Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dolphins activate DE Phillip Merling from non-football injury list

Just five months after suffering a torn Achilles' tendon, Miami Dolphins third-year defensive end Phillip Merling has been activated from the non-football injury list and added to the active roster.

Merling, who returned to the practice field earlier in the month, had to be activated today or remain on the NFI list for the remainder of the season.

The return to the active roster caps off a good month for Merling, who is finally ready for football activity and had charges of domestic battery from a May arrest dropped in Broward County two weeks ago.


Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who was signed on Nov. 15 after injuries to Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, was placed on waivers to make room for Merling.

With Ramsey gone and Pennington on injured reserve, the Dolphins now have just two quarterbacks—Henne and Tyler Thigpen—on the active roster. Former Fresno State and Denver Broncos quarterback Tom Brandstater still on the practice squad.


Analysis

Getting the Ramsey release out of the way, it's not surprising to see it happen now that Chad Henne (knee) appears to be near 100%. Plenty of teams go with only two quarterbacks during the season, and the Dolphins still have Brandstater on the practice squad if they want to call him up to be a third-stringer.

While Merling hasn't developed into quite as good a player as the team hoped when they drafted him in the second round out of Clemson in 2008, he has absolutely been a contributor and a solid rotational guy in the defensive line.

It's difficult to analyze Merling's return because we still don't know just how healthy he is or how well he'll play, if at all. While Merling will probably see time for the Dolphins this year, the Dolphins lost nothing by cutting Ramsey and had to activate Merling today if they wanted to even have a chance at playing him this year, so there's no guarantee he's actually ready to play just based on his activation.

Assuming Merling does play, I expect him to be eased back into the rotation with limited snaps over his first few games. He should see some time in Jared Odrick's old spot of right defensive end, which would allow Randy Starks to play more nose tackle as he did earlier in the year.

Merling's return to the field would absolutely add a boost to a Dolphins run defense that ranks a very average 14th in the NFL through 11 games.

The Dolphins will have an immediate test in Week 13 against Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis, but it seems unlikely Merling will be able to contribute so much that early.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Dolphins-Raiders Game Observations

Despite allowing a 101-yard kickoff returned for a touchdown to begin the game, the Miami Dolphins dominated the Oakland Raiders for most of the game in Week 12 on the way to a 33-17 victory.

Quarterback Chad Henne excelled with over 300 yards and two touchdown passes, while the running game helped eat up more than 40 minutes of the clock as the Dolphins controlled the ball for much of the game.

The Dolphins are now 6-5 and still alive in the playoff hunt, with a home match-up against the 4-7 Cleveland Browns team that is playing better than their record indicates.

Until then, here are my observations from the Dolphins' win over the Raiders in Week 12:


Offense
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see Chad Henne have such a good game after all he's been through with a benching and an injury over the past month. He excelled against the NFL's third-ranked pass defense, which was missing a fully healthy Nnamdi Asomugha at cornerback. Henne picked on rookie Walter McFadden all game and did an excellent job of putting the ball where it needed to be and converting first downs. Aside from his lone interception, which admittedly was a terrible decision, Henne's play was excellent.
  • One qualm I had about the way the Dolphins ran the offense was interruptions Chad Henne saw to his playing time with a few Tyler Thigpen draws and plenty of wildcat plays. Yeah, it worked out in the end and the Dolphins won, but I don't like taking your starting quarterback out for two downs, then throwing him back out there on 3rd and 11 and expecting him to convert. Henne needs to fully be given the keys to the offense.
  • As much as the Dolphins controlled the clock in this one, the running game was actually pretty lackluster again. Aside from his late 45-yard touchdown run, Ricky Williams averaged 2.6 yards per carry, while Ronnie Brown came in at 3.5-yard average on a season-high 24 carries. Those kinds of numbers won't move the chains, so it's a credit to Henne, who had over 300 yards, moving the ball and converting first downs through the air.
  • Patrick Cobbs burned the defense for a touchdown on a wonderfully drawn-up play, and it's nice to see him back having a role on offense.
  • Davone Bess had a nice homecoming in Oakland, as did Brian Hartline. The Dolphins certainly aren't better off without Brandon Marshall, but it was good to see the Dolphins' primary receivers step up in his absence.
  • Let's not get too high on Marlon Moore just yet. He played well for his first offensive playing time in the NFL, but his touchdown was a bit of luck and a bad play on the ball by the defender, so it's not really indicative of the undrafted rookie's talent. I'm still a bigger Roberto Wallace fan.
  • The tight ends were nowhere to be found for Miami in this one, as Fasano totaled two catches for 10 yards and the backup was invisible as always. The running game wasn't too productive either, so it's not like they were busy blocking defenders with much success.
  • Assessing the Dolphins' sacks, the first two (one each by Raiders safeties Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch) were the result of defense bringing more guys than Miami could block. Huff came past Lousaka Polite and Branch past Jake Long, but both Dolphins players were blocking other players and wasn't beaten by the sacking player. The third sack of the day was technically Long's man, but it was John Jerry who allowed Tommy Kelly to come in practically untouched and ran Henne into Desmond Bryant, who got the take-down.
  • The running game suffered once again at he hands of the interior line. Center Joe Berger and left guard Richie Incognito were the biggest culprits, as per usual. Both need to go in the offseason, or at least be relegated to the bench.

Defense
  •  No one really stood out on the defensive line, but they did a good job shutting down what few attempts the Raiders made to run the ball, while getting solid pressure on Bruce Gradkowski and never letting him get totally comfortable.
  • Cameron Wake wasn't around standing out for much of the game, but he did have two tackles for a loss and got into double-digit sacks for the year by taking Gradkowski down late in the game. Koa Misi had a nice play against the run but was largely invisible, while Quentin Moses apparently wasn't able to motivate himself enough to play well against the team that drafted and cut him within a few months (for good reason, mind you).
  • Tim Dobbins actually outplayed Channing Crowder as he did a nice job filling in for an injured Karlos Dansby (wrist) much of the game. Dobbins did have a blatant and laughable tripping penalty, but he played much better Sunday than he did earlier in the season when filling in for Crowder.
  • Vontae Davis and Sean Smith apparently were late to a team meeting and benched to start the game, but they responded well and turned in good games. They both seem like good kids, so one hopes they'll get more mature and stay out of the doghouse.
  • Benny Sapp does way too much talking for someone that isn't very good. He'd talk trash and gesticulate after every incompletion his way, whether he did anything or not, and Jacoby Ford owned him for most of the day.
  • Chris Clemons finally got his first interception on an under-thrown ball to Jacoby Ford, but reverted back to his old self when another ball that should have been picked ended up being caught by Ford on a spectacular grab. It's good Clemons is in position to make plays a lot, but I'd prefer him to actually come down with a few more turnovers.
  • After what I would call a pretty down year, Yeremiah Bell turned in a really good performance on Sunday. He pulled down an interception, recovered a fumble, and made some nice plays against the run.

Special Teams
  • Dan Carpenter had a bit of a rough day, going 4-for-6 on field goals with misses from 49 and 51 yards. Both are long tries, so it's nothing to be too concerned about. It is a bit odd he came up short on the 51-yarder, though.
  • Obviously, the kickoff coverage has to get better. The 101-yard touchdown return was inexcusable, although I will credit the coverage team with putting a clamp on the Raiders' returns from that point on. Credit to Roberto Wallace, Jonathon Amaya (more than once), and Lex Hilliard for some nice tackle.
  • Davone Bess actually made some plays returning, with a 47-yard punt return that nearly doubled his previous career long. The Dolphins obviously blocked well on that one (or the Raiders didn't cover well) because Bess is far from explosive on returns.

Conclusion

This was a strange game to watch, as it was dominated by the Dolphins in terms of time of possession and rushing attempts, but the running game wasn't really productive. The only reason the Dolphins were able to covert first downs was because Henne was often on point and made good plays.

Some of the Dolphins' old problems again reared their heads, like poor run blocking by the interior offensive line and shaky special teams coverage. While it's great the Dolphins won and played well in some areas, you have to look at the bad too and shouldn't get too high about this win.

