Sunday, March 31, 2013

Draft Day Dilemma

The Miami Dolphins have signed former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes to a one year $5.5 million contract. The former Pro Bowl corner was the top free agent left on the market and fills a big hole for the Dolphins. While Grimes is coming off of significant injuries (a ruptured Achilles last season and a torn ACL the season before), he is still a vast upgrade from anything that Miami had on the roster. This move frees Miami up to a number of moves in the draft. We still have several holes that need to be plugged before the start of the season, and with five picks in the first three rounds, we have the ability to fill said holes. How exactly does Miami approach the draft? Do they draft another corner at the 12th selection? Do they draft an explosive play-maker? Do they trade up and draft one of the top three offensive linemen? I have a different approach to the draft that I think would be the best thing for the franchise.

Miami has five picks in the first three rounds, having one first, two seconds, and two thirds. What I think that Miami should do with the first round pick is select a wide receiver. Wide receiver has been a point of emphasis for Jeff Ireland (Miami GM) this off-season, bringing in Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson, tight end Dustin Keller and re-signing Brian Hartline. While it would appear that we should be done with this position, I would argue that you can't pass on an opportunity to draft someone with the play-making ability that Tavon Austin possesses. He not only could be lined up on the outside or in the slot as a wide receiver, but he also has the ability to line up in the backfield as a running back that we can swing the ball out to or run screens with. He would fill the void that is left by the departure of Reggie Bush, and I think that he would actually be a better fit in that position than Bush was.

After selecting Austin, I would suggest that Miami puts a package together, trading their second selection in both the second and third round, and possibly a selection in the fifth round, to trade back up into the late part of the first round. I feel like Minnesota would be a prime target for this trade as they have two first round picks with the Seattle trade for Percy Harvin. Once they are back in the first round, this would be where they address their need for a corner opposite Grimes. I would like to see them select either Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Jordan Poyer, or Jamar Taylor here. Twenty-fifth may be a bit of a reach for Poyer, so the pick would likely be Wreh-Wilson if he's still on the board or Taylor. Either one of them would be a good fit for the scheme that Miami would like to run and would be a vast improvement over anything we have on the roster opposite Grimes.

With our remaining pick in the second round, I would like to see Miami select Terron Armstead, the offensive lineman from Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Armstead is an offensive tackle with Division 1 talent, yet he chose to go to a Division II school in order to be allowed to also participate in track & field. Armstead has all the tools and skills to be a first round pick. The only knocks on Armstead are the competition he faced at a lesser school and the fact that he could be stronger in his lower body. He can have a tendency to be vulnerable to a bull-rush. If Miami is lucky enough to have Armstead still be on the board in the third round, this would be an excellent selection for us, as his lower body strength is something that can be addressed in our strength and conditioning programs. It would also allow us to get a first round talent without having to pay him first round money, which gives us more freedom to make moves in future years.

Finally, with our remaining third round pick, I would like to see Miami go after the running back from Michigan State, La'Veon Bell. The junior had a great season last year, running for 1793 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is a large back and would provide Miami with a great compliment to Lamar Miller. At 6'1" and 230lbs, he has the size to carry the load, but is also shifty enough to avoid hits if he has to.  Unlike Armstead, he put up his numbers against top-flight competition in the Big Ten.  The knocks on Bell are that he sometimes runs "too tall" (meaning he has a tendency to not get his shoulders down and protect himself) and exposes himself to unnecessary hits down low. He has also shown a tendency to struggle with pass protection, but both of these issues could be worked on with practice.

So, there you have it, what I think would be the perfect draft scenario for Miami in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft. We'll see if things go this well; I kind of doubt it. But with the off-season that Miami has had so far, I have a reason to be hopeful.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bye Bye Birdie

Matt Flynn appears to be on his way out of Seattle, just one season after the failed experiment to bring him to the organization. Before the start of last season the Seattle Seahawks signed Flynn to a three year, $19.5 million contract, ostensibly to be the QB of the future for the franchise. Then, as insurance, they drafted Russell Wilson III, to be his backup. Wilson ended up beating out Flynn in training camp and the rest is history. Now Flynn will be on to his third team in as many seasons and there seems to be four logical places for Flynn to end up: Oakland, Jacksonville, Buffalo, or Arizona.

Oakland seems to be the most likely suitor at this point. They are desperate to get out from under the huge cap hit that Carson Palmer is going to be this season, and Palmer has thus far been unwilling to restructure. Palmer is under contract for $13 million this season and there is no way that Oakland, as frivolous as they have been in past seasons, is going to pay that much for a 33 year old QB so obviously on the down slope of his career. Flynn would seem like a logical replacement for Palmer. He's younger than Palmer by six years, so he is in the prime of his career and has several good years left. Oakland, however, does not have much talent to surround Flynn. Their best player, Darren McFadden, is also one of, if not the most, injury-prone players in the NFL. Factors like this may mean that Flynn may not be so willing to continue his career as a Raider.

Jacksonville would appear to be another good fit for Flynn. Gus Bradley, Jacksonville's new head coach, was the defensive coordinator with Flynn in Seattle. Jacksonville also has considerably more talent to surround Flynn with, having one of the league's best running backs in Maurice Jones Drew and a couple talented young wide receivers: Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts. The Jags, however, are reportedly not interested in acquiring Flynn, as they already have former first round draft choice Blaine Gabbart and capable but limited Chad Henne on their roster. If a former coach doesn't want Flynn, I'd be surprised to see the Jacksonville front office overrule him.

Buffalo is another team who is in desperate need of someone at the QB position. Earlier this month the Bills released their starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in a move to save some salary cap room. With the loss of Fitzpatrick, the Bills have a gaping hole on a team that has a lot of talent. They have two very strong running backs in the oft-injured Fred Jackson and the electric C.J. Spiller. They also have an extremely talented, yet problematic, receiver in Stevie Johnson. On the surface, this seems like a great fit for Flynn. Unfortunately for Flynn (and fortunately for the Dolphins fan in me), I really don't see Buffalo being willing to bring on Flynn's salary if they weren't willing to put up the money for Fitzpatrick.

Arizona, the last possibility, seems to be the most far-fetched to me. They have a very large need at the position and have a decent amount of talent around him, namely in arguably the best receiver in the league, Larry Fitzgerald. The downside to the Cardinals is mainly their offensive line. Anyone who watched a Cardinals game last season could see that they have the worst line in the NFL. I can't imagine that Flynn would be thrilled to go to a team with such a porous line, especially when you consider that they also have a relative paucity at running back as well. I doubt that the lure of Fitzgerald alone would be enough to entice Flynn. That being said, Flynn is still under contract with Seattle and may not have any say in the Cardinals if they put up the best offer for him.

