Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Will Davis

Today, in my ongoing series looking at the Miami Dolphins' 2013 draft prospect by prospect, I take a look at the second of our two third round selections. Will Davis was the pick after Miami decided to initially trade out of the third round, and then back up to select the corner out of Utah State University. This pick, to me, is possibly the biggest head-scratcher of the entire weekend. Let's take a look at the breakdown.

What he does well: The first thing that stands out when watching Will Davis is his natural ability. He has not been playing football all that long, but he's very fluid in his movements. He flips his hips well and is able to change direction very smoothly. He has nice ball skills, as evidenced by his 17 pass breakups and five interceptions during his senior year at Utah State. He also has very light feet, and is able to move them very quickly which, along with his physicality, makes him a very competent press-man coverage corner.

Where he needs to improve: Davis is a very aggressive corner. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that he is susceptible to getting beaten deep on double moves. When he is beat, Davis tends to lack the high-end speed necessary to recover. He also has had issues with being able to get off the blocks of wide receivers in the run game. When he does get off of them, he also has a tendency to miss tackles. He needs to get stronger in his run support. Davis is a pretty decent man coverage corner, but with that comes a deficiency in zone coverage, which is what the Dolphins play. He doesn't have much experience in zone coverage though, so perhaps he's more of a victim of circumstance in this regard and it's not actually a weakness of his.

Where he fits: If Davis works on his zone coverage skills and his ability to get off the block and make a tackle, I anticipate him being able to compete for the nickel corner job, and possibly taking a roster spot from either Nolan Carroll, Dimitri Patterson, or Richard Marshall. I figure that Marshall's job is probably safe, as he has the most versatility of the three with his experience in Arizona playing the safety position. Every Miami fan has been very frustrated having to watch Nolan Carroll struggle at his job, but if I had to guess, I would venture to say that Patterson would be the one to leave, as he has a very salary cap unfriendly contract as compared to the amount of production he has given us. Patterson is scheduled to make $4.6 million this season and Miami would take no cap hit from releasing him, so unless Patterson is amenable to a large pay-cut, he's almost certainly played his last game in a Dolphins jersey.

Highlight Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCDCJ6jiSko

Monday, April 29, 2013

Welcome to Canada

Tim Tebow has been cut by the New York Jets, ending (hopefully) what has been one of the biggest debacles in the NFL in recent memory. Tebow has, largely undeservedly, dominated the headlines and newspapers since he came into the league. Whether it's been for his "performance" on the field, his religious views on and off the field, or the rampant speculation surrounding whether or not he can play, Tebow has been on the minds of most people in football circles. With the move today, which was a certainty after the Jets drafted Geno Smith in the second round, hopefully all this can come to an end.

Tebow isn't very good. Anyone who watches the film honestly can see that. In his short career he managed to complete only 48% of his passes in a league where anything under 60% is bad. He threw for 17 touchdowns total while accounting for 16 turnovers (9 interceptions and 7 fumbles). But it's largely not his fault, his career was doomed almost from the beginning. The Denver Broncos made a huge mistake taking Tebow in the first round. He was not a first round prospect, and to heap that amount of pressure on a kid who couldn't live up to the expectations was unfair. Tebow was a GREAT college player, but anyone who watched him knew that his talents didn't translate well to the NFL, at least not at the quarterback position. John Elway thought he could fix Tebow, and I applaud him for trying, but the way he went about it was terrible for Tebow's career. He did Tebow no favors taking him in the first round, then at the first available opportunity bailed on the kid.

The Broncos aren't the only franchise who doomed this kid though. The Jets are equally, if not more, at fault for the demise of Tebow. Bringing the media circus that follows Tebow into the media circus that is New York City is a recipe for disaster, and I have to think that they knew that coming into the situation. Not only did they bring a young kid into a terrible situation, they gave up on him nearly immediately after bringing him into camp. They didn't even give him a chance to develop. They saw him in practice a couple of times and said "Well, how about this: You're going to run left, run right, run up the middle, or hand the ball off." No one took the time to sit down with him and try to develop him. No one put him into games and give him an opportunity to learn the offense and learn from his mistakes. At least in Denver, Tebow saw the field. In his one season with the Jets, Tebow threw precisely eight passes, completing six of them. Eight passes in a 16 game season. Tebow was listed as the backup to Mark Sanchez, yet when it came time to sit Sanchez down and bail on him, was it Tebow who was given the nod? No, it was third string quarterback Greg McElroy. If you're going to bring a kid into camp, shouldn't you at least give him a CHANCE to perform?

So, now the question has to be asked, what opportunities are left for Tebow? In my opinion, Tebow better prepare himself for a sign that says "Welcome to Canada", because the CFL is his best option. No NFL team is going to give him a chance to be a quarterback, something he is dead-set on being. If he's serious about it, he'll go to Canada, fix the mechanical issues that have plagued his young career, and try out for teams in 3-5 years.

Dallas Thomas

Yesterday I outlined the talents and shortcomings of Miami's second round draft choice, Jamar Taylor. Next up is the first of our two third round selections Dallas Thomas, the offensive lineman out of Tennessee. Offensive line is huge need for Miami going into the season, and the addtion of Thomas, though not addressing our biggest need on the line, a stud left tackle, should provide Miami some much needed depth on the line.  Let's take a look

What he does well: First and foremost on the list of what this kid does well is versatility. In his time at Tennesse, Thomas played both guard and tackle. That type of versatility is invaluable when it comes to depth on the offensive line. If someone in the starting lineup goes down to an injury (or suspension), you need to have a quality backup who is ready to come in and take his place. Having a guy that is competent at multiple positions frees up a roster spot for us to have another playmaker, running back, or defensive back rather than to have to waste a spot on a lineman who may never see the field. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Thomas is the game he played against the University of South Carolina. Lined up at the left tackle position, Thomas was entrusted with the responsibility of protecting Tyler Bray's blind-side agains one of the premiere pass rushers in the nation, Jadaveon Clowney. Clowney came out of that game managing only four tackles. Thomas played in the SEC against the best competition that college football has to offer and held up admirably.

What he needs to improve: The biggest area that Thomas needs to improve upon is his strength. Thomas has a tendency to give up ground to defenders, especially more powerful guys who utilize a bull-rush technique.

Where he fits: Thomas is most likely to be projected as a guard at the next level, at least until he addresses his strength issues. I anticipate Thomas battling Richie Incognito for a job at the Left Guard position, as Incoginto is not a great fit for the zone-blocking scheme that Philbin wants to run. I don't anticipate Thomas being able to unseat Incognito just yet, but I look for him to be in the starting lineup come his second year.

Highlight Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbkJrFl65lE

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jamar Taylor

Now that all the selections have been made and the draft is over, it's time to reflect. Every person has their opinions on how their team did in the draft, and they're letting them be known. The likes of Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and Mike Mayock are coming out with their analysis on how they think every team did in the draft. I would like to take a slightly more in-depth approach, so in the next week I'm going to be taking a look at each of the players Miami drafted (with the exception of Dion Jordan, as I have already said plenty on that front). I'm going to take a look at what each player does well, what they need to improve upon, and where (if at all) they fit on the current roster. Today's player is Jamar Taylor, our second round draft choice from Boise State University.

What he does well: First and foremost, Taylor has adequate speed. He was clocked at last month's Combine at 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, which is on-par with the fastest of the wide receivers. He has the speed to run with anyone, which is important, especially if you make a mistake and have to recover quickly. Another plus for Taylor is that he's a zone coverage corner. He doesn't have great man-to-man skills, but Miami plays a zone scheme, so that should not be an issue. The biggest plus in Taylor's game though is his physicality. He's not afraid to mix it up with bigger, stronger receivers and loves to come up in run support. He plays the run quite well and that is something that I find invaluable in a corner.

Where he needs to improve: The biggest thing that I think Taylor needs to improve upon is his hands. Taylor has a tendency to drop a lot of interceptions when he has to use his hands away from his body. If he can manage to work on his pass catching ability, he should be a stand-out corner in this league. Along with his hands, he has also struggled at times with his tackling ability. He's not afraid to come up in run support, but once he's there, he doesn't always wrap up and finish the tackle. His open-field tackling skills are almost certainly the reason why he was still available to us in the second round instead of being a late first prospect.

Where he fits: Taylor, despite his few deficiencies, should be in the mix to be the starting corner opposite Brent Grimes. Miami is pretty thin at corner as it is, having Nolan Carroll and Richard Marshall as the only ones battling for that position. The acquisition of Taylor will almost assuredly mean that either Carroll or Marshall will be on their way out of Miami, and neither one of them will have to be relied upon to be a starter for us anymore. Taylor is a significant upgrade for us at the position and should be a week 1 starter.

Highlight video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh39T7YQ3VY

Coming up in tomorrow's post: Dallas Thomas

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Indecision part II

Day three of the draft is filled with guys who, most likely, will only be special teams contributors or won't even make the team. As such, I don't know much about them and don't have anything intelligent to say about them. Much like yesterday, I'm putting the onus on you, the viewers, to make up your own minds and possibly tell me what I should think. Videos provided by YouTube and www.draftbreakdown.com.