The Dolphins have a better team than Cleveland and should win at home next week, but the Browns are playing well and aren't going to go down without a fight.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Week 12 Power Rankings

After posting my power rankings in Weeks 9 and 10, I failed to post them after a personally busy Week 11. I've been a bad blogger. I need an e-spanking.

Here are my all-new Power Rankings for Week 12, which obviously don't contain any "previous week ranks" due to the lack of power rankings last week. That will return in Week 13.


The Top 10

1. Atlanta Falcons (9-2) — Home, road, it doesn't matter. Matt Ryan and the Falcons continue to roll over good teams with five straight wins.

2. New England Patriots (9-2) — They flat-out embarrassed Detroit on Thanksgiving, and will have a huge game against the Jets in Week 13.

3. New York Jets (9-2) — The Jets continue to feed off bad teams, but next week's game against New England will tell us a lot.

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3) — One of two elite teams in the division, next week's Sunday night matchup against the Steelers will shape the division.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) — A Steve Johnson catch away from a loss to Buffalo, this team should be playing better than it is right now.

6. New Orleans Saints (8-3) — Drew Brees got the magic going against Dallas, and this team is finally rolling.

7. Chicago Bears (8-3) — I've been in denial about this team's quality for a while now, but you can't ignore them when Jay Cutler is throwing touchdowns at will and the defense is shutting down Michael Vick.

8. Green Bay Packers (7-4) — A facemask call on a late kickoff is quite possibly the only reason they lost to the Falcons in Atlanta, so you can't fault them too much.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4) — Michael Vick finally looked human against Chicago, but this team should be fine.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) — The difference between Matt Cassel in past years and this year is night and day, and it's doing wonders for the Chiefs' dangerous offense.


The Other 22

11. San Diego (6-5)
12. New York Giants (7-4)
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
14. Miami Dolphins (6-5)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5)
16. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
17. Cleveland Browns (4-7)
18. Houston Texans (5-6)
19. St. Louis Rams (5-6)
20. Oakland Raiders (5-6)
21. Washington Redskins (5-6)
22. Minnesota Vikings (4-7)
23. Tennessee Titans (5-6)
24. Dallas Cowboys (3-8)
25. Seattle Seahawks (5-6)
26. Denver Broncos (3-8)
27. Buffalo Bills (2-9)
28. San Francisco 49ers (4-7)
29. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9)
30. Detroit Lions (2-9)
31. Arizona Cardinals (3-8)
32. Carolina Panthers (1-10)


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dolphins Winning Drive - 11/29/10

A daily vlog of Miami Dolphins news, discussion, and analysis on my drive home from work. This episode discusses the Dolphins' 33-17 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 12.




Discuss this article on the forum here!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dolphins at Raiders - Live Chat

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Week 12 Game Predictions

I had a good week in Week 11, going 13-3 on my picks. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to post an entry on my predictions,so you'll just have to trust me.

I'm 3-0 already this week heading into Sunday, getting all three of the Thanksgiving Day games correct.

Last week's record: 13-3 
2010 season record: 105-58 (64.4%)


Packers over Falcons — This is a difficult game to pick, because the Falcons are unbeatable at home, but I like the Packers' a little better as a team. I'm predicting a little bit of an upset by Green Bay on the road.

Steelers over Bills — The Bills pulled of a miraculous comeback against the Bengals, but I don't see them having quite the same success against this AFC North team.

Browns over Panthers — Jimmy Clausen is back from a concussion and will once again start for the Panthers. I don't see him having a whole lot of a success against a rising Browns team.

Giants over Jaguars — The Giants are coming off two disappointing divisional losses, but I think they'll rebound against a Jaguars team that just doesn't impress me that much.

Vikings over Redskins — It seems like teams always win the game after a coaching change (and I have no statistical backing for that feeling), so I'll take the Leslie Frazier-led Vikings over Washington.

Texans over Titans — Houston just cannot seem to put it all together, but they should absolutely win this week with sixth-round rookie Rusty Smith starting at quarterback for Tennessee.

Dolphins over Raiders — I'm picking the Dolphins because I'm biased, okay? I can't help it. This is one of those games where I'm able to envision everything going right for Miami and the team playing up to it's talent, which easily matches Oakland's. This pick doesn't make a whole lot of sense, though.

Chiefs over Seahawks — This game isn't too exciting, but the Chiefs have a much better offense than Seattle and should secure the victory on the road.

Eagles over Bears — The Bears' defense is playing lights-out right now, but I'm not sure they'll be able to contain Michael Vick at the level he's playing at.

Broncos over Rams — The Rams might have trouble going from their home dome to the thin air of Denver, and I hear the Broncos have been doing some extra film study this week.

Colts over Chargers — Prepare for a shootout in this one, but I think Peyton Manning rebounds from his big interception to trump Philip Rivers and this one.

49ers over Cardinals — Is this the worst Monday Night Football match-up of the year or what? The 49ers are the more talented of the two, so I'll take them on the road.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Brandon Marshall officially out vs. Raiders

According to reports, Miami Dolphins starting wide receiver Brandon Marshall (hamstring) did not travel with the team to Oakland on Friday and has been downgraded from doubtful to out for the team's game against the Raiders on Sunday.

Marshall (pictured right) injured his right hamstring after making an 18-yard catch and spin in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 18.

A five-year veteran, Marshall has missed only three games in his NFL career and has never missed a game due to injury.

Offensive struggles have limited Marshall's production during his first season with the Dolphins, as he has totaled a respectable 58 catches and 693 yards, but has found the end zone just once in 10 games.

The Dolphins, who appear likely to get quarterback Chad Henne back from a knee injury against the Raiders, have beefed up the receiving corps in Marshall's absence by promoting second-year receiver Julius Pruitt from the practice squad on Saturday.

Pruitt and undrafted rookie Marlon Moore could see increased playing time on offense in Marshall's absence, while 6-foot-4 Marshall protégé Roberto Wallace could play extensively in three- or even two-receiver sets.

With an immobile quarterback, a battered offensive line, and a receiving corps now once again lacking a true No. 1 receiver, the Dolphins are sure to have their hands full with Oakland's third-ranked pass defense led by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

With Brandon Marshall out, Dolphins promote WR Julius Pruitt

With Brandon Marshall unlikely to play Sunday against the Raiders with a hamstring injury, the Miami Dolphins have promoted second-year wide receiver Julius Pruitt from the practice squad to the active roster.

As of yet, there is no word on who was waived to clear a roster spot for Pruitt.

Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Oauchita Baptist in September 2009, Pruitt spent his entire rookie season on the Dolphins' practice squad.

The Dolphins brought Pruitt back on a future contract on Jan. 5, where he was able to hold off the likes of Ryan Grice-Mullen and Taurus Johnson for a spot on the team's practice squad in 2010 after catching three passes for 31 yards in the preseason.

Pruitt, who will wear No. 11 for the Dolphins as he has since originally joining the team, likely received a one-year contract worth a prorated $320,000 minimum salary as a result of his promotion.

The Dolphins face the Raiders in Oakland at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.


Analysis

There had been speculation Pruitt would be promoted this week due to Marshall's injury, but yesterday's release of defensive end Clifton Geathers actually resulted in the promotion of another defensive lineman in nose tackle Chris Baker.

With Pruitt now also earning a promotion, it's still unclear who was waived to make room for him. Possibilities include another receiver like Marlon Moore; a tight end like Mickey Shuler, linebacker Austin Spitler, or safety Jonathon Amaya.

Less likely options could be Brandon Marshall heading to injured reserve, whose injury doesn't appear serious enough for that, or the release of quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who won't be as needed if Chad Henne is truly healthy enough to start.

It's a bit surprising to see Pruitt activated despite Marshall's injury, as the Dolphins usually only have four receivers active on game days and they already had four healthy ones available excluding Marshall.

By being activated the Saturday before a game, it seems almost guaranteed Pruitt will be active and dressed Sunday, which means he may have leapfrogged undrafted rookie Marlon Moore.

Moore has been outplayed by fellow undrafted rookie Roberto Wallace on special teams this season and has only appeared in four games this season. He made his first two NFL receptions last week against the Chicago Bears.

It's also possible the Dolphins could dress all five receivers, with Pruitt taking the 45-man active spot of a special teams player (possibly the one cut to make room for him).