Wherever Flynn ends up, a trade will be a win for everyone involved. The team who gets Flynn will have significantly upgraded their QB situation. Seattle will pick up draft picks that will off-set the trade they made with Minnesota for Percy Harvin. And most of all, Flynn will finally get a shot at being a starter in the NFL, something he has been after since he left the Green Bay Packers.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Florida Gulf Coast plays in their very first Sweet 16 tonight versus the Florida Gators. FGCU was founded in 1991, and their basketball program is only in it's second year of eligibility. They have what is, most likely, one of the five smallest recruiting budgets in the entire nation. Almost no one outside of Fort Meyers had even heard of the university prior to their run in this year's tournament. They are the first team since the 1987 Florida Gators to win two games in their first ever NCAA tournament. They are also the lowest seeded team ever to make the Sweet 16. FGCU is severely over-matched in this game and their Cinderella story will likely come to an end at the hands of their cross-state "rival". Whether the story ends tonight or not though is largely irrelevant. FGCU has already made a name for themselves and have given us what may be the most unbelievable story in the history of the NCAA, if not all of sports.  How did this team make it so far, and why are they such a phenomenon?

They play a style of basketball that is incredibly fun to watch. They are playing very loose and carefree, even dancing on the sidelines during successful stretches of games. Head coach Andy Enfield has the team playing a very fast-paced, team oriented offense that the nation has fallen in love with. The team has managed to have ten dunks in their first two games (though from watching the games it seems like even more than that) and their sophomore point guard, Brett Comer, is tied for the second most assists ever in a tournament's first two games. They have also outscored their opponents by 27 points in the transition game. This team loves to get up and down the floor, and they have a flair for the theatrics that has won over nearly everyone who has watched them play, regardless of how badly their success has destroyed the brackets of pretty much everyone.

How does such a small school make it this far? By challenging themselves. The FGCU squad played a brutal non-conference schedule in the interest of making money for their university. These games were supposed to be walk-over, "cupcake" games for the larger schools that they faced. But they actually performed very well in these games, beating a Miami squad that went on to a very convincing ACC regular season and conference tournament title. They also played a hard fought game against another second seeded team, Duke, before ultimately being overpowered and losing. Additionally, they played so-called money games against Virginia Commonwealth University and Iowa State University, both of which made the NCAA tournament. These games not only provided the athletic program with much needed money, but they exposed the team to what it's like to play with the upper echelon teams, and showed them that they weren't all that far behind these teams. Their schedule gave them confidence, and that confidence is showing in a big way.

With a starting five consisting of three sophomores (one a red-shirt), one junior, and one senior, even if their magical run ends tonight, I have a feeling we have not heard the last of this FGCU team. Let me be the first to say that I'm rooting for them in tonight's game and for them to make an equally impressive run in the years to come.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Change for the...Better?

For the first time since the 1997 season the Miami Dolphins are changing their logo. Not so coincidentally, the Miami Dolphins are mired in the worst stretch of their existence. This is the logo that Dan Marino retired under. This is the logo that represented the team in our 1-15 season. With this logo, the Dolphins have missed the playoffs ten times (including each of the last four seasons) and finished last in the division three times. While I understand the franchises desire to distance themselves from this awful period in our history, I could not be more disappointed with what the brass has decided to go with.

The previous logo was my favorite in the franchise's history. Yes, it looks a lot like a cartoon caricature of a dolphin. No, it's not very intimidating. In fact, it may be the least intimidating logo in the entire NFL. That being said, I have always absolutely loved the design of it. I feel like it was a huge improvement over the previous logo, and the new direction we're going with is a drastic step back stylistically. The posture of the dolphin does not fit with how dolphins naturally jump a majority of the time (that is, with their tail down. Go ahead, Google it. I'll wait). The colors are just wrong for the franchise; while Navy Blue is an official color, I don't think there is a single person that associates that color with the team, and I think it's a mistake to add it to the underbelly of the dolphin. On the positive side, I do enjoy that they chose to get rid of the helmet on the dolphin. I always thought that the helmet was a silly and unnecessary feature.

The new uniforms have yet to be unveiled, but a few people across several fan forums have taken a stab at what they might look like. If what the majority of them have come up with is correct, I'm not a fan of these either. Both of these jerseys (home and away) seem to have used the orange as almost an after thought in the coloration. It seems to be more of an accent color than an official color, and that bothers me to the core. The orange has always been one of the two primary colors. In addition to being essentially an accent color, the orange of the sleeves is an entirely different shade from the orange shown in the sneakers. This further reinforces orange being an afterthought and shows a blatant disregard for the essence of the Miami Dolphin color scheme. Now, at first glance, it would appear that our team colors are aqua and white. While the need for change is apparent and understandable, both the official logo and these possible new uniforms are going about it in completely the wrong way.

On a rare occasion, I may consult my lovely fiancee', like when fashion and sports intercept (on that note, do not get her started on the Dallas Cowboys' "sea-foam green" uniforms). My fiancee' suggests that they add orange to the shin-guards and belt to further emphasize the orange is a primary color, adding balance to the uniform as a whole.

Here is a link to the new logo, let me know what you all think: (the new logo appears in the top-left corner) 

As for the possible uniforms, this is what most people are assuming (credit for the photo goes to Jt0323 from

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Not-So-Imaginary Pro Day

Manti Te'o had his Pro Day today (unlike his "girlfriend", this one was real). After a lackluster performance at the NFL Combine, his hopes were high that he could redeem himself today and solidify himself as a first round draft pick. He was especially hoping that he could erase the memories of both a poor 40-yard dash time as well as his abysmal performance in the biggest game of his life. I did not see the Pro Day, but from what I have gathered, he failed.

Te'o ran a slightly faster 40 time in today's workout, but not enough to warrant him being a first round pick. He ran a 4.82 at the Combine. While he improved his time at the pro day to a 4.71, that is still well under what you would like to see from your first round linebacker. Every linebacker drafted in the first round since 2010 has run below a 4.7 in this drill*. While the dash is by no means the standard benchmark of a great linebacker, it is one of the most heavily weighted drills that the scouts use to evaluate their talent. In today's NFL, where speed is at such a premium, I don't think you can afford to have a "slow" player as the anchor of your defense.

As if the stand-out from Notre Dame's combine performance wasn't poor enough, there's also the issue of his game tape. Most of the tape on Te'o is phenomenal. If you ignore his final game, I don't think that anyone would question whether or not Te'o is a sure-fire first round talent. However, you cannot ignore that game, as it was the biggest game of his life. It was against the closest thing that college football has to an NFL team (the Alabama Crimson Tide, coached by former NFL head coach Nick Saban). While the name Nick Saban makes any Miami Dolphins fan cringe, we have to acknowledge that he's run one phenomenal program down there at Alabama, and in the National Championship game, they made Te'o look silly. Chance Warmack (another first round talent) made Te'o look like a freshmen with the way he dominated him. Te'o certainly helped Warmack out too by consistently attacking the wrong shoulder, allowing himself to be driven quite easily away from the play.