Jelani Jenkins: http://draftbreakdown.com/jelani-jenkins-vs-louisiana-lafayette-2012

Dion Sims: http://draftbreakdown.com/dion-sims-vs-boise-state-2012-2

Mike Gillislee: http://draftbreakdown.com/mike-gillislee-vs-tennessee-2012

Caleb Sturgis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIblgpMjvcw

Don Jones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYsQI_RzaOo

There you have it kids. Expect a complete analysis from me tomorrow when I've had more time to fully digest the entirety of our draft!

Friday, April 26, 2013


I am still undecided regarding my feelings about how Miami did on day two of the draft. I love the Jamar Taylor pick; I'm not so sure about Will Davis and Dallas Thomas. So, instead of a long post analyzing each pick, I have decided to post videos of each players highlights and let you decide for yourselves. All videos courtesy of www.draftbreakdown.com.

Jamar Taylor: http://draftbreakdown.com/jamar-taylor-vs-unlv-2012

Will Davis: http://draftbreakdown.com/will-davis-vs-san-jose-state-2012

Dallas Thomas: http://draftbreakdown.com/dallas-thomas-vs-florida-2012

Praying Mantis (part II)

In my haste to put up a post yesterday regarding the Dion Jordan pick, I failed to give any real supporting data for why I love the acquisition. Today I plan to rectify this oversight on my part. Jordan is a freakish athlete and gives the Miami Dolphins a lot of flexibility and an added dimension; pass rushing has been sorely missed in Miami for several years. Not only does Jordan improve the front line of our defense, but his ability to rush the passer will take some of the pressure off of our existing corners. Finally, Jordan has elite speed and length and as an outside linebacker at Oregon was asked to cover tight ends and slot receivers, and he did it well. This added aspect to Jordan helps our defense out even further, as Miami will face many of the elite tight ends this season. Let's take a look at what makes Jordan so special, from a numbers standpoint.

Let's start with Dion Jordan's size. Jordan is measured at 6'6 1/2". More than that though, his wingspan is an incredible 81.5 inches. That's more than three inches longer than a normal person of his height, which is already monstrous. This added length will give Jordan an incredible radius with which to deflect passes in his area, and will give him a massive advantage if and when he is asked to cover a smaller slot receiver. Furthermore, his hands measure an incredible 10" long. With hands this large, not only should he be able to be an effective coverage linebacker, but he should have the hand size and strength to be able to fight off the blocks when he is asked to line up at the defensive end position as a pass rusher.

Now let's move on to Jordan's speed and agility. Jordan ran the 40-yard dash in March's Combine at a blistering 4.6 seconds. This number was tied for third fastest at his listed position, defensive end, bested only by a little known prospect from UConn and by Barkevious Mingo from LSU. More than that though, it was also faster than any tight end likely to be drafted this year. In a test administered by ESPN's Sports Science, Jordan was able to run from one "heavy bag" to another, with one agility move in between, faster than anyone they tested other than Ziggy Ansah, and Ansah only beat him by 0.12 seconds. To further illustrate just how agile Jordan is, he was measured to have a rotational spin of 616°, which is the fastest the lab tested this season and approximately 25% faster than the spin of Dwight Freeny, who is widely considered to have the best spin move of any defensive player. Jordan also put up the fastest time of any defensive end in their test for rushing the passer and 10-yard acceleration, performing as well or better than any wide receiver they tested in this particular test. From a pure talent standpoint, Jordan is the best defensive end prospect since DeMarcus Ware, and if he lives up to his potential, will be the best pass rusher Miami has had since Jason Taylor.

The decision to draft Jordan looks even better when you consider the small price tag it took to acquire him and just how badly our division rivals did in their drafts yesterday. The Dolphins were able to acquire the third overall pick from the Oakland Raiders for only our first round pick (the #12 overall) and the first of our two second round picks. Just going by the value chart of the draft, Miami was able to steal this pick away from Oakland for more than 600 points below it's assessed value. The Bills made an extremely questionable decision to draft E.J. Manuel with their first round pick, which was gained by trading back and getting extra picks. While the decision to trade back was a good move for Buffalo, they immediately negated any good they did by drafting Manuel, a quarterback who many people had as the sixth rated quarterback in this draft. If Manuel was indeed who the Bills targeted as the guy they had to have, they could have easily waited until their pick in the second round, if not even the third. To draft this guy in the first round is a terrible mistake by the Bills. The Bills weren't the only ones in our division to make a questionable choice though.

The New York Jets made a poor choice of their own. They had two picks in the first 13, due to the recent trade of Darrelle Revis. With the first pick, they chose Dee Milliner, the corner from Alabama. While most "experts" had Milliner as the top ranked corner in the draft, there are several questions about him, most notable being his health (it was revealed that he had five surgeries while at Alabama and will not be available until training camp due to a recent shoulder surgery), and his hands. While working out at the Combine, Milliner exhibited a terrible ability to catch the ball. The entire time I watched Milliner perform his drills I had the thought "Man, his hands look worse than my legs!". This is not the kind of performance you want from a guy you draft to replace the best corner in the league. Then, with their second pick in the first round, the Jets inexplicably decided to take a defensive tackle, Sheldon Richardson from Missouri. Not only was Richardson not a position of need for the Jets, he was not even the best player at his position still on the board. Star Lotulelei was still available at this point, as was many people's #3 prospect Sharrif Floyd. This pick isn't bad because of the defensive tackles still available, however. It's a terrible pick because of the offensive players that were still available. The offense is a much more pressing need for the Jets, and many great players were still on the board. Geno Smith, Tyler Eifert, Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, and Robert Woods were all still available at much more pressing needs than defensive tackle. Three of those five; however, are still undrafted, so the Jets do have an opportunity to rectify their mistakes.

When you really sit back and analyze the move for Dion Jordan, it looks like the Dolphins have moved into a position to seriously challenge the New England Patriots for supremacy not only in the AFC East, but in the AFC as a whole. I can't wait to see what the next two days hold for the rest of our draft.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Praying Mantis

In a move that sent shock waves throughout the entire draft audience, and Miami Dolphins fans everywhere, the newest member of the team is the defensive end/outside linebacker from Oregon Dion Jordan. Miami executed a trade with the Oakland Raiders to move up to the third selection in order to take Jordan. While most people, fans and prognosticators alike, assumed that Miami was trading up to secure LT Lane Johnson, they decided to take the pass rusher instead. Initially I, and I think most fans, hated the move. The more I think about it though, the better the move looks for us.

There are a lot of options left for Miami to fill the left tackle position that we still desperately need. The trade for Branden Albert is still on the table. It looks like Kansas City and Miami are playing a game of chicken over Albert, with Miami hoping that KC will blink and accept a third round pick instead of the second that they currently are asking for. If the Chiefs stand firm though, there are still plenty of options available in free agency. Eric Winston could be signed by us to man the right side of the line, bumping Johnathan Martin over to the left. We could also sign the recently released Tyson Clabo to man the left, keeping Martin at RT, which is the position that he looked more comfortable at last season. Martin is not yet strong enough physically to be put on the left side, though he has reportedly bulked up in the off-season, gaining 15 pounds of muscle.

The move also does a lot to bolster our defense. For years the Dolphins have needed to add a pass rusher to put opposite Cam Wake. They tried to put Jared Odrick opposite him last season, but Odrick is more of an interior lineman. Now with the addition of Jordan, we can put Odrick at a more natural position for him, while also gaining a significant upgrade at the edge-rusher position. Not only does this move drastically improve our defense up front, it will also help us address our needs at corner. A defensive back's best friend is a good pass rush. A quarterback can't find the open man if he's flat on his back.

The move is also great when you consider what it took to make it. The Raiders were only able to swap firsts and add one of Miami's two second round picks in the deal. For comparison, the New England Patriots were able to ascertain a second, third, fourth, and seventh round pick from the Minnesota Vikings for their pick in the first round, which was the 29th pick in the first round. To say that Miami robbed the Oakland Raiders would be an understatement. I cannot fathom how, exactly, the Raiders let us get away with such a one-sided trade. We will have to see what Miami does tomorrow with their remaining second round and two third round picks, but it's clear with this move that we are serious about becoming contenders in the AFC.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Miami Dolphins Draft: Round 3

In the final installment of my three-part look into the Miami Dolphins draft strategy, I'm going to take a look at the third (and for me, final) round and how Miami can use this draft to address the final holes in their roster. As I am not yet a great evaluator, I am not going to attempt to evaluate the fourth through seventh rounds. Maybe next year.