If Pruitt does dress Sunday, he'll likely focus on special teams. However, it's possible he could get a look in four-wide sets with Roberto Wallace taking on a bigger role in Marshall's absence.

Pruitt's an intriguing small-school prospect with good size (6-2, 206) and 4.3 speed, but he's obviously a raw prospect and doesn't offer much upside.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dolphins promote NT Chris Baker to active roster

The Miami Dolphins have shuffled their defensive line depth two days before their game against the Oakland Raiders, waiving defensive end Clifton Geathers and promoting nose tackle Chris Baker from the practice squad.

Geathers, who was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns following final cuts in September, has had two stints each on the Dolphins' active roster and practice squad this season.

He was last promoted to the active roster in October and made his NFL debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he has been inactive for every game since.

A second-year player from Penn State and Hampton, Baker spent 2009 with the Denver Broncos and was briefly with the UFL's Hartford Colonials in September. He was originally added to the Dolphins' practice squad on Oct. 7, reuniting him with former Broncos  and current Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

Baker will wear No. 95 for the Dolphins if he is active against the Raiders on Sunday.


Analysis

It's a bit surprising to see Baker take Geathers' roster spot, as one would have assumed he was waived to make room for defensive end Phillip Merling (non-football injury list) or wide receiver Julius Pruitt, given Brandon Marshall's injury.

Geathers could end up on the practice squad of he clears waivers, although there might not be a need for two practice squad defensive ends (Geathers and Rob Rose) if Merling can return this season.

[Update: Geathers has apparently been claimed off waivers by the Seattle Seahawks, so he will not be returning to the Dolphins' practice squad.]

Baker's stint on the active roster may last just one week if Merling is ready in Week 13, but it seems likely Baker will at least be active this Sunday against the Raiders given how close his activation is to the game.

Primarily a nose tackle with the ability to play some 3-4 defensive end as well, Baker's playing time may actually come at the expense of Ryan Baker, who usually sees time as a rotational defensive tackle in four-man fronts.

Chris Baker was always a good prospect coming out of college and joined the Dolphins with a good knowledge of the defense from his time with Nolan in Denver, so he should be ready for playing time.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Game Predictions

Wanted to get my Thanksgiving Day game predictions up before I enter the torture chamber known as family dinner.

Patriots over Lions - is there really any explanation needed? The Patriots should destroy Detroit.

Saints over Cowboys - Dallas is showing signs of life under Jason Garrett, but I don't see the duo of Jon Kitna and Dez Bryant beating the Saints by themselves.

Jets over Bengals - Cincinnati has underachieved all year and is currently as banged up as they ever have been. The Jets haven't been impressive in their wins lately, but they should pull this one out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dolphins Winning Drive - 11/22/10

A daily vlog of Miami Dolphins news, discussion, and analysis on my drive home from work.

This episode discusses the Dolphins' signing of veteran free-agent center Eric Ghiaciuc.




Discuss this article on the forum here!

Dolphins sign center Eric Ghiaciuc

With starter Joe Berger nursing a knee injury, backup Cory Procter now on injured reserve with a torn ACL, and starting left guard Richie Incognito struggling last week against the Bears, the Miami Dolphins have signed veteran center Eric Ghiaciuc to an undisclosed contract.

A five-year NFL veteran, Ghiaciuc (pronounced GUY-check) likely received a one-year deal for the veteran minimum. He was at practice Monday wearing No. 73. Earlier reports of the Dolphins signing offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (and wearing No. 73) now appear to be inaccurate.

Ghiaciuc has center and guard experience, but is likely to work at center with Berger currently unavailable. However, Berger is expected to be ready for the Dolphins' Week 12 match-up with the Oakland Raiders.


Background

A Michigan native, Ghiaciuc played college football at Central Michigan and started 37 games for the Chippewas over his final three seasons.

Ghiaciuc was drafted by the Bengals in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, and started one game during his rookie season as the backup to veteran center Rich Braham.

After Braham suffered an injury early in the 2006 season, Ghiaciuc replaced him as the Bengals' starting center and opened 13 games that season. He followed with 12 starts in 2007 and 16 starts in 2008.

Ghiaciuc became an unrestricted free agent in the 2009 season and was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. However, he was waived by the Chiefs during final cuts.

The San Diego Chargers signed Ghiaciuc on December 22, 2009 after an injured to Scott Mruczkowski. However, Ghiaciuc was inactive for the Chargers' final two regular season games and their lone playoff game that season.

 One again a free agent in 2010, Ghiaciuc spent two months of the offseason with the Cleveland Browns before his release in June. After a brief stint with the UFL's Florida Tuskers, Ghiaciuc spent the 2010 preseason with the New England Patriots before being released during final cuts.

Analysis

Ghiaciuc was signed for one reason and one reason only—he has plenty of NFL experience snapping the football.

The Dolphins need someone to fill in for Berger in practice until he returns, while emergency center Richie Incognito needs to continue practicing at his starting spot of left guard.

There isn't much to get excited up with the Ghiaciuc signing, because he has become fairly well-known for being a sub-par center and has taken on the role of a journeyman over the past few seasons.

In fact, the recognition for Ghiaciuc's lack of ability has stretched as far as Deadspin.com, which recently named him the 83rd worst player in NFL history.

Of course there is no statistical backing for the article, but it's certainly not a good thing when a random offensive lineman is singled out in such a way. (For some perspective, former Dolphins linebacker Bobby Carpenter is 98th on the list.)

Consider Ghiaciuc the Patrick Ramsey of centers—a experienced NFL veteran that provides needed depth in the short-term, but someone without much ability or any real upside that has no chance of returning in 2011.

As always, check out the update out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


Discuss this article on the forum here!

Miami Dolphins: Nov. 22 News & Notes

It was a long and predominantly football-less weekend, so I was unable to get my game picks up in time for yesterday's games. Too bad, as I've gotten 12 out of 15 right so far.

In the interest of quickly catching up on Miami Dolphins news a bit, here are some of the news items floating around the internet over the weekend and the following Monday:
  • Offensive lineman Cory Procter was indeed placed on season-ending injured reserve Friday, just a day after suffering a torn ACL in a 16-0 loss to the Chicago Bears. Procter was filling in for starting center Joe Berger, who is still out with a knee injury. Richie Incognito filled in for Procter against the Bears and struggled with his snaps. Procter is making $630,000 this season and is slated to be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, so he is no lock to return to the Dolphins.
  • With Jake Long (torn labrum) struggling against the Bears and the Dolphins contemplating shutting him down for the season, the Dolphins worked out free-agent offensive tackles Levi Jones and Tony Ugoh. The 10th overall pick in 2002 out of Arizona State, Jones started 89 games for the Bengals over seven seasons. He was released in May 2009 and later signed by the Redskins, starting eight games for the team that season. Ugoh was drafted by the Colts in the second round in 2007 out of Arkansas and started 27 of 37 games played over three seasons. He was moved to guard late in his stint with the Colts and was released on Sept. 8.
  • Defensive end Phillip Merling, currently on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list with a torn Achilles' tendon, returned to practice for the first time Monday. The Dolphins have eight days to decide whether to add him to the active roster or leave him on the NFI list for the remainder of the 2010 season.

Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Dolphins Winning Drive - 11/19/10

    A daily vlog of Miami Dolphins news, discussion, and analysis on my drive home from work.

    This episode discusses the Miami Dolphins' 16-0 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 11 of the 2010 NFL season.




    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Offenive lineman Cory Procter likely has torn ACL

    Getting his first start at center in place of an injured Joe Berger, veteran offensive lineman Cory Procter's night took a downward turn in a hurry when he suffered a significant knee injury in the first quarter of the Miami Dolphins' 16-0 loss to the Chicago Bears.

    Procter, who was sprinting downfield for a dump-off pass, fell to the ground without contact by a defender and was immediately in pain.

    Initial reports the following morning are that Procter has a torn ACL in his knee, which would end his season. An MRI is schedules for Friday.

    After Procter's injury, the Dolphins were forced to move left guard Richie Incognito inside to center and insert Pat McQuistan, who has worked extensively at right guard this season, at left guard.