All this leads me to believe, despite what all the prognosticators think (Mike Mayock, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper all have Te'o safely in the first round), that Te'o is not worthy of a first round selection. Any team who does so would be making a colossal error, along the lines of when the Denver Broncos selected Tim Tebow in the first round, all but destroying any chances he had of learning the game, developing his talents and fixing his flaws. I hope Miami isn't the team to take their chances on Te'o.

*Complete stats can be found at

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mea Culpa...Sort Of.

When I woke up this morning, I fully intended to write this post apologizing to the Big Ten for underestimating them. I have been saying for awhile that the Big Ten was over-rated by many coming into this NCAA Tournament. To the conference's credit, they have only lost one game thus far and have four teams in the Sweet 16, with another three games yet to be played.

Seven teams in the Sweet 16 is impressive for any conference, but I'm not ready to say that I was wrong just yet. When you look at their games, Michigan had a tough test against a relatively unknown (to most anyway) South Dakota State team, lead by their phenomenal shooter Nate Wolters. Minnesota came up against a UCLA team who had lost their best player to a broken foot on the final play of their conference semifinal. Indiana was a number one seed, so they were all but guaranteed to advance. Illinois played a tough game against a good Colorado team, so I will give them some credit there. I was not expecting that win, as Colorado had a better RPI and conference record, and I was wrong there. Ohio State was a second seed, which should be an automatic though it hasn't been in recent years. That being said, I don't think they deserve much credit for beating Iona. Wisconsin DID lose their match against an Ole Miss team that was one of the last teams to make it into the tournament. Michigan State is a tough team led by an all-time great coach in Tom Izzo, and no one should be surprised any time they make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Indiana and Ohio State won their games today to advance to the Sweet 16, but both of them should have lost. To their credit, they didn't, but both of them should have. In the case of Indiana, it took a gutty performance from their star player Victor Oladipo in the final minutes of the game to overcome a Temple team who just looked better than them today. Indiana had no answer for Khalif Wyatt, who went for 31 points for the second consecutive game. In the case of Ohio State, I did not see the game myself, but from everything I've heard and read, they had help from the refs. There were many moving screens by the Buckeyes that were not called (no surprise, Iowa State never gets the benefit of the doubt in these situations), and there was a blown call down at the end. All this, and Ohio State still needed a three pointer with 0.02 seconds left to grab victory from the jaws of defeat.

We'll have to see what the outcomes of the Kansas/UNC, Minnesota/Florida, and Illinois/Miami games are, and I may change my stance, especially if Illinois is able to pull off the upset over Miami. But so far, statistically speaking I was wrong, but if you actually look at the games, I really don't think so.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Have Mercy

As many of you already know, I watch the NCAA tournament pretty religiously. It's my favorite time of the year (yes, I rank it even above the Super Bowl). There's nothing better to me than filling out a bracket then sitting down in front of a TV screen and laptop to watch every single game. That being said, a couple of games this year have me wondering if we can, in the words of Jesse Katsopolis, have mercy.

The first blow-out loss of the season was a short handed Akron team versus VCU. Prior to the conference tournament Akron had their best player suspended, then as if that wasn't enough, the team was decimated by a flu bug just hours before their first round match-up. These two factor led to the Zips being handed a crushing 46 point loss. The Zips actually managed to lose by more point than they were able to score (42).

The same could be said for our next unfortunate team, the Montana Grizzlies. They ran up against a devastating Syracuse team, coming off of a heartbreaking loss in their conference championship game to the overall number one seed Louisville Cardinals. The Montana team didn't have the bad luck of being riddled by illness, they were just severely over-matched and could only muster 34 points to Syracuse's 81.

These two games have forced me to ask, can we institute some sort of "mercy rule" in these games? At some point, shouldn't we say that enough is enough and let these schools leave with some sort of dignity? The NCAA tournament is supposed to be a point of pride for these schools, something they can brag about during their next recruiting season. But how proud can you really be coming off of being blown-out by nearly 50 points?  And this isn't even mentioning the 68 point victory for the UConn women in their first round match in the NCAA Women's tournament.

One is an Accident...

...Two is a trend. It has happened to me again. Once again I have lost a member of my Final Four. This time it was the Big East that I overestimated. Georgetown lost today in their first round game (second round technically, but we all know that those first four games are really just a play-in). The number 2 seed went down to the 15 seed, Florida Gulf Coast.

FGCU didn't just beat the Hoyas of Georgetown, they looked downright impressive in doing so. If they hadn't been beating a team I had picked to go to the semi-finals, I would even go so far as to say that I would be rooting for them. They played with so much passion and pizzazz, it was hard not to get into it and cheer for them. If they play this way, it's not hard to see them beating San Diego State. In all fairness to FGCU, this shouldn't come as a terrible surprise to anyone. They challenged themselves a lot in their non-conference schedule (read as "made a lot of money for their program"). They beat a team in Miami who would go on to win the ACC and become another 2 seed in the tournament. They also played a tough game against yet another eventual 2 seed in Duke. All this in only their second year of eligibility. Things are looking up for this program, do not be surprised to see them making noise again next year.

Another of the upsets of today, Ole Miss beating Wisconsin, is one of the few that I actually got right. I've been telling people for a long time that the Big Ten is over-rated, and the Badgers reaffirmed that for me today. Marshall Henderson, for as cocky and in your face as he can be, is a pretty exceptional shooter. If he's on his game, he alone can bury a team. Not only is he a shooter though, he is also a leader. When he is playing well, he has the ability to make everyone around him better. I would not be at all surprised to see the Rebels go on to beat their next opponent, LaSalle, who pulled a big upset of their own today in beating a very talented Kansas State team.

What we should take away from the "Round of 64" is that, ultimately, your seeding doesn't matter in this tournament. It's just a matter of time before I'm posting about a 16 upsetting a 1 and killing my brackets yet again.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Seeing Crimson

Seems like it happens every year, the big upset that no one saw coming that blows up most everyone's bracket. Last year it was the second seeded Missouri Tigers losing to the 15 seed Norfolk State team. It was also the second seed Duke Blue Devils losing to the 15 seed Lehigh. This year, the 14 seed Harvard Crimson took down the number 3 seed New Mexico Lobos, and with it, my bracket.

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I had picked New Mexico as my dark horse team to make the Final Four. I thought they had been put into a pretty soft bracket and that they would not have much trouble getting past an Ohio State team that plays in an over-rated Big 10. I also didn't think they would have a difficult time upsetting the number one seed, Gonzaga, because I don't believe that the 'Zags (or anyone from the West Coast Conference for that matter) have played anyone of note this season and don't have the stamina or strength to hold up against a team from a stronger conference. I certainly didn't see them getting upset by a team who had NEVER won a game in the NCAA tournament prior to today. A team who, before the start of the season, had their two best players kicked out of school because of a cheating scandal. Boy was I wrong apparently. That is the last time I let people talk me into believing that the Mountain West Conference is a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, that wasn't the only upset of the day to do some serious harm to my bracket. Though not to the extent of the New Mexico upset, I also had the Oklahoma State team advancing to the Sweet 16, not getting upset by the 12th seeded Oregon Ducks. I wasn't convinced that the Pac 12 was anything of note this year, and as much as I didn't like Oklahoma State this year. I watched them several times in the regular season and was never impressed by them at all. In fact, at many times I wondered whether they would even make the tournament. In spite of my misgivings about them, I inexplicably picked them to win two games in the tourney. Why I picked this way, I honestly have no idea.