The Dolphins still have one major hole in their roster, the cornerback position, and I have a feeling that this round is going to be where they fill it. They have already made a move in free agency to fill this hole, signing the former Atlanta Falcons corner Brent Grimes, but in today's pass-happy NFL, you need more than just one good corner. Like in round two, Miami has two selections in this round, and with their first selection I anticipate them waiting on the corner and again addressing their desire for a playmaker (as they did in round one by selecting Tyler Eifert. Or as my fiancee' would say Eiffel Tower). For the first selection in the third round, I have Miami drafting the wide receiver from Texas A&M, Ryan Swope.

Miami should be very familiar with Swope, as our offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman, was his coach at A&M for several years. In addition to the coaching staff familiarity, he also has a familiarity with our quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Both Tannehill and Swope were wide receivers at Texas A&M during Swope's freshman year. After Tannehill moved to the quarterback position, they further developed a rapport as any good QB/WR tandem should. Not only should this draft selection look good to Miami from a familiarity standpoint, they should also love Swope for his speed. He was clocked at a sub-4.4 in the 40-yard dash in March's Combine. Any time you have the opportunity to add that kind of speed to your roster, a coach should be salivating, and I would be surprised if Miami doesn't at least contemplate this choice.

With their second selection in this round, this is where I see Miami again addressing their need for a cornerback. I have them taking David Amerson, corner from NC State in this slot. The knock on Amerson is that he doesn't project the skills necessary to play in man coverage at the next level. That shouldn't concern Philbin very much since he plays mostly zone coverage, which is an area that Amerson is quite skilled at. For readers who may not know the difference, in "man coverage" the cornerback covers a wide receiver no matter where he goes on the field. In a "zone coverage" the cornerback covers an area of the field, no matter which wide receiver/tight end/running back comes into his area. Amerson's perceived deficiencies in man coverage should not be a big concern for us, and we should be thankful that a corner of his pedigree will slip so far in the draft due to those deficiencies. A corner with Amerson's size and speed who has good man coverage ability would be a sure-fire first round pick.

Well folks, there you have it, my blueprint for success in this year's draft for my Miami Dolphins. I can't wait to sit down in front of my television in less than 24 hours to see just how everything plays out. With any hope, I'll be writing a post on Sunday bragging about just how well we drafted and how right I was in my predictions. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Miami Dolphins Draft: Round 2

As I mentioned in yesterday's post on Miami's first round choice, Miami has some very important holes that need to be filled. We still need a left tackle to protect Ryan Tannehill's blindside. We need at least one cornerback to put on the opposite side of Brent Grimes. We also need an elite pass rusher that we can put opposite of Cam Wake to give us some much needed skill up front. For all the talk of Miami's corners being weak last season, a lot of those issues would have been moot had Miami had another threat rushing the passer. With their first pick in the draft, I have Miami addressing a concern that is not mentioned here, the need for a playmaker on offense. The addition of Tyler Eifert will give our passing game an added dimension in someone who can attack the seams and poses a big target in the red zone. With Dustin Keller coming off of an injury and being on a one-year contract, the need for a TE who can be a bit more of a guarantee would not be a terrible pick for us.

With that in mind, I feel like the second round is where Miami is going to do the bulk of their work in addressing their remaining issues. The Dolphins have two picks in this round and this is where most experts feel that this draft is strongest. It doesn't have a lot of elite talent at the top of the draft, but it's very, very strong in the middle rounds. The Dolphins first pick in this round is number 42, and this is where I see them addressing their desire for a pass rusher. I think that Miami should be targeting Damontre (or as my fiancee' says 'DemonTree') Moore, the defensive end from Texas A&M. Damontre has been making a name for himself in College Station, Texas since the days of Von Miller. In his first year at Texas A&M, while splitting time in the linebacking core with the aforementioned Miller, Moore managed to net 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. The next season, when Moore was moved into the starting lineup after Miller's departure, his numbers grew to 17.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. After that season, he was moved to defensive end with the arrival of new coach Kevin Sumlin. Rather than having a dip in his numbers due to the move and having to adjust to new responsibilities, reads, and techniques, Moore's numbers grew even more to 21 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Moore very clearly has all the talent in the world to be an elite pass rusher and if he's still on the board when Miami goes to make the pick, they should be stumbling over themselves to pick this guy up.

With the second of our two picks in this round, this is where I see Miami addressing their need for a left tackle by trading the pick to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for their LT Branden Albert. Albert will become expendable when KC drafts Luke Joeckel, as Albert is unwilling to move to the right side of the line and also wants to be paid as a premiere left tackle, which he is. As it stands right now, KC is holding out hope of getting a higher pick in the second round, but Miami is currently the only team talking to them about Albert and, as such, has all the leverage in the situation. A lot of fans have balked at the idea of paying Albert the money that he wants, saying that if they were going to pay someone that money why wasn't it Jake Long? The fact of the matter is that Albert is a better LT than Long was for us. He's ranked in the top 10 in PFF rankings for left tackles consistently and, while he does have some injury concerns with missing substantial time last season to a back injury, he's much healthier right now than Long has been. I don't see any reason for us to NOT pay Albert the money he is looking for. According to recent reports from NFLNetwork's Ian Rapoport, neither does Jeff Ireland.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my final installment of what I think the Dolphins should do to address the rest of their issues.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Miami Dolphins Draft: Round 1

The NFL Draft is only a few days away. All the speculation, rumors, and anticipation will finally come to a head this Thursday night. If you're anything like me, you've been waiting for this day since at least the end of "March Madness" if not since the final whistle of the Super Bowl. With this in mind, I would like to use the days leading up to the draft to throw out there my "mock" for how the Dolphins should spend their picks in the first three rounds. Today I'm going to address what we should do in the first round.

With the Dolphins first selection, number 12 in the first round, I feel fairly confident in saying that they will select Tyler Eifert, the TE from Notre Dame. Eifert is the best prospect in this year's draft at his position and I'm pretty convinced by now that Eifert is the direction that Miami wants to go in. With Keller being on a one year contract and coming off of an injury, it's not a bad way to go either. Eifert has had a stellar career at Notre Dame and excelled in March's Combine. He was the top performer at his position in every major test run at the combine. While 12 might be a bit high to take a tight end, with the rookie wage scale that has now been implemented in the NFL, if you like a guy, there is really no reason not to take him regardless of what position you are picking.

The only knocks on Eifert are his build and his blocking. At 6'6" and 250lbs, Eifert resembles more of a lean receiver than a stout TE, which leads me to question both his toughness and his durability. Durability was never an issue for him at Notre Dame, but this is a completely different beast here in the NFL. His blocking skills are another weakness that needs to be addressed if he wants to become an all-around player. He's an excellent pass catcher, but as a TE, that's only half of his job. A good TE also needs to be able to contribute in the running game and I'm not quite sure that he is going to be able to make that contribution for us right out of the gate.

As a fan, I think that I would rather see the Dolphins address one of their other key issues coming into the draft, whether it be with a pass rusher, another corner to go opposite Brent Grimes, or filling holes on the offensive line. With the 12th pick I would rather see Miami choose either Chance Warmack, the guard from Alabama, Alec Ogletree, the inside linebacker from Georgia, or Desmond Trufant, the cornerback from Washington. Obviously, if Dee Milliner were to fall to us at our pick I would change my tune, but as things stand today I don't see him getting past Cleveland's pick with the 6th selection.

Stay tuned tomorrow for what I see Miami doing with their two picks in the second round.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Return of Zen?

The Cleveland Cavaliers have reached out to Phil Jackson about their coaching vacancy. Jackson has been retired for the past couple seasons, but reportedly is feeling the itch to get back into the game. Jackson is a lifetime basketball guy and can never stay away from the game for long. He was a leading candidate for the Lakers position earlier this season after they fired Mike Brown. The organization chose, inexplicably, to go with Mike D'Antoni, effectively ending any possibility that Jackson would ever come back to the team. But would he think about taking his talents to Cleveland? What could they possibly have to offer?

Cleveland has been a veritable black hole since LeBron James left town for the South Beach lifestyle and the appeal of playing with Dwayne Wade and an ostrich (who I hear they have affectionately named Chris Bosh). Since the departure of James, Cleveland has managed to win less than 30 percent of their games. The roster doesn't have much talent. Cleveland is a small market in the middle of nowhere. The team does not have a history of winning, having their last playoff series victory come in 2008 with the aforementioned James. The last time Cleveland won a playoff series without LeBron was twenty years ago. All this would point to Cleveland not having a chance to land Jackson, one of the most successful and highly coveted coaches of all-time, right?  Not so fast.

Cleveland, despite being nearly completely bereft of talent, does have one of the best young players in the game in point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is developing into a player who could be a perennial All-Star. The rest of their roster, despite not being (in my opinion) very talented, is very young. They are the second youngest roster in the entire NBA. Young minds can be easily molded, and if there is anyone who can change the way people think and get the most out of a player, it's Jackson. Jackson is a master at using unconventional tactics to motivate his players and get more out of them than anyone else thought possible. Jackson has had the good fortune of coaching four of the 50 greatest players of all-time in Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant, but make no mistake about it, every single one of those players is better for having Jackson as a coach. He's a master at his craft, not just someone who is a product of circumstance. It's frequently harder to coach superstars than it is average players.