    Although Incognito had center experience from his time with the Rams, he struggled mightily last night and routinely gave quarterback Tyler Thigpen low snaps out of the shotgun.

    The Dolphins' offense in turn struggled as a whole, gaining just 10 first downs, going 1-for-11 in third-down conversions, allowing six sacks, and failing to put any points on the board.

    Now 5-5, the Dolphins are on the playoff bubble and heading in the wrong direction as injuries continue to mount. They'll have a long period off before they head to Oakland and face the Raiders in Week 12.


    Analysis

    The Dolphins' offensive line is in as bad of shape as it's been in this season, and losing Procter does not help things.

    While Procter is merely a reserve for the most part and Joe Berger is expected to return to the field in the Dolphins' next game, it's not good to lose depth on a line that already isn't doing half its job.

    The run-blocking was nonexistent yesterday, as it has been for most of the season. Incognito and Berger have been bad as starters, but things got even uglier when Incognito was forced to play center and McQuistan right guard.

    The pass protection also broke down quite a bit yesterday, which is something we haven't really seen often this year. This can obviously be attributed to the lack of talent inside and guys playing out of position, and to some extent the shoulder injury being played through by Jake Long.

    Procter will likely be placed on injured reserve shortly, and will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. He becomes an unlikely candidate to be re-signed by the Dolphins, as he is no guarantee to be ready for training camp given the late part of the season in which the injury was suffered.

    A lot of people bring up guys like Jake Grove and Donald Thomas as players we should bring in to help solidify the line, and I will certainly grant you the run blocking was better when those guys were starting.

    That being said, Grove's injury history is well-documented, and I think it's quite telling than neither he nor Thomas has been signed by any NFL team 11 weeks after the season began.

    Instead of picking up a free agent veteran, I'd expect the Dolphins to promote second-year Ray Feinga from the practice squad to take his spot. Feinga is still with the Dolphins after a car crash and injury in training camp, a finger injury in the preseason, and a four-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of league policy, so he obviously has something they like.

    Second-year center Andrew Hartline, who was released from the practice squad a few weeks ago, could be a candidate to be brought back for depth while Berger works toward returning to the field.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Dolphins vs. Bears - Live Chat

    Dolphins-Bears Game Prediction

    Normally I just don't post my pick for the Thursday night game, and just have you all trust me when I say I got it right or wrong when I post my Sunday picks.

    Of course, the Miami Dolphins are playing on the NFL Network this Thursday night, so I decided I would indeed post my prediction.

    The Bears come in with a better record at 6-3 and most recently earned a big division win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10.

    That being said, I'm not a huge fan of this team overall and I don't believe them to be as good as their record.

    They have a good defense and good special teams, but their offensive line is horrendous. When Jay Cutler doesn't get protection, he's prone to making mistakes, and the game can unravel in a hurry.

    The Dolphins' secondary is coming off a very good game, while Cameron Wake is hungry for another big game after a quiet performance against Tennessee. I think a dominant pass rush by Miami could make things much harder on the Bears' passing game.

    Yeah, the Dolphins have the worse record and are down to their third-string quarterback in Tyler Thigpen, but I simply like their overall talent better and give them a slight advantage at home.

    Let's not forget—Miami's four losses have come to the clear-cut four best teams in the AFC, while Chicago has dropped games to the likes of Seattle and Washington.

    If Miami can mount a strong pass rush on defense and prevent any big plays on special teams, they are the better team in this match-up and should come away with the win.

    Miami Dolphins: 27
    Chicago Bears: 17


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Report: Cameron Wake could ask for new contract

    NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reports that Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake could approach the team about a contract extension in the near future.

    Currently leading the AFC with 8.5 sacks and quite possibly heading for his first Pro Bowl selection, Wake will reportedly ask for the new deal if and when he reaches 10 sacks on the season—a total that could be reached tonight given the Chicago Bears' poor pass protection.

    Originally undrafted out of Penn State in 2005, Wake spent a brief time with the New York Giants and was out of football before joining the CFL's BC Lions in 2007.

    Wake took the CFL by storm, totaling 39 sacks in two seasons with the team and earning the league Defensive MVP award both years.

    The Dolphins' beat out more than half the teams in the NFL when they signed him as a free agent in 2009, but actually got him at an extremely inexpensive price.

    As I broke down back in January 2009, Wake's current four-year deal has a maximum value of $4.9 million and included a signing bonus of $1 million. It calls for minimum base salaries in all four years for a total of $1.55 million, including a base salary of just $395,000 in 2009.

    Wake totaled 5.5 sacks in his first season with the team as a situational pass rusher, but has been thrust into the starting role in 2010 with the departure of veterans Joey Porter and Jason Taylor.

    In addition to his AFC-best 8.5 sacks in 2010, Wake has also added 32 tackles, one forced fumble, and four pass deflections.


    Analysis

    Wake is a very humble and reasonable guy from what I can tell, but he has one of the lowest salaries on the entire Dolphins' roster. It's hard to argue he doesn't deserve some kind of pay increase for the way he's played and the impact he's had on the Dolphins' defense this year.

    I don't anticipate any problems with the two sides working out a deal, because it's not an unreasonable request on the player's part and the Dolphins are smart enough to lock up one of their biggest defensive pieces.

    The Dolphins have shown not hesitation in extending the contracts of young key players or those with potential, such as Lousaka Polite, Patrick Cobbs, Greg Camarillo, John Denney, Dan Carpenter, Brandon Fields, and Ikaika Alama-Francis.

    Wake is arguably more valuable than any of the guys above, and while his contract demands will probably exceed any of theirs as well, he's clearly proved to be worth starter money.

    Not only has Wake excelled as a pass rusher this season, but he has also rapidly developed into a complete player than can play all three downs and defend the run as well.

    While older than you average second-year player at 28, Wake is in as good of physical condition as anyone in the league an certainly has plenty of good years left at the rate he's doing.

    The Dolphins should re-do the final two years of his contract to give him more appropriate base salaries, offer him a nice signing bonus up front, and tack on an additional two years to the existing deal.

    In the end, I expect the Dolphins to sit down with Wake and his representatives this offseason and hammer out a fair deal that both sides can live with, and one that will keep one of the Dolphins' most productive defenders in Miami for the coming years.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Dolphins Winning Drive - 11/17/10

    A daily vlog of Miami Dolphins news, discussion, and analysis on my drive home from work. This episode discusses the Dolphins' signings of quarterbacks Patrick Ramsey and Tom Brandstater, as well as the Dolphins' upcoming matchup with the Chicago Bears.

    Dolphins sign TE Anthony Fasano to two-year extension

    Two days after he posted a career day with 107 yards and a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans, it was reported that Miami Dolphins starting tight end Anthony Fasano had been signed to a two-year contract extension through 2012.

    According to Pro Football Talk, or "the Jersey Shore of football news" as I like to think of it, Fasano actually signed the extension back on November 5.

    Terms of the deal include a signing bonus of $2.1 million, along with base salaries of $1.9 million in 2011 and $3.6 million in 2012. Workout bonuses of $75,000 are also present each of those years.

    The deal comes after an offseason in which Fasano was limited to restricted free agency due to the lack of an extension on the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He publicly voiced his displeasure with the situation, but eventually signed his one-year tender in June.

    Fasano again would have been a restricted free agent in the 2011 offseason if he'd not signed this new deal and no CBA extension has been reached.

    The Dolphins' starting tight end each of the past three seasons since being acquired from the Cowboys, Fasano has been forced to take on more of a blocking role with the absence of a reliable No. 2 player at the position.

    While Fasano's most impressive season was his first with the Dolphins, Fasano is actually on pace for career-high number in receptions and yards—though nearly a third of his totals to-date came in his big game against Tennessee.


    Analysis

    I'm of the opinion that Fasano is a solid but unspectacular tight end due to inconsistent receiving production, but a quality blocker and an ideal No. 2 man or fill-in kind of guy.

    That being said, the Dolphins did a good job locking him up for two more seasons. The deal doesn't break the bank, would be hard to get out of early if the team wanted, and still allows the Dolphins to look for a long-term developmental tight end through the draft.