Only one thing is certain to me at this point. No matter what happens in the rest of the tournament, I will certainly not be winning my pool. Congrats to my friends Jordan Paulson and Nate Jordan, you have picked a better bracket than I have.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Loyalty is Dead

Today two of the all-time greats are essentially being forced out of the only teams they have ever known throughout their illustrious careers. Both Ed Reed and Brian Urlacher will be playing for new teams next season for the first time since they entered the league. Neither player could come to an agreement to new, more cap-friendly, contracts with the Ravens and Bears respectively, and will now be taking their Hall of Fame worthy talents elsewhere. This situation has me, and fans everywhere, asking themselves "What ever happened to loyalty?".

Ed Reed has been arguably the greatest safety to ever play in the NFL. He has been an integral part of a Baltimore Ravens defense that has been consistently at the top of the NFL since Reed made his debut for the team in 2002. Reed's contract expired after this year's Super Bowl. A Super Bowl in which Reed was a key component to Baltimore's run to the title. How does such a great player get rewarded for his many years of service to the team and his role in bringing a title back to Baltimore? He gets told that the team can't afford to keep him around and he gets to test the free agent market, ultimately to leave the only home he's ever known to go to an up-and-coming Houston Texans team. In the case of Reed, I find myself asking "Where's the loyalty to the team?". Reed still thinks he has a lot to give, and he does, and he wants to be paid accordingly. If Reed were a little more loyal to the team instead of his pocketbook, he could have stayed in Baltimore, and perhaps Baltimore would have been able to keep more of the team together. Instead, they have now lost all of the key players on their defense and are in pretty terrible shape going into next season.

Then there's the case of Brian Urlacher. He has been the greatest linebacker that the Chicago Bears have seen since Michael Singletary. A safety coming out of college at New Mexico, the Bears took a chance on him and developed him into a surefire first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate. In the last few years Urlacher has been decimated by injuries and he is not anywhere near the player that he once was. He can still contribute, but he is no longer the elite linebacker that he used to be. In this case, instead of the Bears being loyal to a player who has been the rock in the middle of their defense and has been one of the few bright spots in their organization and offering him a contract that allows him to finish out his days in Chicago, they offered him one that basically said "You can take this, or you can get out...we don't care either way".

Both of these situations make me wonder why there is no loyalty in the NFL anymore. I understand that it is a business and you have to make decisions that are the best for the business. But, on rare occasions, might it be better for that "business" to have a lesser player who has been great for both your team and your fan-base than to just toss that player aside the minute he becomes expendable? Loyalty really is dead.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first upset of the March Madness season. And the real tournament hasn't even started yet. Last night the Kentucky Wildcats, who did not make this year's NCAA tournament a year removed from winning the National Championship, lost by two points to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT. This is the first time since the tournament expanded in 1985 that a team won the National Championship one year and then lost in the first round of the NIT the very next year. How does something like this happen?

If you ask me, the NBA is to blame for this, namely the LeBron James' of the Association. Ever since LeBron made the jump from high school to the NBA (yes, there were others before him like Kobe and Kevin Garnett, but James has popularized the choice), every kid who excels in high school thinks he's going to be the next LeBron and goes to the NBA as soon as he is eligible. To their credit, the NBA has made an attempt to do something to rectify the situation, now requiring that players be at least one year removed from graduation before entering the NBA Draft. While their heart seems to have been in the right place, this has made the college game a one-year free-for-all every season. John Calipari recruited a phenomenal team last year. They ran through the regular season, their conference tournament, and cut down the nets at the end of the season. What was his reward? His top six players declared for the NBA draft and he was forced to recruit an entirely new team with the hopes of repeating last year's success. He again recruited a top-flight class, but with the injury of Nerlens Noel coupled with the strain of having to mesh together entirely new pieces, the Wildcats failed to live up to expectations. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So what can be done to improve the college game and make sure something like this doesn't happen again? I say that the NBA should adopt the rule that the NFL has established. In the NFL, a player must be three years removed from his high school graduation before he is eligible to enter the NFL draft. This ensures that both the college game and the NFL are putting out the best products that they possibly can. Are there players in college that are ready for the NFL after only one or two years? Certainly there are, but there are FAR more players who think they are, but aren't. Those players would get drafted on their promise, never living up to it and the game would suffer. This is what happens in the NBA today. All these kids enter the draft, not ready for the grind and physicality of the pro game, they get sent do the D-league, and rarely live up to what their potential said they could be. Had they been forced to stay in school for a year or two more, they could have developed their game, worked on their conditioning, and EVERYONE would be better off in the long run.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Madness? This. Is. ...No, Madness Works

Well, it's that time of year again. The day when we all furiously fill out bracket after bracket, all in the hopes of picking the correct Final Four and having bragging rights over all of our buddies. And, inevitably, almost all of us will have our brackets destroyed by something ridiculous like a 15 seed upsetting a 2 seed, or a 9 seed from a small little town in Iowa that no one outside of here has heard of (speaking from experience... more than once, unfortunately). With that in mind, I figured that my post for today should be my run-down of the teams that I have picked to go to this years' Final Four in Atlanta.

The first team I have is the overall number 1 seed, Louisville. I struggled with this pick longer than any of the other picks I made throughout the entire bracket. I really wanted to have both Duke and Louisville in my Final Four, but thanks to the selection committee, they will meet in the Elite 8. Being forced to pick only one of them, I have to give the nod to Louisville in part because of their excellent performance in the Big East championship game, but also because of the fact that Duke in recent seasons has a tendency to under-perform in their biggest games (see this season's ACC tournament or last season's NCAA tournament as examples).

For Louisville's opponent in the Final Four, I have the New Mexico Lobos coming out of the West bracket. Steve Alford has done a tremendous job down in New Mexico, and very few people have acknowledged this. The Lobos finished at the top of their conference in both the regular season and the conference tournament. They only lost five games for the entire season, while playing the second toughest schedule in the nation (Contrast that with Gonzaga, who had a SOS of 76th). New Mexico isn't a traditional power-house, and the Mountain West conference isn't one of the "Big 6" so their successes are generally ignored by the majority of people. Coupling the exceptional play of the MWC this season with how much I don't trust the Gonzaga team (as good as they are) to go through the bracket has me pushing the Lobos through in a close game versus those 'Zags.

