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Super Thoughts

The day is finally here. After months and months of work, sweat and tears thirty-two teams have become two. Tonight in Houston, Texas the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XI.

I was not even sure I would write this column. Leading up to the game nothing was coming. Then I started hearing the national media talking about the game. And fans talking. Shortly after the juices started flowing.

The national narrative is Patriots, Patriots, Patriots. I just do not see it.

While the Patriots have the number one scoring defense, the Falcons have the number one overall offense.

Many will point to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s experience in the big game. But experience is not everything.

I look at recent history, especially the playoffs.

While everyone focuses on the Falcons offense their defense is nothing to sneeze at. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers was playing over his head the last two months. No one was playing quarterback any better than Rodgers. Not Brady. Not Matt Ryan. No one.

And the Falcons shut him down winning 44-21. It was the third quarter before the Packers scored their first points after being down 31-0.

At the same time when the Patriots played the Houston Texans the week before they struggled. Tom Brady looked decidedly mortal. If the Texans had any semblance of an offense that day they would have advanced instead of the Pats.

While Belichick is known for taking your best player away Matt Ryan threw touchdown passes to thirteen different players this season. The Patriots cannot possibly take away that much offense.

The game will be fun and competitive but I do expect the Falcons to come out fast and never look back.

Game On.

 

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The Little Things

Every football coach stressed technique. All coaches talk about execution. From Lombardi to Shula, from Bill Belichick to Dan Campbell they focus on the little things.

Often fans and media want to dissect the box score. So many love the big plays, the big hits.

They want the shiny.

The shiny does not win games. The shiny does not exist-not without the little things.

On Thursday night the New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins 36-7.

Looking at the final score many would call it a dominant performance. It was more efficient than anything. There were not a bunch of big plays, the defense was not suffocating. Simply put the Patriots did the little things throughout. The Dolphins did not do enough.

During Rob Gronkowski’s 47-yd touchdown reception they did the little things to make a good play into a great play. First Gronk broke the initial tackle, then when he worked his way downfield the rest of the team ran downfield to block. Not so unlike Jarvis Landry’s catch and run against the Texans. The little things made the difference.

Just by doing the job in front of them teams can go from good to great.

Stop doing the little things and games can get away from you quickly.

The little things…they are often the big things.

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The Oncoming Storm

Sitting outside in Orlando as I write this: you can feel the pressure drop, the wind has just picked up, the sky is darkening. A storm is coming.

That is how the Miami Dolphins must feel. After a poor 1-3 start, after the team not living up to off-season hype and after the whirlwind of the last two weeks-it must feel like they are in the eye of the storm.

Dan Campbell is the oncoming storm. Storms do not truly destroy, they simply clear the decks so something new can grow.

Make no mistake something new is growing down in Miami.

The fans can feel it, the media can feel it. Most importantly every single player, coach and even the owner can feel it.

Owner you say? Yes. Did you see the look on Steve Ross’ face after Campbell’s first win. That was unadulterated joy…it has been a long time coming.

Campbell had an impressive introductory press conference. Even better he has followed through on everything he said he would do. Competition has a home again in south Florida. From Oklahoma drills to rugby scrums to the winner wears black…he has found a way to reach everyone from Ndamukong Suh and Ryan Tannehill to Bobby McCain.

The team is playing with their hair on fire. You believe the entire team will run through a wall for their head coach. It has shown on the field over the first two weeks.

Thursday night is the real test. The measuring stick. Blowing out the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans is one thing. Walking into Foxboro to challenge the defending Super Bowl champions and division leading New England Patriots is entirely something else.

Campbell himself calls Bill Belichik one of the greatest coach in the history of the game. Beating them will be no easy task but I believe this team is up to it.

If the Dolphins do pull the upset, well I have a job for owner Steve Ross.

If Dan Campbell leads this team to an incredible three game turnaround then I want Ross to step to the podium after the game Thursday night. Look out at the media and announce Dan Campbell as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins for the 2016 season. He deserves it.

Campbell and his Miami Dolphins will step into Foxboro unafraid and they are bringing one hell of a storm with them.

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The Last NFL Mock Draft of 2015

The hour is getting late and I still have not written my mock draft. Procrastination is strong this year.

I have no good reason for being so late this year. For once I do not have a real sense of what teams will do. Some of this is due to several teams clearly needing a quarterback with only two real prospects out there for the taking.