    While not an essential part of a productive offense, a dominant receiving threat at tight end is certainly a luxury the Dolphins would like to have, and it's a label against which Fasano falls a bit short.

    Antonio Gates don't grow on trees though, and Fasano is the ideal candidate to man the starting tight end spot for the next year or two until the Dolphins can find the right player in the draft.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Dolphins-Titans Game Observations

    The Miami Dolphins finally grabbed their first win at home more than halfway through the 2010 season, but it didn't come without a cost.

    Newly-anointed starting Chad Pennington was knocked out of the game in two plays with a season-ending shoulder injury, while former starter Chad Henne suffered a knee injury late in the third quarter.

    In addition, franchise left tackle Jake Long suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder that may require surgery. Long is expected to gut it out and play with a harness, although it remains to be seen how effective he will be in this condition and how long he can keep doing it.

    Things are certainly going to be interesting in the final two months of the season, as third-stringer Tyler Thigpen seems likely to start for the Dolphins at quarterback while Henne tries to get healthy.

    The Dolphins have a short week with a Thursday night game against the Chicago Bears, but until then, here are my observations from the Dolphins' win over the Titans in Week 9.


    Offense
    • We all know I didn't agree with the benching of Chad Henne, so I'm not too disappointed with Chad Pennington's injury. I feel bad for the guy and I know he was the safest quarterback option, but he just did not offer much upside this year and beyond. With his sub-par arm strength and this many shoulder problems at his age, it's quite possible his playing career will be over soon. He'll make a hell of a coach one day, though.
    • I thought Henne played well in the three quarters of action he saw before his injury. He missed on a few plays and couldn't get on the same page with Brandon Marshall, but he also made some beautiful throws across the middle to Anthony Fasano, had a nice touchdown to Patrick Cobbs, and hit Brian Hartline deep on a well-executed flea flicker. It's a shame he got hurt, but it seems his injury may not be as severe as originally thought and it appears he is going to try to return this season. A lot of that depends on the speed of his recovery and the way Tyler Thigpen plays.
    • Thigpen played well after replacing Henne, although he only threw six passes. He showed off the good mobility he's known for and can certainly make things happen outside the pocket, and he used that athleticism to pick up a first and secure the victory.
    • Ronnie Brown scored for the second straight week, but he accumulated a dismal 11 yards on 12 carries. Ricky Williams fared much better with 64 yards on 11 carries, although a few big wildcat plays inflated his total. There isn't anything wrong with either back, but the interior line continues to be a problem in the running game. Miami also got extremely lucky they weren't stopped on 3rd and 10 when Ricky converted from a wildcat hand-off, since the quarterback-less Dolphins were obviously going to run.
    • It was nice to see Patrick Cobbs more involved in the offense, as he seems fully recovered from the torn ACL than prematurely ended his 2009 season. Cobbs isn't feature-back material, but he's a nice, hard-working player to have on offense and does have something to offer.
    • Brandon Marshall was visibly frustrated for a good part of the game, and even drew a delay of game penalty for throwing the ball after a first-down catch. Cortland Finnegan had great coverage on him for a lot of the game though, and Marshall would be better suited controlling his emotions and being more of a team player. That's obviously not going to happen, though.
    • Brian Hartline had the biggest day for the receivers, catching five balls for 98 yards, including a 54-yarder on a flea flicker.Anthony Fasano had a career day with five catches for 107 yards and a score, taking advantage of terrible coverage by the Titans' linebackers. Fasano isn't always this consistent though, which is why he's better suited for a prominent No. 2 role.
    • Jake Long did a nice job in protection once again, and it wasn't even apparent he suffered a serious shoulder injury in the game. The Dolphins can ill-afford to lose Long, which would probably result in Pat McQuistan starting and Vernon Carey moving over to Long's spot.
    • Richie Incognito was absolutely abused by ex-Dolphin Tony Brown on a sack, and continues to be a liability in the running game as well. The Dolphins were right to cut the big salaries of injury-prone linemen Jake Grove and Justin Smiley, but it's obvious that Incognito and center Joe Berger are not long-term starting solutions.

    Defense
    • Chris Johnson had few problems running through the Dolphins' line, but every layer of the defense was pretty much unable to tackle the dynamic running back. I will give the Dolphins' line credit for keeping the Titans' offense limited to just Johnson and getting good pressure on the quarterbacks from the inside. Randy Starks also did a great job jumping on a Vince Young fumble.
    • Cameron Wake had his least productive game of the season with just one tackle and no sacks, but he did miss time with a hip injury and the Titans' pass protection has been good for a while now. Koa Misi got some great penetration on running backs, but was made foolish by Chris Johnson's moves.
    • Karlos Dansby was all over the field, racking up eight tackles and forcing a Bo Scaife fumble on the opening drive. He too was beaten by Johnson a time or two, but for the most part he played very well.
    • Vontae Davis and the rest of the secondary had a fantastic game, although Davis did look pretty bad on a Nate Washington touchdown grab. The corners still limited the Titans' receivers to just 80 total yards, including just 26 by Randy Moss. Sean Smith, Benny Sapp, and even Al Harris all made some nice plays.
    • Chris Clemons had a nice game too, but rookie Reshad Jones definitely made the most of his chance when Clemons went down with an injury. Jones nearly picked off one Vince Young pass, had good coverage deep in the end zone on the next, then recorded his first career sack, then ended the Titans' drive with his first career interception. Jones was always a good value in the fifth round and could challenge a dinged-up Clemons for the starting free safety job if he keeps it up.
    • Yeremiah Bell tied for the team lead with eight tackles, and also had a sack and forced fumble on Young that was recovered by Randy Starks. Bell still looks pretty weak in coverage though and definitely is not the same player he was in previous years.

    Special Teams
    • Dan Carpenter got back on track with three converted field goals in as many tries, while Brandon Fields struggled a bit with a 28-yard average in three punts.
    • Nolan Carroll only got two return opportunities, but looked good on one and took it back 38 yards. Davone Bess didn't get a chance to return with most of the Titans' punts either through the end zone or out of bounds. Not like he would have had much of an impact anyway.

    Conclusion

    I can hardly remember a win coming at such a price, but the injuries suffered in this game could feasibly hurt the Dolphins the rest of the way.

    I don't dislike Thigpen, but he was dangled by Kansas City for months with no takers and was Miami's third-stringer for a reason. He can move and make plays with his feet, but he's not all that accurate and probably has limited upside.

    It will be interesting to see if Chad Henne can return this season, and if he can get his job back from Thigpen. Unless Thigpen plays lights-out the rest of the season, I'd expect a full competition between Henne and Thigpen in 2011, while the Dolphins also add a quarterback in the draft.

    The Dolphins' struggle in the running game continue to be problematic, because it really hurts how productive the team can be passing the ball. Unfortunately, I'm not sure this will be fixed any time soon, with the injury to Long not helping things and not much talent on the bench.

    I'm excited for the Bears game despite the injuries, because I think Chicago is a bit of a pretender at their 6-3 record. The Dolphins are coming off a great performance in pass defense and Cameron Wake has been a beast this year, so it'll be interesting to see how they match up against Jay Cutler and a shaky offensive line.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Week 10 Power Rankings

    It certainly was an interesting week in the NFL in Week 10, as my top three teams from my Week 9 power rankings all lost.

    Here are the new and improved power rankings for Week 10. I decided to only provide commentary on the Top 10 and just list the bottom 22 for length purposes.


    1. New England Patriots (last week: 5th; 7-2) — The Patriots rebounded from a Week 9 loss to an obviously improving Cleveland team with a very impressive showing over the Steelers.

    2. Atlanta Falcons (last week: 6th; 7-2) — They've been a great home team all year, but beating Baltimore was still a very impressive victory no matter where it was played.

    3. Philadelphia Eagles (last week: 9th; 6-3) — A huge jump for Philly, who absolutely slaughtered the Redskins on Monday night. I'm not a huge Michael Vick fan in terms of long-term talent, but the machine is working smoothly right now.

    4. Green Bay Packers (last week: 4th; 6-3) — No movement for the Packers despite the three teams ahead of them losing. On a bye week, they were simply jumped by three teams with extremely impressive performances in Week 10.