Next up in the national semi-finals I have Georgetown. My reasoning for picking Georgetown is much the same as my reasoning for picking Louisville over Duke, the tendency to choke in big situations. Kansas has a history of choking in the NCAA tournament and killing my brackets (specifically their loss to UNI a couple years back). So I must admit, this is a choice made largely because of my own personal beef with the Jayhawks. I don't necessarily like the Georgetown Hoyas to make it to the Final Four as much as I really DON'T like Kansas' chances of making it. The only other team that I see having a chance to come out of this region might be Michigan, but I ultimately decided to take Georgetown over the Wolverines.

The final team in my Final Four is Miami. For most of the season I thought that the Hurricanes were the best team in the nation. They became the first team ever to beat both Duke and North Carolina by more than twenty points in the same season. They won the conference outright in the regular season and won the conference championship. I still think that they deserved to be a 1 seed over the Indiana Hoosiers. So, for these reasons, I have the Hurricanes rounding out my bracket.

Well, there you have it folks, my choices for the Final Four. Just for good measure, I will add that I have Louisville winning the National Championship. I have them winning a tough, close game against the Miami Hurricanes. Anything you disagree with here? Feel free to discuss!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

The Miami Dolphins have been on a significant spending spree this off-season. We have agreed to free-agent deals with Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller, Brandon Gibson, Danelle Ellerbe, and Phillip Wheeler. The Dolphins have addressed a significant weakness from last season: our inability to be a threat in the passing game. Yet we've also made some curious moves, most notably being our seemingly nonchalant attitude to re-signing our star LT Jake Long. Assuming that he doesn't come back, we have a huge hole to fill on the line, and not much money left to do so. All this has led Dolphins fans to ask themselves "what are we going to do with our first round pick?". Allow me to run through some scenarios.

The first scenario is that we stay where we are and draft a WR, most likely Tavon Austin. While I love the speed receiver from West Virginia, there are some questions about him. Austin led the Mountaineers with 114 receptions for over 1200 yards, and ran a blazing 40-yard dash time at the combine. But he is small, at only 5'8" and 173lbs. Does Austin have the durability to stand up to the abuse that he would take in the NFL? Where exactly does he fit, is he a slot receiver? Can he be a number two receiver? Is he merely a special teams guy? These questions and the additions we've made in the off-season make this a silly choice in my opinion. As much as I love Tavon, I will not be happy if this is the route that Miami chooses to go.

The second scenario is that we again stand pat and use our selection to grab Xavier Rhodes, the cornerback out of Florida State. The talented corner had only an average Combine workout in my opinion, running a 4.43 40-yard dash, and not looking entirely smooth in his on-field drills. That being said, he is considered to be the top cornerback prospect by many analysts. This year's draft might be the deepest draft I have ever seen at the cornerback/safety position, so I feel like the Dolphins could find talent later on in the draft at this position and could use their first pick for better purposes.

The third scenario, the one that makes the most sense to me personally, is one that has us trading up in the first round to draft a star LT. With the departure of Long, our QB of the future is going to need someone to protect his blindside. I would like to see us package some of our picks and move up to a position to draft either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher. These are the preeminent LT's in this draft, and I have seen prognosticators who have ranked both of them the top of the class, so I would be happy to see either one of them on the Dolphins roster. Conventional wisdom says that Joeckel would be taken before Fisher, but if he isn't, I would be thrilled to see Miami take this route with their draft picks.

While there are a lot of holes yet to be filled, the Dolphins have made a lot of progress in the free agent market this off season. It's safe to say they will have some tough decisions to make come draft day, April 24th.

Let the Madness Begin

With all of the relevant conference tournaments over (save for the Big Ten), it's time to sit and wait for the selection committee to tell us who they have deemed worthy of this year's tournament. There are going to be a lot of bubbles burst in the next few hours, and many teams feeling they should have gotten a higher seed than they did.

The committee's tough decisions begin with the number one seeds. There are seven teams worthy of the one-seed line, but only four spots available. So, with this in mind, I thought I'd take my stab at predictions and give you who I think should be the four number one seeds when the brackets come out at 6pm EST.

The number one overall seed should be Louisville. They proved last night in the Big East championship that they are the most worthy of the overall top slot. They should get the nod over their only real competition for the spot, Kansas, because they have fewer poor losses than do the Jayhawks. I can't give the number one overall position to any team that has a loss to Texas Christian on their resume. This loss, plus the style with which Louisville came from behind and thumped Syracuse in the second half of their game puts them head-and-shoulders above Kansas, in my mind.

The second number one seed is Kansas. As I just said, they can't be the number one seed with a loss to TCU on their resume, and were it not for a few questionable calls in their two contests against Iowa State, they wouldn't be in the conversation for any number one seed at all. But that's the nature of the game, sometimes calls go your way and sometimes they don't. They went Kansas' way in those games, and they deserve to be rewarded for winning the Big 12 against a tough Kansas State team.

Third we have Gonzaga. The team that was a mid-major sweetheart at the beginning of the 2000's, the Zags have turned into a perennial powerhouse and are on track to get their first number one seed in school history. It feels weird to me to give them only the third number one since they are ranked number one in the AP poll, but I feel like playing in the West Coast Conference really hurts their case, especially when it comes conference tournament time. Both the Jayhawks and Cardinals play in significantly tougher conferences and deserve to be placed ahead of Gonzaga.

Last we have three teams battling for one spot. Miami, Duke, and Indiana are all worthy of the final number one slot. Indiana was ranked number one for a good portion of the year, but they were knocked out in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, and have a bad loss versus Minnesota on their resume. Duke had a lot of losses in the middle of the season, including a 20+ point loss to another team in this conversation (Miami), but all of those losses were without the services of Ryan Kelly, and they are clearly one of the top four teams in the nation with a healthy Kelly. Miami won their conference outright for the first time in their teams history and they were the first team to beat both UNC and Duke by 20+ points in the same season. However, they played one of the worst non-conference schedules in the entire NCAA and have losses against Indiana State and Florida Gulf Coast on their resume. For this reason, I think that I have to give the final number one slot to the Duke Blue Devils. Duke has less "bad losses" on their resume, and are clearly a Final Four caliber team with Ryan Kelly in the line-up.

Whatever happens when the brackets are released, one thing is certain: It will be madness!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

All Good Things Must End (part two)

Tonight's conference championship game between Louisville and Syracuse provided a fitting end to what has been the greatest conference that college basketball has ever seen. Syracuse jumped out to an early lead. James Southerland set the conference tournament record for 3-point attempts made, Louisville came out lethargic, and Syracuse ended up going into halftime with a 35-22 lead over the fourth-ranked Cardinals. The momentum was in their favor and by all accounts it looked like Syracuse was going to close out the Big East with the outright lead in conference championships. Rick Pitino had other ideas though.