Another piece of the puzzle that should not be overlooked is the previously mentioned Lebron James. James' contract with Miami expires at the end of the 2014 season, and conventional wisdom says that he will once again test the free agent market. I would not put it past James and his ego to want to return to Cleveland, a place where he is still seen as a villain for deserting them, in an attempt to smooth things over with his hometown crowd. Above all, James still wants to be loved. He's done a lot of work to try to become a hardened player, and he has, but the media does still have an effect on him. If Phil Jackson were to come out of retirement and take the job in Cleveland, I can only imagine that would all but seal it in James' mind that he should go back to Cleveland to work with the coach who has won more titles than anyone in the history of the NBA. James would be able to put himself in the same company as his idols Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and I guarantee that thought would cross his mind.

Will Kyrie Irving and the possibility of LeBron James be enough to coax the great Phil Jackson out of retirement? We shall see. But no one should dismiss the possibility, and I for one, might take up the NBA again were it to happen.

Revis on the Move

"Revis Island" is on the move. After an off-season of turmoil, the New York Jets have finally decided to part ways with the talented, yet disgruntled, corner. Revis is off to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in return the Jets will receive Tampa's first round pick in this Thursday's draft (number 13 overall) and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2014 draft that could potentially become a third round selection if Revis is still on the roster on the third day of the new football year next season. This is a trade that had to be done, and one of the rare trades that actually seems to benefit everyone involved, though it seems to benefit Revis and the Bucs much more than it does the Jets.

The Bucs receive a player in Revis who, if healthy, is arguably the best defensive player in the league. When healthy, there really is no debate that he is the best corner in the NFL. Revis is a shutdown corner who gives QB's and WR's nightmares. He has the talent to completely negate the oppositions best player, and that is a talent that was severely lacking in Tampa last season. Without a quality defensive back, the Tampa defense allowed nearly 300 passing yards per game last season. That number is sure to drop now that they have brought in a corner who all but takes away one entire side of the field. Not only does Tampa bring in a guy who fills a position of huge need for them, but they do so at almost no risk whatsoever. The Bucs have signed Revis to a 6year/$96 million contract with absolutely no money guaranteed. This means that, if Revis is unable to recover from his knee injury and isn't the player that he used to be, Tampa can part ways with him without any salary cap penalties. At first glance, it looks like a remarkable move for Tampa.

It's also a wonderful move for Revis himself. While the decision to sign a contract that has no guaranteed money is a risk for Revis, let's not ignore the fact that he will be making $16 million dollars per year for every year that he is on the roster. As long as he is healthy and productive, this deal makes him the highest paid defensive player in the history of the NFL. Aside from the sheer numbers of the deal, Revis also gets the opportunity to leave a team that he felt never gave him the respect that he deserved. Revis had numerous contract disputes with the Jets in his limited amount of time there, and I can only imagine is happy to finally have the long-term contract that he has been seeking for several years now. He deserved the money, and he's finally found a team who was willing to acknowledge that.

As for the Jets, they seem to have gained the least from this trade. They already possess arguably the least talented roster in the NFL, and trading away a guy who was head and shoulders above the other 52 guys makes the roster that much worse. They do get rid of a guy who had caused them all kinds of headaches over the last few years, and they have acquired another first round pick giving them two picks within the first fifteen. However, to only receive one first round pick and one conditional fourth rounder for the best defensive player in the game is a joke. It speaks to how inept the front office is within the Jets organization and if things continue on the path that they are on, the Jets will continue to be a laughingstock franchise for years to come.

We'll see what the draft has in store for the Jets, but as it stands right now, the Jets have done a lot to solidify their position as the least talented team in the NFL. As a Miami fan, I'm thrilled beyond belief at this and to see Revis leaving my division.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blame Adrian

The Chicago Bulls go into their first round playoff match-up against the Brooklyn Nets short handed. Their star player and arguably one of the top players in the entire league, Derrick Rose, has been sidelined for the entire season as he recovers from tearing his ACL towards the end of last season. There were rumors that Rose would be back for the playoffs, but he has been ruled out for the first series, and will likely miss the entirety of the playoffs. Many people in Chicago and in the media have questioned Rose's recovery time and his toughness for not being able to get himself back on the court. Why? I blame Adrian Peterson.

To me there are two main reasons why Adrian Peterson was able to recover so quickly from his injury, and neither one of them are a case against Rose. The fact of the matter is that they are two different people. Every single person is different from every single other person. The fact that Peterson was able to recover in nine months from a significant knee injury does not mean that every other person who suffers a similar injury will be able to recover in a similar time frame. Maybe it's just in Peterson's genetics that he is going to be able to recover faster than Rose from this type of injury. This isn't a knock on Rose, it's just a medical fact. Everyone recovers at their own rate. I know for a fact that, were I to suffer the same injury, I would be completely bed-ridden for probably as long as it took Peterson to completely recover. Rose should feel no pressure to recover in the same amount of time as Peterson because they are different people, playing different sports. Their timetables should not be comparable, but that wouldn't give the sports writers anything to write about, so they insist on making unfair comparisons, then viciously criticize when a player fails to meet their unrealistic standards.

The second reason for Peterson's recovery is something that I just hinted at. They play VERY different sports. Peterson plays a sport where the average shelf-life for his position is three years. Peterson has already surpassed that, so his career could be over at any moment. He has added motivation to get back on the field because he knows that, even if he isn't quite 100%, he needs to be out there because if he's not, he may never see the field again. We've seen it happen time and again that a player in the NFL has a serious injury and never gets his spot back on the team (Trent Green is the one that stands out most in my mind). Rose doesn't have that issue. He plays a sport that is a lot less physical than Peterson's and one where you can have a long career. For Rose to come back before he's completely recovered from his injury would be putting his future in jeopardy. Rose is a player that can be a legitimate MVP candidate for the next decade if he is fully healthy. Where Peterson may lose his job if he doesn't get back as soon as he can, no one is taking Rose's job and he has the luxury of being able to rehab at his own pace and not play until he is fully, completely recovered.

Friday, April 19, 2013


The NFL schedule has finally been released. Fans have known for quite some time who their teams would face, but now we know exactly when and where. While every year teams look at the schedule and initially think it's a brutal schedule, inevitably a few of them turn out to be a lot softer than anticipated. I do not, however, think that will be the case for the Miami Dolphins. At first glance, the first nine weeks of their 2013 schedule looks to be one of the hardest schedules that I have ever seen. I think that Miami makes a good case for the claim of being "hosed" by the NFL's scheduling committee.

The year starts off fairly easy for the Dolphins, with a game at the floundering Cleveland Browns. While the Browns do have some pieces there in Cleveland, namely their promising young running back Trent Richardson, they have yet to put a complete team together and should once again be a bottom-feeder in the AFC. Chalk this game up as a win for the Dolphins. After the initial ease, the schedule gets a lot tougher for Miami. Their next game is again on the road, this time against the up-and-coming Indianapolis Colts. A surprise playoff team from last year, the Colts should only get better with their star second year quarterback, Andrew Luck. While this game will be a tough test for Miami, I think that they have improved enough over last year that this should also be a win for us. After two games on the road, Miami gets to come back for their home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and company were very nearly the NFC Champions last season and should contend for a championship again this season. After two road wins, this game appears to be a loss for Miami. Then Miami gets to go back on the road, for the third time in the first four weeks, to play a Monday Night game against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints under-performed last season, due largely to the fact that their head coach, Sean Payton, was suspended for the entire season. With Payton reunited with Drew Brees, look for the Saints to be much improved and should be able to take this game. With two straight losses under their belts, the Miami Dolphins get to look forward to the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have been decimated by free agency this year, along with the retirement of the heart and soul of their team, Ray Lewis. While they are the defending champs and you have to give them the respect they earned, I think that Miami can come out of this with a win.

All that leaves the Dolphins with a record of 3-2 going into their bye week in week 6. The schedule takes a slight dip in intensity immediately after the bye with a match-up against the Buffalo Bills. While division games are always a tough battle, Miami is clearly head and shoulders above the Bills at the moment, so this should be a win for us as well. On a two game winning streak and having won four of their first six, the Dolphins should be feeling pretty good about themselves going into their first match up against the New England Patriots, who have themselves been hurt in free agency by the loss of their best wide receiver, Wes Welker. Miami will probably split their two games with New England this season, so I will give the nod in this game to the Patriots, as it will be a home game for them. The final game in this brutal stretch for Miami is a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals on a short week. Having a Thursday night game after a tough division match up is no easy task for anyone. Having that game be against yet another playoff team from last season is absolutely brutal. I'll mark this down as another loss for my Dolphins, knocking us down to an even 4-4 in the first eight games of the season.