    5. Baltimore Ravens (last week: 1st; 6-3) — It's hard to fault them much for losing a game that came down to the wire against a very good Falcons team in the Georgia Dome.

    6. Pittsburgh Steelers (last week: 2nd; 6-3) — Their kicker situation is going through major changes, but they did lose to a good Patriots team and they're still stacked with talent.

    7. New York Jets (last week: 7th; 7-2) — Yeah they won again this week, but it was their third straight pretty unimpressive performance. They'll need to pick it up down the stretch if they want to go deep in the playoffs.

    8. New Orleans (last week: 8th; 6-3) — The Saint stand still on their bye week and will look for an easy win against the Seahawks in Week 11.

    9. Indianapolis Colts (last week: 10th; 6-3) — Peyton Manning continues to carry this team through all sorts of injuries, and they still appear to be the team to beat in a tight AFC South.

    10. New York Giants (last week: 3rd; 6-3) — The Giants tumble seven spots after an embarrassing loss to the Cowboys. Granted, Dallas does have quite a bit of talent on their roster despite their record, and the Giants had been on a roll before then.

    The Other 22

    11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (last week: 12th; 6-3)
    12. Miami Dolphins (last week: 16th; 5-4)
    13. Oakland Raiders (last week: 13th; 5-4)
    14. Tennessee Titan (last week: 11th; 5-4)
    15. Chicago Bears (last week: 17th; 6-3)
    16. Jacksonville Jaguars (last week: 19th; 5-4)
    17. Cleveland Browns (last week: 22nd; 3-6)
    18. Houston Texans (last week: 15th; 4-5)
    19. Kansas City Chiefs (last week: 5-4)
    20. San Diego Chargers (last week: 20th; 4-5)
    21. St. Louis Rams (last week: 21st; 5-4)
    22. Minnesota Vikings (last week: 18th; 3-6)
    23. Seattle Seahawks (last week: 25th; 5-4)
    24. Washington Redskins (last week: 23rd; 4-5)
    25. Dallas Cowboys (last week: 29th; 1-7)
    26. Denver Broncos (last week: 26th; 3-6)
    27. Cincinnati Bengals (last week: 24th; 2-7)
    28. San Francisco 49ers (last week: 28th; 2-7)
    29. Buffalo Bills (last week: 32nd; 1-8)
    30. Arizona Cardinals (last week: 30th; 3-6)
    31. Detroit Lions (last week: 27th; 2-7)
    32. Carolina Panthers (last week: 31st; 1-8)


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Dolphins add quarterbacks Patrick Ramsey, Tom Brandstater

    The Miami Dolphins wasted little time filling out their quarterback depth with injuries to Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, signing veteran free-agent Patrick Ramsey to the active roster and second-year player Tom Brandstater to the practice squad.

    Pennington, who is likely headed for his fourth and possibly career-ending shoulder surgery, was placed on season-ending injured reserve to make room for Ramsey.

    The injury to Henne's knee does not appear to be as severe, as he remains on the active roster and is walking without crutches. He would not officially rule himself out for Thursday's contest against the Bears, although it seems unlikely he will be able to play.

    If Henne cannot go, Ramsey looks to be the only active backup behind third-stringer-turned-starter Tyler Thigpen.

    Ramsey and Brandstater earned their contracts after a Monday workout that also featured Arena quarterback Tommy Grady, journeyman J. T. O'Sullivan, and former first-overall pick JaMarcus Russell.

    No corresponding practice squad move to make room for Brandstater has been announced at this time, although that news should come Tuesday.


    Patrick Ramsey

    A star quarterback at Tulane, Ramsey (6-3, 225) was selected by the Washington Redskins with the final pick of the third round in 2002 NFL Draft.

    Ramsey was in and out of the starting lineup in his first two seasons under Redskins' head coach Steve Spurrier. He started a career-high 11 games in 2003, throwing for 2,166 yards and 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

    When Joe Gibbs returned as the Redskins' head coach in 2004, Ramsey gave way to veteran Mark Brunell for much of the following two seasons. He was named the team's starter in 2005, but suffered a neck injury in the season opener and appeared in only four games as Brunell's backup that year.

    Dealt to the New York Jets for a sixth-round pick in the 2006 offseason, Ramsey was ironically acquired to back up then-Jets starter Chad Pennington. He appeared in one game and threw only one pass before being released the following offseason.

    Ramsey then spent two seasons as a backup to Jay Cutler in Denver, appearing in two games and throwing one touchdown pass in a 2007 game for the Broncos.

    Released once again in 2009, Ramsey signed with the Tennessee Titans and and served as the third-string quarterback behind Vince Young and Kerry Collins for the first month of the season before he was cut loose. Ramsey later spent a brief time at the end of the season with the Detroit Lions after Matthew Stafford was injured.

    Ramsey was signed by the New Orleans Saints in 2010 to back up Drew Brees, but lost out on the job to Chase Daniel and was released on Sept. 3. He spent a brief time with the Jaguars in October,  but was released upon the acquisition of Trent Edwards.

    Financial terms of Ramsey's deal with the Dolphins have not yet been released, but he likely signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum.


    Tom Brandstater

    A three-year starter at Fresno State, Brandstater (6-5, 223) led the Bulldogs to a 9-4 record in 2007 and earned the MVP award in a Humanitarian Bowl win over Georgia Tech. As a senior in 2008, he set career highs with 2,664 passing yards and 18 touchdowns.

    Brandstater was selected by the Denver Broncos in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, spending his entire rookie season as the team's third-string quarterback behind Kyle Orton and Chris Simms.

    Upon the acquisitions of Brandy Quinn via trade and Tim Tebow in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Broncos waived Brandstater on June 4.

    The Indianapolis Colts claimed Brandstater off waivers, allowing him to compete for the backup job to Peyton Manning with fellow 2009 sixth-rounder Curtis Painter. Despite throwing three touchdowns in the preseason finale, Brandstater was waived during final cuts. He spent the first month of the season on the team's practice squad before being released.

    As a practice squad player, Brandstater will make roughly $5,200 per week. He will not be eligible to play in games, but can be signed to the active roster at any time.

    Analysis

    Neither addition here is a sexy name, but obviously there aren't really any Peyton Mannings on the free agent market at this point in time.

    With only one healthy quarterback heading into Thursday's game, the Dolphins simply needed some kind of veteran depth on the team if worst comes to worst.

    If Henne is unavailable and Thigpen does go down as the starter against the Bears, you can be sure the Dolphins are in serious trouble. Ramsey has a good bit of NFL experience, but he's absolutely not starter material and is actually closer to being out of the league entirely.

    Brandstater, while possessing more upside than Ramsey as a younger, developmental prospect, will merely be tasked with being a third healthy arm and scout-team quarterback in practice for the time being.

    It's entirely possible Brandstater would be released if Henne were able to return healthy, although there is always a chance he could impress the staff to keep him around as the third-stringer.

    While Ramsey is essentially a lock to be one-and-done in Miami, Brandstater at least has enough room to grow to where he could be re-signed this offseason as a team's third quarterback behind Henne and Thigpen in 2011—especially since Pennington's career might be coming to an end.

    As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Dolphins Winning Drive - 11/14/10

    A daily vlog of Miami Dolphins news, discussion, and analysis on my drive home from work. This episode discusses the Dolphins' win over the Titans in Week 10.

    Yeah, the video is sideways. Deal with it!

    Dolphins to work out Arena QB Tommy Grady again

    Another name has surfaced in the Miami Dolphins' search for quarterback depth, as Omar Kelly reports Arena Football League quarterback Tommy Grady is expected to be brought in for a workout.

    Posts on Grady's Facebook profile Monday and an AFL press release appear to confirm the workout, which would be the player's second with the team in less than four months.

    Grady (6-7, 245) initially worked out for the Dolphins on Aug. 2, but was not signed, as the team already had four quarterbacks under contract at the time.

    Primarily a backup in college at both the University of Oklahoma (behind Heisman Trophy winner Jason White) and the University of Utah (behind eventual Sugar Bowl MVP Brian Johnson), Grady went undrafted in 2008 and spent 2009 with the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz of af2.