The soon-to-be Hall of Fame coach did what he has done so well over his illustrious career (if we ignore that little stint he had in the NBA with the Boston Celtics), make adjustments and light a fire under his team. Their mainly defensive-minded center Gorgui Dieng came out on fire in the second half, knocking down some key shots and making beautiful passes to the open guy. Peyton Siva and Montrezl Harrell woke up from their first half funk and both added supreme performances. Harrell led the team with 20 points and Siva added 11 points and eight assists, winning the Big East Tournament MVP in consecutive years. He joins Patrick Ewing in 1984 and 1985 as the only players to accomplish this feat.

When it was all over, Syracuse had come out the loser, by a margin of 78-61. Louisville made a clear claim to be the overall #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. But, more than anything, the fans are the clear-cut winner here, having witnessed a glorious end to the conference that has given us so much over the years. The conference of Patrick Ewing, Pearl Washington, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, and Carmelo Anthony may be over, but it certainly didn't go out without a bang. Goodbye Big East, you will be missed.

Stranger Than Fiction

Elvis Dumervil has been an integral part of the Denver Broncos defense since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He led the team with six forced fumbles and had eleven sacks on a team that contended for a Super Bowl birth. However, the talented defensive end is approaching 30 and had a salary cap number of $12 million, so the franchise asked him to take a pay cut. After negotiations, Dumervil agreed to a more cap-friendly number of $8 million. Everything works out for all parties involved, right? Well, if that was the case, I wouldn't be writing this post, would I?

In a scenario that seems far too dated for 2013, the Denver Broncos had to release their star player because of what can only be described as a comedy of errors. For contracts to be official, all of the paperwork needs to be faxed to the NFL offices in New York by 4:00pm Eastern time. As of this time, all contracts become guaranteed for the year. As of 3:59EST the league offices had not received notification of Dumervil's pay cut, so rather than paying him the $12 million that his original contract would have guaranteed him, the Denver Broncos were forced to let him go. Had the league officials been more patient, they would have seen the necessary paperwork arrive a mere seven minutes late. Now, ostensibly, Dumervil is free to sign with any team who is willing to give him the contract that he wants; which I can only assume would be more than the $8 million that he agreed to with Denver. All of this because the NFL still uses a machine that, by and large, the rest of the world has forgotten about since the mid 90's.

This situation has left me with a bevy of questions: Did the Broncos intentionally hold off on filing the paperwork in a conniving attempt to absolve themselves of Dumervil's entire contract? Did the agent for Dumervil hold up the paperwork in an equally conniving attempt to get his client more money? Will Dumervil return to the Broncos after this fiasco, or will some other team (Miami, hopefully) swoop in to steal the talented pass rusher?  We will have to wait and see what Dumervil's future has in store.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

An Embarrassment No Longer

Just two short years ago the NFC West was the laughing stock of the NFL and an embarrassment to professional team sports across the globe. The Seahawks "won" this division with an abysmal record of 7-9 and were inexplicably allowed to participate in the playoffs. Fast forward to the present, and the NFC West has become arguably the toughest division in football, and just might possess the two best teams in the NFL: Seattle and San Francisco.

San Francisco has turned their franchise around 180° in the past few years. They have gone from a doormat in the post-Steve Young era, to a legitimate yearly contender, even playing in this past Super Bowl, ultimately losing to the Baltimore Ravens. They appear to have found their quarterback of the future in the strong-armed, swift-footed Colin Kaepernick. They have a formidable defense led by the dynamic linebacker duo of NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. Combined with the recent theft of Anquan Boldin from the aforementioned Super Bowl champs (only giving up a sixth round draft pick, one of their fifteen total draft selections) it is clear that the 49ers franchise is back to it's former glory and intends to challenge for the Lombardi trophy for years to come.

Not to be outdone, the Seattle Seahawks have done everything they can to keep pace with, and possibly surpass the team in San Francisco. They have their own answer for Kaepernick in Russell Wilson. They have built what, in my estimation, is the strongest defense in the NFL with the addition of Cliff Avril to a line-up that already has Chris Clemmons; the surprise of last-year's draft, Bruce Irvin; and the best secondary in the NFL headed by one of my favorite non-Miami Dolphins, Richard Sherman (of the 'U Mad Bro' fame). Seattle also made their own move in the trade market, giving up multiple picks to acquire the services of the immensely talented Percy Harvin. The addition of Harvin should add an element to the Seahawks offense that just might put them over the top and into the discussion of "Best Teams in the NFL".

With a combination of savvy picks through the draft, the acquisition of many key free agents, and the gall to pull off blockbuster trades, both the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have done all they can to ensure that the NFC West is an embarrassment no longer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Kid In Town

The New England Patriots have had a stranglehold on the AFC East of the better part of, well, this century really. They have managed to win all but two division titles since 2001 (with the New York Jets taking the crown in 2002 and Miami doing so in 2008). Every year it seems the Patriots are running away with the division while the rest of us are toiling away in obscurity. Well, with the happenings in free agency this year, I think those days just might be over.

Miami, as has been well stated in this blog, has made some major moves in the free agent market. They have signed one of the premier deep-threat receivers in the game. Miami has also stolen the Baltimore Ravens number one priority, and made sure to keep their most important player (WR Brian Hartline) away from the free agent market by signing him to a brand new deal days before he was scheduled to become part of an already stacked WR pool.

Not only did Miami make some huge moves, giving their fans all across the nation a reason to be hopeful for the first time since 2008, but every one of their competitors has been weakened in this free agency period. The aforementioned Patriots have lost their best wide receiver (Wes Welker) to the Denver Broncos. They have replaced him with a talented receiver in Danny Amendola, but one who has a tendency to get himself hurt and will most likely not finish the season healthy for them. Overall, a significant downgrade. The Buffalo Bills have not made any significant additions to their team, and have instead chosen to release their starting quarterback of the last two years, Ryan Fitzpatrick. A similar scenario has unfolded for the Jets, not making any significant moves (though restructuring the contract of Santonio Holmes was a good move on their part) and letting their biggest asset on the market, Dustin Keller, go free to likely end up also in Miami.

While Miami improves their team in a big way, every other team thus far has been diminished in a pretty big way. Move over New England, it looks like there just might be a new kid in town.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

And So It Begins

The NFL's annual free agency period kicked off today, and it started with a bang. Many key players were on the move, and many teams are feeling great about their haul on the most important day of the NFL off-season. With all the moves that were made, there are a lot of "winners", but no one is a bigger winner today than the Miami Dolphins*.

The Dolphins got their guy. Jeff Ireland made it a priority for the team to sign Mike Wallace, the ultra-speedy wide receiver formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was able to seal the deal. He signed a five year $60-65 million contract to be Miami's number one option. While I personally think that Miami severely overpaid for the services of Wallace, he brings an element to the Dolphins that was sorely missed last season. The big takeaway here is that Miami singled out a player that they felt they had to have, and they were able to deliver for us fans.