If Miami can get through their first eight games near a .500 record, the schedule eases up quite a bit for them, with their next four games against teams that they should beat (Tampa, San Diego, Carolina, and the Jets). All four of those games should be wins, to put us back up to 8-4 and poised to make a push for the playoffs going into the final quarter of the season. Riding a four game win streak, the Dolphins and Mike Wallace face his former team on the road against Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a tough place to play, and while they are not the same team that they have been in the past, this is probably going to end up being another loss for the Dolphins. Our final three games are all against divisional opponents, with two of them being home games for us. As I said earlier, I feel like Miami is going to split against the Patriots, so I'll give this matchup to the Dolphins, as well as their final two games against Buffalo and the Jets.

With a three game winning streak under our belts and an overall record of 11-5, Miami should be in the playoffs this season. And if the recent history is any indication, if you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. I'm not saying that Miami will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season, but it is not out of the question. There is a lot of reason for optimism down in South Beach.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Bumpy Ride

The NBA's regular season ended yesterday, and the playoffs (the ones that seemingly last longer than the regular season itself) are just around the corner. In the meantime, the coaching carousel is in full motion. For three previously successful coaches, their time on the carousel has come to an abrupt conclusion. Lawrence Frank, Byron Scott, and Doug Collins have all lost their jobs in the hours since the final whistle of the season; for all three of them the writing has been on the wall for quite some time.

Doug Collins is the only one of the three to not have been fired. Instead, Collins has chosen to step down and instead take a position in the 76ers front office for the remainder of his contract. Collins started the year with so much promise. His team had a talented roster and they were supposed to be a real contender to challenge the Miami Heat for supremacy in the East. All that promise and hope was dashed when their big free agent acquisition, Andrew Bynum, was lost for the year due to injury and, as far as I'm concerned, a bad attitude. I understand that Bynum has a rather extensive history of injury, but I really think that his biggest problem is his attitude. If he had been a determined player, I think he could have made a comeback this year and had an impact on this team. Instead, he decided that he wanted to shut it down for the year, and will most likely never put on a Philadelphia jersey again. What looked at the time like a great move for the franchise ended in the demise of Collins' coaching career in Philly, and perhaps anywhere else.

Byron Scott was brought in to Cleveland the year after LeBron made the decision to "take his talents to South Beach". While it is understandable that Scott has had some struggles after losing the greatest athlete to put on a basketball jersey, it's not as if Cleveland is devoid of talent. Kyrie Irving is fast becoming one of the NBA's biggest young stars. He's got a phenomenal all-around game and is a stud at the Point Guard position. They also have some pretty decent talent around him, so while no one has realistically expected Cleveland to be a consistent playoff contender since the departure of Lebron, Scott's record of 64-166 is unacceptable and, unlike Collins, is completely worthy of being fired.

Lawrence Frank, much like Doug Collins, seems to be a victim of circumstance. The Detroit Pistons roster has been, unlike Cleveland, essentially devoid of talent since the recent glory days of the franchise. Since the departures of Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, and Richard Hamilton from their repeat Eastern Conference Championship teams, the talent pool in Detroit has been shallow to say the least. Detroit's leading scorer this season was Greg Monroe at 16 points per game. That average was only good enough for 40th in the league, in a league with only 28 teams. While it's not Frank's fault and I don't think ANYONE could be successful with the current Pistons roster, a change had to be made. When a change has to be made, it almost always means that the coach is going to lose his job, no matter how justified or not it may be.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update to yesterday's post about the Boston Marathon disaster. It appears that the article that I sited in yesterday's post was wildly inaccurate, as anyone who is familiar with the NY Post should not be surprised. According to the latest reports from more credible news organizations, the death toll is at three people. There were 176 reported injuries as a result of the bombings and 17 of those are in critical condition. The reports of a Saudi national being in custody have also been refuted by all reputable sources. The mayor on Boston has also stated that no other devices have been found, contradicting earlier reports from all major news sources that I saw. The two bombs were in 6-liter pressure cookers and were reportedly "dirty bombs" containing shards of metal, BB's, and nails with the express purpose of maximizing the number of injured, according to reports from the Associated Press. It has also been determined that the explosion at the JFK library was completely unrelated to the events at the marathon and was caused by a mechanical fire.

Obviously this is still a very fluid situation and I expect there to be more updates as more and more credible information is discovered. If you are in the area and are still missing family members/friends or have any information that you think may be useful to the authorities as they investigate this situation, please refer to yesterday's post containing links to whom you should contact.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon

At least twelve people are dead and another fifty have been injured in multiple bombings during the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts. At 2:50pm EDT two bombs went off just seconds apart at the finish line of the marathon, hours after the winners had finished the race, but while the race was ongoing. Several other devices were discovered that failed to detonate, including one that had been placed under the grand stand. Another explosion went off at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. Authorities report that it is unclear whether the explosions are related, but they are treating them as such. According to a report by the NY Post, one suspect, a twenty year old Saudi Arabian national, has been apprehended in connection with the bombings and is currently being held under watch at an undisclosed hospital in Boston after suffering severe burns, though this report is being disputed by local authorities. It is unclear whether the suspect suffered these burns as a result of his apprehension or in the bombings themselves.

For those of you who may be reading this in the Boston area, or know anyone in the area, my heart goes out to you, especially if you know of anyone who was injured or killed in these events. I would also like to pass along this information for anyone who knows of anyone that is missing as a result of this tragic event or has any information that may be related to the bombings: Relatives of people who may be missing in the are can call the mayor's hotline at 617-635-4500. Anyone who has information about the bombings or might have seen anything suspicious can call 1(800)-494-TIPS. Google has also set up a person finder to help with the information regarding the incident. That site can be found at http://google.org/personfinder/2013-boston-explosions/

*It is worth noting that ABC News is reporting that only two are dead and eight-six are injured. The twelve dead and fifty injured comes from an article from the New York Post.

*It is now being reported that the explosion at the JFK Library is unrelated to those that occurred at the marathon

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

It's a great day to be from Australia. An Australian golfer has finally won the Masters. After years of torment and heartbreaking defeats for the country, including several by the great Greg Norman, they finally have their first victory in the most important event in the sport. Adam Scott has finally broken through the glass ceiling by winning this year's Masters on the second hole of a playoff with Angel Cabrerra, and it was an amazing journey for Adam to secure his first major victory.

Adam Scott is the only golfer to have a combined score under par in the last five major championships, yet this is the first one that he has been able to secure a victory in. He lost his previous bids in some of the most heartbreaking fashions imaginable, in much the same way that his fellow countryman, the aforementioned Norman, lost the 1996 Masters after having a six stroke lead going into the final day. Scott never had a collapse quite as drastic as Norman, but a few of them had that same feeling. Today was Scott's turn to be on the right end of this scenario. Scott managed a thrilling comeback, coming from three strokes back with eight holes to play to force a playoff. He would eventually sink a birdie on the second hole of the playoff to not only win his first major championship and the first Masters for his country, but also became only the fourth player to ever win a major in such a fashion.

While today's victory is indeed a remarkable one for Scott, the importance of one single hole for the best golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, cannot be overlooked. In his second round, Tiger hit a shot that appeared to be about as perfect as it could be. The shot hit the flag, then inexplicably shot out and landed in the water. This lead to Tiger taking a bogey on a hole in which he should have scored a birdie. After the round, Tiger mentioned in an interview that he had inadvertently broken one of the rules of golf when he re-hit the shot. It was initially deemed to not have been a violation, but after the interview officials decided to review their decision and assess Tiger a two-stroke penalty on top of the penalty he had already taken by the unfortunate turn the ball took to the water. While it's impossible to say that without those penalties Tiger would have won the tournament, I do think it's important to acknowledge that if you take those four strokes away, Tiger is at nine under and in the playoff with Cabrerra and Scott.

To his credit, Adam Scott made all the shots he needed to and secured a great win not only for himself, but for his country. I expect to hear much more from Scott now that he has been able to relieve some of the pressure. If you don't believe me, just look at Phil Mickelson. For the longest time he was talked about as the best golfer to never win a major, and that pressure got the better of him time and again. Once he finally won one, the flood gates opened and he has gone on to win three Masters competitions. Don't be surprised to see Scott take much the same path.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Rich Get Richer

The Seattle Seahawks have put to rest any doubts as to whether or not they are poised to make a run at the Super Bowl this season. They made the trade with Minnesota to bring in a dynamic playmaker in Percy Harvin, which will not only add a threat to their offense that they were lacking last season, but will certainly help with the development of Russell Wilson. They also made big moves on the defensive line adding Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to bolster their pass rush. And now, with the acquisition of Antoine Winfield to an already dominant defensive back corps, the Seahawks have made their case for not only the most improved team of the off-season, but also as the top team in the NFC. (And as my fiancee' thinks, the best team in the whole NFL).

The Seahawks already have a stacked squad of defensive backs with Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas, Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancelor, and Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Browner. Not only do they boast three Pro Bowlers, but they also have the biggest snub in last year's voting, Richard Sherman. Every one of these defensive backs has the talent to be the top guy on any team in the NFL, so to have all of them playing on the same team is quite an accomplishment. One of the biggest reasons for their collective success is their unheard-of size. Three of the four are 6'3'' or taller (Sherman, Chancelor, and Browner). The size and physicality of these corners and safeties is just too much for the wide receivers in the league to handle on a consistent basis.