    Grady and the Yard Dawgz moved to the new Arena Football League in 2010, where surpassed former FSU quarterback Xavier Lee for the starting job and went on to throw for 4,307 passing yards and 81 touchdowns with 17 interceptions.

    With the Yard Dawgz moving to the lesser-known Indoor Football League, Grady signed with the AFL's Utah Blaze for the 2011 season, which runs from April to July.

    If signed by the Dolphins, the Blaze would retain Grady's AFL rights. The team has already placed him on the Other League Exempt list.

    The Dolphins are desperate for depth at the position after their top two quarterbacks went down with potentially season-ending injuries in yesterday's win over the Tennessee Titans.

    Left with only one healthy quarterback for Thursday's game against the Bears in third-stringer Tyler Thigpen, the Dolphins will need to bring in one or two healthy quarterbacks just to get through the short practice week and have depth against Chicago.

    Earlier reports have the Dolphins interested in free agents JaMarcus Russell, Patrick Ramsey, Chris Simms, and Tom Brandstater, with ESPN's Chris Mortensen saying the team hopes to sign Ramsey today.

    I expect the Dolphins to sign one experienced quarterback to the active roster (replacing Chad Pennington, who would go on injured reserve) while Chad Henne is kept active for the time being in case his knee injury might not keep him out all season.

    The Dolphins could then add a third healthy quarterback to the practice squad for the purpose of having another healthy arm in practice, which is where a young, developmental prospect like Grady or Brandstater could come in.

    Grady has the size and an NFL arm, but he's clearly a long way from playing in the NFL and seems unlikely to even land a third-string job on the active roster at this point.

    If he does end up on the Dolphins' practice squad for the remainder of the season, it would be interesting to see whether or not he is re-signed and brought back to training camp in 2011, or if he'll just return to the AFL.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Dolphins interested in quarterbacks Patrick Ramsey, Chris Simms

    Add two more names to the list of free-agent quarterbacks the Miami Dolphins will reportedly bring in after losing Chad Pennington and Chad Henne to potentially season-ending injured in the team's win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 10.

    ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Sunday night that the Dolphins will bring in quarterback Patrick Ramsey Monday, with a potential signing to follow. Mort also reports the Dolphins have had discussions about working out quarterback Chris Simms.

    The news comes after earlier reports had the Dolphins showing interest in former Broncos quarterback Tom Brandstater as well as 2007 first-overall pick JaMarcus Russell.


    The Dolphins are clearly leaving no stone unturned as they scramble to add healthy quarterback depth, with reports saying Pennington (shoulder) and Henne (knee) may indeed be finished for the rest of the 2010 season.

    Adding to matters is the fact that the Dolphins are on a very short week, with their next game coming Thursday night against the Chicago Bears on a game televised by the NFL Network.

    The Dolphins are likely to add at least one quarterback to the roster, which is where veterans like Ramsey and Simms come in.

    Both one-time starters, Ramsey and Simms have fallen off the radar a little bit in recent years and have struggled just to get backup gigs.

    Neither is considered potential starting material at this point in their careers, and both have looked overmatched when they have gotten their chances.

    Though certainly not ideal choices for emergency playing time, they are some of the more experienced quarterbacks on the market in the middle of the regular season.

    I'd also expect the Dolphins to add a third quarterback before Thursday's game—either to the active roster or the practice squad. If it is the latter, someone like Brandstater or another young free agent would be a suitable candidate.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Dolphins to work out quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell, Tom Brandstarter

    Down to one healthy quarterback following their 29-17 win over the Tennessee Titans and facing a looming Thursday night contest against the Bears, the Miami Dolphins are scrambling to bring in free agent quarterbacks to fill out their depth chart.

    Newly-anointed starter Chad Pennington was knocked out after two plays against the Titans, while starter-turner-backup Chad Henne was felled late in the third quarter after taking a helmet to the knee.

    Confirmed reports of either player's health are not yet available, although sources say Pennington is likely done for the season with a dislocated shoulder, while Henne's knee could result in a similar fate. Henne is slated to have an MRI this evening due to the urgency of the situation.

    Third-stringer Tyler Thigpen, who finished the game with a touchdown pass and no turnovers in the fourth quarter, seems likely to start Thursday against the Bears.

    The Dolphins are also wasting no time bringing up potential depth, reportedly contacting JaMarcus Russell and lining up a workout with Tom Brandstater.

    The pair will likely be among a handful of quarterbacks brought in by the Dolphins over the next few days.


    JaMarcus Russell

    The first-round overall pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2007, Russell spent three unimpressive seasons in Oakland before his release in May.

    Concerns about his work ethic and motivation, as well as legal issues stemming from drug charges in July, have caused Russell to receive very little interest from the NFL since his release.

    Not practice-squad eligible due to the number of games he's played, Russell received a workout with the Washington Redskins on Nov. 2, but was not offered a contract.


    Tom Brandstater

    A sixth-round pick out of Fresno State in 2009, Brandstater served as the Denver Broncos' third-string quarterback behind Kyle Orton and Chris Simms during his rookie season.

    Brandstater was waived by the Broncos upon the arrival of Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow in the 2010 offseason and claimed off waivers by the Indianapolis Colts.

    Despite throwing four touchdowns for the Colts in the 2010 preseason, Brandstater was waived during final cuts. He spent most of September on the team's practice squad before being released.


    Analysis

    The names the Dolphins are looking at aren't sexy, but the free-agent quarterback market very thin and the team will need some new bodies for depth with potentially only one healthy quarterback.

    Russell is certainly worth a look despite how poorly his professional career has gone to this point. I'm not optimistic he has what it takes upstairs to be a good pro quarterback, but he certainly has the physical skill set to bring in on a cheap contract.

    Brandstater is a solid developmental prospect in his own right, but he's not really NFL ready and could be auditioning more for a practice squad role. 

    Other prospects from around the league include practice-squad quarterbacks Rhett Bomar (Giants), Jonathan Crompton (Patriots), Hunter Cantwell (Ravens), Nate Davis (49ers), Graham Harrell (Packers), Thaddeus Lewis (Rams), Tyler Palko (Chiefs), and Brian St. Pierre (Panthers), who can all be signed to Miami's active roster.

    The United Football League also offers a few players with NFL experience, including Brooks Bollinger (Tuskers), Daunte Culpepper (Mountain Lions), Jeff Garcia (Nighthawks), Matt Gutierrez (Nighthawks), Josh McCown (Colonials), and D. J. Shockley (Nighthawks). Culpepper and McCown have already had previous stints with the Dolphins, while McCown was actually brought in by the current front office to be a short-term starter in 2008 before Chad Pennington became available.

    If the Dolphins do lose both Pennington and Henne for the season, they could opt to replace one on the active roster and add a third for depth on the practice squad. They could also keep Henne on the active roster for the time being if there is a possibility he could return before the end of the season.

    Beyond 2010, I'd expect Chad Pennington to strongly consider retirement, while Henne, Thigpen, and a drafted rookie compete for the starting gig in 2011.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Dolphins vs. Titans - Live Chat

    Week 10 Game Predictions

    I didn't post my pick for Thursday's Falcons-Ravens game, but I will admit that I got it wrong and picked Baltimore. Of course, I didn't anticipate the blatant pass interference by Roddy White on the game-winning touchdown!

    Last week's record: 10-4
    2010 season record: 82-49 (62.6%)


    Bills over Lions I swear, the Bills are going to win a game one of these days. It might even be this Sunday against the Lions. Maybe?

    Vikings over Bears — I don't much like the Vikings' situation, but I like even less about the "pretending" 5-3 Bears.

    Jets over Browns — Cleveland is coming off an impressive upset over the Patriots, while the Jets are 1-1 in two unimpressive games against the Packers and Lions. Still, I can't pick against a far superior New York team.

    Colts over Bengals — The Bengals cannot seem to put all their talent together and translate it into wins, while Peyton Manning can carry the Colts despite injuries.

    Titans over Dolphins — I'm almost certain Miami will win, if only so all the Dolphins fans who support the benching of Chad Henne will get a brief period to say "I told ya so" before the team limps to a .500 record in 2010. But the Dolphins have more problems than Pennington can fix and Tennessee has the better offense and defense, so the Titans are the logical pick.