That deal alone would put Miami in the discussion of "biggest winners" on day one, but Miami was not done there. Later on in the day, Miami pulled the trigger on a deal that will bring former Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. This is a wonderful pick up for Miami as it not only brings an upgrade to the position, but it also takes away a position of strength from the Super Bowl Champion Ravens. With the retirement of Ray Lewis, the earlier signing of Paul Krueger to the Cleveland Browns, and the departure of Ellerbe, the Ravens are sorely weakened. And Baltimore's loss is Miami's (as well as the rest of the league) gain.

Both moves stand to strengthen areas of weakness for the Dolphins and have ensured that, at the very least, Miami wins the first day of the free agent period, and brings some much needed hope to Dolphins fans everywhere.

*it should be noted that I'm not considering the 49er's or Seahawks as "winners" since their big moves came as trades before the start of free-agency. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Oh What Could Have Been

In today's culture of Jersey Shore, Honey Boo-Boo and countless other mind-numbingly idiotic "celebrities", it is hard to fault someone for making the decision to go back to school and get their education. The college years are supposed to be the greatest years of your life, and we should be applauding anyone who chooses to make the most of those years instead of dashing for the first thing that appears greater. Occasionally though, a situation arises that makes me question whether the education they received was really worth it in the end. Such is the case in both Oklahoma QB Landry Jones and Southern Cal QB Matt Barkley. Both quarterbacks were projected to be selected in the first round of last year's draft, yet both made the conscious decision to go back to their respective schools, and that lone decision has cost them millions (and not just in astronomical tuition prices).

In the case of Matt Barkley, the decision could not have been a bigger failure, and an unnecessary one at that. Barkley had nothing to prove by coming back to college; he was already projected to be a top 5 selection, if not the overall first pick in the draft. There was also nothing to gain in Barkley's return, as USC was on probation due to numerous violations during the Reggie Bush era, and was thus prohibited from playing in their conference championship game and any bowl game that the school would have otherwise qualified for. Barkley had a substandard year- he threw for 300 fewer yards, three less touchdowns, and more than doubled his interception number from the previous season. When you add in the fact that Barkley suffered a shoulder injury during the latter part of the season his stock has fallen from a sure-fire top 5 pick last year to likely being completely out of the first round this year, in a far weaker draft class at the quarterback position.

As for Landry Jones, his situation is far more puzzling to me. He actually did have something to accomplish by going back to Oklahoma for his senior season. While he fell short of his goal to bring a National Championship back to Norman, he had by all statistical measures a season very comparable to his Junior effort. He had just under 200 fewer yards passing, one more touchdown and four fewer interceptions in his senior year, leading his Sooners to a crushing defeat at the hands of Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. While his stats were essentially the same, he has suffered much the same fate as Barkley, dropping from a top flight prospect in his Junior season to also being completely out of the first round by most projections.

In both cases, I can only imagine that both are asking themselves "Oh what could have been?" as they prepare themselves for this year's draft.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Getting The Shaft

It's March, and the Madness is in full swing. Each year around this time, everyone starts talking about who beat who last night, who hit the game winning shot, and who is going to be in the tournament. Pundits like the famed "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi make their predictions for seeding, and every year there is a team who is projected far lower than they should be. That team this year? The Iowa State Cyclones.

Iowa State has had a year of significant ups and downs, and their record does not reflect just how good this team has been. The Cyclones rank in the top 5 in the NCAA scoring 80.0 points per game, 23rd in the nation in rebounding (38.9 per game) and 14th (16.2 per game) in assists. They played a very strong non-conference schedule, including games against Cincy, UNLV and BYU. They have wins over an 11th ranked Kansas State team and a 13th ranked Oklahoma State team. All this has culminated in Iowa State having a projected seed of 11 in the Midwest bracket according to Lunardi.

Why such a low seed for such a solid resume? My thought is that Iowa State gets the shaft. Seven of their ten losses have been by ten points or less, including two heart-breaking loses to Kansas. Neither of those loses should weigh heavily on the minds of the committee. If not for one lucky shot and one blown call, ISU wins BOTH contests. Two more of their losses, to Texas Tech and the first match-up versus Oklahoma State, were also decided by questionable calls by refs who consistently give every team the benefit of the doubt versus ISU.

NCAA selection committee, it would be an injustice if these mistakes were to cost the Cyclones the chance to be a high seed in the upcoming tournament. Though, with our recent history as a high seed, maybe you'd be doing us a favor.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


For today's post, I'd like to deviate a bit from my usual content and present to you a baseball-themed post. With the announced retirement today of Mariano Rivera, which will be effective as of the end of the upcoming season, baseball will be losing one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen. Rivera has been one of the key components in the recent (since 1996) resurgence of the New York Yankee franchise. While no one can argue that Rivera is the greatest closer in the history of the MLB, I firmly believe that he transcends the role of "closer" and I would argue that he is the greatest pitcher period.

While it's a difficult task to compare starting pitchers to relievers, I believe that Rivera has been equally, if not exceedingly, as great as the greatest starters throughout history. He has amassed over 600 saves in his career (saves became an official stat in 1969), has twelve All-Star appearances, a career ERA of 2.21, has five World Series championships and was the MVP of one World Series. All this at a position that has been largely overlooked by historians of the game. These stats alone would put him in the discussion as one of the greatest that baseball has ever seen, but it's in the post-season where Rivera really made his mark.

Rivera's post-season stats are bordering on the make-believe. His ERA in the post-season shrinks from an already respectable number down the mind-numbing mark of 0.70, which is an MLB record. He has 42 saves in the post season, 9 series-clinching saves, and has made 96 appearances (all of which are also MLB records for a closer). But perhaps the most unbelievable of all Rivera-related statistics is the fact that he has allowed a total of 11 earned runs in the post-season. To put that number into perspective, more men have walked on the surface of the moon than Rivera has allowed to cross home plate in a playoff game.

Gushing over Rivera's stats is easy, but what separates him from the rest of the field is the fact that he has managed to amass these stats while having one pitch at his disposal. Rivera has perfected the cut-fastball into most dangerous pitch not only in the game today, but of all time. Every other great pitcher has had multiple pitches in his repertoire, while Rivera has compiled record after record in his 19 year career with just one. The fact that no-one has been able to figure out how to hit him is not only a testament to the degree to which Rivera has perfected his craft, but the reason that he is, in my mind, the G(reatest) O(f) A(ll) T(ime). 

Friday, March 8, 2013

All Good Things Must End

Today, it has become official. The Big East that we have all grown to love is dead. And, with the departure of the so-called "Catholic 7", many great rivalries die with it. I understand that the NCAA is a business, but that business is exactly what is killing college sports. College sports across the board have never been more profitable, but if the environment keeps on its current path, that market is going to dry up, and sooner rather than later.