Now Seattle has brought in one of the most consistently great cornerbacks to ever play in the NFL, Antoine Winfield. Despite his advanced age (Winfield will be 36 come this June), he has been ranked as the number one cornerback by Pro Football Focus in two of the last three years, ranking ninth in his "off year". Not only is Winfield a premiere cover corner, he is also the best tackling corner that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Most corners that you see in the NFL are almost allergic to coming up and making a tackle, but Winfield plays with a completely opposite mindset. He loves to come up in run support, stick his nose in there and make the tackle. He exemplifies what it means to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

While I have seen countless examples of teams making a huge splash in the off-season, having huge expectation and falling flat on their faces, it is hard for me to imagine that this will happen to Seattle. They already had a playoff caliber team before all of the moves that they made, and every single one of their moves has provided them with an elite player that fills a need that prevented them from going to the Super Bowl last season. Let me go on record right now as predicting that the Seattle Seahawks will be playing in Met Life stadium in Super Bowl 48.

Friday, April 12, 2013


In what can only be described as a completely ludicrous situation, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke has broken his clavicle (collar bone for those not familiar with medical terminology) and is expected to miss eight weeks. In the Dodgers game last night against the San Diego Padres, Greinke threw a pitch that hit Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin. Quentin and Greinke have a history against each other, so Quentin felt the pitch was intentional and charged the mound. In the ensuing brawl, Greinke chose to take on the bigger Quentin and paid the price for it. Now Greinke is headed to the DL (disabled list for those who are unfamiliar with baseball acronyms) and Quentin has subsequently been suspended for eight games. All of this could have been avoided if cooler heads had prevailed.

It's easy to say in hindsight, but Quentin needed to be able to keep his cool and evaluate the situation. He mentioned after the game that his previous history with Greinke played a factor in his decision to charge the mound (Quentin has been hit twice previously by Greinke). Had Quentin been able to look at this objectively, he would have been able to realize that the pitch was almost certainly not deliberate. The Dodgers were ahead in the game 2-1 when the incident occurred. They had no reason or desire to purposely hit him and put the potential tying run on base. Not only does it not make sense for the pitch to be intentional given the game situation, it also doesn't make sense in the at-bat itself. If a pitcher wants to send a message to a hitter, he doesn't wait until the sixth pitch of the at-bat to make it, he comes right out in the very first pitch and lets his feelings be known.

Even if Quentin evaluated the situation and still came to the conclusion that the pitch was, in fact, intentional, there was no need for him to charge the mound like he did. Both the Dodgers and the Padres play in the National League which, unlike the American League, forces their pitchers to come to the plate. If Quentin believed he was targeted by Greinke and thought that something needed to be done about it, he could have easily gone to their starter and asked him to plunk Greinke. It would have sent the message to Greinke without injuring him, and it would have saved Quentin from an eight game suspension, which will hamper the chances of his team to win those eight games.

Had Quentin decided to follow the unwritten rules of baseball instead of losing his cool for his own selfish reasons, every one of the individuals involved could have come out of this situation unscathed. Instead, Quentin decided to go off and handle things his own way, and the consequences have been dire for everyone. Hopefully next time we'll have a game of baseball instead of baseBRAWL.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Moving on...Down?

The NFL draft is two weeks away. If you're a fan of the NFL as I am then you've heard all kinds of trade talk. Everyone and their brother has put in their two-cents with mock drafts. Most experts have proposed several scenarios that have Miami moving up in the draft to take a Left Tackle. Many have us moving up to the number three spot to take either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, whichever one isn't taken first overall. Several other scenarios have us trading up to the sixth spot to select Lane Johnson, the supremely athletic tackle out of Oklahoma. While both of these scenarios address a gaping hole for the Dolphins, I would like to explore a different route. What if Miami were to instead move DOWN in the first round?

There are a two scenarios that I have seen for Miami moving down. The first option would be a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. In this trade, Miami would receive the twenty-third and twenty-fifth picks in the first round, and the eighty-third pick (a third round selection). In return, Minnesota would get our current first round pick, the twelfth overall, and the fourty-second selection, which is one of our two second round picks. If you go by Mel Kiper's "Big Board" and some common sense, this would end up with Minnesota taking Tavon Austin with the twelfth pick as a replacement for the recently departed Percy Harvin. With Miami's two first round picks, we would end up with Bjoern Werner, the defensive end from Florida State, and D.J. Hayden, a cornerback from the University of Houston. While this doesn't address our need for a LT, it does address two other big needs for the Dolphins, and it also gives us some ammunition to be able to make a trade in the second round to grab a "second-tier" LT such as Terron Armstead, the tackle out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The other option that I have seen would be a trade with the Dallas Cowboys. In this trade, Miami would trade away the twelfth pick and their fourth round selection (number seventy-four overall) and in return, we would receive Dallas' number eighteen in the first round as well as their second round pick, which is the forty-seventh overall. This scenario would have Dallas taking the top overall safety Kenny Vaccaro, from the University of Texas. Miami would be left with several options at eighteen according to the "Big Board". Players such as the aforementioned Bjoern Werner, Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker, University of Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant, and California wide receiver Keenan Allen would all be excellent choices for Miami and should all be available when we pick. Given this scenario, I think it would be very likely that Miami would take Desmond Trufant, whom I believe to be the best cornerback available. Then with the pick that they added in the second round, they could either use it to take Terron Armstead, who I seem to be beating the drum for more than anyone, or put a package together to move back into the first round and hopefully pick up someone that I know they're targeting, Tyler Eifert. The tight end out of Notre Dame has been rumored heavily as someone that we would take with the twelfth pick, but I think this is too high for a tight end, even with the recent resurgence of the position thanks to players like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Jimmy Graham.

No matter what Miami decides to do with their selection, there are a plethora of options, and I have no doubt that we will end up with several great players. Our remaining holes will be plugged and it's going to be a great year for my Dolphins. Just wait and see.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Back to Earth

The New England Patriots have signed free agent WR Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet. The Pittsburgh Steelers, for whom Sanders previously played, now have until Sunday to decide whether or not to let Sanders walk and receive a third round pick in return, or to match the offer that New England has put on the table, which is one year at $2.5 million. No matter what the Steelers decide to do with Sanders, I think it has become abundantly clear that both the Patriots and Steelers, two of the top teams in the AFC for the better part of the last decade, have fallen back to Earth.

After the loss of Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos early in free agency, and the decision to part ways with deep-threat Brandon Lloyd essentially decimated the wide receiver core in New England, it appears that the team has entered a "desperation mode" mentality. They went out and signed Danny Amendola to be a replacement for Welker, which on the surface seems to be a good deal. Amendola has been a serviceable receiver in the NFL, who was on his way to a career-best season last year before breaking his clavicle. However, Amendola is incredibly injury prone, suffering season-ending injuries in each of the last two seasons. Any time you lose your best receiver and attempt to replace him with a player that has dependability issues, it's a net loss. I don't care how much potential that player has, if he can't stay on the field, it doesn't do you a lick of good. In addition to Amendola, they have signed free agent Michael Jenkins, and Donald Jones. New England has also re-signed reserve WR and special teams stand-out Julian Edelman. Michael Jenkins has been around the NFL for ten years and has never managed even 800 yards in any one season. Donald Jones, while in the league only three years, has never produced more than 443 yards in a season. It's pretty clear that the Patriots have a pretty dire situation at the wide-out position.

The Steelers' situation appears to be just as dire as New England's. If they allow Sanders to leave, they will be left with Antonio Brown as their only competent wide receiver. After the departure of Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins, the only other receivers with any experience currently on their roster are an ancient (by NFL standards) Plaxico Burress; an aging receiver who has only once broken 1,000 yards in Jerricho Cotchery, and a virtual unknown in David Gilreath who has never caught a pass in his two seasons in the NFL. If they do bring Sanders back, it doesn't improve their situation all that much either. Sanders has always been a third option, at best, in his three years in Pittsburgh. Sanders does have a lot of speed though, which is highly coveted in today's NFL and likely means that he would command a high salary when he left in free agency after the season. Either way, Sanders will not be in a Steelers uniform beyond this season. It may be in the best interest of the franchise if they were to allow him to leave now and get a third round pick in return, rather than to sign him for a year and let him leave without receiving any compensation.

With the free agent market all but dried up at the wide receiver position, if these teams do not address their issues in the upcoming draft, I think it's safe to say that the AFC's two dominant teams won't be so dominant anymore. Things should be wide open this season, giving teams who have managed to improve their situations (such as Miami) a real chance to overtake them, which gives fans like me hope.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Poor Decisions

The NCAA Men's basketball season has officially ended, and it certainly went out with a bang. The Louisville Cardinals came out on top in what turned out to be an excellent game against a very well-matched Michigan Wolverine club. It was a fitting end to what I thought (though many experts disagree with me) was a very exciting season. Now that it's over, we, being the loyal ESPN watchers that we are, will be bombarded with players declaring (including possibly as many as six from this game) their intent to forgo the rest of their eligibility and enter the NBA draft. Many of them are ready and will become very good players, but for many others, it may end up to be the poorest decision of their lives.