    Buccaneers over Panthers — Tampa Bay has no run defense, but I don't see Jimmy Clausen and Mike Goodson leading Carolina to victory this week.

    Texans over Jaguars — Houston desperately needs a win, and I think they put it together and get one in a big divisional road game.

    Broncos over Chiefs — It's certainly an upset given the way Kansas City has played, but I don't think Denver is as bad as their record and I think they'll get the W here.

    Giants over Cowboys — A coaching change isn't going to solve all the Cowboys' problems, and I expect Eli Manning and the Giants' running backs to have a field day against a bad Dallas defense.

    Cardinals over Seahawks — Every team in this division is so bad, it's impossible to pick these games because you never know exactly who is going to choke more. I'll pick the home team.

    Rams over 49ers — Sam Bradford is playing very well right now, and I don't like Troy Smith as a starting quarterback in this league.

    Steelers over Patriots — In what should be a great game, I like the Steelers due to being a little more complete and having such a stellar defense.

    Eagles over Redskins — Donovan McNabb got a win in his return to Philly, but the current quarterback controversy can't help things and Philly has the much better squad.


    Discuss this article and share your own game predictions on the forum here!

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    NFL 2010 Midseason All-Pro Team and Awards

    Every team in the NFL has now played at least eight games, meaning we are essentially in the middle of the regular season.

    It's certainly been an interesting season to date, filled with tons of surprises that probably make my preseason predictions look like they were randomly selected by a parakeet.

    To kick things off, here is my 2010 Midseason All-Pro Team:

    Offense

    WR Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons: He's been one of the NFL's better receivers for a while now, but his production season is unreal. He's played one more game than most other players, but has 10 more catches than anyone in the league and could surpass 1,000 receiving yards in 10 games.

    LT Jake Long, Miami Dolphins: Easily the best tackle in football this year, Long has allowed just one sack all season and has prevented defenders from even coming close to Miami's quarterback.

    LG Wade Smith, Houston Texans: A failure as a former Dolphins tackle, Smith has found a home inside at guard and has been a big contributor to the NFL's most productive running back in Arian Foster.

    C Nick Mangold, New York Jets: Mangold's play hasn't dropped off since he received a big contract in the offseason, as he's still the NFL's best center by far.

    RG Brandon Moore, New York Jets: A mauling run-blocker that has helped LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene excel and made Alan Faneca (the former All-Pro left guard) a distant memory.

    RT Kareem McKenzie, New York Giants: Has contributed to the NFC's best ground game while allowing just two sacks on Eli Manning.

    TE Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: An injury may derail his second half, but Gates' numbers through eight games (40 catches for 663 yards and an NFL-best nine touchdowns) are impressive even in a full season!

    WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: He's survived two injuries to Matthew Stafford and one to Shaun Hill this season, while still putting up incredible numbers and dominating defenses.

    QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts: The Chargers' Philip Rivers has the better stats due to being down so often, but Manning has done the job and led his team to victories despite mounting injuries all around him.

    RB Arian Foster, Houston Texans: An obvious choice, Foster has exploded in his second pro season and currently leads the NFL in rushing yards (864) and rushing touchdowns (nine) with an impressive 5.5-yard average.

    FB Madison Hedgecock, New York Giants: Has paved the way for for Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to help the Giants lead the NFC in rushing yards.


    Defense

    DE Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants: He's not the most complete defensive end around, but you can't undervalue the pressure he puts on the quarterback with eight sacks and seven forced fumbles—nearly twice as many as anyone else in the league.

    DT Chris Canty, New York Giants: His numbers don't pop, but he's overcome an injury-plagued season in 2009 to become a mainstay in the Giants' run defense, which ranks first in the conference.

    NT Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers: Hampton has always been a great 3-4 nose tackle, but he's taken his performance up a notch in 2010 and has the Steelers' run defense allowing just 2.6 yards per rush.

    DE Trent Cole, Philadelphia Eagles: Cole (seven sacks) gets the nod over guys like John Abraham because of his additional production against the run (39 tackles).

    OLB Clay Matthews III, Green Bay Packers: Matthews' pass-rush makes the Packers' defense a different unit and he leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks despite missing a game.

    ILB (3-4) Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh Steelers: Timmons has been a monster on the best run defense in the NFL, racking up 78 tackles and a forced fumble to go along with three sacks and two interceptions.

    MLB (4-3) Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons: Lofton has picked the Falcons up in rookie Sean Weatherspoon's absence, totaling 73 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception.

    OLB Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins: A breakout player for the Dolphins in his first season as a starter, Wake leads the AFC with 8.5 sacks and is defended the run well too.

    CB Brandon Flowers, Kansas City Chiefs: Flowers has been incredible in third season out of Virginia Tech as the best shutdown corner of 2010.

    CB Aqib Talib, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He gets little help from his surrounding teammates, but Talib shuts down opposing receivers and has five interceptions on the year.

    FS Michael Griffin, Tennessee Titans: His secondary ranks eighth in the NFL in opponent's passer ratings, while he's hauled in four interceptions and forced a fumble.

    SS Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers: His numbers aren't eye-popping with only two interceptions, but he's one of the leaders on the best defense in football and continues to play at a high level.


    Special Teams

    K Dan Carpenter, Miami Dolphins: The AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October, he's made 19-of-22 field goals on the season, including two 5-for-5 efforts, a new career long of 54 yards, and a game-winner in overtime in Green Bay.

    P Shane Lechler, Oakland Raiders: Lechler is head-and-shoulders above the other 31 punters in the league each year, and 2010 is no different. He leads the NFL in punting average (49.1) and net average (42.4).

    KR Leon Washington, Seattle Seahawks: Obviously fully recovered from his broken leg, Washington has an impressive 31.4-yard average on kickoff returns with a league-leading two scores.

    PR Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys: A receiver this physically-intimidating shouldn't be such an explosive returner, but Bryant's taken two back to the house already.

    ST Isaiah Ekejiuba, Detroit Lions: He's averaging more than a special teams tackle per game and has also forced a fumble.


    Awards

    Most Valuable Player — QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts: Manning continues to be his old reliable self and has been carrying a bang-up Colts' squad as much as ever. Something tells me this is a different team if Curtis Painter were forced to run things.

    Offensive Player — QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: He's had to play from behind a lot which has inflated his numbers, but his offensive production is second-to-none and he should be recognized for that.

    Defensive PlayerDE Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants: James Harrison is really tempting here, but I just have to single out Umenyiora for the kind of constant disruption he's put on opposing quarterbacks, with an NFC-best eight sacks and an incredible seven forced fumbles.

    Offensive RookieQB Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: Bradford's numbers aren't terribly impressive, but he's done an excellent job having been thrown into the fire as a rookie with one of the league's worst receiving corps and least-talented rosters.

    Defensive Rookie DT Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions: The Detroit roster is still sorely lacking in talent, but Suh has done his part with a whopping seven sacks and some huge game-changing plays.

    Comeback Player — WR Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks: A talented former first-round pick by Detroit back in 2005, Williams has returned after three seasons out of the league and some serious weight issues (reports had him pushing 280 pounds at one point) to blossom under his former college coach in Pete Carroll.

    Head Coach — Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans: Leading a team that's ranked first in scoring and ninth in fewest points allowed on defense, Fisher has crafted one of the most sound all-around squads with a great front seven on defense and some serious weapons on offense.

    Offensive CoordinatorHue Jackson, Oakland Raiders: He's gotten great production from his offense despite no sexy options at quarterback and has turned Darren McFadden into the elite back he always could be.

    Defensive Coordinator — Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh Steelers: Maybe the best defensive coordinator at all time, LeBeau has once again engineered the NFL's most dominant defense.

    General Manager — Bill Belichick, New England Patriots: The de facto GM for a franchise that lacks someone with that official title, Belichick traded Randy Moss for a third-rounder that released him after a month while his team still ranks second in the NFL in scoring. He has also drafted immediate contributors like tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski and gotten production for NFL cast-offs like running back Danny Woodhead, guard Dan Connolly, and linebacker Rob Ninkovich.


    Discuss this article on the forum here!