Greed is killing college sports. With the break-up of the Big East, one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports is going to be tossed aside. And for what, a few extra millions? Is that worth throwing away all the history, all the tradition? At what point does it become detrimental to the universities involved, to the fans, to the NCAA as a whole? Tomorrow will be the final match-up between Syracuse and Georgetown as conference rivals. Sure, they MIGHT get together and play a game in their non-conference schedules, but the rivalry as we know it is dead. The schools that have produced so many stars (Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, etc) will never get the chance to square up and go at each other for the Big East title. They will most likely never play another meaningful game against each other. All this just so Syracuse can pack up and go to the ACC in hopes of making more money in their football program.

When will the fans say "Enough of this!"? When are we going to stand up for tradition? When are we going to come together as a collective and show the NCAA that money shouldn't be the end-all-be-all? If we don't stand up and take a stand right now, it won't just be the Georgetown/Syracuse rivalry that we lose. Today it's them, tomorrow it may very well be Duke/North Carolina. It could be the end of the "Civil War" match-up (Oregon vs. Oregon State). I implore any person reading this to think about what the landscape of college sports might look like if we allow these schools to make decisions with their pocketbooks in mind instead of the happiness of everyone who supports their university.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Mike Wallace Conundrum

If the last season taught Miami Dolphins fans anything, it's that there's hope for the future. Ryan Tannehill appears to have all the tools to be a very successful quarterback. It's too early, and too heavy a burden, to say that he's the next Dan Marino, but he has the potential to take us into a bright future. What the last season also taught us is that we DESPERATELY need to surround Ryan with some talent. Anyone who watched a Dolphins game last season could see that we have a glaring need at the wide receiver position, and with more than $40 million in cap space, it's a position that can be filled rather easily.

Enter Mike Wallace. It has become apparent that our top priority in this off-season is to sign the top free-agent WR, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers. While there are many compelling reasons to sign him, I'm not sold. The Dolphins need someone with big play ability, and no one fits that bill more than Mike Wallace. He's arguably the fastest receiver in the NFL and has shown that his speed does translate to the football field, unlike so many other speedy receivers. He's been a solid deep threat since his entry into the league in 2009. He's young, he's talented, and he's available. By all accounts, the Miami Dolphins, and their entire fan-base, should be excited to have him, right? Well, not me. I feel like there are far more reasons that we shouldn't want him than reasons that we should.

My first argument against Wallace is that his production has declined every year in the league since he became a starter in 2010. When the Steelers traded Santonio Holmes, it was time for Wallace to step up and become the teams first option. And in that first year, he produced accordingly. He set career highs in yards with 1,257, touchdowns with 10 and yards per catch with a surprising 21.0. In the two years since though, his yards have steadily declined, he has two fewer touchdowns per year, and most alarmingly, his average yards per catch has fallen to only 13.0, a mark that is troublesome for a "deep threat". In a contract year, a year after the retirement of Hines Ward making Wallace "the guy", he managed the lowest numbers in his career, albeit a young career.

The second argument against Wallace is his attitude. I understand that an NFL receiver needs to have a swagger about him. It takes a certain mentality to be a standout in this game. But having a "swagger" and being a diva are not mutually inclusive. Wallace has been in the media far too often complaining about his role with the team or with his contract situation. He's already had one hold-out in his career and he's just now reaching the end of his rookie contract. I don't think that's an attitude that we should want in Miami.

The third, and largest in my opinion, reason to not sign Wallace is the large crop of wide receivers available to Miami. Not only is Wallace a free agent, but so are Greg Jennings, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola and several other serviceable guys. While none of those names have the star-power that Wallace does, and none of them have the big play ability that Mike does, all of them are more consistent and less of a headache. Mike Wallace has a DVOA (a statistic that is essentially the equivalent of WAR in baseball) that puts him in the mid 20's in the NFL over his career, a mark that is surpassed by both Jennings and Welker. As for Amendola, he is an up-and-coming receiver who can run all the routes and who I think will become a star in this league in the years to come. I would be much happier with any of these options over Wallace. Even if Miami didn't want to spend their copious amounts of money in free agency, there are three brilliant options in the NFL draft at WR in Cordarrelle Patterson (as my fiancee' refers to him, Corduroy) , Keenan Allen, and Tavon Austin. All three have the big play ability that we are looking for, and will come at a much more cap-friendly price tag than Wallace.

So, to sum it all up...while I understand the reasoning behind being on the bandwagon to sign Mike Wallace, you won't see me there, and I will chalk his signing up to another disappointing moment to be a fan of this team.  Please Jeff Ireland, don't disappoint me yet again.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's Been a Rough Decade

As my first post mentioned, I am an avid Miami Dolphins fan. For better or worse, I have loyally followed my team (as if I have some stake in the franchise) for the last twenty years. The life of a Dolphins fan has been particularly tough. If you are of a certain age, you've lived through the best of times for the franchise and are heartbroken with how far the team has fallen. If you are a part of the younger generation, as I am, you came along too late to see the most successful days of the franchise. Miami holds the third highest all-time winning percentage, yet we have had the misfortune to have missed a great deal of those wins. We missed the great teams of the 70's, when the Dolphins were going to three straight Super Bowls and winning two of them. We missed the undefeated team of 1972, the No-Name defense, the record setting 1983 season from Dan Marino. The only thing that my generation has seen from this team is failure. We have seen a team from our division represent the AFC in the Super Bowl eleven times (seven total appearances for New England and four straight for Buffalo) since the last Super Bowl appearance for Miami. Since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season, it's been one colossal disappointment after another. Even the good seasons, and believe me when I say there haven't been many, have ended up in disappointment. When Chad Pennington came to the organization for the 2008 season, hopes were high that we had finally found our quarterback for the post-Marino era.  In his first season with the team, he led us to a division title, the third seed in the AFC, and our first real hope for success in a long time. Those hopes were soon dashed in convincing fashion though, first with a 27-9 loss to the sixth-seeded Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs, then by not one but two ultimately career-ending shoulder injuries suffered by Pennington. Once again Dolphins fans were left without a quarterback and without any real hope for the future. The life of a Dolphins fan is perilous to say the least.

Now Miami is once again poised to give all of its fans some real hope for the future. We seem to have found our quarterback for the future in Ryan Tannehill, we have a bevy of selections in the upcoming NFL Draft, and currently have more cap space than we know what to do with. The future looks bright in Miami, here's hoping that we don't find a way to disappoint yet again.


Hello fellow sports fans. My name is Chris and I'm just figuring this out, so bear with me. I assure you that at some point the posts will get better. I'm an avid sports fan, to the point that I drive those around me a little crazy, especially my fiancee'. So, for the sake of everyone's sanity this blog is born. I know more sports statistics and facts than any well-adjusted human being should. My sports allegiances lie mainly with the NFL  and Men's College basketball. I am an avid Miami Dolphins fan, unfortunately (much, much more on that in later posts). You can expect to see many posts in the coming months as I chronicle my way through the NCAA tournament in March and the NFL Draft in April. After that, who knows where this blog will take me. I welcome anyone reading this (please, someone read this) to friendly discussion/heated debate on any and all sports-related fields. Goodbye for now, and here's hoping you enjoy my two-cents worth.