For players like Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Glen Robinson III, the decision to jump to the NBA is a solid one. Trey Burke was the national P.O.Y. and will almost certainly be a top three pick. He has an NBA ready game, and I will never fault a kid for choosing not to risk injury when they already have complete, all-around game. College is something that you can always go back to, but if you suffer a career-ending injury in college, that's it. Tim Hardaway Jr. is another player who is a sure-fire lottery pick with a pretty complete game. There are a few things that he could work on, but his game is solid enough that I don't hesitate to say that he is making a good decision. The same can be said for Glen Robinson III, though he's likely to be taken in the bottom part of the first round or possibly the top of the second. Gorgui Dieng, though he hasn't declared yet, should also be a first round pick. He has a top-flight defensive game and has made serious strides on the offensive end. A team will definitely take a flyer on him and will probably end up with a guy who will be one of the top centers in the NBA in three or four years.

For players like Russ Smith and Mitch McGary, on the other hand, the decision to leave their schools and go to the NBA is going to end up being one of the worst choices they have ever made. Russ Smith is a wonderful college player, but his game is not one that translates well to the NBA. He is only projected as a mid to late second round pick (keep in mind that there are only two rounds in the draft). Not only is he rated poorly, he is coming off of a horrible performance in the biggest game of his life. His team won the title, but it was done in spite of him, not because of his contributions. Mitch McGary has not declared yet, but it's thought that he will. His decision, should he make it, would be even worse than Smith. McGary is absolutely not ready for the NBA and would likely go undrafted were he to declare. If Smith is drafted, he will likely be a deep bench player and one that we will hardly hear from ever again. If McGary is drafted, and that is a big "if" for him, it's likely that he won't even be a bench warmer, but rather will be stuck in the D-League for whatever franchise takes their chances on him. Were he to stay in school and further develop his game, he would have a chance to improve his stock and possibly make more of a name for himself.

The NBA game is a man's game. It's so far beyond the college game in speed, intensity, and physicality. It takes a special kind of player to make a name for themselves in the NBA and many players just don't have what it takes to make it. If Smith and McGary want to know what it's like to make the leap and fail, they should talk to players like Jerryd Bayless, Tyrus Thomas, Trevor Ariza, and Omar Cook. If any of these players were asked, I'm sure that they would say that they made the worst decision of their lives and would absolutely advise these kids against making such a poor decision.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Socks and Tacos

In anticipation of tonight's National Championship game between the Louisville Cardinals and the Michigan Wolverines, ESPN has been airing program after program reminding the nation of the last time that the Wolverines were in this position. Since the Final Four was determined, we've had Michigan's "Fab 5" shoved down our throats. Between Jalen Rose being interviewed by everyone in Bristol, CT and the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about the team, it's been hard to ignore all the references that have been made to the team. The movie did, however, bring up one interesting point that I would like to explore further: the exploitation of NCAA athletes.

When the "Fab 5" were recruited coming out of high school in 1991, it was the first time that a college program had brought in so many of the top national recruits at one time. Four of the five were ranked in the top 10 nationally and all five were ranked in the top 100 (Ray Jackson was the only one ranked outside the top 10, at #84). Almost from the beginning they began to live up to the hype, making the National Championship game in their very first season together, losing to the Duke Blue Devils by 20 points. After the game, the "Fab 5" became a huge marketing source for the University of Michigan, bringing in more than $10 million to the university and Nike for everything from shoes to plain black socks. The next season the "Fab 5" returned to the National Championship game, losing this time to North Carolina on one of the most memorable plays in NCAA tournament history, Chris Webber calling a timeout that the team didn't have, resulting in a technical foul and ultimately a loss.

What did the "Fab 5" get out of their fame? What did they get out of being an enormous cash cow for their university? According to the documentary, a few free tacos. This, and countless other examples over the last two-plus decades, have led to many people asking why we don't pay these players some sort of stipend for all that they do for the university. These players get their likeness put on every article of clothing you can think of, they are put into video games, they are used to bring in more recruits to the university to ensure that the cycle continues, and yet they don't see a dime of those profits. No matter how good they are, they are supposedly "amateurs" and unable to receive any money at all until they make the jump to the professional level. The NCAA will tell you that the universities that these players attend are supposed to be grooming them for the rest of their lives, are supposed to be looking out for their best interests. Yet they are exploiting these very same kids to bring millions of dollars into their schools. The argument for paying players is certainly a compelling one, and one that I wholeheartedly understand.

That being said, I do not think it is feasible. There are too many issues that would have to be figured out before you could even begin to think about paying players. How much would you pay them? How would smaller schools be able to compete with the larger ones? They do not have the kind of budgets that a "Power 6" school does. Does everyone on the team get paid at the same level or do the superstars get paid more than the bench warmers? What about the lesser known sports, how do you reconcile the pay scale for them? Does the hockey team get paid less than the basketball team? Does the tennis team get paid at all? Then there's the issues of men versus women. Men's sports traditionally bring in far more money than the women's, does that mean that the men should get paid more than their female counterparts? All of these questions and many, many more need to be answered if we want to give these kids what is arguable their fair share of these profits.

Until these questions are answered in a way that is fair to everyone, universities are going to continue to make millions on socks while star players just hope to get a free taco every now and again.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tis the Season... (part II)

In Thursday's post I outlined the current scandal happening within the Auburn University football program, but they are far from the only university currently in the midst of controversy. The University of Rutgers basketball team has been in the news recently due to the egregious acts of their recently fired head coach, Mike Rice. Now that we've had some time to absorb the full scope of the situation, let's take a moment to examine it objectively.

Here's what we know: On Tuesday of last week, Outside the Lines aired video tapes showing coach Rice blatantly abusing several members of the Rutgers basketball team. The tapes shows Rice frequently shoving players in the back, kicking them in the behind, and throwing basketballs at them. The tapes also show Rice verbally abusing his players, using many expletives and homophobic slurs. According to the segment, then-AD Tim Pernetti was shown these videos back in December and chose to simply suspend the coach for three games and fine him $50,000. The videotapes were provided to the AD by then-director of basketball operations Eric Murdock, who was subsequently suspended and did not have his contract renewed by the school. He has since filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming that the school chose to suspend him and allow his contract to expire solely due to his concerns about coach Rice's treatment of the players. Murdock has since come under investigation by the FBI. They are investigating whether Murdock is attempting to extort the university, as the university claims that Murdock demanded nearly $1 million dollars from them to keep the videotape out of the public eye, and when they refused, he went to ESPN with the tapes.

It is clear in this situation that Rice absolutely deserved to lose his job. The behavior he exhibited on these tapes clearly warrants his termination as coach, and furthermore, almost certainly guarantees that he will never be the head coach of another major program. No AD will be able, or willing, to stick their head out for this guy, no matter how talented of a coach he may be, after seeing the things that we all saw in the OTL report. It is also clear that AD Tim Pernetti also deserved to lose his job. His decision to merely suspend and fine Rice after seeing the videotapes was, at best, a severe lapse of judgement. At worst, it was a half-hearted attempt to sweep everything under the rug and hope that he would be able to keep all of this from getting out in the public eye. Either way it is an offense worthy of his termination as well.

What is unknown at this time is what role that the university president, Robert Barchi, played in all of this. It has been reported that Barchi was shown the videotape in the same time frame as Pernetti. Barchi denies these reports and claims that he was unaware of the tape until recently and saw it for the first time last week. No matter when Barchi saw the tape, I don't think there is any way that he can come out of this situation with his job intact. If the reports are true and Barchi saw the tapes in December, he is just as culpable as Pernetti in the cover-up, perhaps more-so since he is the president of the university and the superior to Pernetti. If what Barchi says is true and he didn't see the tapes until just recently, that may be even more damning. That would mean that Barchi signed off on the suspension and fining of one of his employees without so much as asking a simple "Why?". If that is the case, that would give the NCAA an open door to come in and hand down sanctions to the university, claiming "a lack of institutional control", such as they did when the Penn State scandal occurred. Either scenario seems to spell the end for Barchi as president of Rutgers University and several faculty members have signed petitions to have him removed from the position.

Coaches have an obligation to get the most they can out of every single one of their players. It is there job to know what they need to do to motivate each player to achieve that goal. The tactics that Rice used were so far beyond what are acceptable motivational tactics that it's bordering on criminal. Several of his players have been so affected by coach Rice's torment that they have been forced to transfer out of Rutgers. Many of them have even been so traumatized that they are now receiving counseling to deal with what they have been through. Coach Rice's actions are nothing short of appalling. The choices that Pernetti made when presented with the situation are equally appalling, but the deceit or ignorance of Barchi just may be the most appalling of them all.

