wall.
  • Gibril Wilson was once again caught napping a handful of times and ended up having to chase guys down from behind. Hopefully he'll enjoy his last four games in a Dolphins uniform, and the fat bonus check he's received for one horrendous season.
  • Dan Carpenter still only has one miss all season and is playing like a Pro Bowler. It's nice to see him come through when the game is on the line too.
  • Erik Walden, Jason Allen, John Denney and Chris Clemons all made some nice special teams tackles. However, Walden also had a penalty that negated a Patriots roughing penalty that would have given Miami a first down.
  • It was a usual day for the Dolphins returners: Ted Ginn, Jr. didn't do much but had one very good return, and Davone Bess showed absolutely nothing.

Dolphins-Patriots Week 13 Live Chat

Week 13 game predictions

I'm coming off my best week of the season in terms of picking, going 13-3 in last week's slate of games. Here's hoping I can reproduce it.

Last week's record: 13-3
Season record: 121-55 (68.8%)

Eagles over Falcons — I'd normally go with a the home team in such a good matchup, but Atlanta is extremely banged up right now, so I have to go with the Eagles.

Bears over Rams — For all their problems, Chicago should still be able to top the lowly Rams. I'm predicting a big game for Jay Cutler.

Bengals over Lions — Carson Palmer should have a field day against a horrendous Detroit secondary, so I don't expect this one to be close.

Colts over Titans — Vince Young is riding the wave created by Chris Johnson and he's still not playing that well at quarterback. The Titans turnaround hits speed bump this week in Indianapolis.

Broncos over Chiefs — I don't think the Chiefs are quite there yet, and I like the Broncos in just about every facet by comparison.

Patriots over Dolphins — Miami just can't seem to put it together long-term and are coming off an ugly loss to a team they should have beaten. I don't expect them to be able to keep up with the Patriots this week.

Steelers over Raiders — Ben Roethlisberger is back, but that doesn't affect my pick. I'd still be picking Pittsburgh if Terry Bradshaw were starting.

Saints over Redskins — Washington has an underrated pass defense, but I still don't think they have enough talent to take down a New Orleans team that's simply on fire right now.

Panthers over Buccaneers — This could be quite an ugly matchup, but I like Carolina's talent better and I expect Jonathan Stewart to carry the Panthers during their quarterback shuffle.

Texans over Jaguars — This one feels about as much of a toss-up as it gets. I'm going Houston, but I'll probably be wrong.

Chargers over Browns — There's just no reason to pick Cleveland this season. San Diego should handle this easily.

Giants over Cowboys — New York needs a turnaround badly, and I'm predicting they get one in a huge divisional win at home this week.

49ers over Seahawks — Seattle just doesn't have an offense and San Francisco has been playing solid football all season. Vernon Davis will lead the Niners to victory again.

Vikings over Cardinals — There's really no telling how the Cardinals are gonna play any given week, but it's hard to bet against Minnesota the way they're playing right now. I won't be doing it.

Packers over Ravens — This is a very tough matchup, but Joe Flacco is banged up and they're playing on the road. I'll take the Packers in this one.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Busy week

Sorry for the lack of content this week; it's been quite busy from an academic standpoint. I'm currently coming out of a handful of exams and papers from this past week, so I should have a couple new pieces up in the next day or two, including a roster transaction and my second alumni update.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week 12 Live Chat: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dolphins promote DE Ryan Baker from practice squad

The Miami Dolphins have made a minor transaction in preparation for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills, waiving cornerback Evan Oglesby and promoting defensive end Ryan Baker from the practice squad.

An undrafted rookie out of Purdue, Baker signed with the Dolphins following the 2009 NFL Draft. He failed to make the active roster following the preseason and has been on the team's practice squad since the beginning of the regular season.

Oglesby's release comes just four days after he was signed by the Dolphins as a free agent.

A four-year veteran with the Bills, Cowboys and Ravens, Oglesby remained unsigned after being waived by Baltimore during final cuts on Sept. 6.

Analysis

This transaction was made purely for this weekend's game and could very well be reversed early next week.

Reserve defensive end Lionel Dotson is likely out against Buffalo (he's officially listed as doubtful with an ankle injury) and the team obviously felt Baker's experience in the system since April was more valuable tomorrow than new arrival Ikaika Alama-Francis could be.

Baker will likely serve as the No. 4 defensive end behind starters Kendall Langford and Randy Starks and top backups Phillip Merling and Tony McDaniel, who is now also serving as the top backup to nose tackle Paul Soliai.

Meanwhile, Oglesby was the logical choice to make room for Baker. He is not in demand and should clear waivers easily. He was also signed just this week and wasn't going to play or contribute against the Bills anyway.

In all likelihood, Baker will be waived when Dotson is healthy and then re-signed to the practice squad, at which point I expect Oglesby to be re-signed.

Week 12 game predictions

Man, I knew I should have picked Denver at home on a short week. Oh well. At least I had a good week last week.

Last week's record: 12-4
Season record: 108-52 (67.5%)

Falcons over Buccaneers — Tampa Bay appears to be a long way off right now and Atlanta at home should have no problem handling their division rival, regardless of whether or not Michael Turner plays.

Dolphins over Bills — Buffalo's offensive line and secondary has been hit hard with injuries recently, swinging the advantage even farther toward the Dolphins. I like Miami on the road in this one.

Bengals over Browns — Brady Quinn had a fantastic day against the league's worst pass defense in Detroit last week, but he won't have that luxury again. Cincinnati is the much better team from top to bottom and I can't envision them losing.

Seahawks over Rams — In a battle between two dismal NFC West franchises, the difference could come down to the presence of Rams running back Steven Jackson. The Pro Bowler missed every practice this week with a back injury and is considered a game-time decision. Considering the Rams promoted rookie running back Chris Ogbonnaya from the practice squad today, I'm going to guess Jackson won't play and that the Seahawks will take advantage.

Jets over Panthers — Mark Sanchez has really come back down to earth lately and is just giving games away right now. Still, Carolina's pretty unimpressive and isn't as committed to the run as they should be, so I'm taking the Jets' strong defense at home.

Eagles over Redskins — Washington gave Dallas a game last week and could do the same against another division rival tomorrow. Still, Philadelphia is a much more talented squad and they have to be the pick.

Colts over Texans — Far less-talented Houston teams have beaten far more-talented Indianapolis teams in the past, but I can't justify picking against the Colts with the way Peyton Manning is playing right now.

Chargers over Chiefs — Kansas City pulled off the surprise upset against a much better Steelers team last week, but I don't see it happening two weeks in a row. San Diego is better and should win this one.

Jaguars over 49ers — It's never easy flying to the west coast, and Jacksonville arrives in San Francisco with some very unimpressive play lately despite some wins. Still, I just don't like much about the Niners except for a handful of players and I'm going to predict Maurice Jones-Drew leads the Jaguars to victory.

Cardinals over Titans — Tennessee has reeled off some wins recently with their quarterback change, but all the credit is due to running back Chris Johnson. However, I'm predicting they get taken down a peg and upset by Arizona this week.

Vikings over Bears — Chicago's offensive line is woeful, while Minnesota's gives Brett Favre all the time in the world to throw. I can't justify picking the Bears in this one.

Ravens over Steelers — Pittsburgh is certainly a talented squad and maybe even better than Baltimore at full strength, but I can't pick Dennis Dixon to win this one on his first start on the road against a very good Ravens team.

Patriots over Saints — New England is getting hot and they present one of the best challenges remaining for the Saints this season. I say Tom Brady wins a big one on the road.