Regardless it is time. In fact it is past time that I put my name on the 2015 NFL Draft.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers– Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

This seems like a no brainer. Lovie gets his franchise quarterback.

2. Tennessee Titans-Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

I am not saying the Titans are taking Mariota. I am just saying someone takes him here. The phone lines will be burning up.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars-Dante Fowler Jr, Edge Rusher, Florida

Fowler stays close to home and excells in Gus Bradley’s defense.

4. Oakland Raiders-Leonard Williams, DT, USC

Williams is one of the best players in the draft. He should be able to work inside or out for the Raiders.

5. Washington Redskins-Amari Cooper. WR, Alabama

With Washington picking up RJIII’s five-year option they could give him some more weapons. Cooper does everything you want from a number one receiver.

6. New York Jets-Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

With Mariota off the board new coach Todd Bowles solidifies the offensive line for whoever is under center for the Jets next season.

7. Chicago Bears-Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

John Fox’s first job as new Head Coach should be to shore up the middle of the defense. Shelton should do nicely.

8. Atlanta Falcons-Vic Beasley, Edge Rusher, Clemson

Former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn upgrades his pass rush with Beasley

9. New York Giants-Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Not a sexy pick but good value. Always need to protect Eli.

10. St. Louis Rams-Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Great size, speed and body control. Nick Foles gets a number one receiver.

11. Minnesota Vikings-Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

Reuniting Parker and Teddy Bridgewater is a no brainer.

12. Cleveland Browns-Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

Wide Receiver could be the pick here but I think the Browns look to solidify the defensive line with their first pick of the first round.

13. New Orleans Saints-Randy Gregory, Edge Rusher, Nebraska

The off-field stuff drops Gregory to the Saints who desperately need pass rushers.

14. Miami Dolphins-Erik Kendricks, ILB, UCLA

Dolphins could go a few places with this pick. Todd Gurley and Breshad Perriman are definetly in play here. I think they take Kendricks to fill middle linebacker for the next decade.

15. San Francisco 49ers-Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon

Armstead steps in as the replacement for Justin Smith.

16. Houston Texans-Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF

While they still need a quarterback the Texans get their number one receiver. While raw I expect Perriman to excel at the NFL level.

17. San Diego Chargers-Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

If not for the injury no way Gurley falls this far. The Chargers jump at the chance for a dominant every down back.

18. Kansas City Chiefs-Cameron Erving, C, Florida State

Erving is the best center in the draft.

19. Cleveland Browns-Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Someone will take a chance on DGB. And yes I don’t think Cleveland has learned from Josh Gordon.

20. Philadephia Eagles-Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Chip Kelly wants to move up for Mariota, badly. If he cannot pull it off he takes the best corner in the draft.

21. Cincinnati Bengals-Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Goldman will learn from Geno Atkins. Making the front four very dominant.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers-Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

The Steelers desperately need to rebuild their secondary. Despite his issues Peters fits perfectly.

23. Detroit Lions-Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Gordon can be a game-breaking back. Detroit will be thinking of Barry Sanders when they pick Gordon here.

24. Arizona Cardinals-DJ Humphries, OT, Florida

Humphries may be the best tackle in this draft when all is said and done. Carson Palmer will need the protection as he comes back from his injury.

25. Carolina Panthers-Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

Flowers can play all across the line. Should immediately upgrade the offensive line.

26. Baltimore Ravens-Philip Dorsett, WR, Miami

Joe Flacco will love Dorsett’s speed and big play ability

27. Dallas Cowboys-Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Athletic and versatile. Thompson should be able to fill multiple roles in the Cowboys defense.

28. Denver Broncos-TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

With Peyton Manning coming back the offensive line is absolutely a need. Should fit well in the new offensive scheme under Gary Kubiak.

29. Indianapolis Colts-Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon

Andrew Luck is the franchise. You can never have enough protection for the franchise. Fisher should slide right in at left tackle.

30. Green Bay Packers-Erik Rowe, CB, Utah

Good size, speed combination. Can easily play either corner or safety.

31. New Orleans Saints-Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

A nice long target for Drew Brees.

32. New England Patriots-Bud Dupree, Edge Rusher, Kentucky

Dupree is a raw, versatile player. Can work standing up or with a hand in the dirt. Bill Belichik loves players like that.

 

The time is growing short. Draft day tends to change things minute by minute. Cannot get enough of it.

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