Friday, April 5, 2013

When Rednecks Try Parkour

Last day of my vacation and I don't have the energy to make a post, so here's another one of my favorite videos from YouTube. Sit back and enjoy what happens when a redneck tries his hand at parkour.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tis the Season...

...For reported NCAA violations. With the college football season over for months and the basketball season winding down to it's conclusion, now is the time where fans are bombarded with reports of programs coming under investigation for reportedly violating the myriad NCAA rules. While a lot of these reports turn out to be unfounded and ignored, one of them seems to have legs. If true, it could mean devastation for one very prominent SEC program, the Auburn Tigers.

It has been reported that the Auburn Tigers, under the direction of then-Head Coach Gene Chizik, had the grades changed of up to nine players during the team's 2010 National Championship run, including RB Michael Dyer, who went on to become the offensive player of the game. While there have been allegations against this particular program before dealing with Cam Newton, this report seems to have much of a bite to it. The report uses quotes from former Auburn Tiger players and outlines a culture of blatant disregard for the rules of the NCAA. If the changing of players grades was not bad enough, the report also alleges that the program paid upwards of several thousands of dollars to players who were draft eligible in an attempt to persuade them to forgo the draft and come back to Auburn for one more season. Further on in the report, it is also alleged that then-Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp, who is now the Head Coach at the University of Florida, paid a player $400 after the player had a bad day. As would be expected, both Gene Chizik and Will Muschamp vehemently deny all of the allegations levied in the report.

If these allegations are proven to be true, this might be the best case for the "death penalty" that I have ever seen. I was not alive during the events at SMU that led to them being the only program to receive such a stiff penalty, but from what I know of the situation, the current situation at Auburn comes as close to those circumstances as I have ever heard of. Paying players to stay at the school is eerily similar to SMU paying players to come there. Impermissible benefits are impermissible, period. Paying players is paying players, period. While I do not think that the NCAA will have the gall to ever hand down such a stiff penalty ever again, I think it's the only way to stop not only Auburn, but many other programs who are doing the very same thing. Anyone who watches college football is pretty aware that most of these programs are, at the very least, bending the rules so they can maintain a competitive edge. The fact that the NCAA hands down penalties that, in most cases, amount to a slap on the wrist just encourages these programs to push the limits to see what they can get away with. The only way that this is going to stop is if the NCAA grows a backbone and hands down a "death penalty".

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Travel Blows

I have been awake since noon and have been on flights for six hours. It's safe to say that I'm a very sleepy panda, so no blog post today. Instead, I present to you my favorite YouTube video of recent memory. Enjoy, you can thank me later :-)


CARson Gets in a CAR and Drives to the CARdinals*

This year's trade market in the NFL has been the most active that I have ever seen in my two decades of following the sport. Not only has the market been very active, but it has for the first time in my memory involved a number of well known players. Percy Harvin and Anquan Boldin were traded earlier in this offseason, and within the last 48 hours three more trades have been completed involving some big names in the sport. Not necessarily big production, mind you, but big names nonetheless.

The first trade that we had was the Cleveland Browns trading their back-up quarterback Colt McCoy to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have recognized that they are going to need a competent back-up for Colin Kaepernick. The pistol offense that they run can expose the quarterback to a lot of punishment and if you're going to survive in the NFL, you need to be prepared to deal with losing your starting quarterback. McCoy became expendable when the Browns brought in Jason Campbell to compete with Brandon Weeden. San Francisco only had to give up, essentially, a seventh round pick to acquire McCoy. The full trade was SF giving up 5th and 7th round selections and Cleveland sending McCoy and a 6th back to SF. The fifth round pick that San Francisco gave up is only six selections away from the sixth that Cleveland sent back, so that's basically a wash. In true Cleveland Browns fashion, they got robbed here. McCoy has never been much of a decent player, but I think that they could have, and should have, been able to secure more than just a seventh round pick for him.

The second trade was one that I mentioned would happen in a post I made a few days ago (read it here: http://aspoonfulofsports.blogspot.com/2013/03/bye-bye-birdie.html). Matt Flynn has officially been traded to the Oakland Raiders. This is a trade that makes sense for everyone involved. Seattle receives a fifth round pick in next year's draft and a conditional seventh round pick in the 2015 draft. Oakland manages to bring in something the franchise has lacked since the days of Rich Gannon, a quarterback with some actual talent. And Matt Flynn will, ostensibly, finally get a chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, something he has been coveting since making a name for himself filling in for Aaron Rodgers back in 2010 and 2011. This is one of the few trades where everyone involved wins.

With the acquisition of Matt Flynn, the Oakland Raiders' previous starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, also became expendable. With a salary of $13 million this season and an unwillingness to restructure his contract, it was clear to everyone that Palmer was not going to go into this season as a Raider. With the Cardinals having a glaring need for a quarterback, having released their previous starting QB Kevin Kolb, they decided to pull the trigger, shipping one of their two sixth round picks in this year's draft and a getting Palmer and a sixth round pick in return.

There you have it folks, a recap of what has become a wild off-season in the NFL. Here's hoping that it stays this wild going into the draft.

*the title is my wonderful fiancee's attempt at being clever. I love her, so I'm keeping it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Not for the Squeamish

DISCLAIMER: As the title implies, today's post is not for the faint of heart. If you are disturbed by graphic descriptions or visualization of injuries, then you should probably skip this post and come back tomorrow when this blog returns to a more "family-friendly" nature.

With the disclaimer out of the way, we can get to the heart of this post. Yesterday we witnessed one of the most gruesome injuries that I have ever had the displeasure to see. Kevin Ware broke his leg in Louisville's game against the Duke Blue Devils. I made a post about it on Facebook and one of my friends (Elizabeth "Breezy" Brown) suggest that I write something about bad sports injuries. That got me thinking and today I've decided to give you what I think are the most gruesome injuries in the five major American sports: football (college or pro), basketball (college or pro), MLB, NHL, and NASCAR  The injuries are arranged by severity.

NASCAR: I think it's hard to argue that the worst injury in this sport would be the crash that killed Dale Earnhardt. While several other have been killed in wrecks during a race (Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin, among others), Earnhardt was the sport's biggest star. Earnhardt was instrumental in bringing the sport from small scale interest, mostly in the South, all the way to a national audience. When Earnhardt was killed during the 2001 Daytona 500, it sent shock waves throughout the sport, and NASCAR has yet to fully recover.

"Honorable" mention goes to the aforementioned Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin crashes.

Football: Along similar lines of the Earnhardt crash, the injury that I chose for the football category was sustained by Tulane DB Devon Walker. Many players have sustained very serious injuries playing football. It's a very violent sport, and on rare occasions, lives are forever altered by the decision to play football. I chose this injury for two reasons. The first reason is that, although several other players have been paralyzed during a game, this is the first one that I have heard of where the players' heart actually stopped as a direct result of the hit. The second is for the fact that it happened to a kid. He was just twenty-two years old and in the prime of his life. To have such a serious injury at such a young age is the reason he is my choice for the worst football injury.

"Honorable" mention goes to the knee injuries suffered by Marcus Lattimore and Willis McGahee, and the broken leg suffered by Joe Theismann. I have never seen legs bend like that, and I hope I never do again.

NHL: Slightly less severe in nature than the previous two injuries, my choice for the worst NHL injury has to be the one sustained by former Buffalo Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk. During a game in 1989, a player crashed into the net, and in doing so, his skate came up and severed Clint Malarchuk's carotid artery. How on earth Clint survived this injury is beyond me, but he did and has gone on to live a full life and is now an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames. How that man can stand to be anywhere near a hockey arena is also beyond me.

I honestly do not follow hockey, so I'm not well-versed enough to have an "honorable" mention for the NHL.

Basketball: Basketball isn't a sport that is known for it's physical nature. The worst injuries usually amount to sprained ankles or torn ligaments or muscles. Bad injuries in their own right, but not all that gruesome  Then there's the injury that Kevin Ware suffered in the Louisville/Duke game. I didn't witness the injury live, but my curiosity got the better of me and I found the replay on YouTube later that day. I almost wish that I wouldn't have. I very nearly gagged at the sight of it, and they didn't even show the worst of it. The injury he sustained caused six inches of bone to protrude from the skin. I shudder even as I write that.

As I said, basketball isn't known for it's injuries, so I don't have an "honorable" mention here either.

MLB: In closing this post, I've decided to go a slightly different, lighter note with the MLB category. During a spring training game in 2001 Randy Johnson, then pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, threw a fastball against the San Francisco Giants that, somehow, struck and killed a dove that had the misfortune of coming between the ball and home plate. An explosion of feathers and one dead bird later, the game eventually continued, and terrible sports fans everywhere have been laughing ever since.

"Honorable" mentions here go to Jason Kendall breaking his ankle in a game in 1999 and to Chris Snyder who fractured a testicle in 2008

For those of you who haven't seen footage of the injuries, check out the following links: